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Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas Celebrations

 I so much enjoyed the time with the Tomson family for Christmas. 

Elijah and Amelia gave up their room so I could have some place to sleep when I was there. :) They made me a great sign for the door.
 They gave me a stocking and arranged little gifts for me. It was SO sweet! For the first time in my life I had a gift from Father Christmas. :) 

I went to a carol service, a crib service and Christmas day service. I so much enjoyed the time with the Tomsons. They are delightful. 

Preparations for Christmas dinner. :)
 Yay! Christmas dinner with everyone, hats, crackers, good food. :)
 Amelia received a white/black board with dry erase crayons. 
SO cool!  
So I drew a picture for each of the children...

  And when I got home, I lit the rest of the Advent candles! 
Glory to the new born King who Reigns now and forever more! 
Merry Christmas!!!!

Friday, 30 November 2012

The Christmas story

The home group I am privileged to be part of here, contains a young woman who works with the Birmingham City Mission and another young woman who is a primary school teacher. 

Both have entered into the Christmas season in their jobs. 

It is so great to hear how the primary school teacher is trying to share the real Christmas story in her environment even though she has to be very careful because of the various religions represented in her classroom.

She shared that is has been kind of shocking to her that some of the other teachers have never heard the real Christmas story.
The BCM worker shared how she and a small team get to go into schools to take part in the annual Christmas assemblies. They get to bring the story of Christmas to 100s of students and teachers! 

It is these kinds of stories that break my heart and give me hope. 

They break my heart as I think of how in America we think that Europe is taken care of as a mission field. And it gives me hope to see Europeans doing what they can to still share the gospel. 

Each country I have spent time in here, has less than 1% of the population professing faith in Jesus Christ. Even the UK. Europe is still the least responsive continent to the Gospel. Breaks my heart.

We all need Jesus. We all need to have the Gospel impact our lives daily. 

I am grateful for these young women who are trusting God to use them in the schools in Birmingham, UK. 

The nativity scene pictured is one that I purchased in Spittal, Austria on a snowy, journey with a dear Finnish friend in our New Zealand friends' car in 2006. Good memories.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Well, I thought I would decorate a bit for Christmas. If you have been checking my blog over the years, you have seen that in each place I live, it requires a bit of creativity. :) Someday I hope to have a Christmas tree again.. but for now, this is a glimpse...

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

updated Prayer tab

Is the tab under which I attempt to keep prayer items current. Please check there every couple weeks, or more often to see specific and urgent prayer items. 

I so very much covet your prayers for me and the work God has me doing. I am not able in my own strength to carry on daily.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Plane tickets

Plane tickets usually excite me. 
When I have a plane ticket with a date of departure in hand 
it means some place new and exciting, 
it means some place seeing dear friends.

And the return means home to my place of residence. 
home to my own church
home to the friends I have in town

The plane ticket currently in my name is a little different. 
It is emotionally difficult to explain how this one feels.

     LH 7639 14 January    
   09:00 h    12:05 h

     LH 7520  14 January    

17:27 h    20:49 h
it means seeing dear friends
it does not mean returning home to Europe

If you have not read my last update this may be a surprise to you... you can read about it under the Monthly Musings tab above.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

member care

I have been looking at Member Care. Do you wonder that is? :) Member Care is terminology used within the mission and ministry communities to cover the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical care of missionaries and those working in ministry.

I have seen and experienced the burnout, exhaustion, weariness and stress that come with being full time in missions and ministry. And I realise how many people leave the ministry or cease being a full time missionary because of the traumas, stresses and physical challenges.

The first time I was in Lithuania, I found myself drawn to the national and international staff, wanting to help them be healthy physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. That desire coincided with my passion for the growth and development of people in general.

That desire has only grown inside me over the past 10 years. I hear of the idea of member care now, and my heart resonates!  I would LOVE to have a role caring for these dear ones. I love that member care has become an actual field of study over the past 15 years as people have seen the need for it to be a priority.

Sunday, 4 November 2012


This morning I was reading in Matthew 18 about the servant who was forgiven a HUGE debt by his master and then did not forgive a fellow servant of a smaller debt. Jesus told this parable after Peter asked, How many times should I forgive someone who sins against me?

Forgiveness is an amazing thing!  As I read in scripture and interact with people, the depth of what we are forgiven of is driven home to me. So, how much more should I forgive those who I think have sinned against me?

I have to admit, there are times it is more instinctual to forgive than other times.. I long for it to be an instinctual reaction of mine at all times!

I am learning a lot these days about how God defines me and how to have my confidence and worth in Him. I think these are lifelong lessons as we seek to be more like Christ.

But I know that if my confidence is in Christ and that He has forgiven me much. He has justified me! (just as if I never sinned)!!!! Amazing! I know that if I live in this reality... forgiveness of others will be much more instinctual and readily extended.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

On the train

I am on a three hour train south to where I will spend time with Jesus. I enjoy trains. The song I am listening to is "don't let me lose my wonder" by the Gettys.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Bus signs

Lately in Birmingham there are several buses with these signs. It makes me think of all the ways that people who are not tolerant of others want people to be tolerant of themselves.

Why is it that is someone does not agree with our opinion, we immediately think they are wrong?

Are we so perfect?

There are issues I have different beliefs and opinions on... Some I will fight for,.

Just some thoughts these signs on the buses cause me to think.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

A good church

Having followed the Lord's leading to Birmingham, UK, I find that I have the privilege of being part of a neighbourhood church. 
I have found a church where I would be comfortable bringing any new acquaintance along to. 
I am involved in a home group and I am excited to get to know others, to study the word together and to encourage and be encouraged as we seek to follow Jesus. 

Under the Who We Are part of the City Church website, they say this: "We are Christians of all ages and backgrounds who meet together to glorify God by making the good news of Jesus Christ known in Birmingham." 
I love being part of the larger body of Christ as we all want to share the good news of Jesus Christ where we live! 

This past weekend we had a church retreat in Birmingham-hosted at a school up the road from my flat. This photo is of a softball game.. no it is not normal for Brits to play softball but they were being taught how to play by a lovely American family who are here for work. 
I got to explain the game to some other church members. I think I had not seen a softball game for at least 10 years!

It helps me as I work on the European level of Agape, to have such good solid connections on the local level here in Birmingham. I am thankful to the Lord for this provision!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Some photos for you

 Here is a photo of most of the Agape UK staff. 
These are the people I am so blessed to live and work amongst.
 These are the lovely people who are giving their hearts to share the gospel with university students in Birmingham.  I love them!!! and I love that I get to work with them eventually.

and yes.. we have fun! :)

Monday, 10 September 2012

over the weekend

I and some other pretty amazing people were officially welcomed into the Agape UK staff group and commissioned for the work God has called us to here and in Agape Europe.

Friday, 7 September 2012

this coming weekend

This weekend is the first Agape UK gathering that I get to be at. 
I am so excited to hear from the leadership and to meet the others who are in the UK sharing the gospel and showing God's love.

As with the previous couple months, 
I will be taking it slow and listening to when my mind and body are worn out. 
I am learning how to rest in the midst of going.

The past couple months have been a blessing although very challenging. I love to be active and it is hard to just rest even though my body needs it. Your prayers are so valuable to me. I am continually amazed at how God meets me and uses me when I am worn out. 

I am re-learning:
healthy eating, 
 time at home, 
time out with others, 
high energy, 
low energy,
deeper times with Jesus
waiting on the Lord 
I can follow Him above all else.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Why are you still single?

Often I am asked this question. 
Not always directly. 
I find it a difficult question to answer because I often ask it of the Lord.

I do not feel called to singleness
I desire to be married
I desire to be a mother
I desire to partner in life
I believe these desires are from the Lord.

As I look back over my journals
I can see how fear kept me from being in some relationships
I can see how my circumstances made it difficult to meet men who love Jesus
I can see how God has continually called me to trust His timing. 

If all I wanted was to get married. 
If that was my main life goal.
I would be married already

But my life goal is to be where and who God has called me to be. 

So I trust that if God has marriage and family as part of that plan...
He will guide me.

Friday, 31 August 2012

a glimpse into my life

For two reasons I can easily share the gospel here. 

they wonder why an American would be in the UK. 
they wonder why anyone would move from Rome to Birmingham. :)

It makes even the most normal of occurances have space to share some hope and truth. 

Getting a manicure is not a normal occurance for me. But there was a great discount from a girl who gives them so I took advantage on Tuesday. 

As soon as I sat down and we exchanged pleasantries, she wondered why I moved from Rome to Birmingham. 
What followed was a half hour of her giving me a manicure and asking what me what I think about Religion, 
the Hindu, 
and ....
why someone would go Hell.

I am thankful for how God leads me to people who are searching and I will go back for a manicure from her, not just because it was a great manicure but because she is searching and I want to walk with her in that search. One of the ways that I get to be the hands and feet of God here in Birmingham.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

I'm trying to live by faith

I am going to be very honest here...   
I have played a song about 40 times over today and still have it on repeat.

 I just found out how much my monthly taxes are for the UK and it is more than I can currently pay. That and the loss or decrease of some other giving has put me in a place where I feel desperate to see God move in this situation. I don't know what God wants me to do in this other than trust Him. My exhaustion has made it difficult to communicate with my current ministry partners and it seems impossible to meet new ministry partners.

Here are the words,
"Move" by Newsong from their One True God CD

I’m a man in need of a miracle
But all I have is hope
God I need to see Your power fall
Like it did in the days of old
I know You’re who you say you are
Cause You’ve proven that to me
But this time seems impossible
Won’t You help my unbelief

I need to see You move

I need to see Your hand
I’m trying to live by
I don’t know if I can
But I know You’ve not changed
There’s nothing You can’t do

I’ve done all that I can

The rest is up to You
I need to see You move

Like Moses in the wilderness

Like Daniel when he prayed
Like Simeon in the temple
When he finally saw Your face
Lord like them I’m just a man
And I’ve got everything to lose
So what You did for them
Would You do for me
What I’m desperate for is You

I’m finding out what it really means

To trust You Lord with everything
To trust You, really trust You

I know that it is all up to God. I am learning more everyday to really trust God with everything.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Punting in Oxford

Saturday I got to experience another truly British activity. :) Punting! 
I was privileged to go with people from the church I have been attending. 

We took turns actually being the punter. 
(the person wielding the long metal pole that steers & moves the boat)
It was a perfect day. The sun was out, we laughed a lot and it gave me so much joy!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Some information

Under the tab above entitled "To Pray", there are prayer requests that I am trying to keep current. 

I really do need your prayers all the time, but especially now as I am seeking to be healthy emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.

There are ways you can connect with me under the tab entitled

And if God prompts you to help financially, you can go to the tab entitled

 On a rare day in Birmingham when it wasn't raining, a friend took me to a nearby park. It was lifegiving to my soul.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The letter I sent out about how I am doing...

To explain why I am not often posting on here, I want to share with my readers the letter I just sent out. If you did not receive this letter and you want to receive things like it, you need to sign up here

here is the letter:

Dear Ones,
You have not heard much from me the past month or so. I need to explain why.

It takes a lot of emotional energy to write an episode of Melissa’s Musings, to update my blog, to update prayer requests, to update statuses on Facebook...

And a lot of emotional energy is not what I have right now. I am dealing with some severe depression and exhaustion. The past few years have been very hard physically, emotionally and mentally.

My bosses, John and Ruth, have given me leave from actually working with them until at least September. My job right now is to get healthy. I need to remember who God has made me to be, with healthy boundaries, healthy patterns and a healthy outlook on life.

I know that I am in the hands of the Lord and I am grateful that this time is available for me to be healthier. But it is not easy and I am easily drained by normal activities.

I have had to make some choices and changes for this time. I am going off of Facebook until September; I am only doing one errand or meeting with people a day. I am keeping a day or 2 with no needed activities planned so I can recharge I am not setting an alarm in the morning. I am trying to get 30 minutes of activity a day and I am trying to eat normal meals. It is all I have energy for.

You all know that I am generally an extrovert but right now I am much more of an introvert.

It seems that moving to Birmingham, UK to work is the thing I needed to have space to heal. I recently went onto some anti depression medication and the healthcare system here requires counseling along with the medication.

I am meeting with a good Christian counselor. She is American but has lived in the UK for many years after having served with her family as missionaries in another foreign country.

I appreciate and covet your prayers specifically for me in this time. I welcome any encouragement but please do not worry if I don’t respond as sometimes I have energy and sometimes I do not.

Trusting the Lord in this process,

Friday, 6 July 2012

The path I follow

I was walking down a pathway the other day and as I looked ahead I thought... That view looks like a good metaphor for my life right now. I know I am on the right path, and it is nice when I look up but rocky when I look down. And I know it leads to where I want to go but I cannot yet see the destination

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Posters and signs like this are all over London as the city prepares for hosting the Olypmics in just a few weeks. I find myself laughing when I see these posters.. they are so clever! Some for the Underground, some for the motorways, some for shopping centres. I have never been this close to an Olympic site.

Friday, 29 June 2012


As I am reading through the Bible... not as consistently as I would like... I was reading in Judges yesterday and was struck again with the story of Gideon. 

"For the Lord and for Gideon" was the cry of the 300 men whom Gideon took with him to defeat the army. And they easily won because the Lord was on their side from the start! But Gideon from the beginning was not so sure about the whole thing.

God was so patient with Gideon and kept pushing him to move forward and trust. I often feel like this with God. He is so patient with me. And He keeps pushing me to move forward and to trust Him implicitly.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

growing old biblically

I watched this clip from Francis Chan about growing old biblically on Randy Alcorn's website. I want to watch and listen again and again. It reminds me of how I want to live my life.

This world is not my home, I am just passing through. And my role in this world is to be who God calls me to be. I want to love Him and serve Him. I want to not be entangled by the things of this world.. those things that do not bring me closer to Jesus.

I am only in my 30s, but I want to live every day as though I will see Jesus face to face tomorrow! 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

learning when laid up

I think one of the hardest things to go through when you move to a new place is getting sick or injured to the point of needing professional attention. In your home culture, or any culture where you have felt at home, the proceedings for finding a doctor are known to you. In a new culture it is unknown and you must then do research, ask questions and make discoveries.

I injured my back this past Sunday night. This put me on the road to discovery of finding a chiropractor... except.. here in the UK, I discovered, you go to an osteopath instead. So a few people tried to think if they knew of any osteos in my area.. nope. I did some online research and found one.. except he only works part time in my area. I did get an appt with him on Wednesday. He confirmed that I did injure my back... it is still very inflammed....and I need to be careful even after the inflammation goes down and he gets things back in place. He was great!  I am so thankful to God for connecting me to this osteopath.

And when I can walk long distances again, I can walk to his place instead of needing to wait for someone who has a car who can take me, or hiring a taxi. Another thing I am grateful for. Someone who is fast becoming a dear friend here. She has been a great help this week.

The past few days, I have spent either laying down or standing up. At the beginning of the week it was 99% laying down. Now it is more 60% laying down. Progress!

But in this laying down time, I am grateful for the learning of new systems, the fellowship of dear people and time to think.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Sunny St. Andrews, Rainy Birmingham

 It was so good for my heart to go see Allen and Amanda Jones in St. Andrews this past weekend.
The Lord knows I needed to be around people who know me and could remind me of the ways He has made me. People in Rome and in my sending region don't know all the gifts and skills God has given me. I have recently been evaluated by many people who don't know me very well and it was difficult to hear a lot of what they said. I am processing it and asking the Lord to reveal truth to me. Allen and Amanda were a huge blessing in this process.

The sun was out almost all the time I was visiting.
It was lovely!
We had great fish and chips,
great conversations,
wonderful views of the sea and the scottish countryside.
I got to play golf in St. Andrews... mini golf.. but golf. :-) right next to the real golf course.

My heart is happy after this trip. 6 hour train rides up and back were relaxing.
I got back to rainy Birmingham... but it was nice to see friends on the train from the centre out to my area.  And I have the memories of seeing the Island of May across the sea and playing golf at St. Andrews. :-)

I love the SEA!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

My flat is feeling more like home

I feel like I often am writing about transition. 
Probably because I am often in transition. 
I am praying that the move to the UK will be a staying place for a long time.
 Transition is wearying. But it continually teaches me to trust the Lord. 
And as I think of that, I am struck again by how the students I work with are in transition. The life has called me to at this point definitely helps me understand the people He has called me to work with. 
In transition there are definite stages. 
I am in the entry stages of learning my new culture. 
My flat is laid out differently than the one in Rome and differently than the two in Kandern, and differently than anywhere else I have lived. 
So I am adjusting, reimagining how to use spaces. The kitchen, living room, bathroom areas are feeling like home... that is progress. :-) Here are some photos. 
 Living space.. I love the green space behind my flat that I get to look at out my living area window
 A corner of my bedroom with the green chair I purchased 7 years ago in Germany at a flea market.
 A view into my bathroom. small but great.
 One side of my kitchen. There is a refrigerator and a freezer!  Praise the Lord! 
The shelves on the right I purchased about 5 years ago in Kandern. That piece has been so useful in different ways in different spaces!
 The other side of the kitchen.. looking over a parking lot then greenery. Pretty good. :-)
in my narrow hallway there was space for this little set up. My internet, one of the first art pieces I painted, a lovely new plant, and the phone you call me on when you call the US number I have. :-) 

The other spaces are coming together slowly.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

I am learning...

I keep sitting down to write out my Musings for the month of May. 
But I am distracted and exhausted.
I am learning new routes, routines and rhythms.
It is good, but transition is always exhausting. 
I am walking anywhere from 2-5 miles a day getting from place to place. 
I am learning bus routes and train routes. 
I am learning a new university campus layout and new grocery stores. 
I am learning new words and old words.
I am meeting new people.
I am learning different cultural norms for everything from praying to greetings.
 Anytime I leave my flat to go anywhere, I walk by this scene. I love the name of the cul de sac and most times the blue mini cooper is also present.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Getting there...

As I am settling in... Some spaces feel finished.

Friday, 11 May 2012

catching up

I feel so behind on keeping up with communication these days. I have moved into my new place in Birmingham and I am getting things organised. I have been able to set up a bank account, establish a working mobile number and order internet service (to be installed this coming Monday).

I look forward to having internet at home so I can be in better communication with all of you. Internet at home means use of my US phone number, skype after work hours, updates on my blog, prayer requests, musings, etc...

I hope to send out an issue of Musings this coming week to catch you up. If you don't recieve my Monthly Musings, and you would like to, contact me and I will make sure you get them.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Thank you Tiana

For first visitor!
For helping me unpack
For bringing my Danish Dough Whisk
For the lovely photos of Mt. Hood and LT
For sharing that great tea with me.
For the Cadbury World experience
For news from Oregon
For your encouraging words.

I appreciate you dear Tiana

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

May 1st

When I was a little girl, I remember making little boquets of flowers to put on the door steps of various people I knew for May Day. I loved that! A little bit of brightness for someone's day. I don't know if it mattered to the people who received the little boquets, but I loved it.

When I lived in Austria, the towns would each erect a May pole, with flowers and streamers. It brought back memories of days gone by when the young people of the town would dance around the maypole in celebration of spring and there would be a big party with all the townsfolk.

When I lived in Germany, I learned of the other side of the first of May. Labour day.
And in many countries over here, there are large demonstrations for fairness of labour, for increases of pay, for venting frustration and anger. Police gear up for what may happen in Berlin, Rome, Paris, London, Athens, etc...

I wish I could go back to when I was a child and thinking that the 1st of May meant flowers and spring. Instead I find myself with tears in my eyes as I read of the happenings in the world around this Labour Day.

But we do not lose heart, though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

Monday, 16 April 2012

reality check

The past couple weeks I have been looking for a place to live and getting to know this place I am going to call home. 
I have traveled a lot on foot, used the lovely trains and ridden with staff friends in their cars. 
It has become obvious that I will need to purchase a car here sooner than I thought. 

This fills me with a bit of fear.

I am not afraid of driving on the other side of the road...
...although, I will definitely be more cautious for a while.

I am not afraid of finding a good deal for a car...
...I know people here who can help out

no, what I am afraid of, I realised last night...
...I am afraid of the amount of money that I will need to purchase a car. 

I feel strange even writing that. 
I have experienced the Lord provide exceedingly abundantly for all my needs all of my life. 
There is nothing in my history with the Lord that proves anything other than that God is the provider.

I do not want to be afraid.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Learning to speak English again


These are just a few of the new words I am learning as I adjust to life in the UK. 
Do you know what they all are?
I am asking the question, "what does that mean?" a lot these days. 

 I am also learning about different foods. 
My first meal in Birmingham, homemade bangers and mash.
 Thank you Sarah Carruthers. :-)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Mind the Gap

I found my way to the train station this morning on my way to meet up with others to look for a place to live. As I waited at the track I saw this sign painted on the cement. I thought about the gap between what I know of the UK and what is reality. I thought of the gap between what I know now if the role I will step into and what I will know months from now. I thought of the gap between how much I know and am known by Agapè UK staff and how much I will know and be known by them months from now.

I need to "Mind the Gap" as I move forward. I need to be a learner and listener so I don't fall into the gap between.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Sigh...saying goodbye hurts my heart

This was my last day living in Rome. In between packing I had sweet time with dear friends. A final gelato. Thanks to Antonello.

Hugs all around...

As I left the gelato place I realised that I had not told my friends at my favourite restaurant that I am moving. I took a detour, pulled up google translate so I would not mess up what I wanted to say, and went inside Il Tunnel. I shall miss them. As I completed the walk home, the tears that have been on the verge of falling for weeks, came down.

As I told a friend tonight, I am excited for this new role, but I am not excited about starting over again. I know that transition wears me out.

I need to remember that God is my strength and my portion.