September 26, 2012

29 Years on Earth

I spend most of my blogging opportunities on our Carroll Crossroads site, sharing our daily adventures, but felt the need to check in to this old faithful blog with a more personal update!

Just want to start off by saying...I love living in Ecuador. This has been the best time of my life...and I haven't said that about a season in a LOOOONG time. Prior to this year I'd count the best time of my life as some of the experiences in college including the travel opportunities I had then and the INCREDIBLE friends I made. I remember being continually caught up in moments where I was just so thankful to be where I was, to know the people I knew, to be learning what I was learning. I was thankful for opportunities to be pushed way beyond my comfort zone and to have my dreams and ideals redefined by new perspectives. I feel the same again.

On my recent Birthday I was again reminded that life is a gift...and not one first for myself.  God sent me to earth on purpose and HE intends for me to make good use of my time here.  The Work HE has for us on earth is to LOVE and our first Job is to TRUST that HE will take care of the survival details for as long as HE wants us to be here. So much of my life has been lived in pursuit of what I want and what is best for ME. This is wrong. My job is to learn how to LOVE and to bring Glory to GOD..HIS job is to determine what is best for me and to provide what I need for the time HE gives me on earth.

Awhile back I was reading in Matthew and the whole of chapter 6 dominated my attention.  Increasingly I am convicted about these "don't worry" verses, without which there is no way we would be living at peace in Ecuador right now. I have a quick worry default - it's just awful, really - my poor husband.  Perhaps because of this, these verses won't let go of me.  We have intentionally put ourselves in a situation that demanded us to depend more on GOD.  In these verses I feel like JESUS is saying, pretty stinkin' directly that it is GOD's obligation to meet our physical needs of food, clothes, shelter and OURS to learn how to LOVE and to bring HIM Glory - period.  As much as I struggle with the discipline, I think that one of my first 29 year old "big girl" goals is going to be to memorize ALL of this chapter...though it's neighbors aren't bad either.  Here are some excerpts from Matthew 6...

"Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name
your KINGDOM come, your will be done, on earth as it is in HEAVEN
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, you whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of theses. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith? So do not worry saying 'what shall we eat' or what shall we drink' or 'what shall we wear?'  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father KNOWS that you need them.

But seek first HIS Kingdom and HIS Righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  
Each day has enough trouble of its own.
-Matthew 6 (NIV)

On the actual day of my Birthday, August 25, I was in Huarani territory. One of my favorite things we learned from the Huarani was to observe how IN each day they were. They don't think about all. The whole concept of "planning ahead" is foreign to them. Thy are nomadic by nature, they hunt for their food. If there is food today, life is good; if there is not food, life is still good, they are just a little hungry! There are times when foresight is a blessing; I use this excuse reguarly to justify my zeal for overplanning and stressing out about things beyond my control. However, planning for the future so often steals the present from me. 

I never saw the Huarani worry and never heard reference of it in stories. There is no time for worry when you live one day at a time - you are too busy taking care of that day instead of ignoring it to worry about another! I'm sure I'll forget this constantly, but may the L-RD be gracious to me this year as I seek to better pursue only the things of HIS KINGDOM as I live in service to HIM each new day that HE provides for me to remain on this earth.

"Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it." -Luke 17:33

July 16, 2012


Last night I got online and saw that a dear lady from Early, Cheryl Jennings, had commented on a blog from our website Saturday. She has sent us regular messages since we moved from Early and began this journey. I have always been so thankful and encouraged by them. Her comment Saturday was especially meaningful, leaving me greatly encouraged and making me feel loved as she always did. I responded to her comment  and continued to think about her and wondered how she, and others in Early, were doing.

Shortly after responding to her, we received a text from someone in Early that she had died. She was with those she loved at church last night, went home, and died suddenly of a heart attack. I am grieving for her precious husband, family, and all of us who loved her. She was always someone I looked for, in particular, on Sunday mornings. She never failed to greet me with unconditional love and I knew without a doubt that she was always truly happy to see me.

In addition, to this news we are still grieving with all of the church family in Early from the sudden death, three weeks ago, of Wayne Horton, who was filling in as minister in Early after we moved. To lose Cheryl so quickly after that is so painful. I am homesick for so many in Early and lack the words to be of comfort to myself, or to them.

We are also remembering the family and friends of Dr. Charles Siburt who passed away last week. He was an incredible mentor to Geoff, and to so many others and will be greatly missed. And just in case death isn't forefront in my mind enough, my heart is incredibly heavy for a couple in Abilene who are burying their precious 2 month old, Ezra today. He was born the same day as one of my dearest friends baby girl. They were next door to each other in the hospital and shared stories as their "birthday buddy" babies grew. Mike Cope is doing the funeral. My prayers are with him, and with all of us as we learn to grieve with each other and try to make since of death in this physical world, while longing for our eternal spiritual home.

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no HOPE.  For we believe that JESUS Died and ROSE AGAIN, and so we believe that GOD will bring with JESUS those who have fallen asleep in HIM...the LORD Himself will come down from HEAVEN, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of GOD, and the dead in CHRIST will rise first.  After that, we who are alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the LORD in the air.  
And so WE WILL BE WITH THE LORD FOREVER. Therefore encourage one another with these words." 
1 Thess. 4:13, 14, 16-18

June 30, 2012

Remembering Bear

Hopefully y'all have been able to keep up with our recent travels on Geoff and I's combined blog at We will keep up our independent blogs for personal reflection and individual stories though - and that's what I'm doing today!

One of the most important commitments we have made after this move to Ecuador is to honor the Sabbath. Every Friday evening to Saturday evening we are striving to explore what honoring the Sabbath means and keep it scheduled as a day of resting in the Lord and seeking His perspective. We decided that blogging counted as a good Sabbath activity because community and fellowship were something we wanted to make important on this day. Until we are more settled this is one of the best ways we have to fellowship and connect with those we love!

I am very thankful that today of all days was a Sabbath day as we remember our beloved Poncha Bear who we lost this day last year. If you want to read about the best dog that ever lived, you can catch up on that HERE. What makes it worse is that we are very much missing Reyah but we are beyond thankful to know she is being very well taken care of in Texas. We hope to get her here if we are able to stay here long term but for this first trip to the end of the year it's not looking like we'll be able to get her down here.

It is special though to remember our Bear while being here in Ecuador. The realistic possibility of doing something like moving to Ecuador was put into motion on this day last year. Poncha was our kid and was too anxious a dog to have handled a move to somewhere like this and wouldn't have re-homed well, even temporarily, so though we dreamed of this kind of possibility we also knew it wasn't realistic while we had him. When we lost Ponch, though it is still an incredible grief to us, we felt more compelled than ever to pursue this opportunity.  We didn't know exactly which country we would end up in, what we would do, or how we would afford it, but we knew we had to explore the options.

One year later we thank God for his provision, for the pain that He has given us strength to endure, and for the opportunities that have led us to a place where we feel completely blessed at at peace to be. It's hard to know how God will use situations and we are so thankful that we can see His hand working for good in this.

June 16, 2012

What, Where, When, Why, WEBSITE

What: Our long term goal of moving overseas to live and serve in a culture not our own. Our first priority is to study Spanish so that we can be of greater value in whatever opportunities for ministries open up in the Spanish speaking world. We have many hopes and dreams for specific ministry and are praying for God's blessing as we learn the language so that we can be of the most use in pursuing these opportunities as HE leads.

Where: Ecuador! We do not know exactly where we will be living in Ecuador but have researched and made contacts in a few specific regions. We are looking forward to getting there and will travel throughout these regions getting a feel for the land and praying for God's guidance as we decide which Spanish school to attend, and hopefully, where to settle and minister for the next several months.

When: Our flight is scheduled to leave tomorrow, June 16, and we will arrive in Guayaquil late that night. We have applied for an extended tourist visa that will allow us up to 6 months in the country, but we will be coming back mid-November for Geoff's brother's wedding. Our hope is that things go well and we are able to apply for another visa at that time to return, but for now we feel God's blessing that this is what we need to be doing and we'll take one day at a time and leave the details up to HIM!

Why: We have had a nagging desire to move to another culture to seek God and serve Him since before we were married, as individuals, and that has grown as we have been together. We are finally able to pursue this dream and have felt incredible peace and affirmation along this journey so far. We decided on Ecuador for several reasons, primarily because of the lower cost of living that will allow us to live off of our limited savings for a longer period of time than other countries, making this hopefully a more sustainable mission. We hope to be able to teach English to provide alternative sources of income, especially if God blesses us to return for a longer period of time.

We have published a website that will hopefully grow as we have time to work on it, but for now we will post to a shared blog on this site keeping you up to date with our experiences. Please keep us in prayer as we begin this leap of faith, that God will guide our steps, placing people and opportunities in our path that will allow us to serve and love Him and others with everything we have! In keeping with our Jeremiah 6:16 theme, "Stand at the Crossroads...." that was used in our wedding, our website is:

You can also follow us on twitter @carrollxroads, or email us at or - catch the theme? :)

Thank you all for your love and support - we are so very blessed and humbled. We love you.

June 13, 2012

Year of Travels

This is officially being declared the year of travels for Geoff and I. We have just returned from another venture up north with my parents and enjoyed a great trip with them. We are in the midst of a fast few day turn around to catch the plane to Ecuador!

Life has been a whirlwind and we have been so thankful for all the amazing places and people we have seen over the past two months. During these recent travels internet has not been a common luxury, so blogging has been rare. I haven't had a chance to get on long enough to edit and upload any more photos of the rest of our journey through Europe, and don't know when that will happen, so I apologize now!

We are hurrying to get everything done, trying our best to discern what limited provisions to take with us on this venture into the unknown! We are excited!

May 29, 2012

Portugal, Spain, France

I wanted to share a few more photos from our journey in Europe - since I did take a few thousand. For this post, here are some photos of the first 3 countries we visited on the trip.

Punta Del Gada, Portugal

 Our boat was in port on this beautiful island for one day, the only port of call for the entire trip after leaving the states.  We were excited to get off the boat and find our land legs and it was so much fun to explore this tiny island for the day.

We found a bike rental shop and rented a couple of mountain bikes for the day and set off to explore!

It is a beautiful island and we had a great day together finding off-road trails leading by old farms and small villages all along the coast.

Barcelona, Spain

A few days later the boat landed at 5 a.m. and we were free to disembark and begin our adventure!

After eating as much as we could of the breakfast buffet, knowing we had to start paying for all our food again from then on, we disembarked and explored Barcelona.

We were planning to just get to a bus station after seeing a couple sights, and were not really that excited about seeing the city since we usually prefer the rural settings - but we fell in love with Barcelona.

It is a beautiful city full of amazing architecture, great markets, and most importantly - very affordable, freshly made churros. YUM.

Ruins of Peyrepertuse 


We took a bus from Barcelona early that afternoon and headed across the border into France to pick up our rental car. From there we set course for Carcassonne, France where we planned to spend the night, but got sidetracked by a couple of castle ruins in the hills and had a great time exploring them with no one else there!

Roman Aqueduct - Pont Du Gard
We finally made it to Carcassonne after dark and after a little pleading I managed to talk an understandably tired Geoff (it was after 10) to go walk around this castle city with me. The lights around the castle at night were magical, I have loved seeing old castle ruins even in pictures since I was a kid and this place was just too good to be true. We walked all the way around the 2 1/2 mile castle exterior, and explored briefly inside the walls of the city. The lurking shadows and golden cast of the lights illuminating this 11th century stone fortress created a dramatic blend of mystery and awe.
Roman Theater in Orange, France
After the castles it just kept getting better as we drove through beautiful countryside and explored amazing Roman ruins. I had no idea how many amazing jewels southern France was hiding! Roman sites were everywhere - some of the best preserved I've ever seen!

Just when it couldn't get any better for me we spent a day traveling the Cotes du Rhone wine roads, visiting vineyards and markets and enjoying some of the most peaceful places I've ever seen.  There were vineyards everywhere we looked in France, but this region in particular stole my heart with its old, fruitful vines crisscrossing valleys and hills with endless views. My favorite biblical illustrations relate to vines, vineyards, wine, etc. so it suffices to say - I loved France. 
My favorite vineyard sat a hill overlooking the valley
 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my father's glory, that you bear fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

May 27, 2012

There and Back Again

It has taken me longer than intended to get back on here to update you on our travels - but here goes! Geoff and I got back in the states about a week ago from an amazing month long adventure across the Atlantic and in Europe! When we got married we always said we wanted to backpack across Europe together and we set that trip as a goal for when we were debt free. After lots of beans and rice and sometimes meager housing situations we were finally able to say goodbye to the last of his student loans in December and were free to dream! We tried to talk ourselves out of it so many times, but I'm so thankful we stuck with our goal and made it happen.

We were able to spend so much good, quality time together and were so blessed with the opportunity of this month long retreat. We did not, ironically, get very much sleep in Europe as we were camping in a tent (or car as rain required) at night, and it was still a bit too cold for good rest - temperature ratings on sleeping bags mean apparently nothing to my body. But that was part of the adventure and we had so much fun! I have so many stories and pictures I could fill a book...but I won't.

Our trip began with a 2 week transatlantic cruise over to Europe. Since we are both unemployed time wasn't an issue in planning our trip but limited finances were. We found an incredible deal on this transatlantic, repositioning cruise in low season. It was actually cheaper to take this cruise over than it would have been to get round trip tickets since we had frequent flyer miles for a one way return each.  I can't feed Geoff for 2 weeks on what this all you can eat floating transport cost! We were at sea almost the entire 2 weeks so we were able to enjoy some good time together dreaming about the future, reestablishing goals, and playing ping pong!

Carcassonne, France
The boat dropped us of in Barcelona - a beautiful city, and we made our way to France. We rented a car there and spent the next 2 1/2 weeks traveling through the castles, roman ruins and vineyards of southern France, hiking the Cinque Terre in Italy, driving scenic roads in Austria, exploring castles, medieval cities and forests in Germany, and just standing in complete awe of God's beauty in Switzerland.

Cinque Terre - Italy
We were moving fast on our trip - visiting a total of 7 countries during the month and with just the two of us and backpacks we made great time. Having a rental car was a huge blessing as we were able to explore more rural regions than we have been able to with train travel in the past, and it provided alternative lodging when it was raining too much to pitch our tent! Now, it was a small car, as all European cars tend to be...but it wasn't as bad as we expected and we were so thankful for the freedom of travel and protection from the elements it provided.

View from our tent in Brienz, Switzerland
I had so much fun camping!  We originally decided to camp because it was the cheapest way to survive and something about being unemployed and planning a move to a foreign country with limited income potential helped us stick with a tighter budget. We froze almost every night, we got wet in the rain, and we were sore every morning from sleeping on the ground or in the car...but it was so much fun! I loved feeling like a kid camping in the backyard, and waking up each morning in beautiful European destinations. I loved interacting with the local crowd instead of sharing tourist dwellings.
I loved the survival mode of trying to figure out how to keep from freezing at night, wearing layers and ski hats and snuggling close together with clothes spread over the tops of our sleeping bags. I loved staying where the Europeans stayed, often being the only tent (perhaps something to do with the cold and rain) surrounded by camping trailers.  I loved borrowing the neon green alligator kayaks from our campground and paddling halfway across the turquoise waters of Lake Brienzersee to get a better look at one of the many waterfalls!

Even Geoff got too cold in the Alps
We spent the most time in Switzerland and got to see a lot of the country. We also had a four day rail pass for the last part of our time and it was so fun to return the car and enjoy the ease of sitting on a train watching beautiful scenery pass by, getting out where we wanted and not having to worry about directions. We splurged on one train ride to the highest train station in Europe at Jungfraujoch and were rewarded with breathtaking views across the alps on the only clear rain free day of our trip.

We got back to Texas physically tired, but refreshed all the same. We were very excited to be reunited with our pup who had been spoiled and pampered for a month staying with one of our favorite families in Early. We saw lots of very good dogs while in Europe and were heartsick for Reyah - Geoff especially - which doesn't help our dilemma of how/when to get her to Ecuador. We are enjoying time with family and friends and are working as fast as we can to complete some more renovations at my parents casa before we leave.  More updates and stories soon, but wanted to touch base!