New Orleans…What it is to us

When you think of New Orleans, what it the first thing you think about? Is it the French Quarter or Bourbon Street?  If you’re a football fan it may be the Superdome and the Saints. Or maybe it’s Creole cooking or Mardi Gras. All of those things are part of New Orleans but to us, New Orleans is the place where God has brought us this summer to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those that are still rebuilding after Hurricane’s Katrina and Isaac.

One of those people is Miss Dorothy. She is a sweet 80 year old lady that lives in what is called a “double shot gun”. This is a duplex with rooms arranged one behind the other and doors at each end of the house for each side. There are no hallways. When Hurricane Katrina hit she left her home and went to a hotel for the night, when she heard that the storm didn’t cause any damage, she left to go visit her sister in Alabama. What she didn’t realize was that there was a storm surge descending upon the city that would cause the waters to rise almost to the top of the windows in her house. She got to her sister’s house and the TV’s were all turned off and everyone was very quiet. They then proceeded to tell her that the city she called home was under water and her house was more than likely severely damaged. She was devastated but came back to the city to have her home rebuilt.


She had hired a contractor with the money she received from different sources however like so many others, this person did inferior work and actually caused additional damage to the house due to a faulty roof repair. This is how our assessment team found her after she had moved out of her bedroom and was sleeping on the sofa because of the mold and mildew in the walls. Since then several short term teams have been in to help her repair her home. A new window was put in, ceiling fans put in, drywall has been replaced and in the last week, the room was painted and today the trim was put up. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to see the look on her face when she sees the progress on her room. By the first part of next week she will be back in her bedroom and not sleeping on the sofa anymore.

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After each day of work as we give her the keys back we gather in a circle and pray with her. Some days her son, Tyrone joins us. We praise God for the work that got done, for Miss Dorothy and for God’s handiwork and we ask for safety for the ride back across the causeway to the “North Shore”.  We then say good bye and Miss Dorothy waves at us from her porch until we are out of sight.


This is what New Orleans is to us. Helping to serve those that God leads us to. Sharing time with volunteer teams, homeowners and fellow ministry co-laborers for Christ. Praying with each other and praising God for everything He provides and for the calling on our lives. Will we eat crawdads and beignets? Absolutely! We will enjoy the culture, the people and even the heat. But first and foremost we will remember why we are here and thank Jesus for it all. To God be the glory!



Will I be like Sarah or Lot’s Wife?


Change. It’s a funny thing. We have prayed and prayed for this time to come. For our support level to be at a point where we can complete our Pre-Deployment training on the field, for us to move out of our house and for us to start to help those in need of having their homes and lives rebuilt by the power of God. But today, as I contemplate packing up the rest of our house, saying good bye to our family and friends and actually moving (albeit temporarily) to New Orleans I wonder…will I follow God’s direction with blind faith like Sarah did and trust in His covenant to bless us as we bless others or will I look back like Lot’s Wife and become paralyzed like a pillar of salt?

The last couple of weeks I have to be honest, I have felt more paralyzed than following with blind faith. After a year of prayer, our house is still not sold, after 2 years of ministry partnership development we are not fully funded and saying all these good byes just isn’t my idea of a “fun” time at all. Then there is packing up a 2800 square foot house into a 20X24 foot storage unit and a 34 foot camper which is overwhelming at best. I look around the house and wonder what to do first, or what to do at all? My list is getting longer instead of shorter as my need to see my friends is taking over my need to pack up the house. I want to make sure that I say “good” good byes and that I’m not a blubbering fool when I do say good bye.

Then there is our kids. David (25) and Brad, (19) will be living together in Burnsville, MN until Brad goes back to college in August. Brad will probably be working a couple jobs to get some cash in the bank this summer so he doesn’t have to work during the school year and David will probably be working full time but they will have each other. I am so grateful that they worked out this arrangement by themselves and they seem to like the idea. They are different personalities but I think that it will be good for both of them to be together this first summer we are gone. Leaving them up here will be very difficult for me even though neither has lived with us full time for over a year now and David even longer than that. We will stop on the way down to New Orleans to say good bye to Misty, Jason and our grandchildren next weekend. Even though we don’t see them every weekend, there was always that opportunity if we wanted to. Now they will be 15 hours from us instead of 5… I am so grateful for Skype and FaceTime!!!!

And my mom…my mom is truly my best friend. As many of you know she has struggled for years with her eyes and is currently on her 7th cornea transplant between the 2 eyes. I have tried to be at as many of her Mayo Clinic appointments as I could be at and kept track of her care and progress. I pray that as I leave here that my brothers and sister can pick up where I left off and keep track of her care. Her husband Dale is there with her but he works 3/4 time and it’s difficult for him to always be there too. I am so grateful for his love for her and how he cares for her.

On Sunday, May 18, we will have a prayerful send off at our church, Maple Grove Evangelical Free Church. We are not being commissioned there yet because we are not fully funded. Saying good bye to the people we have called our church family for the last 13 years will be difficult at best. We have grown up in the Lord with these people. They know us and we know them. There is a trust level that goes with that that takes a long time to build and we will have to rebuild that in a new area. We won’t be back here until the end of September and that’s pretty overwhelming for me. The woman that has mentored me for years and the woman I have recently begun to mentor are there. I love these women like sisters and leaving them will be the hardest of all I think. A little piece of me will stay at MGEFC I’m sure. That is “home” to us.

As this week has gone by, I have done my devotions and really tried to be a Sarah. I have tried to look at the eternal rather than the temporary and tried to follow with blind faith. Faith that the house WILL sell. Faith that we WILL be 100% supported soon. And faith that God DOES love our kids more than we do and WILL bless them as He blesses us. I keep thinking about next Saturday as we drive away from this house for possibly the last time…will I sit quietly in my car with tears rolling down my cheeks and pray as I drive down the road as Sarah did on her donkey all those years ago or will I be like Lot’s Wife and look back at the house and become paralyzed like a pillar of salt and stare at what could be if I stay here… As hard as it will be, I will CHOSE to be like Sarah and leave what is temporary to build a home in eternity with those that we share the hope of Christ with in ministry with ReachGlobal Crisis Response.  Please pray with me as this coming week comes to a close. We will need your prayers.

God’s Sovereignty

God’s sovereignty is so overwhelming sometimes. Some days it’s easier than others to lean into Him and know that He has everything under control and that everything will work out for His Glory. 

Rob is on his way to Nebraska for SkyQuest Outdoors Annual Ministry Turkey Hunts. He has been guiding for several years for these hunts and it is truly the highlight of his year. When he first started to go, it was all about the hunting of the birds. He’d call home and tell me about his bird or the bird of the guy/kid that he took with him. After about 2 years his calls started to change. He still talked about the birds but he was telling me about the life transformation that was happening because of these turkey camps. He loved taking young guys out there and teaching them about Jesus. Who He is and what He has done for us. Many times his conversations ended up with him in tears over God’s handiwork. I saw a change in him that I so loved and I looked forward to hearing from him to hear what God did over a few days.

Last year, we made the decision that he could only go to one of the camps. It was one of those decisions you have to make when you go into full time ministry. We had just come out of our pre-field training and hadn’t been home in almost a month and Rob felt God calling him to stay home for that one weekend. The guys from camp called, texted, and sent him words of encouragement and affirmation but he still so longed to be there with the guys, leading devotions and bible studies. The second weekend is a smaller camp and didn’t have the same feel so when he went he felt like he had just missed out on something big. We said then that this year, he would be at both camps unless we were deployed overseas and couldn’t make it back.

Yesterday he left, a day later than the rest of the guides, for Nebraska. He had a couple appointments and would get there today. Here is where God’s sovereignty comes in…he’s not at camp yet. He’s sitting in a mechanic’s shop in Des Moines, Iowa because his truck broke down. We know because God’s Word tells us, that God knew what was going to happen today and that He would use even that for His Glory. We aren’t sure yet how that will look. He’s having engine and turbo problems and it doesn’t sound good but we are trusting God, in His Sovereignty to handle this. That He will supersede for Rob and bring in the right people, parts and finances to fix the truck.

Rob just called…$4700 and it won’t be done until tomorrow night. One day of scouting and fellowship with his fellow guides will be lost. The time he spends with these men who lift him up and support him through thick and thin. One night in a hotel in Iowa spending time with the Lord and resting.

The hunt doesn’t start until Sunday so he will still be guiding and still have one day to scout. God will still work in the lives of all of the men that are there. His Glory WILL shine through and I wait in anticipation for the stories of just how God worked this year. The start of Turkey Camp 2014 is a little rocky but there is no doubt that the rewards in heaven will be many! To God be the Glory!

Is my Christianity a way of life or a religion?

This morning I was in the breakfast room of the small hotel in Indiana we are staying at and I struck up a conversation with a hotel employee. Now those of you that know me well, know that me striking up a conversation with a stranger is nothing new. My “mantra” is “there are not strangers in this world, just friends I haven’t met yet.”  I use the word “mantra” for a reason. This lady is from India and she is Hindu. “Mantras” are one of the many facets of the Hindu faith. I asked her lots of questions about where she lived in India, what her language was, if she was a Hindu and how long she has been in the USA. The more I talked to her, the more questions I had. But my biggest question was this…Why did the words Hindi and Hindu come up so many times in this conversation?

First of all, the main language of India is “Hindu”. Each “state” has their own language I was told but everyone learned “hindu” in school along with the language of their particular state and English. I found this particularly interesting as I was under the impression that Hindu was just another world religion.

Then I asked her if she was a Hindu and if she practiced it here in the USA and she told me she hadn’t “studied” it much at all since she had been here. That really had my curiosity going. What did it mean to “study” Hindu? We study the bible but do we study Christianity?

The more I talked to her I realized that Hindu was not just a world religion, it was a way of life. And when I got back to my room, I started researching Hindu and India online. Now, the internet is an amazing tool but after researching Hindu, I realized that I wasn’t going to get the “pat” answer I was looking for. Even the word “India” is the old Persian word for “Hindus”. Hindus have a way of eating, praying, worshiping and living that is centralized around the chart they have chosen. I had emailed a friend of mine that has been teaching Indian pastors and asked how the Hindu faith worked and he said that to them “all paths lead to heaven”. They have many charts, some of which are Mohammed, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus,etc. So upon further review I found that they study their charted path to find out just how they should live their lives.

Now I know that Jesus is the ONLY path to heaven. I have been studying God’s Word since I became a believer but I sometimes have to question (and this is the Holy Spirit convicting me I’m sure) whether I am studying the Word for knowledge or am I studying the Word to learn a way of life? A way to live my life FOR Jesus, pleasing TO Jesus and in WORSHIP OF Jesus. If I am studying for knowledge, is this not just another form of religion?  

So where is this all going? Well to me this says that I need to take a lesson from my Hindu friend today. Since I know my path is through Jesus Christ alone, I need to make my Christianity a way of life, not just something I study. My language must be of God. My treatment of my body must be of God. My love for others must be from God and my way of life must be pleasing to God. Will I sin and will I falter? ABSOLUTELY! I will sin and falter until the day of my earthly death when I will be lifted up to heaven to worship Him Who Saved Me by His death on the cross every minute of every day. But until that day…I will live for Jesus! Amen to that!



“Where two or three have gathered…”

I always find it really cool when God puts people together for the purpose of holding each other up because of a common bond. The common bond this time was three women who are trying to sell their homes because God is working in their lives and for one reason or God has asked us to move on to complete the work He has started in us.

It all started at a scrapbooking night several months ago. The girls were asking if we had sold our house and how close we were to moving to Staten Island. I had told them that we were praying for a buyer for our house. We hadn’t had a whole lot of showings and it was getting rather discouraging. One of the women at the table said they were just getting ready to list their house because they were going to be planting a church in South Dakota. God had placed a call on their lives to do as Abraham did and move to another location to fulfill His purposes. We friended each other on Face Book that night and started to pray for each other’s homes to sell.

Shortly after this I heard of the book I have blogged about before, “Draw the Circle, The 40 Days of Prayer Challenge” by Mark Batterson and started to read it and blog about how God was working in my life through the way I was being asked to pray. I prayed with “shameless audacity” and all of a sudden we had 6 showings on our house in 2 weeks!  We had only had 6 showings in the previous 5 months so we took this as a huge answer to prayer. This book talks about how you don’t pray as if God is a genie in a bottle, you pray because you know what you are asking for is in God’s plan for you. He has already directed you to pray for this and you are just ramping up the prayer so to speak. And then when prayers are answered ALL the glory goes to God and others see this answer to prayer and they are encouraged.

There came a time where I was hoping more for the answer to the prayer because I wanted to tell everyone about what God was doing in my life more than my getting what I wanted. It became all about God and not all about me.

During the first few days of the challenge I got a message from another sister in Christ that I knew from serving with her, then high school aged, daughter several years ago. They too were trying to sell their house and she asked about the book and where to get it. She’d been reading the blog and was seeing the answer to prayer! She started the book and we prayed together for each other’s houses to sell and recently we started to meet to encourage each other.

So now I’m praying for 3 houses to sell and I shared with my new coffee buddy that I had another friend selling a house and asked if she’d pray for her too. Last Friday, God gave me such a kick I had to act on it.  Since we are all on Facebook, I sent them both a message, introduced them to each other and we decided to start praying together for all THREE houses to sell. Three women, gather together praying for the same thing for each other!

Matthew 18:19-20 says “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.  For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

I don’t think I even need to tell you what happened next but I will anyway! This morning, Monday, we got a message from one of them asking for prayer because they had a showing at 3 this afternoon.  Not a half hour later, we got a showing request for 4 this afternoon and then within a half hour we had another one schedule for 10:30 am tomorrow!  I knew we were all praying for the third one of us to have a showing and you know it, God came through and the third has a showing at 1 PM on Tuesday!  3 women, with 3 houses to sell, with 4 showings with 24 hours of each other!  We agreed, we prayed, “it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.” We are praying for fruit from these showings now. Please join us in prayer for our houses to sell. Not because we want these houses to sell, but because God will be glorified through huge answers to prayer because two or three have gather in His name and He is in our midst!

To God be the glory for ever and ever.


Soup, Santa and Sweets

Tonight we had the pleasure of serving with one of our church partners, Buffalo Evangelical Free Church at their annual Soup Supper to seniors and families in Buffalo, MN.  What a blessing it was to see the body of Christ at work greeting folks, playing tic tac toe with children, serving soup and cookies and praying with them. Santa even showed up with Jesus pins that he had handcrafted himself!  


One of the most impactful parts  of the evening was serving a young family that was one of the first to arrive. A mom and dad, 2 daughters and a son. One of the little girls was dressed in her mom’s high heals and a fancy dress and was tickled to be there with her family.  The other little girl and the boy sat quietly and ate their dinner as did the mom and dad.  After several bowls of soup, a whole loaf of french bread, and salads I went to start clearing the table and the mom said “I can do that” and told her we were there to serve her and asked if I could get her some cookies or ice cream.  She gladly accepted my offer and they each took desserts and this mom just beamed.  You see, she had come in looking pretty defeated. Her head was down and she had a hard time making eye contact. This family was obviously in need of more than just the food that was served.  They were in need of someone to love on them and show them the love of Jesus. When I cleared the dishes after dessert the sister without the high heals asked this “Can I volunteer to help too?” My heart melted! She didn’t want to be helped, she wanted to help.  We gave her and her brother a little job serving cookies to the seniors and they donned Santa hats and served like champs. After a little while, a couple older gentlemen that were also sitting at the table started to play tic tac toe and hangman with the kids (they were done serving cookies now).  They must have played for an hour.  They were almost the last ones to leave.  This family that had walked in seeking out a hot meal, walked out with head held high and a spring in their step.  They left their prayers on a prayer card for the congregation to pray over but they took something with them that we hope will make a difference. They took love. It will be a long time before I forget this night and honestly I hope I never do. Please keep them in your prayers as they go through this Christmas season.  Pray that they find the love that Jesus has for each of them. 


It always seems that we are more blessed than the ones we went to bless.  Tonight was no different.

For He heard my voice…

Monday night I cried myself to sleep. It’s been a long haul. Visiting churches and talking to people about partnering with us in ministry, trying to get our house sold and just the everyday “life” things are exhausting.  I thought I was just tired and in need of a good cry but I woke up Tuesday morning and again wept uncontrollably. I was asking God why we weren’t in the field yet, why our house hadn’t sold yet and why it seems like this process is taking forever. God in his all knowing and all powerful way found a way to get through to me in my morning devotions.

Tuesday’s devotions were on Psalm 86 and the verses that hit me the hardest were  vs 3 “Have mercy on me, O Lord for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant for to you, O Lord, I lift my soul” and then vs. 17 “Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.” So I prayed these verses, “Have mercy and grace on me Father and bring the joy of this Christmas season to me.” You see the 3rd candle on the advent wreath we light each day is the candle of joy, and I wanted that joy as we lit the candle. Then I prayed for God to show me a sign to bring me to that joy and to comfort me.  I know who my enemy is and he surely was attacking me and robbing me of all the joy that I was to experience as we went through this process of partnership development.

I had the joy of having coffee with a fellow missionary in the same process we are going through on Tuesday late morning.  We talked for a couple hours and as we talked I realized that this is just part of the process.  Ups and downs and trials and joys. Some days are filled with progress and others feel almost like a setback but God has a plan, and His plan is always best. We shared our struggles and frustrations and we shared what is working and what isn’t. God sent someone to me to show me a sign of His goodness!  What a huge answer to prayer and within hours of praying!

The day went on and we heard about a gift from one of our partners that puts us one step closer to the field and we also heard that we were going to have a second showing on our house on Saturday and our house was the first on the list so far! Again, almost immediate answers to the prayer for a sign of His goodness!

That leads us to today! Devotions today were on Psalm 116 which starts out … vs 1-2 “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” and then vs 5-7 “The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simple hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to me.”

His Word always has what we need when we need it.  It’s the Word of God!  Why wouldn’t it?  The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is our God too! Overwhelming is the word I use to describe this. He has overwhelmed me again and I know He will continue to  for as long as I live.



Where I “grew up”…

I sat in church at Maple Grove Evangelical Free Church on Wednesday night for our Thanksgiving Eve service and thought to myself how grateful I was for being able to call the church home and the people family for so many years.  But then another thought occurred to me.  That thought was “This is where I grew up!”  I grew up in the Lord at Maple Grove EFC!

Since accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior I have gone to one church, Maple Grove E Free.  It is where I joined my first bible study, had my first mentor and learned so much in those first couple years. In those days, I was like an infant who’s eyes just opened up and I saw this whole new world around me. This new world was one of freedom and grace.  I had such a thirst for the Word and I drank it all in.  I learned about forgiveness, both the forgiveness that Jesus gives to us but also my forgiving others.  I learned of love, an unconditional love that I didn’t know even existed.  

The first time I went on a short term missions trip it was with Maple Grove E Free.  We went to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.  It was here that I first worshipped the Lord with believers in another language and learned the words to “Open the Eyes of My Heart” in Portuguese.  To this day when I sing “I want to see you”, I sing “Eu Quero Ver Ti”, the English doesn’t even come out of my mouth.  I went on this trip with people from MGEFC that have become family to me.  The prayer partner I had on that trip is now my mentor and a woman I feel honored to call sister.

Through the years I have gone to Brazil, Poland and Haiti with MGEFC and have grown through these trips.  I have grown to know that God has called us all to fulfill His mission here on earth, to declare His name to every tongue, tribe and nation.  Because of this and the people that have taught us, supported us and helped us in good times and bad I feel equipped to serve God in the mission field.

As I sat and looked around the other night I also realized I would be leaving “home” soon to venture out and be obedient to God and His call.  We all grow up and have to leave “home”.  It’s a bittersweet time as we prepare for the move to the field, finish support raising, and saying good-bye to our church family.  I think everyone is excited when they finally leave “home” but truth be told…we always know as Dorothy said…”There’s no place like Home.”


Give me your tired, your poor

“Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
In the last week we have passed by the Statue of Liberty no less than 10 times on our way to and from Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens from Staten Island on the ferry, on the Verrazano bridge and as we flew into LaGuardia airport. One can only imagine how it feels for an immigrant to see that Statue for the first time and know what it represents and has represented to so many. For some it is the promise of a job or a better chance at making it in this world.  For others it is the Land of the Free.  Freedom of speech, to bear arms, or to practice whatever faith you choose.
But how many of us have really read and comprehended what the above quote, that is on the Statue of Liberty, states.  “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.  The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”  Our country was built on the premise that this was a place that people could come when they were tired, poor and in need of a leg up. I can hardly imagine how it must have been for my relatives that came from Germany, Poland, Sweden and other European countries to this land of freedom and plenty.
This all came to life today for me as we had the privilege to serve beside our brother’s and sister’s in Christ from Community Bible Evangelical Free Church of Queens, NY. This church is a melting pot of people from all over the world that serves people from all over the world.  As we worked beside them I heard so many languages spoken.  And I thought about how each person there must have felt as they left their homeland  to come to America.  
Each Saturday, this small church of about 100, holds a food pantry for between 900 and 1100 families from their very diverse neighborhood. According to New York City officials, it is the largest food pantry in the borough of Queens.  Not only do they serve their own neighborhood, but God has provided so much food that at the end of most Saturday’s when all of their own people are fed, they are able to give to several other food pantries and soup kitchens in the area.
As we listened to Pastor Kahemraj, he told us they wanted to make a difference in their community, a difference for the kingdom.  Each Saturday, the families begin to line up at around 6 AM. At 8 AM a guest pastor gives a 20 minute gospel message and then offers a time of prayer for anyone that would like to learn more about becoming a Christian or is in need of prayer. The other really cool thing about this food pantry is that not only are the members of the church helping with the food distribution but so are some of the recipients. AND after everything is prepared for the families in line to get their food, the workers all get together to pray for the food, the recipients and each other. Then a free will offering is taken. While most of the food is donated, some of it is purchased and the offering is to offset these costs. They encouraged anyone, even if it was $1.00 to give to provide food for others. It was humbling to watch those that you knew had next to nothing give what they could.  Almost every worker there was also a recipient.
In Matthew 25:34-40 Jesus says this:
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me,I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them,‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.  
So today as I think about what both the Statue of Liberty Quote and Matthew 25 say, I am so grateful today to live in a country that allows me to express my faith in Jesus Christ boldly, without repercussions.  I am grateful that I live in a country where that freedom expresses itself in a love that feeds the “huddled masses”. I pray for our country today and the inalienable rights that we are given as American’s, but more for the inalienable rights I have been given as a daughter of the King of Kings to enter into a full relationship with Jesus Christ. Those rights are free to anyone!  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” The WORLD!  That means you and you and you! And He doesn’t do this when we become perfect, because that won’t happen on this side of heaven. He did it while we were still sinners!  Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your love and thank you for the people at Community Bible EFC that show your love so amazingly.
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