Praise, Prayer, & Pressing Through

Our four-year-old tootled past with a stuffed puppy hanging over his arms.  When I commented on his brown-eyed friend, he said, “Yeah, but I won’t be able to take him to Costa Rica.”  For months he has brought me everything from kid’s meal toys to rocks, asking if they can go with us.  So, why not this?  It hurt a little to hear him say, “Because he’s big and not important.” I assured him there was room in the suitcase for the stuff he loved most.  Off he bounced, paws flopping, while I started thinking about how to help us all through this process of sorting through our houseful of stuff.  Yesterday we packed up each child’s A-list of toys for this flight and set aside another pile for future transport.  Some has been tossed, some sold, and some marked for memory-storage in Matt’s parents’ barn.  Fear not. There will be no shortage of Legos to decorate the floor in our future Costa Rican home.   Barbie even gets to bring her horse.  Lucky gal.

We are making good progress, but could really use your prayers.  Our biggest petitions right now are as follows:

  • Wisdom to use the time that we have left in Omaha efficiently and to know how to ask for help to get our house packed up and everything ready to begin our new life well.
  • That our house would sell quickly and soon to the family the Lord has for it.  We have looked into renting options, but feel that the Lord would have us release it fully.
  • For provision as we set out to serve the Lord in the nations.  We have been blessed with funding for most of our one-time launch expenses, and have had many wonderful people come alongside us with ongoing support pledges.  Right now our monthly budget is 53% funded.  We plan to live as simply as possible and trust the Lord to meet our needs in a way we’ve never had to before.

Crossing OverIn 10 days we lift off from the prairie to go serve the Lord in the land of rain forests.  Our feet are on the bridge.  We thought it would be a good time to share why we are praising, how you can be praying, and what we are pressing through.  Click <here> to read more details in our latest update, or hop over to our Newsletters tab.

Can any of the worthless foreign gods send us rain                           [or home buyers]?
    Does it fall from the sky by itself?
No, you are the one, O Lord our God!
    Only you can do such things.
    So we will wait for you to help us.  Jeremiah 14:22

Sorting Priorities

Today started out with a trip down memory lane and a bit of jealousy.  Rolling up Elijah’s outgrown 4T clothes (thankful that some survived him relatively unscathed) for Ezekiel to wear down in Costa Rica, I marveled that a 4-year-old’s entire wardrobe could fit in four 2.5 gallon bags.  My first four bags are causing a crisis discussion of want versus need.  Size discrimination, you get me every time.  My desire for “just in case” surplus works against me here, too.  But what if I fall into one of those uncovered man-holes in San Jose and tear these?  I’ll only have 7 others left.  We are sorting priorities as we distill our life down into portable size.

Really, we are beyond blessed.  A team from our church is flying down to the Home of Life this Friday and pack-muling a bunch of stuff for us.  Four 23-gallon totes are filled with the best of our kitchen & bedding, and 3 rolling duffels of clothes & toiletries are standing by.  Someone will soon be on their way to buy more 2.5 gallon bags because it is a beautiful thing to see all those rolls lined up side by side, grouped by wearer, mostly inoculated from TSA rummaging and in-transit dousing (Dear person whose fish juice leaked all over and into Matt’s suitcase on the way home from Florida, God forgives you, and He’s helping me to come around, too).

We have also been pelting questions upon in contact with the saintly Big Brother family helping us to find a rental house and get acclimated in San Jose for language school.  Two houses are jockeying to be our new nest and we’ve even been able to see some pictures.  In the process of selling our house and obsessively staging for each showing, it’s amusing to compare the expectations of American buyers with Costa Rican renters.  Without square footage numbers, hot water in one of the showers, or even a complete assurance of a refrigerator, we are leaning toward the house in the quieter neighborhood, and praying over the rent and availability timeline.

And so, as we debate whether to use our luggage real estate on  measuring cups or peanut butter to reach the magic 49.9 lbs, we give thanks for the abundance that we are picking and choosing from, for the necessity of paring down that gives us the freedom to let go of what we don’t need (and to realize that we don’t need it).

Packing Perfection

Packing Perfection

We trust the Lord to guide us and provide what He decides is “every good thing” for our family.  Perhaps not all we might want, but definitely all we need.  He’s already doing it.  The space Ezekiel’s clothes don’t need is a perfect fit for chocolate chips.

Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.  Psalm 34: 9, 10

Settling In and Trip Pictures

My heart has been able to blossom here the last few days.  I feel lighter, freer, and more content.  Was it the time our family spent in Arenal soaking in the tropical paradise?  I loved every minute, but that wasn’t quite it.  The nice visit to the language school that we made on Monday?  Not really.  Getting to know more of the wonderful people here who are mentoring us in doing life Tico-style as global workers?  Having some free time in between teams to bake cookies to share with the Hogar de Vida family and trying my hand at caramel rolls?  The fried plantains of which I never seem to get enough?  Playing in the pool with the sweet children whose names I am finally learning?  All of that has been a true blessing and a great deal of fun, but the switch was flipped by something more mundane.  I didn’t even understand the change myself until after it had begun.

Two nights ago after dinner, Matt and I hauled out all of the luggage with the items we had brought down to leave here in storage here.  We cracked open the 4 thirty-gallon storage totes we were able to buy here to hold our things, and I started a colossal game of “make it fit,” listing each item by tote for future reference as I went along.  It was like wrapping your own Christmas presents, a year in advance.  Rubbermaid canisters, food storage containers, crock pot, toaster oven, mixing bowls, plastic dishes, tools, sheet sets, kitchen towels. a few pretties for decoration, physical therapy items, our favorite books, etc.  Having some of the necessary basics to do life all tucked safely away, organized, inventoried (for when we forget), and ready for our future here feels like the first layer of twigs in our Costa Rican nest.  A seed sown into our calling, waiting to grow into our family’s home.  Not every global worker has this opportunity, so I am doubly grateful for this source of blessing and comfort.  And suddenly my heart is singing again.  I’m venturing out of my English-speaking shell and trying to make more conversation in Spanish.   The presence of the Lord is sweet as I lean into Him over my daily chores.

This afternoon the team from Lifegate Church flies in and we are eager for our time together and what the Lord will do in it.  Please be in prayer as they begin this journey which has been facing opposition.  I will leave you with some highlights of our time by the Arenal Volcano.

The Central Park in La Fortuna

We stayed in simple room with 6 bunk beds and common area bathrooms, but the view of Arenal Lake from the front porch was priceless.

More of our quiet-time ambience.

We had never seen or heard so many beautiful birds.

The 3 E’s meet the Arenal Volcano (in the background).

This waterfall was one of the highlights of a complimentary guided group hike through the observatory grounds.

We each got a chance to play Tarzan and Jane on a real live jungle vine.

Ezekiel spent most of the 2.5 hour hike cuddling on my back.  Much better than a Jillian Michaels DVD.

The Arenal Volcano was often veiled in clouds. Here’s one of the best views we had of its peak.

From the massive explosion in 1968 (before which the volcano was thought to only be a mountain) until two years ago, the volcano regularly sent out red lava and plumes of ash.  Our tour guide used to promise that if you didn’t see red lava, you didn’t have to pay him.  Today, it is considered dormant.

One of the hanging bridges used to cross the rainforest ravines.

Eucalyptus trees were introduced in this area by man to produce telephone poles.

The smooth, peeling bark of a Eucalyptus Tree revealed a myriad of colors.

The boys fell asleep on the long ride home and never missed the pastries we bought at a Musmanni bakery on the way (because we ate theirs).

Packing and Prayer Points

After months of planning and preparation, we are down to the final 24 hours before our 5-week family adventure in Costa Rica begins.  Today will busy with packing our luggage and last minute details.  I thought it would be a good time to share some prayer points that we are pressing into.

  • Sabbatical.  We hope to leave our house in a state of being that will bless the global workers who will be staying here for a sabbatical rest.  Please pray for grace over their time that covers over any dust we leave behind.
  • Stuff.  The items we’ve already gathered to take down took up less space than we expected.  At this point in the game, our decision makers are getting tired.  We are praying for wisdom for what to fill the rest of our luggage with, and if we should take all of the bags we are allowed.
  • Spanish.  The last few nights, Elijah has begun to pray for help in learning our new language.  We all need annointing for learning, understanding, and speaking in order to make heart relationships with the staff and children at Hogar de Vida.
  • Confirmation.  We are praying for miraculous peace and confirmation of the Lord’s plan for each member of our family.  We look forward to Him showing us the special place that each person will fit in this kingdom work.
  • Sickness.  We heard yesterday that the stomach flu is making a visit to House 1  at Hogar de Vida.  We pray healing over the children and hope to avoid it ourselves.

It is an incredible blessing to have you come with us in spirit and cover us in prayer.  If you would like to contact us during our trip, we would love to hear from you at:

thegoodnewsfamilyblog (at) gmail (dot) com

A Beautiful Day

Today was our last day here at Hogar de Vida, and it was one of my favorites. We returned from our trip to the beach Monday afternoon and promptly took naps. Sun and sand, curvy mountain roads, and good food in combination are always exhausting. We had a lovely evening at Tim and Dena’s for dinner. Tuesday/yesterday, I felt as if I should be packing, even though the weather here had breaks in the rain (unusual for the last few days) and I was tempted to go out and play with the kids. I had fun sorting our dirty laundry and rolling up our clean clothes all into big ziplocks. Yes, I actually enjoyed it, call it a personality flaw if you will.  Did I mention I also packed more than fifty pounds of coffee? We love to share the local blend with our fellow gringos back home. I was following the Spirit, but I thought it was curious to pack up most of our stuff a day ahead of necessity. Now I understand what the Lord had in mind.

Today was gorgeous. Not in the weather, because it rained all day straight in varying intensity, but in the time we were able to spend with the people here. It was my turn to share at devotions this morning, and the Lord gave me a good common ground story and a teaching from John Bevere’s Heart Ablaze book to share, wrapped up with a solid application to our lives. Then we handed out simple stretchy bead bracelets to everyone here old enough to wear one, excluding the dog. Eliana had been making them for two days straight so that people could remember our family as they wore them. Barb, a North American missionary here, quipped that they would certainly remember us as they pick up beads everywhere! Hopefully our knots will hold! Then the kids and I spent the morning going back and forth under our umbrellas making deliveries to the houses of things we had borrowed, food that we had bought but didn’t use up, etc. It was the perfect opportunity to talk to everyone and spend time with them.

We finished off the afternoon with a coffee break with Oscar and Nancy, a newly married couple who invited us to their home two Sundays ago. As we labored in conversation, we felt the Lord connect us in the Spirit, and begin a good work in the marriage relationships here in Atenas. We had hoped to directly accomplish more in that area, but the Lord worked in the background and planted good seed by our example of just being here together as a family.

The Lord is wrapping up this time beautifully. We wanted to leave them with a blessing, and we are finding ourselves blessed. The spirit of the people here is so rich, and I can’t wait until the next time the Lord sends us into their arms.

Please be praying for us as we travel from 5:30 am to approximately 11:00 pm (Central Time) tomorrow, returning to the loved ones and the work the Lord has for us in the states. Dios le bendiga! (God bless you!)