Wednesday, August 26, 2015

5 months In.


 For almost 7 LONG years we had moved at a snails pace and in October 2014 that all changed. Our last 5 months in the US was a whirlwind to say the least. Early one morning in mid October we prayed together before Mike went to work. We had come to a point where we had to lay this ministry down on the altar before the Lord and pray, "Lord, this is your ministry and if you are going to take it, please take it quickly. And if you are not, could you please provide the sacrifice (the lamb in the thicket) for us. We promise to RUN through any open door if YOUR will is NOT to take it from us. Lord, you know how broken we will be if your will is to sacrifice it, but we trust you to hold us and heal us. Lord, we are yours and however you see fit to work, we will continue to serve you and be obedient." That is word for word what we prayed, trust me I will NEVER forget that Thursday morning as long as I live. It was one of the hardest prayers I have ever prayed in my life, because I had no idea if the Lord's will was to sacrifice this ministry or provide the lamb. We both cried and were not sure what the days ahead would hold, but we trusted!

We had been told that November through January were not good months to gain people to partner with God for His work and that it would probably be mid to late 2015 before we would depart for the field full time. I honestly did not know if I could face another new year without caving to emotions and throwing in the white towel. It had become so difficult to understand God's timing, to trust it and have joy. I was angry with God and could not comprehend why God's people were not joining Him in His work. Bitterness had crept in and everything seemed to be falling apart instead of coming together. I was weak, very weak. So many things had happened during this time as well. Mike lost his job, our dear pastor left our church, some serious issues with family came up and we were hanging by a thread. In hind sight, I can say that is a great place to be although it sure doesn't feel like it at the time.

We had asked our awesome Advocacy Team if they would join us in fasting and praying 1 day a week from sunrise to sunset and meet with us after sunset to break the fast and fellowship. We said that prayer together on a Thursday morning and on Friday we had 2 people give us their pledge cards and said, "we are so sorry, we have been meaning to give this to you". That Sunday was our first day to fast and pray and it was also our church picnic. When it came time to eat and the sun was not yet down we decided to take a bike ride until sunset. As we were riding through the campground Mike heard someone call his name. He turned around and saw a dear friend that he hadn't seen in a long time. We began talking to him and his wife and found out that they too had come to Christ and wanted us to come and share with them more of what God was doing the next week!!! We rode away with thankful hearts believing that God had answered our prayer and told us He was in fact NOT going to sacrifice the ministry but in fact provide a lamb!!! After that day people, churches and business were contacting us to share with them!! Wow, did He ever provide.

Things started moving fast and we were making great strides to our needed 90% of funding to head to the field. It became clear in December it was going to happen way faster than we had thought possible during these months. So we decided that we had better get busy and start getting the house ready to put on the market. We worked and worked and still had a lot on the list but decided that in January that we needed to go ahead and put it on the market and continue working on things as we showed it. We put a sign in the yard on a Sunday afternoon late in January. Within 1 hour the phone was ringing off the hook and we had 26 people asking about the house. The following Sunday we had someone just stop by and ask to see it, we were reluctant but showed it and they gave us earnest money that day!!!! We ended up with 4 families interested and on a waiting list. The first two didn't work out, but the third did.  And their story went like this, they walked into a bank at 4:30 and at 5:15 they walked out with a pre approval for the purchase!!! That was God too, that doesn't just happen.

We started selling more stuff, getting rid of so much stuff and packing what we for sure wanted to take with us. All of this happening so fast and extremely emotional. Our house is the only house Ashtyn knew, EVERY single memory she has was in that house. This was extremely hard on her. The new family has teenage granddaughters so her room would remain lime green and purple and she was super excited about that. We worked from daylight to well into the night packing, painting, sorting etc… It was painstaking to say the least. Imagine if right now you had to sort through every drawer, closet and nook and cranny in your house and only keep what could fit in an 8x8x12 POD!!! Ya, really hard.

There are so many stories that we could share but long story short, we sold our house and closed on it in less than 4 weeks, put all our stuff in a POD, packed our car and camper and headed toward Mexico. We had hoped to take about 2-3 weeks to drive toward the border and catch our breath and grab a hold of our emotions. But we headed out February 28th and had to stay ahead of terrible ice, snow and extreme cold temperatures. We hurriedly traveled to get to AZ where we had 2 days of debriefing before crossing the border. We crossed the border on March 11th. Whew!!!

The whirlwind didn't stop when we arrived either. From finding a house to rent, to getting our stuff from a POD in CA across the border to our house in Mexico, to finding a church to attend, starting language school etc…. The adjustments have been endless and hourly!! We stay exhausted because we can no longer do ANYTHING like we used too. It seriously is so draining. Sounds are different, smells are different, foods are different, the language is different, the culture is different, shopping is different, cooking is different, bathing is different, brushing your teeth is different, laundry is different, driving is different………. you get the idea right????? Everything requires thinking before doing anything. It is mentally exhausting so it drains us physically.

Mike and I are in language school Monday - Friday from 9 to 2. Ashtyn just started school here on Monday. Her classes begin at 7 a.m., she is to be in her seat at 6:50 and they go until 3:10 pm with only  two 20 minute breaks!!! All her books are in Spanish and classes too except English class. Prayer for all of us as we learn the language and make friends is much appreciated. Below is a video of a class at our school. Our teachers do NOT speak English, so we are taught and explained to in Spanish only!! And a picture of Ashtyn on her first day.


So as you can see we have been in a whirlwind for the last 10 months now and trying to get it to settle down. Not sure that life on the mission field full time will actually allow that, but some sense of routine and familiarity in time will be welcomed. 

Thanks for keeping up with us, praying for us, encouraging us and supporting us!! Will update again soon with more details of life here and what it looks like. 

Willfully His, 

Monday, February 2, 2015

All you can eat Churro's


So here it is February 2nd, our "Faith Date" and God has been more than faithful in His provisions and moving us forward. We are excited to tell you that by faith we will leave this month!!! We are waiting on a set closing date for our house and working on packing. Along with doing what seems like a mountain of paper work before our departure. Once again, as it has been on this LONG 7 year journey, we have more questions than answers. But we are trusting God 100% with every detail of these next steps. So very soon we will be living in the land of all you can eat churro's - Mexico!!

So many times I have wanted to update the blog and write about so many things and sensed the Lord was saying, "be silent and wait" and now it all makes sense when I look back. When I look back over the last 2 years of waiting on the Lord, they have been the most difficult for me in so many ways. And I think because I was struggling so much with how long and lonely the journey had been and seemed to still be for us, the Lord was using it to teach me something really important. He is enough! 

Our journey is different than those around us. Our journey is a journey of giving up, not gaining. Our journey is filled with grieving the loss of so many things. Our journey is lonely. Our journey is filled with change. Our journey is hard, really hard. Our journey is about the gospel and getting it to those who need to hear. Our journey is for a harvest of lost.  Our journey is HIS journey! We didn't plan this before time, He did. We had no idea what this would cost, He did. We had no idea how long this would take, He did. He is enough!

He has shown me in scripture that this was His journey first, He carved out an example for us. We simply need to be obedient. I simply needed Him to be enough for me. He needed me to run to Him first with my hurts, disappointments, struggles and tears. He needed me to confide in Him about everything. He needed me to be silent, like He was. He needed to see that I trusted Him more than I did those around me. He needed me to be a "by faith" follower ( you know like all those mentioned in Hebrews). He desired for me to persevere so that He could perfect my faith!  Persevere is defined as: to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of the difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.  

This by NO way means that I am perfect, please don't think that. It just means that He is perfecting my faith. Scripture says, "And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." Hebrews 12:1b-2a. It was His journey too! And I have found great comfort in knowing that Jesus personally walked our journey. He was the first missionary, He endured everything and more than we have. And when I have a hard day now, I call to Him because He knows and He is enough!

Please pray for us as we pack up what little we are taking, tell family and friends "see you later", and set out to a new country, new culture, new EVERYTHING to make much of Him! We are excited, sad, nervous and a whole bunch of emotions rolled into one. We covet your prayers!!! See below for specific ways to pray.

Prayer Request:

  • Our emotional well being over the next few weeks
  • Our family that will stay behind
  • Our house to close with no problems
  • No obstacles in our upcoming travels as we drive over 2500 miles
  • All paperwork and packing to fall into place
  • To remain firm in our journey and press on in Christ strength 
  • God's continued faithfulness 

Thank you so much for keeping up with us, praying for us, and supporting us. We now have a FB page where you can keep up with  more current shorter updates as we set out later this month. I am not sure how much I will be able to update the blog during travels and when we first get there. So that would be an easy way to keep up. Facebook Page  Incase this link doesn't work, search for us on FB Journey To A Harvest.

Willfully His, Sherri 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Beautiful Exchanges

and a banquet invitation! 

Over 6 years ago we prayed a prayer - "God use us, we will do anything!" Our anything seems to be costing us everything. Nothing about our previous lives are the same. Over the years we have had to give up ALL CONTROL. Over the years God has led us deeper into the lives of the people He loves and further from the safety of the familiar.

"If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it." Matt 16:25

There are many days and nights when tears fall and we wonder, should we take our prayer back? It some times seems easier to do that because God's ways are backwards to our human nature. God tells us to die to live, lose to find and empty yourself to be filled. And even though we have seen and experienced that many times, it still doesn't come without struggling against our flesh, tears over the emptying and loneliness in the dying. These are His beautiful exchanges. Just like He was our beautiful exchange.

And then a reminder from Luke 14 of the parable of the Great Feast and the cost of being a disciple. Jesus describes a banquet, it is beautiful and everyone is invited. But as the host prepares to welcome his family, friends and neighbors he realizes everyone has made excuses of some sort and they don't participate. So disappointed, he sends his servant out to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and blind from the streets. So the servant brings them to the beautiful feast and there is still room for more! So he sends his servant out again to COMPEL people to come! His master has sent him out for those who don't take love for granted.

As I read this scripture, I got a beautiful word picture of what God is allowing us to be a part of. He is sending us out to invite those least likely guest to the beautiful banquet table. We get to be a part of giving God to deaf children.

God is whispering through the words of scripture to us to run on, go get His people and fill up His table. We are His ambassadors and servants and He has told us to go quickly and invite. As a child of the Most High, He is asking you too. Are you making excuses about being a part of filling up His table? Are you only inviting your family, friends and neighbors? Scripture tells us that God will reward you for inviting those who cannot repay you. See God's economy makes beautiful exchanges: as we give, we grow! It is NOT foolish to invest in the only TWO things that will NOT die: God and people's souls.

No matter how uncomfortable and hard it seems to be getting, we will NEVER take back our prayer! Yes, there are still plenty of tear filled days and nights but it is worth it!

This is our life: running to the mission field, waving our arms, full of God and giving Him away! This is what we were designed for, saved for and sent out for: loving God and loving His people. 

Not to us but to Your name be the glory!

Feb 2nd, 2015!!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Warning - Departure Date Ahead!!!

Faith Departure Date 

We were asked to pray about a "Faith Departure Date" by our Area Leader. He explained to us that it was a date to leave that God would have to make happen. He told us that it would be a date that humanly speaking we could NOT make happen. A date that God alone could make happen and He would get the glory for! Wow, that is a bit scary but we want to be a part of ALL God is asking of us including a "Faith Date". We have been on this "on ramp" for a while now and have always prayed for this Fall, this Spring, this Summer and God's timing. Maybe it was time to ask God for a specific date and run with all we had to leave on that date. So we started praying and asked others to join us. 

When we began praying I didn't ask God to give me a date. I asked God to give Mike the date. I asked God for a specific day of the week. Mike had no idea that I wasn't praying for a date, I told NO ONE that I was just asking for a specific day of the week. I know from past experience that God alone can put everyone on the same page with out anyone talking about it. So I knew this would be the measuring stick to make sure that it was indeed a date from God alone!

After a few weeks I asked Mike if he had heard from the Lord and he said, "yes". This is how the conversation went.
Me: "Do you have a date?"
Mike: "Yes. February 2nd"
Me: "Okay"
Mike: "Do you know what day that is?"
Me: "Yes. Your brother's birthday"
Mike: "Yes" 
We were riding in the car when we had this conversation and I didn't want to tell him yet what I had been praying for. So we talked about ALL that would have to happen by that date and how scary that was. I thought to myself how I wished his brother were here and how that would be a special day for us to leave on. 

The next morning after spending time with the Lord I reached over and grabbed my calendar and turned to February 2015. And as I turned that page over my heart began to race and I looked down. There it was in black and white February 2, 2015 is on a MONDAY!!!! Wow!!! We have a date.  I am not really sure what I would have done if it had not been a Monday other than tell Mike that wasn't our date. But God was sovereign and reassured me that in fact He is in control!!! 

We still have to meet our financial needs to leave on that date, we have to sell our house, we have to complete security training, and a ton of paper work and details in order to pull out. But as we said it has to be a God thing. He has to totally take care of every detail as we push forward to leave for the field in February. We are excited, nervous and really a lot of emotions rolled into one. 

Please pray for us as we seek to be faithful in walking in obedience toward the date God has given us. We need $2400 a month in financial partnership to be able to leave in February and we need to sell our house. Those are the 2 big things we see staring us in the face right now. Join us in praying for God's provision. We still need prayer partners, finish our security training and much paperwork and details to fall into place. Thanks so much for praying for us, supporting us and walking this journey with us. We are blessed by each of you and your sacrifices to make much of God in Mexico!! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Miles of Separation

For many years and miles our hearts have been separated from us. With all separation there is pain, questions and waiting to be reunited. So is the case with us. But we are hopeful that very soon there will be NO more waiting. And that my friends is SUPER exciting!! So we have been asked to pray for a Faith Date for our departure. A date that is NOT possible humanly but by God ALONE!!! So right now we are praying for God to reveal that faith date. Then we can have a set departure date and run with all our might toward that date with full confidence and faith that God will make a way.

We also found out that we will be attending Language School in Ensenada, Mexico. We are excited about this because it will put us 30 minutes from the Ranch!!!!! We will all be in language school full time as well as working on our sign language. Exciting times coming. We wanted to update everyone on that information and ask that you pray with us about our Faith Date.

School is starting back at the Ranch. They are short handed on help and that pulls at our heart strings. We are beyond ready to be there investing in those precious children and giving them something we can - unconditional love. Our spanish and sign language may not be really good at first but we have learned that love has NO language. And no matter how badly we slaughter our communication with them, they will understand that they are loved!!

Ashtyn has started homeschooling this year and we are busy trying to adjust and get a routine down. High school homeschooling is totally different and more demanding. We are working hard to make sure that she has plenty of opportunities to be around other teens and have plenty of socialization. This was the hardest part for her last time we attempted homeschooling. Since that experience shed so much light on what needed to be done differently, we are working hard to make it better.

This update will be short because we hope to update again soon with our departure date and other news about us leaving. We are thankful for each of you and keeping up with us. Please check back soon for another update about our departure. Please join us in prayer for the request listed below.

1. Our faith date departure date.
2. Ashtyn's homeschooling.
3. The staff at Rancho Sordo Mudo as they begin a new school year short handed.
4. The kids at Rancho Sordo Mudo as they begin another year of learning.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a video worth?

RSM, RSM, RSM, RSM (beating fist on table) Sure wish it was that easy, that we could chant and bang on the table until God said ok, ok, ok - here go now!!! I tell you the FLESH is hard to tame! Yes our flesh aches, we grow weary, we cry, we get frustrated, we get mad, we get impatient; but God (don't you just love those BUT GOD statements in His word) never tarries, is never late, never forgets, never has to be reminded, is never impatient and ALWAYS has our best interest at heart. We may NOT have all the answers to all the questions and we certainly don't know the answer to why we are not on the field full time yet! But in due time God will reveal it all to us, it is not our hour yet.

 We are looking forward to getting there and being able to be a part of the lives of the precious kids. Remember that when they come to the Ranch, they have no language. First we give them a language, then an education, then a trade and while doing all of this (plus some) they get to see first hand the love of Jesus Christ through all of us there! These children are used to being passed off, put out and unloved. So the unconditional love of all the missionaries at the Ranch is invaluable to their success. Behavioral issues are common at the Ranch, but loving them through it and unconditionally speaks volumes.

I wanted to show you pictures from the Ranch, so you can see first hand those precious faces and a bit of what life on the Ranch looks like for the kids and the missionaries. I am also including a few videos. Please pray for all the kids and staff at the Ranch as they gear up for the upcoming school year.

Hanging out on the fire truck 

They love to have fun just like hearing kids. Check out their funny face pic 

A little game night at RSM 

Church group from CA that came to serve 

House Parent 

House Parent 

Learning a trade 

learning to make jelly 

Dinner time 

Missionary game night  


Spelling Bee 

Staff Christmas dinner 2013- thanks to a church in CA 

Thanksgiving 2013

Work day 

Girls learning trade 

Waffles, yum yum 

Corporate Worship 

A little PiƱata fun 

And then I ran across the MOST horrifying picture……..

Seriously, I am not sure I can handle this!! That is a HUGE frog people!! 

The kids at RSM perform many plays, skits and videos. I am super excited to be able to be involved in helping students with dramas, skits and videos. It feels my heart with such joy to see them do these things. It has always been one of my passions but when you consider that all these children are deaf, it is even more special to watch and experience. I have attached one that was filmed so you can see just what I mean. ENJOY!!

And I have spoken much about Johnny & Amber missionaries there who adopted a little boy from the Ranch named JJ. He has numerous difficulties other than being deaf. He is cute as a button but can be a hand full. Here he is doing a magic trick. I think you will pick up on his personality.

Please pray with us and for us for the following:

1. Obedience without delay
2. Sell of our house
3. Fall departure
4. Successful Home Schooling experience for Ashtyn
5. Continued peace of God's control and not our own
6. Our Pastor Search Committee at our home church 

Thank you for walking this journey with us, it's not an easy one and I would never be anything but transparent about that. I pray that when I update again, I will have exciting news! Thanks to each of you that take time to read. I pray that you have been encouraged and inspired by what God is doing in the lives of these children through a bunch of sinners saved by grace that consider it pure joy to forgo our own plans, comforts and desires to say yes to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! May His name be exalted and glorified at Rancho Sordo Mudo in all that is said and done to increase the Kingdom for His name sake! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Going and Sending

Here we are with summer upon us and we have some goals. We have a goal to put our house on the market in June and praying that it will sell shortly after. We have no idea where we will live, but God will take care of that! We have a goal of being funded to our 90% by summer end or first of September so we can make a late September or early October departure. Plain and simple there are many things that are not being done and taken care of because we are NOT there yet!! RSM, the kids and other missionaries there need us and we really need to be leaving soon. Our desire is to be making much of God's name in the lives of the students and community in Guadalupe Valley, but we can't if we are not there.

I had so many things I tossed around for this blog, but hands down God kept taking me to scripture after scripture, devotion after devotion, conversation after conversation about GOING!!! I am not a huge reader, what reading I do do is always my bible. But along this journey we have been required to read several books and have been given several books. While cleaning up the other day I moved some papers and saw a lime green book that caught my attention. The title was "Let the Nations be Glad!"by John Piper, so I picked it up and thumbed through it. I usually start at the back of a book and go forward. And there in the back a title that caught my attention and as I began to read, I knew this was what God wanted me to share. I was afraid that it would lose its meaning and impact if I tried to use my own words to tell you what I read, so I decided to just share what the book says. So the following is directly from the book and not my own words.
The Supremacy of God in Going and Sending
     There is a wonderful passage in the often neglected epistle of 3 John that sums up the burden of this book beautifully. We want to leave you with its truth ringing in our mind and heart. There are only two ways for us to respond to the truth we have been considering about the supremacy of God in missions. We must either go out for the sake of his name, or we must send and support such people who do, and do so in a manner worthy of God. Listen to the words of the apostle John, who heard the heartbeat of Jesus as he leaned on his breast and who listened with his own ears to the giving of the Great Commission.

     "The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. For I was very glad when brethren came and for witness to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they bear witness to your love before the church; and you will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the pagans. Therefore we ought to support such men, that we may be fellow-workers with the truth." 3 John 1:1-8

     What evidence compels this old apostle to be convinced that Gaius's soul is prospering? What is the truth in which Gaius is walking? Apparently some missionaries, whom John knew, had visited Gaius and were loved by him in a special way. They returned to the church of which John was a part and testified that Gaius treated them well, even though they were strangers to him. This so moved John that he wrote Gaius a letter to encourage him for walking in the truth and for acting faithfully. He wanted to urge Gaius to continue all the more. "You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God." Gaius was admonished by the apostle to be a sender. This phrase, "to send on one's way," occurs nine times in the New Testament, and each one occurs in a missionary context.
     The most descriptive verse is found in Titus 3:13. In this verse, Paul writes to Titus, "Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them"(NASB). From this verse we can learn that sending is something to be done diligently and is all inclusive - "so that nothing is lacking for them."   

In 3 John, this diligence and thoroughness is captured in the phrase "in a manner worthy of God" (vs6). This elevates the importance of sending as high as can be imagined. It is a commandment of God (notice the "ought" of verse 8). The reason we must send them in a manner worthy of God is that they go out for the sake of the name. The name of God is at stake in how we treat our missionaries. God is glorified when we support them substantially with our prayers, our money, our time, and myriad other practical ways (notice the "whatever" in verse 5). God is not glorified when our missionaries are simply a name on the back of a bulletin or a line item in the budget.

     It is not of secondary importance to be engaged in this ministry of sending. It is a very high calling. It is walking in the truth. It is the manifestation of a healthy and prospering soul. Senders are fellow workers with the truth. To send in a manner worthy of God is a call to excellence in the support of missionaries. It is a direct participation in God's purpose. The cruciality of sending cannot be overemphasized. Therefore, it must not be done in a shoddy manner but in "a manner worthy of God." There is a world of difference between a church "having" a missionary and a church "sending" a missionary. When we send missionaries in a manner worthy of God, God is glorified, our souls prosper, and we are fellow workers with the truth. We are in sync with God's heartbeat and his purpose to be glorified among all the peoples.

     We pray that this book exert has helped you to see that whether you go as a missionary or stay as a sender is a secondary issue. We invite you to become more personally engaged in the cause of missions with a heartfelt, God-centered passion. Journey to a Harvest has not and will never be to exalt us going, but to exalt God and to exalt his mission. We absolutely cannot go in a manner worthy of God without other believers sending in a manner worthy of God! This is God's design to accomplish His work among the nations, for us as believers to link arms together and go and send in a manner worthy of God!

     We are still in need of believers to partner with God in His work in Mexico through our going. We are praying that we "lack nothing" by summers end so that we may GO in a manner worthy of God and exalt His name among the deaf children of Mexico and train others to go into other nations!!

     Thank you to those who have already been giving in a manner worthy of God. We are so thankful for your arms linked with ours to send us out for the sake of His name! We can not wait to be there serving and loving those kids for you too!! Thanks for your obedience. We are so grateful for each of you. Much love to each of you.

Prayer Needs:
Our upcoming moving sale.
The selling of our home.
For the remaining part of our monthly partnership. 
Staff and kids at RSM waiting for us. 
For us and our family as we prepare for departure. 
More opportunities to share what God is doing. 
The many missionaries on the field serving faithfully. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What do you mean it's 2014?

Hard to believe 2014 is here and it is already March! Wow, time certainly feels as if it starts to go by faster as I get older. I certainly had NO idea that I would update our blog for 2014 still in Birmingham! But here we are, still pressing on and being faithful. I have always been fully transparent about the struggles we face on this journey and want you to remember that we are NOT super spiritual heroes!!! I am just a sinner saved by grace, a daughter, a granddaughter, a wife, a mother, a friend, a coworker, a church member and so on. And believe it or not, I, from time to time, let satan get an upper hand!! What? Say it isn't so. Yes, it unfortunately is. I should start off by saying that I am just sharing my heart 100% and I am not alluding to anyone specific in this blog. I know that when people feel conviction they tend to take offense to it and try to make someone else out to be the bad guy! I am NOT the Holy Spirit and if you feel conviction about anything - that is the Holy Spirit and NOT me, so don't kill the messenger!

 It all started in December when I was just going about my business getting ready for the holidays with...Christmas decorations. Yes, you read that right. When I began to take out the decorations and start decorating it didn't take me long to realize that I needed to get rid of a lot of my beloved Christmas stuff. How could I? They all seemed to have so many memories and special moments all wrapped up in them--how could I part with them? That is when it began. That is when satan saw a crack in the door and stuck his whole foot in without me even knowing it! He had come to stay and brought his bag of lies, discouragement, and every trick to use against me! 

I am and always have been a cup half full girl. I don't usually find the negative or bad in things or people. I am the one finding the good, concentrating on that, and helping others to do the same. But the enemy used my own Christmas decorations to put doubt in my mind, get me to start looking at the negative side of things and people, and make me unable to see the good in anything, really. I struggled at being joyful in or about anything. The enemy got me into self pity party mode and I camped out there for a while! All I could do was think about all that we were giving up, how things in our family had changed, friends had walked away, and people didn't speak in the halls at church.  Co-workers and friends were talking about us behind our backs, no one was encouraging us, no one was asking us how they could be praying for us, no one understood us.  No one even seemed to care about how we were doing, that we had to leave our family behind, that we were having to sell almost every possession, and that my child had to make huge sacrifices that most people know nothing of--the list went on and on. By the time I had finished counting the cost on this journey, I was depressed!!! Seriously, if you were to write down every sacrifice on a piece of paper, it would be enough to make anybody go running as fast as they could, in a different direction, as far as they could (sound like anyone you know?). I guess you could say that I was in the belly of a fish and the fish had taken a sudden dive to depths unknown to me!

It only seemed to get worse as the month passed on. It became difficult to attend church; I totally felt like a stranger among those who I once felt so close to. I cried every time I gave stuff away and didn't really feel like celebrating Christmas. The feelings of isolation and loneliness were huge and my heart longed to be someone else, some where else! The enemy had me totally disgusted with our journey and the lack of God's people wanting to join Him in His work. There are only so many times that you can tell yourself and hear from others that God's timing is PERFECT!!! Well, from my seat it didn't feel perfect or look perfect. It looked like a train wreck to me. To have a family saying, "yes Lord, send us," and can't go doesn't exactly look perfect to me. Our heart hasn't been here in years; our hearts long to serve the Lord with our lives in a land where we don't speak the language, the culture is not ours, and the food looks and tastes different from what we are used to. Everything about this country is foreign to us, yet we long to be there and be out of our comfort zone! Most people fight to stay comfortable and not sacrifice and here we are begging and pleading to be moved from complacency and comfort and not being moved!!! This is crazy to me, and I don't understand, Lord. I felt as if the Lord was fighting against us instead of for us. I thought He isn't pleased with those who sit in comfortable pews each week doing nothing and being luke warm. I thought those people made him throw up!! So if this were true, then why? Why are we still here? 

So this is where I was at Christmas and it became even more difficult as we went into the week of New Years. There I was at church one Sunday morning and it hit me like a ton of bricks during the service: it is about to be 2014 and you are STILL here!!!! I lost all composure; I had to get up and leave the service  bawling my eyes out. Why, Lord? Why? What am I doing wrong? Are we that horrible of people that you are punishing us? What have I done to deserve this? Lord, please help me see what I am doing wrong! Desperate loud cries,  I remember even beating on the bathroom stall door as I cried out in anguish that day! I tried to compose myself and slip back into the service. One of my favorite godly, seasoned men of the church was waiting for me when I came out of the bathroom, put his arm around me and asked me what was wrong. In that moment, as I began to cry again and sob out, "I don't want to be here anymore!" He just lovingly held me and told me that he knew that. He said that it is obvious in our life actions that we are ready to serve no matter the cost and that is such an encouragement to him and his wife! What? Did I just hear him correctly? In my messy, broken, snot-nosed, teary life with all my why's and when's we are encouraging you and your wife? Little did I know how God would use those soft spoken words by a godly man that day to turn this fish around. Remember, I am in the belly of a fish and have not been spit up yet. 

I was so ready to go that day, that I walked very fast and sat in the car waiting on my family to come out so we could LEAVE!!! Since when did the Sexton family leave church first? NEVER!! I didn't want to be around anyone, talk to anyone, or see anyone. I knew people would ask if I was ok and what was wrong and I didn't trust myself enough in this moment not to answer, "Seriously, you have to ask? Hummm let's think about this!" Yep, that was my attitude about what "felt" to me as if no one cared. Tired of not being my normal self and feeling all this gamut of emotions from jealousy to loneliness, I wanted to change!!! During this whole time of sadness, I wanted to blog and write down what I was feeling and experiencing. But God--I love those "But God" phrases in the Bible--kept taking me to scripture when Jesus was silent. He didn't want me to write or share and I was kinda mad about that. But I am glad that I was obedient in it. I don't know about you, but when I need answers I look at what scripture says. That day the Lord took me to the Psalms and James. I didn't understand at the time, and I did complain to God about the depressing Psalms! And I am still in Psalms today, studying and gleaning God's nuggets to me each day. 

Each day satan would point out things to me; he had overtaken my thoughts and it happened without me even realizing it, friends!  I tried to put on smiles and push through the days, but daily satan would hit me with some lie, deception, and gut wrenching blows where it hurt the worst. Trust me, he knows what to use against you and what will hurt you the most. And he doesn't care. Babies I thought I wouldn't be here to see be born, had been born. Three kids that I didn't think I would be here to see come home with their forever families, came home. We saw most of our missionary friends leave for the field and unfortunately we saw some give up!! It was a daily struggle to see your friends hang out and do things together and your invitation never came. To see all the pictures on FB of their kids parties and your invitation never came. It really hurt more to get on FB, so I stayed off because I honestly couldn't take anymore hurt. I really started taking the fact that we were not gone yet personally. See, these are all feelings. I was basing my attitude, my joy, my happiness, and my future on how other people or circumstances were making me feel!!! I am not saying any of them are right or wrong, good or bad--they are just feelings. And we can not trust our feelings. My prayers had become focused on how I felt and others made me feel and wanting God to change them. However, this whole time God wanted me to see that it was me that needed changing. 

God took me to other scripture in His word that started cutting up the lies, transforming my thoughts, and changing me. He didn't want me to focus on the cost, but rather the privilege. He took me to scripture that showed me the waiting that others did. The Israelites, Noah, Hannah, Mary & Martha, the disciples, Jacob, Abraham & Sarah, Zechariah & Elizabeth, Joseph and so on and so on. I was left wondering why God was reminding me of those stories that I knew so well. See, every one of those stories had waiting in them, and what were they waiting on? God and His timing. When you read scripture you see that above all else Jesus wanted to be obedient and do His Father's will. More than how others treated Him, more than what others wanted Him to do or say, more than what He felt like doing (He did pray for the cup to pass from Him), more than what would make Him popular and accepted. More than how He felt, or how long it took.  More than ANYTHING He desired to do His Father's will and only that. While spending time with the Lord one morning, He used 6 words to pierce my heart. "My hour has not come yet" (John 2:4). Wait, read that again. Over and over with tear-filled eyes thanking the Lord for finally finding a bit of that joy again. It wasn't our hour either!!!! The next day was even better when He beat me over the head with 2 Corinthians 10:1-6. It is Paul's defense of his ministry and in there it talks about the standards of the world, the battle and the weapons we use and then, there it was…… " casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ"... Wait, what did that just say? So I read it again and again and realized that I was the high thing that was exalting itself against the knowledge of God and had allowed my every thought to be captivated by the ENEMY!!! 

Wow, did I do some repenting that day. How could I allow this to happen, when did it happen? I doubted God's knowledge because of the timing I thought should have happened. Then I began to remember one by one those bible stories. Don't you think that the Israelites doubted their 40 years of wandering in the desert, Mary & Martha while their brother was dying, Abraham and Sarah on having a child and so on? So many great examples of waiting on the Lord. For Him to prepare everything that needed to be prepared before moving ahead, most of the time it was the people themselves that needed to be worked on. That is where I had found myself. The Lord used these two verses in powerful ways to cut to the chase I was on. And then He used two encounters at my office to help with the rest of my struggles. He used a patient that is a pastor to share 2 Timothy 4:9-18 with me and talk to me about what I was feeling. He suggested I read where Paul was abandoned by everyone, felt lonely, and was asking Timothy to hurry and get to him by winter so he wouldn't be alone. Paul the great Bible missionary felt lonely? Pastor Matthews said, "yes and he even calls them out by name those who had abandoned him and left him."He told me that day, "Sherri, the day your family shared you were leaving to do God's work in Mexico, a disconnect happened in everyones mind and they don't even have a clue." He shared with me that our human nature does this without us even knowing and so all this time people have been saying goodbye to us in their minds and hearts. Wow!! That is why we feel disconnected--we are! And it wasn't done intentionally. I couldn't wait to get home to my Bible that day and read the chapter he told me to read; it was awesome. 

"At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen." 2 Timothy 4:16-18  That was it! God was rescuing me from the lion's (the enemy's) mouth, where he had me. God wanted me to realize that I can not depend on others to do the job of my Savior. He is my strength and my rescue. This is all part of our growing until it is our hour--more dependence on Him! More dependence on Him means that we share the gospel more effectively to ALL people and for His glory. A great check for me to remember this is NOT about me or my family or anything else. It is and always will be about God and His glory, His provision and His plan. Ouch! I was so upset with myself for allowing satan to take my thoughts captive and allowing the self pity, jealousy, loneliness and so forth to creep in. How could I, and how much harder will this be on the field? God help me to see the warning signs and indicators in the future; I don't want to live here again! 

The second encounter came when I met the mother of a patient that had over heard a conversation and wanted to speak to me. Thank you God for using her! She and her family are missionaries and have been for years (talk about a wealth of information). She was able to shed some light on my struggles in a great way. I shared with her my loneliness and feeling like we were being treated as if we were already gone. She totally knew what I was talking about. She explained to me that everything we are doing has a grieving process and as we are letting go of things and people are letting go of us, we have to grieve all of that. We didn't really know that we would or needed to. But she was so wonderful to share with me  frankly and honestly on how hard it is and how hard it will be when we come back to visit. See, everyone else will just continue on with their normal, nothing-much-has-changed life and our family will start this whole everything-is-new-and-everything-has-changed life and they can not relate to it. She was so sweet in sharing and giving me her contact information so that she could continue to pour into our family with information, encouragement, and questions. 

Even in my dark days and struggles, God was preparing others to speak truth to me that would encourage me and lift my spirits. He used His word to pierce the darkness of my heart and mind to change me in areas that I needed changing. I would love to tell you that after those moments everything just turned right back to grand and glorious. But since I had allowed the enemy to camp out and control my thoughts, I had to take everyone of them back! This was a thought by thought process each and every day. We all have learned so much over these dark few months and although I have learned a lot and grown a lot, I don't care to live there again!! But I am not so bold or naive enough to think that if it can happen once, that it can't happen again. So I have on the full armor of God and I am watching for his fiery darts! 

So when I was finally spit up on shore I realized that my blessings far out way my struggles, I should always focus on what I do have and not what I don't have. It can always be worse! And that you can miss out on other blessings and being a blessing if you allow yourself to exalt yourself against the knowledge of God. And even though we don't know "our hour" it's okay, we shall continue to walk by faith and not by sight. We will press on toward the prize and keep our eyes on Jesus. I ask that you forgive me for not remembering what a blessing each of you are to us and taking that for granted. And even if I stumble again (which I am sure I will) I will quickly repent and put my eyes back on the prize. I will allow God to captivate my every thought hourly. We are beyond blessed to have all of you in our life!!!
Thanks for keeping up with us and walking along side us on this long journey to a harvest in Mexico!

This is a song that we sang at our area meeting in New Mexico and it has been my life song for months now. Enjoy. 


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Video update

When I started working on our November newsletter and blog, I really kept getting snagged and couldn't complete anything I started. I got so discouraged and kept praying asking the Lord to help me complete what I thought He had given me. His reply was "everything is different now". I kept trying to figure out what that meant and all the while never being able to pin on paper (well a keyboard) what I felt like the Lord was speaking about. I started reflecting on "everything is different now" and I came to realize that EVERYTHING about my life is different now. Since we started this journey, everything is different now. We just had our 2nd moving sell and even my house looks different now. Thanksgiving holiday was different for us this year - change, change and more change. I have always promised to be transparent so that you would understand that we are not perfect people without struggles. I came to realize that over the last 4-5 weeks I had begun to grieve too much for all that we were giving up, all the things that were different and all the changes going on. So much so that I was not embracing the new and different things and ways that God was giving us now. That is why I couldn't complete anything, I was having a pity party about all the changes and God wanted me to focus on the new and different.
New and different isn't a bad thing. I then felt that a new and different way for the update was also something He was leading me to. To be honest, this update and video was probably more for me than anyone else, but I am praying that God will use it to give you a glimpse of what He is doing in Mexico through RSM. I think God wanted me to focus on the good that is in "new & different" and since our life will be completely new and different when we get to Mexico why not embrace it now! I decided to use what God always uses to encourage me when I am struggling about not being there yet, sacrifices that seem to great, tremendous spiritual warfare - MUSIC & PICTURES!!  So below is our latest update done with a powerful song and pictures from the Ranch. I pray that God will use this video to speak to your heart in ways that only He can. Click below where it says November Newsletter 2013 and watch the video!

Some of these pictures I took when we were there and all the others I have gotten from Jason a missionary that teaches at RSM and other missionaries that have been at the Ranch. I am thankful that Jason keeps me feeling connected with his post and pictures. I am also excited to have someone there that shares my passion about photography! 

Thanks for walking with us on this long journey. We will be sharing at two churches tomorrow in our area, so be praying for God's spirit to move among His people. If you are not receiving our monthly newsletters, you can sign up on the right hand side of this blog and you can also go back and review our older newsletters. Continue to pray for us as we continue to let go of stuff and make many changes. Pray that we will keep our eyes focused on Jesus and see the good to come for our temporary suffering! 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

So much closer

The title applies in so many areas! We are closer to each other, we are closer in our walk with the Lord, and we are getting closer to leaving!!! Yay!! We have just recently completed our final training required by Pioneers before leaving for the field. So, now we just need to sell our house and get our final monthly support required for us to leave. That is pretty exciting for us!
We are thankful to have so many friends and family that are praying for us, loving us, encouraging us and supporting us. We just had an opportunity to share with a church in our community (literally 1 mile from our house). It was such a blessing to have family and friends there to support us. We were also blessed to receive a text message with a picture of the GA's (Girls in Action) at our church praying for us right then. Here is the picture that was sent to us:
Now if that doesn't just melt your heart! 

They may not fully understand it all right now, but their part is so important. God hears their prayers and it is opening up their little hearts and minds to the things that God calls us to do, while helping them  understand how important all of it is. I am so thankful for a home church that offers programs like GA's and RA's to help younger kids learn the importance of missions and how they can be a part of it. Thank you to those who take time to lead those little ones and teach them the things that are important to God. Thank you GA's for praying for us and encouraging us--we love you!!

We were so excited to find out that we were approved for our final training in September! We were even more excited that we were going to be there with a young lady from our team in Mexico! Her name is Alisha, and it was great to get to know her better. We got to spend some time with her asking all kinds of questions about the Ranch and how life is there. It made us all the more excited to get there!  She actually left for Mexico on the last day of training, so it was bittersweet and hard not to be jealous of her going, too. She is back in Mexico and doing great, so we are very happy for her. We do a lot of training and learning about personalities and how they work in team life, so I think we have an advantage because we've trained with Alisha and already know so much about each other and our personalities. I think that will be beneficial to our team life together in Mexico. Team life can be tricky if you don't know how to give and take and make sure that each person on the team feels like their voice is heard. Knowing that decisions have to be made by team leaders but feeling like your opinion was heard and considered helps team life go better. By human nature we don't do that well--we don't normally think of others' opinions more valuable than our own. We tend to think things could be done differently than the way we would do it. But at training, we were able role-play several group scenarios to see how people reacted in different situations. Then we could go back with a staff person and go over what just took place to see how our personalities reacted so differently in the situations. It was really an eye opener for us all! We feel that God was so good to allow us to attend training with one of our team members so we could bond as a team. 
Here we are with Alisha on the last day of training before her brother came to pick her up and whisk her off to the airport for Mexico. (Excuse the picture we were all tired and poor Alisha had been sick all week!)

We are experiencing severe spiritual warfare, so your prayers would be greatly appreciated. The enemy is doing anything he can to keep us distracted and unable to work on our Partner Development!! We are asking you to join us in fighting the real battle with prayer, asking God to guard us and help us in this battle to do His work that He has asked us to do. We are learning more and more each day just how important it is to have other believers lifting us up in prayer before our Father daily!!! Thank you for being a part of that. 

We are getting ready to have another moving sale and get our house ready to put on the market. Those are both exciting and overwhelming at the same time. I don't know if I can properly explain to anyone how that feels for us. Some of the words I can use are freeing, exciting, sad, bittersweet, unsettling, and exhilarating! It really is all those things rolled into one and some days can pull us either way in how we feel. The excitement most always outweighs the sadness, but it is still a loss of something in our hearts and more letting go. It is a battle in our flesh just like anyone else and we know that it is all worth it, yet it's a struggle. We are not super humans with a super family, super spiritual life, super marriage, super emotions.  We don't have all the answers. We are just like you--we sin, we have struggles, we are weak, we have disagreements--we are human. I think sometimes people think that missionaries are some super human elite group--but we aren't. We are just followers of Jesus Christ who are being obedient in what He has asked us to do. Whatever you are feeling or struggling with we probably are, too, or have, or will. We are not immune to things; we don't have feelings of steel; we can't quote the entire bible by memory; we don't all home-school our children (although we will when we get to the field). We aren't all gifted with every spiritual gift; we aren't encouraged and joyful all the time; we aren't doing noble things; we aren't always where we should be spiritually; and the list goes on and on. What I am finding out is that missionaries are under attack by the enemy in ways that some have only seen in movies and is so foreign to us here in America. I am seeing that this is an all out battle and it is going to be difficult 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! And some days, that is scary. I see what our friends are facing on the field, I read and hear the statistics of missionaries making it on the field, and it is really overwhelming. But, I have learned to stop and ask myself, "Is HE worth it?" and a resounding, "Yes HE is," is always my answer.

Every tear we shed, every good bye we say, everything we sell, everything we let go of, every child we help, every trial we go through, every bit of it is worth it to bring honor and glory to our Lord and to spend our lives increasing His kingdom. The Bible calls us into action, and we should always be in a mode of action unless other wise instructed by the Spirit. If someone is in need, help them. If someone needs to hear the gospel, share it. We cannot sit by and think that someone else will do it. Unless clearly directed not to do something or share with someone, our nature should be action for the kingdom. If there is a person in need of food, give it; a child that needs adopting, adopt them; a tribe or nation that needs to hear the gospel, go and tell them; a widow that needs some company, go and visit; a coworker that needs a friend, be that friend. My point is this: don't wait or assume that some one else will do it. If you have a personal relationship with Jesus then He is asking YOU to do it. 

Thank you again for keeping up with us. Below I have posted a few pictures from the Ranch of the kids. We absolutely can not wait to get there and start loving on them and being part of the every day life of Rancho Sordo Mudo!!! To God be the glory!!

Kids putting on one of their many dramas!

Kids in class this year working hard.

Jason teaching his class.

Jason is one of the missionaries at The Ranch we will be working with.