100 Thank Yous: 1-5

While it is sometimes the littlest things that can send me into a downward spiral, it is also the littlest things that can turn my eyes to Jesus to say “thank you”.

I think that God “hugs” us all in our own unique ways.  The things that I am thanking Him for wouldn’t necessarily touch the heart of anyone else.  But they touch mine, so I want to share them.

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cards that make tears fall because they remind me that we are loved

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unpacking my wallflowers (I LOVE a nice smelling house!)

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being able to sit at the piano and see these precious reminders of what is truly important

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finally finding my contact lenses (you would be thrilled, too, if you were wearing the same pair for 5 months)

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perfectly timed words that gently rebuke me to direct my eyes toward His perfect plan and His loving heart

 

How has God “hugged” your heart recently?

Mark 9:24

We signed the lease for our new apartment on Thursday, May 1st.  We started moving in on Friday when Chris got home from work.

He was thankful for this new job, and that day, he was told that the boss was thinking about making him manager of the technicians.  They told him who he would be working with the following week, and Chris was feeling good about everything.

On Monday, I was sitting in our bedroom unpacking some things and up the stairs walks Chris.  It was only around 1:00, and I thought that maybe they didn’t need to work as long that day.  He told me that they told him they didn’t need him anymore.  He asked why, and the boss said that he wasn’t going to talk about.  I can’t even imagine how my husband was feeling, but I feel like I was punched in the gut.  I wanted to vomit.  How could this be happening again?

My first thought was of Chris.  My heart was breaking for him.  My second thought was of the boys.  They have really struggled with so many things over the past few months, and it made me ill to think of telling them about yet another change.  Would they blame God?  How would they feel?

My third thought was “oh no! We just signed a one year lease!!”  I simply could not wrap my mind around what was happening.  Why didn’t this happen on Friday, before the owner signed our lease agreement?  How were we going to get the money to pay next month’s rent?  How are we going to make it?

Even though we felt like we had “nothing” when we lived with my parents, we realized very quickly that we still had the “crutches” of my parent’s home, the washer and dryer that we could use whenever we wanted, the fact that they supplied toilet paper, toothpaste and shampoo.  Now, we were very much without those crutches, and feeling very weak.

For me, some of the crutches that have been removed over the past several months are a steady job, a church family, a home, family and friends, familiar culture and weather, health insurance and the ability to buy our own food, a workable budget.  My own washer and dryer.

These things have been removed, and God is asking me to lean completely on Him.  This is not easy.

Especially today.

I sat down to figure out if we could get a cheap, used washer and dryer.  I figure we are either going to spend the money at the laundromat or on our own appliances.  I just wanted to see if we could swing it.

I probably shouldn’t have tried to figure anything out.  There is no way that I will be able to make any sense of this, or figure anything out.  It is out of my hands.  The only thing I have to lean on is the One who promises to meet our every need.

I am desperately in need of Him to work in my heart.

“Lord, I believe;  help my unbelief!!  

{God’s perfect timing…as I finish up this post, “Blessings” by Laura Story just came on.  I’m gonna post this, and then crank up the volume and listen to these words while I put supper on the table for my family.}

 

our new normal: the beginning

For the past two months, we have been living with my parents in Roach, Missouri.  When we moved here from Arizona, we didn’t have any intention of staying in this state.  But, God had different plans for us.

After countless resumes and applications put in at different places around the country, and three different temporary jobs, Chris started a job on Monday with a pest control company in Sunrise Beach, about a half hour from Roach, where my parents serve with New Tribes Mission.  The company that hired him is smaller, but one that prides itself in doing high quality work.  The owner is a man who values family, and his desire is for those that work for him to be able to invest in their families at the end of the work day.  While Chris worked without complaint at the temporary jobs that he didn’t prefer, but was thankful for, I am thrilled that he now has work that he enjoys, and that he didn’t have to “settle” for whatever came along.

As it became more obvious to us that we would be staying in this area, I began to look at housing.  It seemed like it was going to be a mighty act of God to give us a job that would pay the bills along with a home that we could afford.  There just didn’t seem to be much available.  As we started looking more intently a few weeks ago, I was beginning to get pretty discouraged at what was out there.  And yet, we knew that God had us settling here and that He was sure to provide something.  We knew we just had to knock on every door that we became aware of, and walk through whatever door He opened.  It was just a matter of trusting in His timing.  Monday evening we looked at an apartment that we liked, Tuesday night our application was approved and a few hours ago, we signed the lease agreement.  Tomorrow night, we are going to start moving stuff over, and hope to have the rest (or at least most) of it moved this weekend.

I am so very thankful for my parents.  When we were trying to decide where we should go when we left Arizona, a wise friend suggested that we head to a place where we would be able to spend time healing.  Without pause, we knew that my parent’s home would be that place for us.  They were willing to make the space for us, and we knew that we loved the trees, birds and quiet of the area they live in, and that we would have the time we needed to reflect and work through some things.  They have turned their lives upside down for us, and I am as excited for them to have their space back as I am about making my own home again.

Our new home will be an apartment, and we haven’t lived next to somebody like that since Michaela was a baby.  It is weird to think about going out to your patio and a few feet away is your neighbor, grilling out on his side of the concrete slab.  The apartment is very small, but relatively new.  It has three bedrooms, but one we are going to make into a TV room so that the boys have a place to hang out with friends that they invite over. I think I am a little excited about the challenge of taking a small space and making it feel like it is bigger than it actually is.

When I first told them about the apartment complex living, my sister in law, Melissa, pointed out that God has given us a great opportunity to be a blessing to all these new neighbors of ours, and I love thinking that this is our “mission field” right now.  Chris reminded me today while we were discussing the size of the home that if we were going overseas, we would be making do with what was available.  And that’s the attitude we want to have-to make the most out of what God has provided for us.

The boys are not that far from the church where they want to go to youth group.  Alex can easily walk to McDonald’s from the house, and there are a few more close-by options for Will as he looks for a job.  There are some kids from their schools that live right across from us and the boys could walk to and from school if they wanted.

And even though we are almost smack dab in the middle of town, I will still be able to sit on our patio and enjoy the trees that fill our back yard.  I am anxious to get some flowers and shrubs planted and see if I can’t convince some hummingbirds to come live with us.

Here are a few sneak peeks of our new home…

Miles and William in the TV/Game room

Miles and William in the TV/Game room

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the living room…

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small frig, but glass top stove and built in microwave

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the kitchen

I just want to say thank you to all who have prayed for us over these past many weeks.  We know that nothing is wasted, and He certainly has a purpose in all He allowed.  We are excited to discover what our new “normal” is.  The next few weeks will be busy as we settle into our new home and the boys finish up their school year.

We were talking with them yesterday and one of the boys mentioned again that he was wondering what God’s purpose was in planting us here.  I told him that we aren’t sure what God’s plan for us is, but we are going to live out each day whole-heartedly, discovering the answer to that question…

Healing

It is good to write that my heart is healing.

It is resting even deeper in the love and sovereignty of God.

This morning, as I am laying here, I look outside and see the sun shining and the trees with their little green buds.  A cool breeze is blowing, and I hear birds singing and wind chimes ringing.

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Snapseed(5)We continue to check days off the calendar.  Further and further from what was before, and moving one day closer to eternity. Chris has continued to put in applications at dozens of different places in Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kentucky, and Arkansas.  But what God has given him right now is a part-time position at Charter Communications.  It is only a three month position, but it is filling our days and allowing us to pay the bills, so we are content with that.  He has been able to continue his lessons for his Biblical counseling certificate, and I am thankful that he has had the time for that.

The boys are continuing to like this school, and I cannot even express how happy that makes me.  Alex received the first place award in his cooking class for an ice cream contest, making horchata ice cream with coffee caramel sauce.  His class does catering for the school and community, and he really likes that.  William enjoys doing air-soft with friends that also live here at the training center.  He usually plays soccer with the students here every week.  We just learned that both of the boys will be able to get their temps and start driving, so they are excited about that.  (Yikes-can’t believe that time is here already!)

Max is as friendly and talkative as ever.  He has been reading more lately, which makes this mama’s heart happy.  And whenever he gets a chance to go “air-softing” with friends from here on campus, he takes that opportunity.  Miles also enjoys going out and doing air-soft, and he has started to enjoy running.

All four of the boys have been taking turns making a meal once a week, and it is fun to see what kind of meals they choose to make and the satisfaction of feeding their family.  We continue to have good family discussions as we work through the emotions that have surfaced over the past few months.  It is a good thing to be able to talk about these things and how they relate to God, and our beliefs about Him.

My sister came home last week from Papua New Guinea, where she served as a missionary for a year.  Aside from the fact that I love being with her, laughing and talking, it is so good to hear her stories of God’s faithfulness and to see the way that God has led her step by step as she seeks to follow Him.  I cannot wait to see where He is leading her to serve next!

As far as God leading Chris and I, we are beginning to get a sense of what He may have in mind.  Just the way that He has closed doors, and reminded us of our gifts and experiences and passions, we are sensing that maybe our life from this point forward is going to be different than it was in the past.  A different career, a different place, a different lifestyle…we aren’t quite sure of the destination, but I think we are facing the right direction now.   We have ideas and hopes and dreams, but there are some pretty significant roadblocks that would need to be removed, and of course, we know that He can and will remove those in accordance with His plan for us.  I would sincerely love your prayers as we seek His intended area of ministry for us.

My heart is finally catching up with what my mind knows to be true.  And yes, there are days that there is pain and tears, but being able to go to the source of that and remind myself of the truth, I can cry and give it to Him, rather than cry and hold onto the pain.  He is sovereign and He is trustworthy and He is pouring out His goodness on me.  Resting in just those few of the beautiful truths about Him, my heart is centering on Him.  Because of His grace-His sacrifice on the cross, knowing there was no way that we could pay the penalty for our sin, we can find peace in Him.  And that’s a promise that offers healing.

“To all those who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 1:7

He Understands

Words seem to elude me.  I cannot seem to express what is going on inside of me as a result of the past few months.  I keep thinking “I’ll just wait until I’m in a better place emotionally to blog about this”.  But that doesn’t seem very honest.  I have always sought to be transparent here, and although I’m now very cautious about doing so, transparency still seems to be the best policy.

So many of you have asked me what happened and I have been waiting until I can separate myself emotionally from all that occurred, but that is not the case .  I find myself becoming more and more distrustful of people, wanting to hide away from everyone and everything, having a hard time thinking about investing in relationships anymore.  And that isn’t good.

I know that God created us all, as the body of Christ, for each other.  The spiritual gifts that He has bestowed on Chris and me tell us that He particularly wants us involved in people’s lives.  And I can’t very well be involved in people’s lives if I am hiding in my home.

Several of you have asked what happened, and why we had to move.  I can’t go into all the details, but maybe this will help you understand a little better the path God allowed us to walk these past several months.

When Chris lost his job at the end of August, we knew that God was opening up a door for us to move into some kind of ministry.  We prayed sincerely for His will and He led us to become house parents at a children’s home in Arizona.  We have had many kids come into our home and our hearts over the years, and we were excited to invite more in.  We were told that they simply wanted us to raise these boys like we would raise our own.  And so we jumped in wholeheartedly with both feet.

We loved being house parents to the ten boys we had, plus our own four.  They received hugs, love , prayers, time in God’s Word and more love.  We began to see, though, where our convictions about raising children didn’t line up with the philosophy of the home, and so at the end of January, when we shared this with them, they told us they felt it was time for us to move on.  So many unexpected things transpired over the weeks that followed, that it still seems so surreal.

My heart and mind have played reruns of these events over and over and over.  I’ve asked God what I did wrong, what I could have done different, what I would do the same…   But in my heart, I know that we spoke the truth with a sincere heart.  When we had our 90 day review, we completely expected that some good dialogue would come out of our questions.  We truly believed that we would be able to work together to find what God’s Word said about our concerns.  We did not do it out of spite, or a sense of “our way is the only way” or to stir up trouble.  We did it because we love those ten boys {that will forever have a place in our hearts, and a home if they should ever need it}, we want what is best for them, and most of all, we wanted to be true to the convictions that God has given us.

God used those circumstances to move us from Arizona to Roach, Missouri.  My parents work here at a missionary training center, and they have graciously shared their home with us.  Chris is still looking for a job.  He has put in applications here in Missouri and in Indiana, but has found temporary work here in Camdenton while he awaits a more permanent position.  He has had moments of discouragement, but for the most part has demonstrated great faith and confidence that God has a plan for us.  The way that he has loved me and comforted me in the midst of my tears and doubts has been absolutely precious to me.

The boys are settled in their new schools and really liking it.  They have plenty of space to play outdoors here.  They get to play walleyball and soccer every week. They are making friends and feeling like this is home.  We’ve had several sharing times around the table after dinner, (that we lovingly refer to as “Walton moments”) where the boys have been able to share some of the issues they are working through.  I think these times are so good for them.  It is safe place for them to work out all that is in their hearts.

I spend my days quietly.  My parents spend a lot of time down at their office, and now that the boys are in school and Chris is at work, I have the house to myself.  I’ve been working on sorting and backing up all the pictures on my computer.  And I usually make lunch for my mom and dad and myself.  I spend some time reading every day, which has been really nice.  My back has been pretty bad since I overdid it while packing and moving.  It is hard to not be able to do all the things that I would love to do, but I am slowly getting better as I am being careful and wise about what I do.

I have really enjoyed getting to cook for my family again, and have been taking advantage of the cool days to make lots of soups, which we didn’t really eat a lot of while we were in Arizona.  Today, William turns 16, and he requested quite the birthday meal.  His meal is starting with an appetizer of nice olives and roast garlic with crusty bread.  Then we’ll eat lobster and shrimp fettuccine with roasted brussel sprouts on the side, with sparkling apple juice to drink.  Followed by flan for dessert, and then a movie together as a family.  I love getting to have special meals like this one, and I really enjoy taking care of my family by preparing meals for them!

I am very thankful that God is a patient God.  I am not angry at Him, and I do believe that He is sovereign.  I believe that He used some circumstances out of our control to move us, and His reasons are (as of right now) His own.  He will share them with us in His perfect time.

Right now, I am okay with being alone.  I have been blessed with so many dear and wonderful friends.  True and honest friends.  Friends that I can count on being honest with me, and friends that have proven that they are who they say they are.  I think I would be completely content if I never had to meet a new person again.  I just want to stick with the people that I know and love.  The ones that I know are trustworthy.  I just don’t know that I can trust my judgment.  I’m afraid I will trust the wrong person, or that I will love someone, only to have that person cut off from me.

This is the struggle of my heart right now.  There are so many Truths and Promises that my mind knows, but my heart is just a bit wounded and is lagging behind, trying to catch up.  I know that it will heal in time, and my mind and my heart will be in one accord.

Until then, I am completely at His mercy and just living one day at a time.  I often can’t even find the words I want to say to Him, but when I can’t find the words to explain the hurt, the betrayal, the confusion, and the weariness, I remember who I am talking to.

And I remember that He, more than anyone else, truly does understand.

And today, resting in that is enough for me.

A Lavish Love

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Lavish: (adj) sumptuously rich, elaborate, or luxurious

To lavish: (verb) to bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities upon.

I have been thinking a lot about the word “lavish” over the past week.  During this season of celebrating the birth of our Savior, there are donors who so generously gift our children here.  They lavish gifts upon our children who truly have a hard time grasping the idea of a giving type of love.  Many have never had a Christmas present in their lives.

When I first heard about all that the children received, I was a little worried about how it affected them; that it would actually contribute to the sense of entitlement that so many in this world struggle with.

And then, I remembered this verse.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.”

God lavishes his love on me.  He bestows His love on me, generously and extravagantly.  He doesn’t hold back because He worries that I might take it for granted.  In fact, He pours His love onto me, knowing full well that there are times that I do, sadly, take it for granted.  He is a Father who loves to give His children gifts, and I see evidence of that all around me.

So, while I still need to work with our boys on cultivating gratitude, appreciation and generosity, I am going to thoroughly enjoy watching our children have gifts lavished upon them.  And I am going to let it be a reminder of how God lavishly loves me.  Deserving or not, it is His nature to love and to give.  I pray that those character qualities will be lived out in my life, and someday, in the lives of the boys that we are raising.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son”…”Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

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