Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I will likely post the bulk of my updates (here on out) on the Unite blog http://www.uniteeph4-1-16.blogspot.com.  I may occasionally post very personal ones here.  Thanks for your prayers and support!  Please check out the Unite blog for latest updates!

Friday, January 21, 2011

January 3rd Update

January 3rd update
God’s providence is amazing.  Yesterday I left Hays for an annual trip to Chicago to study with the Aikido Club (that I instruct) at the United States headquarters dojo.  I had to seriously pray and consider whether or not to go on this trip with my finances.  Ultimately, I felt I should go.

The train departed at 3:00 a.m. (technically the next day), so I had time to visit my sister in Newton.  We had a REALLY good talk about some very real things.  I miss having the opportunity to grow in relationship with her that way since we now live so far apart.  I felt like that was a blessing from God and good for both of us.  Then I met a good friend of mine who is completing his clinicals in med school.  He and I also shared a very deep chat about a number of situations and about how God is moving in our lives.  It was a VERY good conversation.  He surprised me by getting dinner, and I had leftover food to take on the train.  Not only did I feel that meeting was of God, but a meal was also provided for me (which was important later).  After wards I headed on to Newton.
 At the train depot I met two Spanish couples—one who leads a local church and another from Mexico visiting relatives (the church couple was dropping the others off).  The couple from Mexico spoke no English, so I was able to help them out a bit and interpret all the announcements/instructions for them (it was the first train ride for all of us).  We had good conversations about the difficulties they face visiting relatives here with our travel laws.  We also had opportunities to share backgrounds and discuss family and faith.  I felt like it was good to be able to relate to them and also to offer a welcome to them as a United States citizen (when they had so many difficulties).  Near the end of our early morning conversation, they offered me an enormous apple (one of several they’d purchased in Wichita).  It would have been rude not to accept, and I truthfully really could use it, so I thanked them and got a little sleep.

At the Kansas City stop I met a neat family (a mother with three kids) who were on their way back to the East Coast.  Since I’d packed more Barq’s Root Beer cans in my luggage than I needed to drink in Chicago (I usually over-pack a bit just in case), I checked with the mother and gave one to each of the two boys.  I found out that it was actually their favorite drink.  We had good chances to talk since the mother and I had both taught swimming lessons for years, and the oldest boy reminded me of some of the young men in the youth group.  In particular, the oldest and I had a good chat about living by faith and some of the things he’d been learning from his youth pastor.  We also chatted a bit about family and other things.  

Later that morning, I was able to eat left-over chicken (from my supper with my friend in Wichita) for breakfast when the mother surprised me by dropping off a coffee for me.  I was very surprised, touched, and thankful to God.  Originally I thought I’d have to much a Rice Kripsies treat and drink cold water for breakfast, and here I had a filling meal with coffee (which I love but didn’t need!).  Lunch was covered by the last of the chicken and the huge apple I’d received, and when we were delayed an hour outside of Chicago, I was able to give Rice Krispies treats (again, I’d over-packed to be safe) to the Spanish couple and the family I’d been chatting with to tide everyone over. ..

The cool thing is that I originally over-packed just to make sure I’d have enough to eat in Chicago, and that ended up being an opportunity to share God’s bounty with others.  What’s more, God ended up NOT ONLY giving me some great opportunities to serve Him and others and have great conversations (including the two in Wichita), but ALSO provided me with coffee (which was more than I needed), breakfast and lunch (and even healthy lunch with that huge apple) and all in one shot.

Thank God for opportunities and His providence!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30th update

Thank God that He continues to show me how much I need to ask Him to help me listen, surrender to Him, and trust Him…

Listening—God continues to remind me of the powerful need to listen…  Not just to be silent and pay attention, but to actually relax and open up to everything being communicated all around me—verbally and otherwise.  So often I can be quick to respond to a person out of a desire to help them because I AM actively listening, but in truth it takes time for everything to fully soak in—to not just hear the words and ideas someone wants to communicate, but to feel/discern what is going on.  Listening isn’t even just about body language—I believe it is about subtler things that we don’t even realize we sense and cannot fully be aware of if we are too actively listening to the words and ideas someone is communicating…  We can easily get lost in the ideas and, out of a desire to help a person, miss a person…  I continue to have to ask God to help me remember to listen in everything…

Faith and surrender—God also keeps helping me slowly learn to trust Him more.  I have seen Him time and again keep His word and answer my prayers directly.  It’s not even subtle now that He’s opened my eyes further so I can see Him and the spiritual war around us better…  He is so obviously moving and answering my prayers and the prayers of many around me.  He has provided for me financially EVERY month over the past six—even when it seemed there was no way I was going to make it.  He is obviously directly working in the lives of those I am praying with and in my life.  People are being healed, hearts and minds opened, and His joy continues to grow in those who know Him.  In my younger days I thought miracles were a thing of the distant past, but they do happen all around and frequently—I just could not see them.  

God continues to transform me and patiently show me that, yes, indeed, I can trust Him with everything.  He also continues to show me that the good works He has built me for ahead of time are far better than even the best dream I could have for myself and the best I could attain for myself if I sought to build my kingdom instead of His.  I struggle sometimes—worrying about finances or about the darkness attacking some of the people around me or about having a spouse one day.  Each time that I pick up one of those worries it bears me down, and God has to remind me that it IS too heavy for me because these things MUST be in His hands and His alone.  He’s got it in control and has better control than I do.  I keep re-learning that there’s a reason He says His burden is light and easy to carry and that we must lose our lives to find TRUE LIFE…  If we do not ‘pick up our crosses daily’ and ‘offer ourselves as living sacrifices’, we end up pulling our lives back out of the hands of the only one who can help us.  He gives us free choice, so He lets me pick that load up and place it foolishly back on my shoulders.  In my limited knowledge and wisdom I take control and try to make things better for myself or others, but I cannot help others in my strength as well as God can help them or direct me to help them.  In my own life I end up building my kingdom instead of His, and that leaves me with my own lesser dreams and lesser capabilities to attain them (and actually builds up Satan’s kingdom).  The good works God has prepared for me, the adventures He gives me daily in the life I am BUILT to live, the blessings He gives me, and the growth He gives me in love when I surrender and live for His kingdom are so much more amazing than anything I could get myself.  All He has to do is remind me of that AND that when I let go of the heavy load of leading a lesser life, He not only gives me the life He has built me for, but also grants me relief from all the stresses and worry I was picking up.  They are back in the hands of the only one who can handle them (and in fact have always been partially in those hands, for even when we yank back the reigns and pick bad things for ourselves He continually calls to us and gives us opportunities for the evil to be used for at least some good).  Thanks be for that!  It’s so foolish not to trust God and to worry.  Thank God for His patience with me in CONTINUALLY showing me that!  His patience and love ARE unmatched… 

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 25th thoughts

You know, Sundays are one of my favorite days of the week nowadays.  In the morning I teach a college Sunday school class at North Oak (we also have two older congregation members in attendance and would love to have more).  It’s exciting to see each person (most of whom are in one of the Unite small groups) and catch up with them.  I really enjoy the opportunity to come together in the Spirit to discuss God things.  I particularly love the opportunity to pray for each other at the end of the class.

Afterwards we have a service and usually end up eating lunch together, which is another good time to catch up and share life together.  Sometimes I’ll get a brief nap or reprieve in, and then one of the small groups meets…

Those are really neat right now—the Spirit is moving in them and people are opening up to study God together, experience God together, and be in community in the Spirit.  Each different time is different, but I enjoy them all…

Afterwards there’s usually another short break and then I haul people out to the North Oak college suppers (they do free home-cooked meals for college age students).  That lets me interact with a whole different crew, and often chat with some international friends…

Next is a small group I’m part of with some really cool college students.  It’s just a blessing to be there and experience fellowship in the Spirit with, again, a completely different group of people.  Often I’ll stay after to chat with a few of the guys afterwards, and sometimes I won’t get home until midnight or 1 a.m.

The days are full, but have so many opportunities to listen to God and love others…  I really do enjoy Sundays…  :)

October 25 Update

First, I'll start off with an update that I posted to Unite's blog...
The small groups are going very well (we currently have four meeting—two in the Union, one in Semolinos, and one in Coffee Rules).  We’ve already has several people come up and chat with us in different groups, and we’ve been able to pray for them.  We’re also finished with the two starter studies we use and have completed week one of ‘Firm Foundations’ from New Tribes.  I’m excited to see how this study progresses over the semester.

Possibly more exciting, we have seen several prayers for individuals within the small groups answered.  Half of our small group time (45min) is devoted to study, and the other half is devoted to prayer and encouragement, with time to share what God’s been teaching us individually and/or anything we feel led to share with the group.  During this time we’ve had several important opportunities to pray for each other, and I’m excited to see God answer.  One individual was freed from some strong temptations to turn back to nicotine, another from illness/exhaustion, and several other prayers have been directly answered.

We have also received a starting $900 towards coffeehouse renovations/operations.  We need two more final bids to come in, but it looks like the whole phase one part of the project will run around $6,000 (for an industrial coffee machine, plumbing, cabinetry with a sink, and taking out some windows).  That’s an exciting beginning and another answer to prayer.

Game nights have continued to go well—many of the same people are coming back, and we’ve had between twenty and thirty-some attend most nights.  International-themed game nights are much smaller, but some important connections have recently been made that may help those increase.  Thank you sincerely for your continued prayers!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October 6 Very Brief Update

I will give you a more in-depth update soon, but in brief...
Thank you so much for your prayers!  The [alt] concert, game night, and [alt]ernative ride service went extremely well.  We had a good turn out (maybe 400 through the concert and 60-80 at the game night) and a lot of fun.  Two small groups are off to a good start and at least two more will begin this week; please also keep them in your prayers!

Also, I will have a meeting to discuss my status as a missionary and Unite and its mission on Thursday, October 7th at 7:00 p.m. at North Oak Community Church (3000 Oak Street, Hays, KS  67601)  in the Southernmost classroom.  There will be prayer and a time for questions and answers.  Please feel free to come by!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Unite's Website Launch Beta

Hello everyone!  Just a quick note--Unite has just launched our first website.  Please check it out and let us know if anything can be improved (it may go through several revisions as time and programming allow).

Thank you again for your prayers and support--please especially keep the small groups (their first week) and game nights (with the [alt] event--see Unite's website or prayer blog for details) in your prayers!!!