Our Mission Statement

As a family of servants of God, we seek to Glorify Him by offering our lives as living sacrifices, being intentional about engaging people with Christ and the Gospel, and using the talents and training He has given us through grace to proclaim the Gospel of Grace to those near and far.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Change in Direction {Reasons for Decision}

***copied from our Mission Scotland blog***

There are several things that have led to this new direction for our family and mission. Admittedly, not every detail can be shared on a public forum, but what follows is as personally transparent as we can be here.

As the next post will point out, God has been working and producing much fruit through this work. So why leave at the 3-year mark if there is evidence of the Spirit’s success? There are several reasons for this.

Northeast Scotland is a unique place. Unlike the more populated places of the country, it became clear how isolated we were, the unique circumstances of the work this presented, and the toll it was taking on us as a family. We have dear, dear friends both inside and outside our church-community here, and it pains us to think of how much we will miss them (it’s probably the hardest part of all this). But even so, with the cultural realities and busyness of us as well as these friends, the isolation we feel is ever-present. Add to this the stresses of the work on the ground and I, as the leader of my family, was not handling the stressors well. These things, along with moving to a new town last December and the new approaching stress of having to move yet again (our rental is being sold, and we were given notice to move), the family and work were going to suffer more.

These things, of course, were not unexpected. We were not ignorant of what was to come in regards to enculturation; but there is always the difference of “knowing” something and even being prepared for it; and actually experiencing it first hand in real life. So many new factors involved. So many people to worry about. So many said and unsaid expectations. Add to that the constant feeling of loneliness and isolation that Daisha also felt; and how I, as a husband and daddy, was leading (or not) in handling certain matters; there was a daily compounding of issues.

There is no doubt in my mind that staying another 2 years would see much good. But there came a point where we had to ask: at what cost? While Jesus calls us to lose our lives for His sake, we must balance that requirement of discipleship and missions with what Paul tells Timothy: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever,” (1Tim5:8). And while this is in the context of caring for widows and the like; I believe this teaching the Spirit through Paul gives us can be taken in a broader context. There are ways in which my providing for my own family (namely: spiritually and in “being present”) is less than what it needs to be.

We can be involved in seeing many people come to Christ, as we have while we’ve been here. But if more time equals a failure of my first responsibility to my family, it is not worth it. There are too many stories we have heard that make clear to us how quickly these closest relationships can be torn asunder because of the ministry. And my family must be my priority; over and above the work.

We need a reboot.

There was consideration in changing mission strategies; and reducing our stressors by focusing less on the established work and more on the fruit we were apart of in reaching unbelievers in our community (which will be explored in the next entry). We were given much freedom by our supporting congregation (FXCC) to pursue whatever we saw necessary for success of the mission they had sent us on. For this we are grateful. But even so, it was clear that this sort of change in strategy was going to cause more harm than good in the short and mid-term, and we were not ready to put others and ourselves through it. The situation on the ground prevented the transition we were seeking.

Beyond the work, there are other considerations that as parents and professionals we need to consider. The health of our children in both society and in regards to education and opportunity are becoming ever more present and important for us as they enter the formative years of life. Admittedly, both Daisha and I were raised in a way and always surrounded and pushed by others who pursued education, opportunity, and the intellectual. We have missed this tremendously; and do not believe our children would receive the education and opportunities that they will need to be productive members of a greater society. We wish to enable them with much freedom and availability of opportunity so they may succeed and fail, aiding in their growth as people and more importantly, as ambassadors for Christ in their lives.

It is also true that the exercise of our God-given gifts is something we desire to pursue in other ways (as will be explore in a later entry). It is clear to me that I am gifted in teaching. I love it. I love the preparation. I love the reading. And I love passing on knowledge to others in an instructive and conversational way. While I am able to do this on the mission field (I have taught something around 400-450 lessons in varying scenarios while here), I still felt “chained” emotionally and spiritually to the stressors. The emotional roller coaster is intense; bouncing from joy to apathy from hour to hour on a daily basis.

Daisha, of course, is ridiculously skilled in all things art, design, creativity, etc.; and that giftedness has been unable to be unleashed to its potential in the current situation. Coupling all this with the feeling of isolation/loneliness; the motivation to even do what we love also takes a hit.

We admit, some (many?) of these things are because of our own faults and sins; but it is the reality of realizing our failures and finding ways to grow through them; and to live the called life courageously and responsibly.

This all may sound kind of negative, but it isn’t. It’s more of simple reality in what we have learned through our experience in the almost 3-years of doing this.

The next post will explore what God has done here through this effort, and will continue to do here for His glory.

Grace be with you -
The Sheets

Monday, October 26, 2015

{Sheets in Scotland} The Mission Continues... A Change in Direction...

***copied from our Mission Scotland blog***

As we approach 3 years in the Scotland field, and with much prayer and consultation, it is with heavy yet hopeful hearts that we now make public our decision to return to the US this December. There are many things we wish to make known to you, our supporters, including: the reasons for this decision; what God has accomplished through this work (the teaching, the changed lives, men and women coming to Christ and greater maturity) as well as what we will continue to do in connection with the work; and our request for continued support from you throughout our transition (informing you of dates and plans moving forward). Each of these things will be written about in greater detail in successive blog entries. We seek to be as transparent as is appropriate, so as they say these days, “watch this space.”

We thank you. We love you. And we look forward to sharing much more as this week progresses.

In Christ alone –
The Sheets

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

February 2014

Well... I didn't get around to blogging February.  If you'd like to see more photos from Naomi's 6th birthday, LINK HERE.  And if you'd like to see some of her 6 yr. old portraits, LINK HERE.

Here's a calendar view of my instagram from my #365challenge...


Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Anna's" FROZEN Cape DIY {from a towel!}

I interrupt my lack of blogging about our lives here in Peterhead, Scotland to bring you my first (in my memory) tutorial. ;)

Last week, in a panic trying to locate a birthday gift for a 5 yr. old girl, I stumbled across ... nothing.  There was nothing in this town that I wanted to buy for a 5 yr. old girl for her princess birthday party.

Peterhead is not known for its great shopping. :S

So... I headed to Home Bargains.  (for those of you in the States... think "Big Lots")  Walking up and down the discount aisles, I was struck with an idea.  I was in the towel aisle when it all took shape...

I would make an "Anna" cape from the hugely popular "Frozen"!

I bring you...

Here are the supplies you will need:

*  a violently pink full-sized towel
*  a button
* 2+ metres of trim
*  pink thread
*  small piece of elastic (for the button loop)
*  scissors
* (not shown) sewing machine
*tape measure
*child's hangar

****THIS PROJECT TOOK ME ABOUT AN HOUR (including taking photos).****

 Step 1:  Lay out your towel flat on a surface and fold over around 17 inches on one end.
Step 2:  Cut along the fold and set off the 17 in. piece to the side.  (This is the shorter, outer cape.)

 Step 3:  Fold over another 5 inches and cut on the fold.  (This will be the collar.)

You now have 3 pieces.

Step 4:  Take the 17 in. piece (outer cape... or "OC") and lay it out flat.

Step 5:  Place the child's hangar directly in the middle of the rectangle.  This will help us determine where the shoulders will fit.

Step 6:  Fold each side over like this.   I used the lines in the towels to help get the alignment symetrical. 

(I pulled the hangar out on top so you could see where it is placed in the above photo.

Step 7:  Now we are going to put in the curve on the OC.  I used a bowl to make my curve the same on both sides.  Position it to where (with 1/2 in. border) you can follow the line of the bowl around to where the edge of the garment is.  (this sentence is exceptionally odd)
(See what I mean by "1/2 in. border"?)

Continue your curve up to the "neckline".

Here is what mine looked like after I did this step.

Step 8:  Now you will cut out the shoulders.  Follow the line of the hangar leaving the 1/2 in. border again.
 Do both sides.  When you have cut both sides and they look like this... connect the cuts with a straight line.  (This ends up being the back of the neck.)
 And now you have this:
 Which will look like this if you choose to open it up.  (but there isn't a need to open it up... fyi)

Now... to the sewing machine!  Make haste! :)

If I had a serger (or "overlocker" for the Brits) I would have used that machine.  But I don't have one. :(  So... I chose to use the zig-zag stitch.  On my machine, it's "Number 9".  (a little shout out to my algebra teacher from high-school) 

Step 9:  I like to sew up the curved shoulder pieces first.  Since we are using a towel there really isn't a "right side" until we start making seams... so... just line up one of the shoulder seams, and sew!

I like to hang what I'm working on back on the hangar so I keep track of right-side/wrong-side now that there is one. ;)  So... make sure your seams are on the inside and put that puppy on a hangar! ;)

Now... on to the long part of the cape...

Step 10:  You are going to gather the long part of the cape.  To do that you will put a long, loose stitch along the top of the towel.  Use the cut edge so you don't have to hem the cape at the end. 

On my machine, the stitch I used for the gathering was 6.

Step 11:  Once you have put in the loose stitch across the top of the cut side of the towel, you will pull (ever so gently) one of the threads and pull the towel in the opposite direction.  This action will start to create the gathers.  I did this from both ends to make the gathers more even.

Now lay this out...

Step 12:  Open back up the OC with the seams facing you.  You will lay the gathered towel on top of this.  Make sure to line up the neck-line and the gathers so they line up on both sides of the cape.

For the careful among you, you may wish to pin the fabric together.  I HATE pinning the fabric... but that is just me. ;)  When you pin, make sure that the pins will run perpendicular to the sewing machine so you don't break your needle.   (I learned this lesson the hard way.)

Once you are confident that your neck-line and gathers are lined up and even, take the towel to the machine.

Make sure you set the machine back to your zig-zag stitch.

Step 13:  Sew up the OC and the cape.  Take your time... 

And... put it back on that hangar to make sure you haven't sewn it up wrong... or missed part of the seam.

And now on to the collar:

Step 14:  Take your 5 in. wide piece and lay it out...
 fold it in half... long-wise.

Step 15:  We are going to put a curve in the collar.  I eye-ball this part... but I use guides on my machine to make the curve similar.  I start out at an angle and curve it toward the bottom of the collar.

... and you are left with this.

Step 16:  Trim that baby. ;)

Step 17:  Here is the part that I guess at most of all.  I take the collar and hold the side that I have put the curve in (with about 1/2 border) on one side and lay the rest of the collar down on the cape.

When I get to the end of the cape, I eye-ball about 1/2 in. border and...
 ... cut.

Then I take the (hopefully right-sized) collar back to the machine and put in the other curve like I did the first one.

And I'm left with this:

Step 18:  Turn the collar right-side out so that the seams are on the inside of the collar.

 Step 19:  Line the collar (right-sides together) up with the cape.  (Again, most people will want to pin this... I didn't.)

Step 20:  (I can't believe I forgot to take a photo of this step!)  Make a seam sewing ALL the layers together.  GO.  SLOW.   I mean... S.L.O.W.  You are sewing through all the layers of the towel.

Now on to the trim!  You have a cape, but it needs the bling to make it princess-y.

(Remember what I said about Peterhead not having a lot of shopping options?  That is true for trim as well.)  Get whatever trim you fancy.  The trim I picked out was the only pink sparkly trim in town.  (fo' reals, yo)

Step 21:  To tack on the trim I used a wide zig-zag stitch (number 10, if you cared to know). ;)

Lay it on and stitch away.  Make sure to turn when the fabric does.

Step 22:  The small piece of elastic will be our button loop.  Put it on one side of the cape and stitch.  (You may need to put the elastic in between 2 pieces of fabric so your machine doesn't eat it and get all seized up... this may... or may not, have happened to me.)

Step 23:  Sew on the button to the opposite side.

And you are done!

Well done!

Today, I finished right as my children walked in from school.  So, instead of putting the finished cape on a hangar, I grabbed Naomi.

I have made 3 of these... and I have made all 3 of them differently.  :)  That's how I role, folks.

Remember, the towel fabric is very forgiving of mistakes.  Perfection isn't attainable, so don't stress about making these "perfect". 

I hope you found my tutorial clear and understandable... 

And even more so, I hope that there are a lot of little girls running around in towels singing at the top of their lungs, and taking after "Anna's" warm, loving heart... loving people even when she has been repeatedly hurt, seeing the good in everyone, and putting others before herself.