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GodsCr4NCF

9 Mar

This cryptic phrase was my password as I poured over used car websites the past few months.  It represented the conviction that our Heavenly Father would provide the vehicle we needed after almost three years of breakdowns, repairs and complications with our mini-van.

Even though we had faith in God, the reality of web searches, phone calls, and trips to San Diego to see cars began to overwhelm and discourage us.  Ministry commitments loomed on the horizon too making the purchase of a new-to-us mode of transportation an immediate necessity.

Knowing that many people had generously donated to this cause made us keenly aware that we also needed to be good stewards of what they had entrusted to the ministry.  I kept looking for a sign that one of the hundreds of cars would be God’s Car for NCF (like a specific message on one of the license plates!)

On the last day we had to look, at the last dealership that we had time to visit, in the pouring rain, there it was–our sign!

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David and I were married in 1993 and my first initial is K.  Not quite as obvious, but right under our “sign” is the notation on the color of the car.  If anyone knows David they know he has two favorite flavors of ice cream–Cherry Garcia by Ben and Jerry’s, and Black Cherry.  Can you see it, under 2012 Mazda CX-7?  The color of our car is Black Cherry!

After the test drive, negotiations, phone calls to the Board, and last minute fund raising efforts, we decided that this was indeed God’s car for us.  And to give us one more sign–after all the paperwork was signed and the costs tallied, the total came to EXACTLY the amount we had pledged–to the penny!!

So here it is, GodsCr4NCF–the Cherry Garcia mobile.

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Excited about ReTire-ing

5 Jul

Don’t worry, we haven’t applied for Social Security or AARP, nor have we scheduled any extended hours on the golf course. Rather we are talking about the wheels on our car, llantas, tires.

As of this afternoon we have had four flat tires in the past three weeks or so.  Obviously this has involved temporary inconveniences.  But even in the midst of becoming Clientes Distinguidos at our local Llantera, these recent tire sagas have had God’s fingerprints all over them.

A few examples:

  • Two times people have seen the flat tires while our car was parked in front of our house.  Once David was able to make it to the llantera; the other time the 24-hr on call service made a “house call.”
  • Not once have we been stranded by the side of the road–and that includes a trip to the U.S. yesterday when we drove back to Ensenada late at night.
  • Fixing the first flat drew our attention to the fact that we needed new front tires.

Jumping off this last point, the best part of our recent ReTire-ing odyssey is how God gave us new front tires for $100.00 pesos (about $9.00 dollars.)   Knowing we needed new tires led us to discuss how we were going to pay for those tires.  While cleaning up the back patio we found a tire that we had stored back there after Karen had a close encounter with a curb when the tire was brand new.  To be safe we had bought another tire and put that one away.  David decided to take it to the Llantero and see if he thought we could use it.  The answer was affirmative.  He diagnosed it as superficial damage and said we were good to go.  Knowing we needed another tire to make the pair, David asked about the spare that had never been used.  It matched and we had our “new” front tires and one of the old ones was good enough to become the spare, all for $100 pesos.

This is just one of the stories of how God has provided for our needs recently.  Stay tuned for more.

A Time for Everything

8 Sep

This is a tale of two women. I did not know either one of them very well, and they did not know one another. One was 86 years old and the other 50-something. One was my next door neighbor and the other the neighbor of a friend of a friend. One I saw a handful of times when she would venture out to water her garden. The other I had only met once.

Last Monday however, both of these women came to the forefront of my reality. For Francisca, my neighbor, it was because she silently exited this world; and for the other woman, Blanca, it was because she quietly re-entered it.

That memorable morning the unexpected arrival of an ambulance with flashing lights, but no siren, prompted me to expect the worst. A paramedic shaking her head, family members speeding to the scene, and then the hearse confirmed my suspicions–Francisca had died in her sleep. A quick word of consolation to the family members, an offer of help if they needed anything. The arrival of more family, an invitation to the funeral and wake. My neighbor was gone, just like that.

But the day went on: friends over for lunch, helping the daughters with homework, a neighbor coming to use the phone-hers was cut off, a mom coming to get a copy of the day’s homework and then another unexpected occurence.

The sister of a good friend calling for me. She had never called me before. Several questions in quick succession: “Do you know Blanca C.?” I did only because several months ago someone told me she was in a coma since January and had asked me to be praying for her. “They told me you went to pray for her.” I did go in March, one time, when God put it on my heart and my daughters and I had been praying every day since. “I called to tell you something–Blanca is awake and talking. I have just spent the whole day with her.” Again, just like that, but this time Blanca had awakened from her coma induced slumber.

Wow!! Unbelievable!! In the same day, one woman goes to sleep and passes from this life to the next one, while another woman, living in another dimension for nine months, literally comes back to life. What a mixture of joy and sadness. Only God knows why He picked the same day to juxtapose these two very distinct but related realities.

The words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes seem appropriate for such a day as this:

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven–
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to be silent, and a time to speak…”

May I live the time that is appointed for this day….

Gym Encounters

9 Aug


For as long as I’ve known David (that is for over 20 years now!) he has loved to run and to go to the gym. Every morning he gets up around 5 a.m. and is at the gym by 6. Besides the satisfaction of the physical discipline and the health benefits, in the last year there has been an added bonus to this daily routine–he has developed some significant relationships with a few guys there.

Now besides seeing each other early each morning, several of them have gone out to breakfast various times where they have been able to touch on deeper topics that involve their jobs, their families, their worries and concerns and also spiritual themes. One man especially at these meals always asks David to share something. This week it was his illustration of the “tres circulos”, (three circles, as he refers to it), that creatively illustrates our three-part reality as human beings–body, soul and spirit.

In response to David’s words, this man assured him that he has been contemplating this very reality lately, especially after a freak bicycle accident resulted in hospitalization and emergency surgery, and one of his close friends and business associates was murdered recently in Tijuana. One never knows when the seeds we sow will fall on fertile soil.

Please pray for David and for these teachable moments and softened hearts at the local gym.

Believing is Seeing!

28 Mar


Jesus instructs us in Matthew 7:7 to “ask and it will be given to you.” I think for most of us we think that is a good idea, and we wish it would work, but we’re either afraid that it won’t work or we really don’t believe it could be true.

Over the past several months our ministry partners have been asking God for a dependable, used car. They asked us to join them in asking. And along the way, we posted it as one of the “opportunities” on this blog as a way of inviting you to “ask” for them too.

Well, God matched us and upped us one in the process! Our friends had a limited amount to spend–if they sold their current vehicle. Ideally they wanted a Toyota. Realistically they thought it would have to be an older model (1993 or so) given their budget. The night before the customer for the old car was scheduled to pick it up, some partners in Bakersfield informed us they had a vehicle available, and they would accept the amount our friends had to offer–a 2003 Toyota Camry!!

The car is now here in Ensenada, and yet our friends are still saying: “I can’t believe it!” I would say that as you look at their smiling faces by their new car that “seeing is believing.” But I think what God wants to remind us is with Him, “believing is seeing!”

Following God’s Agenda

15 Oct

Sometimes it is hard to accept that the “interruptions” to our plans are really our calling…and that the tasks we have planned need to take a back seat to God’s agenda.

Take today for example. Tomorrow I am going to the U.S. and I have to send the donor receipts for September but I have not written the letter yet. So, the girls are off to school. I have a chunk of time to get the job done. After meeting with a few people I go home ready to do a few chores, start preparing lunch, write a memo for Jessica’s class and work on the letter. But just as I sit down at the computer my cell phone rings. It is one of the women we disciple. She is faithful, teachable, committed and responsible, but life has hit her hard. She is just recovering from the latest punch when an incident this morning involving her youngest child threatens to cut the thread on which her life is hanging. I drop everything and run to be with her. The chores, the lunch, the memo and the letter can wait.

This afternoon I take our girls rock climbing. Can I watch a friends’ daughter until she can get home. “Sure!” Homework, baths, dinner, violin practice, bedtime Bible story and prayers…soon I can get back to the computer and get that letter written. Then there is a knock on the gate. Someone is yelling my name…a mother of one of Geneva’s classmates. It is her second visit in the past couple weeks. She needs counsel, encouragement and a listening ear. And the letter to our partners—maybe later…She does not leave until 10 p.m.

Urgent needs and emergencies are never scheduled and are rarely convenient. But being a part of meeting those needs or responding to those emergencies is a conscious choice we make. Apparently Jesus lived life this way. In the midst of sharing an important spiritual message, someone who needed healing would “interrupt”. As He tried to get some time alone to pray or rest, the masses would follow Him wanting more teaching…or more bread. Walking along the road, a heartfelt question from one of His followers would warrant a pause in the journey to speak to that specific need. My heart tells me that He knew all of these “detours” were part of the plan for His life and He invested the time and energy to show us this is how God loves.

May God continue to prepare all of us to respond as He does to the daily “inconveniences” and “interruptions”. May we give His love freely and trust Him for the rest of the important tasks and responsibilities…including belated letters and blogs.

Challenges…On the Wall and In Life

14 Sep


Challenges…When faced and confronted they provide opportunities to excel, to thrive, to succeed, to go beyond what you thought or believed you could accomplish. But when resisted or avoided, they generate fear, regret, worry, failure and insecurity.

David shared recently with our faith community a well known passage that speaks directly to this concept. In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus reminds us of several things. One is that in this life there will be situations that challenge us on a daily basis. Secondly, He shows us that when confronted with these situations we have a choice as to how we are going to react—either by worrying about how we are going to resolve the need or by trusting in Him to provide for that need. Third, we read that we are to rest in the fact that our Heavenly Father is perfectly aware of our situation and its accompanying needs. Finally, we are to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and these things we need will be provided. David concluded by challenging us with this thought: If we are filling our hearts and minds with trust in God, then there is no room for worry!

During the last couple of months our girls have been fantastic examples of facing challenges and of trust as they took up a new sport…rock climbing!! From the first day they listened intently to their instructor, followed his instructions and met the challenge head on, reaching the top of the wall. They love it!!

God has used our daughters’ new activity to remind us how to respond to the challenges of everyday life. We must listen to our Instructor (God), follow His instructions (the Word) and face the challenge head on (trust).

For us a substantial challenge lately has been administering our resources—both time and finances. Choosing to face the challenges and trust has been a recurring theme for us and we are growing as we see God’s direction in our lives and experience His faithfulness. We are in the process of forming a Board of Directors and our hope is that as we seek God together they will provide a steady source of wisdom and counsel in these and other areas. Please pray for us as we will meet for the first time on September 20.

So, we are going to follow our daughters’ example and let God show us how to climb the walls in our life that can be challenging and intimidating. We’ll see you at the top!

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