Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shades of Green

 Greetings To All,
One of the reasons I could give for not updating this blog is: the sun has actually appeared here in Oregon for more than two hours straight.  It's a minor miracle. Since there has been so much rain and now we get the sun everthing is a bright shade of green.   And, because of the sunshine, the Ropes Course phone has been ringing more frequently.  And that is a good thing.  The girls have also been able to get outside more these past couple of weeks.  I'll give you a small insight into our lives for the past month and a half. 
In May Dakota turned 5!  We had a party for her here on base, and it was quite the site to see.  There were so many 4 and 5 year olds.  After we ate cake we up to the Ropes Course to celebrate Dakota Mei-style.  We opened up our newest element, the Big Swing, for all of the party goers and parents (if needed) to ride.  It was a hit.  Dakota is still a little ball of energy.  Along with turning 5 she has just about mastered the jungle gym at the playground (as you can see from the picture), and she has learned (in one day!) to ride a bike without training wheels.  It's almost like we can't call her our little girl anymore.
A couple of weekends ago we took advantage of the nice weather and drove east to Sisters, OR.  It is a quaint little mountain town that hosts a large annual quilt show.  There are shops all around of crafts and food.  And then, in the "distance" are the Sisters Mountains: North Sister, Middle Sister, and South Sister.  We paused for a photo op with our little sisters. 
Desi has been being cute, as always.  Is it possible that she reinvents cuteness everyday.  Her latest discoveries are the playground, and stairs.  We think she will soon master both. 
Kathy has been helping to figure out the summer child care situation.  There will be a lot of kids on base as we are getting a new batch of students and staff.  She has also been staying on top of making sure our little ones are getting enough outside time. 
I have been busy with keeping the course functioning.  I spend more time in the office than I have in the past, but I still get to work with the groups.  In the past month we have worked with special needs high school students, college students, numerous families, middle schoolers, and church groups.  The special needs high school group was a privilege to work with.  They are kids that face challenges every day, so when they came here, they were able to face new and different challenges like never before.  One difference being that here they are in a safe place, and they were directly involved in helping each other with their accomplishments.  One of the ways we are called to live is in relationship.  The power that is released when a healthy relationship is formed and continued between two humans  is a great example of how God wants to release power through our connection with Him.  Those kids discovered what it can be like to live in that relationship. 
How have you been enjoying the sunshine?  Just being outside? Gardening? Taking day trips?  We would be thrilled to hear from you.  Thank you for taking the time to see what we have been up to lately.  We hope and pray that all is well with you.
Many Blessings,
Carson, Kathleen, Dakota, Desislava

Friday, April 22, 2011

April In The Woods

 Greetings To All:
How have you been?  This past month has been less chaotic for us.  If you got our email you already know that none of us have been ill for a few weeks, which is nice.  We have also seen that large orange orb in the sky a couple of times.  And, this time on the blog I got the pictures to actually lay kind of how I wanted them to.  Oh happy day!  We've had a strange twist of our living situation:  Dakota actually wants to sleep in the same room as Desi.  We thought that was odd, but other parents are saying that their children ask the same thing.  So far it has worked out with neither one keeping the other up all night.  We're looking forward to not having to heat our home with the wood burner for a couple of months.  The days here are getting nicer, but the nights are still in the 30's. 
This month has been kind of slow on the course.  However, the phone has been ringing with clients that are scheduling for the rest of the season.  Bring it on!  Our team is continuing to find ways to teach participants Truth from the words they themselves use to  describe their experience.  It's an incredible experience of which to be a part.  When one of our participants, who I do not think is a Believer, said that he  finds comfort in the mere presence of people he trusts and that love him, I could barely contain myself.  However, I had to be creative in how I addressed the topic because that participant's group was here on government money.  And I think we are all aware of the government's lack of explicit support for anything Christian. 
The other day I did a devotional for our base staff meeting.  I would like to share it with you here; I'll give you the condensed version.  It is based from Psalm 139:13-14.  The human heart came to my mind.  How often do we ask each other, "How's your heart?" (And we don't mean the actual physical heart.)  God, our designer, has intricately made our heart, and we can see a spiritual parallel with the physical anatomy.   The heart has  four chambers; two for receiving blood, and two for sending blood away from the heart.  The right atrium recieves blood from the rest of the body(except the lungs.)  We take in all kinds information through our senses.  The blood then gets pumped down into the right ventricle.  We take the info we sense and think about and form opinions about it.  Next, the blood gets pumped to the lungs where it gets infused with life-giving oxygen.  After we mull something over, we pray and send it to God to receive His life-giving breath and counsel.  Once the blood has been properly oxygenated, it flows back to the left atrium, where it awaits travel to the left ventricle.  God hears our prayers, gives them back with His life in them, and we enter a time of preparation.  "Preparation for what?" Good question.  The life-giving blood is sent to the rest of the body where it fulfills its purpose: to bring life.  When our preparation time is done, we are ready to take our thoughts and prayers, now ready to be enacted, and bless people with them.  We help to give them life.  If you happen to look up a picture of a human heart, you will see that the muscular walls of the ventricles, the chambers used to send blood out, are thicker than the receiving atria.  Maybe it's God's way of saying that we are to live out the callings on our lives and not keep them to ourselves.  He equips us to be stronger in the giving than the receiving.  I ended the devotional again with the question,"How is your heart?" 
The human anatomy is fascinating to me.  And why wouldn't it be so marvelous?  Look at its Creator.  Well, I'll leave you with that little tidbit.  Thank you for taking the time to catch up with us.  The pictures of the girls are there for the cuteness factor.  The other picture is to give you a visual of one element that we have.  We had a group from a large lumber mill in the Northwest here for some teambuilding and Kathy got some good pictures of them.  Dakota and Kathy are getting a little restless to get outside more, and Desi is waiting to get her first true taste of summer fun on the playground.  We wish you a dry and warm Spring.
Many Blessings To You,
Carson, Kathleen, Dakota, Desislava

Sunday, April 3, 2011

This Spring(?)

                                                                                     Greetings To All:
"In like a lion, and out like a lamb", huh?  March certainly came in somewhat harsh here.  The rain was constant, and groups were coming on the course right from the start.  But, the month finished with a few consecutive days of sun, and some interesting groups.  Also, the month of March in this household could be labeled "the coughing month."  It started with me, and ended with Desi, who, thankfully had the least severe of us all.  Dakota ended up having the worst and longest-lasting cough of us all.  Kathy took her to the doctor twice.  The first time Dakota was diagnosed with a sinus infection and completed the prescribed antibiotic.  However, the cough didn't go away.  So, the second doctor's visit let us know that she had walking pneumonia.  Now she is taking that antibiotic.  She has been such a trooper through it all. 
One of the factors contributing to her cough was mold starting to grow in her room.  Before you panic, know that we are trying to stay on top of it now that we know.  This trailer did have a history of mold, mainly in the addition that is Dakota's room.  Please pray with us that this situation will become better and that our home will become and remain mold-free.
What else have we been up to?  I have been working with groups on the course and doing scheduling in the office.  So far we have worked with a wide variety of groups from girl scouts to employees of a lumber mill a couple of hours from here.  Each group presents different opportunities to share principles of Truth, which we know as Jesus' life and God's goodness and love.  Our team handles the challenges well.  We each have a broad talent that allows us to connect with every group, but we each connect on a deeper level with different groups.  I learn so much on how to connect and relate to middle schoolers and younger while observing Fred interact with them.  Ryan enjoys bringing meaningful and inspiring words to youth groups.  Jeff connects well with the corporate clients.  Me, I feel a deeper bond with the college groups that spend time on our course.  That being said, I want to stress that we all connect on some level with every group we work with.  My point is: we all have groups that we naturally identify with on a more personal level for whatever reason. 
And as I'm writing this I'm reminded of Paul's writing in 1 Corinthians 9: 22, "When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ.  Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some."  Having lived in this world, doing various things in different siutations with diverse people we are all able to relate to the trials and struggles that other people are facing.  As Christians, having overcome one of the biggest struggles in life: finding and receiving true love in Jesus, we can offer that to those who are in need.  Where is the common ground?  The desire to be loved, to love, to be understood, the longing for fulfillment and purpose; that is where the common ground is.  As the Christian has found the source of all those desires,  they can point others in that direction.  And our own personal experiences are what allow us to be effective in relating to others. 
Shifting gears.  . . .  This week we have Kathy's mom and niece visiting us.  Already I think niece Bridget has read half of Dakota's books to her.  And Grandma has probably read the other half to her.  Desi doesn't know what to do with new people except commit random acts of cuteness enticing them to pick her up.  It usually works.  Dakota had fun at a birthday for another base child because they did the flying squirrel.  She is all class in her boots, skirt, jean jacket, and harness.  Kathy has been helping new a couple of new women on staff and volunteering get adjusted to life at YWAM Salem.  We had the privilege of our Indian friend, Chops, cook us an authentic, from absolute scratch Indian meal.  YUMM! At the beginning of March Desi turned 1 year old!  Yes, I'll sound like the average parent because I believe it to be true,"Where does the time go?"
A couple of prayer requests for our life right now are for the mold situation in our place, Dakota to be completely healed from any kind of sickness, and continued grace and wisdom in balancing a leadership positon in a ministry with family time.  We thank you for all of your support in prayer.  We also thank you all for supporting us financially.  That is a blessing for which we are daily thankful.  Well, until next time. . . .
Blessings To You,
Carson, Kathleen, Dakota, Desislava

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Into The Great Wide Open

Greetings To All:
After today I will make the assumption that where ever you are it is snowing.  Yes, that means that it was snowing on our base.  Actually, this day had it all: snow, rain, and sun.  And it didn't go in any particular order.  This Oregon weather sure is something else.  So, how are you?  We are doing well.  A healthy rhythm has started again in this house.  It seems that hasn't happened since last November.  We had Dakota try out a gymnastics class at the YWCA in town, and she LOVED it.  We'll try to take her again at some point: that girl loves to move.  She also thoroughly enjoys playing dress up and most frequently chooses her Snow White dress that a friend gave to her.  Desi almost has her license to walk.  She is about at "Learner's Permit" status, but after the display of talent tonight we think she is ready to take her Walker's test.  On another note, Desi does not like to have her nails clipped.  As all parents wonder, "Where has the time gone?"  That is a phenomenon that we've always heard about and now are experiencing first-hand.  Dakota doing gymnastics?  Desi walking?  Both are glorious things to behold.  Kathy has been busy as the liason between base parents and the Life For Kids School teacher Mary.  It is perplexing to me to watch how she manages each parent's desires for their child and Mary's goal for the school.  Kathy also has been getting more fresh air while walking every day with a partner after lunch.  I have been excited this past week because I have been up in the trees again for the first time in months.  Whew. . . . I don't know how I went so long without it.  I was doing our yearly in-house inspecton of our equipment, which means that groups will be coming soon.
You are all aware of this being a transition time for us (I won't go into the "whys" because you are probably already familiar with those.)  But what does that mean exactly?  One aspect of it is for the first time in my life I will be in the leadership position.  And I am blessed with stepping into an established ministry with which I have history.  So what do I do with new-found authority and well-grounded and established ministry?  One of my favorite verses comes to mind:  Colossians 3:10,"and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."  In context this passage pertains to putting off old, sinful nature.  I relate it to my situation slightly different because I am not dealing with taking over a ministry that was sinful.  God's hand has certainly been in this since it's conception.  I'm focusing on the being renewed part of it.  Why would I want to change a ministry just for the sake of change?  That would involve the risk of doing greater damage than any good.  I look at it as constant improvement.  After all, isn't that what Christians are supposed to be striving for?  Being satisfied with what has happened in the past, but looking for ways to be more like Jesus.  There is hardly any time for laurel resting.  Also, I don't think that the phrase involves reinventing the wheel.  Why spend time and energy in that?  My desire for this ministry in this year is to find new ways to bring the gospel message into each and every one of our games and elements.  Last year we focused on how to accomplisth that.  This year I want to focus more on the doing of that.  And it is for a couple of reasons: 1. It keeps us as facilitators more in scripture trying to solidify biblical principles in our own lives, and 2. Each participant knows that we are Christians, but we want them to know that they were created to be in relationship with God also.  So, in a sense it seems like a new beginning, but it is more of a renewal.  Please join us in prayer for these ideas and methods to come into being. 
Thank you for considering us in your prayers.  They have been felt and some have already been made into a reality.  God is always surprising us with how He provides for our needs in health, ministry, and finances.  And, as always, thank you for taking the time to stay updated with us. 
Many Blessings To You,
Carson, Kathleen, Dakota, Desislava

Monday, January 17, 2011


 Greetings To All, 
How in this new year are you?  We are doing well; everyone is in good health, thank You, God.  After a cold spell during the last half of December we are bearing the rains here in Salem, which I'm sure is easier to handle than the snow that some of you are receiving.  For the first time since we've been here the creek went over its bank, and that explains one of the pics below.  The foot bridge had the low end washed over.  Luckily no buildings were flooded.  The base was very quiet over the Christmas break.  Now there is a DTS of 16 students that just started.  Already, I am performing as the Ropes Course director.  It's a bit surreal for me.  Never before, in any job, have I been the guy "in charge."  The transition is almost complete, and it has been a smooth one.  Thank you to you all that lifted us in prayer through this;  they were definitely felt.  One of the things that I have the privilege of doing already as course director is designing new business cards.  One thing that is good to have on them is a slogan.  In the past "Teamwork Makes A Dream Work" has been the main slogan for the course.  Last year we shifted to "Face Your Challenge".  Both are good.  But this year we were looking to have more of a biblical influence in the slogan.  So,what we came up with is: Consider Others.  Isn't that a blend of teamwork principles and Christian emphasis?  Consider Others.  "How can this problem be solved?" Consider Others.  "How can we be more effective as witnesses for Jesus?" Consider Others.  "Am I going to accomplish every great thing in my life alone?"  Consider Others.  To me the concept adds significant value to other people.  And it is more than a passing glance, a "courtesy knod" if you will.  Am I going to take the time, not to hear some one's entire life story, but listen to their perspective, listen for their heart?  Will I add value to others without considering them?  No.  Is it possible to show Jesus' love in my life without considering other people?  Not in truth.  Since this will be on our business cards, and probably on the back of our T-Shirts, it will be a constant source of discussion in our interaction with our participants.  If you have any insights or comments about this slogan, I would love to hear it.  Shifting gears. . . .  For this entry I tried uploading the pics first and typing the entry while they were being uploaded.  However, that didn't work out as planned.  So, I apologize for the weird placement of the pics and for having two different colors of writing (if I don't get that annoyance fixed.)  Working with computers is always an adventure for me.  But, I persevere.  Moving along. . . . Dakota has been learning how to write her letters and is very good at it.  She even remembers how to spell a handful of words, too.  Desi has been pulling herself up on furniture and has even started to free-stand, which should be a new Olympic sport for the infant age group.  Also, her top teeth have started to come in, so she is chewing on everything.  I refer to her little play area as Chewyville.   Kathy has been attending a MOPS group that a lady from church mentioned to her.  She is also coming up with ideas on how to make the Ropes office into a more inviting place.  Right now the walls are painted in two different shades of orange with maroon trim.   Anyway. . . . Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.  If you have any comments or insights into "Consider Others." please let me know.  Also, we have gotten a few responses from an email update that I sent out a couple of days ago, for which we are thankful.  We would like to do better at keeping you informed of what is happening in our lives.  How that looks is us giving you at least one email update each month and keeping this blog current with what our adventure entails.  Hopefully we get to hear from you, too.  Until next time. . . .
God's Richest Blessings To You,Carson, Kathleen, Dakota, Desislava

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Rainy Christmas


Greetings To All:
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  'Tis the season to be. . . . dry, and indoors, if you live in Oregon.  For most people this will be the week of Christmas Break.  The same holds true for YWAM Salem.  As of this past Friday, all of the staff are on Christmas Break.  This year there are a handful of families staying here for the holiday, so we will be sharing time and  merriment with each other.  As usual I apologize for the tardiness of the blog update.  However, this time we could actually sit with some of you and give you an in-person update while we were in IN for Thanksgiving.  Also, we could get an in-person update from you,
which was more fun for us.  We hope your Christmas is snowy on the outside and warm on the inside.  Or, if you live in a more temperate climate, we hope it is at least warm on the inside regardless how dreary it may be on the outside.
So, what has been happening with us lately?  While in IN Desi decides to officially learn how to crawl.  Dakota got to spend a lot of quality time with various cousins.  She also got to play a little in what snow did fall while we were there.  A blessing in disguise was that we flew back to OR just as IN was getting pummeled with snow.  Both of our flights were affected, Carson and Desi spending seven hours in the Minneapolis airport.  Kathy has been excited to plan our Christmas Card, and has done a wonderful job.  She also is recovering from a minor cold.  Carson is weathering the transition of accepting leadership of the Ropes Course Ministry. 
The other day I, Carson, was contacted to play some teambuilding games with a local program for at-risk teens.  I was playing games with them for four hours.  Most of that time I spent trying to figure out why they were labeled "at-risk".  Although at one time in their lives they may have been victims of their own or some one else's bad decisions, the mindset they displayed during my time with them was phenomenal.  They were outward focused, not only on themselves.  They displayed respect, concern, and acceptance of each other.  And it wasn't the fake "oh, we're only doing this during this time because we are being forced to be here" kind of behavior.  I've seen that, and this wasn't that.  The program they are working with, which is a Christian-based program, has been doing something great in these teens' lives.  It was an honor to work alongside of them for our common purpose: to shine the light and love of Jesus into people's lives for their betterment and for His glory.  The games they played that afternoon served to reinforce a Christ-like attitude and lifestyle into these "at-risk" teens' hearts and minds.  If any of you have seen "troubled" teens that grow into "problem" adults, I bring you hope.  I've seen it.  When Jesus' love is poured into some one's life in a pertinent way, stand back and marvel at the transformation of their life!  And knowing that each one of us can be the vehicle for that transforming power. . . wow!  Thank You, Father. 
Thank You, God, for sending us Your Son!  I think each one of us could honestly say that we love to be a blessing in some way to some one.  Right?  In my opinion, that is being very Christ-like: giving of what we have been given.  Even if we can't afford to buy that "perfect" gift that we earnestly long to give some one, we can still give of what we have been blessed with.  Merry Christmas!
God Bless You,
Carson, Kathleen, Dakota, Desislava

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"I Remember You"

Greetings To All:
How in the ever-shrinking world are you? Is October treating you well? Here is has been unseasonably warm and dry. But, you won't hear anybody complaining about that. We have fired up (pun intended) our wood burner for the season. The base has received plenty of firewood to get us through this season and well into next. A camp south of here allowed us to clean up some of their wood that they were not going to use, and a local golf course was tearing out a treeline and let us take what we could handle. So, we certainly have been blessed with warmth in our homes this winter. How are we doing? Overall, we are doing well. Kathy has been fighting her yearly cold, sore throat, headache thing. This year she decided to share it with me. Here is a stock tip for you: invest in Proctor & Gamble because we will be supporting them with our purchase of Vitamin C and echinnacae. Thankfully our coldish things have not spread to the girls. (We still haven't gotten accustomed to the plural yet.) Desi is ready to crawl and get teeth any time now. Dakota is back in the classroom for a couple of hours a day and is loving it. She is turning into quite a little lady. Today she went down to a barn on base and looked at the new base chickens. She loved it! A couple on base is starting a mini farm to practice implementing and maintaining sustainable farming in order to help provide healthy food for the base and use it as a ministry tool for people interested in rural work overseas. The Discipleship Training School that is in session now has 28 students, the Foundations of Counseling in Ministry School has 11 students, and the Basic Leadership class has 9 students. The base is buzzing with people from all over the world. The Ropes Course has worked with over 5,300 people this year and is still going strong through October 31. And this leads me to our big news. . . .
After 13 years of starting and operating the YWAM Salem Ropes Course Jeff Nelson has decided to pass on operation of the course. He asked us to pray and consider it, and we did. We feel that this is what God has for us in this next season of our lives. Jeff is excited, and so are we. Jeff will be spending more time overseeing all of the YWAM International Ropes Courses, which includes scouting for new courses and continuous training with existing courses. What will our roles be? Everything. We will be in charge of all aspects of the Salem Ropes Course from scheduling to financing and everything in between. Kathy will be using her skill in the office be doing 99.9% of all correspondence in regards to scheduling and follow up. I will be using my skill to train our team, search for beneficial changes to the course, and ministering to the participants. Please keep us in your prayers for wisdom and grace during this time of leadership transition for us.
The title of this entry comes from something that has happened twice in the past week, so I thought I should share it with you. I was setting up some of our portable games at a local middle school this past week, and an employee (not a teacher) of the school unlocked a gate for us. After I told him who we were, he looked right at me and said,"I remember you." Again today one of our participants looked at me and said,"You worked with my group for my birthday party last year." After the first instance, I was taken back, and I began to think. After the second instance, I felt nervous. Why? Does that seem like a lot of pressure to you? After about a year, an encounter that lasted anywhere from 3 to 8 hours amidist flying in the air and doing some other crazy things, participants actually remember me. "What pressure?" you ask. Well, with such little contact, what impression was left? Was it one that makes them think of a Christian? Was it one that helps them to know that they are valuable? Was it one that makes them desire to know why they were treated with care and respect and love? Was it one that makes them want to step away from the negative things in their lives and actively and passionately pursue Truth? Did I represent the love of Jesus and The Father's Heart to them? I could come up with more questions, but you get the point. Before every group begins our course we tell them who YWAM is and what our main purpose is. So they know that we are pursuers of Jesus. And then, if they don't have any established concept of who Jesus is, the time they spend in our presence on the course is from what they will form an idea of who Jesus is. After each group leaves we pray for them and the time we spent with them. So far, I think that the impressions I've left with participants has been good. But, I also remember the "trying" days with the unfocused, hyperactive, broken middle schoolers. Did I show them grace, mercy, and love? God gives those to me when I get whiny and restless with what He has me doing. Should I not be the same to the "difficult" people. It sure is hard isn't it?
Moving on. . . . Break out the cool-weather clothes and grab a rake: autumn is here. Sit by a campfire or wood-burner and ponder the mysteries of life. Mull some cider or brew some coffee with a loved one. Celebrate this time of shedding of old and awaiting the promise of new life. Autumn is here.
Bless You,
Carson, Kathleen, Dakota, Desislava