Middle-aged and loving it

(I wrote this mid-2018 and apparently forgot to post it.  It’s fine, because it’s truer now.)

I’m not on Facebook and I don’t read many blogs so I’m not sure what the hot topics of discussion are nowadays on the world wide web.

In real life, I’ve been in a lot of conversations about dreams and their interpretations because I have a friend who is really into that.  Plus I just completed a Bible study on the book of Daniel so we dove into some weird dreams.

On our campus, we have been in an ongoing discussion about sexual identity.  It’s been hard and sad and really good.  Surely other churches and organizations are having these hard and good conversations too.  If you’re not, now is a good time to start.

Hj and I have been talking about money a good bit.  Friendly chit chat, you know.

This morning I went to IHOP with a friend who is 69 years old and we talked about the vision and mission statement of her life, which she’s been working on writing down.  We talked about the new Supreme Court justice too.  She told me she remembers when coffee was 20 cents a cup.

One thing I haven’t been talking about out loud lately is what it’s like to be middle aged.  Being young was very exciting to me.  I loved the feeling of having my whole life ahead of me, lots of discoveries and changes to look forward to.  I’ve always been pretty eager to be old and wise, but never looked forward to the boring part in the middle, appropriately known as “middle-aged.”

Now that I am in the beginning stages, I have found it much more interesting than I expected.  I feel like it might be the best of both worlds: young people respect me and old people take me seriously.  It’s perfect!  (I don’t know if young people actually respect me because they tend to hide those feelings so I’m basing that one on some assumptions/hopes haha.)

Some days I laugh because I feel so unprepared for the middle-aged temptations.  I just want to settle down with a big house and a beautiful backyard and have a pristine bathroom.  I want to have the same friends for the rest of my life, and never move again.  I want my kids to go to the same school for 18 years and never have to deal with change.  The American Dream seems pretty appealing, and that’s coming from someone who has scoffed at the very notion for 31 years.  These are my temptations! I just want to be comfortable and never have to think about money.

The other day we went to a friend’s really nice house and on the way home Hj confessed he had lusted after their big plastic storage bench under the deck.  It was right next to the pool, and it held all their swimming paraphernalia.  It seemed an absurd and funny thing to covet, but I understood, especially since we keep all our swimming paraphernalia in a canvas bag that really doesn’t have a final resting place.

You couldn’t have convinced Hj and I when we got married that we would ever dream of living an easy life.  We wanted to give our lives for Jesus in missions, be martyrs, live in huts, whatever He asked.  We moved every year or so, selling pretty much everything we had each time.  We had a fast turnover of friends.

Having two babies and turning 30 did the trick for us.  All of a sudden we wanted old things that felt familiar.  We didn’t want to travel or go on exciting adventures anymore.  We wanted to have a stable, small life full of routines and predictability.  We wanted old friendships that had been weathered and strengthened by lots of time, adversities and birthday parties.

I’m embracing some settling.  I’m grateful for at least a few deep roots.  I had to confess to my friend last week that I had semi-lied, and even though I felt silly, I didn’t care so much about what she thought of me.  I’ve learned to value and cultivate healthy friendships and I’m learning how to confront people about their issues instead of gossip, thanks to a friend who is really good at this and even takes the time to teach me how.  That takes a kind of self forgetfulness that I think we middle agers should be keen to embrace.  By now surely we can stop obsessing about our own successes  and failures and give it all away, live with an open hand and an open heart.

We can be humble enough by now to freely ask for advice, and listen to older people. We’ve discovered that we don’t know everything after all, but we can count as precious what we do know!  We can take what wisdom we have in our bucket and pour it liberally on the next generation, on the children and young people in our lives.

Sometimes I find myself telling people in the checkout line stories about myself, when I was younger!  This is the real sign that I am getting old and embracing it.

Fire tunnel Sunday

I was at a Trump rally once and the first thing Mr. POTUS said was: what better place to be than at a Trump rally!? Since we weren’t inside the venue yet, we could think of a few places, so we turned around and went to eat a burger. All that to say: what better place to be right now than in your own happy place reading this blog.

My wife and I recently left our church of 4 years and went to visit some other churches.
Joy said, “All I want is a good sermon.” So we went and visited our friend’s church. It happened to be fire tunnel Sunday. The sermon was skipped and the leaders of the church stood in a line praying for you while you went through the “tunnel”. It was very different. We now consider ourselves part of a church downtown and it has been good connecting with the people there. (the sermons are great)

trying to rub his tummy and pat his head at the same time while looking super cool

The coronavirus is affecting everyone and so also our campus. We had 3 different schools running at our campus the last 3 months. All of these schools were going to send out teams to do ministry in Southeast Asia. At first they changed the locations of the outreaches and now they canceled them all together. In our state we are not allowed to have gathering with more then 250 people, so our schools and churches are all canceled. We are going to hunker down and pray this storm out!

It’s been a bit hard at work (Kairos Traders) because we had a bunch of events canceled because of the virus. We were going to our first new age conference in combination with one of our schools. The school would preach the gospel and interpret dreams and we would tell stories and sell Kairos Traders products. But it got canceled.

At the doctors to have a perler bead removed from his ear!

Speaking of work. I have been hard at work designing a leather journal! This is something I thought I would never do but here I am. I had the idea for the journal and when I started talking to one of our manufacturers in Nepal through e-mail he basically started the process for me right then and there. I was hoping to take it easy and maybe next Christmas we would have the journals ready. Now they are going to be ready next month. Our friends from Purnaa in Nepal had a slow season coming up in their production schedule and making the leather journal covers fitted perfectly in the gap they had. The process is long especially when you think you are done and then they run out of the leather you want and you have to spend even more hours staring at a picture of a tiny piece of leather and decide if you want to turn it into a journal. Hopefully the journals will go into production soon and we would have our second Kairos Traders brand product!

Ellie and Adam learned how to ride the bike both in one weekend and that wraps it up!
stay safe!

Fun Raising

Hopefully by now you know that me and my family are part of Youth With A Mission in Colorado Springs.
I am part of the Business As Missions team where we train missionaries to start businesses to reach the un-reached by creating jobs and mercy ministries. I specifically work with businesses that work with survivors of human trafficking. Joy is part of the local outreach team where they go and reach out to the massage parlors in town that are often a front for prostitution. At the moment she is taking a break from that to go back to school.

Celebrating Dutch Sinterklaas with some single people at our campus.

The December month marks our 4th year here in the Springs. Looking back I believe this has been the place for us as a family to grow and get more confident in the calling God has placed on our lives. We are called to care for the exploited and the ones treated unjustly. That’s why we do what we do, that’s why Joy is back in school. These issues are in our prayers and in on our heart.

To be part of YWAM you have to raise your own funds since we do not get a salary but we operate as volunteers. The first 4 years we have been blessed with support from close friends and family. Lately we have been challenged to grow our team of financial supporters. We feel God wants to grow our team with people who give on a monthly basis and also pray for us.

So I have been writing people and it has been hard, asking for money. If I didn’t know God asked me to do this I would have given up a long time ago. But it has been good too, God is the Lord of my life in every kind of way and I like it. We love inviting people into our story and come along side us fighting exploitation.

If you would like a letter in the mail with more info on what we do and how to become part of our team write me a message on Facebook or email and send me your address.

We are also in the middle of adding a 3rd room to our current tiny 2 room apartment.
If you would like to give a one time donation toward our building fund you can do so here. (and see what we looked like 4 years ago)

Thank you!

Kairos Traders Team

A Very Normal Day

Do you ever have those days that are rough around the edges, no matter how hard you try to smooth them out and make them better? I had one of those recently. Actually, it was today.

It started with a couple of snooze buttons. I usually pop out of bed at 5:00 six days a week, but today I snoozed more than once. I was feeling a little unprepared for this afternoon’s math exam so I dove into studying as soon as I was up, even though God says, “Seek Me first.”

I barely had time to stuff an egg sandwich in my mouth before I headed out the door for school, but lo and behold there was half an inch of ice on my windshield and I couldn’t find the scraper. I chipped away at it with a dustpan until I had a tiny peephole.

My 8:00 English class wasn’t fun. It’s hard to be 33 years old and trying to learn how to write a thesis and develop an argument when you have practiced keeping your opinions tucked in and not arguing for your whole life. I get tired of feeling incompetent so much, especially since incompetence is one of my least favorite feelings.

I skipped history class and went to Ellie’s poetry recital at her school. This was a sweet, bright spot in my day. Ellie recited “Now We Are Six,” by A.A. Milne which cousin Rachel taught her on her 6th birthday in NYC this year. She was just perfect!

I went back to college for my math exam and I wasn’t sure if the answer was dispersion or distribution, but I did my best. At least now I understand what it means when people say that their kid is in the 90th percentile for height. That always made me scratch my head, but no more.

A guy in my class asked me if I was ok because my teeth were bloody. I have no idea why, but they were. I went down the back staircase and I met a guy holding a ladder. He was very polite and made room for me, and I said cheerfully, “Excuse us!” There was no one else around.

I went to the wrong parking lot in the freezing cold, because I forgot where I had parked.

So I stopped for ice cream on the way home but there was construction and terrible traffic and a big fence right across the shortcut I usually take. The drive thru took long and my ice cream was literally warm when I drank it.

I came home and quickly swept the floors because friends were coming over for tea, which was another very warm spot in my day. One of my kids bit the other and then lied about it. So we bundled up nice and warm and went out to play in 33 degrees. Adam made baby Jesus in a manger out of the leftover snow and Ellie climbed a tree. Some students came outside to hug the kids and they made me laugh. The sunset over Pikes Peak was just perfect.

We ate dinner in the dining room, and the mashed potatoes were surprisingly cold. But the meat was good. I have a big research paper to write and a speech to practice and a rhetorical analysis to polish, but I thought it would be good to complain a little and get it out of my system before I tackle my homework.

Truthfully, I feel a lot better now. A day with minor inconveniences and small embarrassments just keeps life interesting and fun.

A New (Little) Addition

Exciting news! We have been living in two hotel rooms for about four years now, and the time has come for us to expand. The housing team on our campus offered us the empty room next to our living room and when they offered an inch, we suggested a mile. We asked if we can take out the wall and make a bigger living room and a small bedroom for the kids and we will even get a large closet! A closet to me, is like a Ferrari to you.

We had seriously considered buying a house here in the Springs, but when we prayed and fasted about it, the proverbial door slammed shut. Now we get to stay in the rooms where we have already made lots of improvements and built a kitchenette, plus we will enjoy the luxury of more space and finally our kids will have their own bedroom. They cannot fathom this arrangement, but we their parents definitely can.

We are praying and asking around to see if anyone with construction skills wants a free trip to Colorado in December. We might throw in some food. A ski day could even be arranged!

Simple Obedience

I loved yesterday’s church service. The whole service was focused on missions, specifically the least reached in the 10/40 window. (see picture)

This is exactly what our Y-base is focused on.
The core of the message was that we need to pray for the unreached outside the States and right where we are. It is a simple message. For me, the hard part is doing it.

When we first joined the mission in Colorado Springs, I learned a lot about the least reached. The 10/40 window is where most of the unreached people groups are. There are still whole groups of people that never heard the gospel and the % of Christians in their group is 0.

I don’t know about you but I want to get up and jump on the first plane and start living among those groups and be Jesus to them.
The one thing our mission does well is training! We don’t just go, we make sure we are equipped and know how that culture receives the gospel best.

In my day to day, that translates into teaching people how to do business and specifically marketing. Often the countries in the 10/40 are closed to the gospel and it is illegal to preach. Business is a door into those countries which isn’t the only benefit. Business creates jobs, boosts the economy and gives the owner direct contact with the locals. Often the businesses we work with have a social bottom-line. We work with businesses that hire survivors of human trafficking; they’re focused on people.

Our pastor, in his sermon, was very practical. He pointed at this app called: Unreached of the Day. It shows you a detailed description of one of the unreached people groups. With the prayer points provided you can intercede for the unreached. I have been using this app and I love it!
It is something I can do before I go myself.

That’s exactly how we look at Joy going back to school. It is a preparation for something bigger we don’t fully understand yet. We are excited though to see what God has up His almighty sleeve!

Thanks for praying!

Bunch ‘o pictures, narrated by the kids

I just forgot what we were supposed to be doing – Adam
We are at Washington DC and we were staying at a house with Naomi, that is our cousin and we are going to a coffee shop-Ellie
We are at the zoo. We were looking at the butterflies, no it was not. We were at the desert. (Ellie insert: Ellie was standing on a AC vent and her skirt flew up) – Adam

What is going on?

This upcoming week our life is going to change! Joy is going back to school.
I am very excited about this and Joy is too, she just has some added anxiety to her excitement. From the very first thoughts about going back to school I knew God was behind it. It seemed very impossible at first, and that is exactly what made me believe it was possible. Believe me, the last thing we need is another bill for school and books and what not. But God provided! Joy did some research and applied for several scholarships and now the first 2 semesters are paid for in full.

The second hoop to jump through was our schedule.
It was very overwhelming to try to figure this out but once we had clarity on what Joy was going for, we nailed down a perfect schedule. Joy will attend classes at our community college on the days Ellie and Adam are both in school and she will take one evening class. In this way she doesn’t miss much time with our kids and I can keep working as I was before.

The part I am most excited about is what the future will hold. Joy will be able to take what she is learning and bring it into practice. After she is done studying if the Lord wills it, we will move overseas and go where God sends us. We appreciate your prayers!

It has been too long

When I saw that our last post was published on October 11th, a short wave of excitement went through my brains. What a blessing that we never mentioned our new years resolution of writing more blogs in 2019!
Nobody will ever know that our last born DNA of being lazy and dependent on mom kicked in hard this time.
Our blog actually fell off the internet for a little while and our dear brother PD graciously picked it back up and restored our and the url’s dignity.

In the meantime we are still doing missions in Colorado Springs and for some of you we are still at the other side of the country/world.

I will be leaving for Thailand and Nepal when this month hits the middle and will stay there till it hits the end.
I will be going there with our Business as Missions team. We will be taking a few local business guys to introduce them to the companies and people we partner with in Asia and hopefully get the local business owners to come alongside the BAM people to do some long distance coaching! We also will be attending a Business As Missions conference where there will be a “shark tank” where new business ideas will be presented and hopefully funded by the sharks.
Two students of our School of Business and Entrepreneurship will present their business plans, which they developed at our school on our campus.
The conference will have several breakout seminars and I will be teaching one of them on Online Marketing.

As I wrote in the last blog posted on October 11 2018, I (Hj) now have officially left the coffeehouse and stepped into my full time role with Kairos Traders. It has been going really good and I am excited for all the things God is doing in the area of fighting human trafficking. Kairos Traders started off the new year great! We joined a local co-op space in a prime location in downtown Colorado Springs and we started selling at Kairos Coffeehouse.
I am working on our website right now to get it ready to sell wholesale so we can create many more jobs for the businesses that employ survivors!
We are hoping that this year the online store will grow by a lot so if you want to contribute you can go there right now and buy yourself or someone else a beautiful gift for Valentine’s Day or any other day, that builds a community where there is no trafficking of people! Please pray that our work will spread rapidly so we can prevent and work against trafficking. www.kairostraders.com

Committed Necklace

Let me write a little bit about Joy and then I will call it quits.
Joy is still working here locally, reaching out to the women that work in the massage parlors. One of the ladies came to know the Lord not too long ago and that was a direct answer to prayer. Two people joined Joy’s team and in the next week or two they will be doing a Valentine’s Day outreach where they will take 30 of our students from here at our campus and give gifts and prophetic words to the working women. In the past this outreach has been really good. Please pray that the students will hear from God clearly and that the women will receive the gifts.

Thank you for reading.
I am in the process of creating a FB page for our mission work so you can stay up to date a bit better, while writing more blogs! (lol)

Newsletter kind of update

I am writing this blog post on September 30th! (Happy Birthday Sietske) 
Our fall quarter is in full swing and here is little overview of what we are doing. 

Adam is in preschool 2 mornings in the week and Ellie officially started kindergarten. I homeschool Ellie on Mondays and Joy does Fridays and on the other 3 days she goes to school. So far so good. I enjoy having Ellie at home and it is such a blessing to be involved with her school in such a unique way.

The fall quarter is the biggest on our campus. Three weeks ago we gained about 80 students that are doing schools on our campus. The DTS alone has 64 students. The students are divided up in different interests which we call focuses. We have a calling and identity, worship, missions and business as mission focus. I am leading the business as mission focus. We have 5 students: 3 Americans, 1 from the Netherlands and 1 from Brazil. We have been blessed with a lot of Dutch people on our base and right now we total 5!!! (!!) We started to come together on Thursdays to watch Boer Zoekt Vrouw which is such a treat! I also am the Dutch student’s one on one, meaning we have weekly meetings of reflection and working out personal issues if needed.

One of the schools our campus is running is called the Bridge school. It is a transition school that helps the young students find their calling after DTS whether it is on our campus or at home. The Bridge students intern with different departments on our campus. Me and Joy both have interns this quarter. 
Joy is still doing her ministry to the massage parlors with her friend Heather. Right now they are driving back from an International Justice Mission conference with their 3 interns. IJM is all about ending slavery in our lifetime. I love seeing Joy chasing her passions and this is definitely one of them.

As you know I have been working at Kairos Coffee House for the last 2.5 years. I love working at Kairos, it is such an incredible ministry. 
Right now we have a very young team and it is so fun to walk alongside them. Recently I brought a few of our employees to a young adult church. I really wanted breakthrough for one of our employees who was struggling. It was such an honor to walk alongside him to show him God still cared for his life. God showed up for him that night; join me in prayer that his life will be changed.

Even though I love Kairos Coffee so much, Lord willing I will be leaving that team and join the Kairos Traders team at the end of the year. 
As you know we ran a kickstarter not too long ago and with that money I built the online store for Kairos Traders. It is starting a bit slow but with Christmas around the corner we will be a lot more busy! You can order anything you like from our store at www.kairostraders.com

When you buy at Kairos Traders you fight human trafficking! All our products come from social businesses in Asia that either prevent trafficking by providing jobs for the vulnerable, or work directly with the victims of human trafficking.  These businesses invest in their employees by providing health care, a savings account, insurance and dignity. Many of these employees come to Christ because they see Jesus around them.

This blog started in September and ended in October!