THE 40/40 INITIATIVE

Help send the Schmidts back to KENYA!

WHO: 40 NEW individuals or families

WHAT: Commit to giving $40 a month

WHEN: Begin now through the summer of 2017

HOW:
Click HERE to give securely online - Just type Schmidt in the search box and click on the box that says Schmidt, Daniel and Courtney - Support
or go HERE for info on how to give by mail.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PARTNERSHIP IN SPREADING THE GOSPEL TO THE NATIONS!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Looking Back

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The view from our front porch reveals that we live in a town. A sidewalk outlines the bottom of our yard and a four-way stop sits just beyond the row of parallel parked cars.  But we don’t just live in any city.  We now live in the very same section of town that is home to our Alma Mater.  We are four blocks from Geneva College, and we live on a city street that 11+ years ago we used to walk down together. 

We drove to church this past Sunday morning, taking the same route I used my freshman year to attend this very same church.  This time, of course, it was with my husband of 10 years and our three children.  Nonetheless, it felt the same and on that drive, God started calling to mind people and places and events in my life so intricately woven together that only He could be the author. 

It was as if He was saying, “See where I’ve brought you, Courtney, back to the place we began.  I have all of your days in my hand.  My plans for you are perfect and good.”

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I began my freshman year at Geneva in 2000, a very new believer, surrounded by peers much more grounded in their faith than me.  It was during my first week of classes that I learned of a church in a town nearby that several staff and students attended.  So on my second Sunday attending college, I hitched a ride with a junior on my floor, and landed at First Pres Beaver for 9am worship.

As it turned out, my ride was an intern for the youth director at that church and needed to stay for the Sunday School hour.  I looked at the adult Sunday School options and mustered up the courage to attend one taught by a name recognizable to me from Geneva, a professor.  To my complete surprise, when I walked into that Sunday School class that morning, I recognized several people. Not fellow students, but community members and Geneva staff who knew me by name from the past few weeks.  We studied the Word that morning, both during the service and in the hour that followed.  I left Dr. Guthrie’s class on First, Second, and Third John that September Sunday in 2000, and knew God had led me to a church home. 

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More than that though, He was starting me down this path of sanctification, of growing and maturing my new baby faith, and He was using a small Christian college and a body of believers at First Pres to do it.  Many of those same people who were in my life in a small way at that time 14 years ago are in my life now in a much bigger way.  The body of Christ, specifically in this area, is responsible for my Spiritual health and growth in college.  It has nurtured our marriage from before its beginning 10 years ago, has prepared us and shaped us for being called to GO, and has supported and sent us these last two years with love and encouragement and prayer. 

The Lord continued to reassure me on our drive yesterday.  The college I attended, the local congregation I joined, the people He placed in my path over those first four years, and the people He’s placed in my path since - None of it was by chance. 

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I’m a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend.  I’m a mentor to third culture kids in Kenya.  I’m a believer and disciple of Jesus Christ, and He has been guiding and equipping me for each of these roles for His glory and His purposes since He called me to Himself in High School.

I was created for this. 

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. 
Psalm 139:13-16

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Comic Relief: International Travel with Minors

 

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Planning to travel around the world with young children in tow?  Let us encourage you.  We know what you’re thinking: “This is going to be a disaster – how am I going to survive this trip without going mad?”  We know this because we were having the same thoughts no less than a week ago. 

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In hindsight, however, I realized what an advantage our unique set of traveling circumstances actually was.  So, from one globe-trotter to another, I took it upon myself to jot down a few notes, recommendations, and encouragements based on our family’s most recent excursion.

1. First and foremost, ALL your children need to be well trained in the art of mindless television viewing.  It works best if your youngest is at least 3 years old due to this requirement.  This is essential for the emotional well-being of all members of the family (not to mention those fortunate enough to be assigned seating within earshot) and can be easily achieved now that most major airlines have a movie screen just inches from every traveler’s nose.

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2.  No doubt you are keeping up with all the latest international travel regulations and requirements.  The list of “Anything we can do to make your travel experience more enjoyable and less stressful” that is put together by the good folks in charge of international relations and travel continues to growth in breadth and ingenuity (cough).  The most recent addition to this list is that all electronic devices need to be charged sufficiently so that they can be turned on if a customs agent so requests.  “If a customs agent so requests” is a big if and one that I’m happy to say is possible to avoid.  As we traveled across 3 continents from Nairobi to London to D.C., we were asked a grand total of 0 times to turn on any devices.  This leads me to #3, which is really the lynchpin of the whole operation.

3.  It’s already assumed that you are traveling with young children so that should go without saying.  But if you can add to the mix any number of respiratory infirmities, I promise a significant increase in leniency at nearly every checkpoint.  I know, you know, and every customs agent on the planet knows that those set on doing others harm are not dumb enough to carry out their plans for mass destruction alongside their young, sickly offspring.  That being said, get in the habit of announcing your arrival; have your 3 year old daughter, 5 year old son, or 32 year old wife (the combination of all three is really effective) start hacking up their lungs.  You can be sure this will drastically expedite your screening process.  We must admit we stumbled onto this revelation by accident, but oh, how it worked miracles.

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In fact, anything you can do to create in others a sense of pity will be to your benefit.  This includes but is not limited to the following:

a.  Wear a ridiculous fishing hat along with an oh-so-out-of-fashion fanny pack.  They’ll just shake their heads and usher you through.

b.  Always be shouting things like, “Cover your mouth!  Do you want to get all these nice people sick?”

c.  This will come without even trying, but be sure to wear it with pride: a harried look of overwhelmed exhaustion.  Against a backdrop of coughing and hacking, toddlers running in and out of security lines, and generally mass confusion, this is sure to be effective in garnering sympathy from even the most hardened customs officials.

d.  Pack way too many carry-ons.  You’re allowed several per ticket holder, so this is well within your rights.  The hidden benefit lies in the increased level of chaos that is achieved by trying to keep track of yet one more item on your way through each checkpoint. 

e.  Every time you approach the front of a line, put on your best “I’m completely clueless right now” face.  Act as if you’ve never done this before, don’t understand why you’re doing it now, and have no intention of ever attempting it in the future.  You know you waited in this line for some purpose; surely there is some proof of your existence that this person needs to see.  Boarding passes?  Luggage stickers?  Passports?  Immunization records?  You probably won’t know anyways, so don’t let the eye-rolling bother you.  Just politely say something like, “I’m so sorry, but what is it that I’m supposed to show you?”  They will more than likely smile courteously and barely glance at your documents while calling “Next, please” and waving your troop along.

f.  Mumble.  Especially when they ask if you’re bringing anything into the country.  Notice I didn’t say lie.  Just mumble.  Or pretend like you forgot (you probably will anyways).  Trust me on this one.

g.  DO NOT freshen up in the airport bathroom during your layover.  DO NOT bring a change of clothes.  DO NOT consider the ill-effects of neglecting to brush your teeth for a period of more than 24 hours.

I don’t mean to sound crude here, but remember the ultimate goal; you want to get through this experience unscathed, quickly, and with as little effort as possible.  Soon this will be a distant, foggy memory and you may, one day, be tempted to chuckle a bit at how your family (or your marriage) managed to survive.  Uneventful travel is the goal.  No good stories to tell others upon your arrival is the goal.  “Customs was a cinch!” is what you want to be able to report.  These and other ideas like them proved invaluable on our trip – they can help you on yours. 

And please, whatever you do, don’t sweat the sideways glances, the turned-up noses, the cold shoulders or the eye-rolling.  I promise you’ll never see these people again and you have enough friends as it is.  Or think of it this way:  How much fuss do you go through on a daily basis to make yourself presentable to the world?  Here you have the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to take a day off, an excuse to throw caution and personal hygiene to the wind.  No one will judge you (not to your face anyway) and as soon as they see the motley crew your blessed to travel with, I promise the pity will inevitably follow.

July 2014

** If you enjoyed this shameless tongue-in-cheek humor, you may want to check out the prequel. Comic Relief: Passports for Minors

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Parental Mirror (Part II)

I seem to remember someone, somewhere writing something like parenting isn’t so much designed for our happiness as it is for our holiness.  Or maybe that was marriage.  Well, either way, I’ve noticed this trend MANY times over the past six and half years as a parent.  Here are two things I’ve picked up just over the last weekend. 

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1.  “He will not let you fall”

We sang this several times on Sunday, amidst the chorus of a song in church.  Nate (our 5 year old) was standing with me on the back of the pew in front of us.  Inquisitively, and a little louder than necessary being only centimeters from my ear, he asked about the line we kept repeating. 

“Why does it say, ‘He will not let you fall’?  Because when I’m climbing trees [or riding my bike, or running down the hill, or sometimes just walking] Jesus doesn’t stop me from falling and sometimes I get hurt.”

What could I say in the next few seconds that would answer his question in a satisfactory manner without disrupting those worshipping around us?

Similar questions arose while our family studied Psalm 121 this past year.  God makes some pretty bold promises there.  “The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:8

How do you answer the 5 year old (or the 20, 30, 42, or 77 year old, for that matter) who submits real, hard evidence contrary to verses like this?

In the proceeding moments, I hurried off a whispered explanation that the ‘fall’ we were singing about refers to the one we are protected from eternally.  God has us in the palm of His hand and NOTHING can take us out.  Once God grants us salvation, He will never let go.  Thankfully, this seemed to satisfy my precocious offspring, and we continued singing.

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”  John 10:28-29

I have had several conversations recently with students who live in fear of losing their salvation; they get so focused on the doing, they fail to recognize what God has already done.  My consistent encouragement to them is that, praise God, our eternal security does not depend on us.  He will not let us fall and we are secure in His capable hands!

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2.  “I’ll just follow you”

Ethan’s Kindergarten class held a class activity last Friday evening.  This posed a unique opportunity for him to stay up late.  Around 8:30, I went to pick him up from Titchie (the elementary school) and we started the five minute walk back to our house. 

A few things to visualize about this setting: Ethan is rarely up this late and being outside after dark is even more foreign.  Another is the uneven and potentially treacherous “foot paths” that provide shortcuts all over RVA’s campus.  These often lead to scraped knees and twisted ankles in broad daylight, so you can imagine the challenge at night.  Finally, it’s probably important to note that we were without a flashlight!

Ethan likes to mosey.  Even if you’re walking “with” him somewhere, there’s a good chance he’s behind you.  He enjoys stopping to smell the roses (or pick up the rocks, or stop and gaze into the trees, or jump in and out of the ditch, etc.)  This evening was no different.  He was following several paces behind me as we made our way home.

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And then he floored me.  In one line, he woke me up to the significance, the potential for influence, and the responsibility I hold as a parent.  And it went way beyond parenting my own kids.  Courtney and I feel strongly about the call to nurture the students here as well.  For many of them, in the absence of their own parents, we can play a crucial role in their development as disciples of Christ and future leaders in His church.  One line – my 6 year old summed it up in one line.

“Daddy, it’s so dark, I can’t see anything.  But I can see you, so I’ll just follow you.  Is that okay?”

Wow.

This probably needs very little commentary, but let me probe a bit.  Isn’t this exactly what parenting is supposed to be?  As clueless as I feel as a parent most days, as dark as the world we’re bringing them up in seems, we have a responsibility to walk in a way worth following.  Isn’t this exactly what mentoring a younger believer should be like?  Paul recommended himself for this role, serving the Corinthian church as they struggled to find their way as baby Christians.

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”  I Corinthians 11:1

Challenged by my eldest son, I replied, “Yes, Ethan.  You can follow me.  I know it’s dark and hard to see, but if you walk where I walk, I think you’ll be ok.  You can hold my hand if you want.”

Even in my own response the lesson continued.  Extending my hand for him to hold would require slowing down a bit, waiting for him to catch up, giving him concrete evidence that I’m there for him, walking alongside, supporting him when he needs me most.

Thanks, boys.  Keep the lessons coming!

Friday, May 23, 2014

School Spirit

RVA is steeped in tradition.  The video below is just one example.

Blackrock, a Varsity Rugby tournament, takes place tomorrow in Nairobi.  This, however, was the rugby team today at Chapel. 

Have a fantastic weekend!

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