Author Archives: Shelley Kardos

One of my favorite pictures of Jesus is of him kneeling on a beach to cook breakfast for his disciples after his resurrection. Even after he had given all he had to give, offering his very life to pay the penalty of our sin, all the while knowing his precious gift of salvation would be mocked and rejected by the people He came to save… we find him once again humbly serving the men who recently deserted him in the Garden of Gethsemane, even loving and commissioning the one who denied that he ever knew him.

The Last Breakfast -Painting by Shelley Kardos

When you read God’s Word it becomes evident that God enjoys working with people who don’t have it all together. It has never been about our goodness or our faithfulness. Thankfully, it is all about who He is!

He comes to the broken… to the one who knows they don’t deserve forgiveness… to the one who has nowhere else to turn… to the one who has no confidence in their ability to walk on their own… to the one content to be carried by their Rescuer and willing to give their life in joyful gratitude to their Great Physician.

To an onlooker who sees the storms in a their life, it may seem as though they are putting on a face to mask their sad reality. When, in fact, rather than a putting on a face, they have chosen to walk in God’s gift of grace… They have decided to be held in His embrace… an embrace of light so bright that shadows flee and the darkness of the storm that swirls around them no longer has the ability to destroy them.

Even as the tempest continues to rage, their perception is changed.   They know their Anchor is sure… their Strong Tower is secure.

While some are content to simply be safe, others come to realize that the real storm is a holy war for the souls of mankind… they understand that this life is a choosing place, a valley of decision before entering eternity and they are willing to go anywhere to let the world know that there is a Redeemer… Not because they have it all together, they know they don’t… Not because they’re perfect, but because they know their Redeemer is!

Some of them are asked to take this Good News to places far away, to leave behind the homes they know and the people they love.  They understand that the enemy of our soul is holding many captive… Some in an illusion that this life is all there is…  Others are held in the deception that their own strength and goodness will save them.

To some this assignment may seem ludicrous, pretentious, and reckless, to others it may seem glamorous and adventurous, but to the sent one, it is merely obedience.

Sometimes these sent ones are called “missionaries,” a term derived from the Latin word, missionem, meaning, “to send”…  a term that should define everyone who calls on the name of the LORD, because we were not redeemed only to be safe. We were redeemed to join our Lord in His mission to set other captives free!

We’re excited about an opportunity God has given us to serve His missionaries this winter! We’ll have the privilege of cooking breakfast, washing sheets and scrubbing toilets as we serve as substitute hosts at the Oaks, a bed and breakfast in Italy that was established by Life Impact Ministries to give tired missionaries a place to rest and be refreshed. Our short time as overseas missionaries made us acutely aware of the intense spiritual warfare that missionaries and ministry leaders face on a daily basis. Missionaries serving away from home also face a barrage of language and cultural differences, as well as the separation from their loved ones and their church family back home. All this adds up to make their ministry uniquely challenging and exhausting.

We would really appreciate prayer, because the truth is, our enemy really hates these sent ones who understand that being a Christian means being on mission with Christ. Our enemy doesn’t want God’s sent ones to be refreshed so they can return to their assignments rested and better equipped in the battle of setting the captives free!

Will you join us in praying for…

  • travel mercies, connections, and divine appointments
  • protection from the enemy for our entire family
  • relaxation and refreshment for each of God’s sent ones who will be staying at the Oaks
  • sweet rest and reflection for the Oaks regular hostess, Celeste, as she is on her sabbatical

 

 

 

How sweet the sound indeed! GRACE… Could there possibly be a gift more amazing than this? What incredible GOOD NEWS we’ve been given to share! Still we hesitate. We wait for the right moment… the perfect words… as time slips quickly from our grasp. We hold onto this treasure in our feeble jars of clay… as the world waits.

The resurrection story reminds us that Jesus isn’t waiting for our perfection. He longs to fill and use these flawed jars of clay, just as He used the Peters and Thomases of the past.  Let’s rejoice and stand firm in our new identity bought for us by our Savior! Let’s not only stand, but RUN in His power and amazing grace to the mission God has for us!

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” ~ Ephesians 1:18-21

 

Whoever said that “all roads lead to Rome,” probably had a better itinerary then we do…. Driving to Seattle today… first flight from there at 11:30pm… next flight tomorrow just before noon… then boarding our final leg tomorrow evening and arriving in Rome on Wednesday morning. Not the best itinerary, but the destination is worth it!

Final packing check: Hulk hands – check; Ironman masks – check; Thor hammer – check; bulk bag of Smarties – check; 150 plus ring pops – check; bags of chocolate – check; 27 Gesu (Jesus) t-shirts – check; toothbrush – check! We’re good to go!!!

We are so excited about returning to Rome! We were able to use air miles to buy our round trip tickets to Rome, so we’ll be leaving today and returning on November 16th. From the beginning, planning for this short-term trip has been unlike any trip we’ve ever made. For one thing, it’s the smallest team we’ve ever taken. There will be four of us, Elisa Scharze (who has been praying for a chance to serve in Italy for 3 years!), our 12-year-old granddaughter, Kerenna (happy dance!) Michael and myself. We’ll be teaming up with Calvary Chapel Rome to help with their Fall Festival – Festa di Autunno, as well as some construction projects at the church. As we have prayed for this trip, our plans have been changing as God has gradually revealed more of His purpose for this trip. One of the changes includes helping our friend, Jen, get ready for her move back to the States after serving in Rome for three years. You can read about how God directed her to this decision in her blog.

PRAISE!

We’re happy to report that Michael is still cancer-free! It was a bit over a year ago that we received the awesome news, that God had answered our prayers by removing his pancreatic cancer! I still can’t get over how amazing it is, that our God would give us such a sweet gift! When we moved back to the States, I was bracing myself for the very real probability of losing him. We are so grateful that God had other plans! Each time we are blessed to return to Italy, it’s a celebration of God’s healing power and the wonderful way He answered the prayers of His people!

PRAYER REQUESTS:

  • Please pray for travel mercies as we travel with our granddaughter and spend two days in planes and airports each way! (Cheap air-mile tickets can have pretty lousy itineraries!)
  • Pray for the plans and preparations for the Festa on October 31st – for a good turn out and many open doors to build relationships and share the Good News!
  • Pray for unity and sweet fellowship between our team and the Calvary Rome team
  • Pray for our granddaughter to experience the joy of serving the Lord and that He would surround her with His grace, presence and protection during the mission trip, as well as the Roman history visits that we are planning as part of her homeschool year
  • Pray for Jen’s heart (as I’m sure she will leave part of it in Rome, just as we did when we moved back to the States) for her ministry, her preparations and provision for her remaining 3 months in Italy
  • Pray for God’s financial provision for the construction projects we’ll be working on
  • Always, the spiritual warfare in Rome is intense! Please pray for a protective covering over each of us and that God will move mightily to disarm the forces of darkness in this place that has been an enemy stronghold for many years!

Homeward Bound

18175827_1683510034998075_828930940_oOur two months in Rome flew by so fast! Tomarrow we’ll head back to the states with new memories and many praises. We’re never sure what God is up to, but it’s always fun to see what He has in mind for us as we step out in faith and watch His plans unfold. “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

We were blessed to spend our last Saturday in Rome fasting and praying with our Roman family. One of the things that the Lord spoke to my heart about, was just how important it is that we face difficult situations in our lives, in order to be better equipped as His witnesses. As we read Psalm 65 together, it really struck me how desperately the world needs to know that our God hears our prayers! (In fact, as the body of Christ, we really need to be reminded of this truth as well.) Psalms 65:2 reads… “All humanity will come to You, the One who hears prayer.”  If we were never to face an impossible situation that only God can fix, how would we ever have this testimony that draws men to their Savior… this testimony that our God is the One who hears!

We’ve spent most of our time here working on Calvary Chapel Rome’s facility. Mike made some repairs, built some drawers in the sound booth, rerouted some wiring, and built a couple storage closets in the youth room. I did some cleaning and painting (a graffiti mural in the children’s ministry as well as some plain white walls). Here are a few pictures of some of our projects. (It’s not easy to remember to take pictures when you’re working.)

The mural Shelley painted in the Children’s Ministry
Handing out Gospel tracts at the metro
Fun, Food and Fellowship for Pasquetta

We’ll miss our Italian family, but we’re already planning our next trip for this fall, God willing! On another note, Mike’s health is doing great! He’ll see his doctor the when we return (just because they want to see him every three months) but he’s getting stronger every day. Thank You Jesus, for giving us this amazing testimony of how You hear and answer prayer! Thank you for bringing us back to Italy to celebrate Mike’s healing and Your resurrection with these dear people of Yours!

Prayer Requests:

  • Travel mercies as we fly home
  • Continued good health
  • Wisdom and guidance for whatever is next

 

We’ve enjoyed a full week in Roma, sharing meals and visiting with our church family and some of our neighbors; doing a little painting in the church; putting together some flower boxes for the church patio; and most importantly, sharing about our all-powerful, prayer answering Savior and His miraculous gift of healing! You can watch a short video of the testimony we shared last Sunday at Calvary Chapel Roma here.

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I’m excited to start a graffiti painting project in the Children’s Ministry and possibly another in the youth center. Michael also has a list of projects and repairs to work on while we both enjoy the beautiful Roman sunshine and our Roman family!

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God willing we’ll be heading back to Italy for a couple months this spring. We’ll arrive in Rome almost a year from the day we left Rome!

About a year ago Mike’s surgeon in Rome advised us to return to the states to “get our affairs in order” because he found Mike’s pancreatic cancer was too advanced and inoperable. 
It seems like an eternity ago, yet at the same time it seems like yesterday. We’ve done so much living and learning as we spent the past year waiting on the Lord.

After Mike’s second surgery last September, we were told that Mike’s surgeon found only the residual scar tissue where his tumor had been and the nineteen lymph nodes they tested showed no sign of cancer! What an amazing God we serve! We came back from Italy with a lot of questions, but now, one year later, we’re returning with a testimony greater than anything we could have imagined!

Mike’s doctors still want to keep a close eye on him. They said that they’ll need to see him every three months for the rest of his life. They also want him to keep his central port for the time being, which needs to be flushed every 8 weeks. This takes moving back to Rome off the table for now, but we’re happy to have this opportunity to serve in Italy on a part time basis.

We’ll be spending part of our time in Rome, helping out at Calvary Chapel Rome and hugging our church family there while testifying to the power of prayer and the greatness of our miracle- working Savior! God willing, we also hope to travel up to northern Italy to help Calvary Chapel Montebelluna move their Worship Center and Bible College into their newly purchased building.

PRAYER & PRAISES

  • Thank you Lord, for all our brothers and sisters who have waited and prayed with us this past year!
  • Thank you Jesus, for this borrowed time to love and serve You together
  • Thank you that You are willing to use weak vessels and teach us how to be Your hands and feet until You return or call us home
  • Thank you that You are always working in our waiting, that You’re sanctifying us, and beyond our understanding, You’re teaching us to trust
  • Thank you that You take what the enemy means for evil and You turn it for our good
    and for Your glory!

Please Pray with us…

  • for good health
  • strength & wisdom
  • travel mercies
  • protection from the enemy
  • for the needed paperwork, permits and provision for the building in Montebelluna
  • for open doors to share the gospel!
  • for God to use us to bless and encourage our brothers and sisters in Italy!

It was one year ago today that we opened a chapter in our story that would set us on a battlefield that would rock us to our core. The first page of that chapter began like this…

On Sunday morning, January 10th while we were with our church family at Calvary Chapel Rome, we were talking with a friend who was fresh out of med school. His fiancé, a med student, had noticed that Mike looked a little jaundice. That and the fact that Mike was experiencing some serious itchiness, prompted him to insist that we come with him to work the next morning because symptoms like that could indicate that his liver might not be functioning properly.

Early in the morning on January 11th, our friend met us at our apartment in Rome and drove us to the Anagnina station where we parked and took a subway into the Center of Rome. Then we caught a bus toward San Giovanni Hospital. Years ago we had spent the first night of our very first trip to Italy in a hotel just around the corner from the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (a monumental cathedral commissioned by Constantine that was the first basilica built in Rome and for a thousand years it was considered the most important building in Christendom). Looking out the window of the bus, I reminisced about that first time Mike and I had explored the streets in this area. As we approached the hospital across the street from the famous cathedral and the largest standing ancient Egyptian obelisk in the world, I couldn’t help thinking about all the events that had led up to our living in this fascinating city.

While our friend led us through the ancient hospital, founded in 1204, a growing tide of apprehension began to engulf me. As soon as Mike was checked in he was taken to a waiting room exclusively for patients, while I was directed to the non-patient seating area of the main waiting room… and “wait” is what I did… hour after hour. Time always moves slowly in waiting rooms, but this day would make anything I might ever experience seem like a piece of cake! As the hours trudged on I was afraid to leave my designated area because I wanted Mike to know where to find me and I didn’t want to miss a call from the receptionist if they needed to tell me anything. I was wishing I had brought a water bottle, yet thankful that I hadn’t, because when I went to use the restroom, I found that the sliding door to the restroom was off it’s track and anyone in the entryway to the hospital could see right in. Never mind, I could wait.

Our friend finally came to the waiting room to tell me that a blood test had confirmed there was an issue with Mike’s liver and now we would need to wait for more tests and an available bed because it looked like Mike would need to stay there over night. It was beginning to sink in that this could not possibly be good.

I spent the day talking to my Savior, the only one in the room who spoke my language. Needless to say, everyone spoke Italian and it became painfully obvious that we did not. All the hours spent with our sweet Italian tutor, Tulia, as well as Rosetta Stone and weekly lessons at a nearby Italian library, had only prepared us for greetings, shopping and traveling, but at best only offered feeble attempts at real communication. Our friend from church spoke only a little English and I understood a little Italian, so part of our conversations always involved a bit of guesswork, sometimes even charades, but by the grace of God we were able to communicate the important things.

After twelve long hours, a bed became available and Mike was checked into a hospital room with four other men. We were escorted to his room after visiting hours, so I was ushered out as soon as he was settled in.

The hospital didn’t have Internet available, so I had to get busy when I got back home. There were so many people to call, text and message, that I was up most of the night (not that it mattered because I couldn’t have slept anyway). Our apartment seemed darker and colder and the background noise of the city seemed louder and more obnoxious than ever before. As I lay in our bed in the early morning hours, staring at the ceiling, pleading with the Lord for Mike to be ok, I asked the question that would become my question of the year for 2016. “What are You doing, God?… Why are You letting all this happen?”

His answer: “My grace is sufficient for you.”

I still don’t know all the whats and whys, but this is what I do know… God was with us the whole time… He taught us things we could not have learned any other way… He brought us divine appointments that we wouldn’t have had otherwise… He led us through the dark valleys, keeping us close when we couldn’t see… Shielding us from enemy attacks… Holding us up when we felt like we might drown… And ultimately, He brought us through to see an amazing victory!

Frankly, I can’t imagine how (or why) anyone would do this without Him! Believe me, if you don’t know Him, you really need to!

We spent this past year on the battlefield of cancer, fighting with prayer through a constant barrage of enemy assaults and hidden mine fields, but now here we are, with Mike in 2017! Last week at Mike’s follow up appointment His doctor said there is still no sign of cancer! I not only feel like I can finally breath… I feel like setting up a monument – a heap of stones that say, “Praise the Lord! Look at what God has done for us!”

Never Once

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
Carried by Your constant grace

Held within Your perfect peace

Never once, no, we never walk alone

Every step we are breathing in Your grace

Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise

You are faithful, God, You are faithful!

Never Once By Jason Ingram, Matt Redman, Tim Wanstall

A year ago today we had no idea that 2016 would bring so many changes into our lives. We are so thankful to move into this New Year and put the past year behind us, but I also pray that we never forget the lessons we can learn from it. May we always remember just how quickly life can change and how uncertain the future can be. I pray that we always remember to forgive quickly, to let go of old baggage and learn to love each other more fiercely!

another-year