T.

Two Hundred and Seventy Five

By God’s grace our kids were feeling a little bit better today than they were yesterday. Both of them got good sleep last night and Titus will probably go back to school tomorrow. We were pretty concerned about Avery’s cough and congestion but that seems to have gotten significantly better today which is such a blessing. It’s always hard to hear your kids cry over their sickness which is exactly what was going on last night for Avery.

Spring Training (Titus 2015) from Shay on Vimeo.

Tonight before dinner I took them both outside to play. The weather has been staying in the low 60s and with the sunlight sticking around later in the evening it makes it much easier to do that while Bethany makes dinner. Above you can watch a little video of Titus hitting the baseball in the backyard. He was actually the one who initiated the play time outside. Earlier today Bethany took them to the park to play and he had so much fun outside that I think he really wanted to go out again tonight. Our kids are definitely enjoying being outside more of late. The rest of the week is supposed to be rainy and colder so it was nice to get some time outside tonight.

Play and Laugh (3/26/15)

275. That’s how many days we’ve been in Czech and how many blogs we have written since arriving. It’s really hard to believe that time has gone by so fast these past nine months. Life here has definitely been an adjustment, but I can’t help but be reminded how good God has been to us. Every so often I have to remember why we called this blog “It’s all grace.” Titus 2:11 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people…” I didn’t deserve that grace, but the Lord saved me despite my sin and gave me the righteousness of Christ! And 2 Timothy 1:9 reminds us that God, “…saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…” I couldn’t work for that amazing salvation, but it was simply an act of His grace. These are just two of many verses on God’s grace, but they are a sweet reminder to me that each and every day–especially the past 275 days–God’s grace has been poured out in a sweet and full way on me and my family. I hope you too can be reminded of the Lord’s grace today on your life.

N.

Not Normal

“Today was hard. I don’t know if it’s just because the kids aren’t feeling well and I’m not feeling well, but it was not normal.” Bethany shared that with me tonight as I was sitting down to write this post. I had just said to her, “I want to write about today and then go to bed.” I think we’re both just barely hanging in there today.

Out the Window (9/16/14)

Titus was mostly just freaking out about everything which was definitely not normal. Clearly he’s not feeling well when he freaks out about Bethany throwing his Buzz Lightyear on the bed. I realize he’s a boy and he’s four, and yes there are times when he gets upset about petty things, but tonight he was just losing it over everything. Avery was also just off. Bethany said she was really emotional today and crying about everything without much self control. Again, not normal. Avery is two and she’s a girl, but Bethany said she just wanted to be held. I think we’re all just barely hanging in there today.

I was thankful this morning during our Tuesday morning team meeting because Dave Patty did a short devotional from I Thessalonians 2. Verse 8 is probably one of my favorites in the Bible. It reads, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” Our entire team is pushing hard to get ready for conference next week and Dave was just trying to remind us of why we give our selves for others. The point was that the gospel has to be the focus. Christ gave his life and we give ours for each other as an act of worship back to the Savior. It was a great reminder for me as I was struggling just to make it to the meeting! We spent some time in prayer this morning and my prayer was simply that the gospel would drive me forward this week and that I wouldn’t complain and lean back on the fact that I’m not feeling well. I trust the Lord will answer that prayer in His grace and mercy.

M.

My Last Day on the Job (One Year Ago Today)

One year ago today, I worked my very last day after spending six and a half years with John Paul Mitchell Systems (aka “Paul Mitchell,” the hair care company). I worked as a production graphics person, mostly responsible for product packaging (e.g. the shampoo bottles). Paul Mitchell was a company that took very good care of my family and I worked with some pretty great people. I was twenty three years old when they brought me on and left when I was twenty nine. Those are important years for any young man and for us those years included our first child, the purchase of our first home (condo), our second child, and the sale of our first home. It also included two trips to the Czech Republic which would eventually lead to God calling us here to serve Him full time in ministry.

Here’s a photo of me with the kids on September 12, 2013 (I didn’t have one of us from the 13th).

Family (from 2013)

I look back on those years with fondness of what God did in our lives. The day I was hired we only had $9 in our bank account with nothing on credit and all the bills paid. We were young, married, and we had lots of student loans but at least the bills were paid! I honestly didn’t know what were going to do if I didn’t get the job, but the Lord was gracious to provide for us. I remember thinking I would only spend a year there and see what God would have. Then I spent five and a half more, but on September 13th, 2013, we packed up my office and away we went.

Fast forward to today. Here I am sitting in the Czech Republic writing about what God has done in my life and honestly a few tears have entered my eyes. I just checked through my emails and on September 10th, 2012 (yes, over two years ago) we had our a meeting with the elders at Placerita Baptist Church (our home church) where they formally decided to be our sending church! Almost a year later to the date I left my job at Paul Mitchell (2013). A little more than a week later after I left Paul Mitchell, I was in the car driving two and a half hours north of our town to start a little internship at Grace Church of the Valley, helping with music. God’s timing was perfect and He provided a lot through them and eventually they would decide to support our family to come to Czech. During that time we spent countless hours in our van driving around the country, meeting with churches, spending time with family, raising support, and even driving to Colorado to do missionary training. It was an incredible time for our family and one I will never forget. Finally, on June 23, 2014 we got on an airplane headed for Czech. It’s amazing when you can look back and watch God’s hand move.

I get emotional about the past. It’s hard not to. The hand of God on my life has been utterly amazing and I can say without hesitation that’s it’s only by His amazing grace that He has brought me and my family here. Tonight I am so thankful for all the people God used to train me, disciple me, work with him, support our family, and continue supporting us while we seek to bring the gospel to a dark part of the world. Praise God for a year full of joy, full of laughter, full of fun, full of trusting Him, and full of His amazing grace. It’s all grace.

P.S. I couldn’t help but post this without a few photos so just for good measure here’s a few pics of the kids today.

Playing at the Mall (9/13/14)

Playing at the Mall (9/13/14)

W.

Wholly of Grace

A great little reminder from John Newton:

Salvation is wholly of grace, not only undeserved but undesired by us until God is pleased to awaken us to a sense of our need of it. And then we find everything prepared that our wants require or our wishes conceive; yea, that He has done exceedingly beyond what we could either ask or think.

Salvation is wholly of the Lord and bears those signatures of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness which distinguish all His works from the puny imitations of men. It is every way worthy of Himself, a great, a free, a full, a sure salvation.

It is great whether we consider the objects (miserable, hell-deserving sinners), the end (the restoration of such alienated creatures to His image and favor, to immortal life and happiness) or the means (the incarnation, humiliation, sufferings and death of His beloved Son). It is free, without exception of persons or cases, without any conditions or qualifications, but such as He, Himself, performs in them and bestows upon them.

(via Of First Importance)

G.

Grace In Christian Growth

A book that I constantly talk about is Holiness By Grace written by Bryan Chapell. Honestly, I would say it’s in my top 5 favorite books. It has had such a great impact on my understanding of God’s grace and how it affects every aspect of my life (not to mention impacting the name of our family Web site). That’s why I got excited to see Bryan Chapell speaking on that very topic at the LIBERATE 2013 conference. They have made the video of the sermon available and it’s here for your your edification.

Liberate 2013 – Bryan Chapell from Coral Ridge | LIBERATE on Vimeo.