Double Dutch Timing

Tick, tick, tick, tick. The ropes rhythmically drummed against the pavement.
Cinderella, dressed in yelladouble dutch 2

Went upstairs to kiss a fella

Made a mistake

Kissed a snake

How many doctors did it take?

There weren’t many sports that I was good at as a kid.

Okay, there weren’t any.

But I did love to jump rope, especially double dutch jump rope.

Downtown Atkinson Nebraska, as it looks from near where my house was.

Downtown Atkinson Nebraska, as it looks from near where my house was.

Every day of 4th grade recess, you’d find me jumping rope on the sidewalk of Atkinson Elementary school with Trixy, Amy, Trisha, and Janelle. Boys were not allowed. That would just be gross.

In spite of the fact that jumping required coordination, I was actually pretty good at it –after a few hours of practice.

But jumping wasn’t the only difficult part of double dutch jumprope, the ability of the rope turners to swing the rope in a timely manner was critical. If they had poor rhythm, or didn’t come in on time, there was no way for the jumper to jump. Again, because this required coordination, it took practice and effort to achieve.

The hardest part of double dutch jump rope wasn’t the jumping, or the turning. It was getting into the spinning ropes. I had to wait for just the right moment, while the far rope was cresting at the top, to jump into the whirling ropes. Miss it by a fraction of a second, the ropes tangled around my feet, and my turn was over.

Thirty years later, I can still vividly envision the sound of the ropes rhythmically hitting the pavement, the ropes cresting, waiting for the perfect moment to jump.

Becoming a missionary is similar. Knowing when to jump is critical.

Until I was knee-deep in the process, I never knew how much work it took to become a missionary.

We have courses we need to take, both online and in person, immigration issues to address for our three different nationalities, speaking engagements every weekend, preparing to our house for sale, completing Rosetta Stone, deciding what to keep, give away, or take with us, determining where to go to language school and how we’re going to live while doing so, determining an educational plan for our children, and on and on. And then there is the matter of raising $102,000/year in pledges for the next four years, as well as a startup fund (or approximately $440,000 total).

Getting to the mission field is a lot of work, before we can even get there. We had been managing to have Ken work full time on getting us to the mission field (unpaid) by dipping into our savings a bit each month. We pressed hard to get through the application, orientation, vision trip, fundraising training, and initial partnership building as fast as possible. I believe we may have even set a record for getting through the process. We knew we cannot be paid for our work getting to the mission field until we are at 50% funding.

We are at almost 20%.

And our savings just ran out.

We find ourselves staring at the ropes of making it to the mission field.

Ken has gotten a job at Chick-Fil-A, because he cannot take a pastoral position since we travel every weekend.  He has gotten a job because we are not yet at 50% funding. But getting to 50% funding just got immeasurably more difficult because Ken is working full time, and I’m working my usual 80+ hours per week. Neither of us have paid vacation time.

We certainly don’t mind hard work. We rather enjoy working hard. But we cannot get to the mission field without devoting many hours of work each week to get there, and we are out of time, and money.

So we’ve come to the point where we need God to show up in a big way. We are spent. And at the end of ourselves is usually when God shows up.

We are confident that God didn’t just call us to GO to the mission field in Ghana. He has called others to SEND us. God never issues a call without the means to fulfill it.

In the game of missionary double dutch jump rope, we are waiting for our time to jump in. We have committed our lives and possessions for the sake of the Gospel in Ghana. We are looking for some consistent rope swingers who are committed to invest in what God is doing in Ghana as well. Without the commitment and work of both the rope swingers and the jumpers, we’ll never get to the mission field.

Many of you have asked when you should start giving. The answer is simple: Now.

Once we get to 50% funding, Ken will be able to go back to full-time preparation for the mission field.  The need is urgent, both here, and in Ghana.

To get to 50% funding:

We need 30 individuals to promise $100/month; or

We need 10 churches or individuals to promise $300/month

We know that the call on your life is every bit as important as the call on ours. We know you don’t know exactly how you’re going to do it. That’s okay. We know precisely how it feels to depend on God for money we just don’t have.

We all know a God who has the resources.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21

If you are ready to get in the game, and swing some ropes, click here.

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The Radiant Bride

(A guest post by Ken)

Someday, Lord willing, I will walk Addie down the aisle.Jewett (12)

Me.

Her Dad.

What a strange thought. And it came out of nowhere. I was alone and driving in the car.

I don’t know when. Or where. But someday I will take my little girl for one last walk and then her heart will belong to another.

She will be radiant.

Her hair will be perfect. Robin will see to that.

Her dress will be fabulous (and expensive).

But the honor of walking her down the aisle will fall to me… wow! What have I done to deserve this?

Rosa (2)She was born in a far off land to another family who loved her and tried to care for her as best they could. She came to us… wild and afraid. Those early days were long and hard. But love to hold and grew into something unique and beautiful.

On her wedding day, Addie’s eyes will be on a young man at the front of the sanctuary who will be wearing a rented tuxedo and scared to death. And all eyes will be on her. Deservedly so. After all she is… perfect… just as her Heavenly Father intended her to be.  The road to that sanctuary may have been a bumpy one. But on that day, the past will be forgotten and we will simply bathe in the beauty of the present. Together.

Knowing me, I will try to say something profound or memorable, but all that I will be able to say will be “you are so beautiful” or “your mother and I are so proud of you”. But that will be enough.

There will be tears and smiles as we are overwhelmed by emotions too powerful to describe. Our beautiful Congolese angel is flying away.

Any pain, frustration or heart-ache will have faded into distant memory. All that will remain will be a strong, mature and precious woman beaming with the joy of young love.

My daughter has given me a fresh glimpse of what it means to be a Christian.

To be the Church.

The bride of Christ.

The words are not new to me, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. ” Thanks to Addie, this amazing little princess, who faces the challenges of each day with reckless abandon, I now have a better understanding of the Apostle Paul’s meaning.

Someday I will be the Father of the Bride. I will be beaming (and broke). But today I am also part of the Bride of Christ. And while the simple thought of walking my little girl down the aisle to be married bring me to tears, my emotions pale in comparison to how God the Father views the Church, the Bride of Christ.

The Church is far from perfect. Be it is loved and therein lies its true worth.

He has called us.

Redeemed us.

And we are loved.

The wedding day of Jesus and His Bride cost the Father dearly. His one and only Son. But so great was His love for us that He paid the price.

And someday God the Father will march us down the aisle so that we may spend eternity with Christ.

The Danger of Daffodils

Daffodil

The perky heads of yellow have sprung from the ground, signaling the end of winter. A new season has arrived — days are getting longer and warmer. The arctic winds of winter have shifted to bring spring showers, awakening the dead earth back to life. Daffodils are the first sign of that annual renewal of life.

 

For the last 12 years, daffodils have been a danger sign to me. They signaled the coming of spring pollen. Every year, when the tree and flower pollen spikes, my lungs go into lockdown.

 

Every.

 

Single.

 

Year.

 

Ken and I started celebrating Valentine’s day at other times of the year because me getting sick was so predictable. Every year, I’ve been on steroids. Many years, I’ve ended up in the hospital.

 

Daffodils signify danger.

 

So when I saw the first signs of the daffodils of spring, I gasped.

 

And I exhaled.

 

Easily.

 

I chuckled to myself as I am reminded that I have been set free from the chains of asthma. Even the cough I picked up in Africa in 2012 is now gone. I’ve been off of asthma medications for over 6 months now, and when I saw my physician this week he said aloud, “It’s the strangest thing.” I wasn’t just a typical asthmatic, I was the worst kind of asthmatic. I took the monthly injection Xolair in 2013 to the tune of $3500/month, and it didn’t touch my asthma. A day or two without my daily inhaled medicines would send me into gasps of suffocation.

 

When Ken and I prayed for my healing as confirmation that we should move to Africa, it was as if we really didn’t expect God to heal me. Though we were certain God could heal me, we weren’t sure He would.

 

As a medical provider, my entire job is, well, trying to help people God chooses not to heal. I pray for my patients every day as I travel to their homes. I have prayed for long lists of health requests from Sunday school classes, small groups, academic settings, and more.

 

I spend my days immersed in what God is seemingly not doing.

 

I am learning that God’s purposes in illness are not always about the cure. He could have healed my asthma 12 years ago, when I first asked. But He didn’t. He waited 12 frustrating years and over a hundred thousand dollars later. Illness did not merely exist in my life so He could heal me from it, but to teach me through it. I had had to learn to find joy, when I could not breathe well enough to walk across the house to get a glass of water. I learned to embrace the struggle as a part of how God was shaping me. I learned to love God not in spite of my physical ailment, but because He had chosen me to discipline in love through my illness. And I ultimately had to offer it as my only request to God before we moved to Ghana. I have often asked Ken, “If I wouldn’t have had asthma for 12 years, would we know for sure God wanted us to move to Ghana?”

 

While God did heal my lungs, and I am so thankful for the confirmation we needed to know that His plan would be found in Ghana, I am even more thankful for the lessons He taught me on those long days of suffocation.

 

I wear a heavy cloak of burden these days for all of my patients because of the illnesses that they bear. I carry the burden for our prayer partners who are suffering from illness in themselves or their family. But if what is true in my own life is true for others, an absence of healing does not mean an absence of God’s presence and guidance. Perhaps rather than praying only for my patient’s physical healing from illness, I should pray for their spiritual healing through illness.

 

My work in medicine must balance what God is seemingly not doing in the physical realm, with what He is doing in the spiritual realm. And He calls me to be a healer in both.

 

John Piper in What Jesus Demands from the World says, “He did not die to make this life easy for us or prosperous. He died to remove every obstacle to our everlasting joy in making much of him. And he calls us to follow him in his sufferings because this life of joyful suffering for Jesus’ sake (Matt. 5:12) shows that he is more valuable than all the earthly rewards that the world lives for. If you follow Jesus only because he makes life easy now, it will look to the world as though you really love what they love, and Jesus just happens to provide it for you. But if you suffer with Jesus in the pathway of love because he is your supreme treasure, then it will be apparent to the world that your heart is set on a different fortune than theirs. This is why Jesus demands that we deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him.”

 

Daffodils will now always remind me of delighting in God, whether in danger or disease or deliverance. And this year, I am celebrating what God has taught me, as I embrace the arrival of spring, with every. single. breath.

Why I Don’t Need Diversity in My Life

I do not need diversity in my life to feel better about myself.

  • I need people with dementia in my life, so I can learn to love without any expectation of return tomorrow.
  • I need minorities in my life, to open my eyes to the white privilege I unknowingly enjoy.
  • I need the poor in my life to teach me to value what is eternal more than what is temporal.
  • I need children in my life to help me to laugh, love, and forgive easily.
  • I need LGBT people in my life, to help me comprehend the sting of hateful words like “abomination” in an area of personal pain.
  • I need chronically homeless people in my life, to help me understand how much work it takes to survive homelessness and unemployment.
  • I need Christians from other cultures in my life, to help me distinguish between what is Biblical and what is political.
  • I need people with disabilities in my life to help me see the benefits of a little patience, a little accommodation, and a lot of hard work.
  • I need undocumented immigrants in my life to help me comprehend how unjust laws have created systematic discrimination and abuse.
  • I need Muslims in my life to remind me of the pain of being judged as an individual based on the actions of others.
  • I need patients in my life whom I cannot cure to remind me that I am not the Ultimate Healer.

To dismiss and dislike those whom I do not know is tempting. It is much easier to love and fill my life with those who look like me, think like me, believe like me. I need people from diverse backgrounds in my life to recognize what I am not.

You do too.

The beauty of the gospel is that God demonstrated that He loves us, not because of what is in us, but because of what is in Him. Likewise, I need others in my life who are different than me to learn to love, not because of who they are, but because of who Jesus is.

Revelation 7:9-10 “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

‘Salvation belongs to our God,

who sits on the throne,

and to the Lamb.’”

If the picture of Heaven is diversity, I need more in my life in order to for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Who do you need in your life?

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