Who Do You Say that I Am?

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Lately, I have been pondering the depth of Mark 8:29, where Jesus asks His disciples a compelling question. Mark 8:29 says, ‘”But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ.’” Like most scripture, much can be discussed about this verse, but what speaks to me today is the power in recognition and the release of authority when that acknowledgement is verbalized.

Often we ask ourselves who Christ is to us, but think it unimportant to ask Him the same question. So recently I dared to ask my Father, “Who do you say that I am?” What He spoke into my heart resonates and loudly, so loud that you can hear it, but only because His answer is the same for you.

You are mine, the very evidence my voice creates all from none simply because I uttered it so. You are the one created to sense the wind of my whisper within yourself, pulling you near. You are the one whose gaze draws me to sweep you up into the very arms already embracing you. You are the one whose single plea causes my kisses to blanket your cry of repenting. I say you are the one I see through a veil of crimson not your own. You are the one who can bend your knee and sit on my knee in a single moment.

You are the carrier of my dwelling, the one whose very skin outlines a pocket of my presence, a cloud and fire.  I say that you are the one creation who looks as me, so you can be me to those whose pain glues shut their eyes, those whose ears can listen but not hear. You, my child, are the one whose laughter releases and binds in the same moment—releasing my strength and binding my enemy. You are my voice, the one who sounds as my Son when you speak His words, a conduit of life in the rotted up places. I say you are the one whose fingers hold my unending power, and whose arms feel as mine around the broken. I say you are not just a mirror of me, but a window to me. You are my child, my friend. Simply put, you are mine, that is who I say you are.”

For me what makes this word so, so beautiful is that we are who we are simply because of who He is—the Christ, the Messiah. We are because He first was, but even more—He still is and forever will be. Even more, when we choose to recognize who we actually are in Him, it releases the authority for our mindset and behavior to follow!

~Keisha~

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New Season

 Our family has obviously experienced much change and transition over the past couple of months, but last week we entered a new season yet again.  Both Hannah and Noah started school. For Hannah, this is her first “American school” experience, and for Noah, this is his first school experience ever!

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 The evening before Hannah’s first day, she experienced a great deal of anxiety and nervousness about attending a much larger school, where she did not know anyone. After many tears on her part, much soothing on our parts and praying together, our sweet Hannah finally rested and slept soundly before her new adventure.

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 After a good breakfast, family devotions, and prayer, both Mommy and Daddy drove Hannah to her new school, Campus Elementary.

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After one week of class, her teacher only had positive comments about Hannah’s participation and adjustment. In response to our inquiry about Hannah in class, her teacher responded, “Hannah has been doing wonderfully!  I would never have guessed that this was Hannah’s first experience with American school!  She is a pro! I see her talking to other students at appropriate times, and she seems to be making new friends.   I could tell that the first couple of days that she was nervous, but yesterday she really seemed at ease and very happy.  She spoke about her favorite Thai food yesterday and asked me if I knew how to spell the dish she was talking about.  (Chicken with hot peppers and green beans – but she doesn’t like the peppers because they are very hot!)   She smiles all day long and is a lovely girl.  You both should be very proud of your daughter.  I look forward to getting to know Hannah better throughout this school year.  I am so happy to have her in my class!”

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We are so proud of our brave, kind daughter!

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Our energetic, adventurous Noah became a Kindergartner last week. Noah woke up on his first day of school full of excitement and ready for his new experience.

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 Not surprisingly, Noah’s first day proved to be much harder on Mommy than anybody else!

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 Noah is excited to be a “rocket” now, especially after attending our high school football game on Friday night (which we won).  Noah claimed this as a personal victory! Seeing Noah make friends and feel at home so quickly has been refreshing for us as a family.

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After Noah’s first week, his teacher (who by the way is a man . . . something else Noah claims as a personal victory) only had positive comments to make about Noah’s attitude, behavior, and knowledge. Thankfully,our unofficial homeschooling efforts while in Thailand benefited Noah!

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Thank you for your ongoing love and interest in our family and what the Lord is doing in us and through us!  Thank you for loving our precious, precious children!


Pouring into the Nations

Over the past two years, our family has shared many stories of ministry, but recently, we realized that we forgot one—a very important one. For the past year and a half, Keisha has taught college writing to high schoolers at Chiang Rai Christian International School (or CRICS for short). Our Hannah just finished 1st Grade at CRICS, and we love this school, what it stands for, and the impact it is making within the Chiang Rai community.

If I can be honest, when the principle of the school first approached me about teaching, I was completely opposed to the idea.  I did not move all the way to Thailand to teach composition; I came here to be a missionary.  Well, the joke was on me because now looking back on it, my time spent at CRICS is undoubtedly some of my most fruitful.

CRICS educates students from all over the world. My students alone represent seven different nations (Thailand, Akha, Taiwan, America, South Africa, Korea, and Holland). I may have come to Thailand with the intention of loving on Thai people, which I did with all my heart, but the Lord blessed me even more by allowing me to influence future leaders of so many other nations.

Although CRICS provides a Christian education, many of the students in attendance do not come from Christian families and are not in fact Christian. Parents often send their children to CRICS simply so they will be educated in the English language. But the Lord has used this place of education as a tool to draw many to Him. Over the years, many young people have given their lives to the Lord and are able to take the beautiful message of Jesus into their non-believing homes. Just yesterday, Hannah came home from school excited because her classmate’s mom gave her heart to the Lord.

I sincerely praise God for this unforeseen opportunity simply because I stepped outside my “plan” long enough to see His. What a joy for me to get to know, to love, and to pour into so many young people who will one day scatter throughout the earth and take with them the message of Jesus’ unending love.

To my students . . . thank you for making me laugh, for stretching me. Thank you for writing with honesty and for trusting me enough to write from your heart. I may have been your teacher, but you have taught me more than I can possible list. Each of you are beautiful and have much to give . . . so give without caution, allow the Lord to use you, and remember to communicate with honesty. And for those of you attending university in America, I truly hope to see you at my Thanksgiving table someday soon! I love you, from Miss Keisha!


A Child’s Perspective

While we continuously prepare for our transition back to the States, our family is experiencing quite the emotional roller coaster ride.  As a couple, we talk daily about the new adventure we are about to embark upon, all the while giving our hearts permission to grieve all we give up. The Lord daily speaks to our hearts that this journey with Him is NOT about what we do for Him, where we do it, or even how long we do it.  Rather, His desire for us boils down to obedience, simple obedience.

Hannah loves pretty much everything about living in Thailand (except for maybe the incessant sweating during hot season).  Today, during Hannah’s lunch period she found me at school. She was weeping. We sat down together and talked, and my sweet, sweet girl poured her heart out to me.

Between sobs, Hannah said, “Mommy, I know it is such a good thing to be a part of God’s amazing plan and we are part of that plan, but I am really going to miss Thailand and all my friends here.” Remarkably, my seven-year-old daughter perfectly articulated my own heart, so we hugged and wept together.

On the other hand although Noah enjoys much about our lives in Chiang Rai, as a whole he expresses more excitement about the coming changes.  Yet today he shared something from his heart that again made my heart swell and weep all at once.

After eating at one of our favorite Thai food shops, Noah asked me as we drove away, “Mommy does Derik know Jesus.”  When I responded that he did not because he is a practicing Buddhist, Noah insisted that we tell him before we leave.

Of course, I had to ask him “why” we should tell Derik about Jesus.  Noah responded, “Mommy Buddha is just a statue, but we need to tell Derik about the real, live God!”  I explained to Noah that Mommy and Daddy have been praying for months for the Lord to open the door of opportunity to share Christ with Derik (please pray that the Lord opens the door for us).

Noah may only be five years old, but I know that our time on the mission field planted a sincere concern for the lost in my son’s heart. Some day when I see Noah bearing fruit among the lost, I will remember this conversation and KNOW that our God brought to fruition what He began in Noah during our service in Chiang Rai.

I have stored today’s conversations and tears in my heart and spirit’s memory, so that I will never forget how our journey to Thailand, our service in Thailand, as well as our journey back to the States has certainly bound our family together in such an unique, authentic way, as well as opened the door for the Lord to deposit a portion of His heart in each of us.


BIG Lennon News!

Our family feels blessed to have been called to serve in Thailand. The last two years have been amazing in more ways that we can count. When Emerge Missions accepted us to serve with them, they asked that we commit for two years, which we will fulfill the summer of 2012.

In praying about how much longer to recommit, we sensed an unsettledness within our hearts that change was on the horizon. Honestly, we struggled to grasp why we were experiencing this unrest.  For goodness sake’s, we were called to the mission field! So we did the only thing we knew to do, we fasted, we prayed, and sought wise counsel. All this resulted in an answer, and truthfully, it was the last answer we expected. Even more, it was the last answer we initially wanted to hear. But still we knew that God was calling us home; the peace in our hearts told us so.

Even knowing that we were supposed to return to the U.S. and leave behind this God dream we had in many ways built our entire lives upon did not make the following weeks any easier. In fact, we spent many weeks wrestling with the reality of what this meant for our family; we have spent many hours weeping over what we leave behind. Yet still, the only decision that brings peace to our hearts is returning to the States upon completion of our commitment. With that said, our family will return to Ohio in June.

Please know that we made this decision because, and only because, we felt the Lord leading us this way. We love Thailand with the deepest parts of our hearts.  We love our Emerge Missions family and leaders, Chuck and Sherry Quinley. In no way are we returning to the States due disagreements or conflicts with our team or leaders. In fact, Emerge has left the door open for our return at any time, if we desire.

We want to thank each person and church body who not only partnered with us to get us to Thailand, but also those who have stood with us to keep us on the field. We could not have done the work God gave us to do without you. Truly, we reached many for the first time, and we did it together. Please know that we believe we are following the voice of God in this decision, and that our ministry is just beginning.

When we decided to return home, we felt uncertain of our future, especially in terms of ministry, as our hearts have always been to serve the Lord and serve people. We love the Lord, and we love people; our desire is simply to bring those two loves together. Still, not knowing if we would be leaving fulltime service behind, we followed the peace of the Lord in our decision to return home.

What a mighty God we serve whose plan and timing far exceeds our own!   About six weeks after making our decision to return, the Lord opened the door for fulltime ministry in Streetsboro, Ohio. Our family is overjoyed to announce that Ryan has accepted a fulltime children’s director position under Pastor Michael Rice at the Streetsboro Church of God. We are now spending many hours anticipating and rejoicing in what our family walks toward.

Certainly, our family’s God dream continues!


Embracing Rest

Nearly a week ago, Ryan’s mom arrived in Thailand for a visit. Since then we have enjoyed showing her all our favorite spots in Chiang Rai, sharing our love of Thai food, and of course simply spending time together.

Although Medialight 3.0 is currently in session, our leaders here gave us these two weeks off to enjoy and make memories that we may never again have opportunity to seize.

We did not realize how badly we needed some time to rest and simply enjoy living! Since the beginning of our preparation to move to Thailand almost four years ago, our family has had little down time. Quite honestly, we are both “workers” by nature, so creating rest time proves to be a challenge for us, as we truly enjoy working hard and seeing the results of our labor.

But the last week has shown us how desperately we were in need of some time focused outside of ministry. What a great lesson for us as a couple and as a family to embrace REST! We so look forward to the next six days together, making lifelong memories and allowing ourselves this time of refreshing!


Noah’s Riding Buddy

Yesterday morning, Noah went outside to play, and look what he found . . . a little friend wanting a ride. He was quite impressed!

He looks ready to ride.

He’s hanging on for dear life! Maybe he has snuck in a ride before and knows how Noah drives!

Wow, that is one serious tail.


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