Sunday, July 7, 2019

March - June '19 Review: From CHAOS to RESETTLEMENT

Tolkien's experience in WWI gave him a new depth of authority in writing for Frodo Baggins.

It was approximately one year ago that Marillyn and I made the decision to close our life & ministry in Honduras and return to the United States.

As we learned in our “Debrief and Renewal” family retreat (DAR) in June, life in Honduras / on the mission field is full of paradox! So many wonderful “peaks” and an equal amount of “valleys”. Our DAR retreat gave us a new vocabulary and the platform to share our story with a room full of individuals who were, in many ways, just like us. 

Our DAR small group represented multiple continents and stages of the missionary experience:
From Mexico to Morocco and retiring to returning.

One of the most pivotal discussions for us was about the process of transition: “The experience of the gradual, psychological reorientation process that happens inside us as we respond and adapt to the external change.” (William Bridges)

The Stages of Transition bridge analogy

The Beard family has been in the stage of “chaos” for nearly a year. The last six months the chaos has peaked, but now we are seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel” as several factors in our lives are helping us transition into the resettlement stage. It was such a relief for Marillyn and I to discover that we are not alone in the experience of chaos and that it is normal and, more importantly, it does come to an end!

Several factors have lead us closer to entering that resettlement stage. They include,

1. All four older children are enrolled to start Fall classes at their private Christian school (USCO). Praise God for the school’s generous financial scholarship and the financial assistance of Dave and Marsha Beard to make this happen!

2. In early June, we moved into our own rental home & out from living with Marillyn’s parents, Wayne & Brooke Goranson. Our rental home is an amazing gift with five bedrooms, three baths and two large backyards! Our immediate financial goal is to take on all of our bills except for rent. The Goransons have committed to continue to cover our rent expense as we continue to get our financial feet under us! Mil gracias! (PRAY for blessings on the Goranson's whole house fan business!)

D49's Falcon Middle School

3. After working multiple part-time jobs, I have been blessed with full-time employment starting in August! Let me back up: I took a long-term subbing assignment in a public school system, District 49, on the east side of Colorado Springs for the final month of classes. By God’s grace, I was quickly able to establish a good rapport with my students and the faculty. I was sought out by the principal and asked to apply for a full-time English teaching position for the following year. I applied and got the job a week later! I will be the 7th & 8th grade Reading teacher at Falcon Middle School! (In order to take the job, I will be pursing an alternative licensure program on the weekends. $325 a month will be deducted from my salary to pay for school. Busy times!)

To be honest, this job wasn’t even on my radar, but God opened the door wide! I realized that much like Peter returning to a career in fishing after his ministry failures, I am doing the same by entering the classroom. When my heart & soul are restored Jesus will once again appear on the beach and call me back into a clearer service to him. See John 21. Right now I need to be rebuilt in my walk with Christ and enjoy the classroom.

4. My health has also improved tremendously over the last few months. After taking some blood work it was discovered that I had 2 different parasites. I have also taken some heavy duty pro-biotics to help recharge my GI tract; essentially, my large intense was not working properly and I haven’t been getting the nutrients that my body needed. A lot of my fatigue and adrenal issues stemmed from this. I still have a ways to go, but improving tremendously! PTL! Thank you, Upstream Functional Medicine!

16 years of marriage on June 21st!
5. Marillyn has been meeting regularly with a Christian life coach. She met Kimber at an event with several of her Young Living associates. She has been learning to create boundaries and carve out time for her own self-care and for investing in her business. It is a blessing for me to see my wife relearn to serve her family out of a sense of joy and not guilt.

6. Our final step is discovering a new church family. Calvary Springs Church, formerly Calvary Chapel True North, has been a great home for us as we initially began our transition to Colorado, but God is leading us to begin the search for a congregation where we can be “The Beards” and not the pastor’s daughter’s family or “those former missionaries”. Please PRAY for us as we step out in faith trusting the Lord’s direction. We desire to reclaim spiritual ground in our family dynamic and individual devotion.

Father's day lunch at a great local Mexican restaurant.

One of the only ministry ties that remains for us in Honduras is the property in Ojojona. By God’s grace we have a third and what we hope to be final potential buyer! A long-seasoned, short-term missionary to Honduras has partnered with friends of ours in the capital, Tegucigalpa. This gentleman recently visited Honduras with the purpose of scouting out a property outside of the city to extend their ministry reach and influence with urban youth in a rural setting. Of the five properties that they visited they liked ours the best! PRAY for us as we work through details of the sale and that the Lord’s will be done!

Despite having a long-term job lined up for August, I have continued to paint to help make ends meet until the school year starts. The challenge with the teaching gig is my first paycheck does not arrive until the middle of September: SIX WEEKS WITH NO INCOME! The ministry is still receiving financial support, but at 25% of what we were receiving a year ago. (And half of this covers direct ministry expenses: caretaker & utilities.) The state of Colorado has assisted us with medical and food; however, the food assistance was recently cut in half only covering about one week’s worth of groceries. Marillyn continues to grow her business with Young Living, but any money earned is used to buy products for the family & reinvested into the business.  We are trusting the Lord for his provision and are grateful for a few special one-time donations that we have received over the last few months! (Gracias Helles and Dietz families!) Perfect timing with our move last month! God is good!

In summary, surviving in a transitional state of chaos over the last year has been, well chaotic! Many times we wondered if we were just going crazy! Not only were we relieved to learn that our experience was normal, but that it also would come to an end.

Capital Gains: Family fun in Denver.

While attending the DAR retreat I started a new journal. A spiritual discipline I have done on & off for the last 20 years. For those of you familiar with the Moleskine journals, it is very difficult to discern the front from the back. Without realizing it, I started the retreat writing on the final page and working my way backwards through the journal. Little did I realize that this simple mistake would speak volumes to my soul: “What I thought was the end, was actually a new beginning!” 

I had begun to believe the lie that we failed and were now disqualified for use in the Kingdom of God. However, God planted a new seed of hope in our hearts during our DAR retreat. This is a season of grieving over what was lost and allowing the Lord to restore our souls as only He can: He is our living hope! He is not done with us, yet! In fact, He is just getting started!

It is with great humility that we thank you for your partnership over the last decade +. Our family would not be who we are today without your consistent words of encouragement, financial gifts and prayers.

Keep ‘em coming!!! We need them more than ever as we continue this new journey in this strange foreign land called the United States!

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!