Monday, January 30, 2017

End of January Sunday Funday

We are missing our Jamaican family so much! Here were our last moments together this year:
I have been thinking about this post for awhile, and it felt good to finally push "Publish." Since the March for Life last Friday, I have a comment: I notice that most of my friends who were pro-abortion have changed the term to pro-choice long ago. I respect that and understand the change, and the significance that it makes. I made the change in terms from being anti-abortion to being pro-life long ago, and I hope you understand and use that term instead. Most of the media coverage did not say anything about a march for life: it was about an anti-abortion march. How you word things makes a difference. 

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. Insomnia: my father has been dealing with this for a while now, and I found it insightful into the true struggle that it is.
4. Good Samaritan or gullible sucker? This continues to come up in my life
5. Re-entry phases: she suggests they could be 1. Honeymoon 2.Pity Party 3.Humble Pie and I really like this idea and want to explore it more! 

Is it really almost February and Valentine's Day and all that?

Friday, January 27, 2017

3 Things Learned from the Woman's March on Washington

A lot of women (and men) were a part of the Women's March on Washington, all over--not just in Washington. I've been traveling the past month, so was a bit out of the loop on most things, including this. When I first heard about it, I loved the idea: marching for women. I am very pro-woman. But then I got confused because most everything I saw was about being anti-Trump and pro-Planned Parenthood.

I had friends and family involved in the Women's March on Washington, and I had friends and family loudly denouncing it as well. Here are three things I have been thinking about, and are dear to my heart:

1. I love women. Some kind of 'Rachel style' feminism has been brewing in me for awhile now. I want to encourage and empower women. I want everyone to read "Half the Sky" and see that women hold the key to the future. I am raising a woman from the scratch up (see a million pictures of her on Facebook). I do not agree with how our current president treats women, nor did I vote for him. There was a lot I agreed with in the Woman's March, and I believe I would have found many kindred spirits there. 

2. I don't want to be known for what I am against, but what I am FOR. How we word things changes the focus and perspective (as I wrote many years ago): I don't want to march for being anti-Trump, I want to march for being pro-making my world a better place. The March was a huge event, with many women and men being rude and crude, and many men and women desperate to share love and bring life and light. Some people took a stand against the march, and I get that.

Some people went to the march and made it theirs (like my cousin with a Micah 6:8 poster). I love the idea of running to, and creating beauty in hard and controversial situations. It was a Women's march, and up to the women (and men, I hope) to define what it was about, not just the organizers of the march. There were hate yellers, and there were people lovers who showed a better way. Aren't we called to transform culture, not condemn it?

3. I cannot, with a clear conscience, march for hating Trump or Planned Parenthood. Fighting hate with hate never wins, and Planned Parenthood is a whole other discussion. Pro-life and Pro-choice comments are flying around Facebook again, and it stirs me up once more. As one friend pointed out, not many people are pro-abortion, but many people are against the government limiting their choices. No one likes seeing dead babies, but life is hard and choices are even harder.

As someone who wanted to adopt a child that was aborted, I feel strongly about this. As a mother, as a Christian, as a woman: I feel strongly about this (as do most others, agreeing and disagreeing with me). I am pro-abstinence. Waiting to have sex with one man, after we were married, was a big wonderful deal to me. It made life much simpler, even if it was one of the hardest things to do. But I understand that the issue is bigger than that.
I am pro-contraceptives. I have personally used them, since marriage, and there are a million and one reasons why you may need them: not just because you "Don't want kids right now." After working with women in poverty for over 15 years, I feel even stronger about this. Women need choices, especially in places where many other options have been take away.

To the women who find themselves in a corner feeling that an abortion is the only way: I will cry with you. I am so sorry for all the reasons why you have been backed into a such a hopeless place. I will love you and be there for you all I can, no matter what you decide to do. I will (this is a promise) find you other options for your child. But I will also beg you not to kill your child.

I am pro-many choices. But not the choice to kill: that destroys two lives. And #realtalk here? My wish for you is this: that whether or not you agree with my religious standards, you would be blessed with a committed relationship where before sex there is love and straight talk about condoms and birth control and babies and what the plan is, because you are not alone in sex, and you are not alone in your choices. My feminism requires guys to step up before there is talk of child support. My wish for you is that you would feel loved and supported in your sexual and reproductive choices by your sexual partner.

I am glad that Planned Parenthood has helped women get contraceptives. I am glad for any help they have given to women that is not giving (or counseling to give) an abortion. But there are better ways (and many wonderful crisis pregnancy centers!) and even if there is good happening, I will not support the evil of taking unborn lives. I will not support Planned Parenthood.

In Brazil we buy birth control from any pharmacy for a decent price. My suggestion is that Planned Parenthood funding should go to doing that instead. Condoms just don't cover all situations, and having to go get a prescription can be hard (which is currently what you must do, or take a sometimes dangerous "morning after" pill).

The thing about being pro-many choices is that you still can't control what other people choose to do to you. So you may end up in a corner of Planned Parenthood (or worse options) because of choices that others have made. But you do have power. You do have choices besides abortion. You do have the power to give birth--give life--and do right by someone no one has ever met yet. That is why I feel that being pro-life is the empowering choice for women.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thursday Sunday Funday

Sunday Funday is an idea, of putting together what happened the week before, and things I'd read before and wanted to share, but this week it didn't happen until Thursday. No apologies. It just is. Last week we said good bye to our amazing Jamaican family in Connecticut, and drove to Ohio. In Ohio, we met up with amazing friends and had a great time sharing at Morning Star Friends Church. Monday we returned to Indy--an amazing month of travel and sharing.
But the excitement didn't end there--Ana got sick on Tuesday (thank you Lord it wasn't while we were on the road!). She had a fever, but in the afternoon the fever suddenly spiked and she had a febrile seizure. 
For a couple of minutes, it was like she wasn't there. For a couple of minutes, life exploded. It was a whole big thing for a couple hours, but really, she started to get better soon after it happened. As the doctor said (that we rushed to go see after calling 911), febrile seizures are common in young children when they get an infection and fever so high the brain can't handle it, so it kind of "restarts." Most of the time, it isn't damaging at all (unless it keeps happening). 

Tell that to my heart, and the heart of every other mother who has been through this: restart. 

After antibiotics and children's Tylenol, Ana was back to her dancing, singing self, and I cleaned the house with a vengeance. Cleaning is good therapy. It is nice to get things done. Thank you everyone for your messages and calls of care and concern, we appreciate it! 

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. For do-it-yourself photographers: before and after. I am trying to figure out the artistic points...
2. Playing catch up. Catching up after being out of the country. 
3. Thoughts about the Inauguration: There is enough. 
4. More thoughts about the Inauguration: This is why I am thankful to be an American. International perspective. 
5. For Martin Luther King jr. Day: Movies. Yes, I am late on this, but sorta fits with the Inauguration, right?
6. Making kids pay for their own college, and other parenting ideas from a guy with 12 kids (all with degrees). 

Monday, January 16, 2017

January Sunday Funday

I didn't post this on Facebook this week--but got permission to post this from everyone included:)

It has been a wonderful week in Connecticut, and please keep us in your prayers are we travel this next week to Ohio and have meetings with great people. I posted a lot on my own blog this week:

1. Visiting Churches: feeling the culture changes
2. Finances 2016: an infograph of our giving and spending this year. 
3. Shhhhhhh: Talking about getting pregnant 
Other good reads:

4. Opps, I went home for Christmas: a look at some of the feelings of re-entry at holidays. 
5. More Ethical Fundraising: something we are actively working on! (see #2)
6. The One who is Left Behind: super practical help/tips when people (missionaries/friends/kids) leave for great things. (Great for you mom!)
7. For kids to know before leaving the nest: I need to make these kinda lists soon.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


If you don't like talking about periods, please skip this blog entry.

When we told some of our friends that we were pregnant, two months after we found out, she looked at me and said, in almost a whisper, "But shouldn't you wait until you hear the heartbeat to tell anyone?" I had never even thought about keeping it a secret for that long. We just wanted to make sure we went in the correct order of telling people (parents, siblings, close family, close friends, farther family, farther friends, and finally, the internet), which we didn't even do very well.

But it made me stop and think about why you might wait to tell something so special and important, and the pain connected to so much this amazing thing called pregnancy. In her way, that friend was telling me, "I don't want you to have to suffer the pain of having to tell everyone if something goes wrong with the pregnancy." Around 80% of miscarriages happen in the first three months.

Let me be perfectly honest with you: I like to be an open person who shares everything. I normally err on the side of sharing too much rather than too little, but it has been a bit daunting to me to share our reproductive plans with almost everyone we meet the past couple of months. I have tried to find nice, conservative ways to say it, but it is what it is: because we live in the epicenter of the Zika/Microcephaly issue in Brazil. and because so much about it is unknown, our leadership advised that if we were going to have children, we should wait to get pregnant in the USA.

I am not used to the idea of outside forces determining our intimate choices. I have people I respect who disagree on using/what kind of contraception to use. This has always been a "SHHHHHHH!" issue. And yet, I am 34, and we do wish to have another child. So we came back on home assignment saying, if we get pregnant, we will stay--if not--we will return to Brazil. We have three months to see.

We are a month and a half into this, and I realize I know practically nothing about trying to conceive. This is a whole world of struggle and theories and frustration that was unknown to me. I made sure to be as healthy as possible, that Ana was weaned, and I got an app called "Dot" that kept track of my cycles and know when I had a low, medium, or high chance of getting pregnant (it is free).

After the first month, when I got my period, I felt sad. Almost like a failure. I wanted to give my body a pep talk, like "Hey! Get on the ball with this!" I took random pregnancy tests anytime I had a stomach ache. I think I need to become more self-educated about this, and be okay with talking about this "shhhhhhhhhh" issue. Because a lot of women are struggling in silence.

If you go on Youtube, there is a whole world of women vlogging about trying to conceive. Don't believe me? type in "TTC": Trying To Conceive (this is also true for blogs--type it into google). The main thing is: this is a big issue for a lot of people. Here are some resources that I found interesting and important:
Our period is just one part of a month-long system of hormones and interesting womanly things. Who knew?

Nifty little animated video! So you have to wait two weeks (basically) for these things to work, and by then, you basically have your period and wait for the next month...

A husband trying to keep up with the lingo of TTC ppl:). 

Caid and I will find ways to share, as we see or don't see what happens the next month and a half, and will prayerfully be vulnerable in new ways. Life with God certainly is an adventure!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ferguson Finances for 2016

Caid and I are missionaries supported by many amazing people and churches. We are so grateful, as this allows us to spend 100% of our time in ministry. We are under World Renewal International and World Renewal Brazil, and are accountable to them with our time and finances. But we also feel the responsibility to personally log our hours (Caid full time and Rachel part time--together around 70 hours a week), as well as carefully label the money that we spend.
We desire to be transparent and good stewards before God and to you. On the charts below, you can see that almost $30,000 was donated to us in 2016, and how that money was spent. For those of you who gave toward our car fund, we have $7,375 saved for when we will buy that car (God's timing has just been different than ours). Please note that some expenses didn't fall into these categories perfectly, and with two different currencies and changes in exchange rates, these numbers are not perfect, but they are close. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at

Monday, January 9, 2017

Visiting Churches

I live in Brazil, but come home to Indiana quite regularly. More frequently than “normal” missionaries. Then I married a Jamaican-relocated-to-Connecticut. So you can imagine our holidays/ family visits. I love to travel, but the glitter of it is vanishing with age and children, and the accessibility of it is diminishing as the size of our family (and lack of money for plane tickets) grows.
But nothing hits me in the face of changing culture quite so much as visiting churches (except superstores. Superstores overwhelm me to tears. Every. Single. Transition.) This past Sunday was the end all: Sunday morning we worshiped at a Jamaican Pentecostal church, and Sunday evening was at a White Conservative Baptist church. These are both places that have shaped who my husband is today, but left me feeling jet-lagged.
Ironic how a missionary’s biggest job is to visit and share at churches while on home assignment, and churches are the biggest culture jump we see and feel. Culture shapes our churches more than we realize or care to admit. That is why many people say Sunday morning is the most segregated hour(s) of the week.

In Brazil, my Sunday morning normal is to drive 25 minutes, off-roading it in an area that looks much like the Amazon, to a yellow cement box church with two classrooms. We sing three songs (my husband somewhere in the worship band), have offering, have a meet and greet that means you hug every single person, and I normally lead the children 0-9 to the classroom for a lesson including coloring, cookies, and avoiding ants, lizards, and bats.

In the USA, my Sunday morning normal is a couple months of correspondence with someone I may or may not know to try to figure out exactly how long and what they would like us to share about. The week before it is writing out exactly what we will (try to) share and getting together all our “props” (videos, visuals, and table in the back). It is about practicing our lines with Caid, even though we both know that he goes off script, and I do better with just an outline.
Sunday normal is being really grateful for nice toddler rooms for our daughter (who loves toddler rooms), and really worried if they don’t have childcare. It is a bit of nervousness, normally feeling behind schedule, and a lot of smiles. It is a couple of familiar faces blended in with a lot of new faces. It is people knowing our names, and us not knowing theirs. It is always about thinking “Did we share enough? Did we share too much?”
Sometimes we get to just go to church. While we love sharing, it is a relief to rest. But it also gives time to sit there and see and feel so much difference. To try to explain the gapping variance I feel and see in the Sunday morning pew (or chair).

I feel needed in Brazil. Everyone knows me and I know everyone, but we are still different, and “different” comes up in every interaction, in some way. I feel wanted and loved in Brazil, but it is very demanding and tiring. There are many things that if we don’t do them, they won’t be done. I feel spiritual in Brazil. I can clearly tell I am doing “ministry” and am making a visible difference. Worship and preaching are not in my heart language in Brazil, and so I make sure I still get that connection via internet on Sundays.

I feel overwhelmed in the USA. Everything is so nice (free coffee and tea? Perhaps donuts? Yes please!) and clean, and the technology and resources blow my mind (In my church in Brazil it is still a big deal to have power point, and we make our own Sunday school resources from scratch). I keep switching between floating on air to fighting off resentment, as I know “my kids” will never have the same opportunities and there is only so much of it I can bring back in my suitcases.
I feel like I am always taking mental notes of what is going on around me so that I don’t stand out. I learn to sing songs I’ve never heard quickly, so no one notices I don’t know the current worship favorites. I try to figure out the new trends, to see what I can take back with me, and share with my kiddos.
I feel familiar in the USA. I can click back into worship and the general church rhythm quickly, without even noticing. It whispers “This is who you are” in ways I didn’t even know I was. People look more like me. People act more like me. This is comforting. I feel less pressure to do in the USA, because everyone already has everything under control. Everything is organized and everyone knows their place.
I feel so loved in the USA. People go out of their way to be kind and encouraging to us, and it blesses our socks off. It is humbling to have people know about us, that we haven’t met yet, and to receive from people we have never given to. It is empowering to know people you admire believe in you, and even sacrifice financially to support the dream you believe in.
I often feel like a fraud in the USA. Even if I had all day to share, I can’t paint a clear picture of what is really happening in another country, another culture. I know I am failing at something, somewhere. I place expectations on myself that are unreachable. I hate being one more voice in the choir of asking for money. I question missions and church and how we do things and are we effective and what is “success”?

Maybe I feel just comfortable enough, after being in different for so long, that I have enough perspective to see I need to grow more. Maybe I have just enough time, after being so deeply invested in give, give, give, that I can process the internal struggles I had pushed aside.

**Note: This was not written to be controversial or upset at anyone. It is simply some thoughts I have had from visiting churches. Caid and I and Ana Sofia love the opportunity to meet new people and see old friends as we are invited to visit churches, and we would never trade the experience for anything!

Monday Sunday Funday

No good excuse this week (no holiday), but Sundays are sometimes too full for Sunday Funday. But it has been a pretty great week:
and our lovely New Years:

I also got some good blog posts in:
1. New Years Resolutions from my Daughter
2. 25 best Vlogs from 2016: I know many of you are busy, but here are the best ones, if you want to catch up:)
3. Best Book of 2017! That I have read, at least:)

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. Good Read, but I really wanted the pretzel recipe, something I crave in Brazil
2. Answers a good question: How do I make goals for 2017 when I know I can't keep them?
3. Love me some informative maps about all kinds of information...
4. If I hadn't found Caid or Brazil, this would be my life
5. Well, not sure if my mom wants me to do this to her house, and not sure when I will be back at my apartment...but this seems like a really awesome thing to do for your home.
6. Love this idea--on my to do list! Raising our kids with a legacy list

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Found a Favorite

It has been a good long while since I have read a good book. Well, it has been a while since I have read any book (I have a young child). But this year has already started with a banging good one. Normally I read through and dog-ear pages I like, go back and type all the amazing quotes up, and then hit delete until I give you a good page or so of thoughts.
Nope. Not this time. I am just going to give you all four pages. Because I can't hit delete on any of it. I don't even know the legalities of posting four pages of quotes. I am going to buy this book (I just read the library copy), and I suggest you do to, especially if you are a missionary, work with refugees or in the inner city, or have ever had those desires to do so. Missions is changing. It needs to change. And that change starts in our hearts and humility.

Assimilate or Go Home by D.L.Mayfield

“My mother raised me and my sisters on a steady diet of missionary biographies. The vast majority of them were about women: how they left all that they knew and any hope of a future to go and preach the good news. They were the original abolitionists, whistle-blowers, labor representatives, feminists. They went to be Jesus to the people that Jesus always went to: those that the powerful wanted nothing to do with. I view it now as a rich legacy of service born out of racist and sexist theology: the mission field was one of the few places a woman could be in a place of leadership. And so the female preachers, teachers, and evangelists left the West, forsaking families and cultures that had no place for their gifts. And they brought liberation with them, wherever they went.”
“I would spend the next several hours (after watching a documentary) turning the facts of inequality over in my mind, aware of how tied up my material comforts were to the suffering of the poor the world over. This happened to me from time to time. The veil of my supremely comfortable world would be ripped away from me, and I would be plunged into the realities of suffering from which I could not let myself escape.”
“If you had asked me in the midst of all those years of learning and unlearning if it was worth it, I would have told you, yes. I would have looked you in the eye and told you the truth as straight as I could see it: it is hard, but I am trying to convert to this way of living all the time (downward mobility); I expect I will be to the end of my days. And please forgive me, but I am trying to convert you along with me.”
“I once heard about a nun in the south side of Chicago who was the principal of a local Catholic school. As the population at this Catholic school was almost entirely made up of black students, one day the nun went from classroom to classroom, and she changed the crucifixes hanging on the walls (to a black Jesus crucifix). “Sister, why are you doing that?” Her answer was simple. “Well, we don’t know exactly what Jesus looked like, but I am sure he looked more like you than he looked like me.”
“As a young child, I, like all great missionaries, was eager to take the weight of the world on my shoulders. I pressed my cheek to the rock of the world, the vast and great hordes of unbelievers. What shall I tell them? About Jesus, of course. What would I say? I would figure that out when I got there. The great narratives told around me were primarily of going; there was not much conversation regarding what was to be said. What they didn’t tell me is that it is only the young and the foolhardy who try to convert others. It is the bright-eyed and dewy-skinned who clutch at the books that they read, the doctrines lined up just so; they are the ones with all the right answers. Never mind their loneliness and doubts, fears and the pressure to be a little Christ, to emulate their master without offending as he so often did. They are to do His job better, to convince and plead and wheedle, to have enough faith to do it all. I tried to do it. It never worked, but that was no bother to me. This was a sign of being a prophet: no one ever listens to you. It never occurred to me what it might be like to receive lessons about death and God and the unbearable weight of existence from a nineteen-year-old girl who was entirely sure of herself.”
“Then the real question emerges, the one that has been here all along: what exactly is it that I am trying to convert people into?”
“A few years previously, I was the guardian of those wild packs of kids, the eager volunteer. I would have made a big show of talking to the boys, hovering and helpful, stern when I needed to be, setting good boundaries. A part of me loved the stares I got, tramping around this city with all the colorful kids in tow. In the beginning, when there was so much tangible need, I felt gratified to be part of making their present more bearable. It was only later I realized that the present never mattered much to them, and I never had quite the starring role I thought I did. It was hard for me to give up on myself, on my own future dreams that hinge on me saving people, converting others, changing all the wrongs into rights. I have wild thoughts like, if I just could have done more—more homework clubs, job education course, Jesus film showings, prayer times—then I could have done something. Then maybe my friends would not be moving away. People I adore would not get lost in violence, or get married at age fifteen, or be crushed by debt the rest of their lives. In the weird way that nostalgia works, I am casting myself as a hero of sorts in our narratives. But underneath my histrionics is the unsettling reality that I am not needed anymore, and if I am, then I don’t have the strength to do it.”
“I was still an outsider, but at least I had a couple of years of living with my neighbors in mind under my belt. I was probably doing everything badly, but others would probably do it worse. The problem was that, I too, in my heart of hearts, still believed that I was bringing good to the ‘hood. I had just learned not to put it on a t-shirt anymore.”
“If you stay long enough you will learn just enough about the brokenness of the world that you will feel completely powerless, mired in your own brokenness and doubting God more often than you care to admit. It is easier to leave right after the prayers are prayed, right after someone meets Jesus, while the tears are still fresh and the hope is solid enough to cut with a knife. We, the do-gooders, stay for a short while, because we crave the knowledge that we have done something of value in the world. And we leave before we have a chance to see how poor in relationships we really are. I have done this do-gooder work for years now, what I thought were valiant, honorable efforts, but what was more often than not just a roundabout way of trying to come to terms with the inequalities in our world. And I’ve learned how dipping our toes in the pool of humanity—going and helping and doing—actually impoverishes and deceives us. For a few days, weeks, and months, we allow ourselves to see the other side. We swing from the ends of helplessness to arrogance, back and forth. We become zealots, lovers, missionaries, and activists. We read articles, pause and let the words sink in, stare at the pictures until they are burned in our brains. And then we forget. No one can live in that tension forever, and soon enough you will be able to forget.”
“But when I become the bit part, the background player in a much larger saga, I find my true role, which is this: to swallow my own impulse to save and to focus on the long game. To be a friend, the truest form of advocacy there is.”
“I thought about the countless conversations about colleges and careers, the introduction of Disney preteen media and “follow your dreams” mantras, the talks about Jesus and how much he loves and values women, my harping on equitable marriages, on waiting to have children, on finishing high school. As I drove away from the wedding (of her friend at age 16), there was only one thought in my head: what if I had made everything worse?”
“That people prefer themselves and all others like them is no surprise to any of us, but I am consistently taken aback at how often we refuse to acknowledge that our systems might have the same kind of problem. Being a minority where I work and live and play has opened my eyes to the way systems (political and religious) are intrinsically for me. This never bothered me until I realized what the converse of that equation is: those systems are actively against others.”
“But really, when it comes down to it, I was scared that God might ask me to wave my own freakish, shimmering flag around—to declare that He loved all of us, when everything around me seemed to contradict this statement.”
“All I can do is listen and wonder if this is what it means to grow older: the cruelties of the world are no longer surprising.”
“Whether I realized it or not, I absorbed the mindset that this Western method of education was the best way to go about doing anything. You go into debt, you learn from the best, and then you go out and be and teach and do with all you have learned. And this isn’t bad or untrue, not at all. Except for that one teeny tiny problem that I started to discover burrowed deep beneath all the years of enlightenment thinking that my culture and my church had swallowed like so much honey: Jesus never said those things.”
“Beneath all of that seemingly “good” stuff was a girl who had placed herself on a pedestal, someone who believed I am destined for something special, because I am special. Those books about my heroes only reinforced this, as did my Christian culture around me. There are some people who go out and do BIG things for God, and I knew in my heart that I just happened to be one of them. And it was unspoken, of course, but the flip side of this belief was an ugly little hierarchy, a drive to be out on the top that came more from desperation than idealism: I am special because I have to be. Because God loves special more.”
“The scriptures show us time and time again what the first signs of sin and idolatry are: the poor are forgotten, they are downtrodden and oppressed.”
“I was angry, my heart a flame of indignation and jealousy and something that very much felt like sorrow. For if God could truly delight in a person like David, then why was I trying so damn hard? It was because I never believed I had earned his love after all. But like the smallest of seeds, an idea began to grow: what if it was all true? What if God loved everybody, exactly the same? What if there were no hierarchies, no gold stars, no way to spill or waste or fritter away or lose the love of the Almighty? When I asked God about all this, he told me some hard and true things, which amounted to what I had heard my whole life but didn’t have the wherewithal to actually believe: God loves everybody, exactly the same. No matter what you do.”
“The father (of the prodigal son), full of sadness and mercy, tells his older son—so good, so bitter—a simple thing. “My son,” he says, looking the boy full in the eyes, “You are always with me, and everything I have is available to you.” He doesn’t need to add what by now I knew: it was always available to him, all along. Being near the Father is a constant party-in-progress, a constant chance to experience the benefits of being in community. But we can choose to opt out of it, to work tirelessly for an idea of what our Father wants, instead of spending time with him.”
“Being a witness is harder than anything I have ever done. And he is asking all of us to do this task, to simultaneously see the realities of our broken world and testify to the truth that all is not well. To be a witness to the tragedy, to be a witness to the beauty. He is asking us to drop everything and run, run in the direction of the world’s brokenness. And he is asking us to bring cake.”
“We aren’t being asked to assimilate, but we are called to make our home here more like the kingdom we have always dreamed about but were too scared to believe was possible.”

Monday, January 2, 2017

25 Best Vlogs From 2016

For those who don't know, Caid and I became Missionary Vloggers in 2016. For those of you who don't know what a missionary vlogger is, welcome to the club. Vlogging is a new (the past 7ish years) thing that has happened on Youtube where people make video blogs about their life. It is sort of like reality TV, but cutting out all the networks, middlemen, and agendas. It is a great medium to share your daily life with others.
"Five Minutes of Fergie" (our Youtube channel and website name) is five minute or less videos about our lives, sharing about missions and life and of course, baby (for the grandparents). I think in the next five years, missionary vlogging will become a "thing," instead of just something we are making up as we go. We put out at least one vlog a week, and feel that this is an amazing way to connect and let people get a better picture into the lives of missionaries, and the ministry that we have been called to.
Here are our favorite vlogs and videos from 2016 (Highlights from our Five Minutes of Fergie channel with 169 videos, and our Building Living Stones channel with 111 videos) in any kinda order:
1. Overview of 2016 Living Stones

2. Lagoa de Itaenga 2016

3. Cajueiro Claro 2016

4. Guadalajara 2016

5. Lagoa Zoo trip

6. Short Term Missions Trips7. Hot Peppers for Fergie Car

8. Kids Korner part 19. Kids Korner part 210. Kids Korner part 311 "Baby Girl" by Caid

12. BlackLivesMatter13. Baby shoe shopping14. Brazilian Beans and Rice15. Excuses for missing school16. Baby Abroad (part 1 of 3)17. Found the Library! 18. The story of us19. Wedding memories20. Preacher boy21. Thanksgiving in Brazil22. Christmas in Brazil?23. How to Leave well24. Arriving in Indy

25. Fergies 2016

In 2017 we will continue to post at least one video a week! How can you keep up?
*BEST OPTION: subscribe to us on Youtube! If you have a gmail account, when you watch a video on Youtube, under the video is a red "subscribe" video. Click it, and every time we made a video, it will go on our page of subscriptions. This also lets us know that you are invested and care about it (we LOVE subscribers!)
*Other option #1: watch us on Facebook. Since we have a lot of friends and family who are not into Youtube, we know this is probably the way most people see our videos--I make sure to post them on my Facebook page.
*Other option #2: watch us on my blog: Every week I post the videos we made, along with other interesting things I've found through the week in a blog named (some version of) "Sunday Funday."
*Other option #3: Subscribe to our e-newsletters at (the bottom of) our Living Stones website: we send out one e-mail newsletter a month about Living Stones, and one e-mail newsletter a month about us Fergies, with links to our best vlogs.
Happy watching, and cheers to lots more vlogs in 2017!

25 Best Pictures from 2016

1. Family (Winzeler)
2, Family (Ferguson)
 3. Grandpa
4. Uncle John in Brazil
5. Ana at Living Stones
6. Ana turns One
7, Easter with the Trash dump community
8. Someone is grumpy
9. Beautiful smiles in the trash
10. Zoo trip with Lagoa
11, 150 Birthdays celebrated
12. Catching smiles
13. Facepainting party
14. The Golden Hour
15. Glory Sports with Caid
16. The "9 girl" family
17. Preacher boy
18. Mommy is 34
19. Boys making Mother's Day gifts
20. Time to relax
21. Play hard, work hard
22. Time to explore 
23. So serious
24. Show the way
25. Growing up so quickly

New Years Resolutions from my Daughter

As I watch her sleep she seems so innocent and clean. She is more of what I want to be. She is closer to new than I am. So I'll take some tips from her:

1. Sleep is priority. Seriously, we plan our whole day around her getting a nap. Because life doesn't happen well without it. For me? This means eight hours of sleep. If I don't get it at night, I get it with her nap.
2. Talk about poop. Poop is a big subject around our home. It is important to happen and "better out than in." (-mom) For me? This means talking through life poop. Don't hold it in.
3. Everything must be labeled. Ana learned parts of the body in Portuguese and English. Now she has to poke my eye various times a day to remind me she knows. All pictures of daddy must be pointed out. Every time. for me? This means taking time to organize and label things in my life: from keeping my stuff light and simple to emotionally staying straight with God and friends and family.
4. Eat all the time. If someone is eating it, my daughter wants it. Snacking is better than meals for her. But she only eats what we give her. For me? This means only having good things around to snack on and eat. Makes me make wise choices.
5. All days are created equal. They are all and each the only thing that is important. It is all about the now. For me? This means stressing less and enjoying more. This is the day that the Lord has made.
6. Wake up talking. Ready to go. It is daytime. For me? This means setting up the night before so I can wake up ready to go.
7. Work is play and play is work. For me? This means doing both well, and enjoying both.
8. Be a compound learner. She takes the bits of knowledge from yesterday and adds it to today. For me? This means reviewing past knowledge more.
9.  Everything matters. Everything is something special and important, and yet somehow, she is never overwhelmed because she lets it go just as quickly as she picks it up (unless you want it). She doesn't know there is anything in life you are not supposed to enjoy. For me? This means being more child-like. (Still rather vague, but didn't the Bible say that first?)
10. Choose Closer. If she can choose close or closer, she chooses closer. Yes.

2017 Sunday Funday

Time to practice year writing, because I know I will forget at least once. Here was our Christmas:
We then packed up and drove to Connecticut to spend New Years with Caid's family (and a lovely stop in Cleveland, OH). Many more videos to come, and I am hoping to post some "2016 reflection" posts this week as well. 
Reads from the Interwebs:
1. Fostering Empathy and Compassion: an amazing family and great perspective, as well as practical book ideas: love it!
2. Ann Voskamp free printables and ideas for New Years resolutions: I love New Years resolutions and time to sit and contemplate, and this was so helpful! I normally write out/post mine some time in January. No rushing greatness:). 
Happy New Year!