Saturday, October 27, 2012

October Happenings

October has been a full month of traveling, visitors, and birthday parties.  Gabriella turned nine years old on October 9th.  We celebrated by taking her our to pizza with our friends, the Christians.  Her party was the following Saturday when Aunt Tootie and Uncle Bob were in town visiting. Her party almost ended up being moved the hospital as Gabriella cut her foot when falling into the coastal waterway.  My heart caught in my throat as I watched daddy carry my birthday girl across the dock with blood streaming down her foot.  Fortunately, though long, the cut ended up being pretty artificial.

Uncle Bob and Aunt Tootie were our first out of town guests and we loved having them here to celebrate with us.  Unfortunately, Uncle Bob was not feeling very well and ended up in the hospital upon his return home.  He had a kidney infection, leg infection, and congestive heart failure.  It looks like he will be in a care facility for the next three weeks or so as he continues to recover.

Marko (daddy) traveled to Los Angeles with Joshua to pack up the old i2 offices and move everything to the new Missions to Muslims library location at IHOP Ministries in Kansas City.  Currently, Josh and Jussara are preparing to travel to Indonesia for the Transform World Conference next week. This conference is designed to meet the challenges of Islam in Multiple Spheres.  Marko will not be traveling with them for this conference as he will be flying to Brazil with Marko Gabriel to check on our businesses there.  

Marko Gabriel accompanied me to the Global Training for Enagic Inc. in Orlando Florida last weekend.  I am a distributor for this amazing company that sells alkaline water machines.  Marko and I had a great time with our friends and business associates; Sean, Carlos, Brita, and Howard.  We love this business and are completely sold on the benefits of drinking Kangan Water.  Our machines change ordinary tap water into highly alkaline, antioxidant water that will change your life.  Since starting on the water three months ago my energy has increased ten-fold.  Our bodies are acidic due to the foods and beverages that we consume.  Disease can only grow in an acidic body so when we proactively work to make our bodies more alkaline, the health benefits are incredible.  If you are interested in learning more about Kangan water please contact me at (425) 350-4882.  You can also watch an online demonstration at:  If you, or anyone you know is suffering form any type of disease, or even if you think you are healthy as can be, you need to be drinking this water.  It is the future of our water and you don't want to miss out on its benefits.

Upon our return to Fort Lauderdale Sunday afternoon, we hopped on our bikes and rode the short distance to the Pompano Beach Airpark where Marko Gabriel went for a helicopter lesson.  For those of you who don't know, Marko wants to be a pilot.  At 13 (almost 14) he has logged in several hours flying small craft airplanes.  This was his second experience flying in a helicopter and he loves both equally.  Though he cannot get his pilots licence for about three more years, he flies whenever he can and has been given the opportunity to volunteer at the airport washing airplanes etc..I love that he has already found something he is passionate about.  Some of us seem to take a lifetime to realize our dreams while others know what they want and are able to pursue it from a young age.

Hurricane Sandy just missed us this weekend but packed some powerful winds and rain which is always fun for us.  We pray for those in New York and other East Coast States that are bracing for this historic storm as it threatens to ravage their coastline.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Holding Down the Fort

It's Saturday and the kids and I are enjoying a mellow day at home.  It's been raining all day with intermittent thunder storms.  Our pool is nearly overflowing and I am thankful I don't have to water my newly planted flower pots.

Marko left Tuesday with Josh and Jussara to travel to IHOP (International House of Prayer) in Kansas City with whom i2 Ministries is partnering.  IHOP is opening an i2 Missions to Muslims training school as a supplement to their curriculum.  This partnership is very strategic and an enormous blessing and honor for i2.  The purpose of this trip was to finalize the details of the partnership as well to introduce Josh and Jussara and pray for their ministry. 

Sadly, the timing of this important event coincided with my 44th birthday and Marko's and my 20th Wedding Anniversary.  It was hard for Marko to leave the day before both of these events, but we agreed that he needed to be at IHOP to help represent i2.  Marko made sure that the kids took good care of me on my birthday though which was very sweet considering I don't have any friends or family in Florida to celebrate with me. Actually, we have become friends with our neighbor, Nicole, but I made Marko promise he wouldn't tell her it was my birthday!

The kids made me a wonderful scrambled egg breakfast complete with goat cheese, salsa, and spinach (my daily breakfast of choice).  They also had handmade cards and a big banner waiting for me and they insisted that I relax and not do any work that day.  Me, myself, and I voted unanimously they must be the most thoughtful children in the world!

Noah ended up sick and stayed home on my birthday/Anniversary (yes, we got married on my birthday)!  He was my little birthday buddy so I wasn't entirely alone.  I also enjoyed cards, texts, and emails from various family and friends.  Thank you for that.

I am thrilled to report that my boys both decided to play soccer with their sister! I was shocked when they said they wanted to play and even more shocked that they actually enjoy it! Neither of our boys have been big fans of team sports.  They tend to learn towards individual sports which is fine with us.  We have always hoped they would experience some team sports, however, and the benefits that go along with them.  The coach tells us they both have natural talent and could be great soccer players should they decide to continue with the sport.  The league they are with is pretty casual and non competitive, however,we know that most other teams at their age will have highly experienced players.  Hopefully this will not intimidate them and they will decide to continue playing.... 

The ministry paid for me to take a Grant Writing Course this week.  I enjoyed learning about how to write grants and hope that I can use this new knowledge to help raise money for i2 and perhaps other ministries as well.  I had no idea what went into writing grants.  Apparently it takes between 80-120 hours just to write one grant and they are often turned down due to high demand.

There is not much else to report.  I am going to leave you with some photos of the kids from their first week of school, soccer, as well as various other photos, including our neighborhood iguanas.  In Washington we photographed sweet little bunny rabbits and deer grazing in our fields.  In Florida we photograph reptiles sunning on our dock. One guy was about four feet long and had enough spikes to rival a porcupine!

Friday, September 7, 2012


Well, it's week three in Florida and we are finally settling into somewhat of a routine.  Marko and Gabriella started school a couple of weeks ago while I worked hard to get Noah signed up for Florida's Online Virtual Academy.  After hours of paperwork, more paperwork, testing, and Learning Coach training, Noah and I decided that home school was not in either of our best interests! Mom about had a panic attack when she realized how much computer time was needed for both student and Learning Coach.  Those of you who know me well know that  computers and I have a bit of a strained relationship.  If it paints a better picture for you, my husband has nicknames me "The Computer Terrorist."

It's not that I am not capable of learning, it's more of a refusal to learn.  Picture me on the set of "Little House on The Prairie" if you will (minus the long dresses, and bonnets that is).  I often feel like I should have been born in a different time period.  Most of you probably think that sounds crazy as you love 21st Century Technology!  I, on the other hand, would rather hand write a letter, take notes in longhand, and sit around visiting face to face with family and friends.  I know there are SOME of you out there who can relate to me!  My biggest pet peeves in life are computers and automated tellers!  To be entirely honest with you, the two can have me so worked up that the words coming out of my mouth  are far from appropriate, lady like, or Christian!

It has been relatively easy to avoid the computer world over these past thirteen years of being a stay at home mom.  I have realized that I do need to join the 21st century (kicking and screaming none the less) and learn a thing or two about computers.  My constant frustration with the things has become somewhat of an issue (just ask Marko)!  After my rather large meltdown this week over Noah's school stuff, and the tears of frustration that followed, I have decided it is time for me to be proactive with regards to my computer challenges.  I am determined to take some computer classes for dummies or something in the very near future!

Moving on...

Noah is currently in the process of enrolling in Highlands Christian Academy with big brother, Marko.  Gabriella attends McNab Elementary just down the street.  We live too close to school for bus service so Gabriella and I enjoy some one on one time walking to and from school every day.

Gabriella is playing soccer at St. Coleman's Catholic Church in our neighborhood.  I love being able to walk to school and soccer.  We live in a wonderful neighborhood that feels like it is miles from civilization but is actually close to everything.

All three kids are starting swim lessons tomorrow at an incredible pool down the street.  A must in Florida!  They also enjoyed their first lesson in Spear Fishing with Leo, one of the High School students from Zion Church.

As for Marko and I;  Marko has been working full time for i2 Ministries and I will be working part time as a writer for the ministry.  We have weekly team meetings at the i2 office (see photo below).  There is so much to do and learn with regards to the ministry and where it is going.  We are joining forces with IHOP International where they will offer the i2 Curriculum in the upcoming months.  Many exciting things are happening and it is inspiring to see what Josh and Jussara have done, and are doing, to train up the Global Church to effectively evangelize Muslims.

I need to run some errands so will say goodbye for now- leaving you with some photos and videos of the past two weeks in Florida.  We survived Tropical Storm Isaac and hope you enjoy watching my amateur footage (apparently turning the camera sideways while filming does NOT have the same results as when you are taking still pictures-reminder "Amateur Filmmaker"!!! L.O.L.!

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Relocating to Florida

It has been over a year since my last entry.  So much has changed in our lives that I don't know where to begin.  I will start by sharing that I am blogging from our new home in Pompano Beach, Florida.  Our getting here has been about a three year process.  I will try to keep the details as short as possible which could be challenging for someone like myself!

In my last blog I mentioned that we put our home up for sale in June of 2011.  It took close to a year to sell with several postponements on the closing date.  I think it is important to note that the house sold at the perfect time.  As hard as it was to live through the uncertainties, the timing couldn't have been better.

Marko started talking about moving either to Florida or Brazil three years ago. He felt a calling to work with i2 Ministries which is based out of Southern Florida.  We also have a couple of businesses in Brazil and it made sense to move closer to Brazil if not to Brazil itself.  I was very resistant as most of my family lives in the Seattle area, we have a wonderful group of friends in the Northwest, and an amazing church where I was involved with Women's Ministries.  I loved working with the Women at Stanwood Foursquare Church so it was very difficult for me to imagine moving so far away from everything I loved.

I started to pray daily that the Lord would change my heart.  It took about ten months but my heart finally began to soften to the idea of moving.  I was on my daily prayer walk one morning when I felt the peace of the Lord strongly.  I knew at that moment that I was being asked to surrender my dreams and follow my husband to Florida.

Two weeks later we got an offer on our house.  Two weeks after that we got an offer on our rental home.  The timing was perfect;  not a moment too soon.  The Lord did not rush me. He waited until my heart was ready.  This fact was very comforting to me and so we moved ahead with plans to relocate across the country.

We spent about four months preparing to leave.  Being the planner that I am, I started packing a couple of boxes a day so as not to be overwhelmed at the end.  We had three garage sales selling much of what we owned.  After all, we were downsizing from an almost 6,000 square foot house into a 2,000 square foot rental home.  

It was stressful, exhausting, and consuming getting ready to move.  I don't think we sat down for months.  In the midst of it all, we felt an excitement and a peace that were undeniably from God.  There is a freedom in downsizing that cannot be explained.  As much as we loved our house, it had become a burden.  

The goodbye's were very difficult.  We had a wonderful send off from our church body and felt very supported by our friends and Pastors at Stanwood Foursquare.  

Saying goodbye to family and our closest friends was the hardest part of it all.  I thought my heart would break at times as I experienced a grieving that was not unlike that of losing a loved one to death.  It is very difficult for me to leave my parents at this stage of their lives.  Taking their grand kids so far away from them hurts my heart deeply and yet I know this is where we are supposed to be for this season of our lives.  I can only pray that we will have opportunities to see each other during the year and that our time together will be good, quality time.

We arrived in Florida twelve days ago.  Josh and Jussara picked us up at the airport and drove us to our new home in Pompano Shores.  A welcome home sign, lit candles, and the smell of warming lasagna greeted us as we walked through the door. Josh and Jussara had made sure our beds  were set up so that we didn't have to sleep on the tile floor.  They had also purchased many staples for us including food and other essentials.  A large gift bag also awaited us with Florida basics:  beach towels and suntan lotion! What a blessing to come home to such thoughtful touches.

Our last twelve days in Florida have been eventful to say the least.  Our rental home was not exactly ready for our arrival.  I won't go into the details but suffice it to say that our home needed a fair amount of maintenance work.  Our pool was disgusting and only became swimable (is that even a word?) two days ago! We were without hot water for a week and only yesterday got wi-fi up and running.  These were all just minor irritations that had to be worked out but which took a lot of time.

In the meantime, I (Shelley) had come down with a bad cold and our eight year old daughter, Gabriella, contacted salmonella poisoning and ended up in the hospital.  She is finally feeling better, a fact that is evident in the way she is interacting with her brothers!  I have always said that my daughter is most enjoyable when she is sick!  Our house is always much more peaceful when our darling girl is down with a fever.  That made sound rude to those of you who have never experienced a strong willed child, but in our household it is a reality.  We love her spunky personality, but an occasional sickness is an opportunity for us to actually snuggle and enjoy some semblance of peace!  That said, I could live without salmonella-a common cold would suffice!

As I write, we are hunkered down in our cozy little home awaiting the arrival of hurricane Isaac.  It is raining and blowing like crazy but the worst is yet to come.  At this point, Isaac is a tropical storm but by nightfall may turn into a category I hurricane.  We love storms and are anticipating an exciting evening!  Our neighbor assures us that she has lived here for 30 years and has never had any major issues.  Just the same, we are preparing for the worst yet expecting the best;  an adventurous, blustery night in Southern Florida!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Power of Prayer

I am in awe of the miraculous ways The Lord provides for us and I wanted to share a testimony with you in hopes of encouraging your hearts and inspiring your belief in the power of prayer.

Marko and I really could not afford to go to Brazil. A year ago we had planned on traveling to Brazil as a family but made the hard decision not to go based on the economy and the cost of plane tickets. Originally I was asked to direct an ESL Program for the Brazilian Students that would be attending the i2Training. Due to the massive amount of homework that goes along with the training course, my English course had to be canceled. This was confirmation that the kids and I really didn't need to be there. We decided to postpone our family trip to Brazil, sending Marko alone to support Josh in the Ministry. We were disappointed, but felt peaceful about our decision. This year we felt something beyond ourselves propelling us towards Brazil, and yet money was tighter than ever.

We sold the last of our 401k in order to purchase plane tickets which had gone up significantly since our last trip out of the country. We knew things were going to be tight, but we also knew that we were supposed to go on this trip. We had a peace and an excitement about traveling back to Brazil. We knew there was a purpose in our being there which was confirmed over these past two weeks.

Upon returning home from Brazil on Wednesday, we were aware that our checking accounts were running low. When I went on my daily prayer walk yesterday morning, I prayed specifically that The Lord would multiply our money (a prayer I frequently make). I also prayed that I would be able to buy a few groceries in order to get us by until pay day. My tendency is to worry about finances despite the fact that the bible promises The Lord will take care of us more than the birds of the air, and despite the fact that we have seen financial miracles consistently over the past 18 years! I think I am finally really "getting it" and really "believing it to be true." I truly believe that the Lord WILL provide as He promises. I am just a really slow learner!

Matthew 6: 25 says: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

After my walk, I hopped into my car and headed for Safeway. As I was walking down the isles, very carefully selecting items that I needed the most, Marko walked in with a big smile on his face. He met his boss in the Safeway parking lot to commute to work and had seen me pull in. He said "Hi Beautiful-I have a surprise for you!" He then handed me an envelope filled with cash! Marko's boss and friend, Tony, had sold our Honda Pilot. The most incredible part of this story is that our car sold for almost the exact amount of money that we spent traveling to Brazil AND it sold at about the exact time we were landing at Seatac Airport!

The Honda could have sold while we were in Brazil and Tony would have emailed us telling us that he deposited money into our account. We would have been comforted knowing that the money was there (we might also have been tempted to spend money frivolously with that knowledge). I think it is no accident that the car sold the moment we arrived in the U.S. It allowed us the opportunity to really rely on the Lord while we were in Brazil and trust that He would take care of our every need while we were there, as well as, upon our return.

I share this story with you because for those of you who are Christians, I want you to recognize that if you are "Called" by God to go somewhere or do something and if you are obedient to that call, regardless of how impossible it may seem, you need to step out in faith and believe that He will provide for you. He ALWAYS comes through-even if it is in the final hour which it often is!

For those of you are not Christians, I share this with you in hopes of encouraging you to believe, not only in the power of prayer, but in God and in His son, Jesus whom died on the cross for our sins. My hope is that you would believe that there is so much more to our lives than simply living day to day for ourselves. We each have a purpose under heaven and there is nothing than can keep us from that purpose if our mind and heart are set on heavenly things and not earthly things.

Be encouraged and believe in the power of prayer!!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

An Interesting Dichotomy

As we left CTMDT we received hugs from many of our Brazilian friends who walked us out to the car where Junior was loading our luggage. After a smooth but exhausting day of traveling, we arrived home from Brazil yesterday afternoon. It is always nice to walk out of Seatac Airport and breathe in the freshness of the Northwest. There are many things that we love about Brazil, but the staleness of the air is not one of them! Between the exhaust fumes and the mugginess, there is a lot to be desired in the with regards to clean air.

We came home to a beautiful summer day in Seattle. I was in bed by 8:00 our time enjoying the comfort of my own bed! Sleeping in bunk beds with aged mattresses makes for a rough go at attaining sleep. I woke up at my normal time of 5:30, rested and thankful for my cozy home. I went for my daily prayer walk in the early morning drizzle, reflective and a little emotional with mixed feelings in my heart.

We put our dream home up for sale a few weeks ago. We have only had one person look at it which is no surprise in this economy. No one looked at it when we were in Brazil, but today a Realtor had set up an appointment to show the house for the second time. This is what I was reflecting upon with mixed emotions. We love our home and so it is with some sadness that we have made the decision to sell.

We love it and yet it has become a burden both financially and emotionally. It is so big that we feel like all we do is work. I guess we have come to a place in our lives where we just want to be free. I have spoken of simplicity in the past few months. We desire to simplify our lives. How many Americans live a simple life? I honestly can't think of but a couple of people. Marko and I want to be free financially and emotionally to go where we are called to go and to do what we are called to do. At this point, we feel a calling to Brazil. We have no desire to live there full time, however, we do believe that we are to be there part time and for a season. It does not make sense to maintain our large American home based upon this upcoming season of our lives.

We are also experiencing a dichotomy of sorts between our two worlds. To spend time in Brazil is to spend time with people who are very simple in their way of life. They typically have very small homes and older, commuter cars. Their focus is not on materialism, but is on relationships. They seem to have no need to "Keep Up with the Joneses," but instead seem truly content with the simplicity of their lives. I truly respect the Brazilians for having their priorities straight in this regard.

Coming home to our American way of living has become somewhat of a disappointment to us. Are we thankful to live in a country where the American Dream is attainable and desirable? The answer of course is "Yes". The American Dream, as we discussed in our Women's Growth Group at Church, is not a bad thing. Why shouldn't we dream of a better life for ourselves and our children? This in itself is not inherently bad. The err I believe is in the need to "trump" your neighbor: Is in the need to have more money, in order to buy more things, in order to impress others. Most Americans in their pursuit of "things" have landed themselves in a pile of debt for which they have to work their tails off to get out of! Is this a dream that should be admired? Is it a dream that other countries should imitate? I think not. Instead, I think that we should imitate other countries, like Brazil. In Brazil, most people still work hard to save their money and pay cash for their homes. Sadly, I think this is changing as more loans are made available, but there are still many who believe in buying only what they can afford. Please don't think that it is my opinion that all loans are bad. I realized that small loans can help people in poverty start businesses and have homes of their own. This is a good thing. I just disagree with taking out huge loans that can never be paid back and that place unnecessary burdens on families.

I realize that it is not possible for most Americans to pay cash for their homes based upon our current cost of living, but maybe our standard of living is the problem. If we lower our standard of living, perhaps we could actually experience a little more simplicity in our lives. Of course I recognize that many Americans probably don't want to lower their standard of living and that is their choice. I say none of this with a judgmental heart, just a heart that has experienced a lot of change over the past couple of years. A heart that wants everyone to be free of the stress that financial burden brings.

Humbly, and gratefully, the only debt that our family has is our home. Unfortunately, in this economy, the home loan that we have has become a burden. Marko and I want to be free from this burden so that we can pursue God's Calling on our lives, bless others, and be free of the stress that accompanies a mortgage. For these reasons, we have decided to sell our dream home, and because of this decision, I am now experiencing a mixture of emotions.

The people that looked at our house today seemed very interested and the person who looked at it a couple of weeks ago called back with some questions. I have a feeling our house will sell a lot faster than we have planned on. On the one hand, I am feeling a little sad and the thought of packing and moving is a bit overwhelming: not to mention we have no idea where we will go!! On the other hand, I will be very thankful if our house sells in this market, and I will look forward to what the Lord has in store for us!! I know this: He loves us and He wants only good for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 says: "I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

A Joyful Reunion

Before our 4th of July Celebration, our friend, Claudia, treated us to dinner at her pizza restaurant, Danihlo's Pizza. They make the best pizza in the world and it was our third time eating Jantar (dinner) at Danihlo's in a week!

After our 4th of July Celebration, our old neighbors, Meniho and Gislaine stopped by for a visit. They brought along Pastor Joanzihnio and our other friends, Gislane and Magano. These are friends that we spent a lot of time with in 2009 but whom no longer live in the community. In fact, Gislaine, who is a dentist, is living in the Amazons with an Indian Tribe. She lives a very simple life and is loving it. To get to her house you have to take a 22 hour boat ride up the Amazon River from Northern Brazil. There are smaller, faster boats, but this is the more popular way to make the trip. Our family has been invited to spend some time with this tribe and we hope to do so in the future. Gislaine lives in simple hut with a stone floor and shops once a month for food. She has tried Alligator and turtle which she says taste pretty good. She was not too thrilled with the idea of eating monkey which is another popular food in the Amazon.

Twenty Six Year Old Gislaine loves Gabriella and treated her like a sister. Gislaine is a rare person whose energy equals my crazy daughter's. She and her brother, Maniho, lived next door to us in 2009 and Gislaine would steal Gabriella from me almost every day so that they could wear each other out with their endless energy. Both Gabriella and Gislaine also shared the nickname "G" which further united them as sisters. Gislaine was such a blessing to me. Unfortunately, at almost 43 years old, I do not have a third of the energy that my daughter has. She constantly wears me out with her hyperactive, strong willed personality, and I need frequent breaks from her. Big "G" gave me those breaks while we were living in Brazil and I was so grateful!!

Our visit was short but meaningful. It was so great to reunite with these friends. It was the perfect way to spend our last night in Brazil.