Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Abby: (6/3/04) Adorable ABBY is sweet as can be. She is in her second year of preschool two mornings a week and loves it. Mommy sometimes needs to protect baby Josh from all of Abby’s nurturing love because she really loves babies. She had a Princess “Cinderella” 4th birthday party, and dressed up as Princess “Belle” for Halloween. She spends a lot of time making artistic pictures of princesses, dressing her babies like princesses, wearing princess jewelry, and twirling in princess costumes. If she could have it her way—the whole world would be pink! Abby loves to sing and is full of animated stories!
Nathan: (10/18/02) NATHAN enjoys kindergarten and seems to thrive in anything academic. He is full of questions, and we sometimes need to do our own research in order find answers to his good questions. He is a very verbal child and even performed in the teenagers talent show on Daddy’s summer team as a teller of “knock-knock” jokes! He can climb a tree much higher than Mommy is comfortable with and enjoys exploring in the woods. He knows Friday is allowance day and also earns extra dimes by helping all the chores. He remains very social and loves to have friends over to play.
Jenni: Jenni spent a lot of time this year trying to “settle” the house - maybe it is her new hobby?! After spending much time the past few years having babies, and moving – a bit of accumulation has built up! We have happily become strong supporters of the local charity donation bin. Jenni enjoys being involved with a community Bible study called Moms In-Depth. If free time can be found, Jenni loves going on walks, going on dates with Matt, reading, and hot bubble baths. She loved a fall weekend away at a Mom’s conference, “Hearts at Home.”
Matt: Matt gained the admiration of many and became a regular Winter Super Hero in February. He and his friend cross-country skied deep into the northern Minnesota wilderness for an winter camping/ice fishing trip. (Jenni is glad he has someone else to go with him). Matt enjoys being involved with the youth group, meeting with men in a weekly bible study, listening to sermons/books on his MP3 player and spending his free time in the outdoors. This fall Matt went hunting for the first time in several years and bagged a 6 point buck to fill the Halseth freezer with venison! Way to go Matt!
Vacation: Mommy declined a week of fun camping in August in order to clean the house! She must be getting too old to have so much fun anymore :-) But we did manage to take two short overnight trips to a great mid-week deal in a Duluth, MN water-park hotel. We also joined Matt’s family camping over Labor Day Weekend which was tons of fun!
The Animals: Our dog Bailey is still with us, and always great with the kids...though getting less robust in her old age. This year we also gained two new cats, affectionately named Daisy and Tiger (not pictured). Their primary job is to help ward off the garage mice who had built a nest in Matt’s rain boot and under the hood of the van!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength… and love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
Two years ago I invited some women in our community to join me in a Bible Study. My original hope was to find five interested Moms, but to my amazement twelve signed up. As I got to know these women I was excited to learn that several had never before had the opportunity to study the Bible. Some were not involved with a church. The Moms who attended church were from five different local churches, bringing a true interdenominational flavor to our group.
MOMS LIVES BEING CHANGED BY GOD
There have been times in my life when I felt “strong enough” to be an “effective leader”. This was not one of those times…! I was in the middle of a number of challenging personal health issues (miscarriages, heart problems, etc.) and yet somehow the Lord saw fit to give me this inspiring opportunity to serve. Often, I am aware of how little I have to offer, but (of course!) God remains so obviously bigger than my weaknesses! He is so faithful to show up and move in powerful ways. Moms are genuinely deepening their commitment to Christ, true friendships are being built, and families are being changed. Not only have I seen Moms grow incredibly in their own faith journey, but the Lord continually uses these women to bless me in countless ways. My biggest prayer request has been that somehow I will be in tune with the Lord enough to not get in the way of all that He may be wanting to do.
Last year we had new people join and this year our group has grown to 25 Moms. Numbers are not important, but each changed life is. Once again the Lord continues to bring new Moms who have little previous exposure to Christianity or the Bible. Words cannot express how incredible it is to be able to witness the Lord bringing women to Himself, and some for the first time ever.
“MIDZ KIDZ” CHILDREN’S MINISTRY
We now call ourselves “Moms In-Depth”, and have split into two small groups instead of one. Five of the Moms faithfully serve with me on the Servant Leadership Team, to keep us all afloat. I am totally thankful to be mentored as I serve - by a dear and wise friend named Marion. In order to care for the 50+ children involved, we have nine staff working in our children’s ministry called “MIDZ KIDZ.” MIDZ KIDZ is an answer to prayer as the children’s program has grown from a struggling childcare scenario into a blossoming Children’s Ministry. Caring for our 50+ children is such a vital challenge as we organize, organize, organize – and as we search for qualified staff, and the money to pay them! (Should you ever sense a leading to financially support the Moms In-Depth ministry directly, please make checks payable to North Brook Fellowship - our local North Branch, MN church.)
A MOM’S PRIORITY IN A MINISTRY CALLING
Over time, Matt and I have felt compelled to share with you this testimony of how the Lord is at work in the lives of these Moms. We hope you understand how much we appreciate your role in this. Your prayers and financial support allow us to not only serve full-time with Reign Ministries, but also to serve in our local community, as the Lord leads. Many of you are so faithful in your prayers; for our ministry with students, for our international mission trips, for our personal walks with Christ, and for our family. Here is one more area we appreciate your prayer support; for continued wisdom with my role in the lives of these Moms. For several, the Lord is bringing His healing into (the sometimes messy) backgrounds of brokenness.
I love seeing God change women’s hearts and lives through prayer and exposure to His Word. I love being a stay-at-home Mom with Nathan, Abby and Joshua. And I love that my husband is so receptive to the Lord’s clear and continual call to serve in long-term ministry with International Missions and Students. Yes, I admit that I may whine a little about living in a tent with lots of huge ants for several weeks at training camp…! But despite the challenges J God has given me a strong desire to support my husband in his ministry calling.
I know my commitment is first of all to my Savior, and then to my husband and children. Please join me in praying for wisdom beyond that. Many of us Moms seem to have a similar prayer request. Lord, show me how to keep my priorities your priorities. Grant me wisdom and discernment to balance all the valid possible things you may be calling me to invest in (and yes – that does include diapers, dishes and laundry :-)!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
A Royal Servants report on our ministry team to Northern Ireland & London
By Matt Halseth
Early on during our time in
"If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all His commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country..." Duet. 28:1-3
This summer our team was constantly blessed by our loving and gracious God. What blessings did we encounter? Where do I begin? To start with, I felt every day was a gift where God specifically blessed us with one of those "WOW!" moments.
Here are a few more "blessings" that I personally felt or witnessed as our team followed God in obedience over the summer:
· Divine appointments with hearts that were ripe for the Gospel
· A timely word from the Lord for an individual or situation
· Godly relationships formed that are sure to last a life-time
· Our teams needs being met through generous givers
· A "calling" confirmed in the hearts of a numerous students
· An encouraging word from the Lord when the team needed it
· Seeing students grasp and understand truth from God's Word
· Having just the right amount of strength for each day
· Good weather when we needed it for our ministry in the city
I could mention countless more blessings that each individual on the team experienced as we all had the privilege of serving Him this summer. God is so faithful and worthy to be praised and worthy to be trusted! This summer and all its blessings had once again brought that to the forefront of my mind.
THE BLESSINGS OF STEWARDSHIP
I know that it’s NOT about the numbers but I’m always amazed to see what God can accomplish through our lives in just a few short, ministry-packed weeks. As I looked back over my trip journal, from the start of training camp to the flight home, I reflected on what we accomplished with our time and resources:
· 7 local church services we were involved in leading
· 21 street or drama performances
· 80 children involved in the Holiday Bible Club
· 18 creative evangelism team outreaches
· 11 servant evangelism team outreaches
· 12 youth clubs or outreach programs
· 6 community school summer schemes participated in
· 34 bible study and small group sessions for each individual
· 32 team teaching sessions
· 31 bible verses memorized by each individual
· 102 team meals prepared and shared together (3 times a day!)
THE BLESSINGS OF PARTNERSHIP
Recently I was asked by a friend to share just one encouraging moment in ministry from the summer. I thought, wow, how can I share just one, there are too many to count? But if I were to narrow it down to one thing that stood above the rest, it was this; the blessing of our partnerships with churches in
Why? In all my ministry years working with churches overseas, I would have to say that this summer was one of the best, in terms of partnership with the local church we go to serve.
Not only did Ebrington Presbyterian and Miller Memorial Methodist let us use their facilities to do ministry… they partnered along side us to do ministry and several within the congregation were involved in the work each and every day. So it was NOT about Royal Servants or about their church, it was about the Kingdom!
Together, we were able to do more than we could have done by ourselves. At Ebrington we brought young Catholics and Protestants together, something that had not been done at the church in over 100 years! And at Miller we broke new ground by reaching out to local youth and exposing our students to poor and ethnically diverse communities!
THE BLESSINGS OF FREINDSHIP
As you can imagine there were lots of tears shed the mornings we departed from each church. Several church members showed up at our early morning departure to give final hugs and say their goodbyes. Here is one of the letters I received from David Baxter, one of the church members that I became close friends with….
I just wanted to write this note to you and really to all the Royal Servants to thank you all for the joy you have brought to our church. Not in my time here have I seen so close fellowship and the Holy Spirit working in so many people. I know the Lord will bless you all in his work when the team splits up to go to their own homes. I don’t feel this is goodbye between us, “just a break,” because with the Lords help this relationship between Ebrington and the Royal Servants will grow, all for His glory and I find real encouragement in that… I will be praying for you all regularly, especially for you Matt and your family. Have a safe journey and may Jesus be with you all.
Your Brother Forever in Christ,
And finally, we thank God for blessing us with friends like you. Thanks for hanging in there with us. Your prayer and financial support is invaluable. We pray that you, too, will be immeasurably blessed beyond your imagination!
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Leading the ‘08 Ireland Team
Many of you remember the amazing summer Jenni and I had in Ireland back in ’06. Well, I have some exciting news to share, I have been asked to be the senior team leader for the Royal Servants ’08 Ireland team! I am so excited to be leading this team! I can’t wait to see the team God will raise up to join us in making a lasting impact.
This year, our Ireland team will be unique from previous years. Why? Because God has placed an opportunity in our path that we just couldn’t pass up! In addition to working in Northern Ireland, we will also be serving in one of the poorest boroughs on the outskirts of London.
Partnering with Local Churches and Reaching Diverse Communities
The first part of the summer will be spent in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. In Londonderry we will be working hand-in-hand with a church youth group to reach out to the community through a variety of ministry opportunities.
For the second part of the summer our team will fly over to London, England to partner with a church in the Tottenham borough.
Tottenham is rich in ethnic diversity. It has some of London’s highest concentrations of people from the Caribbean islands, Ghana (West Africa), and Eastern Europe. We will be reaching out to a racially diverse community with big needs.
“Real” Spiritual Growth
Though one of our main purposes of our summer is to reach people for Christ in these communities, we also have the privilege to see God work in the hearts of the students on our American team. Real spiritual growth takes place in a God centered, discipleship oriented, summer mission experience! Listen to how God worked in David’s life, a young man on the Nepal team last summer.
In a recent email David said in part:
“I just wanted you to know that God really used Royal Servants this summer to change my life. You helped me to get to the point where I was on my knees, offering my heart up to God. My WHOLE heart.
Before the trip, my sin had been separating me from having an awesome incredible relationship with the God who created the universe, but thanks to Royal Servants I now feel like all those walls have been torn down and I can finally meet with God face to face and experience His presence in ways I have never felt before.
So again, my life has truly been changed by God this summer, and I am forever in your debt for letting God use you as His instrument to shape and mold the lives of us students.” David—Nepal ‘07
Pray for the Harvest… Pray for Workers!
It’s our desire to see more students like David be equipped to make a difference and be impacted for Jesus’ sake.
Currently, I’m actively recruiting students to join Royal Servants this summer. I’m not looking for students who are perfect, only students who have a heart for Jesus and desire to grow more in their faith - like David (above).
Do you know a teenager or college student who desires to be shaped by Christ and wants to make a difference for him in this world? If so, simply send me their name, email and/or phone number (with their permission) so I can contact them. It would be great to have them join our team!
Please pray for all the preparation, planning and for our time in Ireland and the United Kingdom this summer. I anticipate with great joy what God is going to do in the hearts of the students and in the lives Jesus will touch through them!
It was one of those arctic cold January mornings in Minnesota… 20 below with a wind-chill factor of -45!
I waddled my way to the car and slowly sat down on the frozen driver’s seat. To my amazement the car turned over and fired right up. In a couple of minutes I was on my way to work.
I looked into my rearview mirror and noticed that it was a little out of whack so I place my hand on it and gave it a slight tweaking. Next thing I know I’m freely holding the mirror in my hand! “So much for that,” I said to myself as I laid it on the passenger seat and headed down the road.
Then it dawned on me, this was not the first time my rear view mirror had fallen off. I racked my brain to recall the last time it happened... Oh yes, it was a scorching summer day in central Florida. The inside of my car had to have been 115 degrees. “Talk about one extreme to the other,” I thought.
My rear view mirror had experienced both extreme climates. In each situation the glue that held it to the window had failed under these intense conditions. The Lord brought to mind how sometimes I fail to keep my relationship with him under the proper balance.
One minute I’m hot – seeking Him with all my heart and the next thing I know, I’m cold – and it has been days since I have seriously prayed or spent time with Him.
I have to admit I have spent much of my Christian life in the ups and downs, counting on the future and believing my life in Christ would be more satisfying, if only…
If only I didn’t have to deal with this situation right now… If only I didn’t have this struggle… If only God would have given me "that" gift. You get the idea—fill in the blank.
Lately the Lord has convinced me of the secret to a balanced Christian life. Though I’m not totally consistent, I have found that the secret is being content in Christ – not in my circumstances - whether I’m up or down or somewhere in the middle.
Does this sound familiar? The Apostle Paul figured this out and wrote to the Philippians about it.
“…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
It is interesting to me that Paul uses the word “secret” when talking about contentment. A secret is something hidden, concealed or unknown to others. Being content in all our circumstances therefore is not something that we can figure out on our own. True contentment is a secret that only Christ himself can reveal to us.
It’s not hard to realize this, just look around at our culture today and observe if any others have found the secret of being content. Sadly, many driven people today, including Christians, continue to go back and forth in search for true peace and contentment.
I feel I no longer need to search for contentment. I don't have to count on the future to reveal a better circumstance.
God's love is the only thing that gives me strength and brings me true contentment. I just need to allow Him to lead me through each moment of each day - whether good or bad, hot or cold... or from one extreme to the other!