Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

Monday, May 26, 2014

Flying a Plane... ALONE?

May 22, 2014
Runway 28

The lesson starts with me trying to start the plane... three different turns of the key while the propeller tries to stay pumping. I mumble something to Charlie, my instructor, about needing to prime the engine more even though it's hot outside and he gently taps my wrist. I look over to see him pointing at the fuel mixture. Greeeeaaattt. I didn't give the plane any gas and like Charlie said, I won’t forget that ever again! I hope.

We then taxi out to take off. The first thing Charlie mentions is that we will do 3 take offs and landings and I know instantly what that means. An hour lesson usually includes 9 touch and go's. I start wracking my brain for ways to lock Charlie's door so he can't get out. Without child locks I am stuck. Can't think of anything to keep him stuck in his seatbelt either. I left my super glue at home.

So we fly for a few minutes and then I pull off the runway and my beloved instructor gets out. Grabs a radio. Tells me to call him if I need to. I need him in the plane! That's what I need!

Too late.

My thoughts are rapid-fire after this: I am alone... with a plane. That can fall from the sky! Oh wow, I just put in full power. Oh, I am getting to 55knots really fast. Pull back. Dang, Baby Bird just popped right off the ground. And I am climbing faster than ever before. Where did Baby Bird get all this power? Calling in everything on the radio. How am I already on the base leg of the pattern? Just called in final. I see little ant-Charlie waiting for me. Level out. Look at the end of the runway. Oh wait, I am too short to see. Look out the window. Let it sink. Landed. Used the whole runway. 

After the first one it was completely different. I had to wait for another plane to take off. And then another plane to land. I was getting a little nervous for the waiting but seeing as how I just landed and  the plane could take off again (sign of a great landing) I could do this! I taxied back ready to go. And then... the plane wouldn’t turn right. At all. I radioed Charlie and Jesse came out in his car to drive him over. After pumping the brakes they unstuck and he told me it was fine. Who knows. Didn't need those in the air anyway, right? Took off with a wave, pattern again, and long landing #2.

It was all fun after that. I was flying by myself! Like a bird! Felt like a dream in which God was flying right along with me. That seat wasn't empty, His peace was obvious. It was such a freeing experience. I could do this! The work paid off and I was capable of bringing an airplane in for a landing. Me! The one who didn't get her driver's license till I almost left for college! This was a huge moment for me. I could hardly believe I was actually flying a plane, it was surreal.

After landing #3, I was good to go. I turned around, picked up hitchhiker Charlie off of the side of the runway, and taxied on home. 

I bounded out of the plane, leaving the power on. Oops. But it was amazing to have my ministry-aviation family around me to give me hugs, congrats, and encouragement. The snarky comments abounded in the midst of the hugs but that wasn't surprising at all.

For example...
Me: Thank you Charlie, it wouldn’t have been possible without you.
Ethan: It was barely even possible with you!
It felt that way while I was slugging through the 15 hours to get there! But hey, I made it! And the smiles that followed the comments just made me feel more a part of the group.

My instructor then cut off the back of my shirt to decorate it. North American pilot tradition states that your shirttail is forfeit as a wall trophy upon soloing. I am happily down a t-shirt. Charlie is busy puffy painting it at home.

After that, I had to wait three hours until California woke up. So I called Steve Saint, my Florida-aviation-dad to tell him how excited I was. He was great and told me to write it all down. So here I am. Giving too many details and stoked to be on the ground.

Calling Dad and Grandpa (and Mom and Grandma) was such a wonderful experience. I was so excited to share with these long-time pilots that I had just leapt over hurdle numero uno! I couldn't do this without them either!!! Thank you for inspiring me guys!

My shirt, pilot logbook, and Baby Bird.
Charlie is such a wonderfully patient person.

God's Mountain

I always love when a verse I have known for ages, takes on a deeper significance. When the words in my head actually translate to meaning in my life. 

Hebrews 12:2
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

It wasn't the whole verse that was floating around in my head. It was just one line at first: "the founder and perfecter of our faith." It popped right in my thoughts, and would have flown right out again had I not been wanting something to ponder while on my walk. So I snatched it out of the wind and asked, "what does that mean?"

What does it mean for God to be not only the founder/author, but also the perfecter/finisher of our faith? It means that He not only gives us the faith we need to seek Him originally, but also the faith needed to run this race more and more effectively as He works on our hearts. As we lay aside these sins and burdens that keep us from living like Christ, God is faithful to perfect us to run better. 

Meaning... all the hard days where I feel beat up on, or like I'm soft limestone in a rock tumbler with sharp volcanic lava, are worth it. Those days God is faithful to perfect my faith. He helps the sin of pride cling a little less. He lays aside some of the things I carry in my self-righteousness. He removes my focus from myself and puts it on His foundation. 

It also means that God is even more faithful in all the times where I feel raw for having been rubbed so much by others. When He strips away the layers I have on for comfort from the elements, I feel naked at first. But that is looking at it all wrong. I am actually un-entangled. My legs and feet are free to pound down the road towards Jesus. My arms are free to swing unencumbered by my burdens of sin and self-focus. My head is free to swing upward and revel in the sunlight. I am weightless.

This is huge. This is truly running. This is faith... God working on my belief so that I can be an endurance runner. God stripping me of my "comforts" is not easy or even painless. But it is beautiful!

These past months have been hard for me in the sense that I have felt like I had every right to be prideful. I was justified in being hurt and having my fists up ready for a fight. But, these months have also been wonderfully freeing. This is the part of the race where I feel I am battling uphill, feeling that God is placing rocks and hurdles in my way on purpose. And He is. But those same boulders are also shaving off bits and pieces of my load that were never meant to be carried up the mountain. And I am finding out that God, in his wondrous plan, is holding me up. He isn't trying to trip me with these hurdles, my pride does that. Rather, he is picking me up as I repent and placing me up the mountain another mile or two, to where I find a stream of living water to rest at before continuing on.

This is the race set before us with God setting the pace and terrain. This is my journey of laying aside entanglements (with a lot of help) and letting God perfect my faith. He will finish my faith in the end, and that will be a glorious day!

 Makes me think of hiking Half Dome...

Sunday, May 11, 2014


How do you condense 5 weeks of Ecuador into a post that isn't novel length? I have asked myself this many times since returning from Ecuador a month ago. And yet, here I sit, still not having updated you on much of anything... as more time and trips pass without a word.

So, to make it simple I wrote recapies. Not recaps, those are too long, but little baby synopses of the past two months... aka recap-ies.

In a few words this was the hardest, yet most beneficial, trip I have ever been on... I have never felt more mentally exhausted, yet totally reliant on God's strength. Every night, instead of falling into bed and not remembering a thing until morning, I was instead translating every dream into whatever language it wasn't happening in. Talk about never getting a break! But on the other hand I learned so much and was able to see God at work in so many ways...

 In nature. Ecuador is the most beautiful country I have ever seen.

 In the student's desires to learn and grow in everything film related.
In the film festival. It was a huge success! The students made incredible films (to be posted online soon).
In all the adventures I was blessed to have. Like hiking through rock tunnels to waterfalls and biking 30+ miles through the most amazing scenery.

In the missions history seen all over in our town of Shell. This is a replica of Nate Saint's plane in the local park and below is the Nate Saint house and radio they used to contact each other when reaching the Waodani Indians.

And in the amazing people I was able to meet and get to know on a really personal level. Five weeks is great for relationships... except for this guy. I only knew him for about 4 minutes.

If you sat me down and asked how the trip was I would talk to you for hours about the struggles, blessings, adventures, beauty, and brokenness of a five week trip. I would regale you with tales of translating faux pas, living in community mishaps, and water filled technology water scares. But most of all I would have stories of students who really understood how media can reach people for the Lord and applied it in amazing ways. They were such an encouragement on this training trip and I am confident they will continue to learn and strive after better ways to reach the lost with Christ-stories. Thank you for supporting me with your prayers to be able to do this! I learned a lot about myself, spanish, film, and what serving well looks like.

When you meet certain people, and hear their stories, there is something that can't be ignored. Upon meeting up with an I-TEC team traveling to the Amazon, during the last days of our own Ecuador trip, Dianne (pictured above) and I roomed with two other women, Sarah and Teresa. We really clicked. So within a few weeks of returning home, we all traveled from different states to meet up in Kentucky at Teresa's home for abused and recovering women: Hosea's House

God truly brought together an incredible team of women this past month with the vision to film a documentary for Teresa's incredible ministry, and I was blessed to be a part! We spent four days filming the daily lives of the women who call Hosea's House their home, as well as being privileged to hear their stories of hardship and triumph in the Lord. God is moving powerfully in the lives of these women! 

Here is a brief description of the ministry we are making a documentary for: 
"We develop relationships with women & children in crisis and walk with them during their process of healing by offering housing, friendship, Bible study, education, life skills, home management, parenting skills and community involvement. We base our program on Biblical principles and provide Christ centered guidance to women and their families. Hosea’s House partners with local Churches and organizations in our community. Our desire is to allow the Church to minister to the broken and to be a light in the community in which they serve. We believe that only Jesus Christ has the power to completely heal and restore."

Thank you Lord, Teresa, Dianne, and Sarah for letting me be part of this team. I am excited to edit this film with you all and to see God create a beautiful story from all the pieces! Thank you Lisa for housing us and serving us so well, it wouldn't have been possible without you!
When you want blossoms in your shot, sometime you have to climb a tree.
We were surrounded by amazing and generous people all week long. Every person at this table has made a huge impact for the women that seek change and growth at Hosea's house.
I was encouraged by each one of these ladies! They all have hearts of gold.

After Kentucky it was a road-trip off to Chicago! One butter burger and 5.5 hours later we arrived to our hotel, crashed, and were off to the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) summit the next morning. There we spent two days in an international pre-conference listening to best care practices for the world orphan crisis. We were inspired by the many people working to de-institutionalize (meaning de-orphanage) orphans and strengthen the family units and communities of the world to provide homes for these kids. The second two days of the conference were spent interviewing people from all over the world about their ideas for sustainable orphan care. My mind was blown, and I felt so incredibly blessed to hear the many stories of attending missionaries...
Such as the story of a pastor who has chosen to live with his family in the refugee camps of Southern Sudan, in order to reach the hurting and lost there (unable to show his face).
Or the story of Gennadiy who takes drug-addicted kids off the streets, cleans them up, and gives them hope and a future. (See the documentary trailer about his life.) There was so much to learn and be challenged by!
After the conference I was able to visit two of my close friends who now live in Chicago... Monique and Matt. It was great to spend a couple days just being with them after the packed days of filming.

Monique was a great tour guide and I got a great taste of the city... which I surprisingly liked! It has a unique, very genuine feel to it. Then I got a day to spend with Matt on the lake, where he longboarded and I attempted to keep up (I am not so hot at those 90 degree turns). I also am horrible at posing for pictures as it turns out... but you get the gist!
This is Matt before he moved to the windy city... we didn't actually take a picture together that day so this is an old one, oops! Thanks Mo and Matt for a great weekend and for being people I can sit on the lakefront and process with.

What is next? A very hot and humid summer full of love bugs (acidic, sticky little guys that are literally everywhere for a month, twice a year), time spent redesigning the website and other social media for I-TEC (lots of writing), a new website with videos talking about missions (video editing galore), plugging into my new church and the worship team, and some definite trips to the beach. There is also roommate/friend dates, summer events in town, a trip to the Amazon Jungles with my dad and sister (more on that later), and a trip home to Mexico and Temecula. God always has amazing and unexpected plans, so I will include those as well. Oh and jury duty tomorrow...

 Climbing in a cave to get a shot I wanted when filming.

 Grass grows rapidly here... really, I think you can see it growing.
There is always time for a bluegrass festival complete with food trucks, Sherylyn, and a little rain.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

My Favorite Married Woman

Sometimes when I am baking cookies or embroidering a present for someone I think the admittedly prideful thought of, "man, I would make such a cute wife." I don't know when in my education as a woman I got the idea that being crafty or put together in a kitchen would make me a great spouse for someone... but I have to follow-up that first thought with a hard look at how I view marriage. Because I am pretty sure a handmade driftwood wreath would not serve well as a lifesaver in a relationship.

When I think of my main example of a wife, she is a really cute one. But even if my mom wasn't the most creative person on this planet that she is, I am convinced my parents would still have the successful marriage that they do. So what is it that my mom has practiced, and honed, to be the supportive and lovely wife that she is?

I thought the best place to start would be to ask the one my mom has journeyed with for 29 years... "Papa Tim." So I did. I picked his brain and laughed a lot as he kept trying to pass the phone to my mom. 

Here's what I got: It is about the little things. The daily things.

My dad loves that my mom cares for his needs so well: that she cleans and cooks and provides a home for our family that rocks. And he loves her money savvy. (He said it is hard on a relationship to have someone who doesn't have financial restraint. It is a big thing in marriage.) I loved the simplicity in why our home is so happy. It is because they serve each other. It doesn't have to be a complicated show of affection all the time. They don't have to look put together all the time. They just have to be selfless and care for the other person's needs. I thought that was encouraging. My dad said, "We are kind of organic, it kind of just happens."

The best advice came at the end of the conversation, however, when my mom said, "You can't change them. If they are a slob going in, they will stay a slob*." I think that speaks to more than meets the eye. We can't change other people, but we can change ourselves (something I have been really learning lately). We can choose to love someone for everything that they are, dirty sock-leaving habits included.

And love each other they do. It's inspiring and refreshing. Thank you mom for being such an amazing example of a servant and a wife. Thank you for making it possible for us three girls to be successful in life and in Amanda's case, marriage. You are my rock and my most favorite woman of all time. I couldn't do the things that I do without you walking me through every step (just think of how many times I have called asking how to hard boil eggs) and without you being supportive of me in all things. You are beautiful!


*By the way, my parents are both extremely organized and clean... =)