Wow… life is full.  It’s wonderful, but it’s full.  (I don’t like the word, “busy.”)
For me, when I’m “busy,” I’m distracted, consumed and controlled by my “get to’s,” as we call them.

We have continued doing much of what we love to do… delivering groceries to those in need, offering encouragement and care, training, building relationships / investing in people, dreaming of more ways to make a difference here.

Here is a picture from one of the recent Pastoral Training meetings.
I’m the one with the shiny spot on top of his head at the end of the table.

Kelly continues to serve in ways that truly change the atmosphere.

Sometimes this involves her guitar.  Often it involves a heart-broken friend simply asking to spend a few hours with her.  This week I was so taken back by Kelly’s love.  One particular lady in our community struggles with drugs, and it appears that she has major emotional health issues.  Her anger is dangerous.  We’re not sure if she has multiple personalities or simply polar extremes that she can’t control.  Either way, almost on a daily basis her actions negatively impact our family on a personal level.  Just a few days ago, I saw Kelly face to face with this woman, calling out the beauty within her in such a loving, tender, gentle way.  I was absolutely speechless.  I didn’t know what to do… or even how to respond to seeing such illogical love.  I believe a softening took place in this woman’s heart.  Something was beginning to be knit together in her heart.  I believe a desire for connection was birthed.

As I sit to process the last month, I’m blown away by one thing in particular… unity.  It’s been so beautiful.  We’ve been so honored to be a part of it.

This is my friend, Kevin, leading worship at a service that fostered unity for an extremely diverse audience during a powerful time of ministry.

These are few of my favorites…  serving with them is so life-giving.

I have always given relationships great value, but I’m continuing to learn to value them even more.  Together is better than alone.  There’s something so rich about being committed to a common mission with people that you live.  It’s life-giving.  What would feel impossible alone seems like a small hurdle when together.  So grateful for friendship.  It’s so powerful.  So important!

So many people… different denominations, different socio-economic strata, different everything… came together for the purpose of love.  They unified to advance the Kingdom.  We were honored to get to be a part of it.  They built a Sewing School so that there will soon be two schools happening simultaneously!

Everything seems so different here… not just the language… so much of the culture… even the construction methods.

But “together” we can accomplish so much more than we can on our own!

This is the finished product.

So many gathered to celebrate this victory.  Truly, an extremely diverse gathering… both to serve and to receive, as we dedicated this school to the Lord and the community.

It was a sacred time of coming together to worship the One True God and celebrate the victory that had been accomplished through the hands of diversity.

I think at the heart of unity is a fight to truly love.  It never means that we water down truth.  It never means that truth is relative.  At the same time…

We have to learn to value relationships more than we value being right.

We have to learn to value relationships more than we value getting our way.

We have to learn to value relationships more than we value agreeing!

We can disagree drastically and still have relationship… still honor one another.

I’m learning more and more what love looks like…

I’m blown away how loving comes so naturally to children.
My Shorty still loves to be held and cuddled.
I’m not really someone who takes selfies, but it’s fun to capture the love they share.

Charli’s dream day would be a day where she could do all of her favorite things while never letting go of a hug.  One night I sat at a different seat for dinner.  I was beside her for a change.  She wouldn’t let go of the hug even if it made eating difficult.  (To be honest, if I have food in front of me, I normally am so focused on the food that I don’t even speak until every morsel is consumed.)

As Charli was walking out the front door one morning this week, she said, “Daddy, when I grow up, I want to have a castle.  You can live there with me so we can hug every day.”

I’m learning so much from watching my kids.  Simply seeing love transforms us.

My big girls truly treat every baby as they should… they treat them as precious treasures from the Lord.  They consider it pure joy to love on them.

I’m learning that love is often VERY inconvenient.
It often doesn’t fit neatly and tidily in my planner.

It’s been difficult for me… but slowly I’m learning that the messy… unplanned… that which does not comply to my unspoken routines and rules… well, it invites me into freedom.  It’s not exactly comfortable, but it’s good.

We are continuing to learn.  Our hearts long for more healing and reconciliation.  The Lord continues to pour out His mercies on us.  We remain humbled and grateful for His kindness.  And, we walk with great expectation and eagerness that He is just getting started with this radical work of unity.

Much love from the Backwards Missionaries.