Saturday, August 12, 2017

Shopping in my Kitchen

Every few months I shop through my refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards. There is some great stuff in there! Part of the reason for doing this is the reverse impact on our budget 😊 The main reason, though, is to not WASTE. Not waste food or money. Simply put, it is bad stewardship to waste something that I’ve already paid for – there is hundreds of dollars of food in my kitchen just waiting to feed us!

Here’s basically what happens. 

I get real with myself about the stuff I’ll never use – like some weird sauce with olives in it or canned mushrooms. I try to find someone to pass it along to or a food pantry. In the refrig, I toss the moldy things. Because there are always some -- today it was shriveled beets which made me sad because I love beets 😞

Then I pull to the front of the cupboards all the things I can use in meals. Coconut milk and ALL THE CANNED TOMATOES are the usual suspects. I do the same thing in the refrig – pull all the half-used sauces and jars. Figure out what is in the 84 bajillion leftover containers then either toss, combine, or eat while standing in front of the fridge. 

The freezer can be tricky. We buy our meat in bulk so there is usually a lot. I try to rotate things when we get new stuff so that we eat the weird cuts of beef, make soup with the 93 lbs. of bones – seriously, who knew how many bones were in animals? I also tend to bury frozen vegetables in the freezer because FROZEN VEGETABLES. It’s the toddler inside me. 

Then it’s go time.

I don’t do much planning as far as meals, maybe for a day or two, but the general goal is to use the stuff I’ve pulled forward while still eating sensibly. Which can be a little tricky when your options are an odd assortment of condiments, frozen veg, and strange cuts of beef and pork. But totally possible!

I’m currently in the midst of this process and here is how it’s going. Today for breakfast we polished off some cottage cheese, otherwise it was regular breakfast stuff for us – eggs, yogurt, restaurant leftovers lol. For lunch we had tuna salad with shriveling celery chopped to hide its imperfections and the last of the mayo, some lettuce that was near the end of its life and cut up fruit and veggies from our recent road trip. Dinner was apple slices from the aforementioned road trip and fried rice – about 2 cups of leftover rice fancied up like take-out fried rice using all supplies found in my fridge or pantry (carrots, onions, coconut aminos, garlic). Next up is ham and pineapple pizza using up lots of pantry (pineapple, tomato sauce) and freezer (ham) items.

We’ll keep using the food that we have in bulk like oatmeal and rice, nuts, milk, yogurt, and gf baking mixes. I also decided to use up the flour that is in my pantry to make *gasp* bread (we are, in general, gluten-free and almost entirely grain-free). Here’s the thing, though. I’ve got four bags of flour from the past few years that was used for making play-dough or relief maps and various other random projects. So, let’s put all that flour to use. I’m the only one that will be physically sick if I eat it so in the meantime my family can enjoy their toast and sandwiches. We will make granola with the nuts and coconut we have, we’ll make gf muffins with baking mixes and frozen fruit, soup with all the broth in the freezer, and generally feast like kings! 

During this time I usually shop for fresh fruit and a bare minimum of vegetable (remember my frozen surplus). I also buy our snack staples but in a more limited quantity so that we focus on eating through the snacky type foods we already have. 

It’s a good time for us to remember that we can’t be too picky. My kids would prefer to eat their favorite snacks or their favorite meals but this simple reminder to eat what has already been provided for us is a great lesson in stewardship, being unselfish, and gratitude.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Now We're Getting Somewhere (or part of the story about how we came to be where we are now)

There are moments when things just come together and it's bigger and more beautiful than we could have imagined. We are part of the HUGE story of God repairing and redeeming his beloved creation. Andy and I love a good story. We especially love when the weaving together of God's people is so perfect and intricate and lovely that there is no other explanation but God.

*cue tears*

I am sure that as time goes on we will accumulate more of these stories. The first time it happened for us was with fellow missionary aviation comrade Imie Mark. Andy and Imie, not yet a missionary aviation mechanic, met by God's sovereignty at an airshow. We met Imie again several years later at MMS -- both of us working to get onto the mission field!

It has happened again.

*enter tears from stage right*

We had no idea in March 2011 that God was beginning to write the next chapter of our lives. We didn't know that a spring break missions trip in a 15 passenger van with some Penn State Harrisburg engineering students and our 3 month old baby boy would catapult us into a new life entirely. But here we are. And that 3 month old baby boy is almost 7!

Here is the story as told by JAARS in their publication REV 7.
*article on page 2*

It was fun to go back through pictures of this trip and reflect on all that has happened since then! Here is our photo version of the story.

Steve Bevelhymer, a JAARS instructor and Andy's main contact for the project, sent this picture when the runway was complete. This is a far cry from how the land looked when the project got started!

Susy (Andy's younger sister), Penn State engineering student Ben, and PA Turnpike engineer Ken get started on the project.

Rough terrain for a runway!

Even rougher terrain for a runway!

Ben making plans -- the students surveyed the land, started clearing it, and created cost estimations for the project.

Ken and the students, Ben and James hard at work.

Perks of working on a project at JAARS...airplane rides!

Beginning to clear the land.

Micah was awarded "Youngest Missionary to Serve at JAARS" certificate! Here he is with veteran missionary Doug Demmings. Oh, the stories he could tell!

Micah and Doug Demmings

The youngest missionary hard at work!

We enjoyed fellowship with JAARS staff for dinner each evening and heard dozens of stories about God's faithfulness in their lives and the lives of those they were reaching.

The crew -- James, Ken, Andy, Ben, Susy, and Tim

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Meeting Mr. Mark

In August of 2013 we were newly accepted candidates with MMS. We had interviewed a few months earlier and begun the intimidating support raising process…which means we hadn’t really done anything yet. We were stepping cautiously into the realm of a new level of dependency on God and His people. We lacked many things but excitement about aviation was not one of them! We were at the Smoketown Mission Aviation Festival (near Lancaster, PA) where Andy was volunteering with JAARS at their helicopter rides. He loaded people into the helicopter and made sure they were buckled tight. He got to meet every person that came for a ride that day.

One of those people was Imie Mark.

Now, the reason Smoketown is so special to us is that it is where we first learned about missionary aviation and where God revealed his calling on our lives to enter the mission field. It is the official beginning of our missionary journey. Although we know God had been preparing us for years, that was our A-HA moment.

Being back at Smoketown always make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. Seriously. And hot…because it’s in August.

So, it was at the JAARS helicopter ride that Andy met Imie, along with his two kiddos. Imie was wearing an Air Force t-shirt and Andy struck up a conversation with him. They shared a mutual love of aviation and talked about their own aviation experiences. Imie was serving in the Air Force, working primarily on airline transport type aircraft but had always felt a pull toward missions. Their conversation turned towards missionary aviation and Imie said that he wondered if the Lord was calling his family to missionary aviation. He talked about some of his experiences, doubts, and uncertainty about timing with his military career and retirement. Andy and Imie tossed around ideas for transitioning from the military to missions. Imie asked Andy what he was doing volunteering JAARS…what brought Andy to Smoketown? Andy explained how we just joined MMS and that he hoped to be pilot/mechanic with JAARS.

While they waited for the remaining few minutes for the helicopter, it was quiet as they watched the aircraft activity and people chatted around them.

Andy, not quite sure he was within his rights, looked down at Imie from the helicopter loading area and said, “I really think the Lord is calling your family to missionary aviation.”

After the helicopter ride, Andy introduced Imie to Dwight Jarboe, CEO of MMS. We thought of Imie, prayed for him and his family, and prayed that God would be at work in their lives as He has worked in ours. Andy walked away and never saw Imie again.

Until Monday, June 22, 2015 when Imie was part of the MMS crew that helped us unload our moving truck.

It had been two years so it took a few minutes for Andy and Imie to recognize each other and put the pieces together but as we shared a meal a few weeks later it was a joy to remember that first conversation between them and see how far God had brought each of our families. Shortly before moving to Ohio, Andy came across Imie’s business card and thought about shooting him a quick email of encouragement. Time got away from us and Andy figured he could do it when we got settled into our new house. No need, however, as God brought Imie right to us!

Imie and Andy reunited (along with a photo bomb by Micah!)

Several months after Smoketown 2013, Imie left the Air Force and shortly thereafter he and his family were in Arizona at New Tribes Missions Aviation headquarters to begin their training for the mission field. A M A Z I N G. Truly amazing.

While we ate taco salads the other night, Imie shared how much of an impact Andy had on that hot August day in Smoketown. “I’m not calling you a prophet or anything, but when you said that to me…that was the moment. Everything changed that day.”

This isn’t to praise Andy. Imie wasn’t giving Andy credit. It is proof that God graciously opens our eyes to his plan and allows us to be part of his work.

What truly amazes us is how God used other people to draw us closer to his plans and now God is using us to do that for others. Our relationship with Imie reminds us of the people along our journey who have helped, shared, encouraged, and challenged us. It wasn’t always comfortable…just like it probably was uncomfortable for Imie when Andy spoke directly to him about God’s calling. We were uncomfortable when people told us to WAIT. Ugh, we hate waiting. We were uncomfortable when people told us to walk away from our stable, insurance providing jobs. We like stability. But God likes…or demands, rather…our obedience.  

These are Imie’s words about how God used his encounter with Andy:
”I’m so thankful for your faithfulness as a family to not just walk that path the Lord has placed before you but to encourage others to join you along the way. I’m here today thanks to Andy, his passion for mission aviation, his heart for the Lord’s work, and his sensitivity to the Spirit’s moving in others lives. ‘Thank you’ doesn’t seem like enough.”

Oh, “thank you” is more than enough. We deserve no thanks; all the glory goes to God for the work he has done in our lives and in Imie’s life! What a joy that we can serve God together!

Over the years there were several people who spoke clearly and directly to us about God’s call on our lives. We are grateful to Scott Musselman and Scott and Tippy Littlefield who spoke frankly with us about not only the hard decisions that we would have to make but also the unspeakable joy we experience when we are at the center of God’s will. To this day, we have an email (printed and taped to the fridge) from Scott Musselman that says, “Thinking about you…rest in Jesus for he knows our steps.” We’ve looked at it every day for nearly 4 years. I also looked at a card from Charity Judson that reminded me daily that just as God was with Joseph in captivity, so he is with us through our trials. And just as he worked good in Joseph’s life, so he will work good in our lives. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

We are anxious for another year at Smoketown! This year we will be there as official representatives of MMS. Who knows who we’ll get to meet! 

Please join us if you are near Smoketown, PA (about 45 south of Harrisburg, in Lancaster County) on August 15-16. There is a kid’s area (complete with bounce houses, arts and crafts ((my fave! NOT)), scavenger hunt, animals, and snacks), plane and helicopter rides, food, and tents filled with info and activities from mission aviation organizations. The event is free but certain acitivities have a cost (such as aircraft rides and some kids rides).

Monday, July 27, 2015

Our First Ohio Update!

Sadly, it’s taken over a month to sit down and write an official update since we moved on June 21st. At the time, there wasn’t much to say other than – we moved! We slowly got our house set up (ahem…a few boxes linger) and found our way around the countryside and towns nearby. There is not a Target or Costco to be found but I think we will find our way in this strange new land!

::Support & MMS Update::
As of this morning (7/27/15) we are down to needing just $365/month. 

This is H U G E. 

Just two weeks ago it was $750 so God is truly supplying our needs! There are seven new families joining us as ministry partners and we praise God for how he raises up his people to make the work of missions happen! What a gift to be surrounded in spirit by folks who are trusting us to do God’s work. 

We have been sending emails that highlight different projects in the hangar at MMS so that you can see some more specific ways that MMS partners with mission aviation organizations. Those email features will be posted here on the blog soon, so you can check them out!

We will be part of the MMS crew coming to the Smoketown Mission Aviation Festival in Smoketown, PA on August 15-16. Come see us there! It is a really fun family day and a great, hands-on way to learn more about missionary aviation.

::Communications Update::
We are online infrequently because we don’t have internet at our house, other than a wireless hotspot. We will continue to communicate primarily through email so make sure you are getting our emails! They come through MailChimp from so if you don’t see them in your main inbox, check your promotions folder and drag us to your inbox! We will also be blogging more regularly. Facebook is super unreliable because it doesn’t show you all of our posts. An exciting post that I put up yesterday was only shown to 59 people :-( Boo facebook. 

Email us ::
Snail mail us :: 11699 Blue Ridge Rd, Newcomerstown, OH 43832
Call us :: (A)814.404.1203 / (T)814.404.9764

::Family Update::
Overall, we are adjusting well. The house we rent is truly a gift and we feel quite at home here. We have visited Fresno Bible Church for the past 3 weeks and have been blessed by sound biblical teaching and a rambunctious group of kiddos! Micah’s Sunday school class is full of 4yo boys! Last week, Jess Grote (a fellow MMS mom) hosted God’s Girl Glamour Day for the little girls. They got pampered with hairdos and painted nails! At each room they went to, they met a woman from the Bible who had a characteristic besides outward beauty that made her beautiful. The girls learned that God looks at the beauty on the inside. What a treat and such good lessons for the girls!

During our second week in OH, the kids attended Everest VBS. We have been hanging out with other MMS families over the past few weeks. On the 4th of July we camped out at the MMS hangar for a BBQ and fireworks. This week the kids are participating in a cooking camp at a local farmers market. Each day they prepare and eat some delicious food!  

Here are a few scenes from the past few weeks. Enjoy!

The pond near our yard...great for finding little creatures!

Digging our garden and finding critters!

Micah getting a tractor ride with Mr. Miller, our next-door-farmer

Grace's turn in the tractor

The newest renters at our house -- chirp chirp chirp!

Fun day at the Columbus Zoo