Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Worshipping While Wandering in the Wilderness

Wow, how is that title for alliteration! 

So, I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus very slowly over the last month or so. It is a very interesting book to read when you are in the midst of transition. What a rich and profound read!  I’ve been learning a lot from Moses and the Israelites. I’ve experienced God in new ways through this story in part because of where God has us right now. 

I was first struck by the verse, “Let my people go, so they can worship me in the wilderness.” (Exodus 7:16) [emphasis mine]

We were still in Nicaragua at the time that I noticed this verse. We were on the verge of leaving our home of five and a half years and stepping into the unknown. Yes, we know America as a location--however, we had (ok, have) far more unknowns than knowns on this portion of our journey.  The wilderness represents the unknown. It is neither here nor there. It is not ‘home’. It is the unsettled territory that lies between what was home and what will become home. At times, it is uncomfortable. It can be scary. It pushes us past what we can do for ourselves.

And yet, God calls us to worship Him in the wilderness. Eyes focused on Him. Fellowshipping with Him step by step. Remembering that He’s got this. He has a plan. God was calling the Israelites, while in their homes (albeit in a place where they were bound by slavery) into the unknown wilderness. Unknown to them. Known to the Lord God. 

Faith. Trust. Risk. And Worship.

**I humbly ask you to stay with me as I continue to share my thoughts and musings on what God is teaching me through the book of Exodus.**

Although, the view from the wilderness ain't bad!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Re-entry Musings #1: Re-Shaping

We are about to re-enter our ‘home culture’. You’d think this would be easy…but from what we hear…it’s not.  We’ve heard it explained by using the analogy of a wooden block. The corners and edges of our wooden block have been sanded and re-shaped by our years living cross-culturally. Our block doesn’t fit snuggly into its square shaped space anymore. Our ‘shape’ has changed.  WE ARE CHANGED…and we are thankful.  We are not saying that our former shapes were wrong. We are merely recognizing that we have new shapes and we have lovingly embraced our ‘new look.’ 

One of the things that have shaped us is ‘living in community.’  I blogged a few posts back about the beauty and joy of living in community. There have been many, many times that I have borrowed an egg or a cup of sugar from a neighbor.  Within our neighborhood, we share yard tools or kitchen gadgets because it is an unnecessary expense for us ALL to own EVERYTHING. I don’t have an 8x8 glass baking dish to make brownies in…but my neighbor has one and is happy to lend it to me.

What makes moving away from my neighbors, whom I love and let me borrow whatever item I don’t have, even more sobering is that we have now sold or given away ninety-five percent of our material possessions—for the second time in 6 years!  Aside from the ‘high’ I get from purging my closets and cupboards, it still leaves us with the ‘keepsakes’ of life rather than the practical items needed to live everyday life.  The assumption in returning to the land of Wal-Mart, Target and is that NOW we don’t need community—we can just buy what we need.  And honestly, in my former shape, before some of my edges got sanded off, I bought what I needed without much thought. We certainly could use our credit card to buy what is needed—and use the ‘credit’ the card provides—however, I am hoping that before I take the road of self-sufficiency and ease, I will consider if there is someone in my community that can help me out. One of the gifts that I have received by being re-shaped is the recognition that dependency on others is not a weakness, but rather a strength. The strength of our community is found in our ‘need’ for one another.

Somehow, I’d like to bring this gift back to the States with me. Perhaps, you should start praying for my future neighbors!!!! 


[I hope you will stick with me over the next days, weeks and months as we get re-acquainted with our home culture, for I DO plan on externally processing this transition on the blog.  It may not be as ‘glamorous’ as moving to Nicaragua, yet, I am sure there will be a few things that might make a worthy post! ] 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year! Are You Sitting Down?

Happy New Year Everyone! It has been a while since I've written a post. Perhaps when you read the letter below, you will get an idea as to why. This letter will go out via CVM in a few days. However, we wanted to post here as well. So many big changes ahead. So many unknowns. But God knows. As Noah reminded us recently--"It is important to notice where God is helping us even when we don't know what is going on." (Thanks Miss Laura at MTI for the great guidance you gave my kids!) Over the next days, week, and months I will be sharing many musings on this most recent leg of this journey! 

Happy New Year One and All!
Traditionally the 'new year' is a popular time to start anew, get a fresh start, turn over a new leaf.  Well, we are about to embark on a tremendous fresh start as we start anew!  After much prayer and counsel, we have decided to leave Nicaragua. We depart this month and our plan is to relocate to Colorado!  Talk about a new year (and a cold one)!  
This was a very difficult decision to make, after all, Nicaragua has been our home for the last 5 years and we have invested deeply in relationships here. It will be with MUCH sadness that we leave our host country and our friends here in Nicaragua. We are forever changed by our time here and we hope to bring the goodness of that change with us to the States.  For example, we have had an incredible opportunity to experience the uniqueness of community here. We have had the privilege to live the last four and a half years in a neighborhood that embodies community—from borrowing a cup of sugar to neighborhood get-togethers. We hope to bring that spirit of community with us.
However, YOU all have also been a 'community' for us from afar.  You have journeyed with us through our newsletters, blogs, facebook and letters. YOU have encouraged us, prayed for us, visited us, and supported us as we traveled along this portion of the journey that God had planned for our family. 
A while back, there was a Toyota commercial that said, “Wherever you're headed, all you need to see is the next 200 feet ahead. So just keep going.” As for the next leg of the journey, hasn't come into focus, we 'just keep going' as Toyota reminds us.  Scripture encourages us even deeper to trust God with our journey.  We have confidence that “as [we] plan our course, the Lord will determine our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9). There are many unknowns and unknowns can be quite unsettling. Yet, we trust that God—the God that loves us and KNOWS us—has a plan. “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)  We have felt a strong nudge from God over the last several months to wait patiently on Him. Waiting isn't easy (in fact it can appear crazy—or worse—lazy)! We have been actively waiting.  We have taken steps in several different directions and watched God redirect our steps.  We have 'paused' often waiting for His nudges, whispers, and direction.  
We have a heart and passion to serve missionaries in the area of membercare (coming alongside missionaries for the purpose of encouragement, care and accountability). However, we believe we need more training and education in this area. We are hoping to re-educate ourselves in this area of interest while at the same time Jeff is planning on returning to the field of veterinary medicine in the States. As for the kids, for now, our plan is to continue to homeschool Andrew, Ella and Noah. They are excited about the adventure ahead and we are thankful for the ways that God had been preparing their hearts to say farewell to Nicaragua even before we knew that we were leaving. Regarding our relationship with CVM, we will also stay on as 'associates' which means that we will be able to use any of our reserve funds to take short term trips to Nicaragua (or other places in the world) to serve in the veterinary or member-care capacity.  
We've already written FAR more than is typical for our letters, so PLEASE feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.  Now that the news is 'public', Bethany will start blogging about all the crazy/wonderful things we've been learning through the process of actively waiting on the Lord. PLEASE know that we are SO INCREDIBLY THANKFUL for the ways you've supported us while we've been in Nicaragua. From what we hear, the re-entry back into American culture and life can be a bit rough, so we'd covet your prayers and encouragement as we get re-aquainted with our home culture again!
Starting anew (again),the Bracht family