Blog

Psalm 13
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

 

Romans 7:24-25

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

This week, these two passages have been teaching me something very important about faith in Christ: We can’t wait for our circumstances or our “feelings” to change so that we can praise the Lord and trust in His power.

Last week contained a particularly challenging day for no particular reason, and it was really hard to feel God in those strange moments. The next day, I had a wonderful, uplifting conversation with a friend, and one thing that we talked about was the verse in Romans 7. We talked about how Paul deeply felt his sin and his despair, but immediately acknowledged hope and praise in the Lord. He knew he was unworthy, but also knew that his deliverance is through Christ! And he didn’t hesitate getting from the “I’m terrible” to the “Thank you God for being great!” To imitate Paul (he talks throughout many of his letters about imitating him) means to see our sins but to see Jesus as greater than our sins AND praise Him.

Often times, I wait to praise God until I feel “ready”, either emotionally ready or ready based on my circumstances. I think many people don’t go to church, read their bibles, or pray when they don’t “feel” like doing it, and don’t worry, I get caught in this trap frequently, especially with regards to reading my bible. We don’t praise God or give thanks in the midst of hard times or bad moods because we aren’t “feeling” the positive energy. And yet, Paul didn’t say “and then I felt Jesus’s power and felt like praising him, so I say…”. No, he just does it.

Paul also tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” He doesn’t give any qualifiers there about the mood we should be in when we rejoice, pray, and praise God. We should be doing these things always, but it isn’t saying we should always be in the perfect mood for it! Instead, we should be doing it always, regardless of our mood or how we feel in the moment.

[I also want to add the excuse of “I’m not feeling God right now”, because I think it is in the same camp sometimes. I think it’s very easy to not pray or stop praying because our prayers aren’t helping us “feel” the Lord. But just because we don’t FEEL God’s presence doesn’t mean He isn’t with us; He promises throughout scripture that he is with us always, and that means when we feel him or not. See a quote from The Screwtape Letters at the end].

Early this week, I was reading through some of the Psalms, and I read through the short Psalm 13, and I realized the Psalmist (David) has the same attitude as Paul. David sounds like he is not feeling God’s comfort, he is distressed about what is happening in his life, and he wants to hear an answer from God. But the Psalm doesn’t have a verse that says “Then David heard God and he praised him…” or “But David felt up to…” or anything like that. No, David praised God regardless of what he was feeling. He acknowledged his salvation was from the Lord and he praised God for his goodness and unfailing love, even when it was difficult to do so in his situation.

I want to be the kind of person who turns right to trusting God in every circumstances, especially when turning to God, praying, and thanking Him is the last thing that I feel like doing. I want to be like Paul, David, and so many others who didn’t wait for their circumstances to change to praise God and trust Him. I’m thanking God now for His goodness (in the relatively easy moments), and I pray that I can always and constantly be rejoicing in Him in EVERY situation.

 

 

 

*The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a collection of letters from one of Satan’s men to another to coach the younger devil (his nephew) into being more effective at keeping people from God, who is referred to as the Enemy in the letters. This is what he tells his nephew about prayer. (This is the whole book online for free, if you are interested: http://www.truechristianity.info/en/the_screwtape_letters.php)

The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether. When the patient is an adult recently re-converted to the Enemy’s party, like your man, this is best done by encouraging him to remember, or to think he remembers, the parrot-like nature of his prayers in childhood. In reaction against that, he may be persuaded to aim at something entirely spontaneous, inward, informal, and unregularised; and what this will actually mean to a beginner will be an effort to produce in himself a vaguely devotional mood in which real concentration of will and intelligence have no part. One of their poets, Coleridge, has recorded that he did not pray “with moving lips and bended knees” but merely “composed his spirit to love” and indulged “a sense of supplication”. That is exactly the sort of prayer we want; and since it bears a superficial resemblance to the prayer of silence as practised by those who are very far advanced in the Enemy’s service, clever and lazy patients can be taken in by it for quite a long time. At the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls. It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.

If this fails, you must fall back on a subtler misdirection of his intention. Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by the action of their own wills. When they meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing. When they meant to pray for courage, let them really be trying to feel brave. When they say they are praying for forgiveness, let them be trying to feel forgiven. Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at the moment.

 

Advertisements

Marriage is not all about… Love

It’s been awhile since I posted, so here are some thoughts that I’ve pulled together from some of my recent conversations and interactions!

I’m assuming that the title of this post elicited some confusion, but let me explain first. These thoughts come from a conversation I had with my mom, and I wanted to flush them out more here, for all of you!

My mom and I were talking, and she asked how my marriage is going. It was a bit of a strange question, but I started on a monologue about how Dan is a good man, and he serves me and cares for me well. And how I appreciate how hard he works for me. And I appreciate how much he does around the house (he practically painted the whole apartment on his own in a week!). When I finished, my mom commented that I didn’t say anything about love. And she was right. I hadn’t mentioned that common word in my description about my marriage and my husband. Why?

Well, to start off, I am learning that love only goes so far in marriage. Sure, I love my husband dearly and deeply, and that hasn’t changed at all. But if I only loved my husband, but didn’t do anything, or if he only loved me but didn’t do anything, then things would fall apart! Right now, I’m learning that my attitude of love MUST inform my actions towards my husband, because if I don’t have actions of love, then I’m not truly doing what I need to do for my marriage. Stay with me while I keep explaining.

Dan and I don’t fight very often at all, which I am very grateful for, but most of the fights we have happen after we have seasons where we are not letting our love inform our activities. You see, I can say that I love my husband until I’m blue in the face, but if my love doesn’t change my behaviors, then we have a problem. BECAUSE I love my husband, I try do dishes late at night when I’m tired, I try to keep the coffee table clean because he doesn’t like clutter, I try go to bed earlier even if I’m not tired because Dan is tired, I try to get my lunch ready the night before so that I am not rushed and stressed in the morning (which always leads to me being a very not nice person…), and I try to do many other things to care for, serve, and support my husband. Now, I said “try” because I’m not very good at doing all these things to care for Dan, but a big part of marriage is constantly making the effort. And for me, it also includes making the effort without complaining. Our marriage works well because Dan has the same attitude towards me, and he is constantly trying to serve me in the same way. Our love for one another means we behave in a certain way!

Two verses come to mind when I think about this. First, James 2 talks about how useless faith is without deeds. We can gentle extend this to say the love without deeds is also useless. For either faith or love, if you say that you have it but your actions don’t look any different than someone without it, then it doesn’t make sense! However, 1 Corinthians 13 speaks into this on the other side, saying that if we don’t have love underneath our actions, then everything we do is meaningless! So either way, we need love, and we need it under, around, and in our marriage to inform what we do for one another!

So yes, my marriage is not all about love, but it is definitely full of love, informed by love, and able to endure because of love.

Summer Update!

Greetings!

One of the purposes for this blog is to have a clear forum for us to share updates to friends and family. We thought we would take a moment to fill you in on what we’ve been up to so far this year as we move into the summer! (And apologize for taking so long!) We also would love for you to walk with us in prayer, and so we will add some ways that you can be praying for us.

School is still very much a part of our lives! Even though we both have Master’s degrees already, we are pursuing more education to make us more qualified for what we want to do. Dan has begun an online Biblical Counseling program, with the goal of slowly taking classes to gain another Master’s degree and certifications in Biblical Counseling. With this training, he can better serve in a ministerial role in our current or future communities! Amanda is still pursuing her Education Specialist degree in School Psychology, along with working to obtain behavioral specialist certifications. It feels like we have never stopped going to school, but we try to think about our pursuit of education as a way to train us to be more qualified ministers of the Gospel. We don’t know what that will look like yet, but we know the Lord is using this time to allow us to get education and experience, and for this, we are grateful.

We also are both working full-time in secular positions. Dan coordinates market research studies for a healthcare company. Amanda works with students with special needs in school or home settings. We both have easy days of work and hard days of work too, but our jobs right now, while not our dream jobs, are helping us gain experience and skills that we will use to further the Gospel. Stay tuned, and you might hear how God is using our current jobs to spread His message!

Church is also a major part of our lives, and we love the community of Citylight! We are both heavily invested on different serving teams in the church (Amanda works with the kids ministry as a lead teacher and doing curriculum preparation; Dan runs the soundboard and prays with people during the service). Once a week, we meet with a small-group of Citylight people to eat, read the word, share our hearts, and share our lives with one another. Since joining Citylight, we have been a part of a couple different groups over the last two years, but we have been with this specific group of individuals since November! We love having a group of people to know, love, and build relationships with, and we have really grown in love for this specific group in the last several months.

When we are not doing schoolwork, working, or doing church activities, we are spending time with our friends, trying to take care of our bodies with exercise, enjoying puppy cuddles, or just trying to refresh ourselves before the next thing on our schedule. This summer, we are hoping to spend some time camping and being out of the city! Life seems very full lately, but God graciously fills us and strengthens us for it.

Well, since school, work, and church are the big things in our lives right now, we could use some specific prayer for these areas.  If you are so kind as to want to pray more specifically about any one of these areas, please let us know and we would love to share more details with you.

  • Pray that we can feel endurance and strength that can only come from God (Ephesians 3:14-21)
  • Pray that we can rest in Jesus in this busy season (Matthew 11:25-28)
  • Pray that we can glorify God in everything we do (Colossians 3:18-25)
  • Pray for our marriage, that we can walk with Jesus together (Colossians 3:1-2)
  • Pray that we can live missionally, being bold to share about Jesus (1 Peter 2:12)

For those of you that have already been praying for us, we want to share some ways that we have already seen God at work!  Thank you for your prayers!

  • Our neighbor is excited about Jesus and studies His word!
  • Amanda’s process of certification has begun! The first round of paperwork has been sent in! Just waiting now!
  • God has provided us lots of opportunities to grow toward Him and love Him more deeply!

Thank you to everyone who prays for us, cares for us, and loves us from close or far away! Feel free to reach out to catch up and share what is going on in your life!

 

El Salvador – Answered Prayers

Hello everyone!

I am sorry that it has taken so long for us to share about our trip to El Salvador.  We have been pretty busy with school, work, and other commitments and it has been hard to find a time where the two of us had free time at together.

Thank you all for praying with us for and during the trip to El Salvador.  We have asked you to pray for us and in a lot of different ways, and we saw God at work answering those prayers!

Thank you.

Here are just a few things that we have asked you to pray for and how God answered them.

Answered Prayers:

  1. Safety – We were safer than we ever could have imagined.  One of the people on the trip that was from NYC even said that it felt safer than a lot of the neighborhoods that he grew up near.  While El Salvador is still a very dangerous country, we were blessed to have felt extremely safe during our entire trip.
  2. Health – For the most part, everyone was healthy! Unfortunately, Amanda was a bit unwell for parts of the trip, but in these moments, the Lord provided an opportunity for her practice her Spanish! We were painting at a church, and Amanda couldn’t stand outside with the team to paint, so she painted and “talked” with the Salvadorans inside instead. It was a huge blessing for her to feel more confident in her Spanish communication abilities!
  3. For God’s will to be done – God is working in mighty and miraculous ways. In El Salvador, the staff is desiring rest because they are stretched thin with all the work that the Lord is doing. The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few. He has great plans, and the team needs more people to do the work!
  4. Grace – We heard many amazing stories of Grace in the lives of the people in El Salvador.  The most prominent in my mind was Alfredo.  Alfredo was heavily involved in the gang culture.  He had lived much of his life surrounded by violence, illegal activity, and every that comes along with it.  It was only two weeks before we got to El Salvador that Alfredo started coming to Hungary Church.  While we were there he had his trial for his crimes.  He went to court, ready to plead guilty.  Envision and Hungary Church prayed for God to work in and through Alfredo.  The night of his trial, we were all sitting in our debrief session and he walks and tells us his story.   He was waiting to go into the trial and his lawyer came and told him that all charges were dropped.  “I am a free man” he said concluding his story with a big smile on his face.  God is at work in the lives of the people of El Salvador.
  5. Finances – God is so incredibly merciful and loving! We entrusted Him to provide the money for this trip, and He provided abundantly! We raised slightly more than we needed, so that as a team, we were fully funded with one week left before the trip.
  6. Our hearts – We were able to spend a week intentionally focusing on the Lord, and we were able to come back from a week of hard work and feel rested and encouraged! The trip was a blessing to us, and it renewed our energy for the work we are doing here in Philly.
  7. Hearts of Salvadorans – God is at work in the Hungry church already.  As mentioned before, the people there are hungry for Truth.  They are yearning for Jesus.
  8. Discernment – We know that we are called to missions.  That was affirmed.  We do not know where we are going next, or where we will be called to, but missions is in our future.

Continued Prayers:

  1. Discernment for future missions – where will God be sending us next and for how long?  We know that god has called us to international missions, but we do not yet know how to get there, what or where he has called us to internationally.  Maybe El Salvador?
  2. Envision El Salvador – Hungary church is in need of more staff, and more resources.  Pray that the team at Envision can be strengthened to continue to do God’s work while they wait and pray that more staff members can be found.
  3. Ministries – Envision has many ministries including the after school program, the football ministry, Hungary church plant that they support.  Pray that they can continue to encourage and draw Salvadorans to the Church and to Jesus.
  4. Gangs –  The gangs are still the largest obstacle in El Salvador.  Many Salvadorans cannot follow Christ because they fear that if they leave the gangs they will be killed.  They gangs actually let them leave if it is for religious reason.  Because of this, many people use the excuse to leave the gang, and the gang doesn’t believe them and kills them anyway.  Not only that, but the gangs also heavily influence the way that the government is run.  They prevent the government from caring for its people as effectively as it might otherwise.  The gangs are hurting the people mentally, emotionally, and physically.  Pray that God can work miraculously to change a broken system.

 

Thank you again for praying alongside us! I hope that you continue to seek Jesus.  He is doing amazing things all over the world and we get to be a part of them.  It is aw-inspiring to know that we get to partner with our almighty God in the work that He is already doing.

El Salvador – The Prodigal Son

Hello everyone,

I apologize again that we have not posted a review of the trip yet.  We have had busy weeks with new stresses recently.  Amanda has recently started a new case with more hours and we have been working to get the house prepared for winter.

I hate to disappoint, but we still do not have our review ready to post.  I promise that it is on our to-do lists!

To tide you over until then, I have included the transcript of the the message/lesson that I (Dan) gave at la fuente, the after-school ministry that we were helping at.  Enjoy.

Luke 15:11-24

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

This parable of the two sons presents us with a lot of truth, wrapped up in this short section.  Jesus has this amazing ability to use the parables to teach about who he is and what our relationship with Him can look like in just a few paragraphs.

In this parable, Jesus tells about God’s reaction to two different ways that we may interact with Him.  today, we will focus on what the older brother in this parable teaches us, and next time we are here, John will talk about what the older brother in this parable teaches us about our relationship with God.

Let’s start by making an observation about who the father in this story is.  Honestly, we don’t really get very much information about the father at the start here.  What we do see is that he loves and generously gives to his children.  Right in the beginning, in verse 12, the younger son asks fora  portion of his fathers property, his inheritance.  This request was highly unusual.  Typically, an inheritance is given upon the death of the father.  Even when the portion of the fathers property was given before death, it was the fathers choice.  The son was requesting something that was not yet his, with a  complete disregard for the fathers authority.  The younger son was seeking and asking for the things the father could give, but had little regard for his father.  Even still, the father generously grants the son what is not yet his.

Both sons are starting this parable here, in the presence of their father, each with a share of their fathers property.  it is at this point that their paths diverge.  The younger son, the same son that was asking for his inheritance, takes what his father has given him and leaves his father.  He goes far away and spends everything.  He was living the good-life, enjoying what comfort “things” could give him, until famine struck.  The only work he could find didn’t even pay well enough to provide him a decent meal.

In fact, he had nothing to eat and spent his days deeding pigs.  In their culture, pigs were incredibly unclean animals.  For him to work feeding pigs was the lowest of jobs he could have had.  It would have been shameful and humiliating.  Imagine a rich son who leaves his father, spends all that he has been given, and the only job he can get is worse than a garbage man [in Salvadoran culture, the garbage man was seen as one of the most unclean, shameful jobs].

Have you ever felt like that? We are often just like the younger son in this story.  God has already granted us more than what we deserve, and well before we before we should have received it.  he has given us life and joy, skills and desires, day and night, and we squander them all.  God wants us to thrive near him but we insist that we take control, walk away from him, and throw away what He has so graciously given us.

It can be tempting to depend on these gifts; God has given us many, great things.  But when we depend on these things that God has given us instead of on God himself, the joy and comfort that the gifts provide, does not last.  They cannot be self-sustaining.

We can depend on our friends and family, but they will let us down and disappoint us.  We can depend on our own strength and skills, but we will not be able to do it on our own.  we can depend on having stuff or relationships but they will not continue to satisfy us.

Because then, when we have had our fun, famine arises, ans we are left feeding the pigs, in the lowest of all places.  Maybe the famine deprives you of food, or perhaps you are void of joy?  or you feel alone? or hopeless?

Maybe you experience a physical famine and feel dirtier than a garbage man, but your famine may not be so tangible, but instead seen in some of these other ways.  maybe no one else can tell that you feel like you are missing something in your life and no amount of success and comfortable living can fill that void.

The beautiful thing is that this story, our story, doesn’t end with the famine.  The son comes humbly back to the father, planning to ask for a job.  The son knew that he had done his father wrong, and that something must be done to make up for his mistakes.  He prepares an apology, admitting his faults, and plans to beg fora  place as a servant at his fathers house.

But before he even gets there, the father comes running with arms open wide.  Though the son was prepared to apologize, the father ignores his apologies and instead embraces his son, and begins preparing for a celebration of his return.

The father gives more gifts to his son that had returned.  he brings the best robe, puts a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet, and he kills the fattened calf.  These were all valuable gifts hat the son did not deserve.  He may have deserved to be living with the pigs, or, at best, his fathers servant because he squandered what his father had already given him, but instead the father gave him compassion, and a loving embrace.

Likewise, we do not deserve to return to God, our father.  We may even feel like we need to do something to make up for what we have done.  This feeling that something must be done before we can come to God isn’t wrong.  We had spent our inheritance and it is not free to replace.  But our God ran to us before we even started our journey back to Him.  He loves us so much that He doesn’t require us to pay back what we have squandered.  Instead, He sacrificed His perfect, sinless son, Jesus, to bare the weight of our actions.  We had accumulated a debt to pay and Jesus paid it in full.  We were dead, and are now alive through Christ.

No matter how far we have walked away from God, He is still waiting with open arms to lovingly embrace you, graciously forgive you, and joyfully celebrate your return.


 

Back from El Salvador

In case anyone missed it, we have returned from El Salvador!  The trip was fantastic and we saw God at work in a lot of different ways.  Right now, we are catching up on all of the things that we were not doing while we’re in El Salvador (work, school, etc).  We both plan to share some of our experiences here soon, but have to catch up on a lot of other things first.  Keep an eye out for a future post with more details about our trip!

El Salvador – Staying Connected

At this point you probably know that we leave this week for our trip to El Salvador.  If you would like updates while we are there you have two options:

1. Request access to the Facebook group: “Citylight El Salvador 2016“.  One of the admins will allow access to the group.

2. Send us your email address and we can add it to the email list for the group.  If you are going to use this option, please give me your email address before Wednesday morning as these emails will all need to be added to the list before we leave for the trip.

Thank you all for your prayers and we look forward to sharing all about what God is doing in El Salvador.

Marriage is…

Many people have asked me “How is being married/married life/etc.?”, and for a long time, I said something like “It’s hard but good!”. I recently read a blog post by a married Christian missionary that questioned why we always describe our closest earthly relationship as hard. Our two year anniversary is this week, and I’m now stumped by what to say to this question. Marriage is… interesting? awesome? brings it’s challenges? How can I describe the relationship that I have invested so much time, energy, love, commitment, tears, laughter, etc. in with just a few words?

This then got me thinking about the other deep, intimate relationship I am in right now; my relationship with the Lord. No one has ever asked “How’s being in a relationship with God?”, but if they did, would I think “hard, but good?”. Maybe, but this means I need to re-frame how I view my relationship with God. I don’t want my personal relationship with Jesus to be remotely described as hard. Jesus says that his burden is easy and we can rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30), but Paul does describe a lot of the persecution and suffering that we will experience in this world. However, I don’t think suffering should lead to us describing our relationship as “hard”. Jesus always is loving us, forgiving us, and calling us to Him. We are always moving, either away from the relationship, or (hopefully) we are striving to be closer and more connected to God. Maybe turning from sin is “hard”, but the freedom we can feel in Christ is a huge gift and blessing!

Both my earthly marriage and my spiritual relationship with God are wonderful blessings that are exciting and interesting. My relationship with my husband has it’s moments of challenges and difficulties, but that is because I am a sinful human in a relationship with another sinful human. My relationship with God is only imperfect because of my sin, but He still loves, forgives, and cares for me despite my failings, and that is SO AMAZING. In our marriage, we try to love, forgive, and care for one another, especially when mistakes are made, but let’s be real, we mess up quite often. The fact that God a) doesn’t mess up, b) still hasn’t stopped having His everlasting love, and c) is always drawing me to Him, is just such an amazing blessing that sometimes it’s hard to wrap my mind around it!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. – John 3:16-17

I know many of us have this verse (or at least the first sentence) locked in our memories from childhood, but when you take a second to really look and see the love God has for us, it is so beautiful. Our Heavenly Father sent His son, Jesus, on a mission to death so that we could be reconciled and saved. I’m not sure about you, but that always makes me smile and get all warm on the inside 🙂 The God who did that wants to be in a daily, personal relationship with us, which means we can daily feel His love, peace, encouragement, and hope.

This is the verse I read this morning, and I will leave you with these parting words of faith and encouragement:

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. – Psalm 143: 8 

 

 

El Salvador – 1 week away

One week from today we will be landing in El Salvador! It is only in the last few weeks that it has really hit us that the trip is so close.  For today’s post we want to share some of the ways that God has already been working though this trip.

One of the coolest things that we have seen is that the very fact that we are going on this trip has opened a door to many conversions. We have been able to talk to believers, non-believing friends, co-workers, and many others about the fact that we are going on a mission trip. In some conversations, it simply is a way to identify ourselves as Christians, while other times it has come up, the conversations have evolved into long and in-depth ways to discuss faith and God. It is such a good way to talk to people who actively do not follow Jesus without it being an awkward “Christianity” conversation!

We have also been able to grow in trusting Him.  The big way that this is happening is through finances, but we are also trusting in Him more in the little things as well. It is hard to try to arrange going on a trip in the middle of work/church commitments/grad school/being adults/etc. but we are trusting that He will provide us the time to prepare and the time to step away from our life here while we go serve Him in El Salvador! He has already given us the time to prepare, and He will bless us with time to pack, pray, and prepare in the next week as well!

Thank you for your support and your prayers this week.  You can continue to pray for us in these ways:

  • Continued discernment for long-term missions and ministry
  • Final costs for the trip
  • God will actively work in and through us while we are in El Salvador
  • God will work miraculously in the hearts of the Salvadorans and in the social structure
  • Growth in Jesus
  • Health and safety! Safety is obviously a big one with any travel, but there has been a lot of sickness going around near us, and we want to be healthy before and during the trip!

Thank you again for your love and support!  We are getting so excited to see how the Lord will use us! We look forward to sharing our experience with you when we are home!


If God is leading you to support us financially, you can give at citylightphilly.com/give and mark your donation as for the Buckley’s El Salvador.


If you have any questions or comments about El Salvador or our trip, feel free to leave them on this website or email us at buckleyfamily14@gmail.com.  We would love to hear your words of encouragements, know that you are praying for us, and be able to connect further.

God Provides. Do you forget too?

I’ve been chewing on my post about biblical womanhood for a while, and I haven’t been able to get my thoughts just right yet (hence my few weeks of a hiatus). For now, I want to remind you of something that I forget all too often: God Provides. He provides so much for us, and He comes through ALL THE TIME. Sometimes, it takes the big stuff to remind me of this simple fact, and then I remember how He has provided over and over in other ways!

If you haven’t realized yet, Dan and I are going to El Salvador in two short weeks for a missions trip (check out our posts about the trip!). We needed $4000 to go on the trip, and we were not going to be able to put any of our own money into the trip… I was very hesitant about committing to going, so before I jumped in with two feet, I prayed very specifically. My prayer went something like this: Lord, this trip scares me a lot but it seems like you might be wanting us to go. I gotta trust YOU to provide these funds and show us that we are supposed to be going. Help me trust you through this process. Help me feel your hand guiding us to El Salvador. Amen. And then we committed to going. During our preparations, I kept throwing prayers of trust at the Lord, especially when I was overwhelmed by raising support (it’s quite time consuming!).

Actually, it is a huge blessing that I did keep praying throughout the preparation process, but it can be so easy to try to trust in myself instead of constantly trusting God. I obviously had moments where I was less than good at trusting God, but overall, I really relied on Him, prayed often and specifically, and did not let this trip become about what I could do.

I’ll be honest, 3 weeks ago, we had about $1000 in our account. Then one Sunday, we learned we would receive a $1000 grant and that Dan’s church was sending us $1000 from a love offering. Today, we learned that we have $3250 in our account. We still have 2 weeks to raise the rest of the funds, and so we are still praying and reaching out to people, but we are SO much closer than we were and I KNOW that the Lord will provide the rest of the funds too.

I forget that God will provide. I am getting better at remembering to pray for His provision, but I forget that He does come through. The only positive in this is that I get super excited when I see His work! But I think I am missing a part of the trusting part: believing that He will provide. I always will say that He provides, but do I (or you) really believe deep down that He will be providing what you need?

Matthew 6 holds a pretty common passage about how God provides:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25-34 

Jesus is reminding people that God provides for birds and flowers, and that since we are so much more valuable than flowers, that we should feel confident that He will surely provide for us! His answer is to seek God and know that we will have what we need, and to not worry about it, but simply trust.

As a hard-core worrier, this kind of stuff really convicts me and challenges me to live a different kind of life. But I know that true trust in the One who has made ALL things is the best way to live, and so I am actively praying, reading, and trying to trust with all my heart in HIM. And guess what? He does show me His consistent provision, in both the big (El Salvador!!!) and little ways* 🙂

 

*I wanted to provide some examples of the little things He provided me with in the last week:

  • several days of really great sessions with my clients
  • not having to leave the house on a rainy Saturday
  • having 2 midterms that were not that bad
  • getting out of a 3 hr class early because all we had to do was take our midterm
  • enjoying a dinner with friends
  • having an adorable cuddle-puppy
  • seeing family on a spontaneous trip
  • having time to get work done
  • and I could really keep going 🙂