Friday, April 22, 2016

I'll Pray About That

Change is in the air!  A few weeks ago I decided to apply for a part time summer job.  I was drawn to Lakeview for several reasons, but primarily due to proximity to my house.  It didn't really go any further.  A few days later, I was at Lakeview eating lunch for my DSOM class when I saw one of the directors, so I figured I would inquire if they had done all their summer hiring yet.  She mentioned that they had a position available at the fitness center working at the front desk.  That sounded to me like a great summer job!  I turned in my application, and they called a few days later to ask if I could come in for an interview.

I went into the interview thinking about how great the new job would be-it would keep me busy between Mercy Chefs deployments, give a little bit of extra income, and working in an environment I was already familiar with.  Almost as soon as the interview started, though, I was told that they would like me to consider another position they thought I was more suited for-which happened to be a full time, permanent position.  My immediate thought-reaction was "No way!  I just want to work for the summer, and definitely not full time!"  But the more they described the office job to me, my interest piqued.  The position would be using exactly my gifting of administrative abilities and attention to detail.  Still, on the inside I was screaming "No! I don't want a permanent job!"

I believe strongly that if an opportunity arises, it may be for a reason.  While not all opportunities are meant to be taken, they at least deserve some thought and prayer.  I walked away from the interview saying I would pray about it-almost sure that I would come back and let them know that I was not interested.  We agreed to meet again after 5 days.

I went home and immediately talked to my husband, who really encouraged me to think about it seriously.  So I prayed.  Strange-that feeling of non-interest seemed to change a bit.  The next day as I read my devotions, the very first words illuminated themselves to me:  "Are you searching for peace?"  Absolutely I was!  I was searching for peace about the whole situation.  While the entire situation isn't "perfect", I began to realize that God opened this opportunity to me.  Maybe some day I will understand why!  Yes, I will miss being able to go on Mercy Chefs deployments during disasters, as that flexibility just won't be there.  But I have peace in knowing that I will still be able to continue working in the homeless outreaches, and perhaps some local disasters on weekends.  

I met with the Lakeview staff again and accepted the position-and it just felt right!  I definitely had the peace about it that I felt like I needed.   I am excited to start my job training on Monday, and then begin at the beginning of May.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Vida de la Confianza

My husband and I purchased a beautiful piece of land in December with a deep ravine leading down to a creek running alongside part of the property. In order to help us stay as debt-free as possible (and because of an intense work schedule), we are moving slowly on the whole process, with plans to live in our RV while we do the work.  Our first step is getting the fence up-and it is currently about half-way done.  Here is a picture of the first half of our fence...

...and part of our creek right after heavy rains.

We bought our blueprints this week for a home that is called Vida de la Confianza.  After a quick internet search, we found a few pictures from someone else who had built the same home in South Dakota.  I am primarily posting all the pictures below for myself so I can reference them all in one location in the future as needed.  None of the pictures are my own-they came from Google Images, originally from

Exterior pictures (these were mostly small images, so many are not clear, but there is nothing I can do about that).  They made a few changes to the original plan, turning the garage to a different angle, plus some of the exterior surface materials are different than the architect calls for.  (We will probably also make some changes in this area.)  We bought the plan for a slab foundation, but this has the basement foundation, so it won't look exactly like this, but very similar.

Exterior back porch-ours will look very different as we don't have a basement, and exterior deck will be cement, just a few inches above the ground. 

View from front porch (ours will be cement).

View of front porch from road.  They chose different windows than the architect called for.  Because we will have a slab foundation it will sit much lower to the ground, so that will changes the looks some as well.

I like their porch ceiling, not sure what (if anything specifically) the architect called for.

I can envision rocking chairs or a porch swing out here some day overlooking our land.

This is a backyard view-again, we won't have the basement or wooden decking.  

Another back yard view into the house.  This doorway opens into the breakfast nook.  In the house plans this is actually windows, so again, the builder made some changes.  Further down to the right, out of view in the picture, is the french-style doors that open out from the living room, plus a doorway into the master.

A more clear picture of the front porch.  Before we had even seen this picture we had discussed a similar front door.

Moving inside...
This picture was taken standing in the kitchen and looking out to the living room to the right of the staircase and foyer/dining room to the left of the staircase. In our plans, this staircase will actually be going the opposite direction in an enclosed space, so where the staircase stands in the picture will actually be a full wall.

This view is just as you step in the front door and look to the right.  This seating area is shown as the dining room on the blue prints, and we will use it that way.

View from the kitchen sink into the living room. We would like a farmhouse style sink.  We really like the hammered bronze look.

View from living room into the kitchen.  The doorway on the far right side of the picture is supposed to have a small wall directly to the left of it...big enough for a coat closet with it's door on the other side of the wall.  It appears that they opted for more cabinetry instead, probably because they changed the floor plan of the kitchen a bit.

This is my favorite of all the pictures, as it shows the living room, kitchen, and breakfast nook, so you can see the layout pretty well.

Another good view.  This picture reminds me that I don't like sectionals!  Thankfully I will get to choose my own furniture.

The builder staged this dining room as an additional seating area.

My husband will more than likely build a beautiful wooden table for this space.  We have found some inspiration for our table at World Market.

I love the wooden accents-door, trimwork around the windows and along the floors.  Again-where the stairway is will just be a closed-in wall.

Here the builder made some changes near the fireplace to include some built-ins, which we probably won't do-I think the brick-work will actually extend higher than shown.  Since 2 of the living room walls are just open to the next room, we will have limited space for a tv.  We have talked about using the space above the fireplace for the tv, or hooking up a projector and having a motorized screen that can be raised when not in use.  The door to the left of the fireplace will lead to the staircase.

More detail of the fireplace, and the doorway into the master bedroom.

Kitchen.  The dishwasher will be just to the left of the sink.

Kitchen again...The builder made some significant changes to the kitchen as well.  Fridge will be placed where the cabinetry on the far right is located.  There will be a large pantry just to the left of the doorway. 

Since my husband is chef we plan to upgrade the oven and stovetop and add a hood vent. We will also add a pot-filler and we want a brick backsplash.  I would like white or off-white cabinets, and will probably go with granite counter-tops.

Here is a view of the breakfast nook...the builder replaced the windows with a sliding glass door.  I'm not sure what kind of seating we will do here.

And again, turned just slightly.

The builder made some significant changes to the walkway between the house and the garage, as well as just inside the entryway to the house from the garage.  This is one of those areas.  Our plan will still include washer/dryer hookups but won't be laid out like this at all.

 I believe this is where the builder chose to enclose the covered walkway from the garage to the house.  We will likely enclose ours as well.

And the same area from the opposite direction as it appears the builder chose to add a few closets on the right...

Master bedroom.  Door on the far left opens to the living room.  The door on the right is a walk-in closet.

In this picture the closet is located on the left and the bathroom to the right of that.  The un-seen wall where the photographer is standing has a door that opens up to the back deck.

This is one of the bedrooms that we will use as an office.  I couldn't find any pictures of the 3rd bedroom, although it will be similar size.  We will use it as the guest room.

Master closet.  I think it may actually have been altered some as well.

This bathroom will be shared between the office and guest room (again-some changes made by the builder).

I believe this is the 1/2 bath with alterations in the hallway to the garage.

Master bathroom.  I like these square sinks.

This is Bonus Room 2 which we plan to use as a music room.

The stairway opening will be from the opposite side so there will just be a plain wall where the stairway is with the stairway entrance in the other bonus room.

Another view

Bonus Room 1.  We will probably add a bathroom in here, and perhaps some storage space.

Another view...

This is an exciting venture for us-we have not built a home before, so I am sure we have much to learn as time progresses.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Reaching America

This year I began a new endeavor-I started the process to obtain credentials with the Assemblies of God.  In order to meet the educational requirements, I enrolled in NTDSOM-North Texas District School of Ministry.  Each month this year (minus a one month break in the summer and also in December) I take a new class, which includes mostly personal study times, and once a month I come together with the class to hear lecture and take the exam.

Here is a picture of this month's book-and my blanket as I enjoy being able to study from the comfort of my own bed.

This month we are studying Assemblies of God History, Missions, and Governance.  I found the chapter on U.S Missions (the first part of chapter 12) the most intriguing as my husband and I are U.S. missionaries.

Much of the U.S. Missions material was somewhat of a review for me.  When we attended Candidate Orientation two years ago, we learned about the role of the U.S. Missions (which I usually refer to as AGUSM) as related to being a facilitating and sending agency-the department appoints us as we go through the missions process.  We are a part of the Missionary Church Planters and Developers Department, which is led by Darlene Robison.  She has been an incredible support, advocate, and cheerleader to us and I can't imagine being on this journey without her!  There are 6 other departments that we got to know in our missions process-chaplaincy, Chi Alpha, Intercultural, Teen Challenge, MAPS, and Youth Alive.

There was also some material in the text that I learned from regarding U.S. Missions.  Much of the historical information I had minimal knowledge prior to this course.  The chapter described how the department grew throughout the years.  Starting off in in the early part of 1900's, the "department" was referred to as pioneer evangelism, and then in 1939 it became it's own official department-Home Missions and Education Department, with the first director being Fred Vogler.  At that time emphasis was primarily on church planting and Bible institutes.

Over time, specialized ministries began to pop up as the need arose.  Prisoners, various ethnic groups, Native Americans, and other special needs groups were added to the list of areas receiving missionaries.  (These areas of ministry were the reason the various departments I listed above were created.)  Over time, the department changed names again to the Division of Home Missions in 1971 and to U.S. Missions in 2003.  The current AGUSM director is Zollie Smith.

Names, dates, and places are probably some of the most difficult things I have trouble remembering.  The stories, though, stick with me.  As I read the material about the different departments, my mind went to the missionaries I know in some of those departments within AGUSM and what incredible work they each represent.

Chaplaincy-Nate and Sarah Moore are fellow North Texas missionaries, and friends of ours, to the rock climbing world.  They can relate to the lifestyle of rock climbers because they live that lifestyle day in and day out.  They live out of their van and follow the rock climbing scene around the nation.  I don't know many people who could live the way they do.

Chi Alpha-Lennon and Christal Noland are also North Texas missionaries, and happen to be one of our neighbors, as we both currently live in missions housing.  After serving on the campus through Chi Alpha missions in San Angelo, they went to North Carolina before coming back to Texas to serve as directors to all North Texas Chi Alpha missionaries.  Since his time in this new role, we have seen an influx of Chi Alpha missionaries begin to seek national appointment.  I am excited about the work he is doing for the department, as our work as Youth Pastors has shown us first hand that many students turn away from God in their college years.

Intercultural Ministries-Steve and Sandra Hogue are AGUSM missionaries out of Florida.  They specialize in adoption and foster care-specifically training the church to fill the need as foster, and potentially adoptive parents, and in turn giving kids a chance to hear about God.  Since so many orphans in America come from various ethnic groups, they were placed in this department.  I can't remember how many kids they have-but it is over 10!  This is certainly a calling, and no doubt God has His hand on this family!

Missionary Church Planters and Developers-Josh Holder (and what is his wife's name?  Remember that thing up above where I said I wasn't good with names?  Prime example!)  Josh and his wife moved to New Orleans (I believe from Illinois) to work with the low income in the crescent city.  He sticks out in my mind, as we (Mercy Chefs) had responded to tornadoes in Reserve, Louisiana a couple months ago, and since it was just a few miles away from his city, he came and joined us one day to help out.  He regularly works with the homeless, and in the cold of winter made sure his outdoor friends had plenty of blankets to keep warm.  This type of work is very close to my heart as we work with the homeless regularly in Dallas and Fort Worth.

Teen Challenge-Paul Ecker is one of the first U.S. missionaries I think I ever met.  When John and I first married was when we began attending an A/G church, and our pastor invited him out to our church annually.  He typically brought the Teen/Life Challenge guys out with him, and their music ministry always touched me.  They sang "My God is real..." with such passion-they knew He was real because of the change He had made in their lives.  On a side note, Paul was originally from Philadelphia and I always laughed at his reference and desire for Tastee Cakes-which at the time was a treat reserved only for the east coast, but has since become available in Texas.  But I digress!  Again-this is one of those ministries that you really must have a heart for, and Paul definitely is in his niche!

MAPS-Ken and Peggy McGowen entered my life a few years back.  I worked at the district office at the time, and they had an opening for a part time front desk receptionist.  Ken's current MAPS assignment was at Lakeview Camp as an electrician.  Peggy applied for the receptionist to give her something to do during the day.  She was so sweet to work with and an incredible encourager.  Since their assignment at Lakeview, they have been to many places around the country-California, Maine, and Florida among others, and also out of the country to Senegal through A/G World Missions.  I love to see what God can do through the layperson's abilities to further the Kingdom!

Youth Alive-Kyle and Janelle Embry are North Texas Youth Alive missionaries.  They work so closely with the district youth department, particularly at summer camps, and provide incredible training to teenagers through their Together Trainings (which we have participated in when we were youth pastors) which prepare students to lead Bible clubs on their school campuses.  The thing they are most known for is their Seven Projects-school assemblies where they typically teach on secular topics such as bullying, and then invite the students to a local church later that night and preach a gospel message.  During Candidate Orientation we met another Youth Alive couple who were pioneering a Youth Alive in their district and one of their biggest troubles is churches understanding why this type of ministry is needed.  I was shocked-Youth Alive is such an integral part of district life and camps here in North Texas that I simply cannot imagine not having such a vital ministry. 

While history is not one of my preferred courses of study, there was enough material in this month's book to keep my attention.  Some was stories of real people and what they accomplished.  Other had information that I could relate to for one reason or another.  As this month comes to a close, I am looking forward to my next study on the book of Acts.