A joyful man…


God has blessed me with a number of godly men to speak into my life ever since I was a child. Pastors, Bible Teachers, Disciples of Christ, Men of God who’s lives reflected all they spoke of.
Today as I stepped into my husband’s discipleship class in a village in East Africa, my heart overflowed. To begin with, my husband is one of those men. His love for the Lord has exploded into every aspect of his life. And this man radiates Jesus.  
Today he was talking about rejoicing in the Lord. How our lives should be so filled with the joy of the Lord that all those who come in contact with us, see Jesus.  
He went on to describe a man I’ve known my entire life. His joy bubbles. Everyone of my lifelong friends will attest to the fact that his love is as sincere and infectious as it gets.  
My dad has considered this man his best friend for many years. He has always been there for my family. My first recollection is of the time my brother was run over and dragged by a school bus in a near fatal accident. I remember Pastor Don ministering to my entire family. He simply has always been that spiritual leader, always quick to be there. Weddings, funerals, hospitals…. there he is.
Last year I was home and my dad was in the hospital. I walked in to see him and there sat my childhood pastor. This tall towering man jumps to his feet (albeit a bit slower these days) and gives me a love filled, tight and hearty hug. I’ve always always loved those hugs. He always asks about my kids, who all know, love and respect him as much as me. There are a couple things he has said, that my kids will repeat and credit him to this day.
Well, this morning, as my husband was trying to define rejoicing, being joy filled to his 12 men he has disciples now for 3 years, he looked at me and with tears welling up, choking up a bit, he says, I told them the best example I know is Don Ralston.  How I use to look at him and wonder, “how can anyone be so happy?”  
Pastor Don, thank you!! Thank you for decades… for a lifetime… of living the joy of the Lord. Thank you for always singing a song of joy. Thank you for demonstrating the inexpressible and exceeding joy of Jesus. Thank you for being a steadfast example of one who loves, who trusts and who obeys the Most High God. Thank you for having an impact on my entire family, my grandmothers, my parents, my siblings, my husband, my children and 12 Kenyan pastors in East Africa. I love you so much!  

Passing the Baton

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  • This has been a day of retrospect… a day where God has my attention.

Randy has gone to Nairobi to pick up a new friend. So I usually try to use these times to sit quiet before the Lord. I’m reading some biographies of some men and women who represented the exchanged  and abundant life I daily desire. The team outside are all working so hard to accomplish all Randy left for them to do. So I decided to make them ‘popcorns’. Yes, plural. I decided to listen to some teaching while I popped 8 pots of corn for my 20+ hardworking friends.

I love these people. They have become like my kids. I love being a mom. I always have. And 35 years ago as I was anticipating my first baby at the young age of 20, I was filled with eager joy. I wasn’t walking with the Lord at the time. I had been raised in Truth. I knew Truth. And I believed Truth. But I was not walking in it. Even still, I knew even before my child was born, it wasn’t about me anymore, this child, any future children, they needed Truth.

And in my quest to see them get that, The Lord got me. Over time I became a lover of His Word and a believer in prayer. God used many people to disciple me as I was determined to teach my kids. And teaching them the Truth drove everything I did. I can say that honestly. I may not have had the purist motives some of the time, but I was very cognizant of the potential message in my actions, my words, my responses, my life.  Oh… I made so many blunders, and outbursts, and mess ups and mistakes… but I can absolutely say that my primary focus, my deepest desire, was that my kids knew Jesus, knew the power of His resurrection, that they knew His faithfulness and His love and that they grew up to walk and abide in Him. That was all I cared about, far over education, careers, even relationships, I wanted them to KNOW Jesus.

Again, you don’t need to ask them, I’ll admit… I made so many mistakes and dropped the baton regularly. But I do believe that God saw my desire and poured out grace beyond measure. Grace that covered my mistakes. Grace that covered my outbursts and my messes. And, day by day, month by month, year by year… I grew, they grew and together, ONLY through the grace of Jesus, we are all living for and diligently serving our Savior. We are all eagerly awaiting His return and we are all consciously spreading the gospel and making disciples.

Yes, I know what a privilege and amazing blessing this is. I do not take it for granted. And my husband and I praise our God daily for having revealed Himself to them. It is this faithfulness of God, having seen it proven through my kids and so many other ways that gave me the courage to trust and obey God when He called us to Africa. Out of the blue, never a dream, at a season where it made NO sense, He called us to Kenya and again, He has blown me away.

Well, today, as I was listening to some teaching, I found myself before the Lord. I was being clearly taught something that I think God has been trying to show me for some time. But somehow, this message, this pastor, this time… God’s anointing, God’s desire for me to ‘get it’ spoke deep down in the innermost center of my heart. This pastor spoke boldly of God’s Truth, of His call for holiness and righteousness, he taught of the utmost importance of the furtherance of the gospel and how my motives to serve MUST BE for His glory. I want to want to!!! Oh God may my conduct be worthy of the Gospel and may I stand fast.

  • What moved me to share this today… was after years of praying that God would speak and reveal Himself to my children THROUGH me, desiring to pass them a baton of faith… today… He spoke and revealed Himself to me…. THROUGH my son. The Baton of Faith has most assuredly been passed and I simply praise the Name of my Jesus!!!!
    Hey, if you want to hear some sound and spurring teaching… check out Pastor Ryan Saul at CalvaryWT.com. He lives and he teaches…. TRUTH!

Today is my wedding anniversary… 32 years!!!

imageAs I sit on this little porch in a lovely house in a village tucked up in the highlands of western Kenya, as I look over the tea fields, cluster of banana trees, crops of maize… all seemingly choreographed to the sounds of a perfect African morning…  Cows mooing, roosters crowing and that loud distinct African bird… I sit here among the peaceful sounds of Africa and I’m thinking THIRTY TWO YEARS???????

I knew I would marry Randy within days of our first date.  THIS was a good man!  I won’t say I was madly in love, gushing with stars or even feeling I couldn’t live without…  I just knew… he was kind, gentle, and thoughtful, loved his family… and somehow, at the naïve – think you know it all – age of 18…  I knew this was a good man.

Within 6 months of our “I do’s” – we found out I was pregnant!!!!  I can close my eyes and recall every detail of emotion and excitement as I sat at the reception desk of my father’s office and received the call from my doctor’s.

Randy and I were thrilled and the day our first child was born, I felt a love for and from Randy I had not known before.

I wish I could write that I held on to that love and contentment all the way up to this morning.

But –

Let’s talk about “bliss”.  The dictionary defines it as supreme happiness, utter joy and contentment, complete happiness.  The second definition describes bliss as heavenly paradise.  Well, baby, you’re good, but you’re not THAT good!

Let’s see – 32 years, 2 or maybe 3 near divorces, a good amount of silent days and nights, we’ve had money, we’ve had NO money, we’ve experienced serious health issues and we’ve enjoyed being in great shape.  We’ve parented in harmony and we’ve been nose to nose in opposition.  We’ve wondered what we would do without each other and… we’ve daydreamed of ‘freedom’ apart.

I remember looking at each other one time – and both of us were done… ready to walk… and Randy says, “Well, we don’t have any choice”.  What he meant, was we didn’t have that choice – the choice to ‘walk’.  We were followers of Christ and HE had said, that THAT was not an option.  This was likely the wisest thing my husband has ever said. We were young and young in our walk with Christ but he knew that being obedient was the only option.

So – 32 years – wedded bliss????  I think not.  But – what I can say is that for most of that 32 years, the ones we’ve followed Christ, the ones we’ve trusted HIM, the ones we’ve purposed in our hearts to obey HIM, those years have been the foundation of where we are today.

Young marriages, even older marriages need to be reminded that it’s NOT easy.  But – it’s so so worth it!

As I think of this man who plays games with the children in this village, despite language barriers, connecting with them at a heart level that few can do….

As I think of this man whose gentle strength will grip the hand of a man walking down the dusty road in a village on a hill in east Africa and somehow communicate that he cares and he loves through a simple greeting….

As I think of this man who will sit in the other room and talk with his mom on the phone, miles and miles away, sharing with her all that God is doing, asking her about her days, loving her from so so far….

As I think of this man that loves his family, his children and grandchildren, Love that stirs a joy that literally flows out as he speaks of them.  This man who beams as he talks of and tells of this gift of family he has… who prays for and thanks God for them every day!  This man that, despite his never ending, deeper than deep, unmatched love for our children and grandchildren, would be willing to pursue a call so very far away….

As I think of this man who loves his God… As I recall looking out the kitchen window last night and listening to my husband share about Jesus with our little friend Derrick, this man that despite disappointments and frustrations has repeatedly stood on the fact God sent him here to share the Truth of God and disciple and that is what he will do.  When I think of this man who has a depth of understanding, wisdom and knowledge that only is God given…

When I think of this man I’ve been married to for 32 years and see who God has made him, when I remember where God has brought him, and me, from, when I think about the countless what ifs, what if we had.. if I had… given up any one of the many times I thought that was what I wanted… what if I had missed seeing the man I love today?  What if I had forfeited the blessing of seeing God’s faithfulness and workmanship in our lives?  What if???

So – this morning – 32 years after I said “I do”…  I thank God with all my heart for somehow impressing on a couple of young 20, 30 something’s – that pushing through, pressing on, obeying God, trusting God was worth it.  This morning, I can not imagine my life without this man I love and respect so very much.  This morning, as I sit on this porch over looking the beautiful African morning…  I’m thinking…

Happy Anniversary Baby – I’m so glad you are my man!

Things under the sun…

Rand Kari Naivasha drive

So Randy and I have walked with The Lord for nearly 30 years. We’ve sought Him, we’ve served Him, we’ve studied His Word, we’ve prayed and we’ve seen His faithfulness first hand! We’ve prayed many countless times through the years together, interceding for our children, our marriage, one another. I’ve watched Randy grow in Christ sometimes pole pole (slowly) and sometimes right before my eyes.

Last week, after some challenges, disappointments, set backs, several very long months of language study, after feeling defeated and inept in our studies… We made a decision to go away… to set apart… With purpose. We realized our need and had a great desire to seek our God, to hear from Him, to wait on Him, to rest in Him and to expect that in His faithfulness He would reveal, speak, meet, refresh and totally pour Himself out!

We had an amazing weekend! Randy felt we should go though the book of Ecclesiastes together????? Ahhhh okay? We first read straight through it and still, I thought, ahhhh hmmmm okay?? Then we began to dig in a bit deeper.

Written by Solomon… The wisest man, the richest man… It is thought provoking as he writes of so much… “Under the sun”. That phrase is used 29 times! Constantly he wrote of the things “under the sun” with no real eternal perception throughout most his writing. While we are not finished going through this book, Gods purpose for us to take a look, at a book I must confess I’ve never spent much time at all in, His purpose is certainly to remind me I can NOT be looking at my life, this mission, Kenya, Kisii, Randy, my children, my grandchildren, my “pain”, my upsets…. I cannot be looking at these things… “under the sun”… but rather… through and in the SON!!!

It is clear that apart from Christ and an eternal perspective… There is very little… actually… there is nothing left!


As God is refining me, refining us… I am more and more in awe that He would invite me to be apart of HIS plan.

We had such a sweet time together, enjoying His creation, taking advantage of our Kenya resident status, and prices, setting ourselves apart and with purpose, seeking Him, as I must also confess…. We’ve really never done

    together like this before in prayer and fasting. And I can say it WILL happen regularly!

    As a result of our time we have made some plans subject only to His Hand. We will remain here in language school through May. We then will spend a couple weeks gathering supplies, packing and finalizing some things here. Then we will take another week to do as we just did… Set apart and sit before Him. After that we will head to Kisii, move in and spend that last week of June settling in. Also during this time, Randy will be preparing for his first session.

    He will teach 2 ten week sessions this year. Each session will have seats for 8 men and will meet three days a week for 6 hours a day.

    I will be going back to the states mid October so as not to miss a very special wedding! Randy will fly out Dec 5 or so after his second session and we will break for the holidays, returning early January to begin again.

    We have a number of specific prayer requests…

    1. Pray for a continued drawing to Him. Pray for our walk, our commitment, our prayer time, our time in the Word, pray for our abiding in Him…. Apart from which… Is only under the sun.

    2. Pray for our language learning. We are actually making sentences and can carry on a simple, albeit, broken conversation!

    3. Pray for Kisii. Pray for those men God is already preparing to take through His Word.

    4. Pray for the orphanage and school. Pray that God will direct the next steps there and that He would be glorified through the outreach to young people who have no one. This arm of the ministry is on the alter for Gods direction. Pray for wisdom, discernment and for specific leading as a we move forward.

    5. Pray for those God has called to teach His Word.. That they will guard the treasure, study to show themselves approved, rightly dividing the Truth. Pray for them as they minister to their flocks.

    6. These people know the stories of the Bible probably better than you or I. But I am finding that few are actually walking with Christ, abiding in Him and actually understand the Gospel. Pray for hearts like our teacher Peter… Who pastors a church down the road. Pray for those God wants to put that heart in!


    7. Pray for Gods provision. We have a few expenses not budgeted for or not budgeted enough for. God has been amazing to provide and we know He will continue.

    8. Pray for the next phase of adjustments and cultural shock as we move up to the village.

    9. Join us in thanking and praising God for some very encouraging brothers and sisters… Both in the states and in Kenya! We are blessed beyond measure. I was pretty humbled by the outreach of encouragement after my blog about my Jericho wall. Our family back home shot through the miles to embrace me. And we have been blessed by amazing missionary friends here — most with years of experience — and each one opening wide their arms and their hearts. Oh God is so so good!

    10. Finally, please pray for protection from the enemy. Please seriously intercede for us. Know we have a prayer journal we are faithful to go through… We welcome opportunities to pray specifically for you.

    Tu basi… That is all!

    We love you and thank you and praise our God for you as well!
    In Him!
    Randy & Kari

Grammy, I promise….

As I am dying….

….May my expectant and hopeful heart say “take me”

I remember a few years back when my grandmother died.  She was 94 years old, still drove, lived alone and went every Thursday morning.. For as long as I can remember… To minister to the “old people” at the nursing home.

She fell sick and was diagnosed with bone cancer in April or May.  I remember being over there one day as she was dressing and I could hear her in her room “Jesus, You are going to have to help me with this or I won’t be able to do it….  speaking of the daily shot of B12 she had given herself for decades.  That was common place, she prayed for and about everything.

She declined quickly.  She remained home with my mom, dad & my aunt caring for her.  The grand kids that lived locally all made regular visits.

I remember the August day she died.  I went over there on my lunch break as I had been doing.  My mom and aunt were there.  I went in to see Grammy and she had grown restless that day.  She saw me and her eyes opened wide and she pulled me down, “Kari, you need to pray!  You need to pray for Kris, pray that she would see the Truth and that she would know Jesus!”  Kris is my cousin who does not believe Jesus is THE WAY or the authority of God’s Word.

“I will Grammy, I promise, I will.”  She immediately relaxed.  It was as though that was her only struggle, her only undone thing left. She fell completely at rest as she passed that baton.  You see, my Grammy was a serious pray-er.  Praying hours a day.  She loved The Lord with a depth I am only now appreciating.

I don’t think Grammy said another thing that really made sense to those of us surrounding her.  She spent the next several hours drifting.  At one point, there was NO doubt she saw someone none of the rest of us saw.  She seemed to be fixed with her vision and her attention.  She spoke but not to us and we could not make out what she said.  But, she smiled and with her frail thin arms she reached out as to say, take me, come get me and take me with you!

I know The Lord ministered to my grandmother that day… And not too many moments later, my Grammy was lifted up into the arms of her Savior.  And it was beautiful and an amazing blessing to witness.

It was so – because my 94 year old grandmother had been dying for some 45 years, ever since she had given her life to Christ.  Romans and Galatians talk about our dying to this life, dying to sin, dying to ourselves.  That process, for those of us who believe, will carry on until the day He takes us home.

Grammy had some quirks, like us all, that didn’t always align with her profession, but no one could deny her heart’s total and complete commitment.  As I have struggled with my own dying, the “death to self” we are called to surrender to, I’ve come face to face with facets far more painful than quirks….  The pain of letting go.  The pain of trusting when I haven’t seen the plan.  The pain of the unknown.  The pain of desperate dependence from one who has always been independent.  The pain of realizing my sin and then knowing what it is responsible for.  I am seeing more and more of myself that God needs to transform. And having a mirror lifted before my eyes —  I am moved to my face before Him.

You see, somewhere along the line, Grammy became convinced that her Savior was worth it…  worth whatever He asked, wherever He led.  In the depth of my heart I am convinced of that as well!

Last week I cried out in the pain of death.  And with the faithful love that never fails, with the mercies that are new everyday, through the very Bride He’s preparing me to be a part…. God lifted my eyes.  I am filled with thanksgiving for all those who encouraged and prayed.  Please don’t stop!

I still don’t know how God does or will use the likes of me, and I am trying NOT to resist the death I can literally feel taking place in my heart, but one things for sure….  I will rejoice if, when that day comes, I have submitted to this spiritual death of my old self and in His transformation of my heart…. Oh I will rejoice… if I have only the burden of a persistent prayer to hesitate me from lifting my arms and saying, take me!!

I’ve smacked my face into the wall of Jericho…


So… There is this idea that as missionaries, as missionaries supported by others, I need to portray all the victories of God with joy and enthusiasm that assures you that your participation in these efforts are yielding fruit and prospering well.

In one of our missions classes or maybe a book we had to read before coming, it spoke of the different “levels” at which you share of what is going on, taking place, weighing upon and stirring in.  Not that it was directing this, but that it was a common screening groove many missionaries get into, often finding themselves isolated.

I’ve been told I’m a very private person, although I don’t feel that way.  I really do feel I bring people in… Maybe not as much as I enjoy entering into the hearts of others, but I have certainly become one thing out here… And THAT is… a much more open book.

That all being said… We need prayer.  I need prayer.  Without going into details, our trip to Kisii last week was extremely difficult, discouraging and despairing.  I have struggled with how God can possible use my bitter and ugly heart.  I have struggled with the deep lack of power and a homesickness that is physically painful.  I’m struggling with the questions of who, what, when, where, how…  And….. Why?

My back is hurting.  My eyes are hurting.  My brain is hurting. My tooth is hurting. And, my heart is hurting.

I’ve run smack face into my “Jericho Wall“.

As I am reading the book of Joshua I found myself like the spies… Oh not these two…. Rather… One of the ten from 30-40 years earlier that we see in Numbers.  The ones that came back and reported to Moses… It’s too dangerous, the giants are too big, we will be overtaken!  I even went on just as the Israelites in chapter 14 and I’ve wept all night, crying out with my voice to The Lord… Why have you brought me here?  Why did I leave everything for this?  I can’t do this!  I CAN”T BREATHE!!!!!

I am left tonight with a decision.  Will I now turn back?  Will I now be content to wander?  Will I book the ticket I found online?  Will I pull out the bags from under the bed?  Will I succumb to the defeat of the unknown…  Or…. Am I going to be strong and of good courage?  Am I going to trust my God?  Am I going to obey despite the craziness of the plan?  I mean, come on….  Silently march around the city wall once a day for 6 days?  Ahhh what?  This all AFTER….  Right after…. the entire army had been circumcised???

First, I need to go back.  I need to re-read…  I need to slip away and be just like that young man… Knowing he had heard a voice… Going back again and again…  “You called, Eli?”  Finally after being awakened the third time… Eli realized young Samuel is hearing GOD!!!!

I need to go back… And say like Samuel… “Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening”. I need to go back and see that The Lord told Joshua not once… Not twice… But in this chapter alone… FOUR times… “Only be strong and of good courage”.

I need to go and remember…

Come here and hear the words of Your God (Joshua 3:9)  

By this you WILL know that the Living God is among you (Joshua 3:10)

He will…without fail…. Drive out your enemies (Joshua 3:10 )

And… As HE so clearly spoke to me a few weeks back… 

Sanctify yourself… For tomorrow… The Lord will do wonders among you! (Joshua 3:5) 

This battle is not mine!  This battle will be fought by the Commander of the army just as He assured Joshua before the crazy plan was put into action and they marched around silently SIX times on that 7th day and then… The 7th time around… After the trumpet sounded… “SHOUT, for The Lord has given the city!”

I don’t know the plan.  What little I know is a bit crazy.  I know there may be giants in the land.  But I WILL ABIDE IN YOU!!!! Because… this one thing I know… With YOU… I can do anything!  (Sung in my heart with the voice of Gen Falleur)

So… I share all this not to complain, not to whine, not for sympathy or even permission to bail…. I share this because with all my heart… Honestly with all that is inside me… I want to obey… I want to be a part of HIS plan… I want to be strong and courageous… I want to be sanctified… And…. I want see the Living God give the city!!!!

So… I again ask your prayers.  

I will give a couple praises…

Our work permit/dependent pass is IN HAND… Record 2 months!

And God is truly teaching me the gift I have in Randy who has been so incredibly loving, patient, gentle, encouraging and showering me with prayer.  I am opening my heart more now… To this man of mine for 32 years… Than ever before.  It really has never been just us… So… It is good… It’s SAULGOOD!