Weddings and Wishes

The house is quiet, a rare moment. What am I thinking about? My eldest son Broderic will marry his sweetheart Kristen in a month. The heart aches a bit with distance. Four of our eight kids at the moment are in North America, our arrows flung half way around the world. When we moved here with the six kids, this stage was the furthest from our minds. We were packed in suitcases, shipping containers and freshly nervous in our new context. Every day was a date with uncertainty, surprises and a lot of adjustment. Broderic was just 11 or 12 when we moved here (Deb’s not here for me to yell, “How old was Broderic when we moved here?). He was a fine first born, eager to please, always a helper, and wanting to be a good example for his siblings.

The first few years are really quite a blur in Ukraine. Such formative years. We were happy to give our kids a uniquely non-western experience. Although we were rather incubated with other missionaries and friends in that early stage, the changes were real, and looking back, our family was undergoing some extreme reshaping. The kids, as most do, took it stride, adapting with the new routines, or lack thereof. The adults, well, I’m not sure if we’ve every adjusted totally. Broderic made a couple close friends, and as a parent trying to maintain some stability in the home you are happy if a kid is happy, and move to the areas of life that are crying out for attention. Newsletters to write, a company I was still overseeing in the US, local church relations and responsibilities, a language you are struggling to learn, things like your marriage and your connection with your kids can be put on the side burner for ‘later’. Later arrives as today, and you wish you could go back in time, turn off the world and sit with your son a bit.

As a father, I’m not suggesting the background music of, “cats in the cradle”, but there’s some truth to the flurry of time, the regrets of dis-proportioned allotments to things that never really mattered like we thought they did at the time. Now I have Cher, “If I could turn back time” echoing in my mind. Yes, a time machine. Someone wrote about the vanity of youth having all the vigor and energy but wasting it on foolish things, then we age, and get to spend our time more wisely but with hardly any energy left to spend!

I love Broderic, and we’ve enjoyed watching him navigate his life over in Florida. He’s discovering, and I believe making good connections. The soon to be lifelong partner in Kristen is one of his best choices. She’s sweet, and adores him. They will make a fine family, and people will enjoy being around them. Broderic as a first born really put a lot of pressure on himself, pressure to perform, pressure to keep the family ‘in line’, he would have been a good sheep dog in another life. Yet, I wish I could have spent more time channeling those personally set expectations towards mercy, grace, and embodied that more myself as well. If I could sit for a moment with my younger dad self, I would speak of the need to be present with my kids, to not just hear their words but listen, and tend to the deeper things in their hearts. My younger dad self was busy building what I thought was a life ‘for them’, when in fact, it was ‘for me’, and now that they are gone, or going, I see it for what it was.

When life seasons change, there’s a letting go, before there is a grabbing hold. The two actions are inseparable, its the nature of change. I am now watching my kids get married, new chapter. Yet, I’m not fully embracing this new reality if I’m being honest. I’m recognizing the things I did wrong, I wish I could do over. I’m learning in life, and I think that’s the goal. Learning to move into doubt and regret, to process it and grow so history doesn’t repeat. I can’t go back and spend time with oldest kids as a 30 year old, but I can learn to connect with them as a soon to be 46 year old. I can become a better listener, and embody more mercy. I can ensure they know they are deeply loved and always welcome.

We will fly over, Lord willing, to Florida for the wedding in September. We will meet our new extended family, greet some incoming family that aren’t intimidated by the covid narrative, and watch Broderic and Kristin wed. Our family has a lot of fun when re-united, and I will be present, embracing the moment, and letting go, to grab hold of this new chapter.

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Focused Lives

“The role of leaders is not to get other people to follow them, but to empower other people to lead.” 

Bill George: 2015 (Finding True North)

I’ve been taking a course this summer that has forced a lot of ‘retrospective meaning making’. As Kierkergaard says, “Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards.” Where do our values come from? They don’t simply fall from the sky or come packaged in our DNA, but are formed through the years from events in our lives that mark us, and often initially negatively but once reframed, become pillars of meaningful and redemptive character.

The most simple visual of all.. the vocational transitions of life.

As we are formed over our lifetime, our motivations meet our values and continue to shape us into focus, particularly in ‘crucible’ or valleys where the proverbial rubber of our character meets the road. Through studies of 1000’s of biographical leadership studies (it’s actually up to 5,000!) many patterns are witnessed in the development of leaders, those who bring lasting influence for good in the world.

The concept of ‘vocation’, or calling is something that I’m personally intrigued by. As a young 19 year old I was in Dallas, Texas when I encountered a trajectory shifting ‘awe-inspiring’ moment when God touched my life and called me into His mission to bring hope in Jesus to the nations. By looking backwards, seeing God’s providence, connections, resources, and many movements in my life my faith is assured, and my hope fixed. Each of our stories into this ‘vocation’ (which comes from ‘vocal, voice, calling’) is different, but bears many similar patterns.

We grow from doing, into being. In our earlier stages we explore, we learn about ourselves, our gifts, natural talents, and through various context and relationships begin to discover and hone into our vocation. Through crisis moments (usually in our 40-50’s) we are faced with the realization that our life is half over (maybe), that the person we have been living into, at least to some degree, has been rooted in wrong places, namely fear, insecurities, motivations and striving instead of accepting who we truly are. If we’re successful, we’ll learn to surrender, which I believe is a result only through the deep love of Jesus, believing it, and offering our ‘selves’ the same mercy Jesus gives. For most of my life, I was living into a false projected version of myself, the person I wanted to become, but it was an allusion, and through failure and limitations God graciously grounded my false self into the ground – I gave up, and found rest. A byproduct of that rest was finding myself again, the person I was created to be, the restored, authentic, and free ‘me’. Life has been taking on new meaning as motivations cease from striving, and have, or I should say ‘are’ moving from doing, to being.

Gift Mix – Some work I’ve been doing to map out what I’m truly gifted at (learned, natural and spiritual) This is called a Venn diagram, I like visuals!

I’ve been compiling, translating and mentoring a small group of emerging leaders. Some are from Kiev, Minsk, and here in our area. We meet on Zoom, and I’m using a lot of this course, as well as another mentoring course to arm them with resources to process, activities to do in understanding their own historical, cultural and present contexts. Our goal? To live into the reality of God’s presence, embracing today, the work of the Spirit and deep love of God as we journey into the call God has over each of our lives. It’s exciting to do this in safe, vulnerable spaces, and I am hopeful that in the future we can continue to form the material into modules that can be reproduced and bless the emerging family of faith in our culture.

If you are interested in some of the courses reading and want to process your own journey with some of these themes of value, calling, giftedness, transitions… here are some recommended books. Feel free to reach out to me for more .

Cahalan, Kathleen A. and Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore. 2017. Calling all Years Good: Christian Vocation throughout Life’s Seasons. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Clinton, J. Robert. 2005. Strategic Concepts That Clarify a Focused Life. Barnabas Publishers.

George, Bill with Peter Sims. 2015. Discover Your True North: Becoming an Authentic Leader. Jossey-Bass. ISBN:

Palmer, Parker J. 1999. Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. Jossey- Bass.

Smith, Gordon T. 2011. Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential. Intervarsity Press.

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July 23, 2020

We had a nice afternoon retreat this week, taking our Lighthouse crew for some horseback riding and lunch. Weather was perfect and was nice to get out of context, and rest together.

Deb and I are growing more deeply these days. Growth comes in valleys, formation through slow incremental and seemingly endless working of the Spirit. To rest, to cease from striving, to embrace the love of Jesus over us as the foundation for living and relatedness towards others is such a difficult task. The discipline of stopping, not starting, of creating space for soul care, the voice of the Spirit, is a daunting task. We are recognizing how deficient our love is for others. It’s easy to love those who love you, or to present the posture of love but the real test of our love is in our capacity to participate in God’s kind of love – the suffering love, the kinds that gives out, but doesn’t expect reciprocating response. The love that this world needs, and our own desperate hearts crave, is an fully accepting, vulnerable and divesting love. A love that comes alongside to help, to encourage, and to journey with those who’ve yet to embrace or know the depths of this eternal, perfect love in Christ.

Our family is growing, Broderic is engaged to Kristen, and will be married soon. The world, or at least democracy seems to be under relentless pressure to conform to the sway of the discontented. Our Cafe is growing as a place of gathering, community and our garage out back is demolished. A lot of movement, in and outside of the heart. Movement is good, but it’s difficult. Movement and the dynamics of change require us to be a malleable people, unlearning and re-learning is a continual releasing of what we are familiar with, for the hope of something more life giving. Life changes, people change, the earth is changing, and our political landscapes are changing. The world, changes, and yet we rest in this foundational reality that the Creator who made all of us, and this world we journey through, is forever the same, good, righteous, just, and seeking even now the change of heart of each of us, to surrender a little more to the Spirit’s work.

We are also mentoring, learning how to mentor individuals in different capacities, in the role of coach, spirirtual campanions, and in sponsoring roles. We are really excited about this trajectory, diving deep in study, books and writing.

Bruce & Deb

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Widows Update

A few sample updates from this past month in Ukraine and Belarus. A taste of reality for those on the edge of forgotten by culture, family, but not the Spirit. Let us move by the impulse of your love kind Jesus.

Widow Name: Xenia
City: Reni, Ukraine

In June, new volunteers Liana and Katerina from the city of Reni, Odessa region joined our mission! God began his work through them. They met with widow Xenia. She lives alone and is very lonely. There is nobody near the relatives, almost all have died. Grandchildren live somewhere far away in Russia and are not interested in her life at all. She is very open to the gospel and was surprised that someone needed it. During the first visit, she admitted that she will soon celebrate her 80th
birthday! Our volunteers decided to make her a pleasant surprise – they came to her for her birthday. They were the only guests and gave this widow a lot of joy and care.

Widow Name: Vera Khomovna
City: Khargalyk, Ukraine

Throughout the period when we connected Vera Khomovna to the Widow for Christ program, we see how for her these meetings and food rations became a testimony to the love of Christ. Although she has 3 daughters and grandchildren, she is left alone. She was deceived by her relatives and left homeless. Nobody comes to see her. Vera Khomovna as a doctor, was a liquidator in Chernobyl, has problems with bones. Almost do not walk. There are not enough pensions to live on. Constantly does not finish. When we come to translate it, it comes to life. We talk about Christ and it encourages her not to think about suicide.

City: Minsk, Belarus
Widow Name: Nadezhda Adamovna

Nadezhda Adamovna – 67 years, no husband. She is open to the Lord, and reads the Gospel and is interested and asks questions about faith. There is a daughter, but she drinks and lives separately, but sometimes because of the unbearable situation at her daughter’s house, a grandson runs to his grandmother, who already graduated from the State Polytechnical University this year, but has not yet been hired, and the border with Russia is still closed. Adamovna lives in a communal uncomfortable apartment, 3 apartment buildings, that’s what the stove was for heating, we helped her with financial repairs and Adamovna was in the second heaven, she thanked us and everyone who was among the widows in this ministry. My wife and I often visit her and help her as much as we can. We pray for such people and talk about the Savior and about HIS children who care for such widows and their souls. Thank you dear co-workers and God bless you!

Widow Name: Elena Kospirovich.
City: Krivoshin, Belarus

She is from an Orthodox family. Has two children: son Denis and daughter Galina. Denis attended a school for children with developmental delays, and a daughter in her teens had an accident and remained disabled. Now only moves in a wheelchair. Galina (daughter) got married and lives separately from her mother. Her husband is disabled without legs. At a young age he lost his legs: he walked through the village in the evening and was hit by drunken people in a car.

We thought that he died and dragged on the rails and threw under the train. The train cut both legs. After that, he did not want to live, but began to engage in ballroom dancing in a wheelchair. After a while I met Galina and got married. The husband of Elena Petrovna died 2 years ago. When her husband died, she was very worried, and on the basis of all the experiences another misfortune came – she became ill with oncology. Lies in the hospital, cut off part of the chest, do chemotherapy.We visit her, support her in prayer. And she is very glad that there are people whom they care about and can help. And he often says that all the same, your faith is correct, because it sees the attitude of Christians and care for them.

This is already a great testimony. Although she always appreciated only her faith, but God does His work in her life and she is very grateful for your help and support.
May the Lord abundantly bless everyone in this work.

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