Three years of amazing lessons

Just a baby, and he already stole our hearts.

Three years ago this October 22, my life changed forever.  I didn’t realize, even though I thought I could imagine, how much having a child would impact my life until it happened.  I don’t think anyone really can grasp the reality of something like that, until it is experienced first hand.  I knew there would be added responsibility, although I didn’t realize the depth of it.  I knew I would love this little person that was made with a mix of my DNA with my beautiful bride’s DNA, plus whatever else God threw in, but I didn’t realize how much he would teach me about love.  God is so creative in all the things He has set in place in this world of ours, the way He created marriage – where a man and a woman would leave their families and become one.  How that marriage relationship is designed to reflect His relationship with His bride, the church.  And then, through the marriage relationship He designed for us to be able to take part in giving life to another – to experience just a sliver of what He did when He created all.  And then the relationship that ensues with the little person that is a result of that life giving process.  It amazes me how much this relationship has taught me, and continues to teach me, especially as a dad.  So many times in different situations I get a minute glimpse at how my Father in heaven loves me, relates with me, and wants the very best for me.  I only wish I could be as loving to this boy God has blessed me with as my Father in heaven has been with me, but it helps me, at least as much as my finite mind can, to understand more about His amazing love for me, His child.

Hard to catch a shot as he speeds by. But
he still has that hold on our hearts.

Three years ago, we couldn’t wait to meet Samuel, and I cannot believe how the little baby that we welcomed into this world early on that Fall day in 2008 has taught me so much in such a short time.  I am amazed every day for how blessed I feel to have this sweet little boy as my son.  Thank you God for Samuel Thomas…  I love you my boy!

Get your feet wet… a big step of faith.

“And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” – Joshua 3:13

Crossing the Jordan River
Unterberger, Christoph

This story, and others that talk about stepping out in faith (literally in this case), have been popping up to Michelle and I since we started praying about joining Campus Crusade for Christ staff, especially when we decided to have Michelle step away from her job with the American Cancer Society (which was our main source of income at the time) and into the waters of the Jordan… or at least to trust God that He would continue to provide as we follow His lead into the ministry in Florida that He has called us to.  Looking back at this story in Joshua, we see the Israelites witnessing God performing wonders right before their eyes, in order to take them where He called them to go.  We continue to see God use this story, as well as the stories of other missionary friends, to lead us forward in faith to follow His call on our lives.

Right now, we feel God asking us to take another big step of faith.  What we feel God is asking us specifically at this time is to plan on being ready to be in Florida in January.  This seems so impossible, and this is one of those things in life where we have struggled with discerning whether or not this is our own selfish desires, or if it is truly God working in and on our hearts.  Back in April when we attended a follow-up training in Arkansas, some of the encouragement we received from the coaches was to pray and ask God to reveal a specific time that He would send us to Florida, and then to pray fervently for that to happen.  So, Michelle and I both began to pray, and both of us came together one night to discuss what we felt God was speaking to our hearts as a time that God wanted us to arrive in Florida…and both of us felt that January is when we are supposed to be there.  At that time, we were somewhere around 25% of our monthly support goal, so January felt like a huge hill to climb, needing God’s guidance every step of the way.

Lately, especially over the last week or two, we have been feeling encouragement and confirmation on asking God to send us at a specific time – and again January has been coming up as when we are supposed to be there.  As of this post, we are at 52% of our monthly support goal, so if it were to happen for us to arrive in Florida in January, God would have to move a mountain over these next few months and bring in almost as much support as has come in during the past year.  We know it is possible, but sometimes it is hard to act in faith in light of the unseen.  But as we learn in Joshua, as well as in the steps of faith that God has already led us through, it usually works that God will provide when you take the step of faith and it is usually not before that action is taken.  The waters of the Jordan didn’t budge an inch until the priests took a step of faith (literally) into the water, and only then did the waters get “cut off and stand up in a heap.”

This morning, I again returned to this story in Joshua, just to remind myself yet again about how God moved.  As I read, I was reminded of the details of this story – like the fact that when the Levite Priests carrying the ark of the covenant came to the Jordan River, it was during the season that the river is flooded (see Joshua 3:15 and 1 Chronicles 12:15) – so they are not only crossing a river, but a river running at a higher level.  But what does God ask them to do as they are on their way to the promised land?  He asks them to take a step of faith into the water, and it is then that the waters move.  As I looked at this story, I was curious to look at some cross-reference verses in the New Testament, and I ran into my sermon notes from our church service on Sunday, which I normally don’t leave in my Bible.  When I came to them I noticed a verse reference that I had underlined which made me curious to look it up, it was this verse: Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  And then this afternoon I was reminded of a verse I was made familiar with not long ago thanks to a newsletter update from some of our missionary friends in Italy, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.” – 1 John 14-15

So, what does this mean for us?  Well, it means that we are prayerfully planning on packing up our stuff here in Arizona soon in order to prepare to move out sometime between now and the end of December (when we need to be in Colorado for the annual Denver Christmas Conference hosted by Cru staff).  From there, we are praying that we will have the courage to be ready to leave for Florida in January and trust that God will complete our team of ministry partners to make it possible for us to report to where He is calling us.

This of course means we need your prayers as well.  Please join us in prayer that we would be sensitive to and follow God’s will for the path and timing we are to take on this journey, and we humbly ask that you pray with us that God would provide for our needs by January in order to make it possible for us to report to Florida where we hope to reach the world with the love of Christ.

Please let us know your thoughts and any words that God may be giving you to share with us on this topic.  Thank you again for your partnership in prayer or financial support with us in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world, in order to make disciples of all nations.

Casual Christianity: What’s your identity?

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47

I have been brought back to Acts several times over the last few years as God has been bringing me, and our family, through this journey to go in to full time ministry in the mission field, and I don’t think that is by accident.  I have read through these stories many times in the past, stories of the early church and about the missionaries that were used by God to grow His church.  What started out as something much more distant from me, has become more revealed thanks to the life experiences God has been bringing us through, and because of how He has been allowing me to understand more about Him and His character. Not only that, but God has also opened my eyes more to who I am in Him.

I love it when I experience a time when I feel like God is specifically speaking to me, it makes me feel so loved.  Although I don’t necessarily hear an audible voice or see any burning bushes or animals using a voice to communicate these messages to me, I do think that there are times I for sure hear from God clearly – especially when I put what I hear through the filter of scripture to test if it lines up.  Well, recently at our church we have been studying through Acts and although we weren’t addressing this specific topic, in this specific way, it was interesting how God used it to speak a comforting word to me.  You see, in the sermon a couple weeks ago, our pastor got to a point in the sermon he was preaching that was stating one way “how the Holy Spirit Converts – or Transforms”, and one of the fill-in-the-blanks was “The Gospel is the greatest unifying identity factor on the earth.”  That specific idea has been something that God has reminded me of several times recently through some relationships I have that our only real bond is the fact that we both are followers of Christ.  It really is amazing how I can meet someone from any walk of life, anywhere in the world, and if we have nothing but Christ in common – we can immediately bond.  I thank God for that reality, the reality that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galations 3:28.  As I read through the section from Acts above, I can see that these early believers gave up their other worldly identities and took hold of their identity in Christ.

Now, this wasn’t completely the message God spoke to me when I sat there listening to the Sunday message… no, I felt like in that moment in time God used what was said, for whatever reason, to take me deeper in to myself.  I felt like He had taken me in that very moment behind the curtain, and allowed me to not just be in His presence, but to sit in His lap – as His son… and took His loving arms and wrapped them around me to say what I heard next…

Copyright All rights reserved by Daniel Y. Go

You see, my whole life I have struggled with something that can bring me down on many occasions, and that thing is that I have never felt that I was really great or excellent at anything specific.  This was always difficult because I saw so many others that were much better than me in basketball, or in art, or in school.  There was always someone else out there that knew more about electronics and gadgets than me, or had a greater tie to Disney than me, or was more successful in the work force than I have been… or… the list can go on.  I have always felt that I was good at a lot of things in life, which I have been good at things, but never excellent… But as I sat there in that seat two Sunday’s ago, and was transported, as time seemed to stand still, into my loving Father’s arms, I heard Him tell me something that made me feel so very loved that I couldn’t believe it.  Even as I type this and think of it, tears well up in my eyes of the joy I feel from my loving Father… What I heard that day was this: “Nate, your identity has been preserved for Me.  I have preserved you and protected you from finding your identity in all of these things in this world that are good, so that you can better realize that your true identity comes from Me.”  WOW!  What an amazing mercy He has shown me, and it made me feel so very grateful for something that I thought was always a burden for me… but no, now I see the greater reason for what He did in my life.

Thank you God, thank you Father, thank you Abba, thank you Daddy!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Casual Christianity: Are you a casual Christian?

Chan asked one of the leaders of the persecuted church in Asia: “Aren’t there some (Christians) that are casual (here)?”  
The leader answered: “That doesn’t make sense here, why would you casually call yourself a Christian, when you know that the moment you call yourself a Christian your whole village will turn from you, your whole family, and you lose everything, so why would you ever do that casually?

Francis Chan challenged us individually and
organizationally to not just be casual in our faith.

I love it when I see God really trying to teach me something, or at least make me aware of something.  I am sure you have had this happen to you as well, you know, those times when God continually brings a certain message or theme to your attention in different ways over a period of time.  Well, the past several months has been one of those themed periods for me.  And what do I feel God asking me this time?  This: “Nate, are you a casual Christian?”

I actually started to write this blog post – although it looked much different than it does now – back in late May or early June, when our time in Colorado had just started.  Interestingly enough, I have not been able to complete the original blog post I started because God kept feeding me more and more around this subject.  The above dialogue at the top of this post is something that Francis Chan shared with us at our U.S. Staff Conference with Campus Crusade for Christ that we attended this summer in Fort Collins, Colorado.  It seemed obvious to me that the Holy Spirit had placed this message on Francis Chan’s heart, to challenge us (Cru) as an organization… but it felt even more like God had prepared the message just for me!  The story I quoted above that Chan shared with us was in reference to some time he spent traveling through Asia several months ago, where he and his family sold everything they had and just left to go and spend time with the persecuted churches in places like India and China.  After spending some time there, he shared with us, he was amazed with how it seemed like everyone that he met there was so intense about their faith in Jesus.  This observation is what lead him to ask one of the leaders in those countries the question above and receive the above answer. 
With thoughts of the persecuted church in Asia, I thought of some of the students that we will be reaching down in Florida when we report and join our team on the Walt Disney World College Program missional team, because some of the students are from these and other countries around the world where Christians are persecuted.  One such student, whom we call Lili and tell a little more about in our newest prayer letter, is from one of these East Asian countries that does not allow Christians to freely worship and live out a Christian life.  When she was discussing her recent decision to become a Christian with one of our Cru team members, Lindsey, there was a point where she became serious and said, “This isn’t going to be easy when I return home, but I can’t wait to share with my parents.”  Lindsey asked her if she was afraid of what her non-Christian parents might think when they hear the news of Lili’s new-found faith.  Lili responded, “It doesn’t matter.  I’m a Christ-follower now.”  She knows the challenges she faces when she returns home – for Christians in these countries the challenges are much more obvious than here in America.  And in the face of these challenges, they have everything (in a worldly sense) to lose by truly deciding to be a Christ-follower. Do we here in America live out our faith in the same way?

Last week at lunch with a friend, our conversation turned to this topic where he shared, “I’m tired of being a comfortable Christian, I’m just too comfortable.”  Man, that seems like how too many of us are as believers in America, but I don’t think it is because we are in a “free” country and can openly be a Christian.  Rather, I think it more tends to be because we are not truly following Christ, as He commanded us to.  We all just take this “Christian” thing too casually here, because we can.

Next blog, I’m going to expand on what God has been sharing with me, and specifically I plan to look at some examples we see in the book of Acts.  I would love to challenge anyone reading this blog to dig through the book of Acts, really look at and dissect what that early church lived like… Then, think of our church here in America today, as most people know the church… Are we living out the faith we claim to have?  Or are we just casual Christians?

Elias Ray: First Year Flown By

Just one year ago God blessed us with our second son, Elias Ray Patrick.  This strong-willed little bundle of emotions has certainly added spice to our family!  When Eli is happy, there are few babies as cute…his smile and laughter absolutely melt your heart.  But when Eli is not happy, there is no doubt about it!  Even as a baby, he likes to have things his way.  And he hates taking naps (which has stretched my patience to the limit at times).  But I wouldn’t trade my fiery little man with so much personality.

We celebrated his first birthday a couple of weekends ago with a mellow family day on his actual birthday, May 14, followed by his baby dedication at church and a birthday party with Nate’s family on May 15.   Then we were able to celebrate Eli with our Colorado family once we arrived in Greeley the weekend of the 20th.

Eli enjoying some yummy cake at Grandma and Grandpa Zack’s.

The best part was watching our “baby Eyi” take his first steps on his actual birthday, walking several steps back and forth from mommy and daddy as we clapped for him.  Of course Samuel wanted Eli to walk over to him too, and seeing Eli walk into his arms followed by a big brotherly hug was one of my favorite moments as a mom yet.  I love seeing my boys love each other.

The past year has flown by so fast!  It is so easy for me to get caught up in the busy-ness of motherhood and forget to be thankful for these little lives.  I am grateful for times like this when I am forced to step back and enjoy my boys for the gift they are.

The “Crazy Cycle”, make the first move

If you want to resolve a conflict, you need to make the first move. It requires courage and humility … you can’t wait for your spouse to meet you halfway. (Emphasis added)
The “Crazy Cycle” –

Isn’t it a Crazy Cycle indeed?  If you don’t know what the Crazy Cycle is, it is only because you haven’t heard it called by that name yet… especially if you are married or have lived in a house with parents who are married or even dating long term!  It starts with either the husband not showing his wife the love he has for her – especially if he doesn’t show it in a way that she would recognize it (ever heard of the 5 Love Languages?) and feel loved – or the wife not respecting her husband.  After this trigger, the Crazy Cycle starts with the opposite spouse reacting in the equally negative way… which continues on for as long as the couple keeps on reacting in this negative way not showing love or respect to one another.

I have to admit, even though we – my wife and I – have been through the Love & Respect book/series more than one time along with other similar studies that address the same issue, I still continue to find us giving in to this Crazy Cycle.  Just like the Apostle Paul says in Romans 7:15 – “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”  I hate when I don’t show my wife the love she really does deserve, even if I don’t think she deserves it for whatever reason at some moment in time.  I find it interesting how this part of scripture in Paul’s letter, comes immediately after addressing an “illustration from marriage”, curious for me at least!

I know when I find Michelle and I in the Crazy Cycle, that the “easiest” and “quickest” way to end that cycle is, as the quote from the Family Life website above shows, for me to make the first move.  Amazing how the up-and-coming wisdom of our culture so feeds this Crazy Cycle, and how easy it is to buy into that “wisdom” and get caught up in such a destructive and silly rhythm.  The world gives the example that a woman doesn’t need to respect a man if he doesn’t respect her first… Then it goes on to show men that women are there to meet a carnal need and we can be the emotionally checked-out guy who thinks love is only what happens in the bedroom.

This idea of making the first move isn’t just something made up, or being a “macho man” or something, but it is coming directly from the Bible.  When we look at Ephesians 5, the chapter that the Love and Respect series uses to discuss the idea of a husband loving his wife, and the wife respecting her husband, I find it important to note what exactly Paul is writing to the husbands here.  Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25), what I know about Christ’s love for the church is this: “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)  So what does this mean for me as a husband?  It means I need to follow Christ’s example, I need to first love my bride, I need to make the first move.

My beautiful bride and I enjoying a hockey game “date night”
during our DCC conference back in January.

Focus on Him: Learning how to face temptation.

12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

– Mark 1:12-13

Temptation of Christ by Ary Scheffer, 1854

I was recently reading through Mark on my slow (slow because of me, not the study) – but steady – journey through the New Testament Survey course that Michelle and I are taking, when I came across these verses that struck me.  What struck me is the idea that the Holy Spirit led Jesus out to the desert, knowing that He would be tempted by Satan over those forty days.  This seems like an odd thing, for the Spirit to lead anyone into a situation where it is known that the person will be tempted by Satan – since we know that Satan’s temping is intended to lead us to turn away from God.  Maybe the intention here was purely to teach us a lesson on how to face temptation when it comes our way.  What better Teacher than Jesus to show us by example how we are to respond to the temptations we will face.

Since before I became a Christian I had struggled with a certain area of sin in my life that I had been trying to figure out how to get past, I felt like the sin had a constant hold on me even though I knew I had freedom in Christ.  In those years of trying to “morally restrain my will”, I never found any amount of effort or list of “to don’ts” that would ever have any real affect on getting me past that large obstacle of sin.

Enter the process that God has graciously led me through over the past couple-plus years, the truth of replacing my focus.  What do I mean?  Well, you see, the main focus I had all those years before the coins really dropped (ask if you don’t get what this means), was on not doing things that would lead me into the sin or sinful activity I struggled with… unfortunately, putting the focus on the things I shouldn’t do, meant I spent a lot of time thinking about those things that I shouldn’t do.  I was focusing on the negative while all along my focus should have beeen on something good rather than bad.  That focus should really be on God – the ultimate good – and only when my gaze started to turn more to Him (only by His grace) have I actually been able to experience the freedom I have had all along (big praise God here is ok, :-)).

So, by now, you might be wondering how this ties into this passage from Mark 1:12-13, hang in there I am getting to it…  I am sure I am not the only one that thinks temptation is not a good thing, after all it is something that is used by our biggest adversary to try and turn our attention away from where it should be – God.  So if this is the case, why did the Spirit lead Jesus out to the desert in order to be tempted?  Well what is funny is that I initially went in to writing this blog post with a whole different idea, but as I followed the Spirits lead, something else has taken form…  It turns out that my focus was initially on the idea that temptation is bad, rather than what amazing thing God was doing with the temptation and forty days in the desert that Jesus was to face.

The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would put it, is told in the correlating passages from the gospels of Matthew (in 4:1-11) and Luke (in 4:1-13) which share more of the detail of some of the temptations that Jesus actually faced, and how He combated the temptations Satan threw at Him.  This context shows us, in my opinion, the reason that the Spirit led Jesus to be tempted – to teach us how to face temptation ourselves.

What Jesus does to resist these temptations is not focus on what He should avoid so as to not sin in the way Satan is tempting Jesus, but instead Jesus focuses on God and the Word of God – literally the scriptures.  Of course anything Jesus said could be considered the word of God, but He chose to specifically quote scriptures that men at the time would have access to.  Look a little deeper at the scripture that Jesus quotes and you will see that the verses are from Deuteronomy.  This is important because of the correlation between the context of what Jesus is quoting compared to the situation Jesus is in.  Jesus is in the midst of spending forty days in the desert, sounds similar to the forty years in the wilderness that Israel experienced, which happened to be a desert wilderness in possibly the exact same place in which Jesus was during His forty days.  On top of the location, Satan tempts Jesus in areas that the Israelites had fallen and turned against God.  Jesus is showing us how, through the leading of the Holy Spirit (which He gave us all as a gift, see John 7:38-39 and Acts 2:38-39), we are capable of resisting temptation and focusing on and following God.  Unlike Israel who instead focused on the bad, they focused on the hard trials rather than focusing on God.  Jesus shows by example that through the power of the Holy Spirit as well as through the sword (His word)  which He has given us, we can remain focused on God even in the midst of the most trying of temptations. 

Again, the focus of Jesus’ response to the temptations that He faces here is on God.  More specifically, Jesus focuses on the Truth that responds directly to the temptations being sent His way.  Following Jesus’ example  I am of course not saying to ignore the fact that we have an adversary that is attacking us, but when we recognize the temptations or know we are going into a situation that we might face temptations, we should look to God and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.  We should focus on God, His character, His goodness.

I am so thankful for what God has brought me through and continues to teach me every day.  It has been amazing to experience the freedom that I knew I had in Him, but was just not living in that freedom.  Of course I still have sin and areas to grow, but getting freedom in this area that has been a heavy ball and chain for most of my life is so, well, freeing!  I hope and pray that these words communicate the truth that I have experienced through the amazing work of the Holy Spirit in my life, and allow the coins to drop for you in order to make a turning point in your life just as God has begun for me.

The LORD turned to him and said, Go in the strength you have…
– Judges 6:14

Looking Back: Getting Engaged in the Magic Kingdom

Beautiful Valentine’s sunset…

I have decided to do a series of posts about our experience on the Disney College Program, and here’s the first one.

We’ll kick it off with a bang, showcasing probably the biggest and best experience of our time on the College Program…the night we got engaged 8 years ago this week!
It was Valentine’s Day.  We were both able to negotiate the day off with our managers (not an easy feat getting a holiday off, let alone both of us getting it off).  We started off the day attending a special “Cast Member Only” event on the history of the romance between Mickey and Minnie (we enjoyed attending these periodic sessions on Disney history when we could). It was neat to learn more about Walt’s vision of Mickey and Minnie.

Cinderella saying hi

In the afternoon we got all gussied up and headed to the Magic Kingdom to see the “We Share a Dream Come True” parade, which was my first time seeing that particular parade (Nate, on the other hand, had it practically memorized since he worked custodial in the Magic Kingdom).  Then we arrived at Cinderella’s Royal Table – the beautiful restaurant in the castle – for our dinner reservations.  Cinderella greeted us in the castle foyer, of course.  And we made our way to our table.

There’s the ring!

After a wonderful steak dinner, the waitress brought the dessert tray.  Only instead of dessert, there was a pillow holding a beautiful, intricate little golden coach.  Just then, Nate got down on one knee with the pillow, opened the golden coach to display the ring, and asked me to marry him.  I said yes, of course!

The people in the restaurant cheered as I said yes…

I felt like the true princess in the castle!
After dinner, Nate arranged for special VIP searing for the SpectroMagic parade (by far the best way to view a parade, by the way) followed by a private viewing of the fireworks from the top of the Skyway building in TomorrowLand (only certain managers have access to this area, and Nate’s custodial manager took us up there).  It was a beautiful evening filled with amazing memories that we will always treasure.
VIP Parade seating
Private fireworks viewing
Stay tuned for more snapshots of our Disney College Program experience in the coming weeks!

A Bittersweet Goodbye: Loving work, but loving God more

ACS Great West Leadership Team Meeting – January 2010

After six and a half years of bleeding purple and pouring myself into helping Relay For Life succeed in the Great West, I said goodbye to the American Cancer Society yesterday. 

It still feels surreal…I think I’m somewhat in denial.  You see, I loved my job.  I loved working with amazing volunteers who are so passionate about fighting cancer.  I loved getting the opportunity to be creative and affect meaningful change within the Great West Division.  I loved training staff to do Relay well and writing Relay curriculum.  I loved leading our volunteer training program and being responsible for our amazing Regional Summits.  I loved working with talented colleagues and sharing fun memories with them.
But I love God more.  And what He has been teaching me is that when a good thing, like my job, becomes an ultimate thing in my life, it is no longer a good thing…in fact, it is what God calls “idolatry”.  That when I find myself defining my life and my identity through my job, that my priorities are out of place.  That I need to let go and follow Him, placing my identity solely in Christ. 
As God has been calling Nate and I into full-time ministry, He has been making my pride and my idolatry more and more obvious to me.  The amazing thing is that He has been so loving and gentle as He strips away the things that I have placed too much value in, slowly and surely drawing me to complete reliance on Him. 
I know He is equipping me for the work He has prepared for me in Florida.  And an important step in that process was leading me to let go of my job and follow Him.  Even when it seems scary, risky, or even foolish. 
God made it very clear to me that following Him meant giving this up first, and trusting Him to provide – not only financially, but trusting Him to provide my complete sense of worth and significance as well.
So thank you, American Cancer Society, for giving me many years of challenging, engaging and fulfilling work.  Thank you for introducing me to many truly amazing people.  And thank you for the opportunity to grow professionally and personally while working on some incredible projects.  I know the fight against cancer will continue strong in the hands of your capable staff and volunteers.
And thank you Lord, for loving me enough to help me change.  To learn how to face my pride and my idolatry and choose you instead.  To find my significance solely in you.
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. 
        – Colossians 3:1-4, NLT

House SOLD: A lesson in trust

Our Christmas Card photo from 2007, with our new house.

One of my biggest prayer requests throughout this journey into full-time ministry has been regarding our house.  Of course, like many others here in Phoenix, we bought our house at the peak of the housing boom and values have plummeted.  It felt impossible to consider selling it…it seemed like a huge barrier to joining Campus Crusade for Christ and following God’s calling to Florida.  But as God was changing our hearts and drawing us to Florida, we had to trust Him that He would provide a way and take care of the house details.  

We put our house on the market back in August and began the long process of negotiating with the bank.  God blessed the process by allowing the bank to work with us in the midst of Nate’s unemployment and bringing some solid buyers who were offering a good price for the home in this market.  We have seen example after example of friends and family who have tried to sell their Arizona homes only to have buyers back out or experience multiple bank denials.  We had to trust that because God is calling us to Florida, He would provide a way for the deal to move forward. 

Then, a couple weeks before Christmas, we learned that the deal would likely close around the first of the year.  This brought a whole new batch of anxieties for me!  The idea of packing up our house in two weeks before Christmas and finding a new place to rent before our trip to Colorado was overwhelming.  I found myself tied up in knots worrying about things I couldn’t control.  

It turns out that just like God promises, I really did not need to worry at all.  That He had all the details under control and was providing for us even beyond our imagination!

We had been searching for a rental and were about to put down a deposit when the new owners approached us saying they really wanted us to stay and rent the house from them.  We really didn’t think we would be able to afford the rent since we know what houses in our neighborhood are renting for, but the new owners were willing to discount the rent to meet our requirements in order to keep good renters who would take care of the house for them.  They were also willing to let us rent it on a month-to-month basis, giving us the freedom to leave for Florida as soon as God provides our full support.

So instead of having to find a new rental, sign a long lease, and move across town in the middle of the holiday season, we were able to stay in our home, take care of the place, and pay less rent in a situation that is good for everyone.  It worked out better than we even imagined it could.

It makes me wonder, why was I so worried?  God had everything planned perfectly.  He has provided for us over and over again through the years, and yet I feel like I am constantly learning this lesson.  I have to remind myself every day that He is ultimately trustworthy, especially as we continue in this process of raising our support and following His calling into full-time ministry.  

But it is a constant encouragement and reminder to trust in His faithfulness as I walk these hallways and vacuum these floors and put my little boys to sleep in their very own bedrooms each night.  God is good, and I can trust Him completely. 

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
      Matthew 6:31-34, NLT