Thursday, August 8, 2013

What next?

Since we decided that we would not be going overseas (to stay) in the near future, we have both had to seek out a new place in the world.  We need an identity here as well as an income.  For six years or more our identity has been "Pre-field missionary," and we gave up another life to be that; a house, good, or at least adequately paying jobs, schools, etc.  Since then we've been nomads, one foot out the door at all times, borrowed house, temporary/occasional jobs.  That's not enough anymore.  It was never really enough, but because (we thought) it was short term, and God provided in other ways, we were satisfied with it.  It was even exciting.  Now, Todd needs to rebuild his career, and he can't go back to the main one he left.  So, what are we going to do?

Todd took a job working nights at a convenience store.  It doesn't pay much, but it's a job and he thought it would leave him flexible for other things.  Then he also went back to work at the amusement park.  That also doesn't pay much, but at least it's somewhat in his field (sound)- he's a Supervisor in the entertainment department, and he has a lot of fun and a nice tan (on his face anyway).    He is also still participating in the Ministry Apprenticeship Program at our church, and currently having mentoring meetings on the subject of coaching others.
He's also exhausted, and it's not enough.

He spent the spring in training (mostly unpaid) to drive a school bus for a nearby district as a substitute.  A few weeks ago, we was offered a permanent route.  That's pretty exciting because though it's still part-time, it pays nicely, and the schedule allows him free time for other things, too.   School bus driving is not what Todd always dreamed of growing up to do, but not many people can say that they are doing what they always dreamed of doing.   One of those other things is a seasonal leadership job that would go through the end of the year, but he hasn't accepted it yet, so I'm not going to publish it here.

We are excited about God's provision for our family.  If you pray for us, please pray for Todd to have skills at juggling all these various responsibilities.
And then there's me.

I am also working on training for a new position, but I am a long way off from it becoming paid employment, so I am not going to describe that here.  I am however working on a mountain of other new projects, and I thought it would be fun to share about some of those.  They are all meaningful things that I'm pretty excited about, and I could use your help with most of them.
Are you familiar with the Perspectives course?  It's official title is "Perspectives on the World Christian Movement."  This is a 15-week, college credit-level discipleship course that seeks to prepare and mobilize people for involvement in mission work, whether they go, send, pray, welcome, etc.  It covers the Biblical foundations for mission work, historical information about it (most of it fascinating!), strategic and cultural information.  Many people say that it "ruined them for the ordinary."  I took the course on-line through the spring and summer, and in July I went to Lancaster, PA to be trained as a coordinator.  With that, I can bring the course to the Glens Falls region in January-May 2014.  It should be a multi-church effort!  Recruitment now open for members of my coordinating team- I need a prayer coordinator, an instructor care manager (there's a different instructor each week, some from out of town), a registrar, recruitment manager, etc.  Its going to be a lot of work but it's a happy burden to me because I know that this class has eternal impact on the people who take it.  Interested?  You can find out more at and please, let me know if you want to help or take the class.  I've become friends with the coordinator of the Perspectives Course taking place in Potsdam this fall, and we can sit in on a few classes up there for a preview.   And please pray for me and my developing team!

Another thing I have gotten involved in that makes an eternal impact is Better Way Imports.
Better Way is a home party-like company.  I am helping to market fair-trade items made by women who have been trafficked.  It is a ministry as well as a small income stream.  You can help by scheduling or attending a party- which I prefer to call an Awareness Event- or making a purchase. It helps to get the word out about human trafficking, and it provides women an alternate way of making a living.  The items I market are unique- bags, jewelry, stationery, journals and other items made from recycled fabric or textiles, sustainably made paper, etc.  It makes me very happy to be involved in something that helps women and children in far-off places, many of whom are victims through no fault of their own, and are finding love through the programs that rescue them and train them in these enterprises.  As a plus, the items are beautiful!  You can check them out at my facebook business page,Better Way Freedom Fighter- Tricia.  
And if you're a fan of the chocolate home parties I was doing last year, don't worry- I'm still available for that, too.

In addition to projects 1-4 above, we're about to start another year of homeschooling and we are in high gear now that The Little Princess is 6 and in the first grade (she got about halfway through traditional "first grade" materials last year, so don't ask her what grade she's going into- it confuses her) and reportable to New York State.  I don't really care about NYS- the point is the "baby" of the family is doing school, too. I am teaching two classes at our local co-op this year (8th grade General Science and high school cooking+) and tutoring one boy in Chinese along with my own boy- all of which is a new experience as I haven't been lead teacher before.  For any of my readers who are classical home educators, I've got a lower grammar students, an upper grammar student, a dialectic student and a rhetoric level student. So, as a friend of mine says, I have a lot of plates spinning.  I definitely drop one from time to time.  Although there are moments when I feel too busy, I mostly feel occupied, in a good way.  Most of this is exciting, can't-wait-to-see-what-God's-gonna-do stuff.  Some of it even lets me feel like I am finally using my college degrees (International Politics and Sustainable Development & Missions and Intercultural Studies), which is nice.

I'm happy to be able to share this information.  Back in March when we went before our church to explain our change in plans, Pastor Ken asked me what's next for us, I didn't have an answer.  At ALL.  We were still wrestling with grief.  And of course we still are- one doesn't set aside 16 years (today's our 16th anniversary, and we were headed for the mission field all along) of working for one goal overnight.  It hurts and we don't understand. So of course it helps to plant a new vision.  We've been encouraged by others' who've laid a hand on our arm and told us their story of loss and re-direction.  I feel confident that we haven't really lost anything; it just doesn't look like we hoped it would.  It's gonna be ok; maybe even more than ok, especially you walk alongside us.  Thanks.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese Pizza

I used to be a recipe cook, but recently I have gotten more creative (brave?).  I tried something today that turned out nicely so I thought I would share my "recipe."  I made this up after scrolling through half a dozen on-line recipes, but it's not really based on any of them.
The occasion:  it's my oldest daughter's 15th birthday and she has some friends over for games.  We were talking about what to have and of course pizza was suggested; it always is.  So was mac and cheese because my mac and cheese is awesome.  Hence, macaroni and cheese pizza!
I used a refrigerated pizza crust, which I normally wouldn't do but hey! it's been a week.  So, I spread the crust on a greased pizza pan and sprinkled it with some shredded mozzarella cheese.

Then I made an abbreviated version of my usual scratch mac and cheese recipe.  Cooked enough macaroni to make about 3 cups.    Melted half a stick of butter, then stirred in about a teaspoon of salt and ground mustard and about 2 Tablespoons of flour.  I didn't measure the seasonings or flour- at this point you are aiming for a wet paste consistency.  Then I added a Tablespoon of parmesan cheese and a cup of milk.  When that made a nice soup I added two cups of mozzarella- this is where is got different from just being awesome mac and cheese, for which I use cheddar.  Mozzarella goes on pizza!

Anyway I cooled that mixture some and spread it on the crust and baked it for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  I considered putting bread crumbs on the top, but we don't have any, so I didn't.
 The kids said it was pretty good and they ate it all so I don't have a pic!  If you try this, let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Changing Paths- For those who don't get our newsletter or facebook posts

Sadly we are sharing with you, our supporters, that we feel it is not in God’s will & timing that we go to the foreign mission field as a family in the near future. As missionaries we willingly agreed to a financial policy which in a nutshell reads “We make no appeals for funds.” We’ve never made our need a focal point of our ministry presentations because we believe that God will move upon hearts to support us independent of our asking. In light of this, we must admit that since He hasn’t so moved over the course of six years, it appears not to be in His will that we should go right now.
We are not quite ready to decide upon meaningful next steps, but we intend to stay as involved with TACO as we have been. We will talk to leadership at our missions agency in the next few weeks about what our technical relationship with them will be; but they will remain in our affections!
We know that missions is a good thing and that TACO is a good thing. We even believe that we are a good thing; as much as any person is any good before God; our marriage is good, kids are good, and our relationship with our church is good. All of these things are very good. It a mystery to us that these things don't come together in the way that we had hoped. But after six years, and especially this past summer of working ardently to raise support to go to the field where we felt we could best use our gifts and talents, we find ourselves no closer. In addition, the nomadic and flexible lifestyle we have lived has begun to wear on us. Our savings safety net is dangerously depleted. Our children have sacrificed friendships as well as material needs and wants. We, Todd and Tricia, separately found ourselves ready to find regular employment for some time.
Although we don’t regret the choices we made over the last few years, we feel grief over the loss, at least temporarily, of this dream, which have nurtured since before we were married.
If you have given to us financially we are so grateful for your support and encouragement. Thank you for investing in this ministry! You have been a great blessing to us with your prayers as well. We hope that you will continue to support the work as the Lord leads and as we are able to participate in events.
Please continue to be in prayer for our family as we reconsider and wait for direction . We want to continue to honor God with the challenging decisions we have to make.