December 2019 Newsletter

Thank you to all of our faithful supporters and encouragers through the years. We
appreciate you so much and are excited to discover what direction Mountain
Haven will be heading as we seek answers, rest, and direction for the years to come.
We continue to prayerfully consider what our future looks like and how ministry will evolve and
take a different shape and direction for us. This season is turning out to be longer than we
expected but we are going to be patient and stop putting expectations on it, and ourselves.
Thanks for being patient with us, supporting us through years, praying for us and always being kind to us.

MINISTRY AT A GLANCE

Financials: Monthly Revenue Required: $2700.00 and Monthly Revenue Received: $700.00 Remaining Need: $2,000.00

Something Interesting or Unexpected that Happened: 1.) Kaisha was the lead role in her school play “The Girl in The White Pinafore” Needless to say she blew us away with her mad skills and her passion for acting onstage. 2.) Lilliana danced in the City of the North Parade and she shone like a star and is an incredibly talented dancer. 3.) We got snowed in with Brandon and Emily over Thanksgiving with a whopping 22 inches of snow in Duluth. It was super crazy around here trying to snowblow and get them out of here for work. It was a fun adventure. 4.) For the first time in 20 years, Kevin got a report from his iloscopy (a procedure like a colonoscopy but for people without a colon) that he had no active evidence of Crohns in his small intestine at this time! We are so happy about this small victory and grateful that he is not on heavy duty immunosuppressants at this time.

Top Prayer Requests: Pray that Kevin can get relief from his wound. It appears that it is getting slightly larger and his wound care Doc is now referring him to go back to his surgeon to open the wound back up in order to use a wound vac to try to move the healing process along. We are on week 22 of wound care appointments but despite it all, he has no regrets over his previous surgeries that resulted in his colon removal.

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Mountain Haven Newsletter – December 2019

The Light that only
Darkness Can Illuminate
“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light” Brene Brown

I think the trick in life, in relationships, and in parenting is to realize that we must surrender to the ultimate truth that we are not God, life is not about us, and no matter how hard we try we cannot completely; not permanently vanquish the darkness; nor should we. Darkness exists; and darkness persists; until it illuminates a deeper, more intimate, and more joyful life. I want to take a minute and expound on what I think acts as darkness for us. And explore how the shadows of darkness play out and affect our most intimate relationships.

Let’s start with lack. When we were in full time ministry, we left the western world of being paid a living wage for what we were doing. It was a radical departure from capitalism, materialism, gain, and acquisition. I can remember those first five years from 2008 to 2013 when we moved out to the Mountain and we started living a donation based existence and put our life savings into a ministry. I remember a devastating fire where we lost every single item that we owned or valued in November 2008. I died a thousand selfish deaths. I gave up caribou coffee, haircuts, eating out, household supplies, creature comforts, shopping, family trips, nice reliable cars; and I replaced my way of thinking with daily bread living. Every day I had just enough. I gathered wood for my fireplace, I bought exactly what food we needed, and I lived gratefully for every bite, every breath, and every gift. It was a darkness when it really should not have been.

Because despite those circumstances I experienced a profound, adventurous life replete with incredible gifts, people, and memories. Nevertheless it was also a period of the darkness of lack. I was consumed with fear of not making it, fear of no retirement, fear that I would never be able to support or help my kids, fear over how much each breakdown or hospitalization would cost. I realized though that during that time, God had enough grace for my selfish whining about lack and I was surprised so many times from the generosity of others and my own ability to be ok without all those things I once thought I needed. Lack is a darkness. But it is more than that, for me, and maybe you; it is a state of mind. Now that I am back in the western swing of things and making a livable wage, bombarded by the pull of materialism, especially during the holidays, I see my selfish propensity to look more closely at my lack and how when I focus on it, it affects my attitude. It affects my quality and my presence as a wife, parent and friend. It makes me more crabby, more aggressive, more demanding of Kevin. You see the darkness of lacks engulfs a person’s essence and it disconnects them from those that they should be loving. It merely connects us to the broken part of ourselves and puts us onto a continuous path of needing to fulfill a certain lifestyle; and being lulled into apathy and lack of humility or awareness at times. Especially during those times when things may be humming along in an orderly fashion for us. We may not see those we need to truly see around us.

I am so guilty of this awareness of lack; and it is illustrating my fear and self reliance. Lack is a darkness that will illuminate those parts of us that need to be surrendered, and highlight for us the ways we are being more selfish because we are being controlled by fear. Lack can be all consuming if we let it. It will manifest in fear, passivity, aggression, lack of communication, depression, selfishness, pride, shame, and unfortunately control. For at the heart of the darkness of lack is our fear that we have no control. Therefore we amass control either spiritually, environmentally, financially or even inwardly. It is contrived control however, merely an illusion.

Another darkness is worry and anxiety. However this darkness manifests in our lives, it is a destructive force for everyone in its path. I will be completely vulnerable here about my worries and anxiety. I have been overwrought to the point of having dry heaves due to anxiety. Worried about how this move will affect my kids, worried that I failed God by stepping away from this ministry when I did, worried that I have no community, worried about how we will ever make it financially since Kevin was hospitalized so much and finding stable work has been so difficult, worried about retirement, worried about how exhausted I am from working so many long hours at my job, worried about if Kevin would live through these surgeries and diagnoses, worried about my future, worried that I can’t keep juggling all the balls, worried that I wont get a vacation ever, and that I am destined to work excruciatingly hard for the rest of my life to get us through this medical crisis. I think you get the point. That’s not a pretty picture is it? It’s more like a petty picture.

The darkness of worry and anxiety takes many forms for all of us. We can't think it away, pray it away, fight it, ignore it or pretend it is not there. It will find a way to manifest itself into our closest relationships. Whatever we bury in our deepest of hearts, and don’t name, will always come out of our subconscious and manifest itself in someway in our relationships. You may find yourself ignoring others, snapping at your kids, controlling things that are irrelevant, being annoyed for no reason, overspending, snapping, saying irrational things or just being a jerk. I can say I am guilty of all of these behaviors. Just ask my family. But I believe as of late, I have leaned into despair in a different way. Not like a persona that I am going to wear forever, but more like I imagine a canoe I am in -this canoe takes me from one island to the next. The water is choppy, the waves are high, I can't help but be anxious. However I can name it, I can share this burden with others, I can have grace on myself. I can slow down, I can say no, I can set goals for myself and identify the ways that my anxiety has caused me to snap at Lilly or pick fights with Kevin. I can avoid talks about difficult things at night when I am tired. I can be aware that I have all these broken pieces of me and it’s OK to acknowledge that because all of those broken pieces, I am a beautiful mosaic. I can try to steer my canoe intentionally with awareness and deft maneuvering.

I can let the darkness illuminate the ways that i am a survivor and a victor, I have been a survivor and a victor many times on my journey, and I know you have as well. Darkness has never completely swallowed me, but wow does it seem like it has. I can remember the victories, share the victory stories with Kevin and others. I can do whatever things are within my purview to change; behaviors that might be contributing to my anxiety. Whether that’s over eating, overspending, disconnecting, looking to others to satisfy me, or any other bad habits I’m engaged with. I can pay attention to myself and ask others that I trust to tell me where they see I am falling and flailing.

I can ask to be reminded; but this takes courage and humility. I can forgive myself for being so ugly and dreadful. I can intentionally be gentle with others because I am self aware of my brokenness. They don't need to be punished because I feel I am being punished; and God forbid I do punish them, they can try to love me despite it and not be afraid either. God is not let down by me; even though humans seem to be. I can remember that when I don’t feel strong enough to quote the right scripture or pick my feet up to get to a church service. I can ask for help or ask for a hug and I can offer the same gift to others because I’m fully aware of how compassion changes everything. How withholding judgment sometimes is more loving then executing judgment. I can remember that when Thomas doubted, Jesus showed up and let him touch his hands so he didn’t have to sit alone in his doubt. My how that must have brought comfort to Thomas.

When I acknowledge that darkness of anxiety and worry, when I submerge myself in the real fears, I allow myself to see the light peeking through the cracks. A comment by a friend, a client that thanks me, a hug from my kids, a look into Kevin’s eye where we are happy in that moment to be with each other, a poem that my son just wrote, a play that I saw that my daughter just starred in, or a dance that my other daughter danced her heart out too. These rays of light are seen in the darkness from a different perspective. I know that we sometimes feel like we are sinking. I know that sometimes we feel that darkness may have invaded our lives whether innocuously over time invading our landscape slowly, or surprisingly in a crash event. But I am convinced that this darkness is necessary to illuminate the deeper light within us. The deeper light that WILL come forth eventually and is able to shine in the darkness of this world and is able to manifest itself in compassion, kindness and true and authentic intimate connection with our spouses, our children, our family and our friends. A light that transforms us and those around us, a light that frees us from fear of lack and generates generosity and genuine acceptance of others.

If you are struggling with the darkness, don’t be ashamed. You might need to talk about it with a trusted friend, counselor, pastor or even spend some time with yourself. Take it slow, have grace and mercy on yourself and take responsibility for the ways that this darkness may have hurt those around you. And if you don’t know how it has affected others , that’s OK for now; when you are walking in a new level of light you will come to a new level of understanding and there will be healing.

That is the beauty and the mystery of grace you can’t control it, you can only surrender to it. I am so grateful for Kevin during the season I have manifested much darkness and much fear and we have hurt each other because we have both been afraid of lack, of worry, and of anxiety. But I think we both recognize that fighting each other is only creating more darkness; and I am so grateful that we have walked a journey in the past so we can remember that the darkness and the dark night of the soul is not forever. There is a light coming that only darkness can illuminate.

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