Dear Family and Friends, June 18, 2008
This past Saturday I heard God speak. I was laying in bed that morning, feeling the weight of what was going on with my Dad and our city, and then I decided to tune into some condemning/negative thoughts. Sounds like a good time - huh? The condemning thoughts included the following: "How can you think of leaving Cedar Rapids for the mission field when this city is a mission field? How fair is it of you to ask people to support your mission when so many people need financial help right here? Is it really right for you to pursue this calling when your Dad is recovering from a major surgery? Then were worries about trying to sell a house in the midst of an historic flood along with other worries. Finally, I remembered what to do in situations like this and I cried out to God, "Lord, would you speak to me today/this weekend/this week about this? Would you show me again that this calling is of you and that you want us to continue pursuing it?"
I got out of bed and got on my exercise bike hoping an army of endorphins would come to my rescue. No change. So, then I picked up my Bible and journal. I'm reading Matthew with a goal to read the New Testament from start to finish. I "just happened" to be on chapter 19 this particular day. When I read verse 29, a wave of peace washed over me. It reads, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." This verse is very significant, as it is the same verse that God profoundly spoke through four years ago to nudge Dan and I toward taking our first steps on this journey to the mission field. Hearing that verse again on this particular day when I was hounded by doubt was very powerful. Dan and I, for many years of our lives, have recognized every environment that God has placed us in - school, work, community - to be a mission field. However, four years ago God made it very clear that His call this time involved us leaving our home, the security of a good job, our family, and our friends. And for the past four years, His call has been consistent. His words to me on Saturday again reaffirmed this call.
He spoke at other times during the weekend as well. Last Sunday at church, I talked with my friend Jane who said, "There are so many needs in this city, but what I've decided is that I need to focus on one or two and give my best to those needs." Jane's words also struck a cord with me as I thought about how overwhelming the big picture is, but how choosing one or two things can help mobilize us to fruitful action. Sunday night, I went with my Mom to my parent's church while Dan stayed with Dad. The pastor preached on the story of Samson and the mystery of how he shared with Delilah the secret of his strength even when she had proven herself to be less than trustworthy. The pastor said, "I believe the reason he shared this information was because he didn't really believe what he himself said. He no longer believed that his strength was dependent upon God." It is so easy, isn't it? To just believe that we have it together, that we are self-sufficient, that we will make it happen. Until some circumstance in our lives confronts us with the reality of our own weakness - a disease, a tragedy, open heart surgery, a natural disaster, raising children, a call to the mission field. And it is then that we have the opportunity to cry out to Him and to hear His comforting words and experience His peaceful presence.
My prayer as people read our updates is that you would recognize a golden thread that runs through our sharing. And this thread is, "We are weak, but He is strong." And the only way to experience His powerful strength in our lives is to recognize our weakness and cry out to Him for help. It is how we begin a relationship with Him, but it is also how we maintain an intimate and passionate relationship with our Savior. A step of humility - absolutely. A step of faith - totally. A step that we will never regret - guaranteed.
1) I've taken Jane's advice and spent Sunday thorough Thursday with my parents helping to organize medications/notebooks/their home to reduce stress. My Mom needs to keep track of 11 different medications and helps Dad maintain a disciplined schedule of taking insulin and doing cardiac exercises. Please do pray for stamina for both my Dad and Mom.
2) Dad is doing well. Progress is/will be slow, but his home health care nurse is encouraged by his progress. He will have another surgery in 6 to 8 weeks to open the artery that leads to his kidney.
3) We have three small group dinners scheduled for next week - on Tues., Thurs., and Saturday. We praise God for the opportunity to share with and get to know others at these dinners.
4) Praise for how God continues to confirm His call on our lives. He's reminded me that I felt the same overwhelmed feeling in Nicaragua when I recognized all of the many critical needs there - I have an opportunity now to learn how to manage this. He's also pointed out how not being able to use our water in Cedar Rapids will be a reality for us in Nicaragua as water shut off is a regular occurrence. Learning how to cope with this is also beneficial.
1) My sister had her surgery on Tuesday. We are now praying for cancer free results! Should find out results in 2 weeks.
2) Please pray for our friends Tom and Val and their family. Tom is a police officer in Cedar Rapids and works 12 hour shifts without time off during this crisis. Pray too for all of the officers, some of whom have lost their homes in addition to working a demanding schedule.
3) Pray for friends, Scott and Andi, Steve and Ann, and Rich and Faye who's homes are flooded and in need of repair. Pray for peace for them and for hands that are available to help them.
4) Please pray for wisdom for Dan and I as we move forward with this process, while also taking into account the needs of those around us. We are sending many letters to family and friends and to churches this week. Please pray for God's provision through individuals and churches.
Thank you for keeping us and so many who are suffering right now in your prayers. We appreciate the time you take to read these updates. I am regularly stopped at church and receive many emails from you letting us know that you are reading these updates and are praying for us. The support raising process is one that has many ups and downs. So, your expressions of support and concern make a huge difference - encouraging us to continue to take steps forward even when the journey involves walking through valleys. We appreciate you and thank God for you!
Peace to you,
Lisa (Dan, Rebekah, and Will)