Thursday, March 15, 2018

Clouds of Witnesses

After the famous chapter on men and women of faith in the Bible, men and women who saw miracles and those who waited all their lives without seeing them, there is an admonition for us to remember that we are surrounded by this cloud of witnesses. With that in mind, we are to set aside the weight that hinders and run with perseverance the race set for us. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus, not the circumstances that surround us. And the thought seems to be that we are encouraged by this cloud of witnesses, inspired by their stories, and prodded on by their faith.

I was thinking this afternoon about these men and women of faith. Some of them knew that they'd received a promise-- they received their dead back to life, they had children, they saw miracles. Others spent their lives in faith, waiting for a reality that would only come clear in eternity. Yet, regardless of their story, I can't imagine that these people lived the way they did so they'd be part of the Bible for all of history. They wouldn't have known there would be a Bible, and I imagine that many of them lived their lives of faith in what seemed to be obscurity. I imagine them feeling alone and forgotten. I imagine them wondering if they would see a miracle. Yet, I think they each recounted the stories of what God had already done. I believe they clung to His promises as though they were life. I think they prayed with perseverance even when they didn't feel the faith.

Yet, how much easier it must have been for those who were surrounded by people of faith?! And I thought that each of us has opportunity to be that person of faith, that one who talks about Jesus, that man or woman who seeks God above all else. And it makes me wonder how things would change in my community if I became more of that person. We have many stories of answered prayers and God's goodness and faithfulness-- stories we have lived and ones we have watched unfold. And yet we can set these stories aside for the "pressing realities" of life-- the weather, the things I'd like to do, the items I'd like to buy, the places I'd like to go, the people I met, the challenges I'm facing.

While these things are normal conversation starters, I've been challenged again to go beyond what is normal and be a witness to what the God of the Universe is doing.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Work and Worship

All work can be worship, and worship can be work. In a world that is driven to perform it is easy to forget why we do what we do, focusing instead on getting things done. We can set goals then put life on autopilot and pursue those goals. Yet how we spend our time, our work, is a reflection of what we worship. Every bit of work can be an act of worship for God, or it can be worship of our own ego or the things money can buy.

As I reflect on this reality I am so thankful for the work we do, because the work itself reminds us continually that God and His glory are top priority. We are privileged to be part of Ethnos Canada and to serve at Moody Aviation. We are blessed to be part of reaching the unreached and discipling believers in a way that fits our gifting. These thoughts prompt me to share a bit about what is happening at work these days.

Garry's work hours a mix of planning this year's safety seminar, meetings, unscheduled conversations, and work on the Safety Management System. Planning Safety Seminar is a good opportunity to connect with different people and to discuss safety and how we can do that well. Arranging logistics like sound, speaker accommodations, and snack options open conversations with people that aren't normally in our circle. Conversations with speakers and those that provide FAA credit are a privilege. We are excited about this year's seminar that will focus on Aviation Decision-Making. Another part of the process has been putting together a simple website, which has been a good and growing experience.

Meetings. Thankfully Garry doesn't spend a lot of time in meetings, and the ones he does attend are productive. One of the blessings our team is the value we place on diversity. It's great to work in a place where a different opinion is valued one and group-think is minimized. Meetings are a great opportunity to share ideas and discuss how we can do a better job of doing what we do, train the next generation of mission aviators.

Parts of Garry's job are unscheduled and this allows him freedom to interact with students and staff as opportunities arise. Some conversations are very short, "Hi, how's your day going?" Sometimes this line is an opening to discuss an aviation challenge, an issue at home, or a question about God and life.

Beyond the interactions at work, we enjoy having aviation students and staff in our home or meeting in other places. We are passionate about passing on the truth God has allowed us to learn  and enjoy discussing realities of life in mission aviation and overseas. It's always fun to hear how God has brought people to where they are and the things He is teaching them. These days we have several ongoing interactions, some of them being very international.

Work was created before the fall, and it is a privilege to do work that matters. And all work matters. Beyond what we do, how we do it is a huge testimony to God's work in our lives. May your work bless you as ours blesses us.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

House full of Cheer

Home can be a quiet place or a loud place. Sometimes we retreat there and sometimes we reach out. At times we hide at home and other times we invite people in. Home can be a place to grow or a place to stagnate, a restful place or a stressful place. There are times we choose how to use home and times when it seems things take off on their own, without any invitation to do so.

We recently had a week where things seemed to take off of their own accord, without any prodding or warning. We had invited a couple guys for supper the first evening of our advisory board meetings here at Moody Aviation, and the two turned into seven by the time supper arrived. It was great to talk with these guys, hear their stories, and share what we're learning and doing and how we're growing.

A couple days later Kaleb invited "some friends" over, and quite a few showed up. Maybe twenty friends from Moody and church, though I honestly forgot to count. We did a make-your-own-pizza and salad supper then sat around swapping stories. A majority are in the aviation program, and it was fun to hear their thoughts and dreams for the future.

Between the slightly larger groups, various other people showed up. It was interesting to watch God simply bring people into our lives. I could have taken photos. I didn't get out the camera, so I'll post a couple that I enjoyed taking.... my new "favorite tree" to watch out the front window and a view from a recent trip.

The other thing that's been happening a lot at our house lately is fixing cars. Kevin and Dustin did a small job for a friend that turned into a somewhat larger project. Kaleb's car quit on his way home from school one day and it's been in the shop over a week as the guys troubleshoot and try different things. Our van has had some issues that needed attention, and Garry has it all fixed now. It's been cold for working on cars, but likely much warmer than it will be in a few more weeks.

As Christmas approaches I have grand ideas of more baking happening, but the process is currently on hold as I do my best to fight a cold and take care of the essentials. We are, however, the proud owners of a real tree that some friends gifted to us last week. The glowing lights and comforting aroma of pine fill the house and remind us to take time this Christmas season to remember the reason for Christmas and the gift of God's own Son.

Friday, November 24, 2017

A week back in Canada

Three Hills, Alberta. A small town with a large impact. Three Hills is home to Prairie College, formerly Prairie Bible Institute, and Prairie College of Mission Aviation (PCMA). Thus, many people in full-time ministry have spent a few years in this town. Surrounded by farms and empty space as far as you can see, Three Hills has its own kind of beauty. It already felt like winter last week as fog hovered over the snow-covered ground and the wind blew the chill right through you.

Thankfully, we didn't go to Three Hills primarily for the weather. We were there to help with an aviation audit with Mission Safety International, an audit which doubles as a consult. PCMA has a long history of training pilots to serve both overseas and in the industry as ambassadors of Jesus. Over the past two years PCMA has been through a lot of changes, yet their joy and hope are overflowing. More change is happening due to a new partnership with Mission Aviation Fellowship Canada, and everyone is engaged in asking God what He has in mind for the future. We are excited with them as they ask God for direction and open doors for what He wants to do with them and their students as they move ahead.

Our time at PCMA was encouraging at we met with various staff and spouses, asking them what God is doing and how they think things could improve. We were impressed with the passion for God and commitment to excellence at PCMA and are excited to see where God is going to take them. We enjoyed the opportunity to share some of what we do at Moody Aviation that might be helpful for them. We loved hearing God stories from various people, stories of God's grace and strength in times of hardship both overseas and in Canada. Stories of amazing opportunities to share God's truth in dark places. Stories of need and provision, questions and answers, and the overwhelming grace and goodness of our Father. We left PCMA with thankful hearts for what God is doing there.

Some of the most beautiful parts of the Canadian Rockies lie between Spokane and Three Hills, and we were privileged to drive through some of them. The majesty of the Rockies was rejuvenating in its own way. We loved the hours of driving to reflect on what God is doing in our lives and in our family, particularly after the recent news of Moody Biblical Studies--Spokane closing. We were encouraged and refreshed as we processed the change in the midst of so much beauty and so many reminders of God's power.

We arrived home to a short work week and Thanksgiving celebrations. We are, quite simply, incredibly blessed to be a part of what God is doing in the world to spread His Good News! We trust you find yourself in a similar spot, awed by God.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Traveling Together

Garry and I both enjoy traveling, at least sometimes. Over the past few weeks we've been blessed to do a couple of trips together. At the end of October we went to Safety Standdown, a large industry event provided by Bombardier. The week we spent in Wichita was full of learning and inspiration as we attended sessions that centered around the theme for this year, "Learn. Apply. Share." Presenters focused on things like values, judgement, change, health, and standards. Even though I'm not an aviator, I learned a lot about what makes a safe program and the way values impact safety. For Garry, sessions reinforced what he's been learning and teaching as well as good information to continue building safety at Moody Aviation.

Safety Standdown also provided a great networking opportunity. We both heard and shared information and stories with others in mission aviation as well as those in the industry. It was great to spend time between sessions discussing how what we'd learned applies to our various programs. God is at work all over the world, and it was great to hear stories about what He is doing through aviation.

Between learning and networking we also had some time to enjoy walking along the river, eating Mexican food, and simply being together. It was a great and profitable week!

Last week we were at home in Spokane, engaged in the normal routines of our lives-- working, teaching, mentoring, and just living. Things got shaken up a bit when Moody Global announced last Wednesday that they are closing the Biblical Studies campus in Spokane. While the aviation program in Spokane will continue, the closing of Biblical Studies effects all of us. Many of our students are losing cherished friends as well as wondering how things will change for them. 

For us personally, beyond our involvement in Moody Aviation, both Kevin and Kaleb currently attend Moody Bible in Spokane. They are each considering next steps and where God is leading them from here. Our friends who work at the Biblical studies campus are out of work as of the end of the school year (June 2018).

This week we are Prairie College in Three Hills, Alberta helping with an Mission Safety International  safety audit. It is really more of a consultation than an audit, but more about that next time!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Patches of sunlight

Like the recent weather in Spokane, life is often a mix of sun and clouds. Both rain and sunshine bless our days. The temperatures swing between cool and warm, and we just get comfortable with one when the other comes along and we have to readjust. This semester has been one of change as Kaleb has started Bible School, Kevin is doing a lot of travel for badminton, Garry's work has included some big changes, and I have adjusted to days without homeschooling. Sometimes it seems we just get in a rhythm when it is interrupted and we find a new rhythm.

Yet in the midst of change, there are so many great constants! God has a plan and He is unfolding it. We are often reminded that the most important thing we do each day is seek God's plan and get in step with what He is doing. He has amazing ways of bringing people into our lives unexpectedly, and time with Him gives us the resources we need to invest in the people He brings. Tasks often take longer than expected, but there is so much less stress when we are sure that the task at hand is one He has sent to us. There are also days when the work goes quickly and we wonder what will come next just as the next thing appears and we are grateful the first chores went quickly.

These days Garry is busy with a number of different things at work. He's been in lots of meetings about various things that are happening on campus. He has enjoyed teaching various classes and doing some testing in maintenance.  Getting windows installed in some of the doors is another current project. Leading a weekly small group study with a few of the students has been a blessing.

Kaleb is enjoying school and is studying hard. He loves people and loves to interact and bless them. He likes to do video and has recently rediscovered how much he enjoys photography. Check out his instagram, bicycle_productions.

Kevin is studying, training, and traveling. His life is super full. God is giving him a great group of friends at Moody, which we are very thankful for. You can also follow him on instagram at barkmanwandering.

It's great to walk through life with the assurance that God is good and that both the sunshine and the shadows exist for our good and our growth. We are more blessed than we know!

Monday, October 09, 2017

Home, Home, & Home

There are many crazy things to share from our home here-- God is working, opportunities are presenting themselves, and we are thrilled to be a small part of what He is doing here. As fall weather hits, for maybe the first time I am almost enjoying it. This change has reminded me that this has, in fact, become home in many ways. We are blessed to be here, blessed to have a great team and good friends. It is, after all, the people who make a place home, and God has given us those kind of people here.

Kevin went home to Manitoba this weekend, and we missed being there with him. The places he went and things he did made us miss that home, reminded us of the ways God has planted us in a place we haven't actually lived in very often. Yet we have family and friends in Manitoba who make it home. A strong team, primarily from there, has sent us here and allows us to serve here. Home: it's a good word for how we feel about Manitoba.

These days I've also been reminded of my first home, Venezuela. Maybe it was going to Mexico twice and meeting a number of amazing people who reminded me of friends and a culture where I lived my earliest years. Maybe it's the fact that Venezuela is appearing on the news again and Facebook allows me to connect with various people there. Mostly I think it's one of my friends, who I'll call Carla.

Carla and I were neighbors when we were young moms. We swapped baby stories and made food together. We cooked and chatted and became fast friends, despite her initial thought that foreigners were in the country to take advantage. She taught me to make some great Italian food as well as traditional Venezuelan dishes. Her grandmother wove a hammock for us. I was invited to make hallacas, a traditional Venezuelan Christmas dish, with her family. We learned and grew together, and one day we had to say goodbye. When Garry went back to get rid of our things, Carla brought her kids by and offered a hand.

All of our kids have graduated from high school now, and while I am privileged to have both my sons at home while they study, Carla just put her second daughter on a jet plane to Spain. Carla's oldest two are living together, trying to get by in a new country, far from family and friends. The goodbye had to have been hard because with the current situation in Venezuela, it may be eternity before they are reunited. Miles and borders separate us, but my heart hurts for Carla.

The pain I feel at her goodbyes mirrors some of what I feel as family members still live and minister in Venezuela. I am appalled at the suffering and need in a country that is rich in so many ways. I am hurt by the abuses that happen and the difficulty it is for average people to survive there these days.

Yet in the midst of the suffering, many good things are happening. God is being revealed through His church, and people are being saved. Children are especially open to the Gospel, but spiritual hunger in general is greater than it was in times of plenty. God is raising up an army of prayer warriors to intercede for their country. And God seems to be opening doors to support and help the local Church and individual believers there.

I am often reminded to pray for Venezuela, and a verse that often comes to mind is the one where we are instructed to remember those who are suffering as though they were, in fact, our brothers and sisters. And truly, many in Venezuela are our brothers and sisters.

Home. We're privileged to have several, and each one brings both joy and pain. We're thankful for each person in our lives who makes somewhere a good place to be!

Thursday, July 13, 2017


We had a great week at Eagle Lake Bible Camp this year. It was a privilege to serve with people from our home church and meeting some new people. We particularly loved working with Dad & Doris as well as Kaleb-- three generations of Barkmans serving together. It was a blessing to spend time every day teaching teens from the Word of God, discussing the Gospel and its implications for everyday life. I enjoyed some time helping in the kitchen and Garry joined the boys' swim time most afternoons. "Tuck" (mid afternoon snacks) were a highlight as we chatted with other staff and heard more of their stories.

It's  blessing to serve. Last week I talked with the girls at camp about the fact that the blessing is always in the assignment. We don't find God's blessing in the things we want or the things we feel pressured to do, but in following Him. He gives us gifts and enjoyment in the things He calls us to, and we are most blessed as we simply obey.

One of the things I love about God is that He calls us not only to serve, but also to rest. In busy, hectic seasons we know that as we continue to follow, He will refresh and give us rest at the perfect time. In the meantime He will give strength and grace for each day. And then, He gives us times of rest that are perfectly suited to us. He gives us time to worship and enjoy His presence. He does, in fact, give us everything we need for life and godliness!

Camp was a week of stories. Small stories and big stories. God working and people choosing to respond and others choosing not to. Opportunities taken and opportunities rejected. God calling and people responding. Teens finding God in new ways or understanding His promises in a new light. Staff finding His strength sufficient. Conflict and conflict resolution. It was good. And many of the stories that emerged were encouraging, though some of the stories were sharp prods to prayer. We loved the stories, both hearing stories and living parts of them. But the stories are not ours to share, so we won't say more about them.

Another unique thing about camp is living for a week in a close community that is relatively closed. Just over 100 people in a few cabins in the woods, eating, worshipping, learning, praying, swimming, playing, and living close together. It allows you a new insight into  people's hearts and dreams. The opportunity to model healthy ways of doing things is huge. It also gives you a new perspective on the people you know and what drives them. And these insights were encouraging and fresh, a reminder of how often God is at work even when we are not close enough to see it.

We are now in Ohio, but I'll have to write about that next time. For now, it's off to lunch and meetings. It's been good to spend a few moments with you....