Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Steven is going to Kenya!

Steven is planning his premier trip to Kenya to experience personally the amazing things going on with Find Your Voice (FYV). 
Steven will be meeting up with Garold and Lori Andersen in London and will then travel with them to Nairobi on April 23.
While in Kenya for nearly 2 weeks, Steven will work with the Andersens in the day-to-day operations of FYV.  Also, he will have an opportunity to visit the rural village of  Lemaru and see all the work that is going on there.
We feel this is a very important trip for Steven as he will gain the first-hand experience he needs to better communicate with people here in the states and organize future trips.
We are now making arrangements for Steven’s travel.  His trip is going to cost  around $3,000.   We would appreciate any financial help you can offer to make this trip possible.  As this trip is quickly approaching and the bulk of the expenses are the upfront costs of airfare, the majority of donations need to be received by March 17th (of course, we’ll receive gifts after that date too.)  
Donations can be made out to Watershed Inc. and sent to the following address:

Watershed Inc.
524 Olympus
Cedar Hill, TX  75104

Donations can also be made online by visiting  Please include a note indicating that you would like these funds to be directed to Steven’s travel to Kenya. 

Thanks so much for all of your prayers and financial support. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

We are joining Watershed Arts!

We are very pleased to announce that our friends, Garold and Lori Andersen, have invited us to join them in their unique ministry, Watershed Arts.  Garold and Lori have been ministering to artists in Europe since 1994.  They have recently developed and implemented a performing arts program in Kenya called Find Your Voice (FYV).  FYV trains and mentors young people from both urban slums and rural areas to help them break the cycle of poverty.    FYV gives real hope, life skills and assistance to young Kenyans through the Christian principles of dignity, integrity, encouragement and compassion.

FYV also has an opportunity to affect the entire nation of Kenya.  The students of FYV have a standing invitation to perform in any public school.  These aren't just little "Say-No-To-Drugs" skits; these are pieces that dramatically connect Christ-centered teachings to the everyday lives of children.

Additionally, Watershed has been asked to join in a national anti-corruption campaign to promote goodness and integrity in Kenya.  What an opportunity to use the arts to promote a standard of righteousness in one of the most historically corrupt nations in Africa!

With this expansion of vision and ministry, Watershed now requires more staff.
We have gladly accepted Garold and Lori's invitation to serve with them as their stateside liaisons.

No, we do not currently have plans to move our family to Kenya, but we will be serving Watershed Arts and FYV in roles that are vital to the continued growth to the work in Kenya while still living in the states.
  • Sarah will be pursuing and writing grants to help fund the work in Kenya.  Additionally she will assist in web development.
  • Steven will be developing partnerships with churches, organizations and individuals, acting as a liaison between FYV and domestic groups.  Moreover, we are beginning a project of cross-cultural exchange between young people in the west and Kenyans.  Steven will be key in the facilitation and organization of this exchange.
We would like to ask you to pray and consider how you might be able to stand with us financially in this work.  We are working to raise financial support so we can commit our time to this amazing opportunity while still providing for our family.  We are currently asking God to provide $2000 each  month through donations to Watershed Arts so we can devote our time and efforts to the growth of FYV.  This amount is not sufficient to meet all our needs, but it will give us a base with which to start.

Please consider adding Watershed Arts and us to the charitable works you currently support.  We would appreciate both monthly support as well as one-time gifts.  Both of these can be given in one of two ways.

          Checks can be mailed to:
Watershed Arts
524 Olympus
Cedar Hill, TX 75104

          Please designate your gift as Shaw Support in the memo field.

You can also make your donation via PayPal here by clicking Donate.  Please indicate Shaw Support in the comment field.

All gifts are tax deductible.   If you plan on sending regular, monthly support, it would be helpful to us for budgeting purposes if you communicated your intentions by sending us a note to the Watershed address or by emailing us at

We are very excited about where God is leading us, and we so appreciate your prayers and support as we come to your thoughts in the coming days.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Reality has a lot of buts

by Steven

The last several months have been really challenging to us in a number of ways, but...
(reality has lots of buts, and so does this post.)

After I wrote my last post, it dawned on me that during this season Sarah and I have written several posts that have a rather glum tone about them.  True, they are honest, transparent and reflect our feelings and circumstances well.  Also true is the fact that we've gotten comments that indicate our vulnerability is refreshing.  Many of you can identify with our doubts and disappointments, and somehow our expression has brought encouragement to you.  We are grateful for this.

...But this blog isn't meant to be a whining station.

Somewhere outside the boundaries of Grief, Honest Self-assessment, and Humble Prayers of Sorrow, there lie uglier plains of Despair, Self-pity, and Bitter Pleas of Woe-is-me.  Though family, friends and even casual observers may travel with a person through the former, they will quickly abandon the caravan if they feel they are being led to the latter.  It is certainly not our intent to drift toward or drag anyone else across that line.

...But we are in a transitional season that, up to this point, has prompted more doleful feelings than cheerful ones.

What is it about us humans that cause us to be interested in and even attracted to a story that is full of struggle and heartache.  Every book and movie has some sort of conflict and without one, you don't have a story at all.  So for Sarah and me, this blog is our reflections on our current personal struggles.  And even though I know that observers can only handle so much,... (Please pardon the use of this over-used phrase.) It is what it is.

...But there are a lot of blessings going on too.  (Thank GOD!)

Since April of 2011, here are some of the really cool things that we've experienced.  I earned a long-awaited for Bachelor's degree. (Did I mention I graduated Cum Laude?)  Sarah completed a year of teaching High School Geometry with a lot of success and favor from co-workers.  We moved out of the small apartment to a big house, from the hood to a quaint community.  Moreover, our landlords have been extremely gracious and understanding during this season.  We were given, yes GIVEN, hundreds of dollars worth of nice furniture, as well as a refrigerator, washer and dryer - all from different sources.  Sarah has lost nearly 30 lbs.  Granted, the birth of Levi was the primary dietary action, but still, weight loss is weight loss.  And Oh yeah, Levi was born.  The joy and blessings of having another life in our family far outweighs the trials of having a newborn. 

I know that our story is far from over,

...But this season will eventually give way to a different one.  In the meantime, we will anchor ourselves to the Rock on tethers of His word.  Here is one such tether found in Philippians 4

"Rejoice in the Lord always... The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  ...For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have leaned 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."

May we all keep growing and going until this is true for us personally.  To God be the glory.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

But like the fickle Israelites of old...

by Steven

Let's face it: sometimes this journey sucks.  For me, it is tempting to associate the cause of the difficult seasons with God.  Nevertheless, when I think of it like a father leading his family across the U.S. frontier in the 19th century, it helps give me some perspective.  The wife and children must have at times resented Dad for the trials they were dealing with.  After all, it's his fault for bringing them west.  "Why couldn't we have stayed in Virginia like all the normal people," the family whines.  But the father knows (at least, our Father knows) what joys, riches, and beauties lie ahead.  He knows that rest will come, along with the security and peace the family longs for.  He also knows what they are leaving behind and how, in the long run, those things will not serve them best.

There are a lot of reasons why the journey is downright unpleasant at times; for some folks it is unpleasant most of the time.  Here again is why we need to be reminded that God never promised an easy path; He only promised that He would lead us and be with us.  I wonder if so many of the disappointments we endure come about because of having wrong expectations and not being satisfied with His presence.  We so quickly doubt that His presence is near and then blame Him for leaving us.  

However, one of the foundational and paramount claims of the Christian faith is the truth that God is near -- "God with us."  Of course, this reality is always easier to grasp when we sense or feel His presence, or when we can see some sort of manifestation of it.  There's nothing like a miracle or an internal wave of holy bliss washing over our soul to assure us that God is indeed nearby.  But like the fickle Israelites of old, we panic and doubt not only His presence, but sometimes His very existence, when our journey becomes seemingly unbearable.  Meanwhile, He just keeps loving us and sticking around in spite of our doubts.

Honestly, back in the Spring I thought for sure that by now, October 2011, I would be happily employed, serving in a vocational ministry position.  I would verbally assure Sarah that by Summer's end, we would have a steady income and be settled in a house and location that we'd call home for a while.  I was confident that God had good things ahead of us and that those good things would be materialized by now.  It saddens me that my assurances to Sarah have not yet become reality.  I am sad for her sake.  I hate how hard this is for her.  I'd be lying if I said I don't feel like I have failed her.

All the predictable questions have gone through my head many times.  Where did I go wrong?  Is this happening because of sin in my life?  Which sin? Am I over-spiritualizing this whole thing?  Have I prayed and fasted enough?  Am I waiting on God or is He waiting on me?  Is this just our lot in life and cross to bear?  Will things ever really change?  Would things be better if I had been born with a monkey tail? (A little comic relief was needed.)

But our current circumstances and status is not the end.  Heck! It isn't even real - not compared to the reality of His presence and Kingdom.  Sure, it feels real and I'm not suggesting that our debts are only in our heads.  Certainly, our lenders and utility companies don't think it's just in our heads.  But there is a greater reality, a greater "circumstance" that encompasses us -- GOD, our Heavenly Father.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

However, what I do know is...

by Steven

Father, we have prayed that if in your wisdom and perspective you see a particular opportunity as not being what is best for me, that you would close that door.  Moreover, we believe that you are able to open any door that would be in accord with your will for this season of our lives.  We know and have confessed to you that our sight is limited and our understanding is shallow regarding the future and what is best for our family in light of eternity.   You alone have perfect knowledge of the future and of us.  Therefore, you alone are qualified to lead my family and me.

But now that a couple of “promising” doors have closed and none have opened, it feels that you are not leading us at all.  It feels that our needs aren’t being met and that I am left floundering – wondering at what point I steered wrong.  And though I know you are trustworthy and have proven yourself so many times, I wonder if we trust you anymore – if we can trust you anymore.

Even so, I know enough to know that you see everything.  You see what’s coming ahead, and what we’re leaving behind.  You see what our needs are and what things we need to “need” less.   You see the circumstances and what’s behind the circumstances.  You know when to act and you know what you’re planning to do.  You see our fears, and though you are not cavalier about our concerns, our fears don’t intimidate or manipulate you to act in a manner other than what you know is in our best interest and more importantly, the interest of your kingdom.  You are good.  You are good.  You are good, and everything you do is right.  You don’t make mistakes and you love us.

Therefore, though we do not understand the delays and what seems to be a lack of action.  And though we feel like sinking into despair, we will trust in you.  Where else can we go?  You are our hope.

You are not a God of My Expectations.  You said that you would never abandon me, not that I would never feel abandoned.  You never promised a struggle-free life.  You never said that if I follow you and trust you that I will never be disappointed, surprised, or discouraged.  But you did say that I would find life.

Father, I don’t know if our hope and trust is truly in you or if it is in something else – you know.  However, what I do know is that I want to please you and honor you, even in this season.  Help us, Lord.  Place our feet upon that Rock that is unshakable and may our faith remain steady.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Blessing of Unemployment

Dear God,

I know I've been asking you for awhile now to give Steven a job.  I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for NOT answering my prayer.

If Steven had started a new job, he might not have been able to stay with me at the hospital when our baby was born.  He might have had to work rather than staying with me at the NICU as we waited for our son to come home.

With the pressure of employment, Steven would not have been able to put in all the hours necessary to work on the house so we could move in.  Our move certainly would have been delayed, and the unpacking and settling-in would not yet be done.

Yes, I can see how it has been best that he has been unemployed.  You had it worked out all along.

Usually I associate unemployment with lack and despair.  But not now.  You have met our every need, and then some we weren't even asking for.  Thanks for the house that is big enough for our family to spread out a bit.  Thanks for giving us a refrigerator and a washer and dryer before we even moved in.  Thanks for providing for movers to get all our stuff moved on one of the hottest days of the year.   Thanks for giving us a whole new living room full of furniture so we can offer people a place to sit when they come over to visit.  You have blessed us in so many ways; I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. 

Now that the baby is home and healthy and the home improvement projects are done enough for us to live comfortably, I'm tempted to worry and fret, thinking that now would be a good time for a paycheck to start.  But I've learned that I don't always have the best perspective and that you don't need a paycheck to provide for your children.  We're committed to follow wherever you lead.  You are always faithful. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Waiting Again

by Sarah

In case this is your first time reading our blog, let me catch you up to speed. We are facing changes in three areas:
  • New job
  • New home
  • New baby
We've been living in a constant state of flux, wondering which of these three areas would unfold first.  Would we find a job, move and have a baby?  Would we move, have a baby and find a job?  and so on.  (Take note that the math teacher in me is being held in check,  not divulging all of the different permutations this situation provides.)

So all summer we've been waiting.  Waiting for a job.  Waiting for direction.  Waiting for August 3rd when our baby would be born.  Waiting... waiting...waiting.

After the disappointing news of not getting a job we had hoped for, we regrouped and moved forward.  We decided to stay in the area and to pursue moving into a house some good friends of ours had offered.  Suddenly, we had focus.  THIS was something we could pour our energy into.  We had packing and painting to do.  We were eager to get things in order before the baby's arrival, and we thought we had plenty of time.

We were wrong.

Tuesday morning, July 19th, (yes, that is 15 days before my August 3rd due date) my water broke.  I had not even packed a bag.  After so many days of Steven and I being together all the time,on this day, he was about 30 minutes away, working on the house.  I was a little panicked, but it all worked out.  A few hours later, we were thrilled that, at least in one area, our wait was finally was over.  Levi James had arrived!

We are flexible people.  The early arrival of our son did not throw us off.  It is inconvenient that the hospital is 35 minutes from our home, but we expected the inconvenience to only last a couple of days until I came home with the baby.  We could handle a couple of days of driving back and forth and solving the puzzle of where the children should go and when.

Everything changed when Levi had to be admitted in the NICU on July 21st, the day we were scheduled to come home.  I was discharged; he was not.

Now our situation is not as dire as some other families; we did not leave wondering if our son would live or die.  His condition was relatively routine; he just needed more time to be ready to go home.  Even still, leaving that hospital empty-handed was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.  As I was wheeled to the front doors, I literally struggled to breathe.

Levi has now been in the NICU four days.  And again I'm back to waiting.

We've spent the last four days making multiple trips to the hospital (which hasn't moved any closer to our home) each day.  Everyday we have to figure out the questions of when should we go and what should we do with the other kids.  There's other stuff in life that needs to be done (laundry, grocery shopping, packing to move), but nothing seems as important as being at the hospital with Levi, waiting by his bed, watching him sleep.

And so we wait.  We're waiting to hear that his bilirubin has come down.  We're waiting to hear that he is digesting food like he's supposed to.  We're waiting to hear that he can come home.

When I examine how I'm walking this one out, I see that I have not learned my lesson of how to wait peacefully yet. This is much worse than waiting to hear about a job or about where we might live.  And some days, I'm certainly not the picture of faith.  But, what else can I do?  I cry and I pray.  I trust God and tell him how much I want my baby to come home.  And then I just wait.