Sunday, December 23, 2012

Forrest & Katie: Engaged!

Katie as a little girl
Lou & Katie..first day of
seminary & high school
We cannot believe how time flies.  When Cathy was younger, her mother would tell her that time flies faster once you have children.  Boy is that true!! Katie was 9 years old, when she came to live with us.  Many of you know our story...we were not able to have biological children.  After pursuing some medical intervention and adoption, we felt like the Lord was closing the door as we were approaching 40.  Within six months, Katie (Lou's niece) came to live with us.  Her mother had died and Katie joined our family. 
Katie -- 2006 --
Junior Year at Pine Creek
As most parents, we loved her dearly, but we also made our mistakes with Katie.  But, by the grace of God, Katie has turned out fabulous!  She has a lovely personality, a great sense of humor, a zest for life.  She graduated from Pine Creek High School in 2008.  She then entered into college life at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC).  As she started the summer of her Junior year, she meet Forrest Bowlick.  Forrest had just graduated from UNC and was about to start his Master's Degree at the University of Idaho.  Forrest and Katie met at work as they were Freshman Orientation Directors and the romance began.
Happy Engagement
On Friday, Forrest asked Katie to marry him and she said YES!  We are so excited for them.  Every parent wants their child to be loved and cared for well.  We have witnessed Forrest loving Katie and caring for her well.  They are very compatible, are happy and are committed to one another! 

They currently live in College Station, Texas.  Katie is a substitute teacher, pursuing a full-time position as an elementary teacher.  Forrest is a PhD candidate at Texas A&M.  He is pursuing his PhD in Geography and will graduate in 2015.  We are excited to have him join our family! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

15 years...still missing you!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I truly LONG to go home.  I’m not talking about my earthly home, I’m talking about heaven.  For those of you who are Christ-followers, I think you knows what I mean.  I have days that are filled with joy…I have days that feel like I’m in a battle.  On this day, every year, my heart reflects more on this longing of going home.

December 6, 1997 - 15 years ago today, my youngest brother Chris was called home by the Lord. He was 27 years old and died suddenly in a car accident. My life - my families lives - everyone that knew and loved Chris - have never been the same. I miss my brother immensely. I think of him every day...I still dream of him, although not as often. 

Having fun together many years ago!
I am grateful that my memories of him bring more smiles now than tears. I am thankful that healing has occurred in my heart, even though there are still times my grief is overwhelming. But, I am forever grateful that I have HOPE.
I have hope that I will see him again because of our relationship with Jesus. I have hope that one day I too will be called home and enter into a place where there are no more tears, no more sadness. In Heaven, I will walk on streets of gold, see my Heavenly Father face to face and be reunited with Chris. I do LONG for that day.  
My fabulous sibs:  Rich, Jeanne & Chris
As I reflect on this anniversary...I remember the words of the song Homesick by MercyMe. They still ring true and are the heartbeat of my heart. I am including them you read them, my prayer is that you have the same confidence that I have, that you have the same hope that I have. My hope is in Jesus!

Homesick by Mercy Me

You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you
I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now
Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
'Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now
In Christ, there are no goodbyes
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Goodbye Sweet Marko

In August 2010, we had the privilege to faciliate a missions trip to Miskolc, Hungary.  We teamed with Good Sports International and took a team to work at two orphanages and a refugee camp.  We spent the majority of our time at the orphanage in Miskolc.  We grew to love the children and some really captured our hearts.  One of those little ones was Marko.
We soon learned that Marko was very sick. He had a heart condition.  Despite his illness, he was active, happy, pleasant and loved to give big hugs.  We learned today that Marko lost his battle. This is a tragedy, but we know that Marko is healthy and happy with Jesus.  We know that his young life had such an impact on so many - we know that because he impacted our lives.  Please pray for the children at the Miskolc orphanage...Marko was their little brother in so many ways and he will be missed!  Pray for the orphanage staff and the staff of Good is a time of grief and sadness.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What's next for us?

Cathy - Beth - Heather
We have finished our formal ministry in Kaiserslautern, Germany.  We will start our home assignment (furlough) here in Europe.  We are blessed to have the opportunity to attend a missionary care retreat in Croatia.  It is an all expense paid retreat (lodging, food and conference fees) that is geared for foreign missionaries. 
We are looking forward to spending the next few days getting some rest, reconnecting with one another and with the Lord.  There will be a time of teaching and worship every night, time of fellowship, and REST. We have the honor to attend this retreat with a few of our Cadence colleagues:  Kyle & Melissa Carnegie, Heather Lite and Beth Mabry.  We are looking forward to spending some quality time with them.
Cathy & Melissa

We will be back in Colorado in November.  We are excited to spend the holidays with our friends and family.  We will spend most of our time, after the holidays, reconnecting with our supporters.  We will be in touch with many of you as we begin to pull together our road trips. 
We will be also focusing on our  move to Japan. Lou will be visiting Yokosuka in November to see the ministry in action, meet the folks we will be doing life with and to get the lay of the land.  Please pray as we prepare for this next assignment. We know there will be adjustments as we learn to minister to naval servicemen and women and to live in the Asian culture.  We also  ask that you would pray for our goods as they left Germany just a few weeks ago.  Pray that they will arrive safe and dry! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

In Christ Alone.....

Lou & I have been talking about what it means to be "In Christ".  We have realized that we have a problem, that many Christians have, the failure to understand the impact of the resurrected life of Jesus.  How do we get our arms around the idea that we are simultaneously righteous and a sinner?  Martin Luther used this as his argument against the idea that our works merit our salvation.  We understand in our head that we are save, justified and reconciled to God, but at the same time we are sinners.  So, what does it mean to be "In Christ"? 

God does want to transform us.  He wants to take away the guilt of sin, but also the power of sin.  We just learned that Paul uses the phrase "in Christ" or "in the Lord" 164 times in his epistles.  This is obviously an important truth!  So, what does that mean? 

As Lou & I have been discussing this, we have been thinking about what it means to be a new creation,what it means to abide, what it means to be indwelt by Jesus, what it means to be a follower of Christ.  This is a process and we are still flushing it out.  Yesterday at church, we sang the song In Christ Alone.  I have grown to love this song, but it moved me even more because of this concept that Lou & I have been reflecting on.  Here are the lyrics [written by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend, 2001]

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless Babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save

'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From a life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
'Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand

I love the reminder that He is my hope, my comfort, my Savior, my coming King!  Lou & I will continue to process this truth that we are "In Christ".  This song will be a reminder of hope I have by understanding this truth.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rest....will that happen for me?

For about a year now, I have been reflecting on the verses in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.   Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.    For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I must confess that at times I don't believe that God wants to give me rest.  I don't think that His burden is light.  Now, I am not a theologian or a philsopher (Lou is, but not me).  So, I probably need to really dig out some of his commentaries and other books to study this more.  But on face value, I have been wrestling with this idea that God wants to give me rest. 

As I been meditating on this, I have also been reflecting on other things that I might not necessarily believe about my Heavenly father.  Now, as a Christ follower for almost 40 years and now a misllsionary, this is horrible to admit.  It is the on-going struggle of what I know to be true, but experiencing it at a heart level is a different thing.  For instance, I know that God delights in His children, but does He delight in me?  I know God is a generous and gracious God, but why do I struggle with the world of merit instead of His world of grace? 

I long to rest in Him, yet I get so caught up in the details of life.  I long to experience the green pastures and the soul restoration that Psalm 23 talks about, yet the deadlines of life tend to pull at me more than time with God.  I also know this is more my problem than God's...but I'm being honest to what's going on in my soul. 

What is amazing is as I have been wrestling through these issues of the heart, I have sensed a deepening of my faith.  I have sensed His presence more as I walk through this journey.  I still cry out more often, "How long Lord" or "Why Lord", than I do "Thank you Lord".  But, I know God is working, I know God is patient with me and I know I will find rest.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Class of 2012

You know the old saying "Time sure does fly"!  Well, we are feeling that more than ever.  We have spent the past two weekends celebrating.  Four years ago, we dropped Katie off at the University of Northern Colorado.  She was entering into the next chapter of life -- a college student.  Katie chose UNC for it's education program.  It seemed like yesterday that she was beginning this phase of life.

Now, on 5 May, Katie walked across the platform and received her Bachelor's degree.  We are not sure where the time went, but now she is entering the next chapter of her life....job hunting!!  She has been dating a young man, Forrest Bowlick.  Forrest is a graduate of UNC and on 12 May, he graduated with his Master's Degree in Geogrpahy from the University of Idaho. We had the privilege to join him and his family in this proud moment.

We are very proud of both of them. Forrest is a PhD candidate at Texas A&M.  He will begin his program this fall.  Katie has decided to move to College Station, Texas and look for an elementary teacher position there.  We are excited to see what is in store for them now!

Monday, March 19, 2012

What's Luck Got to Do with It?

I (Cathy) had the honor of speaking at the Spring Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) Rally in Ramstein on Saturday. This was a regional rally so there were ladies from Ramstein AFB, Daenner, Baumholder, Heidelberg, Weisbaden, and Spangdahlem.

Since the rally was on St. Patrick's Day, I was asked to speak on "luck". At first I wasn't sure about the topic, but the more I meditated on the idea, I got excited about it. I was given two sessions and so I spoke on two different aspects about luck.

According to Webster, the definition of luck is “a force that brings good fortune or adversity”. As I was preparing for my teaching, I wasn’t surprised to learn that there is no reference to luck in the Bible. But, I did learn that there are actually 26 references to casting lots to make adecision. Many of us know the messianic prophecy that is fulfilled when the guards “cast lots” to see who would get Jesus’ clothes. How about the reference in Acts where after prayer, the disciples have Judas’ replacement narrowed downto two fellows and the cast lots to make the final decision between Joseph andMatthias – the luck of the dice chose Matthias.

Proverbs 16:33 states "We may throw the dice but the LORD determines how they fall." Here in lies the truth….the Lord determines how the dice fall,every decision is from the Lord. We spent our time looking at two things: (1) there is no such thing as luck, God is in control and He is sovereign and (2) what do we do with this idea of being“lucky”, blessed, fortunate.

We began examining the idea of God's sovereignty. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines sovereignty as“Gods absolute right to do all things according to his own good pleasure.” If someone is sovereign, he is in control, the buck stop with him. God claims to be the king, not just of this planet, but of the entire universe. He is outside of time, He is infinite, He had no beginning, He has no end. He is the ruler over everything – you & me included.

Isaiah 46:9-10 states that “I am God and there is no counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose.” Daniel proclaims “God does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stop him or say to him “What have you done?” Daniel 4:35 Job reminds us in 23:13-15 – but he is unchangeable and who can turn him? What he desires, that he does. For he will complete what he appoints for me?” Finally, Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.” The Bible reveals throughout many passages that our God is sovereign and in control.

I don’t know about you, I find this to be great news! And here is why…I lack in many areas that God does not, and this is why His sovereignty is good news even when it doesn’t make sense to me. I find great comfort in understanding that life circumstances are not just coincidences, fate or luck. It is because God is in control and He is sovereign.

I can trust God’s sovereignty, because He is all knowing, all powerful, holy, just and loving. We may not understand things, but we can trust Him. When we have a loved one that has been diagnosed with a disease, we can rely on the truth that God is in control. When we think of our most difficult issues with our kids, we can rely on the truth that God is in control. When the economy – national or personal – in on a slide, God is in control. What about things that are going well in our life. We tend to focus on the trials more than the joys, but the truth is that nothing will enter your life – good or bad – that God does not either decree or allow. As Romans 8:28 states, my paraphrase, nothing will ever enter your life, that God cannot work out for your good. He is sovereign.

I understand this is a difficult idea to get our arms around. God who is in total control, is all-knowing, all-wise, infinite in His love. He is not surprised by what you & I are walking through in this moment of time. I don’t know what you may be walking through right now, good or bad, but , God isn’t surprised by your circumstances.

In the afternoon, we discussed what does it mean to be "lucky". I shared a story about an interchange between two friends of mine to help illustrate this point. In May 2004, Lou & I facilitated a short-term mission trip with 14 folks from our home church in Colorado to Mozambique. We joined about 10 folks from a South African church and went to a village called Manica. The missionary that we supported lived in Manica full-time, his name is Schalk. While we were there we met Mr. Short, one of Schalk’s best friend. We entered into a dialog between these two men that dealt with this idea of luck. Mr. Short considered another mutual friend "lucky" because he had an opportunity to receive an education and found a job in England. This allowed him to leave poverty. He got "lucky" in Mr. Short's opinion. It wasn't due to the fact that he had worked hard and studied hard. He just got the break.

We'll I got thinking about this idea. I'm a white woman, born into a middle class family, in the USA. I have an education, good health, a nice home, running water, heat, food. Am I lucky? Taking this into the discussion from the morning, I must admit I don't know how to reconcile the fact that our sovereign God chose me to be born in the United States and that the same God chose Mr. Short to be born in a war-torn, poverty stricken village in Mozambique.

I decided that I am blessed because I have the joy of walking with Christ and I am approved by God by no merit of my own. I contend that God created us for two reasons (1) enjoy a relationship with him and (2) to extend his glory to the ends of the earth. Simple enough. Enjoy his grace, extend his glory. As you study the Bible, see if you see these themes woven through God’s word: people enjoying His grace and people extending His glory. In the book Radical, by David Platt, he states “God is seen pouring out his grace and his people for the sake of his glory among all people, in every genre of biblical literature and every stage of biblical history.”

Do you think that God no longer pours out his grace to us for the sake of his glory? I don’t. So how does this work. I believe we experience his outpouring of grace the moment we are reconciled with him through our relationship with Jesus. But shouldn’t His grace motivate us to participate in His purpose?

So, can I challenge you to wrap your arms around the idea that God might have a motive in blessing us? Platt states again “God creates, blesses and saves each of us for a radically global purpose.” This challenge is what is our part in this purpose? For Mr. Short, as a Christ follower, He has the opportunity radically change his village based on how God has gifted him and "blessed him". Just like I have the same opporutnity, to radically impact my world for the glory of Christ. But, because of our different status, different locations, different giftings -- God will call us differently.

As I have wrestled with the fact that my friend Mr. Short was born where he was born – through the sovereignty of God and I was born where I was born – through the sovereignty of God. I’m meditating on this idea of what do I do now? What is the responsibility that I have with my materially blessings that Mr. Short does not have because of his lack of materially blessings? How is God calling me to radically impact the world to bring glory to God? And what am I doing about that?

Maybe you are in a place where you a weak (physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally), maybe you are feeling helpless or engulfed in worry, remember God knows what you are going through, He will use this time to give you grace, to prod you to trust Him more and to learn that He is all sufficient. Maybe, you are just realized that God has ordained each of your days, they are unfolding in the way that He designed and planned. He has allowed you to go through hard times and trials, joys and laughter, so that He can make something beautiful out of every situation! God knows everything about you! Despite the good and the bad, we can take comfort that we are still blessed by God.

No matter what is going on in your life, God is in control and we can partner with Him to impact the world for His glory. I know we are all in different places and stages of life… I challenge you to walk away thinking about this truth. "God is in control and I’m blessed, what am I doing with my blessings?" I’m not necessarily just talking about materially blessings, but that might be what God is calling you to do - give monetarily. I’m talking about taking inventory of your life, and if you are a Christ follower, ask yourself this question how am I impacting my co-workers, my children, my husband, my hairdresser, my “whatever” to bring glory to Christ.

This isn’t about guilting you into something, this is about our heart attitude. Our hearts should be consumed with making the glory of God known: in our families, in our work place, in all nations. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. God has prepared you for good works, before the beginning of time. He was sovereign and had a plan for You to partner with Him in bringing glory to Him. Isn’t that exciting?

For me, as I have had the opportunity to see how some of the world lives and that I am truly “lucky”. God has provided for me in ways that are truly humbling and I have a responsibility to impact the world in a way to bring glory to God through those provisions. As I have seen human beings who have been less lucky or fortunate or blessed than me, I have realized it is easy to give and serve when I remember how I am in partnership with God. Whether that is giving more money away to help those that are in poverty, to take cookies to my ailing neighbor, to love my husband well, to leave a legacy of Christian values to my children.

Sometimes I partner with God through contribution, money. Sometimes I do this through service. Sometimes I do this through prayer. For me, this is the good news….that God is his sovereignty, in his wisdom, in his love has created me to enjoy a relationship with Him and to partner with Him to extend his glory to the ends of the earth. Will you join me? Ask yourself the question: What’s next for me now?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It's been a busy season.....

We cannot believe how fast the past few months have flown by! We do stay busy with life and have recently begun to realize we need to do a better job with our work-life balance. On a monthly basis, we put out a ministry calendar so our folks know what studies and activities are going on at the Hospitality House.

We enjoy leading four studies, on 3 different nights. Lou leads a men's study on Tuesday nights and is faciliating The Truth Project. On Friday night, we are studying the spiritual disciplines (prayer, fasting, meditation, etc.) and enjoy a combined group of singles, young married and families. Every other Sunday night, we host a study for young couples and we are studying John 15, unpacking the idea of being "in the vine and becoming a fruit bearer". Finally, on the other Sunday nights, we host an adult study and we are going through Philip Yancey's book on Prayer.

Well, this week we had a young man that asked to get together with us. Since he works during the day, evenings are the best time for us to connect with most people. We do meet with some people one-on-one in mentoring relationships during the day either over coffee or lunch. But, our evenings become quite full. He was so sweet as he looked at our calendar and wanted to know if we could meet Wednesday or Thursday, since those "appeared" to be free. Yes, on our ministry calendar those evenings were open. Unfortunately, we had other commitments. So, we found a night that will work in a few weeks.

But, it caused us to chat again about the busyness of life here in Germany. We realized that we hadn't had a night open to ourselves for almost 40 days. We love doing life with people and coming along side them so it is hard for us to say "no" to folks. This isn't too brag is not about how many people we are meeting with or how many are coming through our ministry. Our hearts desire is to do life with people, hear what's going on in their lives, support them in whatever way we can and love them as Jesus would love them.

We are realizing that we need to make sure we have a little balance in our life so we can not grow weary. We love our ministry, we love our lives and we are in this for the long haul. We are running a marathon and not a sprint. God willing, we want this to be the last "job" before we are called to our heavenly home. We love what we do and our privileged to be serving God and our military. We are taking a few days off in two weeks and will be going back to the drawing board on this issues. We are grateful that we serve a God who is patient with us - despite the fact that we have to relearn lessons over and over again!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Meditation and Rest

Over the past few weeks, I've been struggling (again) with what does it mean to rest in the Lord? How do we deal with the demands of the day, but knowing that we need God's touch to deal with the demands of the day? I don't know about you, but this has been a life long struggle. I have seasons when I do better with "life-balance"; I have seasons when I'm horrible with it. Job demands, family demands, ministry demands, life can I stop for a few moments to spend time with the King?

On Friday, Lou started, our Spring study, discussing the spiritual disciplines, as outlined in Richard Foster's book, Celebration of Discipline. He started off this week by teaching on meditation. Lou challenged us to experience the discipline of meditation. Richard Foster defines Christian mediation as "the ability to hear God's voice and obey His word." According to Thomas a Kempis the purpose of meditation is calling us to "a familiar friendship with Jesus." Foster isn't trying to say that we should have some "mushy, giddy, buddy-buddy relationship with Christ"; but more the level of intimacy and frienship that the disciples experienced while walking with Christ.

So, this week I am going to take the challenge to put my "to-do" list aside, to trust God to help me push back the demands of the day, to not feel guilty about taking time to rest and to practice meditation. I hope you can take this challenge: to take a moment this week to become still, to stop and think, to stop and listen, to experience a moment of inward silence that can bring comfort and peace in our fast paced lives.