Saturday, March 9, 2019

January / February '19 Review: PAIN & OPPORTUNITY

Buen Provecho Familia Barba

“Ultimately we become what we pay attention to, and the options available to us at any time are myriad, the most important of which being located within us. Paul, in his letter to the Romans knows this, stating flatly, ‘Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace’ (Romans 8:5-6). To have one’s mind set on something is essentially about paying attention.  What do I pay attention to? Paul says that what we pay attention to doubles back and governs us. Hence our attention is deeply associated with either death or life. So much of the biblical narrative is the story of God working hard to get our attention.” (Curt Thompson, The Soul of Shame, p. 49)

I was recently asked by someone, “What is your passion?”

That is a great question. One that my forty-two year old self isn’t quite sure how to answer these days. Somehow I don’t think it is the most important one! “Who am I in Christ and how do I play a part in the Great Commission... without the missionary title?” Now that one seems to bare some weight…

"We're NOT in Honduras anymore, Toto!"

The start to the year has probably been one of the most painful that I can remember. I’ve said it before, but perhaps I had a naïve understanding that all our wounds and hurts over the last few years would be wrapped upped nicely by the turn of the year and our transition to the “new normal” would be well on its way.

Not so. Yet, God still has His way of getting my attention:

Revelations about my own lack of authenticity as a child of God and the reliance on ministerial titles & achievements has been humbling. Insights of my own mental, physical and emotional health have painfully opened a new realm of dependency on Christ. Marital & parental clashes have torn away at any facade of faith that I once masqueraded in. The Great Physician continues to remove the malignant and harmful from my soul.  Honestly, I think I’m still on the operating table when I had hoped to be in physical therapy by now!

It has also been difficult to navigate “church”. How much to get involved? How much to “rest”? What does God think of me even though I might be “sitting on the sidelines”? What do I think of myself? To be frank, it feels like we are “on the team” but currently on the “injured reserve list”; of course, under the Great Physician’s orders. I’ve stepped off the worship team for a season because the Holy Spirit revealed mixed motives on my part; therefore, it doesn’t bring the same joy & peace that it once did. However, I’ve started to help with the “juniors” Sunday school class: 4th – 8th graders. It was fun to get my feet wet with that group of children!

Super Bowl Party with friends from church!

Shame is a primary means to prevent us from using gifts we have been given. And those gifts enable us to flourish as a light-bearing community of Jesus followers who work to create space for others who wish to join it to do so. Shame, therefore, is not simply an unfortunate, random, emotional event that came with us out of the primordial evolutionary soup. It is both a source and result of evil’s active assault on God’s creation, and a way for evil to try to hold out until the new heaven and earth appear at the consummation of history.” (Curt Thompson, The Soul of Shame, p. 13)

Shame has been an unwanted friend and a subversive foe for way too long in my Christian walk. It has not been easy to part ways with him, but at least he is being exposed and my journey continues… poco a poco.

Miraculously. Faithfully. Unconditionally. God is still present, still providing, still wooing, and still healing.

Shop & Kitchen work with Resurrected Cabinet Coatings

My job search kicked off in January and was initially very deflating. After hours of filling out numerous on-line applications and hearing nothing in return I reached out to the kids’ school to see if any opportunities would open through that larger “family”. (I tried some contacts from church and even painted a job with a friend. But nothing more came about.) I was introduced to Kevin Chapman with Resurrected Cabinet Coatings. He has taken me on as a sub-contracting apprentice of sorts. Last year, Kevin & his wife branched off to start their own business after having partnered with another couple for several years. His wife has been recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and is unable to contribute to the small business as she did before. God knew!

Professor Beard @ your service.

I have also had a stint of substitute teaching at the kids’ school. It has been 8+ years since I managed a “traditional” classroom, but it was much like riding a bike. (Yes, I put on my helmet!) I had a great time with both 8th grade and 11th grade English classes; this week it has been Algebra 1!!! The time at the school also quickly built a good reputation for me amongst the students and the staff. I have chatted with the administration about returning to the school as a teacher in the Fall. (I also have been accepted to sub at District 49, the only district in the Springs that takes Bachelor Degree Only subs, but have my calendar filled at USCO & making deliveries again with Butter Braids for March! PTL)

However, working at USCO would be like paid ministry. In reality, I would have to work elsewhere to help keep our budget. We are hoping to move out from the Goransons in May! So, grateful for their help, but ready to have our own place. PRAY for me as I make decisions about work and the balance between the jobs!

My two other options are to begin work as a financial planner with Northwest Mutual. Even though this profession is outside of my ministerial / educational background I am really excited for the opportunity! A chance to reinvent myself and watch God provide in a different way for the family. My second option is to work with the Goransons as they begin a business focused on whole house fans! Our friends’ success in California with the business encourages us that it is possible in Colorado Springs! We have our first home show at the end of the month! PRAY!!!

"Learning to Soar"

Marillyn continues to work on her business with Young Living Essential Oils. These oils have been a staple in the Beard family routine for years. Not only do they help us recover from illness (health & wellness) and wind us down for the evening (bed-time routines), they are beginning to be an “essential” part of our trauma recovery: helping both mentally and physically flush on the stress of the last several years of missionary life! Marillyn has a Facebok "Essential Oil 101" class planned for March 30th 7PM MST. How can we sign you up?

Winter Ain't All Bad! 👍

We have to stop and thank the many who have continued to support us financially while God sorts out our income. Thanks to the many monthly givers who have continued support and for the one time givers who made it possible for our kids to attend private Christian school! We were also awarded “food stamps” and Medicaid from the State. PTL! The food stamps only covers about 2/3rds of our groceries, but it all helps! Prayerfully our income will stabilize over the next few months! God is still our provider!

New Caretakers & an appraisal for the property in Honduras.

Speaking of provision! It looks like we are very close to selling the property in Honduras! Our “prospective purchasing” missionary friends are Stateside in March presenting the idea to their board and support team. PRAY that God sees it through! Receiving a down payment and a consistent monthly payment would make a huge difference for our transition financially!

First Day of School: January 8th, 2019

The kids have been super blessed at their school: TheUniversity School of Colorado. It is amazing to see them build friendships and grow in their academic skills & understanding. What a relief for Marillyn to have three days off from schooling, too! I have heard from many staff at the school how much they enjoy the Beard children and how they have jumped into life at the school! The kids will be wrapping up the third quarter this month and then we head to our missionary retreat over Spring Break! (Also, continue to PRAY for Naomi as she meets with her tutor Erin in order to prepare for the riggers of junior high in the Fall!)

Monday, Friday & sometimes Saturday home school.

We are excited to head to the missionary retreat throughMinistry Training International. The lodge is located less than thirty minutes north from us! PRAY that God ministers to and through all seven of us during the week!

Pike's Peak Panoramic View from the East Library

This transition is not easy.

In fact, it is one of the most challenging and
humbling things we’ve ever done!

Thank you for your prayers, words of encouragement and financial gifts!

He is faithful!

Hold on! "Spring" is just around the corner!

Monday, December 31, 2018

November / December '18 Review: LIMINAL SPACE

Notes from the first day of our marriage intensive week.

Liminality is linked to the idea of thresholds (the Latin word is related to doorsteps), it’s about passing through into somewhere, something new. It’s the place where transformation happens.”

Part of me wishes to tell you that “everything is back to normal.” (Whatever “normal” is!!!) That our healing is complete and there is no more need of counseling. I want to tell you that I found the “perfect” job and I started “yesterday”! I want to tell you that our marriage has never been better and that our children obey every command and excel at every activity and academic subject! I want to tell you that my walk with Jesus has never been deeper. But these things are just not so. It wouldn’t be honest or real! And none of it, no matter how good it sounds, would require an active faith that looks to Jesus and sees His goodness regardless of the surplus or lack of mine.

We are on the “threshold”. Sometimes looking back and overcome with grief, but most often trying to look forward lamenting what could have been, yet hopeful & thankful for who God is and what He is doing in our lives...

Part 1 focuses on Our Journey Up to this Point:
Our involvement with ministry & missions, from Iowa to Honduras!
(You can skip if you know us & our story well!)

Part 2 focuses on Our Re-entry & New Life in the USA.
(An essential watch for the support team member.)

While at our marriage intensive, our counselor told us his estimate for our transition / re-entry: 3 years!!! Folks it has been just over 5 months since our return to the States! So, we hold onto Jesus with "trembling hands and weak knees" and continue this journey.

One of the exciting things about being “between” is the sense of wonder and dependency that it creates in our walk with Jesus. We can’t rely on our routine, because we don’t have one!

Happy Birthday, Mathias! Two years old!

An example would be “discovering” a new school for the kids! (I put discover in quotes because the Lord lead us to the school and simultaneously answered our prayers.) Let me explain…

After rebooting the “Three R’s and Bible” Homeschool routine, it became evidently clear that this would not be a long-term reality for our family. In all honesty, it was our only option in Honduras, but now living in the Springs there are a lot more educational models to choose from. While doing research on-line, Marillyn found a model of school that integrated classroom teaching with homeschooling! She loved the idea, but could not find a location near us. So, we continued to pray for wisdom.

Well, back up a few steps. In October or so, I began to reach out to a variety of different craft show organizers to see if we could sell the trade school student’s paper-bead ornaments and jewelry. One particular event was being held at the Manitou Springs High School about 30 minutes from us. After giving up hope on the event, I finally heard back from the organizer a few weeks after my original message. She was very gracious and apologized for her delay in answering my inquiry. It turns out that the vendor booths were all taken when I wrote (a pretty common response from the majority of events), but she read our story and was moved to approach the organizers and ask if they would make additional space just for us! She was happy to report that the organizers agreed and invited us to the event! In the course of the next few weeks, another larger (aka more “traffic”) high school craft fair opened up, but I felt strongly that we were to attend the Manitou Springs event! It was obvious that God opened the door for us to attend and I had a sense that the craft fair was going to bring more than sales!

It was Saturday, November 17th and after setting up in the gymnasium, we began to chat with some of our neighbor vendors. I hit it off with a mom and her daughter across the aisle from us. We began to talk about life in Colorado Springs and eventually our transition. I explained our desire to change up the kids’ education style and she lit up with excitement as she begin to tell us about her experience with the University School of Colorado (USCO). It was a Christ-centered hybrid school of three school days and two home school days! Exactly what Marillyn had discovered on-line!

Our new vendor-friend, mentioned that one of USCO’s teachers was present at the craft fair selling her own crafts. So, she took Marillyn and introduced her. Marillyn came back to our booth nearly 45 minutes later with tears welling up in her eyes! “This is exactly what we have been praying for!”  After further discussion, we were introduced to ANOTHER former teacher of USCO! We knew after meeting three individuals involved with the University School that our meeting was not coincidence! (In fact, it sleeted that Saturday and the weather greatly affected the craft fair turn out! Our sales were still good, but God confirmed that we were there to be introduced to the USCO family!)

Post Thanksgiving Hike @ Pulpit Rock

After Thanksgiving we scheduled a school visit and our excitement only grew for the education offered at USCO. We learned that students in the elementary school have classroom days on Tuesday and Thursday, then an “enrichment” day on Wednesdays! Monday’s and Friday’s focus on homeschool assignments that are given during the week! We felt that this Jesus focused education was perfect for our kids to help them transition into their new life in the States! Our next step was to assess the kids and have them “shadow” a day of school.

Our shadow day was full of excitement! The kids were adorably nervous and excited for their “new school!” Naomi sat in on the 5th grade class, Tabitha with the 4th graders, Tobias with the 1st and Poema in the K5 classroom. (Poema was actually with the vendor that we met at the craft fair!) As we met the kids in the afternoon, they could not stop talking about the day, the school and their new friends. One of the most touching moments was shared by Tabitha. She was asked to stand before the class and tell a bit about herself. She shared about her former life in Honduras then broke down crying in front of the other students! Her classmates then encircled her and prayed for her! The bond of friendship was sealed!

Tabitha wins her first archery competition (upper right photo)!

Another confirmation that USCO was the right school for us came from our discussion with the elementary principal. We learned that Julie had two adopted children from China, one of whom was recovering from sexual abuse trauma. Not only could Principal Julie sympathize with our experience, but her own parenting challenges with her kids brought a deeper empathy to our experience of parenting children of sexual abuse! (Also, did I mention that all of the kids books were generously & anonymously donated!!! God is faithful!!!)

All that said and done, the kids have been successfully enrolled for the 2019 Spring semester at USCO! (As expected each of the kids had academic strengths and weakness. Tabitha, Tobias and Poema were enrolled for classes three days a week. Unfortunately, though Naomi was placed in the 5th grade class, they were full! However, we found a compromise! Naomi will attend the enrichment Wednesday’s at USCO to build friendships at the school and study in the home to be better prepared to enter the 6th grade class in the Fall of 2019. The classroom size doubles in 6th grade, so there should not be any issues with her ability to enroll. In the meantime, Naomi will continue to study at home and possibly be tutored by a young woman from church that she adores!)

As expected, a private Christian education is an investment! Not only for our children, but for Marillyn as we have quickly learned that being a home-school teacher and director was not her strength! So we have taken a step of faith that God will provide whether through donations, scholarships, supporters, work salaries or a combination of the above! The Spring semester is costing nearly $7,000 in total! (Broken down into five monthly payments of ~$1,400.) One of our supporting families has committed to support the education needs giving at least $700 monthly. We have applied for scholarship via a local non-profit and are awaiting to hear their reply. (We will be eligible for USCO scholarship in the 2019 Fall semester, per their scholarship requirements.) And, of course, I hope to be starting a new part-time job in the coming weeks!

Naomi dances in the Nutcracker with the Russian Ballet!

Speaking of work, I have another God directed liminal space story!

Upon our arrival to Colorado Springs we sought out a chiropractic office for the whole family. Not only did we find a great deal for a monthly payment plan for all seven of us, but we met a great Christian chiropractor at PLE Chiropractic. During one of our weekly visits, Dr. Paul introduced us to Niki. We learned that we had a similar background of ministry with youth and that her and her family were soon going to be entering the mission field in Guatemala. A friendship was birthed and within a few weeks I met with Niki’s husband, Jeremiah for tea at one of my favorite local coffee houses! Jeremiah and I bonded instantly and we were able to speak freely with each other about family, transition, and life on the mission field.

As a result of that conversation, Jeremiah introduced me to his brother-in-law, Noah, who was starting a new branch of his business in Colorado Springs. I met with Noah within a week and we have committed to meet regularly to help train and prepare me for potentially working together. Though I have never considered this field of work prior to our meeting, the camaraderie of work relationships and potential to use and develop my skill-set really resonated with my heart and thoughts about work. It was truly an answer to prayer!

So, my desire is to invest time and energy into this preparation and find a part-time job on the side to help pay our monthly expenses! In the meantime, we are planning to apply for food and medical assistance through the state of Colorado. It is humbling, but we are trusting the Lord for His provision and timing for our family!

PRAISE for great sales with the paper-bead jewelry & essential oils!

Marillyn and I are also partnering together to develop the business with Young Living Essential Oils. In December, she held a party for the ladies at church and even used a table at our final craft fair to promote her business with DIY “make & take” essential oil sprays and roll-ons! She is amazing at what she does! So be on the lookout for more details and please reach out to Marillyn or I with questions!

Regarding the selling of the property in Ojojona, we are currently in talks with some friends that sound very promising. They are missionaries in Tegucigalpa who want to bring their ministry to a quieter more serene setting. PRAY that God would confirm the purchase in their hearts and minds and that He will provide! We are excited for the possibility of our former home to be continued to be used for ministry and God’s kingdom! PRAY!

We made it!
Afternoon "rest" shots from our marriage intensive with Quiet Waters.
Each morning was 3 hours of counseling!

PRAISE for our week long marriage intensive! We were encouraged that in many ways we have been heading in the right direction. We also received many new “tools” and homework assignments to help us to continue to adjust and create a healthy marriage and family setting! PRAY for us as Mare and I continue to build our marriage! Here is a fun, simple tool that was shared with us: The Gottman Card Decks App.

Feliz cumpleaños, Tobias! Eight years old!

PRAY for our new home church, Calvary Chapel True North. The church is going through many of it’s own “liminal space” issues. Most likely the church will be moving to a new building starting in February. PRAY for Jon as he continues to serve by leading worship and for Naomi & Tabitha as they serve in the children’s ministry.

PRAISE for Marillyn's new hearing aid through the Miracle Ear Foundation!

Tubing Family Fun in Fraser, Co!

PRAISE for the body-health help we are receiving through Upstream Functional Medicine. Jon's adrenal gland fatigue was confirmed through a series of tests and he is slowly on the mend; Marillyn's gut-health was also below par and she is working through SIBO treatment. Poco a poco!

PRAISE for a seasonal part-time job delivering pastries, though sadly, it is over!

PRAY for Jon as he begins his search for new employment! (For those supporters able and willing to continue their financial support, we would be highly appreciative in this time as we anticipate the majority of our support to stop at the turn of the year. This is quite the adjustment for us as we have faithfully relied on God’s provision via our support team for the last eight-plus years! We desire to continue to trust the Lord for His provision & direction financially!)

An introduction to the shooting range with friends!

Continue to PRAY for healing for the Beard kids and help processing the transition into life in the USA!

Enjoying our first annual Christmas Light Parade

Words can not express
the gratitude we have for
our support team! 

Thank you for the last decade of prayer, words of encouragement and financial support! 

We ask that you continue to stay with the team, as you are lead, and stand with us in the threshold! 

Feliz año nuevo, hermanos!