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This has been home for the past 2+ months. We miss Bulgaria deeply, but living with Peter's family in Columbus, OH, has been refreshing during this time of uncertainty.
(If you want to skip my devotional thoughts and just get the bottom line - our plans and prayer requests - click here.)

Plans, Platitudes, and Prescience

These three words each say something about our current situation in life and in ministry.  So let's take 'em one at a time!

Plans (noun):
(1) A detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.
(2) An intention or decision about what one is going to do.
We all make plans.

✅ Date night this weekend.
✅ Vacation this summer.
✅ Married by 23. Kid by 25.
✅ Steady job.
✅ Grandkids.
✅ Golf.
✅ Grow old together. 

Sometimes our plans work out. Other times, well...

❌ Sitter cancels or kid's puking.
❌ Boss says you can't go.
❌ No spouse.
❌ Infertility.
❌ Pink slip.
❌ No kids = no grandkids.
❌ Golf's too expensive.
❌ Cancer too young.  

In reality both lists are too extreme. We never get all or none of what we think we want, at the time we want it. Life is a mixed bag.

And so typically if you peek behind the curtain of what actually happened, you'll find the crumbled remains of a plan that didn't.

And that's OK.  In fact, for a Christian, maybe it's even better?

Our plan WAS to have a healthy baby boy. God blessed us with Finn, and Finn with spina bifida. 

Our plan WAS to return to Bulgaria last week. God orchestrated one final checkup (the doctors originally said it was unnecessary) which revealed Finn's head is growing too fast. They say a shunt is now likely, and advised that we stay in the USA a bit longer. 

And so now our plan IS to give priority to our son's short and long-term health by staying in the States an extra 1-4 months until we figure out the next steps.  

Meanwhile, Peter's plan IS to make 2 solo trips to Bulgaria this summer to help run evangelistic camps, as well as train interns and short-term teams from the USA.  
Platitude (noun):
(1) A remark or statement, especially one with moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.
(2) A statement that has been repeated so often that it is meaningless.
"Such is life."
"It is what it is."
"Time will tell."
"It was meant to be."
"Patience is a virtue."
"This too shall pass."
"It's for your own good."
"What's done is done."
"You gotta do what you gotta do."
"Good things come to those who wait."
"Take it one day at a time."

The list could go on and on.  Actually, if you look up a list of common platitudes or cliches, you'll likely be surprised by how many you use all the time in your daily conversations. 

Sometimes we say them out of awkwardness. Or to fill a silence. Or to offer comfort when we don't know what else to say. 

But my point right now is only this: Just because something is often repeated, doesn't mean it's not genuine when you say it. And it certainly doesn't make it automatically untrue.

On the contrary, many platitudes actually echo Scripture and represent key foundational truths that believers hold dear.  

So when someone passing me in the hallway at church grabs my arm and says, "How are you really doing?", I will probably respond, "Really great actually! We trust God completely with Finn's health and our ministry. His way is always best!"

Those may sound like short, too-easy answers, but I'm not being dishonest or trite. That's my true answer, my real heart. I really believe those things, not just at a theory level but deeply, to the point where I draw genuine joy and peace from my faith in Christ!

Which brings me to...
Prescience (noun):
(1) the fact of knowing something before it takes place;
(2) foreknowledge 
This is the reason it all makes sense!  

This is why it's not silly or trite or evasive to just say, 'Yep, I trust God no matter what,' and leave it at that.  

God knows your future and our future and everyone's future because He wrote it. He designed and declared it out of His good and loving character!

He put highs and lows, both mountains and valleys into my story because He has a higher good in mind than simply getting us back to Bulgaria on a certain date or even curing Finn's hydrocephalus.  

The higher good is that my faith grows. I become more like Christ. And He is left with glory upon glory as He uses His children to shine the Gospel into every corner of creation.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28   

              = plans
              = prescience
And the entire verse has been accused of being a platitude. It's quoted so often that sometimes we shy away from continuing to proclaim it.

Why??! It's true and glorious and comforting, and for me a bedrock truth that steadies me in the storm and keeps a smile on my soul even during the darkest of nights. Praise God!
So To Sum Up...

• We had planned to be back in Bulgaria at this point. 
• But we're not. 
• We'll stay in the USA for at least the next 1-4 months while Finn's health is sorted out.  
• Kim is doing an amazing job shepherding our three kids during this time.
• Peter is hard at work developing training curriculum for our team to use in Bulgaria (thankful for quiet office space at his dad's law firm!).
• Peter will make at least 2 solo trips to Bulgaria this summer to continue ministry responsibilities.

May 17 is a big day. This is Finn's next ultrasound and follow-up appointment with the neurosurgeon. Pray boldly for a miraculous result, which would be Finn's head size decreasing and brain ventricles shrinking. 
• The doctors tell us that if his current head growth rate continues, he will need a shunt in May. Pray that this won't be the case!
Pray for peace for Savannah and Keegan. They are being really flexible with our uncertain plans, but we can also tell it wears on them at times not knowing what's coming.  
Pray for strength for Kim, who will be solo parenting for part of the summer while Peter travels. Translation = pray for lots of grandparent assistance!!
That's about it for now! 

It has been a joy to see many of you over the past couple months.

We appreciate your prayers and cards and notes of encouragement. Keep 'em coming!  As a reminder, our USA address is:

Peter & Kim Starkey
6501 Cook Road
Powell, OH  43065

And to finish it off, some pictures!
Savannah has loved being a part of AWANA at a local church.
"Daddy, they all spoke ENGLISH!"
Missions luncheon at Faith Bible Church, Cincinnati
Just me and my siblings together for a meal! Converging from Ohio, Oklahoma, Bulgaria, and Dubai. A rare and special thing - I love them all!   
Dad and I road-tripped to Louisville for the Together for the Gospel conference. We've also enjoying great fellowship biking together. I love this man - he is a role model in every way and shows me daily how to love Christ first and live that out!  
Copyright © 2018 Peter & Kim Starkey, All rights reserved.

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