Baby Katie Beth

Last week a couple at our church gave birth to a precious little girl. Unbeknownst to them prior to her birth, she has a rare syndrome called Zellweger syndrome (or possibly another similar condition, tests are still being run). In either case, the prognosis is not good and she has been given between 6 months and 2 years to live. We have only spent one evening with this couple, but we have heard many praises sung about their character through mutual friends at church.

The reason I wanted to blog about this is two-fold. One, I’d like to ask all you who follow our blog to please take a minute right now and pray for them and their daughter, Katie Beth. Here is a picture of her (isn’t she so cute!? Look at all that hair!)

Secondly, (though we have yet to become better acquainted), I honestly haven’t been able to stop thinking about this couple since their little girl was born. This is partly because my heart has been aching for them and the pain they are surely enduring, and partly because, as we have been following their updates, God has really been doing a work in my heart through their response to the situation. I have been incredibly inspired by them and personally convicted as a result. Here are a few things they have written that have hit me like a ton of bricks:

-“[6 months to 2 years is] not as much time as we had hoped to have with our daughter, but we’re thankful for the time we have.”
-“On the way home we talked about how happy we were to be doing this together. There isn’t anybody else I’d rather be doing this with…we thought of couples we’ve seen pass through our community that might not be able to handle this type of stress in their life. But we’ve been in training for five years now, and, at least so far, our spirits are strong and we’re as in love as ever. God works in mysterious ways I guess.”
-“Your prayers are working, and we’ve been blessed to see God working such miracles firsthand.”
-“We continue to have hope that, no matter what happens, we can raise her up in the way that is right as an act of worship to God whom we thank for the wonderful opportunity to care for one of his children.”

Do these words convict your heart like they’ve convicted mine? Put in their situation, would you have a similar God-centered and positive outlook? As I read those words and spend time thinking about this family, God continually brings to mind all the absolutely ridiculous and comparably inconsequential things I complain about. Watching this family deal with such a difficult and devastating situation with such love and thankful hearts, has swiftly knocked me upside the head and put things into perspective for me. It reminds me of the verse in 1 Corinthians 1:27b that says:¬†“God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”

Their clarity of mind and big-picture perspective in the face of such unexpected adversity moves me. I only pray that if I ever experience anything like this that I would have a similarly joyous heart. What a wonderful example of a couple who trusts the Lord and His plan so fully, and is truly living out 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “be joyous always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is not to say they aren’t grieving and experiencing pain (I’m sure they are), but I believe they are able to remain uplifted because they are grounded in their relationship with Christ and ultimately know their lives rest safely in God’s hands.

I’ll leave you with this prayer that has been on my heart:

Jesus, I pray that you would love on this family right now. I pray for healing and nothing short of a miracle for Katie Beth. Continue to give this family so much peace, hope, and joy. In times of sadness, let them know and experience your intense and passionate Fatherly love. Give them the strength to love little Katie Beth with such fervor. You have paired this couple with this precious little girl for a reason, and I pray that you would continue to use this family to bring glory to Yourself.

Jesus, please give me an ever-increasing heart of gratitude. Help me to maintain an eternal perspective and help me to remember to praise Your name in all circumstances. More than anything, thank you for loving me so much that you would send your son to die on my behalf. I am humbled and in awe of your never-ending and unconditional love.

[An update to this post was published on November 22, 2012. Click here to read it.]

72% and 5 Things We’ve Learned While Raising Support

Since many of you reading this are supporters of our ministry, I am sure you are interested to hear about our progress towards our goal of getting onto campus! We are currently at 72% of our monthly goal…SO close to 3/4 of the way there!!! We are definitely in the tail-end of support raising and are praying and hoping to be finished with our financial support by the summer. Right now our biggest obstacle to finishing is finding additional people to talk to about our ministry.

Many lessons have been learned by us in the process of raising support and here are 5 highlights:

1. God is in control and joining staff with Campus Crusade is clearly what He has called us to. I wish I had the space to tell all the specific stories, but let’s just say we’ve come to expect the unexpected. Although we’ve definitely put in our share of hard work, it is clear that it is God who is ultimately working in people’s hearts to join our ministry team. Every time we’ve been frustrated or discouraged, God does something really cool that really encourages us and lifts our spirits, confirming that we are right where we’re supposed to be. Also the fact that He has raised our support much faster than expected is testimony to His call on our lives.

2. Raising support is like sharing the Gospel. You have to take initiative, confront fears, get comfortable with the uncomfortable, and be willing to constantly meet new people. We once heard it said that “if you can’t ask people to support you financially, how can you ask people to completely surrender their lives to God?” This has certainly been training grounds for where we will go next and is pushing our limits of what comes to us naturally.

3. We took many aspects of “normal” jobs for granted. Where do I even begin on this one? Having steady (better) paychecks, only working 40-50 hours a week, working a set schedule each day, minimal travel, occasional periods of psychological rest…and the list goes on. Honestly, leaving these things behind was one of our biggest obstacles to choosing¬† vocational ministry. The “security” and luxuries we had before, we no longer have.

4. God requires everything…yes, everything. We are learning to let go of the “securities” and comforts I talked about in #3. Nothing can be put as a greater priority than God…when you are stripped of the things you were so heavily relying on, you become painfully aware of the ways you were not depending on God. Halfway into support raising, I did an honest evaluation on my level of trust in God…and found it to be about a 3 on a scale of 1-10. That’s because we had been so “self-sufficient” and independent that I didn’t feel like I desperately needed Him. That’s scary…but I think it’s been changing (maybe slowly…but surely). Mark Gauthier once said that “faith is predicated on insecurity. You should live your life so that if God doesn’t pull through for you – you’re toast!”

5. Happiness is not the same as joy. Happiness is fleeting and depends on your circumstances, but joy is much deeper and transcends circumstances. I think it’s safe to say that support raising does not make us happy. It’s not fun, enjoyable, or easy. Our current circumstances (apart from support raising itself) are less than ideal as well…traveling often, living as a married couple in your parents home, living far away from most of our friends…you get the picture. However, I think it’s also safe to say that we have experienced more joy in the last 9 months than ever before. We’ve learned so much about ourselves and the authentic life (of love and sacrifice) that God calls all Christians to live – there’s no such thing as a “mediocre Christian life”…it’s an oxymoron. We’ve been so close to God during this time and have experienced Him and the awesomeness of being sure we are in His will. Despite the frustrations of support raising and the things we gave up in #3, I don’t think we’d give up this experience for anything.We didn’t choose to do vocational ministry because we lacked other options or because it was going to be an easy path…far, FAR from it. We chose it because we know that God radically transforms lives (I am a testimony to that) and it is so amazing to experience and be a part of that.

We are learning what Paul said in Philippians 3:7-11 – “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”