Tales from a Christ-follower, wife, mommy, daughter, friend, runner, cook, reader, maid, volunteer, and seeker of the lost art of sleep.

Monday, December 10, 2012

eMi: my heart's journey

From my standpoint, this is where the true journey of the past few years lies.  In January 2009, God was beginning to do a true work of healing in my heart.  I had been very, very emotionally broken the previous fall, and was so thankful for Highlands to rally around us and help us begin healing.  I was falling in love with God in a way that I hadn't in years, and I know God was using our new community and worship there to restore us to Him.  Through the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting that year, I was once again brought to a place of honestly being able to say, "YOUR will. YOUR renown. YOUR glory. And whatever it takes." I don't know all the reasons why the Lord waited 2 years after that to begin to answer that prayer, but I DO know that He continued to move, heal and speak in our lives throughout that time.

In January 2010, I was again brought to that same place as the previous January; Jason and I were both seeing that God has created us ALL for something so much more than what this world has to offer!** We were beginning to see more and more that we wanted to be a part of something bigger than us, and for God to use us to bring glory to Him.  I even blogged about it here.  But I will be honest; as 2010 began to slowly pass by, I began to get seriously comfortable.  During the fast in January, we knew God was placing it on our hearts to clear out "stuff."  Literally.  So we had a massive yard sale in late spring, and earned just enough money for Jason to go on a mission trip to Zambia with eMi that fall.  He was SO excited!  Ever since we were in college, he has floundered when trying to figure out why exactly he had chosen civil engineering as a major/profession. While I was attending Focus on the Family Institute in 2004, my roommate had interned with eMi, but Jason has NO recollection of me telling him about it then; he "discovered" it in 2010 while googling "Engineering Ministries."  Go figure.  Anyway, while in Zambia, he was able to use his expertise to help build a bible school...he himself couldn't travel to remote villages in the brush of Zambia to share the gospel, BUT he was able to use his degree to design a school (and specifically, the water design for it) to train up those who could!
    I honestly felt that that "settled" it.  Jason was just supposed to be going on more mission trips! Totally do-able.  Eventually, I would probably want to go on one or two with him, but since we had 2 little ones (and just found out I was pregnant with #3!), I knew it would be awhile.  Either way, I got comfortable.  The Lord gave me a new purpose and vision for myself by being asked to lead Highlands Kids at our church campus...I loved it! Literally! Every single day of it! I had said that I would never work at a church again, but I am SO thankful I did!  Weekly, I was seeing people connect with their purpose through using their spiritual gifts and passions, and kids' lives were weekly being CHANGED for eternity because of it!
   So, Jason could go on mission trips, I would lead the kids at church, and we could stay settled right where we are.  We had been praying for awhile for a few more godly friendships, and MAN, did we find the best in the world!  Thanks to our small groups through church, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded with other young families who were also running after the Lord and His will.  YAY! We were definitely in a sweet spot, and I was SO thankful for it!

In January 2011, I used the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting to pray specifically for Jason.  We had participated in a small group the previous Spring called "Love and Respect," and I was excited about seeing Jason grow into his leadership role within our family even more after learning so much about God's design for marriage (and our unique roles within it).  I wasn't exactly praying the "bigger" prayers that we had been praying the previous years, but I honestly felt that God had answered them (in a non-answering kind of way...but I get that.).  However, after praying just a few days for Jason to grow in his leadership, vision and decisiveness for our family, he (with a confidence that could only come from the Lord), came in one evening and knew that the Lord had been making it clear that he needed to increase his involvement with eMi.
   I wish that I could tell you that my initial thoughts were ones of willingness, excitement, or at least humble submission to the Lord and my husband, but quite honestly, they were not any of those.  As an exhausted, comfortable, pregnant mom and wife who had lived in Auburn for the better part of 28 years (with all of our family within a 3 hour radius of our home), all of the sudden the willingness to the possibility of going ANYwhere in the world didn't look so enticing.  I love(d) our home, our church, our neighborhood, our town, my grocers, doctor/chiropractor, dentists, football season, bank, EVERYTHING.  Why the heck would I willingly pack up and go anywhere?! So, through some anger and a bit of bitterness, I began to pray that God would either change Jason's heart or change mine.
   It was a long, long year for me spiritually.  I wanted to be obedient to what God was calling us to, but I also wanted to do what wanted to do, and there just wasn't a way to reconcile the two.
  After much stalling and working through a busy, busy few months, Jason and I finally flew out to interview with eMi in November 2011.  A few weeks later, they officially extended a letter of invitation to come on staff.  They have field offices all over the world, so a small blessing was that their greatest need right now is in their Colorado Springs office.  :)
  Every time those feelings of anger or bitterness would start to creep in, I would again pray for God to either change Jason's heart or to change mine.  I did/do NOT want to be outside of God's will for our lives.  I knew that not only would it affect us, but also our family for generations to come.  However, it also felt a bit like God was standing over me, ready to punish me if I decided to not do what He was so clearly calling us to.  I knew this was not an accurate, New Testament view of God, so I decided to pray about that, too.  Finally, around January 2012, I could hear Him saying, "This is an open door! You can choose whether or not to walk through it.  But adventure awaits if you're willing to go!" And everything I've told every youth group and children's group that I've ever spoken to began to ring in my ears and heart.  God's plan truly is the best! And worth it! And He is so, so faithful.  So, we signed our contract with eMi and our journey officially began.

When I think about what we are leaving, I get so sad.  However, Alabama will always be home, and family will always be here!  Jason will be going on 3 2-week long mission trips a year to collect data for their projects, and I hope that the boys and I will be coming home during those trips! :)
   When I think about what we are going TO, I get very, very excited!  Not only do I want to be in the center of God's will, but I also LOVE Colorado Springs!  It is the only place I've ever lived besides Alabama (spent Spring 2004 there at Focus Institute).  And other than Jason's grandparents in NC, it is the only state where we have extended family members outside of AL.  I am also extremely excited about Jason being a part of a vision that is bigger than himself, making a difference and improving the quality of life for people all over the world, as well as spreading the gospel!  On top of that, I know that God will continue to open doors for me and the boys to be a part of His plan of redemption for those around us as well.
Please be praying for us.  There are several hurdles that need to be crossed before we can move forward, and we are so thankful for our prayer team.  In fact, if you are willing to be a part of this team, we would love to have you join us! It is something that we definitely don't take lightly and are certainly thankful for.  Please let either Jason or I know if you are interested in partnering with us in this!

**A few Sundays ago, our pastor gave a phenomenal message about this! Check it out here!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

eMi: our timeline

So often in life, God will allow you to go down a winding, weaving path...not to lose you, but perhaps to allow you to lose some of yourself, so that He may fill you back up.  I am so thankful!  The past 2.5 years have not been the easiest, but in looking back, I am so able to see his faithfulness.  He does not waste a minute that we are given!

January 2009: Jason, baby Jack and I had officially been at our awesome new church 3 months, and decided to participate in our church's 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.  During this time, we also read Francis Chan's "Crazy Love," and it stirred something up in us.  We weren't sure what, but we knew God was calling us to something more...something bigger than us.  We stuck our "For Sale By Owner" sign in the yard and waited for Him to work His magic (annnnd tell us where we were suppposed to go. And what we were supposed to do once we got there). Fast forward 6 months: No sale.  No word from the Lord yet on where we were headed.  I checked "Obey God's promptings" off my to-do list (after all, maybe it was just a test to see if we were willing to obey), and had another baby.  It was a great year!

January 2010:  We looooove 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting!  Woohoo!  Read Chan's "Forgotten God" this go-round, and realized that so, no really, He's calling us to something.  This time we meant business, so we actually listed with a realtor. Six months later: nada.  And no Word.  I decided it was time to settle in and get comfortable...we had passed "the test" again!  I am in love with our cul-de-sac! And church! And friends! And by this time, I was working serving at our church, and LOVED that! And I got pregnant. Again. Which brought a whole new level of settledness and comfort to my sweet, perfect (loud) house and routine.  Another great year in the books.

January 2011:  Welcome to 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, round 3! YEAH! This year, the book o' choice for that season was David Platt's "Radical." (If you've read it, you probably know where this is going.)  Not only that, I decided to pray specifically for Jason (didn't tell him that), that he would continue to grow in his role as the leader of our house.  With us both being the youngest child from our families of origin, we are not what I would refer to as "decision makers." You know, the dumb stuff, like "Laredo's or pizza for dinner?".  Weeeeeell, as most believers can witness to, be careful what you pray for.  :) After just a few days of praying specifically for wisdom, leadership and vision for Jason for our family, he walked in one afternoon and announced with the most confidence that I've EVER heard from him, "I feel that we're supposed to somehow increase our involvement with eMi (Engineering Ministries International). I don't know if that means that we should move to Colorado (their base office), or Africa, but God has made this so clear this week."  Vision given! Having prayed so specifically for one, and for Jason in the middle of that, I knew it was the Lord who was calling us, not just an adventure-loving (snowboarding) husband on a tear.

November 2011: We finally flew out to interview with eMi in November (having a baby in May and TONS o' events throughout the summer and fall slowed things down for us).  A couple of weeks after our trip out, they officially extended a letter of invitation to us, asking us to join the staff in the Colorado Springs office.  Jason will be a project coordinator for building projects in developing countries all over the world for things like hospitals and orphanages, as well as the director for their new Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program.

January 2012: Still praying, and fasting again.  We have vision, we have plans, we have received our Word from the Lord.  He is so faithful; He is so good!  And holy moly, where do we begin to get this ball rolling?!

October 2012: We are in the process of raising our ministry team.  We would LOVE for our house to sell, but  have a total peace about renting it out if it doesn't sell by the time we have our support/team raised and are ready to move.

January 2013: They want us out there by January 13th for staff training!  The next staff training isn't until August 2013, so we would love to have everything set and ready by January. We have a LONG way to go (and a LOT of toys to get packed up!), but we are yet again trusting that He is going to provide, and in His time.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We are Colorado bound!

After praying for several years for God to move within us and our family to do something BIGGER for Him and His glory, He has made it so clear that the mission field is the next destination/adventure for our little family.  Auburn has been such an incredibly sweet place to be the past 6.5 years.  We've loved watching our family grow, seeing God move, and our marriage being brought deeper through the things we've been a part of here, and wouldn't trade it for the world! However, when you open your hands and honestly say, "What next?" to the Lord, you better believe He will answer!  Over this post and the next 2, I'll explain a little bit more about what we are being called to in Colorado Springs, as well as how we got to this point.

What will we be doing?
Jason will be on staff as a project manager with Engineering Ministries International (eMi).  He will be responsible for leading 3 mission trips a year.  He'll recruit professionals (architects, surveyors, civil engineers, structural engineers, etc.) for their design project (hospitals, orphanages, clean water systems, etc), lead them on their trip to collect data in their respective fields for the project, and once they return home, he will spend the next few months in the office collecting the data from each professional, assimilating it and submitting it back to the hosting organization.  He will also be the director for a new ministry of eMi, their Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program.  EMi will now be partnering with WASH project organizations; anytime a partner organization has any issues with a well/pump (i.e. low water pressure, tainted water source, etc), they can contact Jason, and he will get them paired with professionals who can help identify their issue and come up with a solution.
   I plan on staying at home with Jack (5 years old), Will (3 years old), and Josh (1 year old).  It will be no small feat to get us there, settled and well transitioned.  However, if the right doors open up, I am not opposed to working outside the home once we are settled; I had not planned on working at Highlands when they approached me 2 years ago, but it worked perfectly!  The Lord knows what our family (and specifically, the children) need, and I will be open to His promptings when/if they come.
   Jack is already in kindergarten this year, and is thriving academically.  However, he is a very young kindergartener (he made the school cut-off by 2 days!), so we are considering having him stay home with me and his brothers for the remainder of the school year once we move, and start kindergarten over in the fall.

Where exactly will we be?
We will be based out of the Colorado Springs, CO, office.  Jason will lead teams to undeveloped (aka 3rd world) countries approximately 6 weeks of the year to collect data for their projects and tell people about Jesus.   He will spend the rest of the year in the CO office, preparing the project design to submit back to the host ministry.

God has made it SO clear (as detailed out in the 2 following posts) that this is exactly where He wants us.  As long as there are precious babies needing a roof over their heads and grandmommas needing hospitals, we as believers are called to help take care of them.  As the bible says in James 1:27, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress." I LOVE that God has been shaping our hearts for missions, a desire to do His will, Jason's amazing Professional Engineering skills and even a love for Colorado, all to bring us to a point that we are able to say a big fat "YES" to following Him in this.  We personally cannot house all the orphans who so desperately need a home and a momma and a daddy, but I can send my husband to help build a more suitable orphanage until their forever families come for them.  I cannot take care of all the sick people in foreign countries, but I can send my husband to help provide a hospital for those who need a place of refuge and help until healing comes.  I cannot hand a cup of clean water to the precious children who are walking literally miles a day to get their own, but I can help ensure that there are people going to those who need it most...who can provide not only clean water, but a chance to know the One who is our Living Water, our Jesus.

We stand firm behind the cry of Jesus to make disciples of all the world.  There are people who are sick, homeless, and hungry throughout our world.  Even worse, there are sick, homeless and hungry people who have never heard the name of Jesus. And while we know we can't save them all, let us each cling to the calling to reach the few God has put before us!  Jason has a special skill set that will enable him to make life better for people in developing countries all over the world, one project at a time.  As Romans 10:14-15 says, "But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?" By gathering a team of people who are interested in partnering with us to provide financial and prayer support, Jason will be able to devote his time to being SENT and solely working towards improving life and making disciples of Jesus through eMi.

Us.  We are very aware of the great implications that this act of obedience towards the Lord will have not only on us, but on generations to come.  God tells us that we have ALL been created to do good works, which He has prepared for us in advance.  We simply believe that this is is a part of ours!

And you.  We are currently developing a team of ministry partners who are committing to give monthly to make this vision possible.  As the verses from Romans 10 stated, some are called to go, and some are called to send.  We need senders!  We are working to build a team who will not only financially make it possible for us to be sent, but also to commit to praying for us at each step of the journey. Jesus made it so clear that we are made to live in community, and we would love for you to prayerfully consider being a part of ours.  This is a huge opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourselves, without even necessarily leaving your home! We clearly cannot do this alone; however, we are honored and humbled to have a front-row seat for seeing how God will call together His church to make this all possible.  If you would like to join our team as one who is committed to praying for us, please email us at chandlerjcsp@gmail.com, and we will gladly get you on our email/coffee-date/phone list.  :)
  If you are interested in giving either a one-time gift or committing to give monthly to make this work possible, eMi has made it SO easy; just click here and you can make a donation online.  All gifts to eMi are tax-exempt and will go straight to an account with our name on it; it will be used solely to pay our support.
As a 5-star non-profit agency, eMi operates exclusively through the gifts and offerings of others.  This allows the professionals in their office to give their time and attention exclusively to those in greatest need throughout the world (as opposed to spending some of their time as professionals doing for-profit work, as well). If you are interested in learning more about eMi, just click here to get to their web site.

Staff training for eMi is held every January and August.  We are praying that we can have our ministry partners gathered and funds raised so that we can be out there by January 2013.  We need to have 90% of our monthly giving pledged, as well as three months worth of support already given.  No amount is too small (we see in Jesus' parable that even the widow who gave what "little" she had was considered one of the greatest!), and we trust the Lord will pour out his storehouse on those who He finds to be generous.  We know that there are more than a handful of amazing causes in the world today (which is AWESOME!).  However, if the work of eMi resonates with you, we would be honored to have you be a part of our team for this journey. Simply click here and you will be directed to a page where you can give and/or set up monthly withdrawals to be regular supporters; click on "please select one," and choose "staff." From there, scroll through the "choose a subcategory" until you see, "Chandler, Jason - 2126" and simply click on his name.

Thank you.
For reading, for praying, and for being a part of our lives.  We are so thankful for you!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

LOVE a good deal.

So, Montgomery has this INCREDIBLE consignment sale twice a year called the Children's Clothing Exchange.  I have absolutely loved being a part of it the past 4 years.  They only accept items in excellent condition, so you know you are getting great things when you walk through their doors.  The prices are occasionally higher than your typical garage sale items might cost, but most of them are higher end as well (but that is also good news for the consignors...you make good bank!).

I was able to get Jack 6 pairs of shorts, 7 Polo-style (a couple of actual Polo) shirts; got Will a fancy little outfit for Easter that I can't WAIT to hear J complain about (woohoo!  And Will is going to look so precious!); and I got Joshie 4 cute little john-johns for this summer.  I also got Will a swim thingy so I don't have to freak out when I take the boys to the pool this summer, and Jack got a new booster seat for the car (we aren't ready for it yet, but I know we will be before their next sale...besides, it was a Graco one for $5!).

And since I consigned 60 items, our budget is still going to come out in the black!  WOOOOHOOO for makin' money on crap...I mean wonderful items that I want to share with the world...that we don't need anymore and getting awesome things that we DO need! :)

They've got baby stuff, kids stuff, home stuff, toys, toys, toys, and next week they'll have women's stuff as well.  Get yo'self over there and find a good deal.  You can thank me later.

And I would like to extend a special thank you to my hubby, for letting me go and for riding over with me and hanging out at my mom's with the boys while I went CHILD-FREE to shop.  And a HUUUGE thank you to my momma for taking care of my men and feeding us a delicious dinner before I left on my quest.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Help needed.

I think I typed this up last summer, but for whatever reason, it didn't get posted.  I thought it was cute, though! :)

How do you argue with a 3-year old who is avoiding sleep by getting up and voicing his great concern that his invisible friend (who is currently and affectionately named "Baby Jesus") is missing?!

All afternoon long, Jack's been carrying Baby Jesus (his newest, and apparently his most favorite, invisible friend) around in his cupped hands. Jesus seemed to enjoy his (or is it "His"?) stint in the baby swing and bouncy seat. Bless his heart, Jack even attempted to nurse the poor babe while I was feeding Josh.

My loves...

My precious babies are at SUCH fun stages right now!  As my mom tells me, this, too, shall pass, so I'm just soaking up the laughs and sweetness while they are here.

Some of my favorite things:
Jack LOVES to randomly, out of nowhere, say, "I love you, Mommy!", and it is usually accompanied by a sweet hug and/or kiss, and he even tags it sometimes with an "I love you to the moon and back!".  Also, he likes to think he is in charge of his little brothers...which is hard for me to combat, because he's normally spot-on when it comes to what they need/don't need to be doing.

Will: whenever he is asked, he proudly proclaims that HE IS FOUR!!  Except he's not.  He's definitely 2.    And while he is starting to occasionally act a bit, ahem, like a two year old, he is still mostly sweet, smiley, compliant Will.  He's even made some small baby steps toward being potty-trained.  Woohoo! :)  He is getting VERY verbal, and when I can figure out what he's saying, it's usually pretty funny!

Josh is absolutely in love with his brothers...in fact, he started crawling at 6.5 months so he could attempt to keep up with them.  However, they are equally smitten with him as well.  Josh's favorite game is definitely "peep-eye"and will squeal with delight if anyone will engage him in it.  He is SUCH an easy baby...I just wish he would revert back to those 11-hour nights of sleep he was getting so good at (however, I'm acknowledging that those middle-of-the-night cuddles are the only ones that go uninterrupted by his precious big brothers, so I'm not going to gripe too loudly about it...again, this phase shall pass soon enough!).