Saturday, June 20, 2015

Grief and Loss

As the days pass and more and more people are choosing to leave campus.

I am reminded of a story I read in a Mercedes Lacky book.  It differs from our situation because the in the story the officers are all killed off, and all that is left is sergeants that would never be promoted.  In the story one Scout team leader realizes that the situation is untenable. She stands and rips off her company badge, she has the right to do so because she is on the sick list.  Yet she still lives in fear and runs away as fast as she can from the company to protect herself.  Long story short, her compatriots also rip off their badges leaving the leader with no followers.

Some days I feel like we are living this story out. Many times I find myself marveling at the things I never knew were going on. How I felt like I had to always keep my head down and be "good" to protect my spouse's career. What I wore, what the kids wore, how long are those shorts?? "No you can't wear that to prayer meeting!"  These were all part of the equation of being "good staff" "reaching the lost at any cost."  My mind boggles.

I see myself willing to make sacrifices for the good of my family as we house hunt...  the kind of sacrifices used to only be made for the work, the field.  GFA is run as a family. Since our announcement that we are leaving, things changed drastically. The dichotomy of we are a family and a ministry was do-able for us for 12 years. At this point my mind can't wrap it's self around it anymore. It's almost as if our life here is fracturing because ministry and family is so intertwined, to leave one means the loss also of the other. This exclusivity is almost as if we are in one corporation and just got a job with the competion and we are now a corporate spy. *sigh* It's easier to stay home from prayer meeting than watch people keeping me under surveillance. I wonder if they realize how obvious they are?? Hey for the record I see your sitting behind me every prayer meeting, which is why I stopped coming I don't want my friends getting in trouble because they are seen with me. *eye roll*

I noticed leadership has always used the language "So and So is Leaving Us"  not "Moving on", "Not found a new job, let us rejoice with them," but the tone is always one of sadness, as if "they" are divorcing "us,"  From now on all interaction will be awkward and stilted.  I know this stems from the old belief system of "If you are called to GFA you are called for life."  I do recall the oddness of turning inward, turning away from those I used to know, the grief and sadness.  Previous staffers are so hurt I have seen them cross over to the other side of the street, ignoring my waves of greeting.  I was also one who ignored people, stopped calling, and etc. My reasons were varied. In the beginning I felt like I should. If we were friends because of GFA and you left, I had to drop you. I had bought into the line of thinking "They had become worldly" and "They will draw me away from the work."   I had a view that ALL my time belonged to GFA, sadly not "ALL my time belongs to GOD!"

So as I think and look back at our life here for the past few years, I am beginning to realize there is a question I haven't been asking.  It's not: Does GFA practice shunning?  But rather why is the relationship so broken? Why does it feel like a divorce of irreconcilable differences?  How can an organization that warns their staff of the statistic "On average most missionaries do not make it past the 2 year mark, due to personality conflicts." end up in this place?  So much hurt so much pain?

I have no answers,  I do see GFA as an organization that bends over backward to help you  (The staff and leadership do help people in amazing ways. When we have been in need they have always come through.)  Now that I have become a "distraction" well it's gotten weird.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

To Everything There Is A Season

It is with joy and sadness that I write this blog.

My Knight In Shining Armor and I have for over a year felt the tug of the Lord on our hearts. He has been asking us if we were ready to move on. We have been willing and waiting on His answer as to the timing.  We feel now is the right time.
  It’s hard to say how thankful we are to each one of you who supported us in prayer, friendship and financially over these 12 years. How can we express that in words, but we are so thankful for each one of you. It would not have been possible to do this without your kindness, and love.
It will be hard to leave GFA, and all our friends here.  Yet we are excited to see what adventures The Lord has for our future. 
Stepping out in faith is never easy, and we take this step with much prayer behind it.

My Knight in Shining Armor has been offered a position with Hope for the Heart. You can find out more at  This is a paid position and we will no longer need to fund raise.  If you choose to, you can continue to give for up to 3 months after June, 2015. Our staff account will still be active and any giving will be applied toward our severance. 

It has been a long journey with GFA, I think back to the brutal winter of 2003 in Upstate NY, we were packing up the truck in winter coats in May!  Sweet Potato was only 3 years old! Now 12 years  later she turns 16 this June.  How our time here has flown, so many changes to the ministry.  I recall praying for what to do about street children that first year here and now we have Bridge of Hope Centers. We now dig wells, supply villages with Bio Sand Water filters, teach women to read, and to sew. We now give gifts of animals and sewing machines. So much has been added to our ministry to reach those who need Christ. I look back and smile. 

 We are currently looking for a house closer to the DFW area; please pray for us in the transition time. As our campus housing is up in early July and we won't be able to even think of closing on a house until August.  So, it's pack-up, store our stuff and live an adventure for the next few months.

Here is a walk down memory lane in photos... 








Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Rules or Trust

When my mom and dad were first married they lived far away from the extended family. They had a loving relationship where they relied on each other because no else was around. Eventually they moved back East and started interacting with the extended family again.  My dad after being with his brothers for a day started to behave in the same manner... "Yo babe get me a beer." My grandfather was known to just click his wedding ring against his empty beer can to alert grandma it was time to serve him again.  

My mom politely got dad a beer the first time but after a while she just raised an eyebrow at Papa.  Some readers are freaking out already OH MY GIRAFFE your family drinks? Others are freaking out because we are SUPPOSED to serve our husbands, How dare she just not serve him.  

Mom was unwilling to let their relationship become fractured by imitated bad behavior. They had a "discussion" afterward where they worked out this kink in their relationship.  I always witnessed my father loving my mother. Even if he had to make a unilateral decision that was unpopular she was always willing to follow because her leader LOVED her. Every night my Father prayed with and read to her, either the bible or a book by Watchman Nee. (I can see my dad was doing that whole washing her in the word bit that is one of the commands  Ephesians 5: that comes after wives submit).  I'd be curious to know how many men that are adamant about the wife submitting, are reading the bible to their wives daily? 

Ever notice how in Ephesians 5 the man is commanded to love his wife... 3 times... Tho this is not a "command" the wife is told to do... instead "respect your husbands" seems to to be the hot button for the ladies. Each of these things show me Paul understood the deep needs of men and women in relationships. 

I witnessed day in and day out a relationship based on mutual trust, respect, and love. Did they always get along? No... who does? Yet I had this wonderful yardstick to measure my marriage by.  My parents have been married for over 50 years and they are still going strong.  

I have to admit the whole stress on submission here at GFA really helped my husband step up and take the reigns back from me, which was a relief.  Early on I had decided I didn't like the fact that no one was holding the reigns and the horses were just carrying us where ever they felt like taking us. I wanted a more directed life. I kept trying to hand the reigns back to the head of the house but he didn't always want them.  Yet at one point in our career at Gospel for Asia My knight and I hit a road block. It seemed that every time we would be getting ready to go out he would be giving me talking points. Not what to say but rather what not to say and asking me to change my carefully chosen outfit to one he preferred. He condemned my parenting style. He was so wrapped up in how we looked to others. 

It created so much undue stress in our marriage. At one point he started to resort to rules of what I could and could not; do, say, wear.   This behavior on his part led me down a road of suffering, (Is this what suffering for the kingdom is supposed to look like?) I was hurt. I knew what a great marriage looked like, we had one, but ours was loosing that flavor of mutual trust and respect with love holding it together.  It seemed the more I submitted, the more he expected me to be his floor mat.  Well folks I'm not a floor mat, I don't like confrontation, but I will do it. So a few years into the whole "Yes sir, how high? life"  I calmly pointed out to him somewhere along the line he had stopped trusting me. When he failed to hear what I was saying I pointed it out a bit more forcefully.  

I can still remember the day I stood there yelling my head off, tears streaming down my cheeks saying "When you tell me what to say, it means you do not trust me.  Why don't you trust me! You used to trust me!"  This from his "meek" "mild" wife... A look of shock and surprise engulfed his face, I could see his spirit had been checked. Gradually over time with our focus on Christs' choices for our life we got back on track. I stopped checking with him for every decision, he stopped telling me what I said right and what I said wrong at social events. In-fact now we act as each others interpreter "What s/he meant to say is this..."  

My husband shares so much of his life and inner thoughts and feeling with me now, and it is mutual. Trust flows, respect grows and love abounds. He's a keeper.  

Should I have submitted to all his rules and more rules and more rules? Would that have stopped the cycle? Can a woman continually submitting and yet being told to submit more, weighed down by rules have joy? Don't get me wrong; handing over the reigns of authority was so freeing.  Yet we lost our way for a while and it hurt our marriage.  GFA has been accused of taking Spiritual Authority to an extreme,  the whole Hyper headship/ Hyper submission.  Do I blame GFA for it's teachings on submission to authority for these issues in our marriage? To some extent I do, I also blame ourselves for being willing to follow blindly... it was a form of idolatry, I thought "these are spiritual giants! Missionaries with a vision from God to reach the lost at any cost!"  I'm not sure I can follow that core value anymore. It's cute, catchy and, it rhymes but what is the true meaning?  I have seen families fall apart because we are reaching the lost at any cost. What is that cost? Divorce in some cases, the cost of trauma to the children in those marriages.  I really had to ask myself "Is this what God desires?" 

I'm not a spiritual giant, and in-fact no one on earth is a spiritual giant. We are all humans that sin.  I do not desire my husband to be an Adoniram Judson, willing to bury 3 wives. When I read that story out loud to my husband one road trip, part of me was horrified, It appeared these woman were expendable, the man in the story praised to the hilt for his willingness to do anything, even watch his wives and children die one after another. It felt so Machiavellian. It made me question is that what God desires for me, to be cast away, if I get in the way? I know these ladies went willingly I guess I'm just not there in my journey. 

I do serve my husband and you know what?  He also serves me. He can tell me to turn the volume down on my attitude and I can do the same to him. We are in harmony* not in unison. We are singing this marriage song together in the voices God gave us. I'm not singing exactly like him, or in the exact way he tells me to. Instead we sing in harmony blending our gifts, our strengths and weaknesses to have a solid marriage that will withstand the storms of ministry and time. 

*thanks Pastor Ray Viola for this image!