Friday, December 28, 2012

The Message

We are getting ready to wrap up another year, and quite frankly, I am ready to close 2012.  

It has been a wild and rocky one for me personally.  Lots of growth, but with that, comes the growing pains.  And for me, this year was marked with loss.  So I will be the first to celebrate the beginning of a new year.

This morning in my quite time, my Bible was in my bedroom, and since I was up earlier than anyone else, I quietly came down stairs.  I have this little copy of The Message.  So I decided to read in it this morning (it was either that or the Spanish Bible, and since I am not being taught Spanish in the King James language, I went with the Message)

It was a beautiful message to a familiar passage, I had to share:

Psalm 40
I waited and waited and waited for God.
At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud
He stod me up on a solid rock
to make sure I wouldn't slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this;
they enter the mystery,
abandoning themselves to God.

Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,
turn your backs on the World's "sure thing",
ignore what the world worships;
The world's a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God thoughts.
Nothing and no one comes close to You!
I start talking about you, telling what I know,
and quickly run out of words.
Neither numbers nor words account for you.

Doing something for you, bringing something to you-
that's not what you're after,
Being religious, acting pious-
that's not what you're asking for.
You've opened my ears so I can listen.

So I answered, "I'm coming.  I read in your letter what you wrote about me,
And I'm coming to the party you're throwing for me."
That's when God's Word entered my life,
became part of my very being.

I've preached you to the whole congregation,
I've kept back noting, God-you know that.
I didn't keep the news of your ways
a secret, didn't keep it to myself.
I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough.
I didn't hold back pieces of love and truth
For myself alone.  I told it all
let the congregation know the whole story.

Now God don't hold out on me, don't hold back your passion 
Your love and truth are all that keeps me together.

When troubles ganged up on me,
a mob of sins past counting,
I was so swamped by guilt that my heart gave out. . . .

But all who are hunting for you-
oh let them sing and be happy.
Let those who know what you're all about
tell the world you're great and not quitting.
And me? I'm a mess.  I'm nothing and have nothing.
Make something of me. . .
But God, don't put it off.

I love this, and I hope you do to.  
            He made sure I wouldn't slip
                    turn your back on the world's sure thing
                              I quickly ran out of words
                                        I read in your letter what you wrote about me
                                                 your love and truth are all that keeps me together
                                                       and me? I'm a mess

                                                            make something of me!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


A friend recently asked about a devotional I had used, and I tried to remember one that I used on here.  So I began looking, and I had actually packed up the book and brought it here, Voices of the Faithful, inspiring stories of courage from Christians serving around the world.  So I had the book out, and flipping through it, Thank you Jesus for your reminding  me to put this in our packed bags.

Anyway, I came across a day that I had underlined, and so I reread it, and boy was the timing perfect.

The title of the page is
"when Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?  You must follow me"" John 21:21-22

The devotional says to write out WITTY in the margins, meaning: (What is that to you?)

It is so human, and super easy to compare ourselves to those around us, instead of focusing on what he has for us, the road he mapped out specifically for us.  

I am going to quote the book from here, because it was perfect.  .  .
God says, FOLLOW ME.  But instead of looking to the Lord.  I sometimes look to the situations and qualities of others.  I use the excuses, "lord, they speak the language better. . . Lord, they are more outgoing than I am . . . Lord, they have more friends than I do. . . Lord, they are having an easier term than I am.  "taking my eyes off God's purpose for me and placing my eyes on someones else's life shows lack of contentment.

You must follow Me.  He does not say if I want to or if it easy;  He says I must follow Him.  God made me the way He did for a purpose.  I am the only one who can follow God the way I can.  You are the only one who can follow God the way you can.  We must follow Him, and we must be content with our role while doing it.  

Now don't think this was written just for missionaries, because it isn't, when I wasn't on the field, I had thoughts like, "Lord they don't understand, they don't have to work night shift, or They have no idea what is like having a hard time getting pregnant, or they have no idea the struggles I am facing, or it is so easy for them to start an IV (remember I am a nurse).

So wherever you find your self, you can find yourself taking your eyes off the Lord.
Where we are in Costa Rica, we are at language school with other rookie missionaries who are in the same place we are.  We are all trying to learn Spanish, we all just came off itineration, we are all giving up our family, friends, and home to answer a call that is greater than we are.

So it is sometimes hard to not look around.  I confess, I am guilty.  I get frustrated when every one around me can roll their R's and I can't, or when they understand reflexive pronouns, and I have no clue what is going on.  I need to remember WITTY.  What is it that to me.  God has a path just for me, one that they are not walking.  Their road, wether it be in Costa Rica, Gastonia, Folsom, or Lusk Wyoming, has been mapped out just for them.

Lord please don't find me with my eyes on my neighbor, discontent with the plan you have for me.  Please keep me from comparing myself to those around me, either at home or on the mission field.

Lord please teach me to be content in who I am in You.

(imagine a really peaceful picture here, but after 2 days of slow internet, forget it :))

Monday, December 10, 2012

I call dibs on that!

We only have 3 more days of class, and I can not find the motivation I need to study. . .

Dave is out with some friends, the girls are fast asleep, and I am trying to understand the differences between saber and conocer, (um hello) but my brain has checked out. . .

So I am reflecting tonight. . .

We have been in our house for a little over a week now, and we are starting to feel like this is home.

Last night, Emma said something to me, that got me thinking. . .

and since I have the time, I thought I would share.

She came up to me, and said,

"mama, I call dibs on the placemats!"

With a thousand and one things running through my head, I was confused.

So I said, "clarify please Emma"

And she said, "when you die, I want the placemats"

What a strange comment, I was thinking. . .

and then I got all teary. . .

Because, during itineration people would ask, "well what are you going to take?" "how many suitcases will you take" etc.

And it was hard, we packed 20 bags, and we each brought a carry on.  So how do you decide what is the most important things to you, things that you will be ok if they are packed up for the next 3 years, and you won't see again, what do you save, what do you throw away, what is so special that it makes it into the 20 precious bags.

This was very hard for me, I gave the girls a lot of leeway, they brought things that I don't think they will ever play with or use.  We left power tools behind and packed my little ponies, thats how important the girls transition was to us.

And now back to Emma's comment.  To me, she wasn't just saying, "I want your placemats when you die" She was saying, "Mama, I love that we have a placemat for every season, when I am old, and have girls of my own (because she doesn't want boys) I want to make my home special and pull out these placemats to remind me of growing up.  Mama, thank you, for taking the space out of the 20 suitcases for these placemats, you made a good decision. "

"Mama, you made this house my home, and I love it."

And that my friends, made my day.
and now I am teary again.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I can't believe how fast time is going!

So sorry it has been so long since we have updated.

Our time seems to evaporate here.

So let me try to  update everyone!

Maggi is doing really well in 6th grade.  She has made some great friends at school, for which we are so THANKFUL.  This has been a direct answer to prayer, as many of you know.  She is our very quiet girl, who through itineration and visiting churches, has learned to shine for Jesus, and learned to dream big and take risks to achieve great things.  We went to visit with a team that was working on a church, and Maggi was not going to be happy until she was able to actually work.  We looked over and she was helping carry cinder blocks from the pile to where the workers needed them.  We are very thankful for her quiet determination, her heart of prayer, and how she quietly longs to please our Lord.

Emma, is still going strong.  She is in 3rd grade, and is always chatting and talking.  She is also adapting really well.  She continues to surprise us with her vocabulary in English and Spanish.  Emma is very tall, and with her blue eyes, dimples, freckles, and love of BIG headbands/hairbows, she tends to draw attention to our family.  She loves to be the center of attention.  We know that our Father has big things in store for our little girl who has all the confidence, courage, and faith that it takes to move mountains. We THANK the Lord for this sweet girl

Since we have been here, we have been busy.  
We obtained and submitted our complete packet for our residency visas.  This required many steps and trips to various official buildings here in San Jose.  To give some examples, we had to go bring documents from 3 states in the US with us, we had to have background checks here and the US, we needed to be fingerprinted for interpol, we had to register with the US embassy here, and other random documents, all of this needed to be submitted within our first 90 days in Costa Rica.  If we didn't obtain our necessary paperwork, we are required to leave the country every 90 days to maintain legal visas.  We won't actually receive our residencies for several months (or maybe even 18 months) but, we are very excited to have all of that paperwork submitted.   
Can I hear an amen!

We have also been house hunting.  This is not as much fun as the show on HGTV.  Trust me on this.  The girls became weary of the house hunt.  But we finally found something that we are excited about making our home.  This was another direct answer to prayer.  We feel that we had the favor of the Lord on this big decision.  Our landlord lowered the price by $700 a month for us.
The girls had been praying for specific things (unknown to their parents) and other than having a bathtub, meet every one of the secret desires of their hearts.  
(one of the things on the list was having a toilet that we can flush the toilet paper, instead of putting it in the wastebasket)
I really need an amen on this one

We have managed to shop for our furniture, all the while learning about the culture here.
For instance, if you see something you want, you should most likely purchase those things immediately.  
We learned this the hard way, who knew that within 5 days, the sofa and chairs I had picked out would sell out in 3 different stores.  We shopped from people leaving the country, from Craigslist Costa Rica (who knew), and from fellow missionaries.  Our move in date is next Friday!  We all thrilled to finally be settled.  In the past 18 months we will have moved 6 times.   The landlord allowed the girls to pick out their paint colors, and we are finding ways to make each room special.  We will show pictures as soon as we get settled.  Emma's bed had to be ordered (again, who knew they sell things so quickly), so it may takes us a while for the big picture for her, but we will show you soon!

And we will be receiving our Speed the Light car soon.  
Merry Christmas to us!
We are actually buying a STL car from other missionaries, to help keep cost down for our first term.

We have done all of this while still attending language school!  

This is no small thing, let me assure you. 
We attend classes Monday through Friday, and have done countless hours of homework, written papers, done lessons on the computer, etc, and then used our baby level language in the police station, with the lawyers helping us with visas, in the grocery store, in the court house, to the taxi drivers, to the salesclerks, to the security guards. . . Because of our adventures outside the classroom we have learned many new vocabulary words 
(fingerprints for example)

And since arriving we have experienced many tremors 
(or as I like to call them. . . EARTHQUAKES)
I will never ever ever get used to that.

We have survived rainy season

and even go to take a trip to the mountain to let off some steam

(actually the mountain let the steam off)
Put we exchanged our annual fall trip, to Volcan Arenal, and really enjoyed getting out of the city.

So I think that catches us up.  The first trimester (as we call it in school) has been all about setting up house, and getting settled.  Our BIG goal is to be completely settled by Christmas.  With a little help from our friends, we think that is almost a reality.  (we have people sending us some packages with shower curtains from South Carolina, a friend from Connecticut bringing a suitcase of supplies on a business trip here, and a friend's nephew from Texas bringing some of our favorite supplies from the states, and of course Nanny bringing some suitcases full of small appliances from our friends in the Northern California Nevada district).  
(it takes a village right)

All that being said, we are ready to meet our National Church friends, scope the field for ministry opportunities, and find our niche here in the country.  We feel we are at a huge advantage to be able to do this our first year, many of our friends at language school will have to do this after they arrive on the field.  We had the option of staying at CINCEL (language school) for the entire year, but we were ready to be settled.  We have visited many churches here, and are starting to meet the presbytery, and executive members.  We feel that this is such an awesome way to ease into a new life.  

So please be in continued prayer for us in the following:
that we begin to see the right ministry for our family
that we will walk in the favor of the Lord 
that we all remain healthy(we have all been on antibiotics since being here)
that the girls continue to THRIVE and begin to feel rooted here
for language acquisition
that our house becomes our home and is a safe shelter for the family
That we are able to make relationships with the Local church despite the language barrier
pray for our families back in the states specifically for their health
for our finanical needs to be continuously met
Maggi asked that you join her in prayer for friends at school begin to know Jesus in a real way

Here in Costa Rica, after the rainy season, the Christmas winds come to dry things up.  
And so it is for the Cartwright family, another season is closing, and the winds of change are upon us again.  And we are thankful for so many things.  We are thankful to be here in Costa Rica, after a life long calling.  We are thankful to have a body of supports who give to us out of sacrifice, that are sowing seeds here in Costa Rica.  We are thankful to have friends who pray without ceasing for us.  The emails, the facebook messages, and phone calls just to let us know you were praying for us, humble us, and often brings us to tears, who are we that you would call out on our behalf? We are thankful for friends all over the nation, and now the nations.  You have supported us through a very difficult last 18 months, and now many have become our missionary family.  We are thankful for our family, leaving them in the US was the most difficult thing we faced in itineration (surprising that it wasn't the raising of the budget).  We are thankful to be on this amazing journey.

Thank You!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Hola (hello)

We have now been here for 3 weeks, and are finally getting into a bit of a grove. 

Here is how our days have shaped up. . .

I get up at 5:00, for a number of reasons

          *the sun rises about 5:30 so I should go ahead and get a jump start
          * I need some alone time with the Lord, and this is just about the only way I can get it
          * When three girls share a bathroom, I need all the extra time I can get

by 5:45 I am ready to wake up the girls and get them going (the night before they lay out their clothes, we have their lunch packed, bookbags and raincoats ready to go).

6:00 we are all ready to eat some breakfast

6:25 we are all out the door

We arrive to our school at 6:50 so that the girls can ride the school bus to their school, Sojourn.

Now Dave and I have to wait an hour before our school starts, so this is where Dave often reads and prayers, I lay my seat back and snooze, or we go have breakfast with our fellow Missionaries in their home. 

Then Dave and I have language school, and the girls are at their school.  They return to us close to 3:00, and we venture back to our house we are staying at for one more week. 

We get homework for the girls started, and then dinner started, and then the girls have a little down time, baths, and then in to bed by 8:00. 

That is when Dave and I start our homework. 

Crazy, our lives went to pretty loose schedules except on the weekends and Wed, to very strict and time conscious schedules. 

Things will change next week when we are in our new apartment.  We hope to be more settled, and less like we are camping then.  During the next 2 1/2 months we hope to find a new place to live and shop for our furniture, so that we will be ready to celebrate Christmas in our New home.  Here in Costa Rica there is no Halloween or Thanksgiving, so they already have their Christmas decorations out.  That is super crazy, but since I love Christmas, the only think stopping me from putting up my tree in October, is that I would have to move it :(


But we have been busy here.  We celebrated Costa Rica's Independence day.  We had a lot of fun, making our faroles (lanterns).  At 6:00 on Sept 14, everyone steps outside and sings the National Anthem, and the children light their faroles to remember when they came through the streets declaring that Independence had been won.  So the girls were in a parade at their school.

We had open house night at the girls school as well, and it was fun to check out their classrooms and meet their teachers.

 For me, I most enjoyed seeing a set of enclyopedias in Maggi's classroom.  Now those were the good ole days.

We are learning to grocery shop here, and aside from sticker shock on how much things cost, we are having fun with the new products they have (chicky's, yippys, mammo chinos (actually that is a fruit but it is still fun).  About the sticker shock, I noticed that they had that scanner (thing that they put on electronics in the states, the thing that they have to wave over a pad to demagnetize it or whatever) on CHEESE.   It's that bad people. 

All that to say, we are adjusting.

The girls are doing really well.  I am not just saying that so the grandparents will be happy.  But they are sincerely legitimately happy.  I keep waiting for them to show signs of culture shock.  But so far, nothing.  Emma and Maggi both love saying their simple prayers in Spanish now (and thanks to them I impressed my teacher in my class when I offered to pray).  They love looking at the things in the produce isle, observing all they can in the car, etc. they are soaking it all in. 

And for that I am grateful.  That is not an accident.  I know it is because people from all over the country have prayed for them, prayed for protection, prayed for them to make friends, to enjoy school, to pick up on the language fast.  Countless prayers have gone up on their behalf.  And because of it I am amazed. 
and grateful

David and I doing well, maybe not as good as Maggi and Emma, but we are hanging in there.  When you become physically exhausted, it wears on your emotions, that combined with the immense job of learning a language, I felt saturated with it all last week.  So when my Spanish teacher (who speaks no English) asked me where my parents were, I, in my broken Spanish, told her my dad was in the US.  Then she asked me where my mom was, and I in my very little Spanish, not knowing many words, said "Con Dios"  which meant, she is with God, but I couldn't say it without tears flowing down my cheeks.  So of course there I am, crying in class before it even gets tough. 

But my Father is faithful, He is building us up, and has proven faithful time and time again. 

We are in awe of His goodness over us. 

And while we may be at a loss for words sometimes (because we don't know them in Spanish, or because there is no way to articulate something) we are so incredibly happy to be here. . .

in Costa Rica

serving Him

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We Are Here!

We Can Not Believe we are actually Here, in the beautiful country of Costa Rica.

It has been a long journey!

When we completed our application in October of 2009, we had no idea where we would end up, or when.

But we landed on Sept. 5, 2012 in San Jose, Costa RIca.

We have been in the process of moving and saying goodbyes since July of 2011, so we all felt like we were finally ready to be here.

We had 20 checked bags (11 footlockers and 3 suitcases and 6 duffle bags). We each carried a small suitcase on the plane, and each had a back pack. We looked like the Beverly Hill Billies. But we did it.

We all got to bring a little of what we felt like we couldn't live without. For Dave it was some fishing stuff, for me it was a little from each American Holiday to decorate the house, For Maggi it was books and stuffed animals, and for Emma. . . well she brought a small village of my little ponnyville ponies and accessories. This was our first time, so we had asked a variety of people what they would bring, and we adapted it to our family.

We landed on the day that Costa Rica had a major earthquake, but the quake did minimal damage to the country, and did not delay our arrival at all.

We left Sacramento in the morning, and had a connecting flight in Dallas. While waiting for our flight to San Jose, we ran into other missionaries headed to San Jose to start their time at Cincel. I am going to have to say, the kids were all so excited to be there.

We then arrived and cruised through immigration, and the only hiccup, was that Maggi and Emma had made passports for their American Girl dolls, in hopes that they could get them stamped with them upon entry in to the country. However the agent wouldn't stamp them. They were slightly disappointed. Then we picked up all of our bags, and then went through customs without any problems.

We had Don, the director of Cincel meet us, as well as one of our fellow missionaries, Josh. It was so nice to be welcomed home. Josh took us to our apartment where they had stocked us up on some snacks, breakfast and lunch for the next day. It was such a thoughtful gesture.

The girls got up bright and early the next day to start their first day of school. I can honestly say that they were so excited. They were ready to begin. Such an answer to not only our prayers, but the prayers of so many. It was a little akward leaving them there at their school, and then going back to ours.

Then Dave and I went to start our first day of school. We took our entrance interviews, to help decide what class we should be placed in. Then we went to do a little grocery shopping, etc.

We were in a very Costa Rican apartment off campus, however, it needed a little maintance, so it was decided that we would wait till an apartment closer to campus became available at the beginning of October, and that would better suit our needs. So in the mean time, we are able to stay in a fellow missionaries home, while they are away.

Our grand plan, is to be in the little apartment until December, and in the meantime look for our house that we will stay in for the remainder of our time at Cincel, and our first full term. So please be in prayer that the right home would be available to us.

So, we are still mostly living out of suitcases, which is a tad stressful, because we go to look for something, and can't easily find it, but, we are managing just fine.

So all of that being said, we are adjusting.

We are still in a state of being overwhelmed that we are finally here. We are so grateful for everyones prayers, sacraficial giving, their generous gifts to our children, the act of friendship bestowed upon us. . . all of it.

We know that we are not here because of one church or one district. We are here because we serve a Father who taught the Cartwright family that He provides in His time a perfect plan designed just for us.

I wish I could tell you of each miracle that got us here, but the truth is I don't know. Often times a family would give us what they could, making a sacrifice so that we could go where we were called to go. I don't know who they all were, they willing placed their offering in the plate as it went by. But we pray for them, as a family we pray that God would pour in not only money, but health and safety on them. We had a family that left the service, went home and got clothes to put on our backs for the bitter midwest winter. We had the South Carolina District provide a large donation to help us actually get to the field, and provide money so that we could bring our excess baggage. Norcal Nevada has provided finical funds to help with our arrival also, but then women provided money to help us set up our household goods, and a store we could shop in before we left. The NPLAD provided us our last push to get here, and the SC Hispanic district wanted to be a part of the Cartwright family in Costa Rica, and are mixed in the support base as well.

We feel like we are a quilt, with different swatches from all over, woven together to make something beautiful.

"Thank you" seems like a small way to say how we feel.

We are overwhelmed with gratitude, ready to serve, anxious to hear Our Father be specific in each detail in our lives.

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! Psam 133:1

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

thus far and empty jars

My thoughts are scattered, but I need to type them out, so they become real, so I don't forgtet.

I am not sure where to start.

So. . .
I 'll start from last week. We were feeling pretty beat up, just the weariness of constant travel, the stress of itineration, the calender with the start of language school looming over us, and the finicial deficiet of our itineration. It was a heavy burden. One that we weren't even asked to carry.

Somehow we thought we were in charge of our budget, our calender, the timing of it all.

On our schedule was a district council (which is where their are a large number of churches come together for prayer, meetings, business, and services). There was one last week and this weekend.

So we were praying that between the 2 district councils, and making a last run around the state, we would be able to get to Costa Rica by September. Even if our budget was below where it needed to be

We were praying for a miracle.

And honestly, my faith was very weak. I felt that I had been praying for several miracles the past year, only to have them seemingly go unanswered.

We have some friends, Louis and Lourdes, who had recently received a miracle in their budget, and encouraged us to believe for our miracle. They said that they would stand with us in prayer in fasting for 2 days before the district council. Louis was coming to attend the District meetings, and he and Dave were preparing to tag team and hit the meetigs hard, making friends, and creating partners along the way.

Louis felt that the Lord had given him a message for us, it was II Kings 4:1-7. He told us to fill out blank pledge forms, and that just as the Lord filled the widow's oil, He would bring in our pledges. Our friends believed that by the end of the weekend, our budget would be met. Our jars so to speak, were our pledge forms, and that God was going to have them overflow.

Their enthusiasm was unreal. We blamed it on them just having received their miracle (and them being Latino :))

We were so tired, we weak, so scared to believe such a thing could happen.

But we prayed, and fasted, and filled out empty pledge forms.

So there were our empty jars.

Dave and Louis were scheduled to go to the district together. They left for the conference on Friday.

The day they left, I was praying, and reading my Bible. For several years now, as I read, I will date the Scripture, and jot a note. I have been doing the Live Dead Journel, a 30 day challenge of prayer for unreached peoples, particularly in Africa. It also encourages to write in your Bible, doodle, scribble down thoughts and prayers.

So in my Bible, in Exodus 16 (the story of manna and quail), I have a very bad doodle of an empty mason jar. My notes say. . .

Fasting and believing for miracles 7/12
"I will know it was the Lord who provided for my needs."
"Take and keep (this empty jar) for generations to come so they can see the miracle"

In my prayer journal, I wrote, I believe Lord, but just as another has prayed, "Lord help my unbelief"

They left on Friday.

Dave's text message were short, but are as follows:

*pray Amy, they have changed the schedule they wouuld like us to address the district tonight instead of tomorrow

*We had 4 people take pledge forms

*I went to take a picture with Matthew Barnett (from the LA dream center), and he wanted a pledge form, he wants to support us, WHAT?
(He sent me the picture of his business card as proof)


7:58 am *Good morning Beautiful (thats me :)Today is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. I anticipate God making us feel small and silly today for our worry and doubt. We will see the hand of God move mountains from before us and we will rejoice in His loving kindness and faithfulness in all things. We will give Him alone the glory for He is good and worthy to be praised despite any circumstance we may face. So be greatly encouraged in the Lord today no matter what, because He surely loves us and has us wrapped in the palm of His hand.

12:06 p.m. the mission's banquet is starting, pray again

1:57 p.m. We just got at least $700 in pledges, maybe more. Praise Jesus

8:32 p.m. We just got $800 more in pledges babe (thats me again ;) God did it in 1 day! I don't have words.

there were more texts but those are private. . .Ahem. . . .

7:54 For some reason things seem so much brighter today followed by a picture of the pledges spread over the bed ( I needed proof)

we are left speechless.

We are so small.

We had received the remaining $1500 in monthly commitments in one weekend. Exactly our need.

How could we doubt that Our Father had a plan, planned just for us, that would display His care and love in only the way a Father who longs for His children to be cared for in.

We were so humbled.

Things are still very unofficial, but today is Tuesday, and the girls and I have started packing.

We had been told earlier, that the journey would be difficult, and that somewhere along the way, it would be lonely, and that you would have to take something as part of your testimony, something that would help you remember the place he brought us from.

so for us, I will be taking an empty jar. to Costa Rica. On September 5th.

"then you will know that I am the Lord your God" Exodus 16:11

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I couldn't find the words

The last few weeks have been hard for the family.
I could never find the best way to articulate my feelings, struggles, and deepest prayers.

After a rough family event last night, David started typing. . .

And this time I couldn't find the words, But Dave did.

How do you stand when you don’t even know where to stand? When pursuing what it is you believe God would have you do seems to contradict what you understand it means to love and protect your family. When you no longer feel as if you are accomplishing either, what do you do? You feel like a failure, for one. You feel very alone for another. You know that God is concerned more about you, more about your family, than He is concerned with what you do. You know that He promises to provide in every area of your life no matter the circumstances, but in this place you can’t see it. You know that He has created you to love Him first of all, but also he has equipped you to do something as well. He expects all of us to do the something he has equipped and called us to do. It has to flow out of our relationship with him, but none the less we are accountable to the calling and talents he places in our lives. The first thing He has called us to do outside of our relationship with Him is to love our spouse more than any other human being. He calls us to prefer them over anyone, to love them unconditionally and protect them. Second he calls us to love our children He blesses us with. To protect them, provide for them and to raise them up to know and love God. But then He calls us to love this world. He calls us to live our lives in such a way before them that we are able to draw others to Him. He calls us to give up our lives as He gave up his to love the world and draw them back into relationship with their heavenly father. So where are we left when this calling to love our family and our call to love the world seem to be in conflict?
All I know to do is give myself over to Him completely and say “God I am completely incapable of accomplishing anything without you.” I cannot love my wife like she needs to be loved, I cannot love my kids or raise them the way they need to be. I certainly cannot love a world that does not love me in such a way as to reveal anything but my faults and failures. So I acknowledge that only God can accomplish those things in me. I ask that He would give me the ability to effectively love my wife and children unconditionally, protect and provide for them. Secondly that he would give me the opportunity to effectively accomplish His calling in my life to be used to reach a lost world.
Lord in this place this is my prayer. “Forgive me for thinking I am in anyway able to accomplish a life lived for you under my own strength. Forgive me for how that has been revealed in a less than intimate relationship with you. Forgive me for how that has affected my wife and children. Forgive me for taking the call to love the world and viewing it through my own ability and suspect talents. Lord I once again take the place as a worshiper, disciple, student, child. I say Lord, have your way in my life through your understanding, your plan, your will, not mine. I ask that you work through my life to help me love you and relate to you in an intimate and genuine relationship. That through that relationship you enable me to effectively and passionately love my wife, to raise my children with deep love and affection to help them to love you and see them become all you have designed. Also I ask that you help me to be in this world for you what you have created me to be. Help me to trust you each day to provide the desire, the opportunity and the ability to accomplish your will. Help me to place my confidence in your provision, to hear your voice and to walk boldly in your presence. Lord I am lost and empty without you in this place of confusion and uncertainty. Hold my hand, be my guide, my strength, my everything and accomplish your will not mine. I give you all the glory, honor and praise. Amen.”

Have I ever told you how much I love that man?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Dip

I read a great devotional last week.

One that really spoke to me, like it was written for me at just the right time. . .

Here goes.

There is usually a huge gap between the birth of a dream and the achievement of that dream. The question you have to ask yourself is whether it will be a fulfillment gap or a frustration gap. If it's a frustration gap you'll be miserable most of the days you're in it. And every day that you're frustrated instead of fulfilled, you lessen the odds that you'll be able to keep moving forward toward your dream. Author Seth Godin calls this gap between when you set out to do something and when you actually start to see significant results "the dip". The dip represent the adversity you must face, the learning curve you must go through, and the hard work you must be willing to invest between conception and realization. If the dip you are in seems to be a road without end, here are some Scriptures you need to stand on "Dont be impatient for the Lord to act! Kepp traveling steadily along his pathway and in due season he will honor you with every blessing." "Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to perservere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised" (Heb 10:35-36) "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor 4:18). God has promised you more than just the fulfillment of your dream, He has promised joy in each step you take toward it.

Lord, Please forgive me of my frustration gap.
Please teach me how to be thankful, joyful, persistant, and patient during each "dip" of my journey.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

May Day

May 1st

It started out as any other ordinary day.

Dave went to Fresno, California for one appointment, but had planned on taking making more stops.
We are trying to raise our budget for our assignment in Costa Rica, and because there are not enough Sundays in a calender year to visit with enough churches to be able to raise our support base, Dave makes alot of appointments to meet Pastors, Missions leaders, Sunday School teachers, ANYONE, who will sit still long enough for us to share our vision and the call God has given our family.

Dave does not get easily excited. He is pretty laid back, a go with the flow kinda of guy. He reacts the same if we have someone who pledges 5 a month or 500, just humbled, and blessed.

So when Dave said he was having a really good day, my intrest peaked. He had not made it to his appointment yet, but had stopped in a random church, and had an awesome meeting. Again, not the normal for Dave, so WOW, it must have been good. He and the person he met with had a very good connection, and then on his way out, he met the children's pastor, who had rememberd Maggi, after Dave had given him a prayer card. That guy was in charge of Maggi's missionary kid training this summer. (their family has become woven into our family from various different ways, but more on that later)

The random church ended up giving Dave a love offering, soemthing that they felt prompted to do.

(OK so now Dave was excited, because God had prompted someone to give to our family just for stopping by). Other really good connections happened, and the missions pastor even ended up taking Dave for lunch.

Meanwhile, up here, the girls and I had a really good morning on the home school front. We have finished most of the core subjects that they needed, and so I can pretty much teach whatever I want. So we decided to get the map of Southeast Asia out, and link countries with the missionaries in that country. The girls and I loved that. We realized that we need to pray for countries that need a missionary to be called to that country.

Infact the girls loved it so much, we will be doing that for other areas and their missionaries.

Then the girls had voice and piano. This is new for us, this was our 3rd week in the lessons. We were connected with someone who leads praise and worship here in Roseville, and agreed to give us a very discoutned price to teach both girls. (we already felt blessed by that) but then we found out that someone wanted to Pay for the girls to take their lessons.

We are overwhelmed with His goodness, and how people respond to what the Lord is asking that person to do.

One of the girls had a small medical problem, so I asked our music teacher if he could recommend a physician, he said he would give me the name of a doctor that serves on the board of his church. So I called, but can't get in with him, but I could come and see their urgent care doctor. Not exactly what I was hoping, but we settled.

So we are at our appointment, and the girls tell them that we are going to be missionaries to Costa Rica. He asked me what denomination. I say, The Assemblies of God. He shook his head, and said, well then, I am going to give you the name of our mission's pastor here in Roseville, you call and see about coming by so we can start supporting you.


Then we talk about what we will be doing, Community Health Evangilism, and that Dave and I both nurses, and he said, Well, three of the physicians here go to different Assemblies of God churches in the area, and lets stay in touch so that we can come down and help you when you get settled.


We then finish our appointment, and he prays over my daughter. Prays that a miracle happens in her body, and that God will start writing beautiful things on the pages of her life, and that HE would use her life. . . for like 4 minutes he prayed over her.


So overwhelmed with blessings.

We talk with Dave and his day finished well, The appointment that was scheduled for that day, and the pastor he was supposed to meet, was the father of the children's pastor that recognized Maggi. So random right? That chilren's pastors' father and mother-in-law (did you follow that), support us, not only in prayer but financially, and did so becuase they wanted to support Rookie Missionaries. . . They are veteran missionaries in the Netherlands.j They have now for over a year. And someone else from that family gave us a gift basket when we were in their church in Las Vegas.

We finished our very good day, with thankful hearts.
And because Dave had left early that morning we read our devotion late. . .

"You are on the path of My choosing. There is no randomness about your life. Here and Now comprise the coordinates of your daily life. Most people let their moments slip through their fingers half-lived. They avoid the present by worrying about the future or longing for a better time and place. The forget that they are creatures who are subject to the limitations of time and space. They forget their Creator, who walks with them only in the present.
Every moment is alive with My glorious Presence, to those whose hearts are intimately connected with Mine. As you give yourself more and more to a life of constant communion with Me, you will find that you simply have no time for worry. Thus, you are freed to let my spirit direct your steps, enabling you to walk along the path of peace.

We don't have it all figuered out, every day is not like this day for our family, but God in His goodness, let our eyes see that on this day, our life was not random.

Monday, April 30, 2012

That Moment

Do you have a nightmare?
Something that you truely dread.
You spend intentional time trying your best to prevent?

I do, and there was a moment today that I thought my moment had occured.

Let me give you the background. . .

Dave and I both feel called to the mission field. No question.
But what about Maggi and Emma?

Do they feel called?

When we brought them into our quest for missions, they cried themselves to sleep that night.

They have left their home, their family, thier friends, given up their school, their home church, some of their favorite toys, their dogs, their big back yard. . .

They have given up so much,

This itieneration journey has been tough for our family. We had hoped to be boarding a plane in the next few days and arriving in our new country ready for a New Thing. Waiting for God's timing and having faith for miracles is hard enough for us, but to continue to change dates, addresses, churches, etc is hard for these sweet girls.

Dave and I have prayed that all this transition would not affect them.

We are careful to not say negative things about our budget, or timetable, as to not to discourage them. We will go out of our way to find a park, or fun restaurant, or interesting landmark, and will say. . . "Itineration is so much fun!" "How many little girls get to go to . . . (blank) like ya'll do. We are purposelly trying to accentuate the positive.

My girls are so very different in how they process things, and how they express those feelings. We usually know what Emma is thinking, if she is missing something, or wants something she gave up, and we work through that. But Maggi, she internalizes things so much. She wouldn't want to say she is hurting or having a hard time with something, as to not disappoint us. She is a pleaser.

Last night we had been talking about how hurt Maggi has been over the loss of dog, and her constant desire for a new pet, and had started to talk through things, when a neighbor came over, and for one reason or another, we never made it back to that conversation.

So we were up bright and early for a service this morning in San Rafel.

Dave introduced us to the congregation as usual, and then has me introduce the girls. That all went well. Maggi and Emma usually sing their MK song, and if time and the church request Maggi will sing her song.

So she starts to sing her song
and after the first 5 lines

she stops and loses it

Starts crying, infront of the church, holding the microphone. . .

And that was my moment.

The moment where all of my fears come true. Itineration has caused damage. She has refused to go any further. She has decided to turn her back against me, her dad, and God.

That was what I was thinking.

Dave jumps up and goes to quietly hold her and assess the damage.

My heart is breaking for my sweet Maggi, Emma tries to run up to the stage, and I grab her, waiting to see what will happen between Dave and Maggi.

That Moment.

Before I know what is happening next, Dave is asking them to restart the CD, and Maggi starts over, and sings her song perfectly.

She comes to sit beside me, but I, decide to take them both out of the service to see what I could do to help start the healing process (and find out how quickly I could call Springfield and politely resign and tell them that cost was too great)

We are sitting on a park bench just outside the church on a perfect spring day, and I ask Maggi to talk to me.

She said, "The words to my song touched me and made me cry, because I want them to be true."

ok. . . .

Jesus take me right now.
This girls just stole my heart.
My children may never win a nobel peace prize, or hold a seat in the senate, or gain success judged by earthly standards.
But It doesn't get better than
That moment.

We have read the stories of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Amy Caarmichael, and Elizabeth Elliot and that was what has affected and changed them. Not all that they had "lost"

Later in the day, we drove up the California Coast, which was truely a Blessing from our Father. The California wildflowers were vibrant and in perfect display, the weather was amazing, and we found a perfect place on the beach to lay out a blanket and soak it all in. The girls laughed, found treasures, and got wet & sandy.

We all agreed that itineration sometimes was more than we could handle on our own, and then sometimes, on days like this, more than we deserve.

My sweet Maggi is growing and changing faster than I can keep up with. She does her own hair, she loves jewlery, and is starting to borrow her sissy's bows. She is beautiful, but the beauty on the outside is just a small reflection of what is on the inside.

Her moment came when she sang these words:

If I saw You on the street
And You said come and follow me
But I had to give up everything
All I once held dear and all of my dreams
Would I love You enough to let go
Or would my love run dry
When You asked for my life

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

If You’re all You claim to be
Then I’m not losing anything
So I will crawl upon my knees
Just to know the joy of suffering

I will love You enough to let go
Lord, I give you my life
I give you my life
When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?

Forgetting what the world has told me

Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

I want to be where You are
I’m running into Your arms
And I will never look back
So Jesus, here is my heart

My Father, my love
You can have me

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lessons Learned from Around the Sewing Machine

My sweet mom peaceful left this earth, and softly drifted to heaven on Feb. 28th.

The miracle that we prayed for since learning of her diagnosis on August 29, 2011, almost exactly 6 months, gently blew in, and carried her up. She now no longer has cancer, and she is at peace.

And I have the amazing gift to know that she is Heaven, and the she loved the Lord, and that she thanked Him for taking care of her every step of the way. What better gift.

The last 7 months have been consumed with spending as much time possible with my mom. The blog took a back seat, the girls blog has gone by the way side, I have to say, our big push to get to Costa Rica slowed way down.

Instead I spent the fall in a couple of rocking chairs, just me and my mom, our feet propped up; me with ice tea, and her an ensure. We spent the winter working puzzles around her kitchen table.

Those seasons of this journey, I will always treasure.

So here we are now.


New life right, time for something new?

I am not sure how to do that yet, start up again.

I want to share a little about my mom tonight. . .

There is something that instantly makes me think of my mother.

It is a sewing machine.
I have learned that it was not that specific machine, but just when my mother was at it. When the machine is turned on the needle is going up and down, and when the material is being pierced, there is a smell, that is recognizable to me. I know that sounds crazy, but I smelled it every time she sewed.

I will miss that.

I took home economics in 7th grade with Mrs. Faulkner, and was named seametress and homeacher of the year, It is true, HOMEMAKER of the year, partly due to the fact that my handmade dress, impressed Mrs. Faulkner so much. My mom did the button holes for me on that dress. (Don't worry, Mrs. Faulkner knew, and I still got the reward.) My mom always did the button holes for me, and now I am so mad at myself, because I don't know how to do them.

Where I grew up, there is a huge fabric warehouse, called Mary Joes. That place has some strong memories for me. I absolutely love this place. I remember as a little girl looking at books and books of patterns, and then picking out the best fabric to go with it. My mom made most of our clothes when we were little, and even my dad's suites. Mary Joes is a place that can bring back so many memories of my mom, such a good place, maybe like a backyard basketball hoop, or the kitchen for others, but for me, I'll take Mary Joes.

After 7th grade, my sewing intrest continued. I learned how to cut the patterns out, pin them to the material, carefully cut them out, and then my mom and worked on the project together. I still have the Christmas wreath we did that year.

My mom made Maggi and Emma's bedding for their nursery. Again, with fabric lovingly picked out at Mary Joes. My mom would make dresses for me to wear on the mission's trips I took. She made the clown costumes I would wear, and then I would leave them for the missionaries. She even made some of the dresses I wore on my honeymoon.

During those first few months of my mom's illness, I dusted off the sewing machine and put it in my bedroom.

Mostly because I had a lot of free time, remember Dave and the girls are in Cali, but also becasue I wanted to keep my mom's mind active. She again taught me so much. We made several dresses for Maggi and Emma. We had fun going to Mary Joes again.

Now for some lessons that I learned around the sewing machine . . .

Choose your pattern first, that becomes your guide, start with something easy, and work your way up, gaining confidence and skill with each new project.

Have fun picking out your fabric! This is where your personality comes through, mix stripes and polka dots, pink and red, plaids and flowers, be bold or soft. . .

Be careful when cutting your fabric, small mistakes or uneven edges make the project much more difficult later, so take your time and be careful.

Read the directions and follow the steps. Too often I didn't think it was really necessary to add the stich around the entire skirt. . . not acceptable (recently I sewed an inside and outside together because I didn't read all the steps).

And lastly, and most importantly, Have a good seam ripper. UGH. I had no idea my mom was a perfectionist, she made me rip so many seams and start over. However it was good to know, that if something doesn't turn out quite right, no worries, start over!

And lastly enjoy your final product! Have fun and LIVE.

Well my mom taught me alot more in life, but in my heart the last 6 months, the time spend around the sewing maching, will be a lasting memory for me.

This Christmas my mom gave each girl a sewing basket, a pair of sissors, and a seam ripper. . . so hopefully I can share some lessons around the sewing machine with them.

Is that what you call a legacy? I think so. . .

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Picture is worth 1000 words

OK, I found this post waiting to be uploaded, I think I didn't post it because I could not find a picture of my dad and Roxanne at our commissioning service, which speaks volumes 1) because my dad Hates his picture, , , so imagine if you will, my dad and Roxanne, in our picture where we are all dressed in yellow and black. . . and 2) there should be a picture somewhere, because it was a BIG deal that they were there.

But, this was a great way to show where all we were in just one year.

This is a crazy ride.

The first one was the girls last Easter after the girls got a call from the front desk, saying that the Easter Bunny left a basket. . . then there was a park in downtown Greenville, SC, mother's day at Daniel Stowe Garden, Maggi's honor star crowning, The grand canyon, my mom sky diving, the alamo, ice skating in South Dakota, Christmas in Clover. . .

We are learning to enjoy the ride, and are trying to take lots of pictures!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Price Tag

I can not believe it is already the second week of 2012.

I am not sure how to catch people up with our story. It is hard enough for us to keep up.

But we are here!

As you can tell, our journey has taken us on uncharted, unmapped, and unplanned sidetrips.

The month of November went by in a flash. After being away from Dave and the girls for nearly 10 weeks, while being with my mom in South Carolina, I joined them in California. We were enjoyed our time together, and found the beauty of being together as a family as our major blessing.

We then packed up and drove across the country to spend time with my mom and family in South Carolina. We were able to visit churches along the way, and met the most amazing people. We became part of a true church family in Wyoming, where the people blessed us beyond we could have imagined with simple fellowship!

We were able to spend some amazing time in South Dakota with the Mettenbrink family. They are called to the country of Mexico, but Dave and I secretly pray that God will park them in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. We recharged and refreshed ourselves with this faithful family in the Black Hills.

The girls were able to see more amazing parts of the United States.

We made it back in time for Christmas Eve here in South Carolina.

We had the traditional Christmas Eve celebration at my mom's house, but we were all so blessed just to be able to have mom with us, our very own Christmas miracle.

Santa came on Christmas day, and as usual, totally spoiled those Cartwright girls.

And then our last tradition of the season, time spent at my dad's. Unhurried time, just enjoying hanging out around the tree (and as usual, the gifts that Santa and mom and dad didn't bring, magically appear at grandpa's house)

So here we are in January. Once again we are torn in 2 parts of the country. Dave is back in California, and the girls and I are in South Carolina. We are in full swing now with Home School, which I have to admit, I LOVE.

Dave comes back here next week, and we will visit churches here in South Carolina. That part was planned all along. So we will be here till the middle of Feb.

But when do we get to Costa Rica?

We are getting closer. . .

Our goal is to be there June/July of this summer. We are a little over 50% of the needed budget. Which is such a blessing. We were at 50% of our budget the beginning of the summer, but had a budget increase (which was huge) so we are finally back on the up swing again.

So what have we been doing?

We have been growing and learning. . . So much. . .
I wish the lessons we have learned in the last few months were the easy kind, but they have not been, they have been the kind where you can not move forward, without some serious time spent on your knees, in prayer, looking to the one who provides the answers. I can't say that I have been a great student, in fact it was quite the opposite. . .

But God is so faithful, and so patient.
(and I hope you are too)

I am reminded of a sermon by Pastor Gunn, where he was talking about God's plan being the only Plan for us. . . and a quote from that day was. . .

if our faith cost us nothing, men will value it as nothing

So I am learning that faith, is not something you can merely read about, or study, it is a journey that comes with a price.

Our prayer is that our faith becomes deeper and stronger than we ever thought, despite the circumstances that surround us. One that we value

The girls and I are going to really do a better job of telling our story. So please continue to stay with us in prayer, and in thought.

Now that I have access to a camera, a computer and beautiful girls, our blogging will hopefully be better!