Thursday, December 18, 2014

Deck the Halls

December is a crazy busy month, isn't it? I wish I had planned a little farther ahead on what I do NOT need to add to the schedule. It is so easy to lose sight of the real reason we celebrate a day in December called "Christ"mas.
The weekend after Thanksgiving my family gathered at my mom's house to decorate the Christmas tree. This has become a tradition since my parents first separated. It still reminds all of my siblings and I of the ways that we banded together and grew closer after experiencing the loss that divorce brings to a family. Even after my brother and I each married and began our own family traditions, we choose to bring our families together to help my mom decorate as a reminder that she is not alone during the Christmas season.
I wanted to share with you some moments from our decorating festivities this year.
You may all have similar experiences with finding a strand of Christmas lights that really works. I mean, one that does not have large patches of bulbs that refuse to light up. This year we worked hard to resurrect our ancient strands of lights with replacement bulbs, only to string the entire tree and have the wiring give out. Ok, time to unwind that strand from the tree and try again!
While my brother tried to drape another strand of lights on the tree, David gave himself the project of trying to fix the strand that had not worked. He spent a few hours investigating the electrical currents each bulb produced and checking the fuses in the plug. Finally, he pronounced the strand "dead" and proceeded to fashion a light testing device out of the end of this Christmas light strand.
A week later, my mom was trying to decide if she needed to purchase new strands of Christmas lights since she ended up with so few functional strands of lights. David sat down in the kitchen to test light bulbs with the light testing device he had fashioned the previous weekend. From the living room where my sister and I were adding ornaments to the Christmas tree, we heard a loud snap and saw a spark flash from the wires in David's hands. Apparently, the wattage needed to light an entire strand will melt one singular bulb. David was fascinated by the results his experiment produced - the melted glass bulb in his hands. Yes, he unplugged the sparking wires right away. He also had burn marks on the fingers that were grasping the bulb when it melted.
David had a splendid time with this experiment. I was just grateful that he didn't shock himself or cause more bodily harm.  I kept saying, "I'm so glad you didn't kill yourself..." I think I was the one in shock! We had a good laugh about the incident and threw away the remaining tempting wires and dysfunctional Christmas lights.  However, I think this Christmas incident will create another memory and serves as a great reminder of the work to which God has called David.  He is a tinkerer and loves to fix things, create new ways to do things, and just work on solving mechanical problems.  Thank God that his servants who are taking the gospel to new regions need those skills put to use! I am so glad that God allows my husband's skills, interests, and passion for reaching the lost with the gospel to all be melded into one pursuit.
Please join us in seeking God's favor this Christmas season:
Pray with us that God will provide our support in abundance by April of 2015. We want to join the work at MMS Aviation and begin training soon!
Praise God that Cadence International hired a new IT specialist to fill the role David is vacating so we can follow God's call to mission aviation. We are excited that this man accepted the position Friday and was available to start work the following Monday! David is spending this week (his last week at Cadence HQ) training his replacement. Praise God for always being in control of the timing to work these things out.
Pray for David and I in the days following Christmas and into the new year. We are planning several trips to visit churches and share our ministry with potential ministry partners. Our trips begin December 26th and may not end til we reach full support! We are anticipating only 5 days in the Castle Rock area between trips in January.
Pray for rest, time to invest in prayer and our connection with God, and patience with each other during the stress of travel. Pray for wisdom as we deal with travel challenges involving food and other health issues. We need an outpouring of God's grace just to endure these extra challenging days and seasons.
Pray that the message of hope in Jesus Christ will touch lives this Christmas and bring more children into God's kingdom!
Praise God for having sent his Son to be born in human flesh as our Savior, the Light of the World. Praise him for giving us a reason to live telling the rest of the World about Him!
Pentatonix: Mary Did You Know? on You Tube   Everybody's favorite Christmas song....

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Our God is faithful

2 Timothy 2:11-13 contains a statement, or rather a poem, that has puzzled me and encouraged me for years.

"Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him,
we will also live with him;

if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;

if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself."

Even when I am faithless, God remains faithful for he cannot disown himself. Our God is unchangeable, immutable. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. This is the theme of what I have begun learning in the last few weeks of October. The month of October was full of stress, difficulty, discouragement, and  God's faithfulness. I have struggled mightily with my faith that God will do great things for his children in the last month. There are so many situations among close friends and family where I watch and wonder where God is in the midst of these heartaches. 
I have also struggled with how slowly the fund raising process has been. I know there are important steps to take in these initial stages: 
  • We have been developing a team of prayer warriors to cover our partnership development in prayer.
  • We have been creating materials to help share our ministry with others: brochures, portfolios, prayer cards, etc.
  • We have been reading and reviewing our instruction manual to receive guidance about the plans we are making for presentations.
  • We have studied many passages from the Bible to learn about the biblical precedent of asking for financial support from other people.
I have also felt the changes that God is making in my own perspective and heart to prepare me for pursuing this life of dependence. It has been a challenge to learn how truly dependent we are for everything we possess. Living with family is a constant reminder of how little of our surrounding belongs to David and I.   I have also been painfully conscious of the fact that David's last paycheck will arrive December 31st. We have been blessed to receive monthly support from financial partners throughout our entire marriage. However, we have always needed to supplement our monthly support with income from other employers. God was faithful to allow Cadence International the funds to offer David full-time income which met the need created when David and I ended our other part-time employment. However, we are reaching the point where even that form of employment will end. In January, we will fully devote our time to partnership development. Our only source of income will be monthly gifts donated to MMS Aviation. Honestly, that is a scary thought to me despite the fact that we have received pledges equal to 3% of our total support goal. Only 97% to go! 
God has been faithful to remind me through his Word of this truth: I am utterly dependent for all my needs on HIM, not on the people whose gifts I receive. He is the one leading David and I to take this step of faith. He is the one leading these friends to also step out in faith and give sacrificially in support of our ministry needs.
God has been faithful to provide these needs:
  1. Four families have pledged to give monthly donations for our support.
  2. Other family and friends have committed to pray faithfully for our ministry
  3. Some have contributed financially toward our one-time expenses: moving costs, tools, and training fees.
  4. Some of our supporters are recommending our ministry to their friends
  5. Our family is committed to providing housing for David and I long-term (quite the financial commitment)
  6. Special gifts have helped offset costs for printing and other supplies for our presentation materials
  7. One gift provided funds to seek much needed chiropractic care to resolve my recurring back and shoulder pain as well as frequent headaches
  8. Our small group has donated gifts-in-kind to provide recent pictures for our prayer cards, hair styling, and binding our portfolios
  9. God has provided sufficient income for this season where we have many medical costs to ascertain the cause of several issues. Most of the test results have returned normal. Praise God for protecting me from more serious medical conditions. My Celiac's Disease is being managed and my symptoms may resolve with further diet changes alone.
  10. We still have no debt to hinder our ministry and our ability to follow God's direction.
  11. On Sunday mornings, we are participating in a small group study about marriage with one other couple from our church. We also receive fellowship and encouragement through a small group study on the gospel and other Bible studies during the week.
In all these things, I will give thanks! Will you join me in thanking God for his unchanging faithfulness?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

New Job

David and I have chosen to participate in a small group through church. We have both individually appreciated the community and growth of being in small groups of believers. After we married last year, we hoped that growth would occur as we joined a small group together. However, multiple part-time jobs soon interfered with our ability to be involved in any small group or group Bible study.  Our current transition of work and ministry is finally allowing us to be a part of a small group as a couple. What a blessing! There is no greater privilege than to learn within community.
The small group is studying the book of Galatians with the help of a Tim Keller publication, "Galatians for You." Right from the beginning the study overwhelms you with a fresh sense of the grace God has shown us and the prominence of this grace in the gospel. Today's study focused on Paul's testimony that his life was not spent in an effort to receive approval from men, but to please God. Tim Keller used an example of how a child lives when they are trying to earn their parent's love or approval versus a child's response when they already know they are fully loved. A child who knows their parent loves them still wants to do what pleases their parent for the parent's benefit, not out of their own desire for approval.
One of the study questions given for reflection said, "How are you most tempted to fear men and seek their approval? What would change if, in those moments, you lived to please the God who is pleased with you?" The question prompted me to pause and reflect on how I am tempted right now to revere the approval and attention of people. I have often wrestled with an imbalance of desire to please certain people rather than a desire to please God. I do not find life pleasant when I am striving to please other people rather than be pleasing to God.
I think this season of life, faith, and following God provides a lot of occasion to reflect on, "Who am I living to please?" One of the hardest things about becoming involved in full-time, faith-supported ministry is asking for support. People don't often approve of or enjoy talking about money, especially if you are asking for their money. What have my own responses been in situations where I have been approached for a financial contribution?

  • I'm already giving to someone else
  • I don't have any extra money to give
  • What are you doing to try and earn the money yourself?
  • How do I know what you are going to be doing with that money?
  • Is this some kind of swindle?
  • I wish I could give to every person I know in ministry! Somehow that doesn't seem fiscally responsible...
Do any of these responses fit you? Have you heard the same thoughts in your head? Will similar thoughts pop into your mind if I approach you next week with a request for a financial donation?
I seem to have a pretty good idea of how and when I am tempted to fear men. I don't want to offend anyone or turn them off from the ministry I serve or the purpose of Christ. I don't like leaving a distasteful memory in people's hearts about my self, my family, or my God.  Yet, God has called us to provide a service free of charge. It's kind of hard to live off of that.  I admire the Apostle Paul's dogged pursuit of preaching the gospel "free of charge." He often wrote of his efforts to not be a burden to the new believers when he first presented the gospel in a city. Sometimes, he worked to cover his own expenses, even paying for his companions' needs. Often, another church from a previous trip would send gifts to meet his needs. Regardless, Paul's primary goal was that the gospel would not have come with a price tag to those who need it.
I am reading through Acts 20 today in conjunction with my Galatians study. Paul states to the church elders from Ephesus, "But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus-the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God." That statement brings me back to the question "What would change if, in those moments, you lived to please the God who is pleased with you?" What would change if I lived like Paul did? Is my life worth nothing unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus? Is Christ's mission to spread the message of the gospel and the hope of the resurrection more important to me than what other people think of me? 
I think a lot of Americans, myself included, derive our identity or our worth from our jobs. Here's a question: What if the job to which God has called you is one that brings you criticism, disapproval, and rejection? Would you finish that job? Would you share the gospel with that coworker who is Buddhist or the neighbor who is Jehovah's Witness? Would you leave a financially secure position and nice home to move to a foreign country with only financial donations to support your family?
Would you confront your boss about a business practice that is unethical or illegal? Would you tell your parents the truth about your addictive habit and ask for help to overcome it? Would you warn a friend that their lifestyle has terrible consequences like AIDS?
What job has God given you?  "What would change if, in those moments, you lived to please the God who is pleased with you?"  Timothy Keller, "Galatians For You"

P.S. I may be sending you a request for financial support.... just remember the request is from God, with my signature at the bottom. :o)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Moving Day

It is hard to believe how quickly a year can pass. On Labor Day, David and I celebrated our first anniversary. We enjoyed cinnamon rolls (family favorite) for breakfast, grilled burgers, and hiked Castle Rock at sunset. Thank God for Labor Day and our anniversary coinciding this year! It was wonderful that David could enjoy a day off. Especially since we moved the two days previous to that Monday. Our move from Denver to Castle Rock went as smoothly as possible. Several family members, a few friends, and our neighbors showed up to help us move. We had everything loaded on the moving truck in a few hours and were finished moving by dinnertime.  Thank you to everyone who helped us move!  God has really blessed us through your visible acts of love.

One of the greatest surprises in the past year has been God's answer to our prayers for our neighbors. Here are some of the surprises we've experienced the last month.
  • Our upstairs neighbor, Lynn, has been studying the Bible with me for a few months. She wants to continue studying together by phone or email if possible. She really connected with the Bible study by Chip Ingram that we started a few weeks ago and has put applications in place in some major areas. Praise God for his grace in her life!
  • Another woman who lives with a neighbor shared how she had walked away from her relationship with God; I prayed with her earlier in August. She has shared several ways that God is leading her to return to him including marrying her boyfriend instead of continuing to live with him unmarried.
  • Our neighbor, Marsha, went to church for the first time! She has been very sick and dealing with alcoholism, addictions, and spiritual warfare. Pray for her salvation. She asked for a Bible of her own. Her friend (the woman mentioned above) has been reading the Bible and praying while staying with Marsha and this has peaked Marsha's interest in things related to God and Jesus. We spent significant time sharing the gospel with Marsha our last week in Denver, despite packing and moving. Marsha was moved to tears when I (Allison) brought her a Bible the following week. 
  • Our neighbor from Burma was helpful to us during our move. He stated that he often comes to Castle Rock and would like to visit us here. We encouraged him to connect with us soon. 
Praise God all our neighbors are being impacted through our lives and our love for them in Christ! We are amazed and so blessed that they all want to stay in contact. Christ's love is contagious and worth keeping around~

We ask you to join us in prayer:

  • for our landlord as he and his new wife move into a neighborhood desperately in need of Christ. Pray that God would strengthen this couple to continue reaching their neighbors with the hope of the gospel. 
  • for our families as many of our siblings' families are going through transitions with work, home, and church right now. 
  • that we would be a blessing to my mom and sister as they open their home to us for a little while. 
  • that God would give us grace to be living in someone else's space with little room to call our own. 

God is so good to us. We are excited for all the next year has to hold!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

MMS Aviation evaluation week

Here are the details on our trip to Coshocton, Ohio....

  • Saturday at 1am: David and I (Allison) arrived at the Port Columbus, Ohio, airport and bunked down for the remainder of the night. We picked up a rental car at the airport at 9am and drove 1 1/2 hours to Coshocton, Ohio.
  • The MMS Aviation HR director and his wife, Dan and Juli Pottner, met us at Stalter House, a house owned by the mission organization. We ate lunch, shopped for groceries, and settled into the house MMS Aviation had arranged for our accommodations. We contemplated exploring the neighborhood but settled for a 4 hour nap instead.
  • Sunday morning: David and I attended a local Christian and Missionary Alliance church and worshiped with the church body there. We were warmly welcomed. 
  • Sunday afternoon, we explored the local historic village and enjoyed a tour about an antique toy collection from the 1900s. We managed to stay inside shops each time the pouring rain ensued. After our adventure to the past, we returned home for another nap and enjoyed an evening walk around the neighborhood which included the county fairgrounds.
  • Monday morning: David arrived at the hangar in time for devotions with the staff and apprentices and began a three day work evaluation. David helped with an annual inspection of a Diamond DA40 plane. During this time, he measured the cable tension and  ROM of the rudders.  I (Allison) enjoyed a prayer meeting and potluck with some of the staff wives and learned a lot about their lives, challenges, joys, experiences, etc.
  • Monday afternoon: One of the staff wives provided me (Allison) with a very thorough tour Coshocton and the nearby Amish country. The best part of the tour was arriving in Berlin, Ohio (not Germany sadly) to sample cheese at Heini's, one of the local cheese markets. Heini's is renowned for its cheeses, fudge, free samples, and Amish heritage. David helped disassemble an engine block to replace O-rings and then reassembled the engine block.
  • Monday evening: David and I were only slightly lost finding the way to dinner with the Director of Training and his wife, Bob and Lisa Schwartz. We spent a delightful evening learning about Bob and Lisa, their missionary experiences, MMS Aviation, and being tactfully interviewed. Bob Schwartz has a degree in Biblical Studies, Counseling, and maybe a few other things. You can definitely tell how much God has developed a caring shepherd's heart in this man.  We spent quite a bit of time with the Schwartz family over the course of the week.
  • Tuesday morning: David returned to the hangar for the 7:30-4 work evaluation. David worked all day removing paint from an airplane's wings so the exposed metal could be assessed for damage. His afternoon was filled with drilling out rivets and removing damaged sheet metal.  I enjoyed a quiet morning writing some thank you notes and cleaning up at the Stalter house. Lisa Schwartz joined me to share some leftovers for lunch and we talked a long time about family background, Bible college, mentoring, and what my (Allison's) role as an apprentice wife might look like. Lisa shared a lot about her life as a single missionary and, later, a missionary wife. Lunch lasted into the afternoon but there was just enough time for some email communication before David arrived home.
  • Tuesday evening: Dinner at Dwight and Rena Jarboe's house, CEO and President of MMS Aviation. We enjoyed a home cooked meal again and the graciousness of hosts we had barely met. We also enjoyed learning about their mission experiences; Dwight is a wonderful storyteller. Our evening wrapped up with a playfully competitive game of Phase 10. You may guess who the winner was but the answer will not be David.  He was a good sport about it.
  • Wednesday morning: David began his day at the hangar with a devotional about shepherding your wife. The guest speaker, a local pastor, asked each man at the table to share who he was and how long he had been married. The expression on the pastor's face indicated he was a little surprised when he started with David and learned we had only been married 10 months! :o)   That morning, David began the process to install protective rubber boots on the horizontal stabilizers (the small wings at the back of the plane). These boots help protect the leading edge of the stabilizer from rocks and other debris kicked up on dirt runways.  I arrived at the hangar around 10am for an impromptu meeting with Bob and Lisa Schwartz to discuss everything from finances to ministry roles. 
  • 2 hours later.... I (Allison) headed to the home of an apprentice and family for a lunch meeting the MMS apprentices' wives' held in my honor, so to speak. Several of the current, past, and future apprentice wives gathered together to meet and welcome me to the group. We did not have an invitation to join the mission organization yet but it did not make a bit of difference in the warmth, friendship, and fellowship I found among these women. Two of the staff wives organize and co-lead the bi-monthly meetings for apprentice wives to mentor and help prepare them for the mission field while their husbands go through the training program.  Meanwhile that afternoon, David replaced a vacuum pump on one of the planes in the hangar. This required removing ducting and contorting his body to reach two of the bolts. It was a good test of creativity and persistence. David also completed a test for mechanical aptitude that afternoon.
  • Wednesday evening: David and I enjoyed the hospitality of our Human Resources director(s), Dan and Juli Pottner. Technically, Dan is the one who earned the job title but we could easily tell how crucial teamwork was in this couple's life.  They shared about the neat experiences God has used in the past couple of decades to prepare them for the HR role at MMS Aviation. Dan originally was invited as a mechanic's apprentice in 2011 but the mission organization later realized God was providing Dan to fill a much needed position in HR. We stayed pretty late at the Pottner's house but stopped to admire the beauty of the stars over Coshocton on the way back to the Stalter house.
  • Thursday morning: David enjoyed sleeping in a couple of hours. David and I appeared before the Selection Committee at 9am for our final interview. The committee was comprised of the CEO/President Dwight Jarboe, Director of Training and wife, Bob and Lisa Schwartz, and Human Resources Director, Dan Pottner. Since we had visited with each of these staff members throughout our evaluation, there were relatively few questions remaining to be asked. We each explained verbally our personal testimony of faith in Christ and how we have grown in relationship to him as singles and as a couple. We discussed briefly the current life situation and what obstacles are yet to be addressed as we pursue ministry in missions. (The Selection Committee had already reviewed each of our applications as well as the evaluation forms submitted by each staff member with whom we interacted from Monday through Wednesday.) We were asked to wait outside the office while the committee discussed their decision. When the President welcomed us back into his office, the committee at MMS Aviation invited us to join the mission organization and offered David an apprenticeship. Our orientation began immediately afterwards.
  • Thursday morning and afternoon: We sat down with the CEO and the Human Resources Director to look over the training handbook that will be our resource for partnership development or deputation. As we build relationships and grow a network of people to partner with us in this ministry, we will be seeking churches, businesses, and individuals to support our ministry both financially and in prayer.  
  • Thursday evening: David and I were invited to dinner with another couple who is serving at MMS Aviation and gaining work experience. Joel and Abrielle Braxton are Moody graduates training to serve as a pilot/mechanic and a nurse on the mission field. They are in the application process for long-term service with another mission organization and raising support. We had a lot of fun hanging out with peers and fellow servants as we ate Thai food, talked and played a card game together. 
  • Friday ensued with more orientation, some photo opportunities and lots of laughter. The mission is intent on providing the best support and encouragement for our faith, our marriage, and our ministry as we pursue our goal of joining the apprentices and staff in Coshocton, Ohio and beginning the apprentice training program as soon as possible. David and I left Coschocton Friday evening with full hearts and tired bodies.
  • Saturday morning: We were grateful for the rest God had provided although our 8am flight required much too early a wake up call. David especially felt the time difference later in the day when we realized that we rose at 3am MDST. Our flights went well and we arrived at DIA in plenty of time to check with lost and found about Allison's missing ID. No results....  Pray it remains "secure" at the checkpoint and not in the hands of someone untrustworthy. My (Allison's) mom and sister escorted us home by way of Chipotle and the grocery store. Thank God for food! We had time to shower and head out to the family gathering to celebrate our niece, Cadence's, 7th birthday. I have the dinosaur hat to prove it!

Playing on the monkey bars with my younger niece and nephew.

Did you know dinosaurs came in pink?

You can find more information about MMS Aviation and how to support what God is doing through their ministry on our page titled Did You Know?.

Catching up

If you subscribe to our blog at all, you may have been wondering what is up in the world of the DeJong family.
So much has happened, I may need to use bullet points to walk you through the process... :o)

  • I (Allison) began the process of transitioning her ministry over to the faithful hands of volunteers at Creekside Bible Church. 5 months later... she is officially unemployed!
  • David confirmed his resignation with Cadence International and pursued options for training as an A&P licensed mechanic. David cooperatively set a tentative end date for his part-time position at headquarters (HQ) in Englewood and agreed to work alongside Human Resources to interview the potential candidates to fill his position.
  • In March, we both completed the pre-evaluation questions and applications for MMS Aviation-a missions organization that provides technical training and work experience to prepare aviation mechanics or maintenance specialists for their A&P examination with the FAA while serving mission organizations around the world.  Excitement built as we waited for references to respond to the organization on our behalf.
  • Our applications were accepted with MMS Aviation. One final step involved a week of evaluation and interviewing in Coshocton, Ohio, with the MMS Aviation staff.  
  • Allison prepared, with a team of 70 or more volunteers, for CBC's summer Vacation Bible School program, a 4 day journey studying the Gospel through the eyes of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15).  The month of June passed quickly as our team executed a unique program created and led by our own church members. Over 80 children attended and learned about the Gospel and how God is using missionaries to proclaim his message around the world. Each day the journey included a drama illustrating Jesus' parable, a missionary sharing about the ministry our church family supports, and a whole lot of fun celebrating the Good News that Jesus died and rose again to pay for our sin and give us eternal life.
  • Highlight of VBS: hearing my 7 year-old niece explain the Gospel in her own words. Pray with us for her salvation!
  • David was also very busy with training in June. He completed and passed an instruction course to become certified as a Water Safety Instructor for the city of Lakewood. He also attended a six day EMS (Emergency Medical Services) conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The conference provided quality instruction which allowed David to complete the required continuing education credits and renew his EMS license.
  • Allison remained quite busy in Castle Rock, Colorado, as she finished several steps in the process of handing over the Children's Ministry at Creekside Bible Church. Her final day as an employee of the church ended at 10pm but her service to Christ as a volunteer in his church continues on.
  • David and Allison were reunited for a busy but fun weekend of celebrating the 4th of July and other family birthdays.
  • David succumbed to the horrible fever and sore throat associated with strep throat. Two days of fever and other symptoms prompted us to see the doctor where we received a prescription for antibiotics. Praise God Allison never developed symptoms! Praise God for David's ability to choke down all the required doses of antibiotics. Those of you who know his family history may sympathize with how difficult this 2 week process was.
  • The leadership at Cadence International was busy during July reevaluating the needs for IT staff at headquarters to support the nearly 300 missionary staff around the world. The decision was made to start a new interview process seeking to hire a full-time staff member to best support the IT needs of the organization.
  • Friday, July 11th: David was offered a temporary increase in hours and salary as the full-time IT employee for Cadence International while HQ resumes the search for this new IT staff member. His position at Cadence will end December 31. Pray that God will supply the candidate soon to be trained and transitioned into the IT position before David leaves in December.
  • Friday evening, July 11th: David and Allison boarded a flight for Columbus, Ohio, the nearest commercial airport to Coshocton, Ohio where MMS Aviation is located.  Allison lost her driver's license while going through the security checkpoint at DIA.  David became the official chauffeur for the trip to Ohio.
  • Upon our return, David accepted the temporary position for full-time work at Cadence International HQ. His final date of employment for Cadence will be December 31st. Meanwhile, Allison has been busy packing our belongings to move in with family in Castle Rock. 
For more on our trip to Ohio and the culmination of our application to MMS Aviation as missionary candidates (and an apprenticeship), check out our next blog post. :o)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lessons from a four-year old

I have to credit my four-year old nephew for reminding me of important truth last weekend. I had the privilege of keeping my nieces and nephew for 8 hours last Saturday. One of the "fun" things they did with Auntie was attend a party to welcome my friends' new baby. Despite having to walk several blocks past Fair parade traffic, we arrived in pretty good spirits to discover the fun that awaited at this party.

As we walked to the party, Michael (my nephew) had been collecting several small pieces of gravel from the driveways we passed. When we arrived at the party, he promptly found the other little boy his age and handed him the "rocks".  "Here are some rocks," Michael said as he dashed off to plunder the food table.
A little later this boy was jumping on the trampoline with Michael and I overheard a brief conversation between them.
"Thanks for the rocks." -Little Boy
"Your welcome." - Michael
And they became fast friends...
The little boy's mother told me that he was thrilled with Michael's gift.
So simple... so unassuming...

No wonder Jesus told us to look to children for the example of the kind of faith it takes to enter the Kingdom of God. Luke 16:18, "But Jesus called for the children, saying, “Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

I don't often realize how simple it is to share the message of the Gospel with the ordinary people around me. Yes, some will reject it. But how often do I miss those opportunities to share the treasure I hold within my heart by telling someone about what Jesus did for them.
"Here is a treasure-let me tell you about Jesus,"
"Thanks for the treasure."
"Your welcome."

We are missing out on opportunities to make friends for eternity.

My superhero nephew

Friday, August 8, 2014

Holding Out Open Hands

Over the past year, David and I have been building a habit of praying together daily. Often, I have found myself praying that God would help us hold our (fill the blank) with open hands. The request might change day to day, month to month, from money, to possessions, to where we live or what we do. Something about the idea of open hands has been developing as a theme throughout the past several months, even years. It comes up in conversation; we hear illustrations in sermons; someone encourages us with words of wisdom; I end up searching Google images for graphic illustrations of open hands. I have personally seen God repeat a theme that he is teaching me over and over in a variety of settings so that I begin to grasp what this truth means and how to apply it. God uses these "teachable moments" to prepare me for some part of my journey he's written but has not yet revealed.

For me, God began a few years ago to teach me about surrender. I am a planner, a visionary, a little bit fear driven by the thought that if I don't take initiative quickly, I might never care enough to move or do the next scary thing. One of the drawbacks to this reactionary lifestyle has been making plans for myself that don't match those of my heavenly Father. It is a scary thing to have no control, no ideas, no plan for the future. Or so I thought. I have come to find it is actually scarier to hold onto control so hard I was actually fighting off God's control of my life. It became harder and harder to enjoy life or be satisfied in it when I had to wrestle and fight to hold onto what I wanted the future to look like. Two summers ago, I was reading a book by Mark Batterson called Wild Goose Chase. I thought it would be about how difficult and illusive it is to discern the will of God. Instead, I found that the book focused on the challenge and thrill of taking the risk to let go: let go of your plans, dreams, expectations and embrace where the Holy Spirit is leading you. In some ways, it reminds me of a quote from the Chronicles of Narnia about Aslan,
“He'll be coming and going" he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down--and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The Holy Spirit is "not a tame" being; he is the powerful, sovereign, and completely generous God.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Favorite books have a habit of making themselves useful to drive home your point.
First, God taught me to surrender my plan to be married: whether I would ever marry, who I married, how long I would be married. Even inherent in my marital status was the imminent possibility that I might never bear or raise children.
In the midst of the twist and turns that brought David into my life, God asked me to give up or give him my hopes and dreams to serve in full-time ministry. Then, he asked me to give him my current job. I was 28, living with my mom, and choosing to end my employment. Then, God told me to travel to Germany to serve at an English camp by myself and with no time to raise support. Within a few months, I quit my job, started a part-time position at my church, traveled to two countries, participated on two missions trips, and started dating a man I had only met 3 months before. Was this what I had planned for my future? You've got to be kidding me!
I gained so much joy from those months of learning about surrender. Even the year that followed as I grew to know and love my husband were filled with choices to surrender what I thought should happen and embrace what God knew would be the best life.

Lately, the theme of letting go or opening your hands has been resurrecting in the sermon illustrations or applications at my home church. One pastor talked about how the disciples left everything when Jesus invited them to follow him. He gave the illustration of holding out your clenched fists face up, turning them over and opening your hands to "let go of the nets (and whatever you have trapped in them)". Up until that point, I had envisioned open hands being held face up, a posture of worship and adoration or of offering something up to God. I realized how easy it would be to clench those fists back around what you were trying to give up instead of letting it go. If your hands are turned over and then opened, you drop what you were holding and it becomes much harder to pick it back up.
Another pastor recently spoke about Jesus' statement that " “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24 Our pastor captured the repetition of the word must from what Jesus had been telling the disciples in the previous verses. Jesus himself had a mission he MUST complete- to be killed, buried, and to be raised again. What Jesus had said he MUST do, he did. The statement about what we MUST do will, no question, happen as well.
Such a simple observation: This statement is an if/then clause. If anyone wants to follow Jesus, then he MUST deny himself-surrender, let go, open their hands.... Funny thing: if you reverse the statements in the if/then clause, you get an interesting result. If anyone does NOT deny himself, then he will NOT be following Jesus.

So, in answer to my prayer for open hands, here is a list of what God has asked David and I to let go of over the last six months.

  • Our jobs 
  • Our home/privacy and independence 
  • Our income 
  • Being close to my family 
  • My role in the local church or current ministry purpose 
  • My identity as a career woman/ministry leader 
  • The timing on our move and transition to the mission field 
  • What "needs" we desire be met 
  • serving alongside close friends 
  • needs among family members and close friends 
And yet, I can list just as many things he has given us in return

  • hope 
  • joy 
  • love 
  • special moments with friends and family 
  • phone calls or emails to catch up 
  • strengthened relationship as husband and wife 
  • answered prayer 
  • a place to live 
  • purpose that is not tied to what I do but what he has done 
  • new friends in far away places 
  • a ministry to work towards and look forward to 
  • a place to serve among people who delight in God like we long to 
  • more witnessing opportunities than before 
  • relationships that bear fruit 
  • giving generously only to receive generous gifts 
  • every need met 
I am getting the idea that I'd rather have open hands for God to use or discard whatever I have because I have seen his will turn out best. It is time to exercise those phalanges and metacarpals.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Big News (Allison is still NOT pregnant)

We do have big news to share with you. Since you already know that we are not having a baby, the big news is that we will not be continuing as Cadence missionaries beyond this summer. In the last three years, God has blessed David with the opportunities and experiences of serving the military community through Cadence International.  David has also been enjoying his HQ position as the Administrative Assistant to the CFO, but this position will be changed in the new fiscal year. In addition to the obvious need for HQ to hire an IT person with different qualifications, David has felt a strong desire to pursue a different role in missions. He has been reviewing and researching the positions within missions for technical and mechanical service. David knows that God has gifted him with mechanical skills and other unique problem-solving abilities. We believe that God is leading us to pursue a different area of ministry with a need for the mechanical and technical skill set that God gave David. David has been in conversation with an organization that needs licensed airplane mechanics to service planes providing transportation to missionaries through remote areas. Although David is skilled mechanically, he does not have the specific training and licensing required by the FAA to work as an airplane mechanic. We are currently applying to a missions organization that offers an apprenticeship training which would prepare David to pass the required testing to receive the FAA license as an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic. We hope David can begin this training within the calendar year. 

What does all this mean? I'll try to condense what we've been praying about and thinking through for the last few months. David's current position is ending this summer. We have decided not to pursue candidacy with Cadence as full-time missionaries. David is applying for an apprenticeship or degree in A&P mechanics to serve as an aviation mechanic with a mission organization. We have met with a recruiter from one particular organization to find out what specific qualifications David will need. We will be moving out of Colorado once we know at which school David will be receiving training. We don't know where, when, or how God will accomplish what this transition requires but we are confident he will be faithful to provide and reveal what he asks of us at just the right time. 

Pray with and for us:
That God's direction will continue to be clear, one step at a time
That we will be faithful in the small things and fully committed to our current work until God redirects us
That we will be patient with God's timing
That God will open our neighbors heart's to the gospel
That we will not forget the generosity of God's people and God's tremendous provision

Praise God with us:
For our developing relationships with our neighbors
For the way God is changing the lives of children through his Word at our church
For his clear direction to pursue aviation mechanics
For unity and faith in pursuing the known and the unknown about our future
For providing for our extended families
For God's provision to make multiple part-time jobs meet our needs and allow us to give back to Him
Our karaoke duet at the Youth Retreat in March

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


It's hard to believe that life is moving along quickly and six months have passed since David and I were married. Married life is treating us well, most people say. That is the most common question we field on a regular basis. "How's married life? Looks like it's ...." as I already stated.
The second most common question that seems to arise would be, "Is Allison pregnant?" I don't know how other people get away with looking tired and do not have the same conversation. Well, the current answer is "NO" I am not pregnant. We do hope God blesses us with a child, or several, but in His way and His timing. Until then, I don't plan on looking fat or tired unless that is exactly what I am. You can figure that out I think. :o)
You have probably wondered when we would come out of hiding and look around for other signs of life. Simply put, I'm waiting until Spring to come out of hibernation. It has been a very cold winter in Denver, Colorado and we've enjoyed the use of our fireplace quite a bit. I'm fond of the old-fashioned methods of heating your home. It's so aromatic and creates quite the atmosphere. A few days of uncommonly warm
weather in the last two months has awakened the sleeping DeJongs and given us the urge to be biking. Attached is the picture David took of me standing next to the very dirty bike we purchased from a local bike store. The reason my bike is covered in mud would have nothing to do with my riding the bike. It has EVERYTHING to do with my husband's love for off-road, mountain biking, near-death experiences. Even he admitted that it was a little hairy of a path for my bike tire tread. That's alright. I don't mind David having adventures; I just don't join him on all of them yet.

On the days when life outdoors does not beckon to us, David splits his (often) 16 hour days between two part-time jobs. You may be familiar with the position Cadence International gave David at Headquarters to allow him a position in Colorado during his first year of marriage. His other part time job has been working as a life guard for the City of Lakewood. Praise God they just promoted David to MOD (manager on duty) and we will see how his work schedule changes.
I spend a lot of time working from home, or working on things at home. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between the two if I am preparing a Bible lesson and doing a load of laundry at the same time. I have to be careful to balance equal time for each "job". For those who don't know, I work for my church, Creekside Bible Church in Castle Rock, as the administrator for the Children's Ministries. I have been very grateful to be able to do a lot of work on my computer from home. It has proven especially beneficial to reduce some of our gas expenditures (David commutes quite a lot as well) and to prevent me from driving 45 mins each way during bad weather.  Somehow that didn't keep me home during today's snowstorm. Ah, spring snows.... I've driven an SUV full of teenagers home from the youth retreats in snowstorms so many times that I really couldn't convince myself that it would be safer to stay home today.   shrug

David and I keep really busy between jobs, caring for our two bedroom apartment, and visiting with family, friends, and neighbors. We both serve as mentors and adult chaperones for the high school youth ministry at our church. We also serve with the T & T age group in our church AWANA Clubs program. This month David is leading his group of high school guys in serving the church custodian. Every Sunday afternoon in March, this group of juniors and seniors has been accomplishing special cleaning projects around the church building during the time between the worship service and the AWANA ministry.

I have been developing relationships with two of the women who live in our apartment complex. We shared Christmas presents, had meals together, and may even plan a community event for the complex. We have enjoyed getting to know our neighbors better. God answered a prayer that David and I began praying during our pre-marital counseling that we would have the opportunity to meet an express need for each of our neighbors. Perhaps the most common need we each have is the need for relationships. Please pray that the gospel would be so evident in our lives that we can clearly share this good news with our neighbors.