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God within…

Sometimes something hits you strong and you don’t know if someone else needs to hear it too. But here is a beautiful reminder that God is within you. He is working in and through you. He will not let you fall.

Besides loving that the words “she” and “her” are used here, I also love that it just isn’t dependent on me!

Today has been a day. There were conversations…hard conversations…that I didn’t want to have. Tonight I am teaching a Bible study that has to be translated into Arabic. But I have to speak in Dutch first. To say my Dutch isn’t perfect…well, I am not lying. There are many mistakes, but the goal is that the other immigrants from non-Dutch speaking countries will also understand. Communication, communication, communication. That’s more important than my perfectionist soul. And I have this pounding headache from what has happened and what I am afraid could happen as a result of today.

Then a call interrupts my thoughts. My mom. Someone, a nice guy, has done some just unfair business with her. Sure, his intentions might be good but he isn’t a good business man…he’s just not a follow-through-guy…which is kind of important in business. And after where my head has been, I am ready to go to war for her. But how does that help? Oh and I live on the other side of the ocean. Sigh!

So many thoughts that lead to one and then another and suddenly I feel like I am drowning in a pool of hopeless situations. Have you ever been there too?

I know I am not alone.

And then I remember…He will not let me fall. He. Not me. He. God, who is working in me and through me will do the work. It really isn’t all depending on me.

He knows I will mess up…open my mouth wider than intended. He knows, with my good heart, I will make bad decisions some days. He knows that I am trying my best to keep my eyes on Him. He knows this life is hard and He didn’t promise it wouldn’t be. He knows…because He’s been there too. Thank you Jesus! knows things won’t always go my way. People will misunderstand my heart. People might not even like me. I can try only as hard as I can and then He has to pick up where I leave off because HE will not let me fall.

Maybe your day is hard. Maybe it’s just been a bad month. Maybe you are drowning too. So remember…God is in you. He will not let you fall!

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Happy Double Digits!!

It is a big week in Phoebe’s life! On 11.11.20 she turned 10 years old…entered into life as a double digit girl.

She is so much fun! Her heart is huge and she loves people well. She feels the situations around her and has an old soul. She’s a good big sister and I secretly love when I hear the girls say “I love you” to each other when they don’t know I can hear them.

Phoebe is starting to learn guitar and she is already trying to figure out how she can use that gift for Jesus. She is counting down the lessons until she can play the guitar for church. I love her spiritual understanding and can’t wait to see what God is going to do in and through her every day!!

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A Week of Prayer…around the world

We (the 3 Arabic churches here in Belgium) are organizing and praying for the church this week. We have people signed up to pray for a half hour every day so that we cover 24 hours a day for 7 days. You can join us in praying for the same prayer points at any time this week and know that your brothers and sisters around the world are praying with you!! 

We are praying for:
*the world situation…Covid
*That God will visit the nations in whatever way He wants so that the world can know Him
*The global church to be blessed with strength, wisdom, discernment and love. Growth in the Chrch. Protection of the Church from evil and to have a firm foundation in the Word of God
*The family in general-marriages and children
*The Arabic church around the world and her leaders in Europe
*Intercession for those going through difficult times as you pray as the Holy Spirit leads

We begin tomorrow, Monday 9 November…and if you can’t join in, know that you are being prayed for!

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Church

We bought the ministry house in February 2019. Not long after that, I started working on getting the paperwork in order with the city. Honestly, that was a surprise to us after we bought the building. We thought everything was already in order. So my dear friend/Dutch expert/sister in Christ and I went to work filling out forms, making meetings with the city, taking pictures, measurements and writing emails. We are still doing all of this and aren’t finished yet.

Last Friday I met with the architect that has had experience with our building. Soon they will draw up current plans of the building and continue the conversation with the city. Your prayers are needed and appreciated!

And yet, even in limbo we can still be the church. This is an older picture of Hary but in October we were able to go into the home of a family who came out of the war in Syria. The husband gave his life to Jesus several years ago but the wife was slower in making all those changes in her life. She is on dialysis daily and on a waiting list for new kidneys. And somewhere in the waiting for the last 2 years, she decided to follow Jesus too. She wanted to be baptized. So we did a zoom Bible study on baptism. And then 6 of us went into their home on a Saturday, worshipped and filled the bathtub and baptized this woman. We celebrated with her and ate Syrian food. It was such a special day. It reminded me so much of Philip and the Ethiopian. When he saw the water…is there any reason I shouldn’t be baptized? And the Syrian woman too had no reason she shouldn’t be baptized…she believes.

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The Learning Garden

Our school is also a place of ministry. It has certainly had its challenges. And 5 years ago, I stopped teaching English after 4 years (in the same school) and decided to impact the changes in a different, dare I say better way…in prayer.

I remember the first summer that God put this on my heart. I walked around the school block and prayed with a young teacher and prayed for the walls to tumble down, like in Jericho. We did it for 7 weeks and then when the school year began, 2 other moms joined us and the 4 of us met at a cafe and prayed until they let us in the school to pray. In those days, there was so much disfunction that they were even afraid to have prayers come in the building of a Christian school.

Fast forward 5 years and we have seen God do so much more than we could have imagined. But we certainly don’t let our guard down and we keep praying every Wednesday morning. So much has changed…for the good.

In October, we got a new name and logo for a completely new season. We were the Sunflower school and now we are the Learning Garden (de Leertuin) based on Psalm 1. What a lovely image. Even though the virus keeps us out the building, we still pray nearby. We anticipate the great things God will do in this new season through public Christian education for anyone from any religious background in a culture that is definitely post-Christian. But we know that no matter what people say or believe, our God is still ALIVE and still WORKING!

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Enrichment

Hary and I get exhausted easily (probably me faster than him). When that happens we can feel it. And so we decided to invest in ourselves. It is for our good and for the good of those little girls too.

So we are working through a marriage therapy workbook. Each Thursday morning we have a date after the girls go to school. We eat breakfast together and turn off phones. Then we open this book which has conversations that are 10 questions to ask each other over different topics that allow you to evaluate how things were, are and you want them to be in a safe, loving way.

The book encourages you to have a warm cuppa something…for us it’s coffee. Then light a candle and talk, face to face. After we have laughed, cried (me), shared and dreamt together, we hug and thank each other for investing in us. What a joy and blessing this time has been. We treasure it together. We hear each other. We commit to blessing each other. Between each Thursday we see the “I love you” increase, the tender moments grow and the connection (that was never lost) is increased.

Honestly, we were not at a breaking point when we started this. We just see and listen to problems in other’s marriages all the time. We see others who long to have connection in marriage. And we don’t want to lose what we have…and we always know there is a place to grow. It’s a blessing.

enrichment /ɛnˈrɪtʃm(ə)nt/ noun

1. the action of improving or enhancing the quality or value of something.

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October Life

Fall has officially arrived in Antwerp. I think it is my favorite season. The changing of the colors and the weather. It’s perfect for lighting candles and drinking coffee. I love putting on a sweatshirt and getting cozy.

Life is still full of so many things even though COVID has tried to rule everything. In the down moments, where school is closed and so are the stores and visits are not allowed, I have crocheted. It’s something I picked up less than a year ago but I have found it helps the lockdown time seem more sane and now I am making Christmas presents (since the stores are closed, don’t be surprised when everyone gets a scarf!).

Zoom still proves to be a very useful tool during this season. We are able to meet as a missionary team to talk “business” and Hary and I are getting ready to start a series of Bible studies on parenting this week (in French and Arabic if you want to join!).

Phoebe has started guitar lessons. It’s something I have never done, so I am looking over her shoulder and learning along. The lesson is in Dutch and so is the book. So I find myself learning all the music vocabulary in another language. She is doing great! Musical genes!! And we were able to get a 3/4 classical guitar that fits perfectly in her hands. Maria-Grace can’t wait until she is old enough to join. In the meantime, she joins in by plunking on the keyboard as we play.

We have found fall treats to enjoy like orange donuts and Starbucks holiday blend coffee for my Nespresso machine. I am changing my relationship with food as I fight hard against the diseases that ended my dad’s life in July. I started with an extreme weight loss program in May but after returning from the States and working through grief, I joined Noom. I have only done it for 3 weeks but enjoy the freedom of changing my relationship with food so that I can live a healthy forever and not just a fast diet. One of the joys is that my hands are shrinking enough that I had to add my Grandma’s original wedding band with my wedding ring to keep it one. It was something my mom passed down to me this summer as we cleaned the house. It is extremely thin and almost 80 years old but it gives me joy. Joy in family and joy in the goals I have already met to live well for my family. Little ones are counting on me to stick around.

All the rules changed on October 30th here in Belgium (again). So we are in the house for 2 weeks and stores, churches, restaurants, cafes and more are closed until December 13 (at least). And I type this as I listen to a 5 year old read in Dutch (things like “Tom is not a bear”). We are learning to work together at the same table and enjoy this season where things won’t at all be like last year. There will be no Christmas market (which makes it really feel like Christmas to me) and chances are there won’t be a Christmas Eve service at church either. My girls will celebrate their birthdays in November and December in this lockdown. And yet we will celebrate. Life is still good and so is God.

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Kelly

This is my beautiful cousin, Kelly. She just turned 40 this year (just don’t tell her I told you how old she is). When I was in the States in July, I was able to see her at my dad’s birthday party. She was very pregnant at that time and had her gorgeous blond hair.

Just days before I flew back to Belgium, we found out that she had developed cancer in her pregnancy. So baby James arrived early, but healthy. And Kelly began treatment…and lost all that hair.

She is on my heart and in my prayers everyday. We are able to chat through WhatsApp. One of the side effects of my summer stress is that I am losing my hair now…in handfuls. My family is tired of picking out my hair every time they eat, so I invested in my little hat to wear every time I cook. Sunday, as I was chatting with Kelly I told her I think of her every time I put this hat on. She sent back her picture from the hospital in that moment.

Tomorrow is Kelly’s fourth round of chemo with this really difficult drug named red devil. After she finishes this round, she will start with weekly chemo treatments for 3 months. Every drug has horrible side effects. As it kills the cancer, her immune system is also compromised.

Kelly loves Jesus and has a heart for missions. It is one of the things that has kept us connected as adults. And I am asking you to pray for her and her family during this very difficult time. Pray for healing. Pray for the children to understand their mama and what is happening and to not be afraid. Pray for her husband to juggle work and extra home responsibilities as he most certainly is concerned for his wife’s health. This road is heavy. But they have a good church bringing food and offering helping hands. However, one thing that is never enough is prayer. So please join me in praying for Kelly.

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Mustard Seed Mission

There is something new beginning…

Several years ago, Hary and I would open up the Operation World book, find a country, learn about it, eat food from that country, learn a phrase in their language and pray for that country. It’s something we want to continue doing with our children. And we also prayed for our own countries.

As we prayed for Syria, before the war began, we noticed that Operation World said that almost no missionaries were in the country. Not shocking seeing that the country’s majority is Muslim, but still hard to imagine. Years ago 10% of the country was Christian and I am sure the church could have used support and encouragement.

Now after devastation, heart break, death and destruction, those who have left Syria are feeling a pull to turn their hearts back toward their homeland. So many have gathered to pray through Zoom on Saturday evenings. And they (and I say “they” but we all know that my husband is working in all of this…so it might as well be “we”) have been able to begin to support some faithful Christians who are already in country. (For their protection, I will not say their names or what region they are in.)

There is also one other who left the country but is feeling called to return to tell others about Jesus. The believing minority can see that the church in country needs help. They have physical needs of water and bread and spiritual needs to know that Jesus loves them and He is for them even in hardships.

The crazy thing is how inexpensive it is to help support someone in country. About $130 a month can give someone partial support to live and around $40 a month can help with ministry costs. So for less than $200 support for an evangelist can be given.

However, they are asking for people who would consider giving $15 a month or churches who give $65 a month to help. If you or your church feels led to partner in ground breaking ministry in this way, feel free to contact me. You can also give through project funds to our ministry through CBF which will also help support this partnership.

The Mustard Seed Project is operating out of a local European missionary organization called CAMA Zending and together we can make a difference in places where Christian workers have never been allowed to go before.

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Praying Moms

COVID has its grip on so many things in life. Here in Europe, we are always trying to keep up with the new rules. How late can we stay out? When will the cafes close? How many visitors can I have in my house?

It also has affected school. I walk the girls a mile to school each morning and for the last 4 years a group of moms and I have prayed every Wednesday for the school. Last week was our last week to be allowed in the school building because of the virus. We have every hope that one day we will pray in the school again. Just as we have every hope that one day COVID will not rule our lives.

But, as moms, we are determined to continue praying. So we met at a cafe just next the school and continue to support the school, teachers and children the best way we can. There’s nothing better than a conversation with Jesus and a cup of coffee among sisters.