Overwhelmed, Over a Toilet, and Overflowing with Thanksgiving

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:17

Tara, Tanner, Keaton, Regan and I arrived back from Kona, Hawaii and the University of the Nations on December 15th, jet lagged from the time change and from flying a redeye.  We had over a dozen bags to unpack, Christmas to decorate, Christmas shopping to do, house cleaning and preparation for putting the house on the market, year end administrative work for a start up ministry, beginning the process of contacting people to discuss our ministry and hoping to build more financial support, asking more individuals to support us monthly, help our kids adjust to all the changes, have family Christmases with both our parents and our own, and so forth.  All of this has led to many nights when Tara and I have crawled into bed at some point after midnight, when we lie awake for unknown reasons, and when one or more of our children have trouble sleeping as well.  Then, we find ourselves dragging ourselves out of bed again the next morning early to begin again. 

I keep asking myself: how did i survive before, when i was working pretty much around the clock as an attorney and trying to be a dad and husband.  I’m scared to know the answer.  I think i do know… I didn’t do much on the dad and husband part. 

Anyway, the main point of this post is gratefulness, overwhelming and overflowing gratefulness.  There are so many things to say “thanks” for I really don’t even know where to begin.  Moreover, I am so thankful that God is showing me more and more every day that He has something for me (to learn, to grow in, and to appreciate) in every little thing that happens.

I am seriously only going to hit on a few points, and it will still make for a long post, but please read it all.  :)  I’d hate for you to miss a blessing!  First, there is Family.

img_0038.JPG dad-kids-christmas-2006.JPG

We always have a birthday cake for Jesus for Christmas morning at our house.  And that way I can always think of Bill Cosby singing, “Dad is great, he gave us the chocolate cake!” :)  And, in that second picture doesn’t my dad look handsome in his black chamois shirt?

mothers-day-2006.JPGAll of us with the grandparents!

And, of course, as two of the pictures above represent, there is Christmas and Jesus!

There are servants and friends, like John Stickley and Micah Fries, who helped get me back on the blogosphere with these new digs and who are teaching me patiently how to use WordPress!  Check them out at www.toward-the-goal.net and http://friesville.net/blog and http://www.missionsconnexion.com.  I met them solely through the blogosphere (and can’t wait to meet them in real life), so for anyone who wants to say blogging is bad for Christians… i can testify otherwise!  And friends like John and Jeff Parker, who graduated with me from Prairie Grove High School many years ago.  John set up our FJ Ministries website at www.fjministries.com and who plans to make many new developments for it. 

There are the opportunities that I get to have now that I am a support raising missionary and not a corporate attorney to learn how things work (as this next picture demonstrates).

bryan-toilet-fixing.JPGI know it may look like I am having a bad time, but in the end, pardon the pun, I actually felt quite accomplished.  I had the whole thing taken apart, got it all put back together once, only to have three leaks, have to take it all back apart, and retool it back into one fine stool without any leaking.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to work this computer very well (and therefore are so grateful for the technical expertise John, John and Micah have donated), but I can now heal a non-flushing and leaky john.

Then there are things like this:

tims-pizza.jpgTim’s Pizza, a Fayetteville original.  This is the one on Mission Boulevard.  Upon our return, Krissy Dunn, one of our Board members and part of a bible study group we meet with through Fellowship Bible Church of Lowell, Arkansas, brought us a basket of food and gift certificates to Tim’s.  It didn’t take us long to find our way there. 


And, what of the many answers to prayer?  For example, we were blessed with a $600 check from one retired pastor (I haven’t asked if I could share his name so I will withhold it for now; perhaps he will comment) who wanted us to use it for whatever we wanted.  So, I wanted it to be a surprise for the family and told no one.  I prayed specifically about what I should do with the surprise Christmas money.  I felt led to purchase a new digital camera (some of the above pictures are taken with our new one).  I had done some internet research and checked out prices and selection at Best Buy, as well as talked to a good friend of ours, Kevin McCollum, about the best cameras and what he would recommend.  As I was on my way to the store to purchase THE camera, I was listening to the Arkansas Razorback Basketball game on the radio.  It went to a commercial break and I then heard the very end of a commercial saying:  “and for Christmas we have all our Digital SLR cameras on sale for $1 over cost!….at your friendly neighborhood Collier Drug Store.”  One, I had no idea Collier’s sold cameras; two, I was about to buy the camera at another location; three, I sped across town to see if Collier’s was still open as it was 7:55 p.m.; four, I walked in to find that they only had one camera left (of the model I was looking for); five, it was over $100 cheaper than where I was about to go!!!

And I can go on.  And why not?  God is working in every little thing every day!!  He is amazing!  Just last night I was battling with this new posting process, unable to figure out pictures, when I got an email that I might have otherwise missed, from Gordon Allison, a good friend and supporter.  He was our son Tanner’s sunday school teacher last year.  He was at work late, with his family out of town, and he wanted to know if we could join him for lunch today and accept a couple of extra tickets to a basketball game.  As a result we had the opportunity to share more of what we learned in Kona, he gave us some great ideas for the further development of our ministry, and we had some fantastic hamburgers at Red Robin!

There are friends, Kevin and Leann Johnson, coming to visit us in Fayetteville where they had a wedding and our kids getting to play with their kids as noisily as they would like.  If you remember from earlier posts, while we were in Kona we lived in community on a second floor and we often had to keep muzzles on our children because sound travelled far with open windows and no air conditioners.  It didn’t take them long to relearn their old noisy habits…

And, of course, we got to reunite with our pooch, who predates all the kids in our marriage. 

lou.JPGHer name is Liberty.  She is an 8-pound red toy poodle and she is 11 years old.  She was one of the hardest things for my wife, Tara, to leave; in fact, that may have been the thing that Tara had to most surrender to God before we could leave.  I am sure all animal lovers understand.

And, last but not least, we are thankful for all of you who take the time to read about our ministry and to support us with your prayers and friendship.  We definitely could not manage our way down this path without your prayers.  Please continue to pray for us as we seek God’s direction for our missionary training, what to do with our home (sell, rent, trade), and as we continue to build this new ministry.  Pray that we will pave paths other families will follow into missions!

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