Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cleared for Departure!

Photo credit: hotblack from

It is official... we have been approved to depart for Austria! This last week has really been a whirlwind, as we witnessed God answering prayer and bringing in support from many unexpected places. Yesterday, we reached 100% in verbal commitments of support and the last few supporters are slowly becoming "official" with WorldVenture. And within hours of reaching our goal, we were given clearance to purchase tickets!

Today has been a flurry of calling travel agencies, talking to the shipping company, and jumping up and down with giddiness. We're very excited to be at this stage. We're also a little freaked out, but I assume that is normal.

Thank you! So many of you have walked with us along this journey, praying for us, committing financial support, encouraging us, helping to meet our needs, and so many other things. You are all an amazing support, and we couldn't be where we are right now without you. THANK YOU!

We praise God for providing for us in such abundant ways and for bringing us from 0% support in February of 2011 to 100% in August of 2012. It is all God's doing...we are just along for the ride.

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” - Matthew 19:26

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Adventures at Goethe

My German flash card collection is just beginning...
We are now 2 weeks into our German class at the Goethe Institut of Chicago...and I'm loving it! Learning a foreign language can be very intimidating, and we were both a bit nervous about getting started. However, we've been pleasantly surprised by our progress in the class and the fun we are having as we begin this new adventure.

Our class is small, made up of only 7 students and an enthusiastic teacher. What has made it so effective, I believe, is the teacher's enthusiasm and willingness to answer questions, going at our pace. There is no stupid question in her book, and she's very patient. Plus, she's fun and quite funny! Having a safe environment for learning makes a world of difference, and I hope that our language school experience in Austria is at least somewhat similar to what we're experiencing here.

I took 5 years of Spanish in middle school/high school and then tested out of it in college. So it has been 11 years since I studied a foreign language! In those 11 years, I forgot how much I enjoyed and excelled in the foreign language classroom. But this German class has reignited my excitement and built my confidence. I'm so thankful we have the chance to take our first class here in the States, in a familiar city, so we can ease into German before entering a completely foreign culture.

Lord willing, this is the beginning of a lifetime of learning. May we have many fruitful years of learning and speaking German in our future!

Favorite German Phrase of the Week
Du bist seltsam.  You are strange/weird.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Seeds of Movement

A while ago, Bethany and I spent some time away on a spiritual retreat. We were so blessed to have some focused time on prayer and hearing from the Lord. We sang together, read scripture, and enjoyed the time of communion with Christ amidst all of the craziness of this adventure.

A friend in Connecticut lent us their vacation home that was near the campus of Williams College in Massachusetts.  Because I am from the Midwest, this was my first exposure to this area of Mass. I had never heard of Williams College, which is the top liberal arts college in the country.

As we wandered across the campus of this prestigious school, we stumbled upon this monument commemorating a prayer meeting in 1806 . After reading it, I remembered the stories from my missions classes and realized we were standing near a piece of missions history.

In 1806, five men met in a meadow near Williams College to pray about and discuss the need for missionaries to travel to other lands and preach the gospel to those that had never heard it. In the middle of their discussion, a thunderstorm popped up and so they all hid under a haystack to continue their talking and prayer. They began a group called the Haystack prayer group that a few years later began the first American missions sending board.

Our first thought through all this was just how amazing it was to be in the place that has shaped so much of American missions. This was the beginning place for so many changed lives. This is where men and women stepped out in faith to follow where God led. 

We also loved being in this place, because it reinforces the need for prayer. We know from history how many Christian movements have started in prayer and yet the church doesn't spend nearly enough time on our knees together before God seeking direction and the movement of his Spirit. We pray that God would continue to birth movements of his people out of prayer and seeking his name.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The First Half

Wow! It is hard to believe that we are halfway into our 30 Days of Prayer. It has been so good to see God already on the move in our lives and in this process of preparation. Right now we have 89 people that have committed to taking the journey with us! That is so amazing! What a blessing it is to have so many people walking with us in prayer.

We have also seen God move as He has brought so many new people into our lives. We have had quite a few "Out of Nowhere" moments as we have seen God provide.

So here is the update: After 15 days, God has brought us to 96.6% of our funding goal! We started at 92%, so we are blown away with how God has provided already.

The other wonderful thing about this is we aren't finished yet. We still have 15 more days of prayer to go. So if you want to join in and pray with us for the remainder of these 30 days, we'd love to have you! Just fill out this form and we'll send you the last half our 30 Days of Prayer emails!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This is really happening...

Photo credit: ppdigital from

Something has happened this week. I've had a light bulb moment, and it's finally sinking in...we're moving to Austria soon. This is really happening.

Along the journey of raising support, something in the back of my mind was always waiting for the next shoe to drop, for the door to close or for us not to make it. I try to be a "realist", so I always try to prepare for the worst and then, according to my theory, I'm surprised when things work out (this also leads to worry, though, so it's not a great way to live). So, I've been preparing myself for the worst - not going to Vienna.

This past week, we had a major bump up in our support. We're now at 96.6% and we just need a few more people to come on board to be fully funded. 100%. Somehow, I thought the day would never arrive when we'd reach that number, but it actually feels like it's just around the corner.

So this last week, I've experienced a mental shift. I've moved on from the worry about the support raising and the possibility of us not going. My fear and worry about "the worst" happening is now replaced with a confidence. This is really happening. God has opened the door and we're about to step through. We're actually moving to Austria.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Lens Cap

I am have too many interests. Bethany says I had a major in college, but I have a lifetime minor in curiosity. Too many things in this world are fascinating! One thing I really love is photography. It's an exercise in perspective. You are either trying to capture the beauty of every day objects, or distill an experience into a single frame.

The thing about photography is there are so many details to remember. You can miss one tiny setting and there will be something wrong with your photo. And the settings are different for each condition. The camera can be perfectly set for one circumstance, and then conditions change and your photo is too dark, too light or completely out of focus. There is a lot to think about. The one thing that is consistent is the lens cap. It doesn't matter how expensive your camera is, if your lens cap is on the lens, you're not capturing anything! Every time you want to take a picture, you have to pull off the lens cap. It is the most basic and obvious step of any photographic adventure.

Today I was watching the Olympics in London. There are always a thousand photographers in the background. It is cool to see them snapping away and capturing those moments. In the background of one of the shots, I noticed a professional photographer checking his camera and trying to figure out why it wasn't working. From my vantage point, I could see that his lens cap was still on his camera. In a minute or so, he figured out the issue and got to work.

This half a second on camera got me thinking for two reasons. First, if professionals can make this mistake, I don't feel bad at all for making the mistake myself and accidentally leaving my lens cap on sometimes. Second, I think we always want to make things more complicated than they really need to be. In photography, sometimes it's as simple as taking the lens cap off to fix the problem. In life, we look for some mystical secret behind having a relationship with God. Really it can be very simple...He is the one seeking intimacy with us. I think there are times when we sit there fiddling with the settings on "our camera" and wondering why it doesn't work. But we aren't practicing the basic spiritual disciplines. We don't seek community with others and have real conversations that really challenge us and challenge others. Often, we get stuck with our lens cap on.

Photo credit: rollingroscoe from