Thursday, January 12, 2017

A New Year, A New Opportunity


I (Jason) have some exciting news to share at the start of this New Year.  God has given me and Laura an incredible opportunity to head up a new ministry at our local church, Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga.  We are launching a Global Medical Outreach and I am leading the first trip to Ecuador July 22-29 of this year!

First, a little bit of background.  Several years ago, Laura and I moved to Augusta for my physical therapy school.  During my time in school, I had an opportunity to go on a medical mission trip with our church to Ecuador.  Later that year, one of my pastors gave me a copy of a book called "Preach and Heal" and that book had a tremendous impact on my life.  After talking with Laura, we began to pray together for our lives to be a proverbial blank check for God to use and we began think more seriously about medical mission work.  Fast forward to just about 2 years ago, I had been practicing therapy for about 2 years and Laura and I began to research full time medical mission since this was still on our heart.  We spent about a year studying different agencies, meeting with missionaries, and learning about seminary requirements to go full time.  But towards the end of that time we did not have a good sense about the full time path and just continued to pray on how to use my medical skill and Laura's expertise to God's glory. In the meantime, our church discontinued it's medical mission trip and no longer sent any type of short term medical teams.

Well, about 10 months ago, I had a not so chance conversation (because I don't really believe in random chance.  God ordains meetings, conversations, etc) with the physician who no longer led the trip due to getting close to retirement.  In that meeting, which was at his grandson's birthday party, I asked him if he was still going to Ecuador.  He told me that unfortunately the medical mission had ended and they had not taken a trip in 5 years.  I asked why and he told me that he had not found anyone who was interested in leading trips and carrying on this ministry of the church.  I paused, grinned at him and said, "I will."  So I began to explain some of my testimony, which I related above, and I began to sense that this is where God was leading us to serve Him in a mission capacity.  We went to the Pastor, had a couple of meetings and the next thing I knew, we were launching this ministry again!  I am really excited because after 6 years, our church is going to be sending medical professionals and other volunteers on short term medical mission trips again! This is so important for our church because our church is dedicated to the advancement of the Gospel both locally and globally and because, as many of you know, Augusta has a large community of healthcare professionals and many of them are in our church. It truly is amazing how God, in his timing, brings you to certain locations, gives you passions and skills, and then gives you an incredible opportunity to serve Him where you are with those skills.

I had the opportunity to host a vision meeting for our ministry and highlight our mission statement.  I wanted to include it in this blog so that you can see and know the heart and desire of this ministry.  Our Vision statement is simple: Warren Baptist Church Global Medical Outreach exists to make Christ followers of all people by empowering local churches across the globe to proclaim the Gospel using the medical knowledge and skill which God has graciously entrusted to us as health care providers.

And really this statement can be applied across every believer with a wide range of skill sets and not just health care.  Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God and with the purpose to advance His Kingdom and make His name known.

Finally, I say all of this to say that, while this is a very exciting time, this is something that Laura and I have never done before and it is stretching our faith and my energy levels daily because there are many needs sitting in front of this ministry.  It's funny, so often I've been on the receiving end of ministries and organization soliciting for help but now I am on the front lines with them as we work toward a common goal of spreading the Gospel.  But I report these needs knowing full well that God will provide.
  • PRAY: This sounds so cliche, but honestly, being on the leadership side of ministry now, I have a greater and deeper understanding of the necessity for brothers and sisters in Christ to intercede.  God has already answered many of our prayers in cool ways and he continues to do so.  But join me in praying over this ministry.  Pray that God would bring the right team members for this trip and the trips in the future.  Pray that God would prepare the hearts of the people we will come in contact with that they would receive the Gospel message and be saved.  Pray that God would watch over all of our travel and logistics.  And finally pray for me and my family that we would continue to be obedient followers of Christ, that we would trust Him always, and that we would have unity as a married couple and family.  Be a warrior and in all things, pray.
  • GIVE: To pull these types of short term trips off requires a lot of supplies, a lot of transportation on the ground, and a lot of logistics.  And all of that takes dollars.  Again, this sounds so cliche, but as I continue to walk with Lord and grow in his grace it is becoming clearer and clearer that perhaps the reason we have been given so much wealth on a global stage is to use it to advance God's kingdom.  George Mueller says in his autobiography that you will never regret investing in the Kingdom of God.  So I ask you to consider supporting this effort.  Your donation will be used to grow this ministry, fund scholarships for participants, provide supplies, help with transportation costs on the ground etc.  You can make your donation by writing a check to Warren Baptist Church, notating Global Medical Mission in the "for" section and mailing it to 3203 Washington Rd, Augusta, Ga 30907. Or, you can go online and make a donation designating your gift to Global Medical Outreach.
  • GO:  We need folks.  We need man power.  So if you are looking for a ministry to get involved with not just financially but tangibly, we would love to have you.  Maybe you are a medical professional looking to use your skills abroad to share the Gospel.  We need you.  Maybe you are a student studying to make a career in health care but want to know if there is something more you can do.  We need you.  Maybe you have the gift of language and can interpret.  We need you.  Maybe you just have a heart for missions and God's command to make disciples of all nations and can volunteer and assist the effort.  We need you too. So if you would like more information you can email me at jason.baareman@gmail.com
This is a cool opportunity and I am looking forward to see where God takes this effort.  Lastly, I hope in your own life you reflect and ask yourself if you are leveraging your time, finances, and gifts for God's Kingdom which will never fail.  As C.T. Studd once wrote:

Only one life 'twill soon be past;
Only what's done for Christ will last.









Sunday, January 1, 2017

Lucy is 4 1/2 Years Old!

Dear Lucy -

I missed your 4th birthday letter, so I'm going to try to make up for it now!

You have changed so much since since my last "Lucy Update". Here are some things I want to remember:
  • You LOVE arts and crafts - it is your favorite thing to do. We now have a craft bin in the dining room so that you can color any time you want to. I'm surprised at how often you prefer to color than to play with toys
  • Your imagination has really grown recently. I hear you doing a lot more imaginative play by yourself and with Bridget than you used to. 
  • You love helping me cook or really anything we let you "help" with. You are an eager and fast learner.
  • You still love being read to. You have a very long attention span and can pay attention to long books. I wish I had more opportunities to read with you - life is pretty crazy with Bridget and Josiah thrown in! I can't wait for you to learn to read. During your rest times, I let you look at books - you look at them for a lot of the 1 hour you are required to be quiet for. You also do a lot of soft humming, talking, singing, to yourself during this time. I have to remind you a lot to "be quiet" during "quiet time". 
  • You have a really good memory. You like to recollect experiences from your past in detail. You also like to look at family photos and videos on the ipad. 

  • You love to dance and sing. Your favorite CD is Frozen. You and Bridget love to run in circles around the room singing along. You know a lot of the words by heart. You did ballet at the YMCA this winter. 
  • You started preschool (4K) this year. You go on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:30-1:30. You have done awesome academically, even though you are probably the youngest one in your class. You do a great job tracing and drawing your letters and numbers. You did great at first and didn't seem to have any adjustment issues - but a few months after you started school, I found out you had been asking your teachers to take you to the bathroom around 10 times per day! After being confused for a few days (since you didn't go to the bathroom that may times at home), we came to the conclusion that you just liked the attention you got from your teachers taking you (since at home you have to go by yourself). After talking to you and your teachers about it, and praying together about it on the way to school (almost every day) - you are doing a lot better in this area and are only asking the teachers to go about 1x per day. This was also a clue to me that you may appreciate more one on one time with me! :) 

  • You are extremely brave, assertive, and like to set the rules and play by the rules. You see things in black and white and like to "tell it like it is" - which is often really funny..... We have been working with you on being kind, saying kind things, saying things in a kind way, "kindness" is our parenting key word for you. We pray that you will come to know Jesus as your personal Savior and that his love and kindness will flow through you. 
  • You haven't napped consistently since you were three years old. You have set your mind to the fact that four year olds don't nap or need to nap - so you never do. As a result, from about 5:00pm you start to get really tired. Most mornings you do so well. You listen, obey, set a good example, play nice with your sister, etc. But when you start to get tired, you find it much harder to listen, obey, be kind, etc. I bought the book - The Power of a Praying Parent and have found so much comfort praying specific prayers over you. I desire so much that you come to love, obey, and follow Jesus - that you would choose to surrender your entire life to him. 

  • Because you don't nap, our latest strategy has been to put you to bed at 7:00pm! This is so early and often it is tough for us to get dinner done and our night time routine accomplished in time to get you to bed at this time. You normally wake up on your own at 7:30am, and when you have gone to bed early, you are in great spirits the whole day. 
  • You LOVE TV - we kinda laugh about the fact that you are a TV addict even though (or maybe because) we don't let you watch very much (no more than 1 hour a day). We are trying to cut back your amount of TV because it seems to have put a damper on all other activities (nothings seems quite as appealing to you as watching TV). 

  • A lot of my thoughts these days are taken up with Kindergarten for you. There are so many options - it is daunting! We feel like God has called us to eventually homeschool our family - we just aren't sure if we should start while Bridget and Josiah are still so young and need my time and attention so much. Right now the options we are considering are: 4 day a week preschool at Abilene Baptist, Homeschool, Public School, or a new Public Charter School. We are praying through all the options. 
  • You are so brave it is a little scary! You haven't cried at all the last few times you got shots and you have lots of guts to disobey us even when you know punishment will follow..... We pray that God will give us the guidance we need to not crush you strong will but direct it to positive areas- so that you can shine in your natural given strengths! 
  • You remind me (and Jason) of ME so much! We share so many little weird idiosyncrasies. One in particular is our keen temperature perception. We each easily get too hot or cold, want to change the temperature in the house or car, like to change our outfits multiple times a day so we are the perfect temperature, etc.! Lucy (like me), also likes to know the overall plan of the day - what is going to happen throughout the day, what day of the week it is, what time it is, she wants to know it all! 

  • We have been trying to be more diligent about family bible time and singing each evening. It has been amazing to see and hear how much you understand about the Bible. 
  • In the fall, I started helping with the new preschool choir program called "Musical Melodies" which you were in! You got to sing at a Baby Dedication Service (the one Josiah was dedicated at), All Family Night (where Operation Christmas Child and other gifts are given), the Ladies Christmas Tea, and at a Nursing Home. It was so much fun to help in this area and watch you sing so well and bring joy to so many! 
Lucy - You are truly my mini me! You look like me and act like me a lot too! Many of our strengths and weaknesses are the same! Many times when I'm parenting you, I feel like I could and should be giving myself the very same lecture! God has used YOU to change ME so much! He is molding both you and me into the people that he wants us to be through sometimes painful trial and error! It is not easy growing up, or raising a child, but I truly am so proud of you. You are a beautiful little girl, on the inside and out. I know you love your family so much and I want so much for our family to be a safe haven for you - a place where you know you are LOVED UNCONDITIONALLY. I love hearing your thoughts and questions about life. You are experiencing and learning so much about this world every day and it is a pleasure to teach you so many things. I'm so blessed that God (and my dear husband), have given me the opportunity to stay at home with you, and Bridget, and Josiah. 

I love you sweet girl - Love, Mom 

Josiah is 6 Months Old!

Josiah turned 6 months old a few weeks ago. He is 18 lbs. (75%), and also 75% for height and 90% for head size. You wear size 3 diapers and 9 month clothes. Here are some things I want to remember about this stage.
  • I LOVE this age! You are so sweet and cute. You are the perfect size to be held. You can hold yourself up pretty well while I hold you so it's easy to take you with me places - like to drop off the girls at school.
  • You got your first tooth (on the bottom) a little after 6 months, and your 2nd bottom tooth around Christmas time. 
  • You wake up around 7:30 in the morning, take a morning nap around 9:30 or 10:00, another nap around 2:00pm (when Lucy and Bridget nap/rest), then sometimes need another short nap around dinner time. Unfortunately, being the youngest brother - your naps often have to get interrupted to go take or pick up siblings from their preschool, or to run errands. I feel bad having to interrupt your naps, and always hope that you will somehow stay asleep as I transition you from the bed to the carseat and vice versa. But you are an EXTREMELY light sleep and wake up VERY easily. So a lot of times, you naps are composed of lots of mini naps. 
  • You go to bed around 8:00 or 8:30pm. Most of the time you wake up around 11:00 to eat (which is right before I go to bed), then wake up AGAIN around 4:00am to eat. At this point I'm okay with this because you just wimper a little, I feed you, and you fall right back to sleep. But lately, you have been peeing out of your diaper and into your sleep sack almost every night - so the 4:00 am feeding can also be an ordeal with changing your clothes, your sheets sometimes, etc. 
  • You are a really good, happy baby. Sometimes your schedule will get pretty messed up and you amaze me by somehow being in an okay mood. If you get enough sleep and food - you are in a GREAT mood usually. You love to laugh and smile. You also love people and getting attention. 
  • In the mornings you really don't get a whole lot of attention since we are all busy getting ready. I used to feed you first thing, then put you in your little rocking chair seat while I took a shower to give your food a chance to settle (you spit up A LOT!). Then after my shower I'd let you play on a blanket or sit in your chair again while I fed the girls breakfast and got them ready for school. Around 5 months, you looked bored sitting in the chair and I started letting you play in the pack n' play while I take a shower - then put you in the exerciser/jumperoo while the girls eat. 
  • You are starting to really love tummy time and can rotate yourself in a circle. You can also push yourself backwards but don't do that very much anymore. Since you have been teething you are content on your tummy chewing on toys. 
  • You started sitting by yourself around 6 months but still sometimes fall over. If I'm not in the same room as you I put the boppy around you. 
  • I have an Ergo and use it ALL the time! You like being able to look around and being close to Mommy. 
  • You LOVE to suck on your thumb. I haven't probably exerted enough energy trying to get you like pacifiers instead. You love to fall asleep on your tummy, head tilted to one side, sucking your thumb. 
  • We are so THANKFUL that you haven't gotten very sick yet. By this age Bridget had already had tubes put in her ears and you haven't even had an ear infection! This is such a blessing!!!!! You have had a few colds with running noses, and since you like to sleep on your tummy - it is hard for you to breathe when you are congested. We let you sleep in your rock n' play and that seemed to do the trick. You have outgrown the rock n' play now though so if a bad cold happens again we will probably have you sleep in your reclined car seat. 
  • We tried out baby led weaning when you turned 6 months and you seemed to like it okay. Your first food was avocados. You also tried bananas, sweet potatoes, and diced peaches. It ended up being extremely messy. You ended wearing most of the food. I think you got some in your mouth but I had to bathe you after every meal! So we decided to switch to puffs and baby food until you mastered grabbing small bits of food. So far you are doing awesome with baby food - you love it! Most of the time, you even like the food the first time you try it. You are getting better at grabbing puffs and getting those in your mouth too. 

  • Your favorite toy is the signing snail. You love to watch Lucy and Bridget play and put up with them getting into your "personal space" pretty well 
  • You do pretty well at church nursery, BSF, and the gym nursery. We have left you with a few babysitters too and you have done well. :) 
  • You are a pretty good traveler too! We have gone to Atlanta a few times and even drove out to Mississippi this week! 
I just love you so much Josiah! I still can't believe that I have a little boy! It is the best thing ever. Your smile, laugh, and cuddles melt my heart. LOVE YOU ALWAYS - MOM 





His Love is BIG

I was a guest blogger over the summer on my friends Liz and Angie's blog Hometown Honey. Here's the post!

As I watched the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics a few weeks ago, I was mesmerized by how many countries there are in the world. Sure, there were the big names that have an athlete to represent them in almost every sport: the USA, Great Britain, China, Germany. but there were also tiny countries there that I had never heard of before: Cyprus, Comoros, &Lesotho? It was amazing to see the variety that God has created. I thought about how he LOVES each of those athletes just as personally and MUCH as he loves me.


Then, my mind flipped back to some of my small inconsequential prayers of the day. "Lord, please help my screaming baby fall asleep." "Lord, please help my daughters get along - just for 10 minutes!" "Lord, help me find my phone - I lost it again!" "Lord, please help me be patient today - and speak in kindness to my family." And guess what - I am 100% confident that the God of the universe heard those little prayers, and even more amazing - he answered many of them!

But what about all those 100s of athletes parading around the Olympic stadium? Did they have little prayers like mine? I'm sure many of them did. And probably some more important ones - like "Lord, help me win this medal that I've worked my whole life for!" And I know that my God heard those prayers and answered many of them as well.

I feel like my mind is spinning most days because I have 3 small children whose many needs need to be met (by me most of the time). Sometimes I can't even think straight, or listen to the many questions that they ask me simultaneously. However, God is SO MUCH BIGGER than me or even than I can imagine him to be. He not only created me, all the Olympic athletes, and the additional 7 billion people living on the globe, but he LOVES every one of them and is intimately aware of what is going on in their lives - their small needs and their large ones. This is true whether they are his followers or not. If they are his followers, he loves getting to hear their prayers and revealing himself to them. If they have turned their back on Him, he longs for them to return and seeks out ways to reveal himself to them. (The story of the Prodigal Son reveals this side of God to us). However, if they know nothing of Him, he desires for them to know the truth of his gospel. Not only does he KNOW what is going on, he LISTENS to their prayers, and INTERVENES in their daily life! The God of the universe! I can't wrap my head around this power.

Then my mind shifted to his LOVE. Not only does he KNOW what's going on in their lives, and CARE enough to listen to and even answer prayers, he LOVES each and every human on this planet! I don't know about you, but there are only a set number of people that I'm able to "love" at a time. But God's love is limitless!

When I had my second child, I had the common worry of "How can I possibly love another child as much as my first child? My poor second child will never be able to compete with the HUGE love that I have for my first." However, as soon as my second child Bridget was born, my heart grew in size. I immediately loved her just as much - just in a different sort of way. So when I was pregnant with my third child, I didn't worry at all about the "love" factor. I knew my heart would just grow in size to accommodate another precious child. Sure enough, my heart has grown again with the addition of Josiah. So just how big is God's love in comparison, since he has approximately 7 BILLION children! Not only that, he loves each one of them with a more perfect love than the HUGE love I have for MY children. Not only that, but he has loved every person who has ever been created since the dawn of time!

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." - Ephesians 3:17-19
With every birth, God's heart doesn't have to grow like a new mother's does, it is already infinitely large. I love how personal my God is. He knows me better than any human ever has or ever will. And even so, even though he knows the dirty, sinful places in my heart - he loves me so much. All I can do in return is be THANKFUL that my God is so amazing, seek to love others in the unconditional way he does, and most importantly LOVE him back. Isn't that what we desire the most from the ones we love? For their love in return? The most precious thing in my life right now is feeling my own child's love for me in response to my love for them.

Lyrics from "How Deep the Father's Love for Us"
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory. 
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished. 
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.
Love,
Laura

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