September 30, 2013


Back in June, we celebrated the wedding of our friend’s Karen and Isaac.  They asked us to be their Padrinos de Honor and we were honored to share in their special day with them.  Karen and Isaac have been good friends since we arrived in Nicaragua, they have been our “Nicaraguan family.”  We enjoy spending time with them, love joking around and wish that they lived closer.

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In August we took a trip home to celebrate in two very special weddings.  We were so blessed to celebrate alongside some wonderful people who we have walked life with for many years.  Mandy and I met in Junior High and as I shared in my maid of honor speech, we have been friends for twenty years, have lived in six states and three countries and she is still the one that I talk to each and every day.  Regardless of the physical distance that separates us, I know that neither of us has ever taken our friendship for granted.  I am so blessed to have her in my life. 

Another special element was that Kevin was able to marry Mandy and John.  It was a glorious and perfect day except for the fact that Kevin was passing a kidney stone and in a lot of pain.  And if you have not heard, their wedding won the 2013 DIY Wedding of the Year.  The thought, creativity and planning that went into this wedding was unbelievable!

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We also celebrated the marriage of our special friends and family, Missy and Teddy.  Missy has been a part of our family for the last twelve years.  My brother first formed a friendship with her son Fortay and they have been a part of our family ever since.  Missy has been an “older sister” to me, willing to share advice and walk through life with me.  I so appreciate her honesty and openness in our relationship.  We have also enjoyed building a friendship with Teddy, love his humor and laid back personality.  Their wedding ceremony was very meaningful and the reception was absolutely elegant.  Kevin and I were both honored to stand alongside Missy and Teddy on their special day. 

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Upon arriving back in Nicaragua, we were invited to our first quinceaƱera for our neighbor friend, Besemar.  We were glad to receive an invitation and know that she and her family still considered us friends after our kitty Brisa ate their chickens.  The celebration rivaled any traditional wedding in the United States.  It began with a ceremony in their church, followed by a grand march with Besemar, her ten ladies of honor, flower girls and ring bearers.  The food was delicious and the cake was fancier than most wedding cakes I have seen.  It was an incredible experience to be a part of and another way to learn more and participate in Nicaraguan culture.  We were so honored to celebrate with Besemar, her family, our neighbors and about two hundred other guests on this special day.

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September 22, 2013

Children and Trauma

In a recent post, I wrote about Managua and Trauma.  I thought I would share about a related topic, a passion of mine and something that I have chosen to dedicate my professional and personal life to – children who have experienced trauma.

Children who have experienced trauma can be cute and sweet on the outside, but usually this behavior will not last for long.  Often they can only “save face” for a period of time before their fears and anxieties begin to emerge.  They begin to display difficult behaviors, can be a lot of work to parent and difficult to understand.

Many times people decide not to stick it out and stay with them, but this is what they so badly need.

As Kevin and I continue to think and pray about growing our family, we are continually pulled towards the desire to adopt (we are actually mid-way through the process). There are kids in this world who need families right now. Infant adoption seems more desirable because in general less trauma has been experienced, while still recognizing that these kids have experienced traumatic events in-utero and have lost their birth families.  But we also recognize that there are other children, older children who need homes just as badly.  The more years they have had, the more likely they have experienced events that have been traumatic.

But this is a difficult decision. It will effect the rest of our lives.

Life is pretty easy right now. We can come and go as we please (for the most part) and have a lot of control over our day to day lives. But thinking about what it would be like to raise a child who has had traumatic experiences changes these things.

Our family pictures may not always be so cute and sweet.  We may not be able to send out the darling Christmas cards or creatively craft and cook things to be pinned on pinterest.  We may have weird rules about who can touch or hold or help our kids.  We may be misunderstood by friends and family.  And there will most likely be many difficult days and very long nights.

But there are kids that need homes. This is our heart, which is a reflection of what we know to be God’s heart.

Think and pray for us if you would.  If you have any thoughts or experience in this realm, please don’t hesitate to send them our way.

September 17, 2013

A New Trimester

A new trimester is beginning today at the Seminary.  My mug is filled with coffee, the office is bursting with students, and the library is overflowing as students and faculty prepare for another round of classes to close out the academic year.  Seeing as Cassie and I are still relatively new within the academic world we are experiencing for the first time a repeat of a class that we have already taught.

Our course is entitled “The Transformation of Conflicts and Reconciliation.” Over the past year we have had the opportunity to revise and update the reading materials for our students, the class assignments that will be handed out and the subject matters that will be surveyed within the classroom.  With our students we will be developing a theological basis as to why and how we are to go about dealing with the conflicts that we face.  Also, we will be constructing a process to assess and mediate conflicts within our own lives, within the church and at the societal level.  Our hope is that through this process our students will have the space to come face to face with their own conflicts and that in doing so they can find healing and acceptance.  We also hope that they will see the necessity for reconciliation within their own context and within their own churches as they seek to bring restoration and healing to those to whom they minister.

We are excited to be able to teach this class again, especially when we consider that we have another year of experience here in Nicaragua.  We are grateful that we have had the opportunity to learn much about the culture and that we have another year of Spanish acquisition for better facilitating the learning process.  We ask that you please keep us in your prayers as our work continues here, asking that our time with the students can bear much fruit in the coming weeks and months ahead.

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Pictured above are a few of our new students.  We look forward to spending more time with them!


La paz es para el mundo lo que la levadura para la masa.

-Juan Pablo II

September 8, 2013

A Mosaic of Peace

We recently wrapped up another trimester at the seminary, finishing up our Culture of Peace course.  We thoroughly enjoyed the relationships that we were able to build with our students while spending the last eight months together.  This helped us to form a closeness and trust with one another that facilitated a space of openness that allowed for difficult conversations and growth in our lives and those of our students.  We were able to speak about controversial topics in the classroom, even though people had very different perspectives and views.  It was a safe place where all of us were there with the goal to learn and serve those around us better.

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On our last day of class we had a brunch at our house.  During our time together, we created a mosaic by asking students to write what they are doing to cultivate a culture of peace in their families, communities and workplaces.  It was so powerful to see all of our responses together and provided us a glimmer of hope that if each of us can make little changes in our day to day lives, by living more peacefully, we will have a big impact in the world around us.

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We closed the class by reading a prayer that was written and dedicated to the late Oscar Romero.  We hope that you find it as impactful as we did.

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of
saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

-Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw

September 3, 2013

Welcoming Innocence

Recently, Cassie and I ventured home to share in the weddings of family and friends.  Upon that trip we were also afforded the opportunity to visit the faith communities that are dear to our hearts within our home culture.  Our first Sunday home we shared together about our work here in Nicaragua with Cross of Glory Church.  The second Sunday home I was given the opportunity to share a reflection with Church of All Nations, a church that I served as an intern and which Cassie and I called home for the majority of our time together in Minnesota.

I would like to welcome you to listen to the message that was given.  In it I believe you will be better able to understand the work and the life that we are involved in here in Nicaragua.  My hope is that, as well, it may speak to you in a opening and challenging way.

Click here to listen: Welcoming Innocence

Since the message speaks about children, we thought we would include a few special pictures that we took with our nieces and nephew while we were home.  We absolutely LOVED every minute that we had with them.




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