This is Darn Good Water, Y’all

“What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can” Timothy Keller

There’s nothing like working in the hot Texas Summer sun to make you thirsty. Jim and I (well, okay, mostly Jim) helped do some home-improvement work for family a few days ago, and there were times that it seemed I just couldn’t drink enough water to satiate my thirst (the nutritionist in me says, “b/c your sodium level was low, dummy”, but that’s beside the point here). 

I was reminded of John 4, where Jesus offers a woman “living water” that would make her “never thirst again.”  Now, the idea of “living water” is one that has taken me a while to really begin to understand. I mean, I’ve always thought it was a neat concept and all. What Christian doesn’t? The idea of God satisfying us fully, and we “never being thirsty again” (whatever the heck that really means, right?).

Well, this past year especially, God has been showing me how much I loooove non-living water, the stuff that leaves you to get thirsty again. Much like chemical dependencies, it only pleases at the moment you take it, and it guarantees that you will have, let’s just say, not-so-fun cravings for it when it’s not available, which, mark my words: non-living water is guaranteed to not be available every time you want it.

What is this non-living water? Well, for each person it may look a little different. But what’s equally important are the thirsts that we try to quench with this water. The thirsts that I personally have are all over the map. Sometimes it’s the thirst for love or affection. Sometimes the thirst is to feel appreciated, or important, or respected, or valued, or …

You know. It’s the things we all want, and some that we need and were even created to need.

So the key is: What water are we drinking to satiate those thirsts, those emotional needs?

Unfortunately, I often try to drink from the water-well of those who are dearest to me, to their detriment. When I want deep, perfect, selfless love and affection, I often try to ring that water out of my dear, precious husband. The poor guy is only human, and the expectations I sometimes put on him can be flat-out ree. dic. u. lous. There is nothing. And I mean nothing, that can meet my outrageous hopes and desires except my Savior, Jesus. Only when I truly understand and bask in the truths of all He did for me on the cross, and all He does for me daily as I walk with Him, will this deep desire to be loved and pursued ever be met. This is no slight to my husband (he is superman, after all – but don’t tell) I can 100% guarantee you that no man or woman out there can fully and incessantly satisfy the deepest longings of your heart or mine.

The thing is, though, that non-living water does appear to satisfy. We might even be able to say that it does satisfy – but only for a moment! But then we get thirsty again, and this time when we run to the water that we got a drink of the last time, it doesn’t satisfy! So maybe we run to another source. Soon enough, though, we are left parched because the water wasn’t living water, and it didn’t last.

When we try to get this water (satisfy our deep emotional needs) from others, we get manipulative; we try to force them to give us the water we so desperately want, and then we blame them when they don’t meet our needs.

But they were never meant to meet our needs.

I believe we were given the desire for affection so that we would be drawn to the One who loves us so much that He gave His very life for us (John 3:16).

I believe we were given the desire for acceptance so that we would come to the One who has accepted us just exactly as the filth that we are and has adopted us as His own (Rom 5:8, 8:14-16).

I believe we were given the desire to accomplish great things so that we would turn to the only One through whom we can accomplish anything of any significance (John 15:5).

I believe we desire security so that we may run to the great I Am, who is unwaveringly sovereign, and good, and trustworthy (Prov 30:5).

Finish this sentence: “I would be so much happier if only my spouse/kids/friends would ______.” This usually helps reveal what our emotional thirsts are (although, there are many desires we have that just flat-out come from our sinful nature, and these just need to be surrendered: for example, the desire to be in control of every aspect of our lives, and others’ lives; the desire – stemming from our self-blinding pride – to be acknowledged as always being right; etc)

Stop trying to use people and things to satisfy your God-given emotional thirsts, and instead turn to the Source of Living-Water. Drink deeply.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed (not to mention you’ll be much more pleasant to be around).

Movin’ Along

We just finished up our final semester at NTM’s Missionary Training Center in Missouri, and have made it back to the great state of Texas (and yes, Hudson knows full well by now that TX is God’s country).


Depending on when our visas can be processed, we expect to leave sometime between April and November of 2014, and we expect this next year to fly by!  We will spend part of this Summer continuing to develop our team of folks here in the States who will join us in making disciples among a people group that is currently cut off from the Gospel of Christ. As we travel to Asia Pacific, it’s crucial that we have a committed team back home who will pray for us and support us. If you would like to hear more about our future ministry and how you can be involved, please contact us!

In the Fall, we will be in Oklahoma doing a Linguistics practicum among the Cherokee (analyzing the phonemics and grammar of their language in preparation for doing the same for an unwritten language in Asia Pacific). Then we will finish up preparations and do some preliminary language study before our departure.

Yay for the light at the end of the tunnel!

Last Semester in MO

This semester – our last here at NTM’s Missionary Training Center in Missouri – we are taking the Linguistics Course. It’s an intense course involving studying the ins and outs of analyzing obscure, unwritten languages, so that in the village we eventually end up in, we will be able to put the unwritten language into writing and translate the Bible into that language, so that the native people will have access to Scripture.

Some of the languages we look at are more obscure than others

While Linguistics keeps us quite busy, we have managed to carve out some time here and there for personal projects. Jim and Noe have been working with an expert (the father of a friend) to make custom recurve bows for themselves.

Shaping the handle
Shaping the handle

I recently finished a quilt for Hudson. The best part about the process was that he was excited that I was making it for him, and he keeps telling me that he’s also making a blanket for me. The thought definitely counts! What a sweetheart.

Hudson supervised the whole process


Happy Birthday to the Sweetest little boy I know! These past three years have been a priceless treasure, and I am overwhelmed and honored that God has entrusted this precious, precious kid to Jim and me.




Hudson enjoyed celebrating the day with many dear friends. (That is, in addition to the other two b-day parties he has had with family in the last month! He’s begun to think he has a birthday about once/week).

Bubble popping fun!
Birthday party #1, pictured with cousin Ethan.


“You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”  Psalm 56:8

 As excited as we were to meet our new little one this Fall, there’s been a sad change of events. I truly believe we will one day meet this precious child, but we will have to wait until we go home to be with our Lord, as our unborn baby recently has.

As difficult as this has been for us, our heavenly Father has been overwhelming us with His immeasurable love for us.

I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

Psalm 139:7-12

Happy New Year in Texas

It’s just a few days before we head back to Missouri, and we’re loving all the time with family!


Petting the goats with Uncle Jess


Baking cookies with Keebs, Ryan and Grandad
Baking cookies with Keebs, Ryan and Grandad


Reading with Great Grandma
Movie night with Gram

Next week we’ll head back to MO to continue our training at NTM’s Missionary Training Center. If all goes according to plan, we’ll finish our training in the Fall of this year, and head to Asia Pacific in the Spring of 2014.

We hope 2013 is a wonderful year for you and your family!


Christmas in Texas

We’re enjoying a couple of weeks in Texas during our Christmas break. Here are a few pics from our time in Clyde with Rachel’s family. We’ll soon head to Dallas for the rest of our time here.


Good thing Great Grandpa Tarver has a big lap
Bedtime stories with Uncle Luke


Playing tractors with Grandpa


We even had a white Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a very happy New Year!

From Despair to Hope

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, many Christians observe Advent. It is a time to reflect on the longing the Israelites had as they waited for their Messiah, or Savior-King, to come.

Just Thursday evening, I read the book of Lamentations. It is a short book of the Bible that really gives a picture of how desperate the situation was in the centuries leading up to Jesus’ birth.  Unspeakable atrocities were occurring – things that should never, never, never happen – things that I won’t even repeat in this blog. The rest of the day, and into Friday, I was reflecting on the distress and the desperation they were going through. Their desire for someone to do something. For someone to bring justice.  The Israelites had received prophecies that a Messiah would come, and many of them knew that their only true hope was His coming, whenever that would be.

Of course, it was the next day (after reading Lamentations) that the reports started coming in. We watched in shock as we learned what took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This was not just a story from centuries ago that I can simply shake my head at. This was tangible. I still cannot even think about it for a moment without tears welling up. Oh, my heart aches for those parents and everyone involved.

Those who have put their belief in Jesus Christ know that this will not always be reality. The Biblical prophets paint a clear picture of the Justice and the Peace that will be had when Jesus, the Savior-King, comes again. Right now, we wait, longing for that time to come. We as a society do what we can to try to prevent these atrocities from happening, but the only thing, the only thing that we can put our hope in that won’t disappoint is Jesus.

As I celebrate the first coming of my King this Christmas season, I eagerly anticipate His second coming. And make no mistake – believers and unbelievers alike – He is coming back. Justice will reign.

Living Not-So-Simply

After two weeks of “Simple Living” (a class/experience here at the Missionary Training Center) here are some pics!

I have jokingly accused Jim before of being addicted to the internet, but after two weeks of no internet, for me meaning no email, food network, facebook, cnn, etc,  I can pretty confidently say I was a pot calling a kettle black!  These past two weeks we also had very limited electricity (refrigerator and lights only, but lights out after 8pm), no computer, no vehicle, and limited water. We also went “wilderness camping” for three nights…it was a  fun time.

Here is Hudson helping me roll out dough for pasta (did I mention that all food had to be cooked from scratch?).  This boy loved all the flashlight activity we had going on in the evenings.



This is one of the oil lamps Jim made for us using a coke bottle, kitchen twine, and vegetable oil (Girls like guys with skills).



Part of the assignment for married men was that they had to cook at least four of the meals and a loaf of bread. I now refuse to let Jim claim ignorance in the kitchen. He did a marvelous job with each of his meals!


In getting ready for these two weeks, for some reason I thought we’d have more spare time. I ordered a new book and got supplies for a couple of new projects. But, we still had all of our normal homework and responsibilities to do, except now with fewer resources and appliances to help, so our time filled up pretty quickly.

The rest of the pictures are from our camping trip. We and our team used coordinates and a GPS to locate and hike out to our assigned camp site. The kids all donned their backpacks (at least for a little while) as we hiked out.

Taking a breather before finishing the hike.


Jim made us a shelter using tarps. In this picture it looks pretty small, but it was big enough to sleep the three of us. Again, the guy has serious skills.

Jim helped set up a solar-powered water pump to pump water up the hill to our campsite. Soon after came the clouds and rain, which of course kept the much-needed sunbeams from powering our water pump.

The boys men enjoyed all the opportunities they had to use their axes and machetes, chopping firewood, building benches, etc.

Below, our team was in a competition, racing to melt large ice blocks (in the buckets) to retrieve our next coordinates (that were inside the ice blocks), which we would use a compass and a map to get to, so we could retrieve some rations. We had a fun team!

Hudson loved his first camping experience, and we all enjoyed being out there with good friends.



One of the things we’re studying right now is genealogies and kinship systems. It may sound boring, but it’s actually quite fascinating to see how different cultures view their kin so vastly differently than we do. Virtually every culture uses one of six different kinship systems. The way a culture views/organizes their kin greatly affects not only their relationships with one another, but the way individuals interact with the rest of the world.

In the “Hawaiian” system, a person calls each blood relative of their parents’ generation “mother” or “father.” They call each blood relative in their own generation “brother” or “sister.” And these aren’t just arbitrary titles; they view family relationships vastly differently than we Americans do.

In one system (Crow), a person would call their father’s sister’s son, “father,” and would call their mother’s brother’s son, “son.” They would call their mother’s sister’s son, “brother.” Now, we Americans think of all three of those relationships as simply “cousin.” But, people using the Crow system have a very different type of relationship with each of those cousins. (And of course, if we were to explain to them the way most Westerners view kinships, they would think we’re crazy!)

So, why is it important that Jim and I be able to analyze kinship systems? I mentioned above that the kinship system a culture has affects their interactions with one another. It will be very helpful for Jim and I to understand the relationships in the village we enter so that we can understand some of the responsibilities, living patterns, etc. that go along with those relationships. And not so obvious at first glance  is the way that these systems affect the values and priorities of a culture – it’s huge.

Not only is understanding their kinship system helpful for learning how they do and view life, but it will be crucial as we teach Biblical truths. The Bible speaks repeatedly of our relationship with God in familial terms. It calls God our “Father.” It says Jesus is God’s “Son.” It says we are “children of God.” We are “co-heirs with Christ.”  We need to first understand what their concept of these relationships is so that we can correctly relay the rich Scriptural meaning behind these terms and phrases.

Fun stuff!