Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Additions!

We haven't been home to England in over a year and a half, so haven't seen quite a lot of our family since then.
Now that we've been gone for so long, it seems like a lot of people are seizing the opportunity to come and visit us, and see us where we are.

Last month brought a visit from Chris' sister and bro-in-law. Which was great to see them, but also exciting, as they came with our new niece Ayla!
At just five weeks old, they brought her across the Atlantic to come for a visit!

The trip brought a lot of firsts - including a trip for Ayla's first swim!

It was great to see one of our nieces so young!

Embracing all things American - we took Nic and Sarah to their first college basketball game!

It was so good to catch up and spend time together. It does remind me of how much I miss our family, and how much I wish we could see them more often.
Especially those that just aren't able to come and see us, and come explore all things Texan with us!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Twists and Turns

So our adventure is about to take a turn that a few months ago, we would never have predicted!
From the end of August, we will no longer be in San Antonio, TX, no longer working with the church that we have been partnered with for 4 years.



A new season is coming - who knows what that will look like.

In the crazyness of these revelations, we finally have travel documents and work permits.
The ironic thing is we have now been gone so long that so many people are coming to see us, that we have no time to leave the country!
We had all our fingerprints taken - now we wait again. I feel we've gotten pretty good at this waiting stuff.

We have a lot of other things to work through and consider at the moment, where are we going to go, what are we going to do, how are we going to afford to do it?

One thing we sense God speaking to us - this is a time to seek, a time to stop and rest, wait upon him and to seek his face.

To search him out, to find out what he is doing in this world, what he is doing in our lives and how we are going to be a part of it.

"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29 v 12-13

"But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul" Deuteronomy 4 v 29

"Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always" 1 Chronicles 16 v 11

"Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." Psalm 9 v 10

"I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands" Psalm 119 v 10

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6 v 33

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year in the North East!

This Christmas we didn't make it home - still in our green card process, we are still waiting for travel documents to be able to leave the country. We are trusting God that he still has a plan and purpose in what is going on, and that He is still faithful.There was obviously sadness in not being able to spend such a special time with all of our family, but we remained incredibly grateful that we have each other to be able to spend time together.
We also made the most of our opportunity to travel a little and see some new places within the states.

Before we got married, we made a commitment to see 20 things together, so we seized the opportunity to knock another one of those things off our list! Plus have a little fun seeing some other cool places!
So we got planning and booked our trip to head north to New York and travel around to see Niagara Falls!
We also got to make it to Washington DC and arrived back into New York to enjoy New Years in the craziest, busiest city in the US, watch the famous ball drop and enjoy some city time!

So I thought I would share some of our pictures and experiences from our adventures.

We didn't have a lot of time in Washington D.C. but we did make it to some of the major sites to see! We got to see the Lincoln memorial, which was one of those moments of being able to see something in real life that you've seen on tv and in the movies. It was pretty impressive to see him in real life - I resisted temptation to go and sit on his lap!

Through those gates, you can see the White House! We learned some pretty cool facts about the House (including that many years ago, the Brits burned it down, whoops!).

Capitol Hill! Not to be confused with the White House! This is America's version of Parliament, where all of the Senators and Representatives come to work. It was pretty big!

Niagara Falls!
This place was incredibly cold, but so beautiful and amazing!
There was ice everywhere, and watching the beauty of the falls, there was incredible power in the water, watching it cascade over the falls. We did have to be incredibly careful not to slip head first into the falls!! ;)

New Years Eve in New York, we took a walk in Central Park and enjoyed some time to be able to stop for a little, and talk through what we hoped for the New Year and what some of our new years resolutions would be.

It was a great 6 days away, with some more adventures and fun seeing some new places that we enjoyed!
Again, I am just so thankful to have my best friend along for the ride, with an incredible sense of adventure and desire to see new places. I love the times we are able to switch off and explore new things together!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Learning the faith is in the waiting . . . . . .

In the quiet moments of the day, when I'm alone, I struggle, I worry, I doubt.

It's been a long journey to get here, and now all I can do is wait and pray.

3 failed attempts to file our green card, and God brought across our path lawyers that are hard working, giving and generous. They worked tirelessly to file our application, for no cost, and in May we received notification that we finally had it filed successfully.

In 5 months we should be heading home for my brother's wedding.

When I look at our situation, I know that humanly it is out of control, and not likely. We shouldn't get travel documents for 8 months.

I know that I serve a God that is bigger than waiting times, more in control than immigration, and more faithful than any person. I know that.

However, in those quiet moments, I doubt. I struggle to see how we are going to make it home in time. I lose faith, because I can't see it.

But what is faith - "faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you cannot see"

Daily, I have to remind myself that God is for us, and works everything for our good. That my God is the only one capable of ensuring a favourable outcome, in his perfect timing. Just in time.

But I don't see it, I don't have my happy outcome, I don't have my plane ticket and travel documents.

All that's left is faith in the waiting

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quietness and Confidence Forever

We began seeking God maybe a year ago on whether permanent residency was the right next step for us as a couple.
Sensing that this was the right step, we began the process last November. Since then it has been filled with pitfalls and disappointments.

In December we received news that mistakes had been made and our application returned to be corrected and tried again.
January found us in the midst of training conferences and retreats, surrounded by friends that love us and have incredible faith in our God to move mountains.

Remembering the story of the paralytic who was lowered through the roof by his friends, Jesus healed him because of the faith He saw in the friends, I approached a friend who I see to have incredible faith. As mine was wavering I asked her to pray for us. She prayed incredible words over me, specifically I remember her speaking of this being a training time, training in faith. Training in believing that we serve a God who is truly able to do immeasurably more.

Having not spoken very publicly about this issue, only people close to us were aware of what was going on, a man who is quickly becoming a good friend and supporter approached us to share a passage that had been on his heart as he had been praying for us.

My questioning in this process was whether God would want us to be settled. Do we stop following him and truly living for him when we become settled in a place.

I had never shared my concerns. The passage he brought to us was this:

"Justice will dwell in the desert and righteousness live in the fertile field.
The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.
My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest."
Isaiah 32 v 16-18

It spoke right to my heart, as we seek him and seek righteousness, the result will be quietness and a confidence in the God who is always true to his word, always true to his character, always true to us.

We can have peace and secure homes. That must not become our priority, but following God doesn't exempt us from doing so.

I was encouraged to remember that our God often speaks into our very situation at just the right moment, giving us hope and confidence in the one who called us.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Complacently Blessed

This week I had the incredible honour of helping lead a group at Mission San Antonio. It's spring break, students are all out of school. We gathered 140 students from the 4 different campuses of our church to give the little we had to serve our city.

We went to 11 different projects around the city to share the love of Christ and work at making a difference.

The group I was given went to a ministry called Hill Country Daily Bread. A ministry that serves local families by providing boxes of food to those that cannot afford enough food to eat. Churches sign up to pick up the boxes and distribute to families around them.

We spent two days helping around their warehouse, packaging and sorting food, and packing boxes for over 400 families for next week.

It could have been so easy to just see the simple tasks that were given to us, and just get on with it. But I couldn't disconnect from it.

As they were showing us around, there were some truths that they reminded me of, which I keep thinking of. She spoke of the people that come to ask for help, the people they meet with that just can't afford enough food for their children.
She reminded me to think of those I meet everyday, there is no way to know what their situation is, what they go home to, what situations they are battling against. There is no way to know who those people that need the help of the food boxes may be, they could be people I see everyday.

As we are packing boxes, I realise how incredibly blessed I am. There is some bulk food that they have donated that are in really good condition, just like you would pick up at the supermarket. But then there are the donations that are battered, and dented, with labels missing, the boxes that are ripped and taped back together again. All of it put into boxes and given to families that need them.

There is no choice in what they get, they are given a box with food, and there is just gratitude that they have something to eat and feed their kids with for another week.

I go to the supermarket each week and pick what I want to eat. I can choose what I want to eat. I pick the best of what they have. If an apple looks a little bruised, I pick a different one. If a can has a dent, I reach further back for one in pristine condition.

I do this every week without a single thought for anyone else in this world who is not that fortunate. I'd think about it if I didn't have that luxury. But, no, I walk around complacently choosing whatever I want, balancing my meals, getting as much variety as possible.

Maybe I need to look around my everyday little world and notice more.

And ask the question: what can I do to make your day better?

Instead of complacently looking for the best for myself.

Friday, March 4, 2011

For I am God, there is No Other

So I started something new last month. I swallowed my pride and insecurities and did something new, to get out of the bubble that is my life!

I started going to BSF. Bible Study Fellowship. Every Monday about 400 women meet in a church in Boerne, to study together for BSF. They complete questions on a passage the week before, split into small discussion groups to discuss what they have learned, and then hear a teacher speak on the passage.

I hate meeting new people, I especially hate doing new things by myself.

And yet I couldn't understand why I had this nagging feeling that I really needed to go, and be committed.

This year, they are studying Isaiah. Working their way through this incredible book a chapter or two at a time. I have never studied Isaiah before, never really read the book properly (should I really admit that as a youth worker???). It's always been a book that greatly intrigued and interested me, but always intimidated me enough that I stayed away.

Over the past couple of weeks that I have gone, I know why I went.

God had a message to remind me of.

Isaiah is pretty repetitive, at least the chapters they have been studying over the last few times I have been.

But I think I can sum up what I have been learning in a couple of verses.

"for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, 'My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,'
calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it."
Isaiah 46 v 9-11

He is God, there is no other. He has spoken, and He will do it. He has a purpose, and He will see it come to pass.
I follow the only person that will always do what they say they will do.
When God tells me that in every situation He is working for my good, He means it. When He tells me He has a plan and a purpose for my life, He means it.
When He tells me He will be faithful to me, He means it.

Green card, or no green card. He will do what He says He will do.

I needn't worry about what comes next. If it is God's purpose, no lawyer/immigration official/paperwork will stop it.

For He is God, there is no other!