Friday, October 17, 2014

On my mind

Here we are, less than two weeks from our first trip to Chile. People have been asking how we're feeling, if we're excited or nervous,  can they pray for us, etc.
I find myself saying "yes" a lot.

Yes, I'm nervous. 
Yes, I'm excited. 
Yes, please please pray. If you feel like you should pray for something for us, just do it. Please.
Yes, I'm curious. 
Yes, I want to try the food.
Yes, I'll miss the kids.
Yes, we hope this trip will give us some clarity.
Yes, we are praying for direction.
Yes, yes, yes.

You know what's on my mind the most, though?

What in the world am I going to pack?

I'm not even kidding. As much as I try to pretend that I'm totally going to be fine cramming ten days worth of clothing, toiletries and accessories into a backpack, I'm not. I'm just not.  
(Yes...I said it. Accessories.)

This is what is currently open in my browser. Thank you Pinterest for giving me even more to agonize over. Did you know there is such a thing as travel underwear? Did you? 
Underwear made specifically for t r a v e l i n g. Which is what I'm doing. I'm sure this means, I need them.
My darling friends bought me an amazing gigantic travel case and stuffed it full with every single toiletry I could possibly need or want for this trip. It pretty much fits everything in there. It is so full, in fact, I can't close it. The mark of a perfectly packed bag, if you ask me.  
I'm left wondering, is there going to be room in my pack for a curling iron? Or a hair dryer? Are we going to be able to do laundry? How many pair of pants should I take? Leggings or jeans? Jeggings? How many cardigans are appropriate?
I was going to email the poor dear who has been organizing our trip, but Mike has banned me from asking him anymore questions.
"When he said you could ask him anything, this is not what he had in mind."

I beg to differ.

There you have it friends. See how spiritually minded I am? Yikes.

Truly, I cannot wait to get going on this trip.
I am excited to see what IAM is doing and how we will be able to participate. I am so so looking forward to having a little bit of direction.
Even if I don't end up with those fancy travel underwear. 

(But I probably will.)

Monday, September 29, 2014

On Chile and other Chilean sorts of things

Photo Credit

I have been working on writing a blog post for a long time now, and each time I am unable to finish the post. Many of the things that have been happening in our life have been at the heart level; a place that is raw and vulnerable and often needs to be protected from Internet Land.
Many of these things pertain to our internship with IAM, but again, they are part of the refining and sanctifying work that is happening as the Lord prepares us for His work and removes our expectations, fears and reliance on anything other than Himself. So, it's been painful and wonderful and I would be thrilled to sit down with you over coffee and lay it all out. Let me know when we can plan it! ;)

I'm thankful to have something that could be considered an "update". I feel like many people wonder why we aren't sharing more, but the reality is, we haven't had much I've felt was worth sharing. As I said, what God has been doing for us has been at a heart level, and most other things we've simply been waiting on. While this has proven to be frustrating for me, it has also caused me to grow in my faith (and maturity...ahem) quite a bit.

But, now, I'm sitting here at my computer fresh off a call with Scott from IAM and a bag of kettle corn in my lap, and I am finally ready to give you an update!

It seems cliche, but we so desperately need your prayers. There is so much we don't know, so much we have to learn, so much to figure out...just so so much. Prayer does not come easily for me - unfortunately, it is often one of my "last resort" options, but slowly God is changing this in me. I am becoming more bold as I realize that God uses prayer to change us, to protect us, to reveal Himself to us and to answer us. The more I pray, the more I want to pray. As we move forward in this adventure, we need people to be praying for us every step of the way.

IAM is currently attempting to put together a working budget for our family. This budget will help us to determine the amount of monthly and start-up support we must raise.
*Please pray that the Lord would move in the hearts of those He has already chosen to support us financially. Once a budget and costs are determined, IAM will set us up with the ability to receive support through their website/office.

We are one of the first families that have applied for IAM's internship program. Generally speaking, their interns are younger college aged folk, looking for some cross-cultural and ministry experience. They are placed in a home with a family who provides food and lodging for the duration of their internship. As a family of six, we will need our own place to live. This not only increases our costs, but will also require a 12 month lease. In order to sign a lease, you need more than a visitor's permit. Since, at this point, we plan to be in Chile less than two years, we won't be applying for anything above a visitor's permit, so you can see how this may cause some problems.
*Please pray that the Lord would provide proper housing for our family. I am unsure how to even begin to think of how this may look, but that's probably a good thing. I'm not sure how to pray for our specific needs, but please pray with us that God would work out all the leasing/location details and that we would trust Him as He guides those who are looking on our behalf.

We will need a car for our family while living in Chile. As with the housing, in order to purchase a vehicle we need something more than a visitor's permit. This is also an additional cost we hadn't really considered. Which, knowing how much I've worried about every other detail, may surprise you. We will need a vehicle that will fare well in mountain villages, as well as city streets.
We will also need to travel outside of Chile every three months in order to renew our visitor's permits. As well, we will most likely be traveling to other South American countries where IAM has works going on.
*Please pray that the Lord would be working all transportation and travel details out. We will be working to save the funds we need for a vehicle before we leave for our internship, but the cost for a vehicle isn't much less in Chile than it is here, and we need the Lord's help to really buckle down and save. And it goes without saying that we really covet your prayers for safe travels!!

Our upcoming trip
On October 30, Mike and I will be leaving with a small group from our church to head down to Santiago to see some of the works that IAM has going on in Chile. We are so. excited. for this trip! We anticipate that it will help us to prepare and equip us a little bit for our internship as well as expose us to the culture, sights and sounds of our future home.
*Please pray first and foremost that we would be humble and seeking the Lord. As we prepare for this trip, we know that the spiritual warfare will ramp up. We want, and we need, to keep our eyes on Jesus and the goal of sharing Him and His glory. I have a tendency to get weighed down with the details and to stress and fret over the things I have no control over. I am easily distracted from the things that matter most. Please pray for me to see the big picture and to trust that God is taking care of all the details.
We will be gone for ten days, which is the longest we've been apart from our children. They will be spending the time split between their grandparents and will be in good hands, but it will still be tough on all of us to be so far apart for so long. Please pray for our kids, that God would bring them peace and comfort while we are gone, and the same for us!

As excited as I am for this next chapter in our lives, I also find myself grieving. This last weekend I spent in La Conner with the ladies from church at our annual Ladies' Retreat. I had so much fun - there was conviction, hope, laughter, tears, great teaching, wonderful testimonies of God's power and relentless love and grace, amazing was incredible. As I drove away Sunday I found myself already grieving the fact that next year, we may be living a world away and I won't be there. I fear I won't have as close of friends as I have here, I fear worship will be unfamiliar and church community will be difficult. I fear my children won't make friends and that Mike and I won't have community around us to support us. While these fears could be realized, I recognize them as lies from the enemy to rob me of the joy we have as we work toward what God has put before us. Again I ask, please pray for us.

If you would like to know anything more specific, please don't hesitate to send us an email. Make sure to subscribe to the blog so you can stay up to date with us!!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Switching Gears...and Continents

This conversation: 

"Er...if we don't end up going to Cuba, we're going to look really stupid for that last blog post"
"Yes...oh gosh, yes we will. I shouldn't have posted it. Why did we post it? Oh it too late to delete it? Did anyone really read it?" 

This conversation has happened many times over the last eight months, and it began about twenty minutes after I hit publish on my last post. But I didn't delete it, and I didn't take it back because...

We just feel so confident of what God is calling us to do.

But also completely unsure.

So, as far as social media has been concerned, we've kept pretty tight lipped because our list of questions continued to grow longer than our list of what we knew. I would have been giving you months and months of We Still Have No Clue What The Heck Is Happening Or What In The World We Are Doing posts. Which would have been rad. 

"Oh, the Wheeler's? The ones who aaaaalways are talking and neeeeever doing?"

You guys! Would you say that?! 
Because quite honestly, that's what goes through my mind. I'm convinced it's what everyone says while they're falling asleep at night. Because you know...Mike and I carry such clout in your lives.
Good Lord.
Why are we so prideful? Why do I think it matters so much? 
We are certainly a work in progress.
And THIS, this whole thing...this missions thing, it's been quite a process as well.

By the end of last year we had been in contact with two separate missions organizations who are either already working in Cuba or who are trying to get into Cuba. With both organizations it seemed at first to be an open door but as we tried to move forward, nothing happened. There were some really clear and obvious "no's" and some "well...maybes?" but ultimately, each door was closed for us.
We were discouraged, but the whispering in our hearts would not be silenced so we continued to pray about how to move forward. We began wondering if Cuba was even the right direction?

Perhaps God just wanted our hearts to be willing ... so we waited.

I need to interject here that w a i t i n g is not something I'm good at. Fight it as I may, I am a product of our instant gratification culture.
I want a plan, and I want to execute that plan. Now. Like right now.

God is changing that in me (thankfully) but my gosh...I'm a difficult task and through showing His patience with me, He is granting me the patience I need. He's cool like that.

About six weeks ago, we had a meeting with a gentleman named Scott with Ibero American Ministries. We did not initiate this meeting; we were simply invited to attend as our church has been looking at different international organizations and ministries and how we could potentially partner with them. 
The day before the meeting I asked Mike, "What do you expect from tomorrow's meeting."
He replied, "Nothing. Not one single thing. Every meeting we've had has resulted in nothing. Every door we've felt was opening has closed. Honestly, I'm tired of meetings and I don't know why we've been invited to go tomorrow." (See? Discouraged.)
So, off we went to this meeting where we expected absolutely nothing to happen.
Looking back I wonder, maybe that's a really good place to be? That place where you're just "done" and are finished trying to do things your way, or the way you think they should be done; because when that's where you are, when you get out of the way, that's when God can get to doing His thing His way.
At that meeting Scott explained that IAM's mission is to raise up local leaders, who plant churches and provide humanitarian services to those around them; to be friends with their neighbors and to show them Christ's love in action on a daily basis. The ultimate goal is having genuine relationships that reveal God's glory and draw people to Him.
Oh...I love it!
When Scott found out we were at the meeting because we had a heart for missions, he excitedly told us about all the opportunities and then explained a bit about their internship program. IAM's internships serve many purposes, but one of the main ones, from the intern's perspective, is to help determine if missions is actually the direction you are meant to head in. The program is short term - from 3-12 months or so - and allows interns to get some experience, pray, and decide if international missions are what one is supposed to do with their life.

Scott said he'd send us the intern application and manual.
And then he did. That. very. afternoon.

To say we were surprised would be a complete understatement.  We were caught completely off guard. Mike kept saying, "Wait...what? What just happened?"
Having faced only closed doors to this point, a path to begin walking down was beginning to take shape and we couldn't believe it.
Not only did Scott take us seriously, but he took. us. seriously.

That following week we Skyped with Doug, a missionary with IAM living in Santiago, Chile, asking him all sorts of questions about what an IAM internship would look like for our family and what IAM does and what we could do for IAM. When we finished the call we were in total disbelief - could this be what we'd been waiting for? We spent a few days praying and seeking wisdom from those we trust most, and the next weekend Mike filled out our internship application and we purchased Rosetta Stone in faith that we were headed in the right direction.

Last night, at a potluck to meet Ricky and Tracie, some of IAM's missionaries living Santiago, Scott said, "Oh yeah, by the's official. You've been accepted into the internship."

And just like that, we're preparing to go to Chile.

The list of what we don't know is much longer than the list of what we do know; which I'm sort of realizing is God's way. 

But, for those of you who are curious, here is what we know. And I'm being serious...this is all that we know.

* God has opened the door through IAM and we are excited to step through it.
* Mike and I are planning to go to Chile with our church at the end of October for a vision trip. During this trip we will visit IAM's church plants in Santiago as well as in surrounding areas. The purpose of this trip is to help our church see what the needs are, how we can meet them, what kind of teams we can send out, and (this is probably only on my agenda) to help determine where Mike and I will fit in.

There are the graphic details for you.

I have ideas and assumptions about how the trip in October will affect our family, but again, I'm realizing I shouldn't think I've got it all figured out or put God into any box because He just doesn't seem to be confined by what I put together. 
At some point we'll have a definite time frame of when we will go with the kids, for how long, exactly what city we'll be living in, how much support we need to raise and what ministry we'll be assisting with. 
While not having any of those details rightthissecond is a little difficult for me, I also see the beauty in it. I'm being forced to follow Jesus, forced to let Him be the one who's calling the shots, forced to acknowledge I have no clue what's going on...
It's good for me. 
I need Jesus so so much. He has so much to give, and I'm so thankful to receive because I am simply empty and wasted without Him. 

Mike and I are thankful to have a direction to be moving in and a sketchy plan to follow, and ultimately, honored to be able to give Christ all the glory and credit. We would love it if you would pray with us over these next few months as we work on getting all the details squared away. We are confident that if this is what God has in mind for our family, everything will fall into place as it should, but walking in that place of faith requires a lot of...well, faith, and knowing that there are people praying for us helps us to stay grounded.

"And those who know your name put their trust in you, 
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you." 
Psalm 9:10

Thursday, September 26, 2013

We finally moved...

Well, it happened. Our home closed and we moved out.
It was an emotional few weeks (for me, anyway!) but we did it and you may be surprised to find out that we are now living in a home, with plumbing AND a toilet! Score!!

There were a few reasons that we had difficulty deciding where we were going to live.
Originally, we had talked about living with my parents for awhile and saving money so we could convert their detached garage into a carriage house for our family. This plan seemed fairly on track until we found out that the city we live in does not allow carriage houses and my sister and her family moved back from out of state and needed a place to live for awhile. Since we were still in our home, they moved in with my parents and weren't certain how long they'd be there.
We have also been feeling, for awhile, a stirring of sorts. I really can't think of a better word to describe it, but our hearts are being pulled in directions we don't understand or know. We really feel that this is God moving us; pulling us into something that He has had in the works for awhile. I'm sure if you are friends with me on Facebook or have read any of my sparse posts over the last year or so, you've caught hints of this. These stirrings began at the beginning of last year and led us to a new church family (with which we have fallen completely in love) and while we expected that moving churches was the big thing, I'm now starting to understand it was just the tiny first step into the actual big thing.

Deciding where to live has been most difficult because we can't shake the feeling that God would like us to go to Cuba and become involved with the people there.

Because of this, we have been weary of signing a lease or making any long term or permanent plans, which as you can imagine, makes finding a place to live a bit difficult.
It probably doesn't surprise you that we have more questions than answers right now.
What does going to Cuba actually mean? Visit? Live?
How are we supposed to get to Cuba?
Who do we meet while we are there?
How long should we stay?
What will we do when we are there?
The questions go on and on.
And on.

God, as usual, remains ever faithful.
My sister and her husband moved out of my parent's house and we were able to make a smooth transition from our home to my folks, just a mile down the road from where we had been living. My mom and dad have been very generous with their home - we have taken over not only their spare bedrooms, but their entertainment room as well. We have a bigger yard and more house to roam in than we ever did before. As far as living with someone else goes, it's a pretty ideal situation.

One of the benefits to living with my folks is that we have time to try and figure out the answers to some of our questions, and that is what we plan on doing over the next few months.

We would like to ask that you join us in prayer as we look to the Lord to give us some clear direction for what this next chapter in our life holds. We are spending some of our time meeting with organizations who are looking to get into Cuba (or are already working there) and are looking for what will be the right opportunity for our family. As of now, we are not looking to start a church or begin a new ministry but would really like to come alongside a pastor or ministry and help/encourage as needed. It's a very open ended desire and many ways that it could look, so while we are excited, we are also unclear about what this will mean for our family. There is so much that seems impossible; but we know that if God is in this, all things are possible and we are anxiously waiting on Him to bring the right people to us and point us in the right direction.

If you would like to add our family to your prayers, we ask specific prayer for the following:
*Clarity and purpose as we step out in faith into what we feel God is calling us to do. Once we have some direction, it will help to determine our long-term living/savings needs and goals.
*Opportunity to interact with Cuban nationals so that we may establish relationship and begin to understand and know their culture.
*An ability to learn Spanish (or in my case, remember). Whether this is using Rosetta Stone or finding a language school, we are unsure, but we definitely know that learning Spanish is going to a pretty important part of this!
*As we meet with different organizations and missionaries, that God would impress upon us the role He has for us.
*That our love for Cuba and the people there would grow - that God would instill in us a passion for those there and that we would be completely unsettled until we are doing what He wants us to do.

The other night after meeting with Tom from Dwellings, Mike turned to me and asked,
"So, are you ready for our lives to get wrecked?"
It may seem a funny question, but you know ... I really am. I'm ready to see how God is going to use our lives for His glory. We've spent a lot of time being really comfortable and complacent. Though, as I look back over the last 12 years of our marriage, I see how God has been preparing us for this all along. Quite a few summers ago (too many) we went to visit our friends in Montana. On the way back, Mike and I had a conversation about how God must be preparing us for something. We got out of debt when we never thought we would be able to live without a credit card, we began homeschooling when it was never our intention to do so, we moved to a new church and made new friends when we had been perfectly happy with what we'd had before...
All these little steps, completely wrecking our lives and then rebuilding them into something way better.
So, yes. I am ready to be wrecked. Because I know what waits for us is going to be pretty stinking awesome.