Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Call to Missions Realized

Today is the first day of your life because it has never been before, and today is the last day of your life becasue it will never be again.

- Frederick Buechner

As Jason reached his teenage years I began to feel the pull of the call to missions I heard when I was eleven. I still had not been introduced to ministries or organizations that could help me walk in that call but I had begun to do some research when God led Mark and me to a missions-minded church for the first time in our adult lives. I still remember feeling my spirit leap within me the Sunday morning I first heard the annoucement that our new church was having an informational meeting about their next mission to Trinidad in 2001.

Over the next 5 years I averaged two foreign missions per year. As I prepared for each mission I would send out support letters to family and friends, make items to sell, and pray for opportunities to work extra time to finance the missions. And God used these efforts to provide all the resources I needed for each mission. But God had something new for us in the spring of 2006.

Mark had triple by-pass surgery on January 31, 2006 and although there were a few "bumps in the road" of his recovery, overall it was fairly uneventful. So, at the beginning of April he was feeling well enough to be antsy but was not quite ready physically to return to his 48-72 hour work weeks and he began to "putz", as he puts it, around our home office. One of the end points of his putz-ing was that after 8 years he found that book CD!

One month later while on my first mission to India, the Holy Spirit made it clear to me that He did not want me to ask people for financial support for my missions any longer.

" don't want me to go on the mission field any more?"

"I didn't say that, Kathi, I just want you to trust me to provide the funds for your missions."
"Ok, Lord," gulp, "with your help I'll trust you."

In July of 2006 I finished the book, in September we signed a contract with our publisher - Wheatmark, and in April of 2007 the book was published! As we prayed about what we should do with the funds from our book it was obvious that this way one of the means that God intended to use to provide resources for my missions. God was using Peanut's life to fulfill His call on my life!

So, why the 8 year delay? I asked the same question! In that time God introduced me to my now cherished friend and divinely gifted artist, Connie Beecher, who did all of the art for my book. He brought us to Calvary Chapel of Delaware County, the vehicle He intended to use to "launch" me onto the mission field. He introduced us to various mission ministries including PUMA that would mentor us on our road to Touching Lives. He introduced us to the ministries in India and Kenya with whom we would eventually partner. And He introduced and reunited us with the people He had choosen to be on the TLM board at the birth of this ministry. During those 8 years God was working "behind the scenes" to do His perfect will in His perfect time!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We're Not in Hawaii Any More, Peanut

Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose
ways you may not understand at the time.
I share the details of Peanut's short life in my book Our Baby, Our Love, Our Loss. But the lessons I've learned and the twists and turns of my life's journey that have resulted from Peanut's 16 weeks of life would take volumes to communicate. However I can tell you that there is one thing of which I am convinced: returning to work just 2 weeks after we lost Peanut was one of the top five most difficult things I've ever done. Suddenly working in Labor and Delivery seemed more like a sacrifice than a privilege. Watching a woman deliver a baby she did not want while I longed for the baby I could not have was excruciating.
As time passed God gave me opportunities to reach out to other couples who were experiencing the gut-wrenching pain of losing a child and I slowly realized that my "cushy" job was being transformed into a ministry. I had become a member of a club that I would never want to join but with that membership came the realization that the call I felt on my life and career back in college really was a call and not just a desire. The cost of this ministry was indeed high, higher than I could ever have imagined, but that did not alter the call in any way.
After several years I began to "hear" God's Spirit speak to my spirit, this time telling me He could minister to many more couples through our experience if I wrote a book. I argued with God (talk about an exercise in futility!) but finally began to write. Interestingly after writing all but the last 2 chapters I misplaced the CD with the manuscript on it! When Mark and I were unable to find it we assumed that God's purpose in having me write our story was a cathartic one. The whereabouts of the manuscript remained a mystery to us for 8 years. During that time God was busy preparing the way...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Time of Preparation

If you put off everything till you're sure of it,
you'll never get anything done.
-Norman Vincent Peale
After our honeymoon Mark and I moved into a small apartment just south of Wilmington, De. and I took a position at what was then Wilmington Medical Center on an oncology unit. I learned tons on that unit and was tempted to change my site from obstetrics to oncology but God very sternly turned me back again. He has a way of doing that! So a little over a year after I started at the medical center I accepted a position in Labor and Delivery.
Talk about learning! At that time Wilmington Medical Center, now Christiana Medical Center, did over 6,000 deliveries a year. It was the third largest maternity center in the United States and I lovingly dubbed it a "baby factory"! For the most part I loved working there and learning the kind of things that only experience can teach.
Then on the same day that my maternal grandmother passed away we learned that I was pregnant. Can you say "mixed emotions"? The very next day I began to bleed and that began a 3 month emotional roller coaster of being uncertain that I would be able to carry the pregnancy to term. But praise God, I went back to work in the 13th week of the pregnancy and had to call in sick when I went into labor on my due date! Jason Zachary Evans entered the world!
By this time we had moved back to Pennsylvania and when the time came to go back to work I wanted to work closer to home so that I could get to Jason quickly if he needed me. So in October of 1983 I began to work at Crozer Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa. I worked for a year on the maternity floor and then moved to Labor and Delivery, where I've been ever since.
I continued to learn over the next 4 years but always in the back of my mind was that nagging question: if God called me to Labor and Delivery, why?
And then came Peanut...

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Call to Hawaii!

Courage is the bridge between good ideas and action.
-Tim Hansel in Holy Sweat

The day I walked into the auditorium with the rest of the nursing class of 1977 to meet the Dean of Nursing and the nursing faculty at Widener University I felt in my spirit that God was calling me to work in Labor and Delivery. In all honesty I have to admit that for years I doubted the validity of that calling. In my mind it was akin to being called as a missionary to Hawaii, there aren't many who would refuse that calling! Many years later I would clearly understand that God did indeed call me to be an obstetrical nurse. I would also come to intimately see that, if God is in the calling - whether it be Hawaii or Labor and Delivery, sacrifice will be involved.
In fact, God in His kindness to His kids warns us that we should always "count the cost" when we accept His call on our lives. "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it." Luke 14:28 For Mark and me the cost of this luxuriant call was quite high. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Let me take you back to one year before I entered that university auditorium: my father, who was the pastor of the church I attended, brought a group in to perform a musical. These Christian musicals were born out of the hippie generation and had become quite popular at the time. As I sat watching the performance my eyes kept wandering to one particular young man in the group. I did get a few moments following the service to talk to him briefly. I believe the conversation basically consisted of me drooling while I verbally gushed about his performance! After the group left I remember thinking with a sigh that it would be wonderful to get to know him but, alas I would probably never see him again. Imagine my surprise a few months later when he was one of the first people I saw as I walked into the church I would be attending during my college years! I do believe that God delights in setting up these little treats for His kids! Long story short: one month after I graduated from college I married that young man in that very church! And the rest, as they say, adventure!

I'd like to add a P.S. to today's blog. We received word on Tuesday that our application for Touching Lives Ministry's non-profit status was received by the I.R.S. Please join with us in praying that God will grant TLM favor with the government in this process - to the glory of God!

Monday, January 19, 2009

How the adventure began

"We need people who are more afraid of missing opportunities than making mistakes. People who are more afraid of lifelong regrets than temporary failure. People who dare to dream the unthinkable and attempt the impossible." Mark Batterson in Wild Goose Chase

I know that it's hard to believe - when I say it out loud even I find it some what incredible - but this passion began when I was 11 years old! At that tender age I "heard" the Holy Spirit call me to missions. Don't ask me how, I can't explain it except to say that I did not hear an audible voice. It was more like God's Spirit spoke to my spirit through my thoughts. So, how did I know that it was God's "voice"? Good question! I just knew. Not such a good answer! But I can tell you that my life's experiences since that time have repeatedly confirmed the original call.
Again, I can't tell you exactly why, but I thought that God was calling me to a Hispanic country so I proceeded to study Spanish all 4 years of high school. It turned out that my call has been predominately to Asia and Africa (although God's not done with me yet!). OK, so my spiritual "ears" don't always hear correctly, I guess that's why God instructed us in His word to test everything.
Any way, when I graduated from high school there was only one "vehicle" or organization that I knew of at that time that could get me onto the mission field. But I didn't have peace in my spirit about partnering with that group. As I was praying about what direction to go my mother came home from a hospital stay saying that she had a student nurse care for her in the hospital. Something about this nurse reminded her of me so she asked what I thought about majoring in nursing in college. It was one of a hand-full of times in my life that I almost physically felt my spirit leap within me! Yes, yes, why didn't I think of that sooner?
So, off to college I went...

Saddle up your horses......

Touching Lives is truly the movement of the Holy Spirit cuz none of us would be crazy enough to start this on our own..." Faith never knows where its being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading." " Saddle up your horses, this is the great Adventure!!!"

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Journey Begun

Hard to believe the journey has finally hit the road. This journey began so many many years ago. And yet God knew all the time when each event would unfold!! So like our Father!!! So full of surprises. I am blessed and humbled to be a part of this journey. I look forward to witnessing the hand of God move boulders out of the way just like he did when he rolled away the stone from the tomb of Jesus. We are on an adventure!!!

The "birth" of Touching Lives Ministry

The thought of posting this first blog and sharing the journey to Touching Lives Ministry is daunting! There is so much to share: so many dreams, visions and passions. My quest is to convey an excursion that has traversed a life time. I could write a book! Oh, wait, I did write a book!
Through Our Baby, Our Love, Our Loss I hoped to help couples who are experiencing the loss of a baby through the process from mourning to healing. As a registered nurse who has worked in Labor and Delivery for almost 30 years (that doesn't make me old, just experienced!) I pray that God will use our loss to assist others through theirs.
As we approached the publication of the book, my husband and I prayed about what God would have us do with the proceeds from the book. I will share more extensively in the future about the process we went through but given my involvement in an average of 2 foreign medical missions per year, it just seemed logical to commit any funds from the book to missions.
Then God lead us to a couple in India who have a dream of opening 5 medical clinics in the slums surrounding Hyderabad. After much prayer we decided to partner with them in pursuing this passion. But how could a part-time labor and delivery nurse and a disabled chemical operator realize such a lofty goal? God provided the answer: Touching Lives Ministry!
On Monday, January 12, 2009 we inched one step closer to "walking in" this calling when we put the application in the mail for the 501c3, non-profit status for Touching Lives Ministry. We would appreciate all prayer support regarding this venture in the following areas:
1. That Touching Lives Ministry would find favor with the government and our final non-profit status would be granted quickly.
2. That God would give the Board of Directors of TLM wisdom in leading this ministry forward.
3. That TLM would be blessed with the funds, equipment and donations needed to carry out our mission.
4. That we will be able to get a website up and running expediently. (Mark would especially prayer on his behalf as this task is falling mostly on his shoulders.)
5. That God will get the glory and honor from all that TLM does!
I am excited about including each of you in this journey as we boldly yet humbly move toward Touching Lives!