Tis' the season for pondering and reflection. 2018 was filled with so much, so I can't help but sit here and think on what God has in store for 2019. I'm not typically one to make New Year's resolutions, but I do love to reflect, examine, and be challenged in my walk with Jesus, praying every year that passes my life looks more and more like Him. I think we all desire that, don't we?! Over the past few weeks, I feel like He's been impressing on my heart to be more fruitful in giving with fierce intentionality, which is something we should probably always strive to do as followers of Jesus. So if I pin point my word and goal for this year, it would be "Give." Now I know that word is nothing profound or mind blowing, but its something that is weighty on my heart to do more frequently, generously and freely! There are so many avenues that apply to this subject and I think that's why it is convicting to me.
Give more focus to what God has called us to do ... Give more attention and affection to my spouse, children and those around me... Give my time more selflessly, being a servant when its difficult and inconvenient...Give priorities their proper placement... Give of my finances more generously... Give myself freedom to fail, as well as lots of space and grace for others to do the same... Give more love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness... The list goes on and on... And while I think of all the ways I want to give more, it leads me to think of all the ways God has given to us, and repeatedly gives each day.
I've been reading a book entitled "Beautiful Outlaw" by John Eldredge, and its fascinating on his take of different stories in the gospels. In one of the chapters, he talks about the beauty of the five senses that God gave us when he designed our bodies and how those senses are truly a gift that didn't have to be given. Not to mention we can experience more than one sense at a time, which makes it an even greater blessing. Take wind for example. Not only can you feel the coolness on your skin, you can hear the breeze as it enters your ear canal, see the leaves move through the trees and smell the different winds of the seasons. That's pretty awesome when you think about it! Generosity so graciously lavished on us all to point us to Him. Our last season to finish 2018 incorporated all kinds of "senses" that He gave and continues to give... which we are so grateful for!
Seeing... God has remained faithful as we continue to watch the kids flourish in a different culture, school and atmosphere. They are enjoying the school year thus far, so please pray for them as they continue to learn language, build friendships and grow in Jesus throughout the rest of this year. In September, we also saw God's hand of provision yet again when Kinslaey fell and broke her collarbone. He provided doctors, friends, family, and prayer warriors that led to quick healing for our baby! Praise Jesus!
Hearing... In October, Fellowship Bible Church of Chagrin Falls, Ohio came to take some video in the dark streets of Sosua to help us raise awareness of how the sex trade operates here. We've since been able to share this with countless prayer warriors, financial supporters and future ministry partners. We were able to capture and hear, once again, first-hand stories of girls feeling chained by poverty and desiring a different life. God granted us unique opportunities to share about the love and freedom in Christ Jesus. We continue to listen with open hearts and minds as God networks and connects us to different people from diverse backgrounds. Some have legal experience in property sales, counseling services and much more. Please be in prayer for a future sight, future teammates, and detailed program as we press forward this year!
Touching... In November, Nate was able to travel back to the states to raise ministry support with our Love Restored partner, Keith Melugin. He was blessed to touch base with some who are already on our support team as well as build connections with new individuals, families, churches. He was touched by the countless people who took such great care of him as he was on the road, and also the outpouring of love and support for Gods mission here in the DR. God's hand of blessing was all over his trip. From safety to necessary time with Keith for them to plan, pray and nurture new partnerships and friendships!
Tasting... "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!" Psalm 34:8 is one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture! God has provided our family with such a great community here in Jarabacoa, which has opened up new traditions as we seek to celebrate holidays! The food has been nothing short of amazing, and we have been so blessed to have the people that we do here! Our family took a trip up into the "cold mountains" of the Dominican Republic the weekend following Thanksgiving. With lots of pies and games, to friends who have become like family, it was such a great retreat. Christmas time, even though much different in the DR than Ohio, had all the fix-ins which made sure our appetites, souls and spirits were more than satisfied! December was a great blessing filled with precious time spent with my family being here, making lots of cookies and memories... and worshiping the One who made it all possible!
Smelling...As we go through our lives we are called to build altars and make sacrifices that create pleasing aromas to the Lord. No doubt we took some steps forward in 2018. Most of them probably didn't take as much ground as we would've liked. As we head into 2019 we are praying for mighty divine appointments where we can no doubt build altars and step forward in obedience. Please pray for wisdom and direction for us, as first and foremost we seek to be a fragrance pleasing to God in all we do. Our dream is to give everything we have because He has given it all for us!