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.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Inch by Inch

"If we are faithful to God in little things, we shall gain experience and strength that will be helpful to us in the more serious trials of life." - Hudson Taylor (missionary to China)

I am finding this to be more true every day! I remind myself daily that all that we are enduring now is preparing us for the field full time - every heartache, every tear, every joy, every step out of our comfort zone, every set back, every trial, every success, every delay, every victory - ALL of it is being used to shape us and mold us to be more like our Savior and for His work! We are getting there inch by inch, step by step and leap by leap, however and whenever they come. We are finding that we have to be faithful in the small things, if we are not faithful in the small things and are not doing them now - we will NEVER do them on the field.

We have come to realize that if we are not doing things now, we will not magically or instantly begin doing them when we get to the field. If we are not disciplined in the here and now, it will not happen in the there and then. Fact is that we will be busier than ever when we get to the field and will actually be working 6 days a week with only 1 day off (not exactly what we had envisioned for retirement years, but that is OK) so it is vitally important that we are disciplining ourselves now for the field. Fact is that things will become more difficult when we get there not easier. The spiritual warfare will become more intense which will make everything more difficult. But we are gearing up for it, because we know it is coming. We are already experiencing it here so we know when we get to the field, we become even more of a threat so it will increase.

I was given a devotion book when we were at our Area Meeting and I have savored every page since getting it. It is a devotion book written by a woman missionary and it has been like salve for my heart every single day. God always provides what we need before we know we need it or don't know what we need.
Group shot from our Area Meeting - great looking missionaries right :-)
Here are all the TCK's that were there - they had a great time!

School is starting back at the Ranch and we sure wish we could be there to start the new school year, but we are praying for all the missionaries there and all the students coming in. We are praying that the transition will be good for them all. It is a bit more difficult when you have staff leave and new ones come, and everyone is trying to learn each other as well as the kids and I know it can be stressful at times. Please join us as we lift them all up to the Lord for a great school year. Below is a picture of one of the classrooms coming together.

Jason's classroom coming together

 Hopefully soon we will be able to get an update on how many kids are there this year and how things are going. We are letting them get settled in before we bombard them with our many questions. We also are not sure of the staffing needs, we are aware of several teachers leaving and going elsewhere to either start or help start other deaf ministries in other places. This is exactly what we are to do! The bible gives us clear instruction to share, teach, train and send out. We are so excited about being part of God's work that does that.

We are at 30% of our needed 90% of monthly support to be able to leave. We are excited to tell you that we have clearance to do our FINAL (can you see the excitement!) training in September!!! Once we have completed that all that stands between us and leaving for the field full time is at least 60% of our monthly support coming in. Reality is that if just 60 families/groups/individuals give $52 a month -WE LEAVE!!!  We are beyond thrilled about that. So with that news comes lots of stuff to get done, but we see it as a privileged not a burden! Although we may need to be reminded of that in the middle of it all when we are tired :-)  We have a speaking engagement this month and we have gotten a lot of our promotional stuff done and are finalizing the rest of it. So we are ready to go!

We are still looking for anyone, any place and any where that will give us an opportunity to share what God is doing in our life. So if you happen to know someone or some place - please let us know. We will be grateful for any opportunity. Thank you for keeping up with us and standing with us. We are so thankful for each of you.

Prayer Needs:
1. The teachers and students returning to Rancho Sordo Mudo.
2. Our spiritual growth over the next few months
3. The selling of our home - quickly and at the right price.
4. Opportunities to share with people
5. God's blessings on those who have already joined us prayerfully and financially
6. An unspoken
7. Encouragement that we need on the hard days - however God chooses to send it!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Area Metting

     We attended our Area Meeting last week in New Mexico. This meeting is held for all teams serving in America and all Latin Countries. We were able to hear reports from all the teams serving and all the work that is being done. It was wonderful to hear all that GOD is doing through His people on the field serving. Some shared with stories, pictures, tears, laughter and some with heavy hearts. It was evident of the struggles that come with serving in cultures other than your own. 

     Mike & I had no idea that we would have to report for The Ranch. Our Team Leaders were not there due to their son getting married, so when we arrived our Area Leader told us we would report on Friday for The Ranch! Good thing I had my computer with pictures on it so we could at least report on what we knew was going on. Since we are not yet on the field, we weren't sure what we could do. But God was gracious (as always) and I remembered that the Training Center was new and we could tell about it and show them pictures from our visit. Mike shared how we were called to the field and our journey to finding just where God would have us and where we left our hearts last October. And I shared all about The Ranch, how we operate, the new Training Center and what our job duties will be while we are there. Even unpracticed and unrehearsed we did just fine! That was God taking Mike out of his comfort zone :-) I really didn't think that we would bring much to the table being the new kids on the block and all, but we kept hearing how we were such an inspiration to them and seeing our passion and love as we talked about The Ranch and the work there. That morning before we spoke, God told me to end the presentation with a challenge to them. He wanted me to remind them not to forsake their first love, and on the hard days to remember when they first started their passion and love for the ministry. So I did. There was a specific message for the church in Ephesus in Rev. 2:1-7 and it is still relevant today. After the Lord Jesus commended them for their good deeds, hard work, perseverance, treatment of the wicked men, discernment in spotting false apostles and for not growing weary in hardships for His name, He then said:

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 

     We had worship time together each morning and our speakers took us through the book of Ephesians and shared so many truths of God fullness through His word that we hid in our hearts. It was a great time of sharing, praying, discussing and diving deeper into God's word together. It was refreshing and encouraging for us to meet others that are serving on the field and ask them questions and hear their struggles, their provisions and their hearts. They have some amazing stories that brought tears to my eyes and caused the hair on my arms to stand up!!! We serve such a mighty God and I think that we forget that too easily here in the Western World where we are way to SELF sufficient!!!  

     Ashtyn had a great time with all the TCK's (Third Culture Kids), she was able to see some of her friends she made while we were in Mexico on our vision trips and make new ones that are serving in Mexico as well on different teams. She loved their leaders Billy & Erica (so did we) and they also serve in Mexico. It was nice to meet new people that we can go and visit and help out from time to time. And we will be excited to visit each of them. They got to have cool bible studies, dress up, play games and all sleep in another dorm away from the adults. So needless to say they all had a great time!! We are so thankful for an organization that puts so much importance on our children and recognizes the difficulties they have on the field and go out of their way to minister to them and help them adjust and be heard!!! That means the world as a parent to know that someone else cares about your kids like you do and wants to make sure they are being taken care of and helped too. 

     I can honestly say that I have never been taught in church the importance of praying for missionaries!! It is not something that is at the forefront of our teaching and training and it certainly should be. I seriously had no idea how difficult their lives are and how the enemy hates the fact that they are serving and their spiritual warfare is beyond anything I have ever known. Even more important is too be praying specifically for them and against the strongholds they come against everyday. Praying Lord, help the missionaries all over the world is good - don't get me wrong, but they need specific prayers and they need them often. I think that churches should have specific names, areas and the battles they face and have them available for people to take different ones and pray for them by name, by area, for specific people they are working with and praying against the enemy in Jesus name for their battles!! I promise you that missionaries will be more than happy to share specific needs and would greatly appreciate and covet prayers for their specific needs. 

     We have heard throughout every training, conference and from every missionary that the people you think will support you and pray for you don't and the ones that you think never would do. Honestly I have been saying, "that won't apply to us, I don't think that will be our case at all" - guess what they were RIGHT!!!! So trust me, when they are telling us to prepare for spiritual warfare like never before, you better believe I am listening this time and preparing. This is about to be my life and I want to be prepared and I want to know that we have people praying for us daily. I can assure you that we will only be as successful on the field as our prayer warriors prayers are. 

     We only have 33 prayer partners right now and we need at least 167 more!!! Would you consider being a prayer partner with us and intercede on our behalf. We would be grateful! We are at 28% of our 90% needed funds. We would love to be at 100% when we leave for the field so we won't have continued partnership development hanging over our heads while we are on the field trying to study and serve. Here are some examples of what we need to get us to the field-

     1st scenario: 4 businesses or churches giving $520 a month, along with 32 families, Sunday school classes, small groups or bible studies giving $52 a month and we are fully funded and on the field!!

     2nd scenario: 2 business or churches giving $1040 a month, along with 22 families, Sunday school classes, small groups or bible studies giving $52 a month, along with another 20 families giving $26 a month has us fully funded and on the field!

     3rd scenario: 52 families or groups giving $52 a month along with 40 families or groups giving $26 a month and we are fully funded and on the field! 

     Remember every bit that is given monthly combined with what others are giving helps us get there. There is no amount to small or to large. It takes many giving so that we can go, and we are so appreciative of each of you that are already praying, giving and encouraging us on this long journey. God promises to provide and we are seeing His provisions more and more each day and we praise Him for working in the hearts of His people to be part of His ministry in Mexico. 

We would love any opportunity to speak with you face to face or come to your church, small group or Sunday school class and share. Even if you know of people who are supportive of mission work and you want to host a dessert dinner in your home and invite them to come and hear what God is doing in our life, we will bring everything if you will just open up your home and allow us to share. Any contact that you might have we will check out. We so appreciate any ideas or leads that give us an opportunity to share. 

     Thank you again for keeping up with us and sharing this journey with us! We are blessed to have each of you a long side us. Please know that we pray for you often with thanksgiving in our hearts for your support. 

I want to leave you with a song that we sang at our meeting last week that spoke volumes to my heart and I will be listening to it often to remind myself that we are NEVER alone! 

P.S. Please excuse any mess ups and mistakes, I am still on strong medicines for my 2 torn hamstrings! 


Friday, July 5, 2013

I'll give you $5

Any kind of sale whether you call it a moving sale, a yard sale, a garage sale or an estate sale - they are HARD work!!! I was reminded of this in May when we had our first moving sale. We were blessed beyond measure with family and friends that helped us and it was beyond successful. It was more than we dreamed or imagined or even prayed for because God was the center of it. Everything that He is the center of is successful and He showed us that all week long.  Everyone that came to the sell heard about the love of Christ and Matthew 28! We didn't waste an opportunity to share. God blessed that so much that He allowed us to be at the airport when a couple that we met at the sell came back from their mission trip that we had been praying for all week!! That was a God thing for sure!

One thing I did notice during our 2 days of selling was how everyone wants something for nothing. And even if you have your prices set low they still want to give you less than you are asking. We had several professional (for a lack of a nicer term) hagglers. We had several scenarios with one in particular (who literally called me a sucker to my face) over the price of several items. And even though frustrating at the time, the Lord clearly used these moments to show me some things and make me ask myself some questions.

What I noticed was that their value of the item and my value of the item were not the same. Clearly my value was higher. How did I come to that value? Why was my value not the same as theirs? Why was theirs not the same as mine? Why did they find it less valuable? How could I help them to see the value was actually higher, or did they know it but didn't want to actually pay the asking value? Did they just want something for nothing? I heard God say, "this is a perfect example of Christianity". What? What do you mean God? I prayed over the next few weeks asking God to explain and show me what He meant.

So I began to ask myself what value do I put on Christ? Where do I get my value from? Is my value the same as others? I first started with what does value mean. According to the dictionary value is :  relative worth, merit, or importance.  So according to the definition what is my relative worth of Christ, His merit and His importance? Can people around us see His worth, merit and importance in our lives as Christians? Does He have any value in our life, or do we just want something for nothing? By that I mean, do we just want to have fire proof insurance and call our self a Christian but not actually do anything?

See God was using this sale to teach me and show me some important lessons. It is not a secret that I have been frustrated with how slowly our support raising has been. But God was showing me some things that I hadn't thought of before. See our obedience depends on others to be obedient and we can't go until others are obedient. I have been praying for those to be obedient soon, but God was telling me "show them the value". See I have great value for the lost and dying in the world that are going to hell if we don't reach them with the gospel. It literally keeps me awake some nights thinking about it. I see the value in God's people everywhere, not those just like me. Where did I get that value? From God himself, that is not something humanly possible to just start loving people like that.

If something has value, you will go to great links to protect it, love it, cherish it and so on. The deaf children in Mexico have great value to me. And I am willing to go to great links to protect, love and cherish them. Trust me, there is NOTHING in my human, fleshly nature that finds that much value in the forsaking and suffering for others. But my spiritual side does. The side of me that is closest to God is longing to show them their value in Christ. The kind of world they come from they definitely feel that they have no value, they struggle with finding self worth and value. And I want to show them that they are valuable and how to value God too.

We can all value God more by learning about His character and seeing His redemptive plan for mankind in His word. We can value God more by being obedient and seeing humanity with the value that He sees us with. We can value God more by trusting Him to provide and not trusting ourselves or our plans more. We can value God more by the giving of our first fruits as He commands us, and even test Him with this. We can value God more by being in an intimate relationship and communication with Him daily. We must decrease so HE can INCREASE!!!

Another thing God showed me was that we sometimes allow others to determine our value of God and we don't stand up firm when it comes to placing value on God and the commands of God. So to demonstrate this I will use the moving sell to show you what I mean.
Professional Haggler offers $20 for a $60 item, Mike tells him no. He leaves, comes back(Mike is gone) and offers $30 - I call Mike and he says no. He looks around and comes back and says how about $35 - I call Mike and he is like okay, I don't have time at work to be haggled all day long - just sell it. I tell him okay $35 and he gets his wallet out and passes by $50's and $100's to count out for me $34 and tells me that is all he has. I tell him I have change, but he says "no, I am doing you a favor by taking it off your hands". I was like okay good riddance we need things to go. Right after that a man comes up and tells me that he would have given us $60 in a heart beat because it is worth more than that!! See we allowed another person to change our value on something and it really was worth the value we placed on it. Same couple came back - she wants to know if I will take a $1 for a book that is marked $2 and I say sure and he hands me 87 cents and tells me that is all he has - really!!! He also offers us $5 for a bike that we have $20 on. This is a great mountain bike practically new and only needs a new tire. So I am encouraged by friends and family there to tell him no! So I do and he starts in with it's not worth $20 and he is doing me a favor again, and I said "No! It is worth all of $20" He then proceeds to offer $6 then $7 and I am told to walk away and they tell him NO!
We sold the bike the next morning for $20!!!!! See God honored that we didn't allow him once again to  change the value we placed on the item.

Unfortunately, there are people out there that find no value in the people of other countries and don't mind telling you that. And people who will tell you that there are plenty of lost people here (which I totally agree with) but my question to them is, "what are YOU doing about it?" Because I am doing something about the people God has called me to minister to in Mexico. And if God asks me to come back here and minister to the people here, I will do it. But until God clearly tells me that He doesn't want me in Mexico, I can not allow others devalue to influence my value!!!

So I share all these moving sale experiences with you to say this. Don't let others determine your value of Christ or allow others to lower your value of the things of God. Stand firm, increase your own value and then show others how valuable God is and how they can increase their value of God. See God hasn't ever lowered His value on us and He doesn't expect us to do the same thing. He expects us to stand firm in our boldness and declare His value in our lives!!! Remember the value of each other and of those that are not like you or live in a different country or even a different religion. They have value to God and we must be the first to show that to others. Seriously, how could we go wrong with placing a higher value of God over anything else in our lives? We CAN'T!!!!

I pray that my life will reflect the value of God and His command in Matthew 28. Not because I am someone special or better than anyone else - because I AM NOT!!!! I am just a sinner saved by grace to glorify God with all that I am and all that I do!!! He found value in me and I plan on showing others how to find their value in Christ and because of Christ. Lord, may you never find me offering you less than the value you put on your commands and your people.

We are asking you to pray for our meetings that we are hosting with people about praying to join God's work in Mexico. Pray for all the staff and kids at the Ranch. Pray for us to make the deadlines for our last training and language school. Thank you so much for continuing to keep up with us and supporting us, words are not adequate to say thank you!!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Love More

Here it is June already! Sorry for the delay in the blog, we have been busy with many things in our normal life and working on departure stuff. Praise the Lord that our first moving sell was a huge success!!! So not only do we get asked a lot "when are you leaving?" but the next big question is "why?". Why would we sell everything and move to a foreign country to live? Well the answer for us is easy - we love more!

We love abandoned and unwanted kids more than we love ourselves, we love the opportunity to increase the kingdom of heaven more than we love our comforts, we love Jesus more than we love our stuff and most importantly we love more because we have been forgiven more. See we are just sinners saved by grace, not special people or better than anyone else. We are just ordinary people whose lives were shaped by the truth of the gospel. 

If you have ever held a baby in your arms and they have smiled at you, you smile back. Your response is automatic, no one has to tell you to do that; the response flows naturally. Worship should come that naturally to us too as a response to a transformed life by the truth of the gospel. One of the key things that should prompt our hearts to worship is an encounter between Jesus and us. Receiving forgiveness naturally gives rise to loving worship. When we drink deeply of God's forgiveness, we will find our hearts in loving worship. We are able to love more when we drink deeply, love God more and love people more. 

So yes we have been forgiven much therefore we love much!!! Forgiveness is not a one time thing, it is a daily encounter with God. There is not one day that goes by that we won't have to ask forgiveness for something, whether it be a thought, or a harsh word, or a lie or a lost temper or whatever. But as we read in Luke 7 when Jesus was eating at Simon's (Pharisee) house and a woman came in and started weeping at His feet and drying His feet with her hair and pouring expensive perfume on His feet, He says, "I tell you, her sins - and they are MANY - have been forgiven, so she has shown Me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love." Jesus himself is saying that the more we are forgiven the more we love!! Not only will we love Jesus more, but we will love others more. 

I would encourage  you to spend time daily with God asking Him to make you sensitive to the Holy Spirit to see if there is unconfessed sin in your heart that is keeping you from loving Him and others more. I am not proud of my past in one bit, but because my sins were great and I have been forgiven much - I love much more. What about you?

So school is out at The Ranch, they had graduation on Friday. Now is the time of year that the few kids that have families will return to their homes for 2 months and the kids that do not have families will go to near by orphanages for 2 months. This also marks the time of year when we start getting a lot of churches and groups for mission work. They will help us get all kinds of repairs done, any additions that need to be done and whatever needs to be done while the kids are not in the dorms and on campus. The kids will come back at the end of August to get ready for school to start in September. School does not start until after the big Baja Race, it is a big deal out there and there are so many tourist and traffic so we wait until it is over to start school. 

We are now at 23% of our support and need to get to 90% before we can depart. Please be in prayer for us as we seek those God has called to be the sending part of our going. We are not able to be obedient until those He has called to give are obedient in giving. We really need to be at 90% by fall so we can leave for language school and make the last classes before Christmas break, other wise it will be next year before we can leave!! Honestly, I really don't know how I can wait until next year - my heart aches daily to be there and to be serving!!! Please would you pray about whether God is asking you to partner with us to do His work among the deaf in Mexico!!! Our work there is not limited to just Mexico but we will also be training other deaf and hearing people to go to other parts of the world and start reaching the deaf in other countries. The deaf are one of the largest unreached people groups in the world. Together we can make a difference!!! 

Thank you for keeping up with us, loving us, praying for us and supporting us!! We are grateful. Don't forget that if you don't get our monthly newsletter you can sign up here on our blog - top right hover over the black and click on sign up for newsletter. Thank you again, now enjoy pictures and the video!!! 

Below I am posting some pictures and a video that one of the missionaries there made in May of this year. 

Here is the video that Jason made from just last month. 
It gives you a snip-it look at what life is like on The Ranch. 

Graduation Day - we had 4 kids graduate this year. Luke signing the graduation certificate. 

These 6 boys just accepted Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord last week at The Ranch!!!
So thankful for all the missionaries there pouring into these kids, it makes a difference!!

Sammy our snake patrol. We have a ton of snakes there, mostly rattle snakes.
This is why the kids can not go outside alone because they can not hear the rattle snakes rattling.
I told Mike I am glad they are rattle snakes because they will rattle at you when you get close and that
 lets me know to run the other way!!!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Missionary Boot Camp

So if there was such a thing as Missionary Boot Camp, I am pretty sure we are in it. And though it is not a physical camp it is more intense and strengthening than any Boot Camp or PX90 - I like to refer to it as Crossfit (getting us fit for the crosses we are to carry). Jesus calls us to forsake ourselves, pick up our cross and follow him DAILY!!! In order to carry our cross, we have to be prepared to carry it - no matter what!! So preparing to carry our cross requires us to be conditioned to do it.  Just as you have to condition your body to run in races or marathons. But in Crossfit God is the one that conditions us to carry our cross for Him daily!
I have noticed the trend of Boot Camps, PX90, Insanity and all kinds of extreme work outs and people are obsessed with them and eating vegan and paleo and on and on, there is something different each week. And I have listened and often wondered, what if they spent that much time devoted to God and His word and doing His work or serving others? I often wonder how much time these people spend in reading God's word and strengthening their relationship with Him. See we can be so easily tricked into thinking because they are good things that it is okay, but in reality they are taking the place of God and have become an idol. 
So this week has been difficult for many reasons but I just felt as if God were telling me that I was in training this week. And I found myself asking Him what do you mean? I know I need to exercise more Lord, do you want me to be in a race? I went back and forth all week in prayer and asking over and over trying to figure out what the Lord was saying to me. And then it finally hit me, I am in training for the field. I am in training for the cross He has given me to carry. This week when my family members were sick in different states and my parents were in another state and we were trying to figure out who needed to get where to take care of who and my mother is in tears on the phone, all I could do was listen and help her as best as I could a state away. When I hung up to pray for everyone and for peace for my parents, I realized that I will have to do that but from another country. I felt in my spirit, this is your training - preparing you for your service and your cross. 
So over the last few days as I have grieved in my spirit for not being able to be physically present with those that I love to help, comfort and pray with them, I finally had a peace that the Lord was preparing me for my cross. I recalled scripture that had always resonated with me and then I knew why. The scripture is: Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God". Luke 9:61-62
Well I don't know about you but I want to be fit for the kingdom of God!!! I will never be ready to carry my cross if I keep looking back at what held me here for so long in the first place. I can never look back at possessions, friendships, family, church, jobs, or even serving if I want to be fit for His kingdom. We are in training and conditioning for our service in Mexico. There are so many things that we are having to adjust to it is not even funny. But at the end of the day, I can say with assurance that the saddest thing that could take place is if we kept looking back and were found not fit for the kingdom. 
I can not imagine a more miserable and sad life than one that is not fit for the kingdom. So yes we are in Crossfit right now, not so we can have strong, beautiful bodies (which all die anyway just FYI) and be fit and ripped and compete in races. We have only one race that matters and we do have our eyes on the prize and we are not fond of the conditioning in this Crossfit, but we know that we are being fit for the kingdom! Our conditioning consist of long waits, loneliness, distance from friends and family, hardships, disappointments, hurts, more waiting and totally NOT in control. I may not be able to run a 5k or have a perfect figure, but one thing is for sure - I am being trained by God himself for His kingdom and that is worth more than anything else in this world!!! 
Are you willing to be conditioned by God for His kingdom? Or do you keep looking back and running to those things that keep you comfortable and happy? There hasn't been a day this past week that I have been happy - but I have had joy which comes from God and not my circumstances. 

Update on our progress:
We are working on finding places to connect with churches, Sunday School classes, Bible study groups, business and individuals. We are only at 18% of our needed 90% of monthly support to be able to leave. We are so thankful for those who have joined us in God's work in Mexico. We some friends that are working hard at getting us speaking engagements and working hard to get us there and we are forever grateful for them! God has called people to give, we just need to connect with them! Thanks again for keeping up with us, praying for us, and joining us to increase the kingdom of God in Mexico.

Some of the boys at the Ranch 

Kids playing jump rope on the playground 

The kids in a parade 

                                                             Photos courtesy of Jason - missionary at the Ranch! 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bucket List?

Have you ever read something or listened to people talk about something and it just didn't sit well with you? You weren't sure if you agreed or disagreed but something just didn't feel right? I had that happen this week while listening to WDJC one morning. I can't remember what the original topic was, but somehow they started talking about Bucket Lists and something in my soul just ached. I couldn't put my finger on it, wasn't sure what it was all about. I have heard many people over the years talk about Bucket Lists, and there was even a movie about it. So why on this particular day did something not sit well with me?

In my mind that morning as I was bothered by it I was thinking, but this is so silly and why would that bother me? I mean what is the big deal, I don't even have one!!! And why would listening to other people talk about theirs, bother me? I just found it odd at the time. I shrugged it off and went into work, but I prayed and asked the Lord to show me or speak to me why I had this feeling. I have learned over the years that it is the Holy Spirit that does that to me and it is ALWAYS for a reason!!  So I went about my day at work and honestly didn't think anything else about it. I had other things on my heart and mind and knew that the Lord would show me in His timing (that is the theme of my life right now).

And so I come to this morning in God's word seeking His face and it slapped me in the head like a ton of bricks as I read scripture. " So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel he had around him." John 13:4-5  That was it, He wanted me to see that Jesus knew these were His final hours! Get it? Final hours!!! He had only hours to live and He was NOT concerned about himself and all He wanted to do or see or go!!! In His final hours, He SERVED others. He had no concern for the flesh or it being all about Him. He could have easily said, "hey friends, I am about to die in hours and I would like to enjoy these final hours with the things that I want and you guys need to be seeing what I want and doing what I want" Cause that sure sounds like what I would have said. Hey everyone, it's all about ME tonight!!! Talk about hard to swallow - but then it got even harder!!!

He says in verse 15, "I have given you an example to follow". Okay Lord, thank you for that example and you know that will be extremely hard for me, since I am a sinner and flawed in my thinking and ways. But, Lord, I see what you are telling me. I don't need a bucket list that would make me focus on myself, satisfying my own desires & wants causing me to lose site of my final hours. See since we have no idea when our days will come to an end, aren't we always living in final hours? I mean this could totally be my last day on earth, I may never again get a chance to hug necks (I love some neck hugging) or tell someone I love them, or serve someone, or help someone or share truth with someone. So God wants us to live each moment as if we knew it were our last and serve others. Our society says just the opposite and my fear is that we are raising generation after generation of self absorbed, me - me - me, entitled thinking people. God wants us to see and live by the example that Jesus left us. I mean I had to ask myself some really hard questions. I had to be honest that if I knew I had hours to live, would I honestly be serving others or would I gather all my friends and family together to hide out and soak up every last minute of love, hugs, laughs and memories that I could? I didn't like my answer, I would focus on myself and what I wanted in those last hours!!! I even found myself trying to justify to God right here this morning in front of His word why I should have that time. I hung my head in shame!

And that was not all, here comes the real kicker - you think that was tough (I did) watch this!!!!
"Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and He exclaimed, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray Me!" John 13:21 Wait there is more. "Jesus answered, "Die for Me? I tell you the truth, Peter - before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know Me." John 13:38
I was speechless (no wise cracks)! Seriously Lord, not only do you want me to serve people in my last hours and not worry one bit about myself, you want me to serve those who betray me and ignore me like they don't even know who I am? You have got to be kidding me right? Look Lord, you have no idea how some of these people have hurt me and you want me to serve them? And as the tears began to fall, I felt a spirit of "YES my sweet child" fall over me. But God how can I do that? "You can't, but I can"; I felt Him say. But God why would I want to spend my last few hours on people who have hurt me and not with those who have not? Because that is easy and anyone can do that. But My people, who are called by My name, who have My love, don't love and serve like that. Okay Lord I am a total mess right here and so ashamed of myself for thinking I was doing pretty good about not being as self focused as the environment and culture I live in and You have totally showed me I am still missing the mark!!

So you can say I have been taken to the wood shed and back this morning by the Lord, but I am thankful! I think that we can get to a place of comparing ourselves to the culture and world we live in and by using that measuring stick we feel pretty good about ourselves and where we fall. But when we pull out God's measuring stick and see where we fall on His, it doesn't look so good anymore. God pulled out His measuring stick for me this morning and I didn't fair too well friends. I can only speak for myself, but I sure was shocked. I think God wanted to show me the danger of where I have been measuring myself lately and to remind me that only HIS example matters. Sure in the worlds eyes compared to most others I may doing pretty good, but that doesn't matter!

So maybe there are some hard questions you need to ask yourself today. Maybe you need to see what measuring stick you have been using. Maybe you needed to be reminded that we are living in the last hours now. Maybe you needed to be reminded that we are to be serving others like Jesus, even in our final hours. Maybe you needed to be reminded that you have been a little self centered lately. Maybe you needed to be reminded that there are those in your life that have hurt you and you need to serve them. Or probably a big one for our culture today is that maybe you are too busy serving YOURSELF and your FAMILY to serve God and others!!! Maybe your allowing your family to be ruled by schedules that are not of God. Maybe you needed to be reminded that the only people you serve is your family, or people you like. Maybe you needed to know that it is okay if you don't have a bucket list. I don't know what it is, but I can promise you that the Lord does. And He will speak to you and show you things, no matter how many times you have read those verses or heard them preached on. He has a word for you today, I promise.

This is perfect for what God showed me this morning!

Thank you for keeping up with us and all that you do for us, we are eternally grateful.  We have had some new people join the prayer partnership of our ministry and that is so exciting!!!!

Prayer request:
1. Big meeting at the Ranch this month
2. Luke Everette as he travels for the Ranch and is away from family
3. All the teachers, staff and kids that are there now
4. For 90% of our funding to start coming in quickly
5. For our marriage and families - satan is trying to discourage and destroy
6. For our spiritual growth as we walk in obedience to Him 

Willfully His, 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Catching our breath

Sorry for the delay in updating the blog, we have been extremely busy with school and just finished with it!! Yay for the old couple in school together :-)  I think we have finally caught our breath some what. It has been a whirlwind last few months with finding out where we would be, learning the next steps, school, trying to kick off our partnership development, and just daily life of working, being parents, and serving the Lord while we are still waiting.

Right now we are trying to find churches, small groups, bible study groups, businesses, individuals and families that would be willing to allow us to share God's vision for the deaf and how we will be helping with that in Mexico. We have a goal of 200 prayer partners to connect with that will commit to praying for us daily and will be instrumental in intercessory prayer for urgent needs and things that God is doing while we are at the Ranch. If you want to learn more about this, please let me know and I will give you all the information and add you to our team! Not only do we know that our prayer partners will be a key to our success on the field, but so will the people that join our financial team as well. It is no secret that unless those that are called to give - give, we can not go! We have to have right at $5000 a month to live and do ministry in Mexico. A little over half of that is for us to live on and the rest is for us to do ministry with.

We will have the same expenses there as we do here (rent, food, utilities, insurance) with a few extra ones such as having car insurance in 2 countries. Some expenses such as health insurance will be more expensive than we pay now. So yes while some cost may be less expensive than what we pay here, there are other expenses that will be much higher and some that we will have to be paying in 2 countries. We do not make a salary from the Ranch, we will be living and doing ministry on our monthly support. The Ranch is a free school for the deaf and does not have any income that comes in on a regular basis. Every family and individual that is there, raises their own support and our ministry funds and donations from others is what allows the school to do what it does day to day.

So the great question of "When are you leaving?" is when we have 90% of our monthly support coming in for 3 months in a row, then we can leave. We are at approximately 15% right now. All the support that is coming in right now, is being held in our account to cover moving expenses and language school cost. We will not get a penny of any money until we leave. We are so ready to get to where we know God wants us, so please be praying about how God wants you to partner with Him to get the gospel to the deaf community in Mexico and around the world. We are thankful for each of you that have already started supporting God's work through supporting our ministry. We are a ministry- an extension of the body of Christ from Valley Creek Baptist Church joining God where He is working!

We would love an opportunity to sit down with you over coffee, dessert or ice cream (it is about to start getting hot) and answer any questions you have or explain anything that you don't understand. We want everyone to understand how things work so there is no misunderstandings or doubts. Our pastor, Kevin, just came back from Pioneers from a conference learning how our home church will play such an important part of our success. He was so impressed at how they take care of their missionaries on the field. We have all kinds of help available to us around the clock whenever we need it and that was comforting to him as our pastor to know that with a phone call we or he could get us help. Missionaries are huge targets when they hit the field and satan will use all kinds of stuff to destroy them, so it is vital that we have access to whatever kind of help we might need. We are so thankful for a Pastor and church that love us and know that the church's mission and mandate is MISSIONS!!!

So right now we are selling more items, trying to tie up loose ends on things here and preparing the house to go on the market. I have not been fearful of the house not selling, but where will we live when it does!!!! Rent is way more expensive than what we pay in mortgage payments :-(   We are planning on having an Estate Sale here at our house to move some big items in April or possibly May so if you are in need of some things, watch Facebook or let me know and I will let you know when we are having it.

Thank you again for following us, loving us, praying for us, and supporting us - words are NOT adequate!!!

Prayer request:
1. Rancho Sordo Mudo will be having a big meeting in April - big things happening and they need prayer!
2. Pray for Luke Everett, he does most of the traveling for the Ranch and the stresses of traveling, being away from his family and the future of the school lay heavy on him. 
3. Pray for all the staff and students there 
4. Pray that we will get to our 90% quickly so we can get to the Ranch as soon as possible, we know how they need us to be there helping and that ways heavy on our hearts!!
5. Pray that we reach our 200 prayer partner goal too
6. Pray for the selling of many items, property and house over the next few months. 
7. Pray for a reasonable place to rent until we leave that is not more than what we pay now - actually less would be better. 
8. Pray for us as we are learning to adjust to so many things right now. 
9. Pray for us and our family & friends that as it draws nearer to us leaving that it will be an easy transition for all of us!!! 
10. Unspoken 

Thank you again and thanks for praying for these request. We are grateful for each of you!!!

The kids worshiping Jesus in song!!

Waiting to eat lunch. 

Olivia's class 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Finding our Fit

God spoke and we listened. But to be honest it was so tempting to follow our human desires and try to go where we felt it would be more suitable for our comfort. Did you catch that? Yes we are human and have to fight the flesh daily! But God has such a sense of humor because He called us to serve where there is lots of heat (with no AC) and sand (we dislike sand). We were reminded like Jeremiah that we are to be His mouthpiece. We too had some protest like Jeremiah but as you continue to read in the book of Jeremiah you see where God assured him that HE would be with him and take care of him. See God is an intimate God who is personally involved with ALL of those who serve Him - not just the prophets and preachers. And because God knitted us together in our mothers womb He alone knows and can change our internal thermometer. God is "with us" more than just geographically, He is with us personally, working out His purpose for us. And we can't find any verses on how it is to be easy, comfortable or what WE WANT!!! But because He is all knowing, and His plan is perfect - we are going to..........

Rancho Sordo Mudo in Guadalupe Valley, Mexico

Some of the kids dressed for school.

Fun on the soccer field

Who needs snow? Sand Angels are fun too!
Some Ranch fun! I will not be joining that kind of fun.  I have heard plenty of missionaries say, don't ever say never :-)
God is ready to do a new work there on the Ranch, a new work to accomplish His plans & purposes that were laid out before we were even born and how exciting to think that He wanted us to be a part of them! Wow!!! Reality check!!!

God never says anything He doesn't mean and He intends to see His word accomplished no matter the discomforts we might endure. Followers of Christ have been called to nothing less than a willingness to die for the gospel. Speaking the truth to troubled people will always test our ability to endure suffering. Jeremiah 6:16 hit me like a ton of bricks - "Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, 'No, that's not the road we want!'  
If we don't go exactly where God planned long before time and walk in it, we will not have rest for our souls. And if you have ever done any type of mission work - even short term, you know above all else you need rest for your soul to accomplish His plans and work. I think we would all do well to remember that last sentence. "No that's not the road we want!" Did you notice that is has an explanation point - so it was said with force. Is there something God is calling you to do or to go and you keep answering Him like that? Maybe you need to stop and ask for the old, godly way and walk in it because there you will find rest for your soul. 
It is a rest, peace, a joy that will NEVER be filled by doing what YOU WANT. I will not tell you that walking in it is easy, always fun and not heartbreaking at times, but I will tell promise you that onver any selfish fleshly things that we think are important or how we need to make decisions - there is is an inner sustaining peace, joy and rest that transcends all the suffering, pain, discomfort & tears and comforts your soul. Our own roads lead to dead ends, heartbreak, suffering and tears with no rest for our souls - so ask God to show you the old, godly way and walk in it, you won't regret it - I promise. 

Our last newsletter outlined some of our duties at the Ranch as well as what the Ranch is all about and what all we do. If you are signed up, at the top right of this blog is a place to sign up so you can stay informed as to where we are in the process and what is going on. I will post more details and cover more stuff with each post in the blog. 

Prayer Needs:

Our biggest prayer request now is about our support raising. We have to start having our support come in now and on a consistent bases for at least 3 months before we can leave. We need prayer for us to find those supporters that God has spoken too about joining us, we need opportunities to share our journey with groups, churches etc... We need our house to sell and for things to fall in to place so that we can leave by summer time. We ask you to pray about if the Lord is asking you to join us financially or if you have any connections to groups that we could share with. 

We will be at language school for the first 8-10 months and then off to the Ranch and yes we will have to not only learn Spanish, but SML (Spanish Sign Language). So we have our work cut out for us :-)

Prayers as we finish up our class that we are in now, it has proven to be a really challenging class. We are learning so much, but it is hard. 

Pray for the staff and kids at the Ranch. We are ready to join them and help lessen the load. 

Pray for our friends, family, church and us as the time draws near for us to leave. It will not be an easy thing and we know that. Pray that God will be working in all of our hearts and preparing us all. 

Johnny & Amber are staff members at the Ranch - here is a short review they did
 to see a little more of the Ranch. 

Thanks for praying, supporting and keeping up with us. We love you all!!

Donations can be made Here our account number is 111728 - Mike & Sherri Sexton