Wednesday, December 21, 2011

uncovered Corrie

As Christmas quickly approaches, I find myself realizing a ton about Jesus being born to ultimately die for us and that with that death, comes a newness of person. A newness of character and identity. A newness that has me also reflecting and contemplating the New Year.

Looking back at my life, there are a few points that characterize somewhat who I became - for example, I moved around a lot, I learned to become quickly everybody's friend, I learned how to feel out a room and figure out what was really going on and learned how to somewhat fly under the radar enough not to draw attention to myself - too much.

With that being one of the strongest consistencies, I realized that with those things, I was a chameleon, in some regards. I can and was able to blend into any environment that I was thrown into. Some would call this a gift, maybe an ease that not all possess. But, now finishing my 30's, starting a new season of life in the USA and growing a ton with the Lord I am seeing the downfall of this gift/trait.

There are times when blending in is exactly what is needed and what I should do, but then there are other times, when a shout out is called for and a conviction is needed to be stood firm on and I find myself in new territory. I never learned the trait of making bold decisions that ruffle others feathers. I didn't need to before, I was the new one and I was busy making friends. But, now the Lord is truly revealing to me basic Corrie traits that are in me and He is asking me to start being who He is wanting me to be in this season and with His identity. And I struggle and flounder and find myself failing to do just that, at times.

Oh goodness, when I am just who I am, it is awkward, kind of weird, not always likeable and sometimes just plain embarrassing. But, who cares, really, right? Nothing has changed about my identity, my eternal plans... so why do I care and add the stress to myself? Ughhh, but again, it is good to start realizing I have a voice and a voice that matters to God.

So, in an effort to be forthcoming, let me share with you a few things about who Corrie is and some things that she is finding she really likes... (some of these were new to me, others were not)
I like to have fun and laugh,
I love women bible studies and studying the Scriptures with other women,
I also like naps and early bedtimes, with the occasional late night card competition,
I enjoy seeing respectful children and kids who are willing to be different.
I love my family more than anything and genuinely desire to serve them more than I do,
I love my intimate friends closely after my family,
I am not good with politics and get easily confused,
I have the ability to be extremely awkward, so much so that it rubs off on people by me and they cringe... :)
I do not always enjoy political correctness, I think it is the american way of not being honest with ourselves...,
I have a quick anger trigger with bullies and have a heart for the underdog,
I can feel inadequate around people who are overconfident,
I can get my feelings hurt when I feel I am being taken advantage of while at the same time would lay down my life for a friend in true need (notice my word true, just trying to be honest),
I really enjoy chocolate and eat it too much at times,
I like being fit and healthy while at the same time find myself not going to the dr. unless under extreme symptoms for fear of looking foolish and like one of those women who "always is sick",
I like the size of my family,
I am becoming less grateful with passing years and want to see this change,
I sometimes do things that others don't like, but I see they hang in there with me anyway and it has shown me that I can learn to trust more in my friendships and less in myself,
and to end it today, I am learning there is so much more to God than I will ever understand, but I desire to know Him!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you who probably know yourselves more than you think...!

Monday, December 12, 2011

uncovered quietness

Isaiah 32:17
The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness
will be quietness and confidence forever.
I woke up this morning with an anxiety that kept growing and growing. Lots of thoughts going through my mind and realizing that my anxiety is stemmed from others opinions of me. It is such a challenge to want people to see the best in you, even though it is not what is always shown.

Even worse, people who don't know you and don't know your character are liable to jump to wrong conclusions and my instant desire is to defend myself, over-tell what is going on in my mind, or over exaggerate the opposite of what they think of you. Does any of this make sense?

So, as I was thinking about what these certain people might be thinking of me, this verse showed up on my computer screen. Immediately I felt a peace, an inside peace only found with the Lord. I then realized that even if I am not able to explain myself ever to these people, it will be okay. The quietness and confidence found in righteousness is better than a temporary confidence in explaining myself. So, maybe there will be people who have the wrong idea of me forever - don't get me wrong, bummer, right? BUT, even if that is the scenario, it will be okay and I can learn and grow and trust the Lord more. The challenge will be for me to stay faithful to a lifestyle of righteousness in the Lord moment by moment.

On a side note, I also found it interesting that it was easier for me to have people misunderstand me in a foreign culture than I am having people misunderstand me here. Maybe it is because I maybe felt most of the time people didn't understand me so it became a lifestyle. Nothing unsual, but here, there is a bigger stigma in my own heart and mind... hmmmm, something to think about.

Anyway, have a great day and here's hoping to no misunderstandings, but if there are, quietness and confidence are within reaching distance with the Lord.

Friday, December 9, 2011

uncovered simplicity with money

I have been living here long enough to have learned that everything costs money. Nothing new with that idea, but what is new to me is ALL the ways you can save money. To the point, I have a feeling that it is actually getting people to spend money that they usually wouldn't, in order to SAVE money.

For those who know me, you know that I enjoy simplicity. Simplicity in lifestyle, in material items, in friendships, in daily routine. I am not one of those women who enjoys a hectic day nor am I the woman who can multi-task AT ALL!! I cannot, even if you multi-task in front of me, you will see me break out into a sweat. You can ask any of my friends (which by the way, I know of no other woman who cannot multi-task - there have to be more out there, right?).

SO, with that being said, I do have a heart to save money and be wise with what we have. BUT, this idea that every single place you go you have the opportunity to join their club and save money and earn rewards and earn special discounts or FREE money to their desired store. UGHHHH, I literally cannot stand it. Let me tell you what it does to me as a simple kind of woman. These little clubs are cluttering my email, cluttering my real mail, they have trapped me mentally in going out and using the discounts that I have been SO LUCKY to have been asked to be a part of... ugh, it literally clutters my mind, my day and I do not enjoy it at all.

So, this past week I have spent every single morning, unsubscribing to every bit of email I receive that is not personal. I am also getting rid of cards and mailings and whatever else I can find to declutter my mind.

I am guessing that some of you are thinking that by doing this, I am choosing to waste money. AND, maybe at some point, I will be mature enough to handle the junk, but right now, I cannot and I refuse to be a victim of the money saving scandal.... okay, I am being harsh, but that type of behavior is what happens to us simple women, we slowly erode mentally bit by bit until we SNAP and then we read in the papers about shootings after material items... I know I am just one step away from utter destruction.

WIth that being said, I joined a store's "card" just yesterday because it would save me 20% ofo my purchases that I was making that morning. Bummer, one week of great steps forward to come crashing down to another moment of simplistic weakness....

Oh well, tomorrow is a new day!

Monday, November 28, 2011

uncovered celebrations

Sami's 10th birthday party. She is opening up a "craft" bin gift!

John's ? birthday. The kids have been begging him for a dog, and of course, we keep saying no, so this is their version of buying him one. It is an ice cream cake, and it was delicious!

This has been a crazy couple of weeks as we have had two birthdays, Thanksgiving and one more birthday to go this week. Lots of celebrations and things to rejoice in... As a family, we try to focus on the "experience" of the celebration verses the gifts of celebrations. Not that gifts are bad, because we know they are not. However, I have found that I can easily get trapped in the mentality of the gift/gifts and what their friends are receiving and will my children like it, will they think their friends will like it, etc...
As I type it, it feels kind of silly really. BUT, truly it can feel like a box to live under instead of a moment to be celebrated! Truly I am proud of my children. They expect I am sure one gift, but other than that, they expect a family moment. One to be remembered and stored in our memory banks to be thought about another day...
I do hope your Thanksgiving was full of celebration and thanks and family and friends. As I desire to live "uncovered", I realize that it can be hard to celebrate every moment, but today I will try as I will again tomorrow and then I will try the next day, and so on, I am sure you get the idea.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a new beginning

Happy Thanksgiving friends!
For those of you who know me, know that I am pretty transparent with my life. My hope is that this blog will be a little outlet for me to learn to live in an american culture openly and uncovered.
I have to go though at this current moment to welcome my kids home from school, but for now, have a great Holiday week and enjoy the people that you find yourself surrounded by... I know that I will.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Partnership with Guckenberger Family

    Hello family and friends,
    To look back over these past seven years, it has been such a whirlwind of trust, faith, fears, concerns, and more than anything relationship! Relationship with our staff family, relationship with those we ministered to in Mexico and Nigeria and most importantly our relationships with each of you.
    We are overjoyed to share with you that John has received a job that he is so excited about and the Lord has really revealed to us. He started November 1st, with his last day in the Back2Back offices being October 31st. We wanted to thank you one last time as you have been on this whirlwind with us the entire time. John is the new project manger of Life Enriching Community. LEC is a world class leader in senior living. John will be managing various construction projects at the LEC Twin Lakes Campus and Twin Towers Campus.
    As one chapter in our life closes and another one begins, we find ourselves again in a whirlwind of trust, faith, fears, concerns and yet this time, without each of you. BUT, we do know this, God is with us and we hope and pray that He will continue to lay the burden on your heart to continue to pray for us as He guides us into new relationships with neighbors, parents of children’s friends, and whomever else the Lord sees fit for us to be ministering alongside and to. He is good to us, this we know!
    Please continue to consider supporting another staff family, program or child within Back2Back ministries as the work is far from over. Thank you for partnering with us as we “Cared for Today, Hoped for Tomorrow” for these Fatherless. John and I can both sincerely say we have loved working with each of you.
    Because there are numerous opportunities to continue your partnership with Back2Back, we would like to recommend that your prayers and financial support go toward our home office staff, in particular Chris Ramos. He is the Director of Missions and he has been a faithful servant for the past four years with Back2Back. As you probably know, it is much more difficult for U.S. staff to raise support, and your partnership would be a huge benefit.
    We are always interested in connecting with each of you so please call us or email us with any questions or just to connect. Email: corriejohn@yahoo.com, John’s ph: 513-502-8830.
    Thank you again and God Bless,
    John and Corrie Guckenberger

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

a few things not missed


Just to remind myself that things aren't always as perfect as you remember, I saw a friend's fb page and was quickly reminded of some things I don't miss about living in Nigeria....

1. head wraps
2. no consistent power
3. having to put all clothes on a clothes line, rain or shine (the kids are cute, huh?)
4. traffic that takes the Christ right out of me... (is that bad to say, you understand what I mean, right?)
5. flying bugs that overtake our home as they crawl under the doors and through our windows
6. flat, huge, crab spiders
7. Let's go ahead and end today's list with having to home-make all meals from scratch, every day, three times a day....

I think this is a good list so far. Again, these aren't entirely horrible things, but things that I just don't miss...

The grass isn't alway greener on the other side... A valuable lesson in life!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

the loss of an old life, a birth of a new one

This is the Africa I last remember! It is funny how six months later, I am finding myself already in a place of only remembering the "good and fun" parts of life there. The sights, smells and sounds of memories lived fully!


I was at church on Sunday missing our village church ladies singing unto the Lord! It made me want to take note and remind myself of some of those memories and think about them for a bit. So I will begin to do just that and be grateful for the time spent as a foreigner in a far away continent!

Beginning list of things missed in Jos, Nigeria

1. Village church worship
2. walking in the market and choosing something to eat with only a few choices in front of me
3. being such a foreigner allowed me the deepness in friendships to reveal themselves early on
4. evening times spent as a family playing games
5. naturally living out biblical commands
6. simplicity in schedule
7. ah, one of my favorites - their German white cheddar cheese blocks! yum, yum
8. the warmth (man is it cold here)
9. I guess the familiarity of being a foreigner and automatically being different than those around you

This is just the beginning and I am so glad for those experiences as I am also glad for the ones before me not yet lived! There is a lot of life in me and a lot to give. John and I talk about how different we are now. People on the outside might not see the differences right away, but they are there and I am confident that the changes are to prepare us for what is yet to come.

With that, I move forward missing what is gone but anticipating what is yet to come. I choose to grab on to this new day and live it! Death is a part of life. The death of what was - the death of an old self, an old relationship, of what you thought something was meaning, maybe even a death of a perception, etc... I am sure we can all fill in that list with our own deaths. I really do believe that the better we learn to handle death, the better we are able to live the life in front of us without missing those moments, those brief but always available moments to serve the person in front of my face!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Guckenberger's Family update




Family and Friends,

Hello to our family and friends! We regret how long it has been since we have given you an update. Especially since I have paused on the blog which was such a great way to communicate what God was doing with us and B2B. Please know that we have been praying for you all as we are ever reminded of our partnership with each of you. During these past four months being in the USA, we have enjoyed taking the time to connect with some of you in person. Thanks for taking the time to have lunch, dinner, or just visit on a not so

long distance phone call.

As you all know, John has been working in the home office for the last four months, on “home assignment”. During this time, we have been in prayer seeking an answer to where we might serve next with Back2Back and continue the ministry we’ve felt so passionate about for the last seven years.

As the conclusion of our home assignment time has drawn closer, we have been sensing that God is leading us in a different direction and so we have decided to leave B2B staff.

Before moving to Mexico with Back2Back, John fulfilled a construction manager role. In the next few months, he will begin to pursue employment again in this fi


eld. His passion that he has been educated in, that the Lord has blessed him with, and that he continues to enjoy so much is with construction and all its varying roles. He and I are very much on the same page with this change and couldn’t be more excited to see what God has next.

Where specifically God is leading we are not sure. We just know we need to make the necessary room for Him to show us where that next step is to serve Him elsewhere.

We have been blessed ten fold by God through the ministry of Back2Back. We have not only had the opportunity to serve in the role of orphan care, but we have been served by so many of you who have locked arms and partnered, cared, prayed, financially supported and loved on our family for the past seven years. It has been a gift given to us that is not taken for granted. We are now leaving the ministry as different people than when w

e began. For this, we are thankful!

Here is the plan:

John will be looking for new employment while continuing with B2B in the home office. There is much to do and this will allow John to bring closure and transition to a number of projects for which he is currently responsible.

Our desire is to transition out of B2B by the end of October, but much of this timing is based on John finding a new job. Until that time, John will continue

to serve the ministry. In order to help make this transition, we ask that you remain in financial partnership with us through the end of November.

We want to continue to be open with each of you so if there are any questions in regards to what we are communicating, please email us at corriejohn@yahoo.com. We would love to hear from each of you. We will continue to keep you up to date with our changes as they occur and let you know the final date that we are leaving B2B. We are blessed by each of you and grateful for your prayers.

Thank you and God Bless,

John and Corrie Guckenberger

P.S.

Please know that the ministry is continuing to invest in the lives of orphans by God’s provisions through the generosity of supporters like you. Our desire is that you would look at this opportunity to partner with Back2Back in a new way.

By shifting your financial support to another staff member (all staff raise their support), a program, or to assist any of the children’s homes or communities in which we have served, you’ll be continuing your important partnership with the ministry.

Of course, you can also give generally which allows B2B to meet specific needs at any of our ministry sites as they arise. If you don’t feel led to continue to support the ministry, that’s perfectly fine too! We welcome any questions you might have in regards to this.

Monday, June 20, 2011

One last running analogy

Before I get into my running analogy, I just thought I would give you some photos showing how the last couple of months have been filled.
Lots of family time, siblings, grandparents, past friendships along with some new friendships and visiting varying churches that have been a part of our lives while overseas for the last few years.
We are so grateful for each one of these times and relationships.

The picture of Gus being tied up is just one way my children have been amusing themselves. If any of you are thinking, "ahhh, poor Gus." Don't. He deserves it most of the time. :)

John and I were running this morning. We are starting to find a routine in our running outings again since living in Montgomery. We run at least two or three mornings together while having other avenues of running the rest of the week.

Since moving here, in Montgomery, we have found a path that suits us both. It is about a five mile run down major streets, through neighborhoods and over bridges, etc... It works for us, but the other hard part for me personally is that there are a few times where we need to cross over major roads. We run real early, so for the most part not an issue, but occasionally when we cross, there just happens to be that ONE car that is cruising down the street at 6am. Usually what happens is that John will say, "Let's go and cross now." which at that point, I usually turn my head, check the surroundings and my visuals (hard for me to see that early and with my eyesight failing more often than not), then stutter my start due to my own risk assessment. Most of the time, it causes frustrations because I assess risk differently than he does and maybe we should have crossed earlier or later than what he was suggesting.

HOWEVER, today I mentally thought I am not going to check at all when he communicates that it is time to cross over the road, I will just trust that he loves me and he has my best interest and move forward as he suggests. Well, it was great. No stress on my part, no frustration on his part and we continued running in a smooth pattern.

WELL, lo and behold, it dawned on me. I wonder how much I do that to the Lord? He says to me, "Corrie, it is time to cross over" and then I look to see what the risk will be and then move forward as to what I deem safe and timely. I think I do it a lot, in so many little areas. And, especially now while John and I are waiting on the Lord for direction. I am sitting back in my bedroom assessing. Assessing what would work best for the kids, or what might be best for John or what would best use my skill set, etc... there is no end to my assessing.

I think some of you might be thinking now, "wait, Corrie, God calls us to wisdom and using our brains." I know that, but I am coming from the perspective of overusing our minds and wisdom to a point where we can logically "hault" when God calls us to "move" with no regard to the risk assessment because truly God has a different definition of risk than we do, but even more importantly for me to remember is that God loves me and ultimately has His people's best interest in mind all the time.

Believe it or not, this was a big "ah hah" moment for me. Almost a burden lifted. My only responsibility during this period is to wait and continue running where I can until He tells me to cross over. AND, when He does, I need to just cross over and continue to follow the one who loves me and will give me whatever it is I need in whatever moment I need it.

Isn't running great?!

One last thought, this is my last blog entry for awhile. I am sensing the need to close it down. Thank you to you readers out there. I have enjoyed hearing from you. When we know what is next for us, I will blog about it and we will be sending out an old fashioned newsletter for those of you who support us to receive. Please continue to let me know what is going on, whether through commenting on this blog or sending me personal emails. I love it. corriejohn@yahoo.com
If you want to support us and become a partner in the cause for the orphan, please send me an email as well, and I can let you know the options before you.

In the meanwhile, continue running and enjoy each step! God Bless!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

a revelation that brought a right peace

Does that title even make sense, really?

Officially, we are moved into our last home (for awhile anyway). The kids are gone spending time with grandparents and John and I are getting away as a couple for a few days at a place called Innkeepers. I am excited to spend some time looking face to face at my husband without the challenge of having purposeful conversations around the children. I am sure a few of you understand and know what I am saying.

We have had a lot of questions asked our way recently wondering if the Lord had brought any clarity to our future. We have been here/home a couple of months and curiousity is peaked, not only from others but from John and I as well. As if it was some exciting adventure that the world deems exciting and adventurous is awaiting us around the "decision" bend. Don't get me wrong anywhere the Lord leads our family will truly be exciting and adventurous. It just might not be the world's definition of "exciting and adventurous". There is a distinction! I don't want to disappoint what others are expecting, right?

As I was working through bible study this morning, I came to a peaceful realization that so much of self (well really all of it) springs: self-justification, self-glorification, self-deception, and self-gratification. BUT, the key is to return my eyes to the Lord. I cannot be overcome by my "self" but what I can do is be overcome every single morning by the Lord and his mercies and moment by moment make choices of obedience, no matter how boring, how mundane, how not exciting they may seem to others and myself.

Just this thought alone, created in my heart a serenity of peace. Maybe I don't have the future planned and as much as I would like to create something exciting to tell people of what the future might hold, I cannot. We just don't know, yet. So, this morning I will obey and live a day that brings God honor, glory and praise. And if at some point, my eyes turn toward "self", I will humbly regain the proper gaze and move forward again and again and again.

I pray you do the same as well. Not for other's sake, but for the glory of the Lord!

Friday, June 3, 2011

pursuing Christ through pretense

I was asked the question this week in the bible study, Gospel Transformation, "Where do you pretend?" It was going through the idea of pretense and how we all, in some way, shape or form, put out a pretense to others for various reasons. If you think about it, it is a really loaded question. Where do I pretend? The truth is, I do pretend sometimes. I hope not all the time, nor even most of the time.... but I do have my moments when I do.

It has been so good for me to realize my own pretense as I think about pursuing Christ more authentically. A dear, close friend of mine in Jos wrote me an email a bit ago and I reread it today and it was what I needed to hear.

"Remember that your goal is the pursuit of Christ, not the pursuit of missions. Despite all the amazing things Paul did, he said “this one thing I do…” and that was to pursue Christ. If pursuing Christ means making a change, it will be sad and you will grieve the change, but be comforted that it does not mean you are not being faithful to God or are not serving/obeying him."

As this time of transition moves forward and as I keep my eyes focused on the Author and Perfecter of my faith, change might be what naturally happens, and it is okay. Where do I pretend? I pray it is never in my own walk before the Lord.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

permanently temporary

Well, we are officially moving to our permanently temporary home this weekend. As a family, we are all excited for the final phase of our transition process.

Okay, so I just tried uploading the photo to this blog and no matter where I live, I am still not savvy in computer technology. SO, no picture. Sorry.

Either way, my sister-in-law is coming in town this weekend (we are currently staying in her house) and we are going to stay to be with her and then on Monday.... officially start sleeping there.

Today has been good. I am studying idolatry in my life. While thinking about moving, I am trying to daily and momently give to the Lord the desire to have..... to have a couch.... to have a home.... to have a something cute and quaint.... None of these things are bad and I realize that... but what is ironic is sometimes when you don't have, you can idolize... and want.... and think it is "right" for you to have and want.

Ughhh.... anyway, so while transition can be hard, it forces the moment by moment need for Christ and also the awareness that in Him I am sufficient and all my needs are met.

Okay, on another side note... wow, I become really random without focus, huh?
My kids have been doing Bible with me over the last few weeks and I just gave them a test over Titus. They can, if asked, tell me the two major themes of this book of the Bible and tell me the difference between rebellious men and overseers and elders. It has been fascinating to me to see their ability to pick things up so quickly....

Have a great day.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Here is the deal!

Okay, so here is the deal. I am finding it really hard to justify this blog with pictures of the kids and I doing different things here in the USA.... you know what I mean? Not quite so impactful I would imagine for the most of you....

SO, I was considering stopping, but I do want to share some of our transition thoughts, but maybe in the midst of what I am learning through Gospel Transformation. What do you think?

Knowing that, I would imagine that some of you might find this your last time visiting "John and Corrie Guckenberger Family" blogsite. I understand and would maybe do the same if I were you.

BUT, if some of you are interested still, just know that I am going to be trying to blog around three times a week about "Gospel Transformation" and the impact the bible study has had on me. At the same time I will be sprinkling bits and pieces of our family, our future and where God is leading.

Enjoy!
First, just know that this week I am all about learning "idolatry" and the many faces it wears in my life. It is not a pretty picture. More to come. Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

hey there to the perfect world



Hi everyone,
Here are just some random photos of my family. We went 4 wheeling while in NC and I have decided that I enjoy most being outside: hiking, picnicing, smelling the flowers and just feeling the breeze. It has been gross here and so I am missing the outdoors, but I know it won't be much longer.
In my fairy tale world of perfectness (meaning money isn't an issue and neither are my character flaws) I would like to live in a home in the middle of tons of land and then I would make my own garden and work the land. Yes, in this world, I don't get tired of picking weeds. In this world, we have the funds to buy a 4 wheeler and own about 30 acres.

Do you ever find your thoughts going to your world of perfectness? Because people would come to this property and feel loved and welcomed and eventually know Christ (if they didn't already) in a real way. It would be people's moment of peace before they enter their life again.

Oh well. have a great day. Enjoy the day we do have, perfect or not.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

orphan care stateside



Well, we have slowly begun to find a new rhythm for our family. John is in the office, I am taking the mornings to homeschool the kids, we are reconnecting gradually with friends and family and we are clothed and fed each day. Who could ask for more, correct?


It has been a strange realization for John and I how different it is to be working indirectly with orphan care verses "hands on" directly with these children. It isn't bad, just different. With John being in the office, I can tend to feel a bit removed. We have spent our last six years working together in another country, learning to communicate in a way that shows us as partners in our day in and day out routine. We are having to readjust our talk, reevaluate what our time is spent on and recognize the need for other time commitments during this season.


John is in the office doing behind the scenes work: helping the missionaries on the field by answering questions that come in (insurance, grant policies, etc...) by them, helping move the new office quarters and working on donor relations. Basically, whatever needs come in that he can actually do (the office environment takes a little bit different skill set than his usual building). It is good to see how hard the office works for these children/teens that are pictured. I believe it is actually harder to be here than there. While on the field you are reminded daily that these orphans are real and in real struggle. Here, you are motivated by God's heart for the Fatherless and the knowledge that everyone has their part...and every part is vital to the meeting of the need.


We are grateful to see a more "full" picture of the workings of Back 2 Back and once again feel grateful to be partnered with these individuals who toil just as much as the "on field" staff and yet don't get the immediate realization that a need is being met. They are soldiers in a bigger picture and these children are loved dearly by the Lord no matter where any of us live.



Friday, May 6, 2011

new bible study

Okay, so I know it has been really long since my last post. We are currently working with no internet in the home and so John has been taking the computer in the morning to download our emails and then brings them home to me..... which doesn't leave much time to blog....

We are hoping that will changed real soon.

First things first,
HAPPY MOTHER's DAY!!!

I pray all you mother's out there will feel celebrated and enjoyed.


Second, I don't do this very often, but this time, I just had to:

I am doing this bible study called "Gospel Transformation" and I just wanted to give it a little shout out as it is amazing! It is a 9 month study (so no joking around) all about the gospel transforming every detail of your life. FROM WEEK ONE, I was hooked and usually it takes a few days/weeks for me to get involved excitedly in a study.

I am gathering so far that it will bring you to be VERY aware of your own sin (maybe half of the book which will be about 4 or 5 months of "bummer, I am a serious sinner") to then lead you to all truths that are from the Gospel.... I could really go on and on about things I am learning so far, but for those of you looking for something -- HERE YOU GO!!

If you are looking for a bible study that you can do at your own pace, I highly recommend this one. It is put out by World Harvest Mission.

No pictures, just encouragement....

Saturday, April 30, 2011

changing perspective


I am beginning on Monday to finish with the kids school year in our Cincinnati home. I was starting to notice that Sami was pronouncing her “H’s” like “Haychis” (phonetically, of course) because of living in Jos. Cute, but I am excited for her to pronounce them the way I was raised to pronounce them. That is a minor example of what we are constantly working through raising them to be "third culture kids".

We JUST don’t like change, do we? (I am sure by now, you all are tired of me talking about transition… I cannot help it, it is the reality of where I am… and what if we stay this way FOREVER!!! Okay, I am getting ahead of myself… Where was I?) We tend to resist anything that pushes, prods or pulls us from a place of the comfortable recognized to the uncomfortable unknown. My mind was drawn to the present struggles of our present state of transition. We are used to being the foreigners (that is the majority of my kids life), not the stay at home Americans.

One of the reasons this transition has been more challenging is that we are being allowed to stay in friend’s home’s for a bit… someone else’s home, someone else’s furniture, someone else’s circle of life. I’m not trying to complain, for we are so thankful for both of these provisions, yet this is our reality. So it feels like home, but it isn’t quite… Without a doubt, it is emotionally harder to move back and forth with secondary school children ~ tweens. They’d just found where they belonged and we uproot them to return to a place that isn’t what they left before. So, they are back to figuring out where they belong once again when they’d anticipated coming "home." But people leave; others grow, looking and sounding different; still others change and have new priorities or a different direction – nothing remains static and so it just isn’t the same.

As I’ve pondered and prayed – then realized that I should first pray and then ponder: How are we to shepherd our children through this time, the Holy Spirit brought my thoughts to perhaps the most well known words in the Bible about what it looks like to be a good shepherd.

The LORD is my shepherd;

I have all that I need.

Psalm 23:1 (NLT)

When God blessed us with children, He gave us the privilege of becoming shepherds… one more way we can learn to imitate our God and our Savior. So I read these words, words first stamped onto my heart over 20 years ago, gentle words reminding me how the Good Shepherd cares for me and see a very practical example of how I can shepherd my children.

I came across another blog site that helped me put some of my “overwhelmed thoughts” into more practical steps to consider:

“· I can let them rest, making sure our home is a place of security, fun and respite from the stresses in their worlds all around them.

· I can lead – with my words, my actions, my attitudes, my life. Do I approach the challenges with a gentle spirit, accepting and welcoming God’s sovereignty and excited to see what He will do because I know He will work?

· I can renew: revamping harried schedules, repairing wrong attitudes and beliefs, restoring tired hearts, making good on promises and things I’ve said, renovating to salvage the bad and hard days.

· I can guide, showing them again and again that we run to Jesus with our celebrations, challenges and sorrows.

· I can protect through disciplining, both myself and my children as necessary.

· I can comfort, often just by caring about the hard, seemingly little things.

· I can prepare a feast… healthy, nutritious snacks and meals that I know will delight my family… and that time of preparation is a wonderful time to pray for them… or to encourage them to work alongside me and share about/pray through their days.

· I can honor them: respecting their feelings, attitudes and perceptions even when they need repair, admiring their accomplishments and the person God is growing them to be, giving credit where credit is due, protecting their reputations, remembering that they, too, are heirs of the King.

· I can pursue them with goodness and unfailing love, whose source is, of course, the Good Shepherd.”

Good stuff, huh? Sounds easy, right? Hah, I think that is why I like that first verse of Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.”

I guess that is my take home. I might mess up and not do what I should be doing to care for them, but I can come back to the idea that Jesus is all that I need. I can trust that in following the example of my Shepherd, He will open the eyes of my children so that they see their cup, too, overflowing with blessings from heaven.

I know this one was long! Thanks for staying with me.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

a new transition

Isn't this sunrise beautiful? It probably doesn't mean the same to you as it does to my family. It is the idea of just being there to experience it that makes it wonderful. But, you have to admit, it still is pretty.


This photo represents to me a new day, a new start, a new transition. We are officially in OH. We have gone from Nigeria, England, USA - FL, NC, OH within 3 1/2 weeks. It has felt a bit overwhelming to be living out of a suitcase for this long, but every stop along our trail home has been so worth it. No regrets!

So, starting sometime real soon, we will start emailing again, making phone calls again and all the other regular daily activities that make life feel normal. The kids are doing great. Yesterday they went to the grocery store with me and we were all so surprised to hear the "storm" coming out of the vegetable department and then after hearing the thunder, watching it rain on the vegetables. It amazes me what things are out there.

Anyway, I am not real sure what this new transition holds for us as a family, but I would sincerely love your prayers to join ours with where or what God might be leading us. We want to climb the mountain He wants us to climb - not the one that we think might be the best. We need your prayers. If I were to be honest, I am a bit scared. Is that allowed to be written on a blog? Not sure, if not, oops, too personal. Thanks.

Either way, it is a new transition and with that comes a new understanding and a new growth. We will start our climb today, Lord willing. :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

It has been so long since we have communicated anything. Life has been full.

We have been receiving lots of emails with questions regarding where we are, etc...

We are in NC, after visiting John's mom in FL, after having a family vacation in FL. It has been nice seeing some grandparents.... but sad enough our stay in NC is not long enough to do all that we would want. SO, we will return another time to visit more and get some things done.

We leave this week to go back to OH to get a little unpacking done before John's starts work in the home office. I have to admit, it has been hard to adjust to everything, but I know that God will work through each of us to draw each one of us to Himself more and more with each day.

We are looking forward to seeing each one of you and catching up. Please continue to pray for us and I will become more regular with blogging once we are home and in somewhat of our daily life routine.... (I forget what that looks like).

Have a great Easter! He is risen indeed (for all of us Methodists out there) :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

how we speak, baby steps

Well, we are in FL enjoying the sun and the activities that are just a click away.

Everything from Putt-Putt, go karting, walks on the beach, playing volleyball in the pool and of course you have all the restaurants meeting whatever food desire you happen to be craving in the moment. So much to do, to eat, to partake in.....

YET, surprisingly enough, we can still experience children dealing with Boredom.... what do you really think that means anyway? I will look it up.... I will be back in a moment.

adjectivefeeling weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one's current activity
Can this be the real definition? Hopefully, you all are seeing that I am not really questioning the definition as much as the use of it from kids mouths. Okay, look, now I am trying to be vague, as in ALL KIDS SAY THIS, when in reality I am trying to not hone in on the condition of my own children. UGH.... Maybe there are too many options offered. My sister-in-law, Beth, and I were talking about how she read an article that if you offer up two choices to someone you are bound to see more productivity than if you were to give them an unlimited amount of choices. Interesting, isn't it?
We are trained and think it is our right to have an unlimited amount of choices, as if this makes us more powerful to choose "Yes, I will go go karting today" when there are 100 things to do. Verses, "I guess I will go go karting since there is only one other option...." That doesn't even make sense in the practicality of it, but yet, here John and I are thinking and leading our kids to believe that if we offer them 100 choices while at the beach in FL, we are allowing them to feel that this vacation is SOOOO FUNNNNN. We are starting them off on the wrong foot.
Truth is, "kids this is such a treat and we are so blessed, let's enjoy the water and the sun and the gifts around us because we can now say with firsthand experience that there are kids in Africa right now, plowing a field or taking care of children that are not theirs to take care of...."
Wow, little soap box there, sorry. All in all, we are having a great time as a family and I am grateful for the gifts before us. As a matter of fact, we are off to see the tallest lighthouse in FL and the largest lighthouse museum in the USA. Hmmmm, interesting after all that I wrote.... I guess it is baby steps :)
Even though we are here, the last two pictures represent where my heart and mind keep wandering to when there is a moment to sit and think. Our Jos village and our Jos family. Keep praying for them as the elections are continuing this weekend, prayerfully with no crisis.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

transitions

We have arrived safely in Cincinnati, OH. Leave tomorrow for our FL vacation and traveling time. BUT, it has been so refreshing to be home with Todd and Beth's family for the last couple of days. The kids are playing and we are getting a few things done...

Here are a couple of photos of our kids while in London. We were able to have almost a full day layover there. The kids were excited about the double decker buses and were completely amazed with the driving being done on the opposite side of the road. John and I were amazed how we have been foreigners so long now and yet can still be caught off guard with how to find places in another country. I am guessing that maybe we have become too accustomed to third world cultures that a first world landscape was a challenge... who knows, but it was nice being there, once we figured out our transportation issues.


Just a couple of comments that John and I have heard from our kids (we can only remember these, but I tell you, there have been some funny things we have laughed to ourselves about in regards to our kids transition):
"Look at these pretty lillies, they are everywhere!" - while looking at dandelions in a field.
"Why is the car stopping for us, that is weird." - while crossing a street in London and the cars actually stopped to let us pass.
"Why are there wrappers around each of these straws?" - when picking up a straw for a POP at McDonald's
"This is the best place ever." - coming from John as we entered a Skyline Chili and the first thing he sees is they have placed a HUGE bottle of hand sanitizer on the ledge for people to use as they walk in.....


Again, so many more "WOW" moments, but no memory to record them. We are glad we are home, but I am learning that once again, we find ourselves in transition mode. Maybe the Lord doesn't want us (me) to find security in a location or in a routine, knowing it would take my eyes off of him and onto the location and/or routine. I am not sure, but either way, we are in transition again and will be for the next month, so we continue to grab each moment and make the most of it.