14 Aug 2015 at Michael's retirement ceremony

The Family - We are the typical Christian, homeschooling, minister's family of twelve. Eight of our children have graduated. Bre and Krista attended Master's Commission and were on staff there for a year or two before moving to New Hope Christian College where they majored in Pastoral/Counseling (Bre) and Inter-cultural Ministries (Krista). It was fun to watch Bre and Krista's  "sister thing" deepen as they shared an apartment in these transition years.  Breanne married Izaak in 2014. She is an amazing mom of 4 under 4 and a stepmom of 1. She and Izaak are the planters of Alive Alaska, a recovery church in our area.  Krista is an active-duty Air Force Chaplain and married Luke in July of 2021.    Josiah graduated in December 2011 from Angelo State University with a Business degree. He is currently into property management - for himself and for a company.  He married Carrie and Livie in August of 2021. Jamin graduated from ASU in 2015, having broken the school's 10000-meter record, started an energy conservation program that saved much money for the university and earned a master's degree in National Security. He earned a second master's degree in Foreign Relations from Texas A&M. He is currently a real estate agent in Alaska. He is on the associate leadership council of Keller Williams. To be selected for this he had to be in the top 20% of real-estate agents in Alaska.   Jared earned a degree in Political Science from ASU. He and his wife Larissa live in Juneau where both are involved in various government positions. Jared is the youngest person to have held his level in state government.  Arielle enrolled at New Hope Christian College, met Cory and married in Dec 2016 and moved to Alaska in 2017. They are both graduates of Lancaster Bible College. They have 2 darling sons. Cory is the administrator at Farm Loop Christian Center and Arielle sells Monat and thrives as a boy mom. Nolan graduated in 2018 and is an assistant general manager at McDonalds. Alex graduated in 2020 and works at the local McDonalds. Allie and Stacia are our current homeschooled students. Allie is a Senior and Stacia is a Junior. They keep busy with school, nanny gigs, and connecting with their local youth group. Allie joined our family in February of 2021. 

In the summer of 2019 G Dog (GG - my Dad) moved into our home. For a brief time, we were a 4 generational home, we are now a 3 generational home, and we love the dynamic. 

Michael, I and our three younger children lived full time in "The Caboose," our 31-foot Outback trailer, and then an RV for 2 years.  We believed God had called us to Japan as missionaries. As retirement neared, pieces seemed to be falling into place for a seamless transition to a new ministry. Then we encountered a plot twist.  While we waited, to see what doors God would open after Michael retired from the Air Force chaplaincy, we "lived the dream," loving on those we met along the way. 

We had talked about ultimately retiring in Alaska. When Michael was diagnosed with Parkinsons, and we couldn't go into missions we discussed which state would make a good home. Our adult children were scattered from TX to OR.  Michael loved Alaska, we were still Alaskan residents, but I wanted to settle within a day's drive of our kids.... We watched in awe as God began to fulfill a dream we hadn't even considered. Jared and Larissa got married and moved to Alaska. Within months Josiah and Jamin began talking about moving back. Three of our kids were still with us. We began to seriously talk of moving to Alaska, as 6 of our 9 kids would be there. THEN Izaak asked if we'd consider moving up earlier than expected as he and Bre wanted to move up. They'd stay with us until they found jobs and home. We agreed. Cory surprised us on Mother's Day when he said he and Arielle would love to move up to Alaska too. Michael and I took a trip to find a home that would be able to hold us and BreZaak and CoRielle's families. By July we had moved to Alaska with 8 of our children and 2 grandblessings. Benny was our first Alaskan born member - 4 months after arrival. Stacia left Alaska 4 months before birth. LOL  Krista was in VA working on her M.Div.  She moved to Alaska after her graduation. We now have all our children and most the grands living in Alaska (most within 40 mins of our home). We NEVER thought they'd all end up in the same city when we were living life as a military family and dropping an adult child at every duty station. LOL  God's plan is good.  Michael and I currently serve as associate pastors at Matanuska Assembly of God

Michael - Sometime blog contributor and solely responsible for "Life in Afghanistan" posts. 

De'Etta  My goal in life is to passionately love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I endeavor through teaching and mentoring relationships to lead others to an extravagant, lavish, passionate, whole-hearted, love of their life. It is my goal to truly love others.

We are the proud Papa and Baachan (Japanese for Grandmother) of 7. 

Courageous Joy - When does choosing joy become courageous joy? When the lesson has been so written into one's heart there can be no choice other than joy in the face of  life's challenges.

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him....." James 1:2 -

Biblical joy is not a happy feeling. This joy is a deep trust and satisfaction in Jesus, in where He leads and in what He provides. It is a soul-level awareness of the nearness of God in my life.  Christians are not exempt from trials. James warns us we will encounter them - there's no need to search for them. There will be a variety of tests in each of our lives and from these we have the opportunity to surrender to Jesus, experience His presence in the valley, feel endurance build and faith mature.
God said, "Choose joy" and we haltingly began to apply what we read through life's challenges: illnesses, miscarriages, dire doctor's predictions, earthquakes, tragic losses and ministry changes, we chose joy...

A few years ago, God began to speak to us about courage. We faced fears which were long held and deeply rooted.  We began to discover choosing joy is a command and also a weapon. It's a courageous choice. It takes courage to choose joy in the midst of devastation, battles with food addiction, career and ministry transitions, children leaving home. Courageous joy has just a touch of defiance in it. The trial/temptation/hardship will not win.  We will follow God - even here.  "So, take that!," our spirits shout at the obstacle.  As quickly as the choice is made, a spark of courageous joy - yes JOY - flickers to life, we endure, and our faith matures.
Months ago, when we were thinking about prayer cards and missionary newsletters, we realized we wanted a domain so our "title" would match our URL. We wanted consistent branding. "Choosing Joy," our blog title of ten years, was taken. We had fun brainstorming as a family, and on Facebook - and we kept thinking courage needed to be married with joy. God uses all sorts of means to subtly nudge us into new seasons. As the threat of Parkinson's began to enter our lives, we knew we had to respond swiftly and decisively with courageous joy.

 We determined years ago to be a family which would love courageously, follow God courageously, serve courageously.  We are in a new season which is calling forth new areas of courage from each of us. As we face this ongoing challenge of Michael's medical diagnosis and the questions as to how it will impact our future ministry and lifestyle, we've decided to respond with courageous joy. We've chosen, with both courage and joy, not to fret about the future, or wish away the present. We'll choose courageous joy as we live our lives fully present.
"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 NLT

Yes, it's a new blog name and URL....but more than that, it's a new season.
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