“This is the story of a girl, who brought a pumpkin across the whole world.”

“Really wife? You’re bringing the pumpkin?”

“How am I supposed to decorate for fall without it?” She defended, rearranging the plastic monstrosity that was taking up a sizable chunk of the suit case.

“It’s too big,” I countered.

At this point our 3-year old, Archer, walks in the room. “What do you think, Archer?” I asked him. “Should we bring the pumpkin to Japan?”

Archer looked at me and brightened. “Oh, yea,” he said. “I already packed mine.”

“You packed a pumpkin?” I asked skeptically, wondering if Kristen had bribed him somehow.

“Yea,” he said again and walked over to his wheely bag. After unzipping it he rummaged around for a moment and, sure enough, pulled out a smaller, yet just as decorative plastic pumpkin.

“You packed a pumpkin,” I repeated incredulously.

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Needless to say I lost the pumpkin battle. But there have been many similar conversations in the time since we’ve started trying to fit our entire lives into six large bags. When we step back and look at it, it seems like an impossible task; reducing what was a family in a fully furnished, four bedroom house into a family moving across the world with what they can carry on their backs. How do we decide what fraction of our worldly possessions are the most important and deserve to fly over the ocean with us, and then figure out what to do with the rest?

I’ve been brushing up on my math lately, in preparation for my teaching assignment, so lets see if we can calculate it, shall we?

Each of us are allotted 2 suitcases, each a maximum of 50lbs. 1 carry on, 20lbs. and a personal item, such as a backpack, which will carry most of the products we need to survive the trip itself. So each of us gets a grand total of 120lbs of our possessions to bring with us to our new life.

50+50+20=120

Lets estimate roughly and say you can fit about 100 items in each suit case and 30 in the personal item. That give each of us approximately 230 items to bring with us, or 690 as a family unit. (Since Mia doesn’t get bags.)

100+100+30×3=690

That seems like a lot doesn’t it? We should have no problem bringing everything we want, that’s almost 700 items.

Except the average American family has about 300,000 items in their home.

So of our 300,000 items, we get 690. (And Mia, being a baby, already takes up a good deal of that.)

690/300,000=.0023 or .23%

So there you have it, our material possessions are being reduced by 99.77%.

When you look at it this way, assuming your eyes haven’t glazed over from all the numbers, it’s a pretty daunting task. So the question is; “What are the most important .23% of our possessions?”

Well, what would you pack? Currently my bag contains clothing items, a collection of tablets for use in my classroom, and several bags of board game pieces. (Which have been disassembled and the actual boxes left behind for space constraints.)

Does that say something about me? I feel like it’s one of those old idioms; “You can tell a lot about a man by what he puts in the two suitcases he’s going to start a new life with.”

Now don’t get me wrong, we’re not renouncing our materialistic ways and becoming minimalist hermits for God’s glory. It would be a noble endeavor, but I don’t think that’s what God has called us to. There is a nearly fully furnished house and working vehicle waiting for us in Japan. We will function much the same way we do here, just in a different language.

But this process has put a new light on what God has called us to do. He has asked us to show people in another world how much He loves them. And the truth is, we really don’t need a lot of possessions to do it.

M.S.

Romans & Rain

The summer rains have begun. They’ve been rolling in late afternoon just at the perfect time to grab a book and a cup of tea.

Hah! That was before children. Now we just run outside right before it starts, feel the wind on our noses and bare feet, hear the thunder, and smell the thick salty air- heavy with the coming downpour… then run back inside to watch through the window.

It’s raining now as I read Romans, and though I don’t have my afternoon tea, I do have three of my favorite people surrounding me, fast asleep. The littlest one with her little baby snores. 😍

I find myself in Romans 15 tonight. Yet another reminder to keep battling selfishness:

Each one of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

Romans 15:2

It reminded me of Japan and why we’re going. I’ve had to remind myself more than once lately that we are going there to build His Kingdom, not our own. Matthew has been good at reminding me of that too. Before we had a family, I would have strapped on my backpack, thrown some things in a suitcase and hit the road!

But now, I often find myself torn between trusting God and providing stability for my children through (probably too extensive) preparations. It’s a fine line that I have been walking on lately. But then comes the verse that has captured my heart on this stormy night:

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

And there you have it. That is my prayer. I am praying that verse guides Matthew and I so that we can be filled with all joy and peace as we believe so that we may overflow with hope. Hope for our children in this transition. And mostly hope for the Japanese people. I pray that our hope overflows and the Japanese people we meet can’t help but notice a genuine hope in the Lord. Because that is something I feel we could all use a whole lot more of- hope, joy, and peace.

Turn to the God of hope and He’ll fill you up.

Will you join me in this prayer?

Honor the Lord with your possessions: 1 month to go!

“Honor the Lord with your possessions…” Proverbs 3:9a

We’ve been sorting through our things for months now. And now that we’re one month out- we still have so much stuff. It’s overwhelming how much stuff we own.


It reminds me of the first time I returned home after a mission trip to a very poor country.
These people had nothing, they were lucky if they had a tin roof over their heads and 3 of 4 walls enclosed around them.


It was heartbreaking. It was sobering.

Yet those people were the most generous and kind people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. They had nothing and yet they offered it all to me when I came to visit. Suddenly their nothing seemed like everything and I had the hardest time accepting it, until I saw how hurt they were at my hesitation to take them up on their kindness. So I gladly received- filled up more by their excited smiles then the food offered to me.

I remember coming home to America. I opened the door to my room. And I just sat down and cried. I had so much. So much. And yet I had nothing. God worked hard in my heart that year.

So now, in the midst of packing up everything we own into 6 suitcases- I’ve come across a very timely verse:

“Honor the Lord with your possessions.” -Proverbs 3:9a

What timing. Thank You Lord! Because just trying to divide needs over wants was not working for me.


Now I can ask myself as I sort through my possessions:


Does this honor the Lord?

Can I bring Him glory through this?

Is this something that I can use with my gifts to aid the body of Christ?

Am I building His Kingdom with this, or my own?

Thanks for the listen and the prayers, friends. 1 month to go!

53 Days!

Definitely packing travel size Jif!

We’re coming down to the wire now! It’s becoming more and more real that we’re moving to Japan in a month and a half! I cannot wait to be there, but it’s very surreal to think of living somewhere other than here.

We’ve been sifting through clothes to pack this week. I never realized just how “Floridian” my wardrobe was until I took stock of how many bathing suits, flip flops, tanks tops and jean shorts I own! We found some great Clearance deals on warmer clothes as stores clear the shelves for Spring. Due to being a Florida girl and owning 2 long-sleeve shirts… this was a good thing!

It really hit me that we’ll be leaving soon when I went to Publix this afternoon. I just ran in real quick for a few things. But as I walked down the peanut butter aisle, I found myself thinking- ‘hmm, I should get the small one, I’m not sure we could finish off the big one before we move.’ Then I just stood there thinking how easy it is to just run to the store to pick up some milk. In Japan we’ll have to drive on the opposite side of the road, read foreign signs, try and figure out the food and how to cook it and count out yen to pay.

Everything will be new there. The smallest everyday things will become adventures. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be going on this adventure with Matthew and our two little ones! I pray that with every new thing we try- we share the gospel by our actions and with kindness on our lips… and of course learn to laugh at ourselves.

Thank you everyone for praying! We can feel your prayers and are so impressed with the body of Christ coming together for the Japanese people. Our hearts are full!

2 Months!

Starting to pack!

As June draws near we’re getting more and more prepared everyday. (Mostly due to having two small children- we only have time for a little each day!) But I’ll take any progress I can get. Today I set out our luggage in my old room at my mom’s house. So many memories. I remember dancing around that room as a kid (I was going to be famous you know 😉 haha). And here I’m getting reading to move to Japan with my family of four.

So basically. I just lined up the suitcases and sat there staring at them. I have lists. I have things sorted. But where to start? What’s most important? I’ve received a lot of very helpful advice from friends state side and those already in Japan- but when it came down to it- I just stared at them. Everything cherished and necessary to four people- in those six bags. More stares.

So as I prayerfully considered how to fill them and with what- I found myself feeling very blessed. I always imagined myself as an explorer when I was younger. But I never imagined God would bless me with a family too. I’m so grateful I get to go and share His love, not on my own, but in the company of some of my favorite people on earth. When I came to that realization suddenly those suitcases I’d been staring at became full of just stuff. Stuff that belongs to those I cherish most on earth- my little missionary family.

So I still don’t have a starting point per say, I’ll probably just do a little at a time as with everything else we’ve done so far. But the pressure to think of every last need and want that can fit in those bags is off. We’ll have each other and we’ll have Jesus as our guide, protector, friend, and travel companion.

And He promises that He’s got the rest covered.

So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” -Matthew 6:31-32

3 More Months!

Countdown Calendar in Archer’s Room

Today marks exactly 3 months until departure! And I can already tell you it’s going to go quick! We’re almost halfway to our monthly support goal and coming up on crunch time!

Our preparations have slowed a bit as we’ve settled into life as a family of four. But with three months remaining before we embark on this adventure- we’re ready to get back to work! (More active preparations and probably less of me justifying watching Japanese Dramas as language studies….)

Thank you everyone for keeping us in your prayers! I’ve been reminded recently of the importance of prayer and how trying to accomplish anything without it is just, well, hard.

I have to be honest, my first reaction when I see that we have 3 months to raise 60% of our goal- I get a little apprehensive. But in the next instant I remember how far we’ve come and that God has called us to Japan. We’re not just going on a whim- we have a purpose there that He’s already laid out for us. I fully believe that He’ll get us there, and I’m thanking Him in advance for it!

So we’ll continue life as usual, keeping our days simple and prayerful as we look forward to what He has waiting for us. Thank you for your support, we couldn’t do this without the Body of Christ supporting us.

Soaking in the Florida Sunshine and practicing our Japanese

PS- Sorry we kind of fell off the grid these past couple of months. Having two little ones vying for my attention has been an adjustment. I want to be a present mama to them, and sometimes that means scaling back a bit and slowing down. It also means multitasking- for instance I just typed this post one-handed because Amelia is asleep in my other arm.


She’s Here!

She’s here! Amelia is here. Our sweet baby girl was born on January 25th! And what have I been doing since then? Giving her snuggles and daydreaming about Japan.

Eight months ago, when we found out we’d be moving to Japan there were so many things that needed to be in place before we could move.

Amelia’s birth was the last thing on that list! We’ve sold our home, moved into a transitional space, which has proved to be such a blessing, and now we’ve officially become a family of four!

I am longing to be in Japan, to be in our new home, and begin our lives and ministry there.

But I know God has a purpose for these next four months leading up to departure.

Just because there are no major milestones in sight and all our big items are checked off- does not mean we are prepared and ready to leave just yet.

These next 4 months are a beautiful gift of time.

Time to grow spiritually and prepare our hearts and minds for the work to be done in Japan. Time to grow together as a family of four and find our new normal before jumping into an even newer normal! Time to sit at the feet of Jesus and still our hearts for the unknowns up ahead. It is a blessing. There is so much spiritual preparation that goes into a move to the mission field. Life kind of slows down, we give ourselves time to reflect, to dig into the Word, and to be even more diligent in praying together. Yes, I am definitely grateful for this time and I can’t imagine moving overseas without Matthew, Archer, and Amelia. God knew what He was doing when He put the call on our hearts but delayed the sending until our little family was complete. His timing never ceases to amaze me.

End of Year Update:

Thanksgiving at the Church at Braden River 2018

Here’s a quick 2018 recap:

  • Our foster son is happily settled into his adoptive family and we’ve transitioned to Aunt Kristen and Uncle Matt. We’re so grateful to still be a part of his life and for all the friendships made through him!
  • I’ve spent 8 months of 2018 pregnant and can’t wait to welcome our new little one in 2019!
  • As of today our home is officially SOLD! Praise God; He was in every aspect of that sale.
  • We’re comfortably, gratefully, settled into our temporary home for the next 5 months and preparing for the arrival of baby Mia.

Plane tickets have officially been purchased!

Thank you to everyone who has donated so far so we were able to buy our tickets this far in advance and secure a good deal! We’re humbled by how clearly we can see God walking us through this journey and are grateful He’s been so present through so many changes! 

Mission Goals for the first six months of 2019:

  • Get all our papers in order to move overseas! [Passports, International Driver’s License, etc.]
  • Find devoted prayer partners to pray for the Japanese people- prayer changes things!
  • Help Archer adjust to all these changes in a healthy and positive way
  • Pack!

Mission Goals for the last six months of 2019:

  • Adjust to everyday life in Japan
  • Get Matthew settled into his new job
  • Establish a new routine for me and the kids
  • Make relationships and begin building a community
  • Improve language skills to better communicate in general and to explain the incredible gift of Jesus Christ

Thank you so much for your prayers and support as we come down to the last few months before departure! -K

Will You Pray With Us?


When we were in Japan last year, I’m telling you, I could feel the prayers of our faith family back home. We were keenly aware that God was with us and I know a large part of that was due to your prayers. And we were so blessed by that.
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A few Sundays ago our church was going over Acts 13. Specifically verses 2 and 3.
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“As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.” -CSB

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These verses really stuck out to me and have been on my mind ever since. I love how they fasted together, prayed together, and laid on hands to send them off!
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It reminded me all over again of the importance of prayer in this season of preparation. As well as fasting and preparing spiritually for God’s ministry in Japan.
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In the moment we’ve been immersed in the details of preparing to sell the house and what to keep and what not to keep. Packing, and then repacking all the things my helpful little three year old decided to unpack and play with.
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I’ve found myself forgetting to let my knees hit the floor over the whole reason we’re doing this. Between planning, packing, and preparing I’ve missed the most important of all: praying! Of course we pray often for Japan. But I’m talking the earnest seeking of the Lord on the behalf of the Japanese people, this journey, and our little family that’s about to undergo quite a few big changes to life as we know it.
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As a family, we’ve recommitted to not let ourselves get too busy in the details and forget to lay them all at our Father’s feet. To just be with Him in the midst of all the preparation that goes into an overseas move.
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If you’d like to pray with us we would be so grateful! Prayer is incredibly powerful and we know this transition and mission will go so much more smoothly if it’s covered in prayer.
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Will you partner with us in prayer?
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-K
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Current Prayer Requests:
*For God to prepare the hearts of the Japanese people, only He can open their ears and eyes to see the love of Christ we hope to show them. Only He can make the seeds that we hope to plant grow.
*Quick sell of the house
*Smooth and peaceful transition to our new living arrangements for the remainder of our time State side
*Praise that we have already raised 10% of our goal!!
*Prayer for the remaining 90% needed

The Where: Heguri

We’re going to Japan! I know we already announced that, but it’s still pretty exciting. It’s amazing to see every day how God has planned and provided for us. We wanted to take a moment to give you a little better look at where we’ll be in Japan and what it will be like.

Heguri is a relatively small town located on the southern end of Japan’s main island, Honshu. It is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Japan’s big cities, which is a blessing for us!

It is a farming town which deals a lot in rice, one of Japan’s main goods.

It is still quite modernized. Houses are usually thinner and taller in Japan, the same is true for Heguri.

We will also be pretty close to one of the largest cities in Japan, Kyoto, where we stayed during our first trip. It is an easy day trip by train.

All in all we’re very content with where the Lord has placed us, we couldn’t have picked a better location or community ourselves! Please feel free to respond with any questions or curiosities you have! We’ll be glad to answer.

Prayer Update: Preparations are under way! We are currently in the process of vacating and selling our house so prayers for a smooth transition and quick sale would be great! We’ve had many people reach out with love and support for our mission in Japan, we are so grateful for how God has been working. Continue to pray that we can reach our financial support goal in a timely manner, we’re hoping to have everything prepped and ready to make the moving to another country process as smooth as possible!