Saturday, December 20, 2008


Today I'd like to intrude you to two very special young ladies. One I have known for about ten years, the other I am looking forward to meeting next summer.

Christina, the girl on the left, was a student at Multnomah while I worked there as a Residence Director. Not only did I have the pleasure of having her as an RA one year, but she went on to be a Head RA the next. I had the opportunity to meet with her EVERY WEEK for two years. (What an amazing job eh?) During that time I got to watch her become a very strong, wise, and fun leader. She really has a gift for pouring into other young ladies . . . which led to the Lord taking her to work with high school girls in Slovenia with Josiah Venture. She has worked there for almost five years and right now is getting ready to come back to the States. (In fact, I get to hang out with her in just a couple of weeks!! I can't wait.)

Ok, so the second young lady in the photo is Naja (pronounced Nigh-uh). Naja is one of the Slovene high school girls who has been hanging out with Christina. When Matt and I get to Slovenia, Naja will be in the college group we will be starting. Like I said, I can't wait to meet her! It's amazing the connections that the Lord is putting together.

So, would you be willing to take a moment to pray for these two ladies?

- For Christina as she prepares to say goodbye to people that she loves and has invested in for 4 1/2 years, and also for her transition back to life in the States.

- And for Naja as she prepares to say goodbye to her friend and mentor, and also that the she will be able to rest in the fact that "the Lord will continue the good work He has begun in her."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Books . . . in English!

One thing I've (Sharon) really enjoyed since being back in the States is the opportunity to have access to so many books - in English! :-)

Here are some of the books I've read over the past few months. If you've read any of them, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

He Loves Me by Wayne Jacobsen
Like I mentioned in my last post, I am on my second reading of this book since July. It has really given me a fresh view into what it means to walk in and rest in the Lord's unconditional love.

The Selfless Way of Christ

by Henri Nouwen
Of course you gotta love anything by Henri Nouwen. My favorite book by him is still In The Name of Jesus.

The Organic God
by Margaret Feinberg
To be honest, it's been a while since I read this book and I finished it just because I like closure :-) But I know of others who really enjoyed it.

The Shack
by William P. Young
Ahh. . . the book that has prompted so much discussion and even controversy! My two comments are: first, I loved it. And second I think it is important to remember that Young did not write this book to be a theological treatise. He wrote it to help his kids understand how he has processed through a lot of pain and mistakes in his life.

God's Blog
by Lanny Donoho
Another book that I read a while ago. Honestly this book didn't impress me too much.

What Your Childhood Memories Say About You
by Dr. Kevin Leman
A fascinating read!

Strengthsfinder 2.0
by Tom Rath
This book comes with a code you can enter online to take the Strengthsfinder test. But since I borrowed this book from my sister, no test for me. Still, I found myself resonating with about 7 or 8 of the strengths listed. Great read!

Christ-Centered Coaching by Jane Creswell
While I enjoyed reading this book, I have to say that I learned more about HOW to coach from taking Creswell's class at Western Seminary. This book seems more aimed at outlining the benefits of coaching. Still - it's always fun to read a book written by someone you respect and with whom you've had the opportunity to interact.

Scientific Progress Goes "Boink"

by Bill Watterson
Last but not least, everyone needs a little brain candy! :-) I like the way that Watterson makes his readers laugh while still provoking their thoughts.

I love how books can challenge and stimulate thinking! If you've come across any must-reads (especially ones that have come out in the last two years) I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's been easy for me lately to focus on the unknowns in my life:

- Will the construction business stay steady? (i.e. Will Matt have a job in January?)
- Will we be able to rent the house in Gresham come January? (again dependent on Matt's job)
- Will our baby come early? late?
- How should I best prepare when I don't have a room to prepare?
- Will we be able to raise the support we need to leave for Slovenia next summer?
- When is the next time after this year that I'll be able to spend Christmas with my family?

My list could go on . . . but that gives you a glimpse into some of my thoughts lately.

It's not so much that I need answers for each of the things going through my head. It's more a matter of learning to live with the questions, knowing that for most of them there is little I can do to prepare, and that the only thing my Heavenly Father desires of me is to NOT WORRY, but rather to trust him and rest in his leading and provision. Easier said than done, I know.

Here is an excerpt from a book I've been reading entitled He Loves Me. (I'm on my second time reading this book in the last couple of months - I highly recommend it!)

"He knows that you will only trust him to the degree that you are certain of his love for you. This is why he created you and why he designed such an extraordinary plan to teach you exactly how to lay aside your fears and walk into his arms. then he can scoop you up, hold you closely to himself, and fulfill what began in his heart for you since before the creation of the world.

This is the journey of a lifetime-to learn to trust him more and more everyday for the rest of our lives. The more we trust him, the more of his life we can experience. But don't try to do this on your own. You don't have it in you. He can take you by the hand and teach you just how much you are loved so that you no longer have to pursue your own way and protect yourself in the ways that only seem to backfire, hurting you and others around you."

So, I'm going to take a moment to reflect on the things I do know and am so thankful for:
- The Lord has provided a home for us since the end of June. Living with my sister Lynn has met so many of my unspoken needs.
- I get to spend this Christmas with family and friends.
- My pregnancy so far has been trouble free.
- The Lord has given me a wonderful husband who works hard and finds creative ways to love me and make me feel special.
- I have a Heavenly Father who desires a relationship that is based on the security of His love.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving day was a good day. We started out by going to my (matt) parent's place to hang out and eat. Dinner started around 2:45 and it was amazing. My family loves to cook and they're good at it. My dad is a master on the BBQ so we had some wicked awesome smoked turkey and ham made on his Traeger grill. Mmmmm.
We hate to eat and run but had to. We left around 4:00 and busted from Gresham to Hillsboro to go meet Sharon's family who was at her aunt & uncles place. We caught the tail end of their dinner and it was also quite tasty. I am one lucky guy. After some good time visiting and eating dessert we headed home.

Then came the next chapter of our day. We went to bed at 10:00 p.m. and set our alarms for a big day of shopping. We woke up at 1:45 a.m. and were out the door a little after 2:00 a.m. ( Apparently the outlet stores near our house open at 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving day and stay open all night with sweet sales.) So we (sharon, lynn, and I) shopped from 2:30 in the morning until 9:00 a.m. We scored on some amazing sales and it was kinda crazy and fun too. But needless to say we were spent by the time the sun came up.
This is Lynn sporting her belated birthday present from us. (We'd been looking for a cute dog purse online for a while and found the one we'd found online for a third of it's original price!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

MTI is flyin by

Our 2 weeks at MTI (missions training international) is going so fast. We have really enjoyed the teaching and are so glad this was a prerequisite on our journey to Slovenia.

We have had the privilege to attend this language program with some friends who are also going to Slovenia with Josiah Venture this next year.

The couple on the left is Hondo and Trish Wynn with their little boy Caleb. We kinda know them from our time at Multnomah but are enjoying getting to know them a lot better here.

The middle fam is Brad and Laurel Jenkins with their little dude Landon. Sharon and Laurel also know each other really well from Multnomah and have been friends for years. I knew Brad a little bit because he was a cool upper class-man but he didn't want to associate with low life's like me.

Both couples are super cool and I am having a great time getting to know them a lot better. Needless to say we are also stoked to go to the field and serve with quality folks like them. God is good.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Life at 7500'

I have to say that I was a little apprehensive about taking off 2 weeks of work and shelling out a lot of coin to come to the language acquisition program we are taking part in right now. BUT we are 5 days into it and I can honestly say its already been worth it. Both Sharon and I have commented many times just how much we wish that we would have done a program like this before we went to Lithuania.

Here's the crazy thing about living at 7,500 foot elevation near Colorado Springs. Two days ago it was in the upper 50's and today we woke up to a couple inches of snow! By mid afternoon we had almost 4 inches. And here's the kicker, on Sunday its supposed to be almost 70 degrees for a high. I love it.

Fun times with the Niemeyers

What a treat! We had the opportunity to visit with our friends Mark and Brenda when we first arrived in Colorado. Here are some photos of our trek out to their favorite camping spot in the mountains:

The Niemeyers

Climbing trees

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A Conferencing we will go....

Tis the season for conferences in our life. We went to Chicago almost a month ago for Josiah Venture orientation and now I (matt) am sitting here in the airport getting ready to leave for Colorado Springs for 2 weeks.

You see before someone goes out to the mission field with J.V. they are required to go to 3 things which prepare them for going over Eastern Europe. The first on the checklist is orientation in Wheaton IL., which we blogged about a few weeks ago.
The second prerequisite is a 2 week language course called PILAT It is basically a crash course in how to learn another language. Though we won't actually learn any Slovene on this trip we will get the framework for how to learn Slovene.
The third stipulation is a course on cross cultural training to help people in their transition to another culture. Luckily, J.V. has waived this requirement for Sharon and I since we have lived overseas for 2 years.

We will return from Colorado on Friday the 21st and go straight from the airport to a Family Life marriage conference in Portland.

So a high ho the dairy o.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

23 Weeks Today

I have to say that I feel bigger than this picture seems to show. Maybe I'll try taking another one in a day or two.
23 weeks and counting . . .

Halloween Fun

My sister Lynn is right - carving miniature pumpkins is the best!

Last Friday we had a blast celebrating Halloween with Mark and Shelley + kids + neighbors + neighbors' kids + Matt's parents.

Shelley was having so much fun with the face paints . . .

. . .that even Matt got into the action.

Though the pictures don't reflect it - the house was packed and filled with kids high on sugar :-)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

At the Home with some homies

On Monday I had the opportunity to visit with some very dear people at my mother's place of work. Mom works at an assisted care facility in Tacoma, WA.

Because she knows that we are working on building a ministry partner team for our work with Josiah Venture, she wanted to help us out. And having been a missionary herself (she was a nurse in Ethiopia) she understands just how critical it is to have a team of people committed to praying faithfully for us and the ministry.

So I got to spend a morning hanging out with Alice, Father John, and Fred. They were an absolute delight, asking many questions and showing so much excitement for what Matt and I will be doing. I walked away from our time together feeling very blessed indeed to have these guys praying for the ministry in Slovenia!

Father John, Me, and Alice (Fred needed to leave in time to get a good seat at lunch :-)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Drum roll please . . .

Most people choose a cute name like "Peanut" or "Sweet Pea" to refer to their baby before they know the gender. Matt chose the name "Bubba." It made me giggle every time I heard Matt refer to our baby as Bubba so I didn't mind.

Last week we had our BIG ultrasound . . . you know the one when we would find out if "Bubba" is actually boy. It turns out that Bubba is . . . a GIRL. So, now I think we need to find a new name to use until our sweet baby girl is born.

Here is a picture of her two little feet:

Friday, October 24, 2008

And speaking of weddings . . .

. . . I got some photos back from a wedding we went to several weeks ago. My cousin Kyle got married and it was one of the most fun and touching weddings I have been to. Perhaps it was all the time spent with the family, perhaps it was the beautiful setting in my uncle and aunt's back yard. We had a blast!

Kyle - We are proud of you cuz! Not just for all you have accomplished - but for who you have become!
Karin - Welcome to the family! So glad to have you as our cousin!

A Beautiful Wedding

Last Saturday we had the opportunity to attend the wedding of some friends of ours, Jon & Mandy Davies. I wish I had taken some photos that captured just how beautiful this wedding was!

Here is a photo of the cute couple:

I wanted to include some of the photos we took at the wedding, but unfortunately, they did not turn out. . . which is a pitty! It was such a beautiful wedding.

Jon & Mandy - we are so proud of you guys! We pray that you will come to know the love of God in a deeper way as you experience unconditional love from each other!

JV Orientation in Chicago

Our time in Chicago for JV Orientation was short, but so helpful! We stayed in this cute house with two other couples who were also there for orientation.

The owner of this place has graciously loaned the home to Josiah Venture to house all the various missionaries coming through town. Here are a few more pics of the inside of the place. I have to say that walking in the front door felt like "coming home."

Our room. . . so cute!

Then each day we would head in for training at the JV office. Here's a photo of the three guys trying to all fit into the back of Gord's minivan on the way to the office.

Once at the office Gord, Theresa and Sarah took us through our training, answered all our questions, and took great care of us. I have to say that not once during our whole time in Chicago were we ever hungry! They even took us out for Chicago style pizza on our last night there.

I think what impacted us the most during our time in Chicago was getting to experience the heart of JV as these three shared their not just their time, but their lives as well. What a treat it was to see our friends Brad & Laurel Jenkins (from Multnomah) and to get to know Jamey & Meredith Hutton. We can't wait to see all these guys again!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Prayer Cards

We've been asked by several people lately if we have prayer cards or magnets yet.

The answer: not yet . . . but we're working on it.

On Sunday, Lynn (my sister) took Matt and me to a local park to try to get some prayer card worthy type photos. Here are a few that didn't make the cut - but they're fun.

I think Lynn had fun!

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

We're so excited . . . tomorrow morning (bright and early, 6am actually. Yeah, too early, I know) Matt and I are boarding a flight to Chicago to attend JV's Orientation. Not only will we get to see our good friends Brad and Laurel Jenkins, but being a part of JV will start to feel a little more official - finally! :-) I can't wait!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

"I'm really not just bloated"

So, today I am officially at 19 weeks and I'm feeling a lot better than the first 16 weeks. For those of you wanting a belly shot, this is me today:

And this was me at 16 1/2 weeks:

I think I'm finally starting to look pregnant and not just bloated. :-)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Making Memories

One of the things that Matt and I love to do is meeting with a couple to do their pre-marital counseling. Not long after we got home from Europe, our pastor asked us if we were free to meet with a couple who was planning their upcoming wedding. We had a blast getting to know Stuart and Marissa and felt quite honored to be invited into this part of their preparation.

A little over a week ago we went to their beautiful wedding.

Marissa & Stuart - we're so proud of you guys!

My Work Buddy

This is Hobbes - he keeps me company during the day while I do computer work at home. Isn't he just the cutest thing ever?!

Hobbes, (as in Calvin & Hobbes), is my sister's yorkie. He's got all the cuteness of a small dog without the yappiness.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Check This Out

I recently read an article in Christianity Today describing a new way to share the Christian faith . . . similar to the idea of the Four Laws, only this new method focus on new life in Christ AND kingdom living. Not long after I read the article a friend sent me a link to a video presentation of this method. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

The Big Story

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Back in Blogging Land

It's hard to believe we've been home a little over two months already! The time has flown by.

I (Sharon) had the opportunity to work at Multnomah for two months - filling in for the lady who took my former position there while she was away on maternity leave. What a blessing it was to spend time with my friends at Multnomah again. Seeing all the students arrive there last week made me anxious to get back into working with college students again! Our initial plan was to try to get back over to Europe in January or February . . . but we've needed to rearrange our plans a bit
. . . because we found out we are expecting a new little Mormance!! To make a long story short, this is an answer to many years of prayer! Each day the Lord gives us with this little one is a gift to us. We pray that He will allow us to carry this child to term and have a healthy baby.

Now we are planning on going back over to Europe next summer, hopefully in July. This brings me to our second piece of good news: we found out that we have been officially accepted to Josiah Venture so we can begin building a ministry partner base. We are so excited to join the work that the Lord is doing in the country of Slovenia! And we are excited to join our friends who are already living and serving there!

This is photo of us at the Josiah Venture spring conference held in Czech a few months ago:

(We are in the top right corner.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Almost Didn't make it Back . . .

This past Monday was the day . . . the day that the 5 of us left the place we have called "home" for the past two years.

Our hearts were filled with a whirlwind of emotions:
- sadness, knowing that many of the new friends we have made we will never see again
- excitement to see friends and family in the States again
- emotionally drained from the past month of goodbyes
- stressed, hoping we had thought of everything we should have to pack up our homes in LT
. . . the list could go on.

So, Monday afternoon came. Our moving truck/van was to arrive at 3:30, giving us plenty of time to travel the hour and a half to the Vilnius airport. At 2:30 the guys were getting ready to bring the girls' stuff over to our place so that all the luggage would be downstairs and ready to load. But at 2:30 the sky turned black. . . the season of thunderstorms had begun about a week earlier. So, the guys decided to wait 10 or 20 minutes until the downpour passed. It was a good thing they waited. What followed was the craziest little storm I've ever seen.

The rain came . . . mixed with huge chunks of marble sized hail . . . and the streets were instantly flooded.

Yup - that is hail that you see floating in the water in the street.

The storm only lasted maybe 25 minutes . . . but the damage was done. Cars began turning around to avoid the sections of street that were now flooded. Some still ventured through. Many stalled because of the water intake to their engines.

We began to wonder if our moving van might get stuck in traffic. As 3:30 came and went we began to worry a little, knowing our tickets to Germany were non-refundable.

Here is a photo of some of our teams luggage waiting downstairs (remember, this is the luggage for just Matt, Jason and me). We still needed to get the luggage from Kellie and Tiana. We decided at this point it would be better to just load up our stuff once the van arrived and then drive to the girls place.

And then our van arrived. . . except that somewhere there had been a breakdown in communication within the company we had called. Though we had communicated that we would each have 75 Kg of luggage, this is what arrived:

It was smaller than a mini-van.

Our stress level began to rise as we remembered the fact that Monday was a Lithuanian holiday and it had been difficult even to find one driver willing to take us to Vilnius.

To make a long story short, after several rather tense conversations between the company and our Lithuanian co-worker in Vilnius, (who had made the original reservation for us), another van soon arrived and we were on our way.

There is more to the story of obstacles faced on the way back to the States but that is the most exciting part.

But, once we made it on our connecting flight from Germany to Portland we were able to relax and enjoy the rest of the journey home. Luftansa gave perhaps the best inflight service I have ever seen.

We touched down in Portland and were more than a little overwhelmed (in a good way) with the huge crowd of friends and family waiting to greet us at our gate. There were signs, balloons and flowers - and many tears, smiles and big hugs.

Thank you so much to each of you who made our welcome to the States a moment we will treasure forever!