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Selling it all. Pioneering to learn. Risking to restore families.
Here's what's been going on lately
Many blessings to you. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for your love and your support. Even if you don’t read the rest of this, I just want you to know that I appreciate you. First, a quick update… Life is great… just so full. I still can’t believe how amazing the culture is in my new role at Midtown Community Church. I really love these people! I see God’s hand moving in so many ways. My spirit feels hopeful and expectant. In terms of the ministry in Costa Rica, I had hoped to go in April. Unfortunately, the funds were not there, but the Lord has provided other ways. I have received some funds (I’m extremely grateful!), and the Lord has also given me some work on the side (landscaping / mowing / pressure washing – I’m learning). The work has been a blessing because 1) I get time with my father-in-law (who I love, respect, and enjoy), 2) it’s a financial blessing, and 3) I get some exercise. I am looking forward to returning to Costa Rica to serve pastors and local churches in mid-July. Good news… my dear friend, Ben (who is my ministry partner in the Bible Institute) and I are continuing to move forward. Even when I am not able to make it back, he is continuing the work that we have both begun. The picture below is an example of him investing in healthy, Christ-honoring marriages (he’s already lead one marriage workshop and walked with many couples… he’s on the far right of the pic). I am very grateful for his heart,...Learn More
A Year since we moved from Costa Rica… I never would have dreamed that God would have asked me to return again… It’s terrifying in some ways… triggering my nerves… yet, so exciting and beautiful in other ways. I’m so grateful for how the Lord orchestrated it. After I returned to Knoxville from my recent trip to Costa Rica, all of my loved ones sweetly asked, “How was your trip?!?” Well, overall, I would say that it was – “Great!” However, it was a unique ambivalence. It was strange to feel such conflicting emotions. I’ll explain… I was so thrilled to get to spend time with my dear friend, Erick. I was so honored to preach at his church, but it definitely felt quite stretching to prep a sermon in Spanish again! Other familiar faces felt like a gift as well.. This is Gigi and Gramps… as we affectionately refer to them. They adopted us while we were in Costa Rica. The continue to faithfully serve in the church we formally pastored. This is my dear friend, Jorge. He was my first friend when I moved to Costa Rica, and he’s still a good friend! It has a been one of my deepest joys to walk beside him. His friendship offered rich encouragement when I felt so alone. Because of the number of years we were in Costa Rica… God has allowed my eyes to see little boys turn into young men. It only stirs deeper love and longing to continue to pour into the investments we have made. From tico elders and pastors… It felt right to reconnect...Learn More
I don’t know how to do this. For some reason, writing this post has felt brutal. I’ve deleted the two previous posts I wrote… Then, I made a couple videos to post. I even posted one of them, but I took it down after several hours. I am struggling to communicate the whole story (concisely), the degree of desperation we have felt, and the overwhelming gratitude… Roughly 8 years ago, we left all that knew to serve in Costa Rica. The hardest part was leaving those we love. We had no clue what we were doing… Everything was step by step… Holding tightly to Jesus and each other We sought obedience. There were so many “firsts” for us… maybe “seconds?” Kelly and I had to re-marry for legal documents. Day by day, our hearts became deeply intertwined with the people. The Lord graciously provided leaders in the community who invited us to serve alongside… Our children were our dearest ministry partners during this season of extreme learning… I was fortunate to have more opportunities to teach and to train than I could actually do. Even though I was learning so much from my new friends, I loved being able to care for their hearts, offer friendship, and provide ministry tools that they did not have the opportunity to learn. Our deep desire was to embrace the people and the culture… Learning a new language, a new climate, a new way of thinking… We chose to be humble students. Many of you came alongside us and partnered in our new world… You loved us and served us so well. My...Learn More
Life is a bit of mystery. Life with Jesus… Can be even more so. Accepting the invitation to FAITH… Practicing trust in the unseen… Can feel a bit like a maze. At first glance… Intrigue and adventure beckon…. The mystery of what lies ahead stirs curiosity and life. The journey welcomes us with… Hope lined paths… As we surge forward in expectation. Rich joys are interchanged among travel companions… Chapters intermix with others sojourning. History is written with every turn. Life overflows with mystery. Constant change presents Unforeseen obstacles… Directional shifts… Learning… Gains and losses… New opportunities and withered dreams… Successes and fumblings… New clarities and confusion. Just when comfortability motions to set in… Unexpected re-navigation steers unto the new and untraveled. Peace must be made with what no longer is… To make room for the bounty that has not yet fully come into view… We must never forget… The trails tell a story… And every good story includes beauty and ashes. We must fight against the spirit of offense when we cannot see or understand… Gratitude in the great unknown keeps the soil permeable to growth. Realizing the grandness of our paths reminds us of our scale… Whispering to ours souls… We were not designed to navigate on our own. We must have a guide. Mazes speak volumes regarding life. How we enter is not how we finish… Getting turned around and losing your footing can be frequent… Constant guidance from The Designer of the path is crucial… Patience, perseverance and grace are essential… We must constantly remind our feeling hearts… Our view is limited and it doesn’t...Learn More
Where to begin? At times I’ve been truly undone and overwhelmed by the Lord’s kindness. I find myself thoroughly enjoying the joys and benefits of being in the US near family… In many ways, it feels like I’ve embarked on a new adventure with loved ones by my side… I’ve done all I know to do to prepare, to train, to have a wise plan… yet, I’m waiting for my train (which isn’t necessarily everyone else’s train). At the same time… I feel like I’m still somewhat stuck in between one season of my life and the other. I’m trying not to look down… I want to get to the other side, but progress “seems” almost non-existent. Yet, in the current season, I delight in seeing my family enjoy the sweet gifts of being in East Tennessee. Relationships that have been cultivated and enjoyed for many years… Relationships that have sprung up recently out of our new soil… Relationships that have blossomed Into something far richer and beautiful than could have been imagined… Still, other times I battle discouragement from the dozens and dozens of rejections in my search for employment. I will admit that I have applied to quite a few that I am way underqualified to do, but I’ve also applied to some that I thought I was overqualified to do (even though my qualifications are limited to a pretty narrow field). I find myself feeling embarrassed by my inability to find a good job locally. I hope this is the Lord’s way of protecting me from a poor decision. Although I’m not sure of the Lord’s...Learn More
We have come full circle on our 7 years of completion. Transitioning back has been just that… Full of transitioning. Ending one season and entering into the new can be thrilling… But it can also remind you of the apparent voids and empty spaces. If allowed… Transitioning leads you to process what has been lost and left behind. The years that have passed in a blink… While reflecting on the learning and what is being gained… Grieving of what has been surrendered also leaves a mark. Beauty and pain are offered in every season. 3 months into this new journey… It feels like its own separate lifetime. We have delighted in the unexpecteds… Treasured reunions of the heart… Beholding spring again after 7 long years. I am not sure if you have gone a year without spring… But I don’t recommend it, if at all possible. This year spring felt especially holy. This spring has drawn out some of my purest worship. Spring has reminded me that when all looks dead and barren… When hope is tempted to lose it’s battle and believe beauty could never return… The seemingly impossible happens… Restoration blooms. I have been soulfully touched by all of spring. Perhaps it’s because… I am humbly realizing that in order be an ambassador of true hope… You have to fight for it yourself first. This season continues to be full of messy fighting for me personally. Opportunities to choose fear seem to lurk around every corner. As our two Smalls started a beautiful new school… They have been chronically and intensely sick. Trying to navigate the emotional...Learn More
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