Friday, September 30, 2011

Feeling the poverty of my words.

Generosity is an unlikely quality.

I don't think of myself as a particularly generous person. It goes against my natural inclination to give. I desire to be generous and try to be, but it's purely a work of grace every time I actually part with goods or money for the sake of blessing others and for the sake of God's kingdom.

During this last year we've been given much.
People with large families and the financial obligations that come with that, have given generously and sacrificially. Single older women, on a fixed income, have given generously and sacrificially. College students, with very little, have given. Newlyweds. Retired couples. Other missionaries. People we haven't had contact with in years have given. People we don't really even know have given. Close friends and family have given over and over again.  

A nice older lady, who I have spoken to only a few times, approached me this morning at the store. She wants to give. Generously.

This year I've spent quite a bit of time asking people to give to us and this ministry. I've written blog posts about it, written a newsletter every month, and spoke at a few churches asking people to consider supporting us.

Even with all of that asking, it surprises and humbles me every time someone says, "Yes, I'll give."
I'm never quite sure what to say. Sure, I say "thank you" and "I appreciate it", but it always feels so empty.

I've been reading a book called Gilead. A pastor is explaining to his son, in a letter, the feeling that he sometimes had when preaching. He felt the poverty of his words. They just turned to ash in his mouth.

That's kind of how I feel when I am thanking someone for their generosity. It always feels like nothing coming out of my mouth.  I truly mean it when I say thank you, but it seems so insignificant in comparison to what just took place.

Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me


Text: Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778 
Music: Thomas Hastings, 1784-1872 

1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me, 
 let me hide myself in thee; 
 let the water and the blood, 
 from thy wounded side which flowed, 
 be of sin the double cure; 
 save from wrath and make me pure. 

2. Not the labors of my hands 
 can fulfill thy law's commands; 
 could my zeal no respite know, 
 could my tears forever flow, 
 all for sin could not atone; 
 thou must save, and thou alone. 

3. Nothing in my hand I bring, 
 simply to the cross I cling; 
 naked, come to thee for dress; 
 helpless, look to thee for grace; 
 foul, I to the fountain fly; 
 wash me, Savior, or I die. 

4. While I draw this fleeting breath, 
 when mine eyes shall close in death, 
 when I soar to worlds unknown, 
 see thee on thy judgment throne, 
 Rock of Ages, cleft for me, 
 let me hide myself in thee.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

96%

Hey everyone.

Here's a quick update on support.

We just got our latest report from Christian World Outreach. It looks like we are about 96% supported monthly! That's good news! Thank you!
We have $172 in monthly pledges left to go and we'll be purchasing one-way tickets to Haiti.

If you're getting our newsletter you read, in the most current one, that we needed over $400 in monthly support. In about 1 week that amount has been more than cut in half. That's amazing, especially at this stage.

Thanks. We really can't say that enough. God has been gracious to us over and over through many of you.

Our other budget, for one-time expenses, is growing as well. We aren't sure how much we will need for that. The main two expenses that we have are a vehicle and one-way tickets. The price of tickets is pretty easy to predict. The price on a vehicle is a bit harder. I've been communicating with a couple of missionaries, who are currently in Haiti, about car prices. I've heard of people buying 4-wheel drives for as little as $11,000, but I've also heard numbers much higher. Pray that God will provide the right vehicle for our family. It's going to be an essential part of our ministy to have a dependable vehicle that can get us around the roads of Haiti.

Thanks for praying with us for these needs.
Thanks again to those of you who have and are giving to this ministry.

God is faithful.
- Jason

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Makes You Go Hmmmm?

A great post by the, "Apparent Project", in Haiti.  There is so much food-for-thought in regards to poverty alleviation.  It is well said and lines up well with, "When Helping Hurts".  Check it out.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Obedience, Bathrooms, Generosity and Gratitude


Last January, a few Sundays in a row, we noticed an ad in our church bulletin looking for somebody to accept a paid custodian position.  We wanted to jump into this church family and serve in some capacity even though we knew our time at Broken Bow Berean was short and choppy with all of our scheduled traveling.  This seemed like a perfect way to love His bride in a practical way.

Every time we opened the bulletin the ad seemed to carry a personal imperative - "YOU".  Jason and I agreed, inquired and signed up but made sure they knew we didn't want to be paid.  We really just wanted to serve the Church (this was a great way for us to do that) considering our circumstances.

For the most part it was a joy!  By the Spirit we can sincerely say, "Yes, cleaning the bathrooms was a joy!"  Our family enjoyed fun times while learning to serve together.  For example after our duties at the youth center we'd take on a little ping-pong match and then off to the church.  We'd race our previous times.  This is how Jason roles.  He is so goal oriented.  So why not try to beat our last time.  I'd argue, "Yeah, but we need to do it with excellence not just speed.  Don't let speed rule out excellence."  Back and forth we'd go.  Sure, there were times we dreaded the toilet chore but it was always right.  This is what God wanted us to do for this time and His life was in it.  By His grace we did it full of the Spirit like Jason served tables in Acts.

Fast forward 8 months later.  It is time for us to wrap up our Broken Bow chapter.  Yesterday in church Pastor Larry preached about giving and receiving from Philippians chapter 4.  Paul was in prison when he received a generous and unsolicited gift from the people at Philipi.  They didn't give out of their abundance but cheerfully from what little they had.  It was a good message. 

Maybe someday we'll be self-supported.  That would be fabulous.  For now, though, we must be sent.  It is so humbling to receive so much, often times, from others that have just enough.  We are being sent by many sacrificial givers.   We echo Paul in this, "Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.  And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever.  Amen." (Phil 4:17, 19, 20)  Giving is WAY more fun and we pray that He would deposit His fruit in your account because of your unselfishness in obedience to Him.

Okay - so yesterday during the service Pastor Larry gave us a little 'plug', "The Schmicks are leaving in less than 30 days.  They are very close to their goal.  Will you consider sending them and pray them out of town - out of the country."  It was super nice of him. 

Honestly, there aren't enough words to express how kind Broken Bow and the church community has been.  We just groan with gratitude and exhale prayer, "Lord, please reward these openhanded people."  We expected nothing from anybody when we moved here.  These people didn't know us at all.  We fully planned to just attend church, serve the best we could and wait out our time here.  But God!  BUT GOD!  (Two of the best words together).

Okay, okay...I keep going off on a trail.  If you're still reading this and tracking with me - well pat yourself on the back!  The reward is about to be revealed.  So yesterday.  At the end of the service Pastor Larry called Jason to the front.  While holding back tears he thanked us and handed Jason a check made out to Christian World Outreach for our 8 months of custodian service.  Their gift got us one whole percent closer to our monthly budget goal.  He proceeded to give him a big Papa-Pastor-hug.  I exhaled that prayer again and melted in our pew.  Doesn't God's undeserved kindness take your breath away?

Wow!  God there are so many things you are showing us right now.  It is good to serve Him well even in the seemingly insignificant.  It is good to say, "Yes!", to God at every twist and turn in the journey even if we don't understand.   God doesn't owe us anything and yet He faithfully rewards the obedient heart.  Cleaning the church was the imperative He made us able to obey.

You are faithful God.  You are good!  You are working.  All glory to Your Name!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

COMING SOON - A Haitian Near You!


That's right folks!  Coming soon...a real, live, Haitian will be in Nebraska, none-the-less!  Circle the date (October 15) and pass the word along.  Please welcome Pastor Rigaud, his wife Naomi and their daughter Rebecca!  You won't want to miss the opportunity to meet them and give them a high five!

Find out the details below...

The McCook Evangelical Free Church has invited Pastor Rigaud to be a part of their missions conference so they are bringing him and his family up from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.  We are so jazzed about this, even if we do pass each other in the air, we're glad that many of you will have the opportunity to hear his heart for what the Lord is doing through him in his home-land, Haiti!  His love for Jesus is obvious and contagious!

We've written about Pastor Rigaud in our newsletters and on this blog in the past. He is one of the Haitian Pastors that Christian World Outreach works with in Haiti and he will be the primary person that I partner with in our missionary work in Haiti.

He's a friend and brother.

If you would like to meet Pastor Rigaud and his family the E-Free church is inviting you!  Make it an mutli-cultural, gospel-celebrating night out.  You'll be glad you did!

Pastor Rigaud will be speaking on Saturday night, October 15th. The night will start at 5:45 PM at the E-Free church in McCook and will include a 5-course Haitian meal! The cost for the meal is only $5/person or $20/family.

Click the link above to the E-Free church in Mccook, get their contact information and make your reservations soon!

And one more thing, if you can attend, give him a big handshake and hug from our family to his!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Praying for Makayla and Ethan

O Keeper of Your Elect,
It is better to take refuge in You than to trust in man.  It is better to take refuge in You than to trust in princes.  Therefore cause Makayla and Ethan to take refuge in You alone.  Be their strength and their song; be their great salvation.

 Let them lift up the cup of salvation and call on Your Name.  Open to them the gates of righteousness, that they may enter through them and give thanks to You.  Raise their eyes to the hills to see from where their help comes.  For their help comes from You, who made heaven and earth.

 Do not let their feet be moved; keep them and do not slumber.  Please keep them and neither slumber nor sleep.  Keep them from all evil; keep their lives.  Keep their going out and their coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

 Makayla and Ethan, do you know who keeps you?

 The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.

 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

 Lord Jesus, keep Makayla and Ethan.

 We wait eagerly for Your appearing. 

 Hasten the wonderful day of Your return - the wedding supper of the Lamb.

AMEN!
(This prayer is Scripture taken from a prayer guide Setting Their Hope in GOD by Andrew Case)

These babies are a tremendous blessing from God and they come with serious responsibility.  A responsibility that He supplies the equipping grace for us to walk in as we raise them.   As we prepare to move they are at the forefront of my heart and mind.  My friend, Wanda, passed along this tremendous resource - a guide to pray Scripture for your children.  I am prone to fear and worry for them.  A bazillion what ifs tempt me day and night but may every temptation be opportunity to bring them to God in prayer.   Oh this is a good - good place for me to camp - a noble labor for me; praying Scripture for our two; trusting in God.

The Rocking Chair


Ethan overheard Jason and I discussing what furniture to take and what to leave behind when I voiced, "Let's leave the rocking chair.  It's 10 years old.  We've had it since Ethan was a baby and it's seen better days.  It doesn't have much use left." 


Up until this point neither of our kids seemed to even be paying attention to the topic at hand but then Ethan piped up loud and clear, "What?!  No.  I mean, I'm okay with everything up until now.  But Mom?  (bursting into tears)  This has been in our family since I was a baby.  You spent so much time with us there...singing Selah to us.  Rocking us.  No, I do not want to leave it."


He captured the tug we're all feeling.  I like that about kids.  Where I hold back in layers - they are all out there.  It is much easier to come to Jesus with honest hearts than when we stuff or deny our struggle.  The hymn sings it well, "let goods and kindred go - this mortal life also."  It is hard to lay down all that is familiar here.  Inevitably a bit of our identity is wrapped up in our 'stuff'.  With time and memories there is an attachment to a 'thing'.  It is a great heart check.  Is my identity in God alone or our memories and a few of our favorite things?   


It lead to a breath of fresh air as we all sighed honestly from within, "Lord, this is tough."  Jason immediately grabbed his son and hugged his head to his Papa-belly.  We were all quiet for a little while.  Then one by one we began to see what a gift this rocking chair has been.  It's true.  In this chair we've spent many hours together... from the time Ethan was a new baby until now.  It's rarely unoccupied.  I've prayed and prayed for our kids' souls in this chair.  We did snuggle and worship in song from this comfy spot.  I clapped and cheered from here the night Ethan took his first steps.

Finally, by the Spirit's leading, we landed on this wonderful truth!  The chair didn't create any of those good memories.  It's just a chair.  The Giver of this chair though...now that's a different story.   The Giver of this chair made it a means of His grace and generously gave us all of those special times.  God provided it when we didn't even know we had need of it.  And if God provided then, in such a fabulous way, will He not continue to provide.  It isn't the rocking chair that created all of these blessings.  Oh no!  It is GOD!  God alone is our Shepherd, Who gives good gifts so we will not want.


In the end we agreed to take the rocking chair.  We'll rock it to its death with hearts full of more praise to Him; remembering the lesson each of our hearts needed.  God used Ethan's honesty and this chair to direct us to these truths: He is so good to us!  We don't deserve anything yet we lack nothing.  He sustains us always - in every season!  He is full of mercy - abundant in kindness.  Faithful.  He makes His Name known even in this.  Thanks God for being such a thorough Provider.  Teach Makayla and Ethan to enjoy the gift because of the GIVER!  We look expectantly for our God to reveal Himself as we move onward.  He is ALWAYS with us!  We can trust Him! 

The Church

"I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice,
 in loving kindness and mercy;
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
and you shall know the LORD." Hosea 2:19,20

THE CHURCH

by Derek Webb

I have come with one purpose
to capture for myself a bride
by my life she is lovely
by my death she’s justified

I have always been her husband
though many lovers she has known
so with water I will wash her
and by my word alone

So when you hear the sound of the water
you will know you’re not alone

(chorus)


‘cause I haven’t come for only you
but for my people to pursue
you cannot care for me with no regard for her
if you love me you will love the church

I have long pursued her
as a harlot and a whore
but she will feast upon me
she will drink and thirst no more

So when you taste my flesh and my blood
you will know you’re not alone

(chorus)

There is none that can replace her
though there are many who will try
and though some may be her bridesmaids
they can never be my bride

(chorus) 


Friday, September 16, 2011

We need to be like them.


On this day in 1620 the Mayflower left England for Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Many of the passengers left England because they believed God wanted them to leave.
Two of them died on the way over.
One baby was born on the trip.
A second was born during the winter.
Sixty-six days later they landed and spent the winter in Cape Cod on the ship.
Half of the passengers died that first winter.
Half of the crew too. 
In April, the ship went back to England.
None of the survivors went back.
Not one.
They went ashore and stayed.

I pray to have this kind of resolve in my life.
For the sake of the Gospel.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fight for us, O God

"Fight for us, O God, that we not drift numb and blind and foolish into vain and empty excitements. 
Life is too short, too precious, too painful to waste on worldly bubbles that burst. 
Heaven is too great, hell is too horrible, eternity is too long that we should putter around on the porch of eternity." -J. Piper

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Duathlon in Pictures

Thanks mom for rooting for us and taking such great pictures!

Our little toyota has served us well.

Stretching.


Energy to go.

Our sweet girl cheering her crazy parents on.

Charis and Michelle - Girl Power

Stretching. :)

Our good boy cheering his crazy parents on.

Matching racing tanks - see.

Purple racing sock power.

Sharpie Tattoo

The official Schmicks To Haiti Duathlon Team!!!

This is what crazy looks like!

And we're off!

3.1 miles down with a 17 mile bike/3.1 mile run to go!

Getting a little airborne.

Michelle putting that 17 mile bike ride behind her.

Charis is not worried about the 17.

Michelle only has the 3.1 mile run left.  Cha-ching!



Claiming that last 3.1 miles.

Waiting - waiting - cheering and taking it all in!!!

Almost done!

Cheering Charis on and wrapping it up.

He's got his eyes and mind on the finish line!


Debriefing and recarbing.

Together is best.  We did it!

The end of a long day.

A family moment with Mama and her medal!

Charis has it!  Success!

And that's what 23 miles looks like!  Thanks team!  Thanks supporters!