Monday, July 30, 2012

Moving On

Both Andrew and I moved to St. Louis directly out of college.  We came from Kansas and California respectively, never having lived in the inner city, but the minute we both moved to North St. Louis (he 11 years ago and I 6) we felt at home.  We spent our formative adult years here, we were married here, we were blessed with our first child here.  St. Louis is a part of us.  Inner-city ministry here in our neighborhood has shaped us and stretched us and we feel a deep connection to our community and our neighbors.

And so, it is with a mixture of excitement and deep sadness that we are now called to move on.  We have served with World Impact these past years and now our service is directing our journey to new opportunities with a branch of World Impact's ministry, The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI).  This requires a move to Wichita, Kansas.  While Andrew gets to return to his roots, never did I imagine this California girl would be a Kansan! 

The change in service was a surprise to us, and at first the thought of leaving our cherished city was heart-breaking, but we have done a lot of praying and wrestling with the Lord and believe that He is leading us into a new season of ministry.  Our calling remains unchanged, even if our role in ministry is changing.  TUMI is committed to equipping urban leaders for church planting through establishing and supporting satellites around the world to provide theological and ministry training for these leaders.  For more information about TUMI visit our website here.

We are excited to serve and learn with TUMI and to discover new ways that we can flesh out our calling to seeing churches planted in the inner cities of America.  TUMI is a powerful ministry and we can't wait to see first-hand how God transforms lives in U.S. cities and cities around the world.

We move in exactly two weeks!  It is unreal to think we will no longer walk out in the morning and see our neighbors on their porch.  We will not be spending our summers with the youth from our neighborhood, or Thursday nights with the men from our Basketball Outreach.  For these things we are grieving; there are so many that are dear to us here.  This is more than a move for us.  It is a bit like tearing apart the fibers of our lives and the lives of people here which have grown together over the last decade.  It hurts. 

Yet, we know God goes before us and with us and behind us and we are in His hands.  Often, God uses times where we are stripped away from the things we know to teach us more dependence on Him.  Wherever we go in life, we will go in faith.  We've seen some hard times but God has always been faithful, it's who He is.  Forever we are grateful for the opportunity to serve here in St. Louis and look forward to the journey God has stretching out before us.

Monday, July 23, 2012

And Then There Were THREE!

Friday marked one of the greatest days our little family has seen!  It involved about twenty minutes in a court room and a very delicious meal out with friends, but what actually happened was a legal confirmation of what we have felt in our hearts all along...Little Man is officially our son!  Oh, what a day!

He also received a new name, one we chose specifically for him.  Judah.  Judah means "praise" and anyone who knows him knows that he exudes music and joy and enthusiasm.  We praise God for bringing us such a special gift and we pray that his life is poured out as a praise-offering for the Lord, drawing others to praise Him too.  Some have questioned changing his name, fearing for his little identity.  It is actually quite common within the adoption world to change children's names as they are now part of a new heritage.  We do not do this to dishonor where he comes from.  We are forever grateful to his birth parents for giving him life, but we do want to acknowledge the full adoption into our family.  It was also a unique opportunity to give him a name that spoke to what we pray will be his future.  God changed people's names often in scripture, telling them who He meant for them to be.  Judah was meant to praise his Maker and we pray he lives out this purpose!

Meet our family!  Photos courtesy of the talented Susie Whyte at Whyte House Photography!

Monday, July 2, 2012

God's Will?

We've all done it.  Something distressing, confusing, or negative happens and we quip, "It must be God's will!"  Sometimes it's not even a quip; we truly and deeply believe it.

While I absolutely believe that God is sovereign, I've started wondering if some of the things we assign to God's will are actually just products of living in a fallen and broken world.  Bodies die, people choose to sin, pain and suffering were ushered into the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God.  That was not God's plan.

I'm a firm believer in saying what we actually mean, and when we say "It's God's will" I think what we really mean is..."I have no earthly idea why this would happen, but, somehow, God must be in this or my life makes no sense."  Without meaning or sense we would be lost, so we grasp at possible answers to ground ourselves, or sometimes, to lessen the responsibility that should rest on our own shoulders.

Lately, as I've studied the face of confusion and distress I have thought that the question isn't really, is this God's will or not?  The question is how will God use what has happened for His purpose and glory? 

I think there are many things that happen that aren't as God would plan it...sin for one.  And, when Satan waged war on God he was determined to bring about as many casualities as possible.  But the story tells us that our God is victorious.  And, He is a master at redeeming broken things for His purposes. 

Maybe the terrible or confusing thing that threatens to level our lives isn't God's will, but God will surely use that thing to bring glory to His name if we let Him. 

I can't in good conscience tell someone (or myself for that matter) that the pain they face was willed by God.  That would take responsibility off the shoulders of the people involved, or in the very least, ignore the fact that the world is a broken place, bearing the hallmarks of the Fall. 

But I can tell them that our God is bigger than all the brokenness and, while I can't fathom the intricacy of His plans in the least, I do know that ultimately His will is to show His mercy and redemption to the whole world, through us. 

So, let's not pretend that our little human minds can understand the entirety of God's will.  Instead, I'm going to choose to trust that no matter what happens, or why, I can trust that God has already made a plan to work it into His beautiful purposes, and find hope in the promise of a day where all pain is ended and all brokeness has been repaired...what a day to look forward to.