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April 22, 2015

Moses' Song

This year, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) has studied the life of Moses. We have one more week of Bible study left. This week we looked at Moses' prediction of Israel's future rebellion and his song to help the future faithful in Dueteronomy 31-32. What struck me this week was the faith of Moses, particularly in light of his last days as leader of the Israelites. At the very end, Moses is still a man of faith. He will not be allowed to go into the promised land because he sinned when he struck the rock in the desert to bring forth water. Moses does not become bitter. He does not complain saying, "Why can't I enter the promised land? God forgave grievous sins of the Israelites. Why punish me for my one sin when the Israelites have sinned again and again?"

Complaints like this show the speaker's lack of trust in God's ways. As Moses sings: 
"I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
And all his ways are just. 
A faithful God who does no wrong,
Upright and just is he."
Dueteronomy 32:3-4

God is perfect and just. He does no wrong. He delivers just consequences for actions, just as he did for Moses. But His works are perfect. We can take heart because God is God, in any and all situation and have peace. We will never know and understand all of God's ways and his works, but we can know a good portion of it. As Moses said in Duet. 29:29, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever." God's Word reveals to us our Father, our Savior and our Worker of Faith, the Holy Spirit. We don't need to ask why or to be anxious about what has happened or will happen. We know our God through His Word. And we know that God can do no wrong. So while we may not understand an individual event, we can take heart in knowing that God is perfect. 

Putting this into practice is much harder, and frankly, impossible without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works faith within us and continues working that our faith may become perfect. This is a daily work until we are made perfect through Christ in our death to pass into life with Him.  One verse that I turn to when I need the Spirit's help is Psalm 46:10 - "Be still and know that I am God." Knowing God's character brings peace. In the throws of a situation, it is hard to remember that. But that doesn't make it any less true. 

Jesus says it best to his disciplines in John 16:33 - "I have told you these things [predicted his death and resurrection and the disciples grief], so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Take heart! Our eternal salvation has be bought. The troubles of this world will come, but nothing can take away Jesus' sacrifice for us. 

April 15, 2015

Kenya: 5 weeks out

I'm not really sure what I want to write about today. Life has steadily marched forward. We've celebrated another Easter. And today marks three months out from the end of vicarage and more transition for our family. 

But before the boxes are packed and the truck is loaded, Timothy and I are headed to Kenya with five other people for a week long mission trip. We will be running a vision clinic to bring glasses to the people of Kenya. Now you may have heard recently that Kenya was in the news because there was a terrorist attack in the country. Yes, we are still going. Kenya is a big country and we will be working in another area, one away from the attack area. My heart goes out to the people of Kenya who are mourning the death of loved ones lost in this attack. 

Saying that makes me think of the tremendous fear that paralyzes many from traveling abroad and from sharing their faith. I understand that some I will leave at home are terrified for my husband and I to travel abroad. I am not afraid. The Lord provides for and protects his people. Sin is in the world and because of sin, bad things, including terrorist attacks, happen. It is with His love that we reach out and bring hope to others. We can show his love to Kenya through eyeglasses. I have tremendous peace, a peace given to me by my Savior. I am ready to go and serve Him. 

April 1, 2015

Joy and Sadness

Yesterday was my aunt's funeral. It was a tragic time for my family. My aunt passed away after a unfortunate and very freaky accident. She was adjusting the bridle of one of the draft horses that my uncle and aunt own. The horse spooked and reared up. My aunt slipped under the horse and was crushed when the horse came down. She died of the resulting internal injuries. It was so sudden and an eerie reminder of how fragile our lives are. 

We mourned as a family, each in our own way. And we are still mourning. Understandably, it is all very hard to process. The sadness has come in tears, in silence, in quiet reflective mess, in shock. Although each of us mourns differently, we were all there together. 

The joy comes in the simple fact that we were all together. My family is strewn far and wide but we all descended upon Nebraska to be there as my Uncle walks this road of pain and loss. My parents arrived from Florida, my brother from DC, and my family from Texas. My aunt came from another part of Nebraska and my grandfather set aside the sorrow of mourning for his wife, who passed away almost three years ago, to be there as his son began that same path of losing his wife. Our family hadn't been together like this since grandma's funeral three years ago on Easter. 

Seeing the ray of sunshine yesterday was well worth it. Sometimes in the midst of the tears it's hard to see a reason to smile. Even due to the worst possible reason imaginable, family was together again. 

On a personal note, I received good news on Thursday. I was finally diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. This is a medical issue I have had since birth, but has been affecting me since age 14. Because I have a n atypical presentation of the disease and because I was young, I was not taken seriously for 13 years. It's nice to have a doctor really listen to you and want to figure out what is wrong.

So what does this mean for me? I have a hormonal imbalance that causes me to have infrequent periods and can make it very difficult to become pregnant. Web MD has a good description of it here: http://www.webmd.com/women/tc/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos-topic-overview

It also means that I will be on medication to manage it through menopause. Because PCOS causes infrequent periods, I have an increased risk for endometrial cancers. It also means that Levi may be our only biological child. He truly is an anomaly as far as pregnancies of and babies born to women with PCOS. I am so very thankful to have him in our life. Infertility will continue to be an issue that I carry for the rest of my life. 

And that is hard to process right now. The sorrow is there. But so is the joy. I have a medical answer and a doctor that will work with me. I have a starting place with other providers as our family moves around the countries. We have a wonderfully rambunctious toddler that is truly a miracle. He has enriched our lives in countless ways.

Perhaps the best picture of my life right now is the storm we drove through last night. There was an amazing lightning display and yet a fierce rainstorm too. There was beauty and wonder in the storm, and yet it was scary. I had trouble seeing out the windshield at times. We ran over an armadillo at one point and our car jumped a little. Thankfully, we made it through the storm safely and woke up to a new morning, sun bright in the sky and birds singing in the trees. I know that's how I will feel when this time of my life has passed. 

March 25, 2015

Today is one of those days where I just want to go back to bed and start the day over. Being mom to a rambunctious toddler always has its moments, but today my thoughts are elsewhere. Over the weekend, my aunt died as a result of injuries sustained when her horse spooked. My uncle has had a really rough time accepting that his wife is indeed gone. My family is having a difficult time processing everything too. I'm not really sure how to feel.

My aunt's death comes about two weeks before the third anniversary of my grandmother's passing. In her true form, she went on in glory on Easter morning. We had watched her death creep closer through an extended illness. There was none of that preparation with my aunt. She was here, and now she's not. The grieving is different.

I wasn't close with my aunt. In truth, I haven't seen her since Grandma's funeral three years ago. I've probably only been in the same city as her a handful of times in my life. Still, a member of my family is gone, even if we didn't talk every day or even every year.

Please keep my family in your prayers. There will be two funerals: on Saturday and on Tuesday.

March 23, 2015

Stressed and Overwhelmed

March has been a busy month. To be truthful, busy doesn't even begin to describe it. Timothy has had extra responsibilities during Lent. We hosted guests for the first two weekends of the month. (And we loved having them here!) Timothy attended Confirmation Camp the following weekend. And now the Cantata will be this week, meaning we have an extra rehearsal on Tuesday evening.

In addition to normal life, I set my goal at the end of February to start my promotion period to team leader with Usborne Books and More. I won't be meeting that goal. I overfilled my schedule in March to try to meet the sales goal. That won't be happening. It's difficult for me to admit that I won't meet my goal. This Type A person doesn't like failure. However, it's best for my sanity and for my family if this isn't my goal right now. I still will try to promote to team leader this year. I will mostly likely try again after we move this summer.

I have set a new goal for my business, which hopefully, will be more manageable. I will earn my trip to national convention in June for free. This is a much easier (but still a stretch) goal. The sales goal is lower and I also don't need to be pushing to build my team through recruiting new consultants. It will be a stretch because, although I've met the goal for February and I will meet it for March, I still need to meet the sales goal for April and May. In April, our family will be on vacation at the end of the month for a week. In May, Timothy and I will be on a mission trip in Kenya for 10 days. The shortened months for me will make meeting the goal extra difficult.

The reason I knew that promoting to team leader in March/April was going to be too much for me was that I started to lose joy in the business. I was unmotivated to work my business. I experienced depression in college and could feel myself slipping back into that state. My mental health is worth more than business goals. My son deserves a mom that can be present with him and delight in him. That's not what I was becoming. Before getting into really deep trouble, I changed course. I would like to thank my counselor for helping me realize when stress in my life has started to manage me. I could be living a much different story today otherwise.

March 17, 2015

Warning: This Might be Too Much for You to Handle

Culture has this way of saying that things can be too personal to share. TMI... too much information, if you will. TMI leads me to where I am now. When it is "appropriate" to keep experiences private to meet cultural expectations, we tell others that their feelings, their experiences, their pain can't be shared. It's no wonder our society includes so many individuals suffering from depression. Holding everything inside is painful and extremely lonely.

This post won't conform to those standards.

If you don't want to confront the dark and ugly parts of life, stop reading now. I mean it. This is about to get really personal.

I have been struggling emotionally regarding a medical situation that happened in December and our journey of trying to conceive another child. Timothy and I began trying for Baby #2 a while ago (details not important). I went to the doctor in November to seek advice and to get medicine to help jump start my menstrual cycle, which was still was absent since Levi's birth. I was given a three-month supply of progesterone to help regulate it. In December, I had a really nasty period. (Again, details aren't important). One week before this period, I had a questionable pregnancy test. Ironically, the signs of a miscarriage and the first postpartum period are identical. When I mentioned my concerns to my doctor, I was dismissed.

So, Baby #2 could have already been part of our family, even if only briefly. But I will never know. The only way to medically distinguish what happened in December would have been to test the hormone levels in my blood or to test some of the tissue. Since my doctor didn't think that it was a concern, it wasn't done. So I will never know. And that was (and is) still really hard for me to accept. I don't know how to process what happened, to make sense of it, to know how to feel.

Since December, I have read several negative pregnancy tests. Timothy and I have become discouraged. Levi was our happy accident. Proof that once is all it takes. We weren't expecting this journey while trying for Baby #2. It's gotten harder as we've celebrated with friends who are expecting new babies in their families.

While I am walking this journey of infertility, I have fielded several questions of when will we be welcoming the next child to our family. I never know how to respond. These questions, which are asked from the kindest intentions, cut my soul to pieces. Usually I say "We'll see" or stumble for an answer. It would be TMI for me to say "I don't know. We have been trying for a while." Infertility is not a culturally acceptable topic, especially to those kind people who are just trying to make conversation. It's an issue to look past.

And it's not like you could know what is going on with me. When you see me, I smile. I chit-chat about random things. I don't let on that anything is wrong. I don't look sick. I simply look like a young mom of a toddler. Maybe I'm a little tired and a little sticky. Maybe there's jelly in my hair and dirt on my shirt. That way you know it's been one of "those days" at home. Nothing appears out of the ordinary.

I don't blame anyone for what has happened. I don't hold grudges. I haven't sunk into a depression because of my circumstances. But my heart is heavy. I am grieving for the unknowns in my life. I rejoice with you when you are happy, even though I hurt. But the next time you see me, I would appreciate a hug. I wish it was a little more culturally acceptable for women to say: "I am dealing with infertility and it sucks."

March 11, 2015

Moving

This past weekend we were blessed to have friends from the seminary visit us in Texas. It was wonderful to see their familiar faces again. We picked up right where we left off when we parted ways last July. Even Levi took straight to them again. I was amazed by this! He has been overly cautious of new faces while we've been in Texas. But 8 months after we last saw our friends, he had no problems playing with them and giving them big bear hugs. It was wonderful to see. 

Having friends in town has made me see how much I hate leaving friends behind when I move. Moving hasn't been a new thing to me. I have moved 11 times in my 27 years. 9 of those times I moved to a different state, leaving behind everything that was familiar to me. We only have a short 4 months left in Texas. Moving is on the horizon again.