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!

April 14, 2012

Bon Voyage!

Since leaving Early we have had a fast, busy 2 weeks in Belton enjoying time with my folks and doing our best to help with a few fix up projects around their house. In the midst of this we have continued to sort through our things, trying to identify what is wise to keep and what we need to get rid of. We had a very successful garage sale and saw lots of our things go on to new homes - much better than them sitting in storage!

This morning we had fun taking bluebonnet pictures and enjoyed time with our pup before driving to Early. We had to say goodbye to her and left her with a dear family who have agreed to love and look after her for a while.  Geoff and I are leaving this Saturday for a much needed and greatly anticipated sabbatical.  We have been running at top speed on little sleep in many different directions for too long. It is is past time for us to slow down and devote our undivided attention to loving God and loving each other. We will be gone for a month long trip in which we will fulfill a long time travel dream and have the best opportunity we have ever had for a long Sabbath rest seeking the Lord together.

During this time we are excited about focusing our attention on why God calls us to a Sabbath, something our culture widely ignores - the Christian traditions included. There is no indication in scripture that this is something we can choose to do or not to do. Neither does Sabbath appear to be intended as a day that you get to do whatever you want, avoiding all unpleasant chores. Rather it is a day to set aside the desires and cares of this world and focus on the Kingdom of God. It is not about not walking too many steps, or doing/not doing dishes. It is about inviting the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, remembering why we exist here in the first place, and spending time with Christ drawing closer to Him so that we can see more clearly His work before us. We have failed to keep this as a mandatory day in our lives and we are hoping, by God's grace, to learn how to take hold of it.

I was inspired by a conversation with a dear friend this afternoon who was reflecting on her journey to honor the Sabbath. She referenced being intentional about not shopping, or worrying about finances, budgets, etc. on the Sabbath, because these were cares of the world and the Kingdom of God is so much more. This is one example (not requirement) of how we can find areas in our life to fast from for a day each week, just to allow God's presence to transform our worldview into a Kingdom view. If we can't focus on bringing His Kingdom in all we do, our labor, anxiety, and struggle is in vain.

We will be leaving Saturday and will return to the US mid May. I doubt I'll blog until then as our accommodations will consist of a tent and sleeping wifi included. So, if you're trying to get ahold of Geoff or I...we aren't ignoring you....we are just gone for a little while. Please pray for us as we enter this time of rest and reflection. Blessings to all as we seek to take hold of the Sabbath in our lives.

HIS KINGDOM come, HIS will be done, on earth as it is in HEAVEN

April 9, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Family is good. I have fallen in love with so many in Early, TX. A couple Sundays ago the church held a potluck/party in our honor - we felt so incredibly loved. People said so many loving things that I will never forget. The greatest blessing was that God gave us peace to accept their love. We feel bad for leaving, for moving on, even though we also feel God leading us away.

My Jeep!
One of the highlights of the party was when Mrs. H - a very special lady at the church - presented a surprise for me.  I recently posted about my dream Jeep and that Sunday she gave me one! YAY! It's four wheel drive, can climb up walls, and when it flips over it always lands right side up! Okay, it's a toy, but I've had a lot of fun with it! Many people put in so much time and effort to make Sunday special for us. Though it was heartbreaking to begin our goodbyes, it was also so refreshing to be filled up with love - we feel ready for anything!

My last day of Tuesday school was hard. I've enjoyed teaching some of the same kids for the past 2 years and have grown very attached! I love these kids so much and have so enjoyed watching them grow up. I was so encouraged by my co-teachers as well and honored by their encouragement and love. They all signed a devotional book for me that I will cherish.

Ivy lighting the candles for the meal
On our last Wednesday night Geoff and I hosted a combined meal/class and celebrated a Passover feast with the church! It went really well and we were so excited by the turn out and the feedback. This meal is so special to me and I love participating in it as often as possible. It brings to life the elements of the Lord's supper in a way that is hard to identify on Sunday morning or reading it outside of its original cultural context. I have so many great memories of celebrating the Passover seder with people from around the world, and I am so thankful to have been able to celebrate it with this part of the family in Early before we left.

Thank you so much for all of you who have loved us so well. We don't deserve it. That's what makes the family of Christ so amazing. May God richly bless you in every way; may He guide you in all truth, wisdom, understanding and LOVE that you may have life, and have it to the fullest!

March 23, 2012

Adventures in Packing

The most frequently asked question we have received after announcing that we are moving to Ecuador is: "What will you do with your stuff?" Good question; here's an attempted answer:

I will never complain about packing when moving again. I hope.

Packing, as I had formerly known it, is the process of putting your possessions into boxes, trailers, or cars and relocating them. This process normally involves an unfulfilled vow to get rid of things you really don't need, declutter your life, and to finish in a finely tuned and organized fashion. The reality of this deep clean/organization effort is that after a few things are thrown away, sold at garage sales, or donated to Goodwill - there will still be several boxes packed with mismatched socks, electronic parts, sentimental trinkets (whether you remember the sentiment or not) and a myriad of things you really don't need but are worried that you might and don't want to spend money to replace them - so into a box they go!

This summarizes pretty well the goals and subsequent failings of my packing expeditions over the past 5 years of marriage. We have moved 6 times during the last 5 years so I've had opportunity to reflect!

This move is different. This time we are relocating to a place we have never been, we cannot take much with us and we don't know if/when we will move back. This time, I have to meet the idealistic packing goals. This time, I really do have to get rid of everything I do not need and finish in an organized fashion - and I only have 1 1/2 weeks left in which to do this. PANIC!

In theory, I would love to get rid of everything we own that does not immediately impact our goals/needs for moving to Ecuador. Why store what you don't need? I hate the idea of storage.

BUT...what if we only stay in Ecuador for 3-6 months? What if we stay for 10 years? What if we move back and don't have the basic necessities or money to buy them? Things like sheets, blankets, towels, and of course - Christmas decor?!? What do I do with the pottery place settings or nice cookware we got from loved ones for our wedding? What do we do with the nice sets of tools we have? They cost too much to replace, and if we ever move back, we know we'll need them! What do we do with boxes full of old letters, pictures, sentimental gifts, and childhood memorabilia?

We have sold the majority of our furniture, and will leave our appliances with the house we currently live in. We have sold my Explorer, and will sell Geoff's truck. We are re-homing our beloved bunny, Doc.  We have a huge garage sale/Goodwill donation pile that contains many items I would not be parting with if we were not making such a drastic move. I have sorted through everything we own at least 4 times, thoroughly, and I still feel disorganized.

We are keeping the Aspen log bed that we built together in Colorado. We are keeping our pottery and cookware. Though they have been thinned, we are keeping basic sentimental items like pictures, notes, childhood memorabilia...and of course Geoff's Lego sets. We are keeping a tote of basic linens; sets of towels, sheets, blankets, etc. along with a few other items would be too expensive to replace. We are keeping our mountain bikes, and my road bike.  These things will go to my parents house. Thank you!!!! We have loaded our favorite DVD's onto our external hard drive, and will store necessary papers and documents in online storage.

I still feel like we are keeping too much, but I'm not done packing so I'm sure the next filter will remove even more debris. All that to say, we are doing our best to get rid of what we don't need, and to be responsible stewards of gifts that were given to us and of belongings that may still serve purpose for us in the future. It's hard. We are short on time. Please pray for us!

March 21, 2012

My Jeep - The Explorer

I've always wanted to drive a Jeep. To be exact, I want that Jeep, the one in the picture. A steel blue, TJ or CJ model with standard transmission. Yes. That is my dream. Windows down? Not sufficient; take the whole top off! Road blocked? No problem. Fun? Absolutely. Practical. Not a chance.

With inflated price tags, poor gas mileage, bad safety records, and uncomfortable road travel my dream of owning such a Jeep is pretty hopeless. Still, I dream of it, often. Geoff lets me test drive one every once in a while. It doesn't help. I still wrestle with my fleshly desire for this ultra impractical, wonderfully beautiful vehicle that should be described instead as simply a TOY. ..but I really want one.

As a consolation prize I have been thrilled to drive my brother's old car, a '98 Explorer Sport, for the past couple of years. With the necessary standard transmission set up similarly to this Jeep and a decent amount of power, this car was fun to drive! I could roll the windows down and nearly pretend I was in my Jeep. Okay, not really, but it's as close as I will likely ever get and therefore I referred to it as "my Jeep." I even put hibiscus print seat covers in it that would have looked great in the true Jeep, but were definitely goofy in the Explorer. Oh well.

In the packing process of moving to Ecuador, our cars, obviously, can't make the cut. On Monday, we sold the Explorer. It wasn't as sad as I thought it would be. I liked the couple we sold it to and think they'll really enjoy it. I am so thankful that we were able drive the Explorer for a time. It got us from point A to point B as good as any car - and it had automatic windows which was thrilling to me.  I've never dreamed of an expensive new car, there are too many things the Lord needs us to use our money for. Obviously, I instead only dream of worn out, overpriced (for their age), off-roading vehicles. That's a much better use of the Lord's money. I know, I know, it's not. That's why I don't have one! I thought I'd confess my dream nonetheless! I'm so thankful to have been provided the luxury of having this car as transportation when we needed it.

March 18, 2012

3 Year Olds

For the record - I love 3 year olds. Its the age I get to teach at preschool (though they are rapidly turning into still amazing 4 year olds) and it is the age all of my nieces turned this week!

Happy Birthday Kinley & Ansley!
We got to travel to Ft. Worth last weekend for my brother's twin girls birthday party and had so much fun! They had a great party at the amazing indoor playground at The Hills. Their mom, Katie, went all out on amazing breakfast foods, great decorations and party favors. It brings me incredible joy to see these happy, healthy, beautiful girls who only 3 years ago were premature tiny babies covered in tubes. It broke my heart to greet my new nieces while they laid tiny and alone in their incubated beds. Watching them run and play, happy and healthy 3 years later is all the sweeter for it! They are so much fun to be with! I look forward to my time with them more and more. It was fun to watch them play with their friends, open presents, and talk with friends and family.

After the party we got to go back to their house to open a few more presents and of course play with the dogs. It was raining outside, afterall, why not take the kids out in it to play fetch with the labs in the pool?  Poor Molly, my brother's yellow lab, could never overcome her fear of jumping in the clear water so had to whimper and watch while Reyah fulfilled the retriever duty. It was probably a sign of intellegience on Molly's part, but alas, nothing will come between Reyah and her ball! Reyah wasn't thrilled about jumping in the pool either, it's much different from running into a pond, but she had a good time anyway and the girls loved throwing the ball in and watching her jump in and swim to get it!
Amazing form! :) 

My brother, Jason, and Geoff

We spent the previous night in Dallas staying with my sister Jana, and her husband, Justin. They are great hosts, and we always look forward to our time with them. It was so fun to get to spend time with the whole family.

Ruby helping dad on his bday

This weekend we planned to travel to Abilene to see Geoff's sister's 3 year old, Ruby, but their plans changed so we haven't been able to celebrate with her yet - but soon! We always enjoy spending time with Ruby and treasure every opportunity.  Ruby is a passionate, spirited, joy filled little lady, always entertaining and pretty cute to top it off! I love watching her sing favorite songs from church - there's little better than watching kids find joy in their Lord.  We were disappointed that we didn't get to see her on her birthday weekend but were thankful to be able to spend a couple of hours with Geoff's parents - and we got to see at least a few of his siblings as well!

The closer we get to moving from Early and beginning our transition to Ecuador, the more we treasure our time with family and friends. What strikes me most about this is how much we take for granted that we "can" go see each other anytime. I should treasure these times just as much whether we were moving out of the country, or living in the same town. Perspective is everything. Who are we to know what tomorrow holds - treasure the time you get to spend with those you love today.


March 13, 2012


Welcome to March! I's halfway over...I really am that behind. This month so far has been a blur in many different directions as we try to sort out all the final processes before moving from Early in less than THREE weeks. Geoff's last Sunday is April 1st, and we will transfer to Belton from here in transition to...ECUADOR!

I realized after the last post that I never said where we were moving, so again, Ecuador! We looked at several areas when deciding where to move, starting with Roatan, Honduras where we had contacts already and one of my favorite families on earth were planning to move there as well. Their plans were delayed, but we were already excited about Latin america and learning Spanish so we began to explore the opportunities in countries throughout Central and South America. We finally decided on Ecuador (it won a tight contest with Costa Rica) due to the low cost of living, good availability of Spanish schools, and easier visa requirements. Those are the practical reasons we chose Ecuador. There are of course many additional details about Ecuador that we are very excited to experience. We plan to travel there with a 6 month visa, with learning Spanish as our top priority. If all goes well and the Lord blesses us to remain - we plan to apply for a 2 year visa, and repeat as desired.

Since Geoff and I were first married, we have tried to be as responsible with our income as possible in order to pay off all student loan and other debt so we could have the freedom to do something like this. We were able to pay off all of our debts by the end of last year, and have been saving like crazy since then. We are selling almost everything of value that we own and our prayer is to have enough to move to Ecuador and be self-supported for as long as possible. By self supported, I do not mean we aren't trusting in God's provision, but that we don't feel led to ask a church or individuals to sponsor us, or help pay for this venture. That's where we are right now. We may get involved with outreaches and opportunities that might warrant fundraising, but as far as our personal expenses go, we are dedicated for now to working for that as much as possible.

So, why are we moving? We want to learn Spanish, and we want to live in another culture. Those are our primary motivations. We have further hopes and dreams about ministry possibilities, but we are starting here for now because until our Spanish greatly improves we can't be much use to a ministry in the area! Even if we return to the US after a short time, we know the experience of living in another culture and having a better grasp of the Spanish language would refine us and be a blessing. We are excited about spending our time in Ecuador building relationships with people who are so much like us, and yet so very different in culture. We are excited about taking Spanish lessons and being able to us the language on a daily basis, hopefully making it easier to master! We are excited about volunteering in the community we live in, whether teaching English or working with orphanages, all while bringing the presence of Jesus into the lives of all we encounter.

We will be launching a website soon that will have updates, our mission, pictures, and contact info on it. We want as many people as possible to experience this journey with us, whether following along online or flying down for a visit! Thank you to all of you who have already been an incredible encouragement as we take this leap of faith in hopes that God will do great things through us! We are really excited!

February 6, 2012

The Early Church

Geoff has been employed by the Early Church of Christ for about 4 years.  For 2 years Geoff worked part time for the church and we commuted from Abilene while he completed his M. Div. at ACU.  We then moved to Early and Geoff has been working full time for the church. One of the fun things about Early, TX is that it is located right between each of our parents, 1 1/2 hrs. to Geoff's folks in Abilene, and 2 hrs. the other way to mine in Belton. Geoff grew up in this community (13 years old through high school) and his dad was the minister at this church several years before we ended up here.  It was a homecoming of sorts and it has been a blessing for me to be able to learn more about Geoff by listening to old stories and seeing him through the eyes of those who've known him for so many years.  We have been so taken care of and overwhelmingly loved by the community here.

However, after these great years of being a part of this congregation and community it is time to move on.  Geoff and I have been fighting a nagging desire to move overseas to pursue Jesus in a different culture since we were first married. We spent a lot of time in prayer over the past several months and have decided that this is the time to finally pursue this dream. Two Sundays ago Geoff announced to the congregation that we would be moving this coming April.  Every day we feel a greater amount of peace and excitement with our future plans. We have grown very close to so many in the congregation and community and it was hard to announce that we would be moving.  Even though we feel very led by God in this decision, and at peace that we are doing what we need to do, it is sad to begin saying goodbye.  Thank you to all of you who have loved us and have made our time in this community a blessing.  We look forward to enjoying to the fullest each day of our remaining time here!

January 25, 2012

You Are Special

Max Lucado's book, You Are Special, has always been one of my favorites. I remember my dad reading it to me as a kid, and trying hard to be like the Wemmick who didn't let the stars or dots stick (read it to understand).

While I was teaching preschool yesterday Geoff came in as a surprise visitor to tell the kids how special they are and how much God loves them.  As the kids gathered around him to listen he asked them if they were special. I was amazed at how they replied in full confidence, "Yes!" One of the boys went on to say, "I know I'm special, and I know God thinks so too!"

I couldn't help but reflect on how that question would be answered if Geoff had asked a room full of adults. "Do you know how special you are?" We wouldn't argue, probably, but may admit we don't feel special or don't want to appear arrogant by even thinking we might be.  As we age there are many things that tell us we are not special, that we aren't good enough, and we forget to find our identity in the Lord and listen to the world more often instead.

As we grow older our feelings are hurt by those we trust and the world sells us false identities that we struggle to maintain.  For some it is even worse. As the Superbowl nears the evil epidemic of sex slave trafficking becomes even more apparent. Kids, 12-14 years old or younger are being brought into the United States to meet the evil demand that large sporting events like this create.  This is a world wide evil and one that breaks my heart more than any other. That industry will shatter the "You Are Special" reality faster than any. When children and adults are subjected to rape dozens of times a day, how can the true message of the gospel break through, that they are special, that they are loved? It can, and it does.

When I first started pondering this "special" concept, I thought it was just a sad reality that we were unable to feel special as we aged. The more I've considered it the more I see why satan is so intent on attacking this identity. If we forget who we are in Christ, that He loves us and we are special because He made us, our entire purpose in life has changed. We meet the expectations of our identity, whether in the Lord, or in the world.  We are created in the very IMAGE of GOD, why would we try to look like the world?  We are not to find our identity in this world.  It is not about us, but about what God is doing through us. By forgetting that God can work through us, and feeling like we have to perform to meet God's demands, satan finds a stronghold.  How can I be special? I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!  When I ask that I still believe it is about what I do, about being saved by works. It's not about the value the world places on me or how I meet or don't meet its expectations. It's about remembering who we are in Christ and allowing His love to pour through me. It's about remembering to live in accordance with the Spirit.

"Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace...For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God...The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  NOw if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, in indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." 
 Romans 8:5&6;14;16&17

January 7, 2012

Happy New Year!

I'm pretty sure there is no better way to end one year and start another than the way we were able to!  We headed to Abilene on New Years Eve to celebrate with some of my favorite people on earth. All of my best friends have scattered to the four corners of the United States but on this day almost everyone was back together! Friends came from Monterey, CA, Chicago, IL, Boston, MA, and of course, Abilene. It helps that their families all live in Abilene, but I think this party would be more than worth the travel even without that minor detail. :)

I am so thankful for these friends, their families, and the love and support they have shown me for so many years. In a world where I often feel encouraged to be content with living a mediocre life and meeting the status quo, I praise God for these righteous friends who inspire me to push beyond these expectations and encourage me to respond to the calls the Lord has placed on my heart no matter how crazy they seem.

2011 was a tough year. A lot of goals we set were accomplished, but so many others seemed to remain just behind a tall wall we could not scale.  In prayer I would involuntarily find myself whispering, "I miss you, Lord."  It wasn't that I felt He had left us, I just couldn't hear or feel His presence as clearly as I have, and I longed for it.  However, I am very thankful for the time, not limited to just this last year, that we have had to seek God without feeling a clear leading. Times like that are necessary.

As the year drew to a close, a familiar excitement began to fill my heart again as Geoff and I began to dream together in a way we never had before.  More than ever in our marriage Geoff and I can feel the presence of the Lord returning in a clear and tangible way. Our eyes have been opened to possibilities we would not have dreamed of only a year ago, and we are excited about where the Spirit is leading. Though there is so much unknown, even in my fears I feel a comforting presence of peace.  It's going to be a great year!

Thanks to all the friends and family who surrounded us this season. I could not be more thankful for ALL of you. May His blessings pour out on us this year to bring HIS Kingdom to earth, as it is in Heaven! In Jesus name.

January 4, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Geoff and I enjoyed a great Christmas season! We were able to do Breakfast with Santa at the church building which was really fun, but took a lot of prep time! We decorated the auditorium this year so had a lot more space...and decorating! I really enjoyed working together with Geoff. I grew up doing this with my parents in charge, and it's so fun to make it our own a little bit in the Legacy Version, as my dad calls it. :)  On December 17 we had a fun day of breakfast, Santa's Workshop, Mrs. Claus, and of course - SANTA!
My parents brought Santa and Mrs. Claus again this year and everyone loved them. Mrs. Claus even made it into the newspaper! We collected lots of toys through the toy drive and enjoyed lots of happy kids which made all the hours of planning and decorating more than worth it.
Since Christmas fell on a Sunday, and we would not be home that day, Geoff and I decided to move the Christmas events a day early.  I almost had to print out a false calender to justify it with myself...but managed to find enough imagination to make it right. Geoff asked what time he was allowed to wake up Christmas morning, and referenced some ridiculous notion of not before 4 a.m. No kidding. Why on earth would we be waking up before such an hour - my plan was to get to sleep at least by then. He wasn't kidding. At 4:07 a.m. "Christmas" morning Geoff was up.  After coffee and lots of pleading his excitement finally got me up. I was not thrilled about being awake right then, but I adore his joy and excitement, so I got over it pretty quick. He wrapped all my presents with great effort, putting ribbons and everything was so sweet...I love pretty packages.
We had so much fun opening the stockings we filled for each other, and Geoff was very generous to be ultra excited about every item of clothing he got for Christmas. His only real fun gift, Vibram five fingers, didn't fit. Poor guy. His birthday will be more fun, but he had a blast anyway! I got a new DSLR Camera for Christmas which was pretty exciting. I am fairly certain I've taken over 4,000 pictures in the last week and a half. Reyah got a new frisbee which has been great for photo practice! We had fun visiting people in the church later that day, and took several some homemade Baklava which I really enjoyed making. That evening we went to some dear friends house, the Shero's, for some great food, fellowship, and games. It was a great day.

Christmas came again on Sunday! We served breakfast refreshments at the back of the auditorium on Christmas morning and it was my favorite Sunday ever at the church! Lots of visitors, all obviously excited by the hospitality, and a wonderful time of worship made for a great morning.

We headed to Geoff's parents house immediately after service and had a great time seeing everyone for a couple days. Geoff's grandma and uncle even came down for a bit, and of course we got a family photo (Geoff's dad not in this one though). Geoff has quite a few siblings, so we (thankfully) draw names at Christmas for gifts, and Geoff's dad drew my name which I thought was pretty fun. I got a great camera case!
One of the best things we got to do was to go look at the horses that the children's home has. They. Are. Gorgeous. I could have stayed there all week, just staring at them. Reyah was very curious about these gentle giants and was equally intimidated! She would approach with a wagging tale, and a pitiful whimper that I'm sure would have translated, "Please let me sniff you, but please, please don't step on me!"

We really enjoyed our time with family, making graham cracker gingerbread houses, playing games, and of course enjoying Geoff's sisters kids. Ruby is just so much fun, and way too smart for her own good (seems to run in the family), and I loved being with her over the weekend. My only nephew, Stephen, is pretty wonderful too...his smile just completely melts my heart.

We headed back to Early late Monday night, caught up with stuff there, and left Wednesday night after service for Pittenger Christmas in Belton.
My dad, of course, went all out on decorating in the yard, and my mom went all out on the inside of the house. It was so refreshing to spend time with them, and to enjoy all the festive Christmas activities. For our first gift of Christmas, matching pajamas made an appearance again this year!  We agreed not to post those pics on facebook...but this is not on facebook...this is my it's officially okay. :) That, and I have withheld the more embarrassing ones...these of the boys are just cute.

For sibling gifts this year, which my parents also participated in, we decided to give a donation to a charity of choice, and present it in a unique way. It was great to see how everyone gave such incredibly thoughtful gifts, so many of them so well suited for the passions of those the gift was in honor of.  For example, my sister and her husband donated to the March of Dimes in honor of my brother and his wife. That one brought tears to everyone as we watched their beautiful girls, once tiny and premature, run with joy and energy around the living room.
We had a lot of fun events, and my parents went overboard in the best of ways on creativity with their giving and made it a lot of fun for all of us. Instead of just a clothing gift card, we got ugly, ugly, shirts from good will....and then found the gift card under that. Very shocking till we figured out the method to the madness. When Geoff opened a VHS tape with Richard Simmons on the front we were REALLY getting concerned....but thankfully there was a movie gift card with that as well.
Don't even ask about the Spam, canned oysters, or sardines...eeeeeewwwwww. One of our last big events together was building gingerbread houses. We do that with Geoff's family but it was a first for mine, and Geoff and I had a lot of fun building a home together (insert romantic "awwwww"). :)

Reyah had a great Christmas too!
We had a fantastic week and I could write a book on every part of it but wanted to at least fill you in on some of the pieces. I was so thankful for every moment with family, and soaked it up more than I probably ever have before. For some reason this year, more than any other, the unique gift being able to experience joy and love at this time of the year was overwhelming to me. I feel so blessed and thankful to have been surrounded by such love. I know there are people on earth who may not find so much love or encouragement in their entire lives as we did in one week. I am so thankful for our families, and friends.

Now I must go, I have a date with the gym. We haven't seen each other since after the half marathon. I've been cheating on it with lots of yummy holiday foods! I have a feeling payback is coming...