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North to Alaska!

Three weeks into our invitation to candidacy with MARC as I carefully watched airline tickets and worked closely on budgeting every penny coming in via paychecks I texted my dear friend and our pastor’s wife… “Pray for me please, for trust! I know God’s timing is perfect but the price on tickets went up $40 per person today and it will continue to climb… Haven’t heard feedback on any money coming in yet…” She encouraged me to remember what amazing things have been accomplished in our lives when we invested our part and waited for God to move on our behalf. To hang on to His promises.

The following day, after Sunday service brought our immediate church family surrounding us in prayer and a check from near and far contributions that brought us to well over half of our need for this trip. Just enough. Just in time; our Father is always on time.

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So here we are…

We arrived in Soldotna on Monday afternoon after a series of near misses and what we like to call “God hugs.” (Chat with us soon because we’d love to share our humorous stories with you!) And our days have been packed full of incredible, intentional moments. Much of the time that hasn’t been spent directly connecting with the wonderful staff and committee members here has been spent in prayer and reflection and earnestly searching out the heart of God. Can I tell you how funny it feels to experience joy knowing that there is just as great of a ‘chance’ that we would be moved on from here as there is that we would be accepted? Because it means that decisions won’t be made out of earthly need, but out of godly wisdom that doesn’t always look how we think.

It makes me think of Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” And we are grateful to be seeking God’s will alongside these incredibly authentic people we have the privilege of building relationship with during our time here this April.

We know God has moved our mountains to put us here for these three weeks. And for now what we have the opportunity to do is to shout from the rooftops how incredibly blessed we’ve been to see what an organization looks like when it stewards well the gifts and resources the Lord has granted it! What a powerful tool Missionary Aviation Repair Center is in the hand of a magnificent Father!

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So what now?

Nathan and I were talking about a portion of scripture in Esther recently…

 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”                                                                                                                             Esther 4:14

Relief and deliverance from somewhere else. It sure puts what we have to offer in perspective. The story of Esther is powerful, riveting, inspiring. But it would have been written without her had she chosen fear and disobedience instead. What marked her was her willingness to obedience, despite her fears and lack of confidence.

When we look at where we can serve and what we have to offer, yes, our giftings matter (1 Corinthians 12) but how often do we forget that our service is not based only on our strengths, but also our weaknesses and what the power of Christ can do through and in spite of them?

This is true even in our homes, friend!

This is God’s beautiful love story with His creation, and we are each offered the opportunity to be part of His movement in the world until eternity. Don’t miss out. Take part in what He’s doing. You will never regret it!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
                                                                                                       2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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As we explore the exciting possibility of being part of what God is doing through MARC for Alaska and for His glory. We pray for the humility to ask the Lord to use our strengths and our weaknesses to His glory, wherever and however He decides that should look!

Please continue to pray for our ears and hearts to be open to the leading of the Lord, and pray this for the staff and committee at MARC as well. We could offer ourselves in many places and ways to be used to spread the gospel, but we want to give our most. We desire His best for MARC and their incredible ministry here and of course His best for our family too!

If you ask us if we’re having fun my kids will yell “YES!” but you’ll probably get a slow and deliberate answer from Nathan and I… because yes, any new adventure contains elements of fun for our family, but for us and this moment in time, we aren’t looking for an experience, we’re looking for where we can serve. For a long time. And that is so much more than fun.

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We cannot express how grateful we are for the interest you take in the writing of our story, and for the way you partner with us in prayer and in action. We can’t do what we do without the body of Christ in our corner, and we don’t take what you offer of yourselves lightly.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. From the very bottom of our hearts. Know that we pray so frequently for those of you who are supporting us in so many ways, and we thank Him for His faithfulness to His promises for you as you obey Him!

In His time and grace…

Nathan, Kellyn, Elisha, Zechariah, Eden & Avram

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Living in Between

The apartment sat empty for the first time in months. A little pause between the yesterdays and the tomorrows. Between the I needs and I haves.

Our dear housemate packed boxes and bags full of memories, of life, in preparation for her new journey, the mysterious every day exhilarating unknowns of marriage.

And then empty.

Our little family.

This big house.

In the middle of a deep breath. A question. What now?

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We’ve always known that God would call us on. Spokane has come to feel like home because our love was built here. Our home. Our family. Our education. Our growing up into our immediate church family. All the preparation.

Fertile ground.

Rocky paths.

Cultivating.

Growing.

And then about six months ago we began to feel a strong direction, one that surprised us both, despite its obvious connections. I can’t stand being cold, and Nathan always pictured his future flight in the scorching heat of a jungle somewhere.

But, Alaska.

Beautiful, strong, broken, wild, isolated, resilient Alaska. Many roadless spaces where North Americans live in third-world conditions and the rich native culture is all too often shadowed by alcoholism, teen suicide, joblessness, and spiritual darkness.

Ever since our internship there ended I’d known that I’d left a piece of my heart behind. But that’s normal, right? You always leave love where you serve, where you give, and where you grow into the lives of people. It didn’t really mean anything, necessarily. But here God pursued our hearts. And as we gave ourselves time to heal from the demands and strains of blending college life with family life for so long, and continued to prepare for the future, this grew quietly in us. We read and researched and considered… separately.

And then it was time.

In the fall we dropped off our application with the director of MARC: Missionary Aviation Repair Center in Alaska, whose mission is to expand the reach of the Gospel in Alaska by flying people and supplies where there are no roads, supporting other missionaries & their aircraft, and training missionary-minded pilots & mechanics.

And we waited.

And in the waiting God worked.

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As our peaceful contentment grew, so did our resolve. Alaska it was. No doubts now.

As the craze of the holiday season came to a close, our application was processed and we heard news two weeks ago that our background checks and references had cleared us to move on to phase two. A candidacy evaluation to determine if us in this organization is a God-fit. We assumed the process of finding a mutually suitable date for our candidacy eval between the military’s schedule and MARC’s schedule would be long and involved; instead it was resolved in the course of about an hour once we made the calls early this week. Talk about miraculous intervention! April 4th-22nd. Another reminder that the Lord’s timeline is rarely our own! It wasn’t until afterward that it hit me that these dates were a mere 7 weeks away! Whenever my confidence starts to waiver, this one photo seems to surface again and again…

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Ran across this little encouraging note from the very beginning of flight training… I’d written it to my husband across the top of a very intimidating list of tuition and expenses for the years ahead. Beautiful to see how far we’ve come, and exciting to think about where we’ve yet to go! So grateful for God’s grace and favor and so proud of my man!!!

We are so incredibly excited about what God is doing through MARC in Alaska, and we look forward to this time of working alongside them and determining for certain if this is the niche the Lord has carved out for us in Alaska.

Our hopes for York house will still be very much the same. We already see the hand of God at work preparing hearts and minds for this transition in the future, that this home may remain a source of comfort and refuge for many! It is important to us that His fingerprints be seen throughout each of these aspects of the coming year!

While we are in Alaska this April, the kids and I will spend time checking out the area and getting acquainted with the rental market to be as prepared as possible. Our calling as a family to minister through hospitality, the “knock & walk” lifestyle, remains the same, and we envision being available to continue in this gifting as we have opportunity once we are truly settled in the next space God has for us.

We have been gifted with our doTERRA business in so many ways, chiefly that we can work from wherever we go. This continues to grow steadily toward being a substantial source of income for us as we gain more and more opportunities to help other families create a holistic freedom to whatever it is that God has called them to with their lives! With healthy hearts, souls, minds, bodies and finances! We are humbled by the avenue which God has given us to bless much and to in turn be so blessed! Thank YOU to the many of you who continue to take the time investment to learn about and use the natural wellness alternatives we offer for the incredible benefit of yourself and your families, and in so doing support our ministries and family as well! God gave us a heart for seeing people restored, first to Him for eternity, and second to the abundant life He designed us for of spreading the Gospel. When we are walking this road, the holistic details of our lives matter. We are so grateful to be part of your journey and to hear the stories of how God has used this to impact you!

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For this short trip in April we’ve estimated costs of travel, rent, food, and flight evaluation to come to a total of $4,300, possibly more if we don’t have the money up front to purchase airline tickets within the next week or two. That’s a big goal for a 7-week timeline, but He has done bigger things in our history, and I’m certain this won’t be His last! We do strongly covet your prayers in this area!

All these details have come about in the past several days only, and I got a message on my phone this morning, detailing a $200 commitment to our monthly support as well as coverage of the cost of our cell phones. All before word has really broken out to very many people! God is so able!

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Sign as we left the church building…

Let me leave you with this last thought… your calling to the “mission field” doesn’t begin elsewhere. It starts here. It starts now. Don’t squander the days you’ve been given, steward them well! Time is a commodity that doesn’t ever return to us.

Our ministry doesn’t end here in Spokane. Nor does it wait to start until we arrive in Alaska permanently. But as we go.

“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…” Colossians 4:3

With Love~ Nathan, Kellyn, Elisha, Zechariah, Eden & Avram

You can reach us at: thislivingministry@gmail.com
Or
Nathan Cell: 509-850-2744
Kellyn Cell: 509-389-5449

 

Upon request, our immediate church family in Spokane has made a tax-deductible donation option available for those who are excited to partner with us financially in this way. 
You can give online here! (Note Missions Fund/Swifts in the “comment/memo” section)
Or checks can be made out to House Church Ministries (Missions Fund/Swifts in the “For/Memo” section)
And mailed to:
House Church Ministries
P.O. Box 48242
Spokane, WA 99228
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When My Spirit Grumbles…

fireI knew the end of August and beginning of September would be filled with lovely chaos. Sometimes in the middle of our important life, it seems like everything gets turned upside down.

God interrupts us. 

The fires in Washington have spiraled out of control this week; as men and women fight tirelessly and provide support around the clock to protect our homes, our livelihoods and most importantly our people. Nate works with communications equipment and has been called out, near daily this week in support. Right in the middle of my need, in the middle of my living, something more important came up. How inconvenient. How inconsiderate.  Here I was waking up six steps behind every morning, effectively learning how to waste my motherhood, holding my loosely and inefficiently made plans so tightly; and life had the audacity to throw me a curve ball.

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

Pretty clear, eh? Now this isn’t to say that the Creator who saw fit to mold us in His image desires us to never dream or hope or plan. Contrary- His word has plenty to say about His expectations of planning, wisdom and stewardship. He created that piece of us, just as He created every other intricate thread of our existence. With purpose and precision.

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Prov 21:5

Believe me when I say, as a recovered obsessive, complusive, organizing list maker turned flexible, unstructured, unschooling, overrun chaos sort of Mom, Jesus has been drawing me back (I’ll tell you about my Jonah year some other day) ever so gently to a balance; teaching me the value of His order in the fullness of every day, while I commit my way to Him.

“But all things should be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 14:40IMG_1956

But this always must be won through the lens, the filter of the Holy Spirit.

I wish to say that with the swirling uncertainty of this week, heck, the uncertainty of the month to come, that the grace flowed instantly from a compassionate soul, but it didn’t. I’d love to tell you that it took a few hours or even a day to adjust my heart attitude. Yet no. Ugly frustration simmered for several days, and had I been paying attention I’d have noticed time slipping silently like sand through my tightly gripped fists. Laid to waste. There I was, but I wasn’t present. There I was, but I wasn’t grateful or graceful or joy-filled.

For a detail and goal oriented, type A personality, the reality of being out of control is unreasonable. I want answers. I want dates and times and promises and reassurance. But sometimes those things don’t come. And its usually then, in my raging tantrum that His quiet calm speaks loudest to me. Gently. Sweetly. Never condemning, but persistently convicting. 

I was reminded of this song by Lauren Daigle. The lyrics chilled me. Please. Pause right now and go listen to it. Trust me.

“Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

……………………………………
When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust… in you.”

See?

This morning as I rushed around picking up toys, washing down tables and picking up carrot nubs from on the stairs, under chairs and behind the sofa, I listened to a group mentoring call by two people who are incredibly dear to our family. More conviction (Man I detest that word!). I glaringly see myself not taking responsibility of the things I can control, but willingly excusing my thoughts, behaviors, actions and attitude based on the things I cannot.  Tears. Tears from a self-stained heart.

Jesus make me gentle. My humbled heart speaks.

matthew25This plaque hung on our wall for two years. Apparently not long enough to remember. But in my broken imperfection He loved me first, and He promises He always will.

Selfless is hard. Its difficult for a culture, a time, a movement that prides itself on independent arrogance with the end goal of whatever makes me happy.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Only this year has this passage from John 15 struck me in this powerful way; I’ve realized that the laying down of a life doesn’t happen nearly so often in the literal sense as it does in the sacrifice of entitlements, of rights, of gifts, of the life we believe we were created for.   

Let me leave you with this from  Phillipians 2:1-18 (emphasis mine)

“Unity Through Humility
2 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

The Humbled and Exalted Christ
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Light Bearers
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. 17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 91618 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me. “

So as I continue striving for presence, I crave and pray for a gentle, disciplined, trusting, grateful, giving soul. One that I’ve known only to pour out of me when I’m immersed in the Word. The written, the conversed, and the living and active, Word. I can only get there by taking responsibility of what I can control, my choice to let Him work in me, and to put my action where I say my heart is.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

By nature of this world I am selfish, but thank God, He has overcome the world. 

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Long Overdue…

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The beginnings of spring makeover…

A still house again as I write tonight. I enjoy these quiet, drinkable moments. The warm silence is much like a blanket to my soul as I reflect. I think I write as much for myself as for anyone else. I write because words communicate value. And we have so much to value here.

Its already been three months since we moved into this house; and yet only three months. I intended to write much more often, and I still do, but parenting, homeschooling, friendship-building, house-keeping, business running, husband-loving beauty has kept my heart and hands busy.

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E-man helping our home owner and friend put the floor in baby G’s room!

You likely won’t be surprised to hear that God indeed showed up in January, and again in February and March. Many of you won’t be surprised because you were His hands and feet. From toilet paper delivery, to tearing out walls, to a new printer, washer & dryer and most importantly loving on our refugee neighbors- we, and this ministry, have been blessed by you.

We have a full house at the moment, besides always having room for visitors! Some dear friends from our time at Moody moved in with their sweet eight-month-old two weeks ago! They will be heading to Bolivia in June for an internship to explore the possibilities of using their hard won skill sets in overseas missions! We also gained a new friend, Kelly, back in February! She recently returned from a two-year commitment with World Concern in Africa and will be gone for a month on another short term missions trip to use her skills of photography and words to spread awareness and touch lives. God connections everywhere. We’ve been so incredibly blessed by the people that God has chosen for this house, time and again. I know without a doubt looking back these will be some of the sweetest memories we have made to date!

The apartment is being put to very good use by a beautiful little family who joined us last week! The language barrier exists, but laughter together eases that pain and breaks the silence. We were able to have a house-wide shared dinner last week which was a rich experience- especially in learning what not to cook! I adore pictures because they speak even when words cannot- therefore many pictures were shared in the after dinner quiet until the little man of two-years couldn’t keep his eyes open a moment longer!

We are really looking forward to the joys of spring that push into summer… Our yard will really need some work to become the refuge that we would love for it to be to our visitors, but we definitely have high hopes and the willingness to work on it! We are also excited about the opportunity to sow into the large garden out back. Kelly is our lead researcher for this project!

We’ve had victories and challenges a plenty these past weeks. Real life is beautiful, messy and sometimes rough. The enemy seems to know right where to hit us when we least expect it, which evidences why we should always expect it. But real life, Jesus-given, soul-growing life, is worth it. 

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Our friend Kelly’s massive amount of Thank You’s from her time in Africa. Because she’s awesome like that.

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.” Psalm 91:14

With all our love!

As per continued request, here is our current house needs list:

  • Funds for remodeling the basement bathroom and bedrooms to meet safety standards. Our goal is to provide two bedrooms that will be available longer-term for single refugee mothers! We are $1000 dollars toward our first goal of $3500! Our official fundraiser will be announced next week after a bit more planning!

Material needs:

  • 2 pack & play Cribs
  • Decorations for the apartment- global theme
  • Cozy rugs and bean bag chairs for the shared attic playspace
  • A comfortable sofabed or futon for the apartment
  • Bowls for the apartment kitchen
  • Knives for the apartment kitchen

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    I love when the sun shines in the kitchen.

  • 2 good condition carseats with a decent height/weight range (we have been loaning our personal carseats to refugees when necessary which isn’t always available.)
  • 9 Volt Batteries for smoke alarms which seem to keep going out
  • Light bulbs
  • Hand soap, shampoo and conditioner for the apartment
  • 2 or three good condition dressers (for apartment and then downstairs rooms)
  • As we move into summer we will also be looking for heavy duty fans and one or two more window air conditioners!

 

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A Quiet House…

Photo from World Relief website…

There’s the hum of the dryer and somewhere off in the distance the faint sound of praise to the Savior Child. The ground is white with frost and the sky a hazy gray, not dark tonight because of a brilliant moon that can’t be seen.

There’s a brand new adventure here. The beginning of a piece of our story we hadn’t imagined would become reality just two weeks ago. Our Merry Christmas letters sit waiting to be sent out, now horribly outdated, but perhaps worthy of sharing simply because of the way they capture where our hearts rested just last month.

We’ve been living off the grid on a sweet little patch of land thirty minutes out of town for the past seven months; aside from being a perfectly renewing wayside inn, it has served a greater purpose. To stir us. To drive our hearts. And to whisper what we’re missing.

Our vision for our home has always been this; that the door would ever be open to welcome each neighbor, near and far, in, to the now grace and eternal arms of Jesus.

Relationship is the lifeblood of our marriage, our family, our church, our business… restoration of that One relationship was worthy of death by the One who deserved nothing but honor, devotion, and the purest love.

So today I sit in a quiet corner of somewhere around 5500 square feet of space in the heart of Spokane, a place preparing to become that home.

We are carrying forward a torch, lit by our pioneering friends and the incredible owners of this home. This home has been and will be the roof under which refugees through World Relief, our neighbors, our friends and our family can pause and regain their strength, celebrate life and from these relationships, and sometimes these rooms, build strong and new beginnings.

In the beginning of 2014 we felt the strongest call of our lives to move forward intentionally. We learned that ministry for the Nathan Swift family flows best from inside our home, and we prayed for an opportunity to live ministry as a family. Our long term plans remain the same. We are working to pay off school loans and save money for Nathan’s three month flight instructor training, and our desire is to serve in missions aviation somewhere in this beautiful world… But for this time and this place we have found our intention. We have found our home. And we have found our living ministry.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…” Isaiah 61:1

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