We have thousands of reasons to be thankful! (literally, check out this blog to see for yourself) But, for now, here are our top ten...
(click on a pic for more information or for more of the story!)
The only way we can continue our global Kingdom ministry is through the amazing and generous supportof churches, friends and family. So many of our supporters have “stuck with us” through past transitions - some have been with us all the way back to the Jade Tree Project! We are so humbled and blessed and thankful for all who give financially to support our ministry and the work of Lumenations.
When we left Albania, we prayed that the Kingdom work we were a part of would continue. We also desired to return regularly to encourage and bless that continuing work. In July of this year, Robbie and I (Ken) were able to return and witness God’s continued blessings in Elbasan and the surrounding villages. I was especially thankful to see the discipleship training materials we developed being used in many places around Albania and being reproduced and passed on to others who we don’t even know! We give thanks for this great work in Albania.
We are blessed to see this visionthat we call Lumenationsbecoming a reality. Lumenations started officially in January. This has been a foundation-building year and we have had many challenges that we continue to see God help us overcome. We know the success of this work is completely in His hands and we trust Him to use us well. We give thanks for our first year of Lumenations!
In early June of this year, our first Lumenations “story-gathering trip” became a reality when I went to Rwandaand was super blessed to be joined there by his nephew Jonathan Shackelford. We prayed for open hearts and opportunities to capture Kingdom discipleship work there. God answered our prayer! We learned so much in this first trip and we are so thankful for the opportunity.
One of our goals for the first year of Lumenations was to recruit at least one individual who would catch the vision and want to join us full-time. Since this is a new organization, we knew that individual, couple or family would have to possess a pioneering spirit and be willing to truly step out in faith. We are thrilled that Aaron Leongcaught the vision and that he and Kimberlyare that answer to prayer!
We know that you can be at “home” no matter where in the world God places you and we miss those we’ve lived near in the past. After over a decade of living a somewhat nomadic life full of dramatic transitions (including living in three different homes just this year), it has been a true blessing to “settle in” to our new home in Searcy. Our kids have tons of friends in the neighborhood. We are near much of our extended family and are able to help care for older parents in need. We’ve also been blessed with a great communityof faithful friends. We’ve plugged into a great church and we’ve also started a wonderful house church that meets twice a month. We give thanks for a place called “home”.
We are thankful for our older children and their passion for the King and His Kingdom. Robbieis now a certified automotive technician and will be heading to Searcy to prepare for his fiancé’s eventual arrival, sometime next year. We are thankful for his passion for disciple-making. Bethanywill head to Northwest Arkansas this weekend to finish out her stateside midwifery requirements. She has connected with an amazing group going to work in one of the “stan” countries - the one she has felt God leading her too. We love her heart for the “least of these” and passion for the unreached. Shelbyhas been in Searcy since August helping care for my mom while going to grad school and working as a graduate assistant at Harding University. We are seeing so many open doors for her as she continues to bless and reach out to internationals. We are thankful for her gifts of creative leadership and outreach! And also, Jillian, who is now a teenager, is really blooming as a young lady of God and is an amazing “big sister” to her new siblings.
God moves in amazing ways and we have seen Him do a beautiful work in the betrothalof Robbie to Hengrida Biçakuin Albania. Hengrida is really an amazing young woman of faith and we look forward to her arrival in the states and their life together in marriage. If you have not read about the story of how this came about and would like to, you can click on the picture to go my blog post written while in Albania.
Today marks exactly two years since we made our “Shack family 2.0” announcement! We are SO THANKFUL that Jalynn, Josie, Bryan and Ellyare now officiallypart of our Shackelford clan. Earlier this year in the month of June, we went to the Okmulgee, Oklahoma courthouse to have our adoptionof these beautiful children certified by the judge. We give thanks for our growing family!
We are seeing our younger four grow so much in their relationship with Jesus and their family of God. We were so blessed to see the first-fruits of this with our 11-year-old Jalynn’s commitment to follow Jesus and her step of obedience to Him through baptism! We were grateful to share this with three of our four sets of grandparents as well!