Bucy Family Band

Missing The Signs

Has anyone escaped 2016 completely unscathed?
I certainly haven’t.
We certainly haven’t.

Because the first six months of this year were chaotic, confusing, and painful. Trapped between what we felt God had called us to, and the seeming inability to bring the pieces together to accomplish that very task.

And if the first six months were perspective altering for us, we saw with fresh eyes and heightened awareness the brokenness of sin in our world and the lives of those around us in the second six. Sickness, struggle, death, hurt and pain barreling through relationships.

So without trying to write off 2016 as a waste, here are a few graces I’m pulling from the rubble:

-I had missed the signs: I was looking for comfort, security, and stability in relationships and circumstances. But truthfully, God had surrounded me with those things – both painful and positive to point me toward Himself – the only One capable of fulfilling my hearts needs and desires.

-Anger is never as productive as I desire. At first it feels safer than allowing pain to be acknowledged, but in reality it is dangerous because it only hardens hearts, and dulls abilities to feel or experience anything at all.

-God doesn’t waste anything. I’m not ready to say I’m ‘grateful’ for the first six months of 2016, I am however grateful for the things that we learned, the time and relationships it allowed, the perspective and rest, purpose and movement of our lives that God facilitated in that period.

-I cannot control anything. Consistently, in vain, I attempted to accomplish and execute this year. In many areas I think this was because I was forcing in my own ‘strength’ something only God could accomplish but I had foolishly felt was an area He had forgotten or dropped the ball and needed me to step in… so silly, and yet more truthful than I would care to admit.

-Being Spirit-led and dependent is a reality for the Christ-follower whether we choose to live in its light or not. But how freeing to release the struggle to the One who knows my need, cares more than I do, and does not withhold any good thing?

Whether it has been in pain and sorrow or joy and celebration, I hope that 2016 has been life giving to you. And as you align your own heart, and shift your perspective with the beginning of a new year, I pray that it takes you to the secret place – the place of His presence and peace, more than it calls you to a task to accomplish. As Oswald Chambers reminds us, ‘Our Lord calls us to no special work – He calls us to Himself.’

Here’s to 2016, and to what is still to come,

PS: here’s a familiar little prayer that I recorded in those struggling six months:

Straight Lines

Unless we’re talking about House of Cards or Veep, we’ve never found ourselves to be particularly political. But with the two countries we call home in the middle of some of the most significant political changes that we’ve ever experienced we are left trying to make sense of this continually changing landscape.

We will not pretend to know what we’re talking about when it comes to the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, so if you’re looking for an explanation or an opinion you’ll have to look elsewhere – sorry. But for our American friends, I don’t know that we can properly articulate how serious and far-reaching this change will be not only for our city, but the country and ultimately the rest of the world – which will only be seen over time.

We’ve spent the last five months living acutely aware of the fear and difficulty that arises from change and uncertainty – it’s been chronicled in some detail in the previous five posts :).

One of the reoccurring realities of this season of our life has been the recognition of the complete and total sovereignty of God.  God is incapable of being moderately sovereign, or slightly sovereign, or sovereign over this but not over that.  No, He is either sovereign over everything or sovereign over nothing at all.  And we believe…

Nothing escapes His sovereignty.
Nothing happens that is a surprise to Him.
He is so sovereign that even the evil intentions of man, He can use for good.
He is the God who can draw straight lines with crooked sticks.

As the family of God, we celebrate when brothers and sisters celebrate, and we grieve when they are troubled. Would you please pray for your brothers and sisters in the UK? Would you pray for the churches who are serving local communities not dissimilar to the one you find yourself in? Would you pray for the missionaries and people who have called the UK home and the uncertainty and a change this significant brings to theirs lives and ministry?

Ultimately we do know now what this means for our family and this new visa, but once again we find ourselves setting our hope upon Another and trusting in the sovereignty of One who always knows far better.

Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
If you would like to support our family financially click here.
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PS: here are a couple videos that will hopefully help to make this a bit clearer…

Wait A Bit Longer…

Five months is a long time.

A long time feeling like your life is out of control, unsettled and in transition. But with a single email, we can see an end in sight.

After submitting all of our applications, passports and biometric information two days ago, we got word that they are safely in the hands of the UK Border Agency’s New York office and we should have a response on our visa within 15 working days!

That’s right, five months (and counting) and here we sit mere weeks away from being able to return back to Liverpool.  Praise the Lord.

Like previously mentioned, there is some comfort in knowing that the timeline and decision from here on out is completely out of our hands – we have no ability or power to speed up or alter the outcome.

We’re grateful for the prospect of these difficult few months coming to a close, and excited about the chance to enjoy lots of quality time with family and friends before we board another plane.

Please continue to pray for favor with the decision-makers regarding the visa, and for a quick turnaround. We will keep you updated with any news.

Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
If you would like to support our family financially click here.
To receive regular email updates including new posts and prayer requests click here.

PS: We found a little humor in the tedious nature of our application, when we went to get passport pictures taken for the new visa. When Kelly returned to pick them up, she was asked ‘Do you want to check and make sure you’re happy with them?’ she replied, ‘Nah, I’m sure they are fine.’ Only when she got back to the car did she realize they gave us someone ELSE’S picture! Ha! But come on, how cute is Merritt?!

I Have Set My Hope Upon Another

I have sung, and led the song ‘On Christ The Solid Rock’ innumerable times.

My hope is built on nothing less / Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame / But wholly lean on Jesus name

But lyrics that marry experience will always ring true with greater weight.

When darkness seems to hide His face / I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale / My anchor holds within the veil

A life raft tossed untethered in the sea is the only visual that has made sense to me during this visa process. Safe because you are inside, but not completely sheltered and protected.

His oath, His covenant, His blood / Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way / He then is all my hope and stay

Continually I have sought rest, peace, security and hope in the things that I thought I could control – myself, my abilities – and in other people.

When He shall come with trumpet sound / Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone / Faultless to stand before the throne

And continually we have been reminded through this process that rest, peace, security and hope cannot be found in the sinking sand of the outer reality – but in the eternal truth of Christ. Who Himself is always steady, sure, unshakable, the same yesterday, today and forever, the One who never lets go, who always holds fast, who is our Hope and our Rock.

When we’ve felt a crumpled mess, we can stand on Christ. When you desire to set your hope upon something you can see, feel and seemingly control, you will always end up a crumpled mess. But we are learning again and again to set our hope on Another.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand!
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand.

Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
If you would like to support our family financially click here.
To receive regular email updates including new posts and prayer requests click here.

Applications Submitted!

VISAS SENTWe breathed a sigh of relief last night.  After spending several hours filling out the same online forms times three – we paid for, and mailed off our visa applications!

There is still a long road ahead, but this is the closest that we have been to Liverpool since we left in January.  What’s next is our biometric appointments on the 20th of this month – which is where they take your fingerprints, and a photo to catalogue you in the UK system.  Those two things are then sent off to meet our paperwork and be approved or denied by the UK Border Agency.

For us the relief comes from having this one major step within our control complete.  We’re hopeful now that the process will move much faster from here on out.  Once the UK Border Agency receives our applications and our biometric information, it should be several weeks before we would hear back regarding the decision.

Your continued prayers for favor in the eyes of those making decisions, speed in the process, grace with all involved, and provision for the in between time are greatly valued.

We will keep you updated as this process continues!

Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
If you would like to support our family financially click here.
To receive regular email updates including new posts and prayer requests click here.

This Visa Process

This visa processFrequently we’re asked ‘What is different about this visa?’ or ‘Why is a new visa taking so much more time than your first one?’ Excellent questions. Both of which are questions we seem to be asking ourselves on the regular.

So by way of helping make a complicated and ever changing process accessible and not painfully boring, here is how it basically works…

To apply for a visa you need a sponsorship number. The government has a limited number of sponsorship numbers each year, which they disburse to different organizations to offer at their discretion to applicants hoping to live and work in the UK. Once you secure a sponsorship number, you can apply for a visa.

Visas have varying tiers based on what kind of work you do, how long you’ll be in the country, etc. Once you’ve applied for the visa, the UK Border Agency can deny or offer you a visa – and then you’re set!

Our first visa (through Acts 29) was low level and basically stated we could volunteer at the church for two years, but not be employed by them or any other British organization. Naturally, low level visas such as this one do not consume as many resources and are therefore more readily available.

Why not apply for this same visa again?
Firstly because this is a one shot visa – once you’ve applied and used a Tier Five Religious Workers Visa, you cannot apply or use the same one again.  Second, Acts 29 has gotten out of the sponsorship/visa game altogether – so we have had to find another ‘sending organization’ that will help us secure the sponsorship number we need to even apply for the visa.

Why this new visa?
As people working in a ‘religious field,’ the options are limited about what types and tiers of visas are available. This one allows us to be in the UK for three years, it is renewable, allows us to receive a salary. With a higher level visa, there are even more moving parts, fewer sponsorship numbers available, and fewer still the number of ‘sending organizations’ that could help provide all that is required for a Tier Two visa.

Enter, Greater Europe Mission (GEM). An organization that has access to many different levels of sponsorship for visas and have been sending missionaries all over Europe for the last fifty years.

Like any new relationship, you have to spend lots of time getting to know one another. And beginning this new relationship with GEM looked like many phone calls, Skype sessions, mountains of personality tests, and get-to-know you questionaires before we even left Liverpool in January. Continuing this time once we got back to the States by including a week long trip out to GEM’s home office in Colorado to meet their staff face-to-face, go through their required training along with a group of others hoping to serve somewhere overseas in Europe.

The typical relationship with GEM begins when someone feels called by God to serve overseas, but has never been involved in full-time missions. So they provide all of the training, development, and partnering relationships with hopeful missionaries. Right off the bat we are an anomaly, as a family who has already served overseas for the last two years… Not to mention we already have a home church, understand the wave of culture shock, do not have to learn a new language, and will not have to be raising support as our sole source of income.

A visa is an intricate process that takes a lot of energy, and teamwork to pull off… Most people who are applying aren’t typically trying to get five different parties, spread out across time zones, countries, and States to be moving in unison together. It has certainly not been a boring four months.

And all of these elements have to be in place before you can even submit your visa application to be accepted or denied by the UK Border Agency. Which we’ve been told is a three to six week process… But that sounds a little too familiar…

So there is a window into our lives.
Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
If you would like to support our family financially click here.
To receive regular email updates including new posts and prayer requests click here.

Becoming More American

We’ve spent more time back in the States these last months than we have in the last two years. And having just celebrated Memorial Day, and approaching the 4th of July, I wanted to put down some thoughts about what you experience as an American who moves out of the country…

This strange thing happens when you move to another country that is different than moving to a new city, state or region (all of which, we’ve done). You at once feel less American, and more American.

You become less American because America is no longer the geographic location of home. Because you have chosen to separate yourself by an ocean of distance, culture, rhythms and lifestyle. You are given a unique vantage point as an insider (American), to become an outsider (Ex-Pat) and look in at the values and movement of what was once just normalcy. And in some ways, it feels like with these new eyes, even if you were to return permanently to make America your geographic home, it will always be a bit different than before.

You become more American because it is no longer the geographic location of home. Because absence makes the heart grow fonder across that ocean of distance, culture, rhythms and lifestyle. Because you have fresh eyes of affection for the familiarity of a life and country that you never realized have truly been woven into the DNA of how you function, relate, interact, and understand others and the world around you.

We have learned so much about culture over the last two years, American culture, British culture, and Scouse culture. But what continues to become more evident for followers of Christ: culture may help to explain us, but it does not define us. The Gospel defines us, Scripture defines us, Christ defines us.

And while I am incredibly grateful to be an American (I have burst into tears more often hearing our National Anthem sung, seeing our military serve, and witnessing all of the opportunities we have been uniquely blessed by to be from this country, and purchased more American flag memorabilia in the last four months than I have my whole life); I am even more grateful to be grafted into a covenant community of God’s family that redeems and transforms culture.

We are all at once, less American, and more American.
Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
If you would like to support our family financially click here.
To receive regular email updates including new posts and prayer requests click here.

Four Months And Counting

Many have asked us what we’ve been doing over the last couple of months. So let me start by saying, no, we’re not on vacation/holiday. There is absolutely nothing relaxing about being caught in between visas, away from your own home, without a salary, or any ability to control your return to where you feel like God has led you for this next season of life. Vacation? Not so much.
FOUR MONTHS AND COUNTINGWe were originally told this whole turn around for a visa would take four-to-six weeks. Around the six-week mark of being back in the States, and without any forward movement; we realized we would be back much longer than anticipated, and started making a concerted effort to soak up as much family time as possible.

My grandparents had us out to Seattle to visit, we’ve spent many afternoons swinging with Merritt at the park, wandered around Target, started some new shows on Netflix, celebrated family occasions like birthdays and graduations, read lots of books, wrote songs, served at my parents church, helped with home renovations, gone for drives just because we have a car, started going to the gym, went to free sing-a-longs and story times at the library and just generally tried to fill our time with anything constructive.

The tension we walk is being present enough to enjoy this unexpected time, while staying invested emotionally in the reality that our life and home (for the time being) are in Liverpool. Each day that we live with seemingly no progress is another day to surrender to discouragement or joy. Discouragement is the easy surrender, joy is the battle.

That irritating, ‘I think I have something I’m supposed to be doing, but don’t know what it is,’ feeling hovers most days. Yes, of course we’re grateful for time with family. But not knowing when it will run out and we’ll have to mentally change gears to head back to Liverpool often finds us not fully present either place.

And once again we’ve found ourselves in the in between. Ironically, our lives have been in between for the better part of four years. A year and a half leading up to our move, two years in Liverpool, six months of potentially extending that time, and now. And yet, this has been the most difficult in between to date.

Maybe because there are three of us now.
Maybe because we have nothing with which to distract ourselves – so we have to feel every little thing.
Maybe because this new visa feels weightier in the grand scheme of our lives.
Maybe because we have relationships, and know what we’re gaining or losing on either side of a visa.
family shots

Life is not easy, or always pretty… neither is ministry. And that’s where we find ourselves now – at the intersection of life and ministry. It’s not an easy place, or a pretty place at the moment, but we’re working to convince our hearts of the truth our minds know – that God does not waste anything, He purposes everything, that He is forming Christ in and through us, and that He is orchestrating everything for our greater good and His greater glory.

How desperately, we want that reality to be enough for us, now and in the future.

Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
If you would like to support our family financially click here.
To receive regular email updates including new posts and prayer requests click here.

We Are Alive

We Are Alive BannerYes, we are in fact alive. We have not posted in a long time in part, because life has been so unclear.

August 2015 put us six months out from finishing our original visa, which again left us with the question – do we stay, or do we go? We decided to explore a new visa, and walk through another door into our investment in Liverpool.

With that yes, came a new relationship with a sending organization to help us secure another visa. With Acts 29 no longer offering sponsorships for visas, and the low level visa of our previous two years no longer available to us, that yes also meant a commitment to pursuing a higher level visa, and therefore more labored process to staying in Liverpool.

It has and continues to be some of the most challenging and difficult months we’ve faced in our little family, and it’s not over yet… But all of that to continually be unpacked and unraveled as we venture on.

Thanks for being with us. We can’t always promise things will be pretty and neat – it’s just not true to our current reality – or life ever. But in our honesty, the prayer is that we will find and you will see a God who is as faithful in the shadow as He is in the light.

Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
If you would like to support our family financially click here.
To receive regular email updates including new posts and prayer requests click here.

What’s Next…

Now that we’ve finally settled back into Liverpool life after all of the traveling these past months, we’re excited to see what’s next.IMG_3835_Fotor

Our visas will be finished at the end of January, and we’re continuing with conversations about where God is leading and what that might look like. We do know that we want to be able to spend whatever time we have left in Liverpool well, as we figure out and enjoy being parents to Merritt.

For Kelly she’ll look at the possibility of returning a day or two a week to her position at City Hearts. For me, I’ll continue to develop worship leaders and build teams as I run a worship internship through our church this fall.

In the day to day, life seems normal – but when we catch an aerial view (like having a month to enjoy with family in the States) it’s hard to believe that this is the story that God is telling in our lives.

We could not do this without your support: personal, prayerful, and financial. If you want to be the first to know what we’ll be doing after our visa runs out in January, sign up for our email list here.

We’re forever grateful for all of you.
Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
If you would like to help support financially our new family of three click here.
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