“this world is not my home, I just passing through….”

One of the many truths that have been planted deep in our hearts over these past several months is the fact that we will never be “at home” until we are physically in our heavenly home.  While I know this to be true, and have reminded my dear husband of it many times, I find myself balking at yet another move.

And this move is an answer to prayer.  Well, maybe not the move itself, but a full time job for Chris is certainly an answer to prayer.  But it means putting the boys into a brand new school system.  It means packing up our belongings.  It means losing a few more boxes along the way.  It means finding brave strong souls to load my heavy piano into a truck.  It means saying good bye to newly found sisters in Christ.  It means searching for another house to live in.

And this time, it means leaving the comfort and joy of living near my parents.  Not getting to go shopping with my mom.  Or having our Sunday afternoon “dinner and a movie” that we enjoy with them.  Knowing that Chris and the boys will miss out on the frequent Wallyball games that they play with my dad.  It means missing out on girl time with my mom and my sister, who is moving to Missouri about the same time we are leaving Missouri.

And it’s not like there are no joys to look forward to.  We will be living near our daughter.  We will get to spend time with my sister and brother in law.  We will be reunited with our dear church family.  We will be close to our church family in Appleton, who we still love with all our hearts.

So, why am I balking at this change?  Am I being stubborn?  Am I not trusting God?

I think I am just wrestling with the reality that I am His. It is a submission thing. I am not mine to go wherever I want and do whatever I want to do. I am His, and I get to go where He sends me and do what He wants me to do. The wrestling bit is hard and exhausting. It hurts.

But in giving up the fight, there is peace…

It’s okay. It’s gonna be okay. I’m a nomad, wandering this earth until I get to my True Home. I’m thankful that I get to live this nomadic life with Chris. I’m thankful that we have met some amazing people with every move. I’m thankful that even though I don’t understand all the reasoning behind this, I can trust the One that does understand why He is doing what He is doing. He is God. He is good. And I can trust Him.

 

 

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A Lavish Love

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!”

Full House~Full Heart

My heart is full.

I am sitting here in the living room, thankful that I have had some extra time this morning to spend in God’s Word.  The room is lit by my favorite lamp from World Market, soft music is playing from my iPhone, a cup of coffee is next to me and I have just had my heart poured into by Jesus.  Reminding me that He is oh-so-good and He has such amazing love for me.

“Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”  Psalm 16:5-6

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

The past couple of days, I so wanted to email all our friends and family with an update of the goings-on of our life here, but thoughts and words just kept swirling around in my mind, and I just couldn’t seem to make them all come together to make sense.  I couldn’t figure out how to share our life without invading the privacy of our boys.  I couldn’t find the way to explain the emotions and thoughts that both Chris and I are having.  And yet, I know I want to share what God is doing here.

“This is the hardest job you’ll ever love.”

This is what one of the supervisors told Chris and I during our training.  He was right.

This past week, we had to see a little guy leave after only a few weeks here at the Acres.  We were simply not equipped to handle the emotional and mental issues that he had.  We were both weary of the wrestling, and yet, the love that Jesus had put for him in our hearts was deep.  The day he left, I was heartbroken.  I questioned God, and angrily asked him why He brought him for such a short time.  How fair was it to let him experience freedom and love only to take it away so quickly?

And then I remembered.  A few nights before our little buddy left, he asked Jesus to be His Savior.  With tears running down his face, he prayed with us and thanked Jesus for paying for his sins on the cross.

Was it for that particular moment on that Saturday night that God brought him to the Acres?  I believe it very well could be.  And I am so thankful to God for bringing him our way.

While my heart still aches every night, and many times throughout the day as I think of him, Jesus keeps reminding me that He is the one who loved this little guy while he was here, and He will continue to love him where he is now.  He will simply find another person who is willing to be used by Him to continue to love this little boy!

Yes, this job is hard.  We spend our days training children-many who don’t want to be trained.  I get it.  Training and discipline are not fun.  It is hard to change habits that have been years in the making.  It stinks to have to do something you don’t want to do.  Especially when one is accustomed to doing what they want when they want.

Sometime, I think the only difference between me and the kiddos is that I am old enough to see the value in discipline.  I have known Jesus long enough to trust His love for me and the way that He trains and disciplines me.

These children are just getting to know Chris and I.  They have yet to learn that when we say “I love you”, it means “I will take care of you, I will protect you, I will comfort you, I will keep my promises, I will pray for you, I will laugh with you, I will cry with you, I will be there for you.”  Most of them are at the point that they WANT to trust us, and are testing us to see how deep this love goes.  Thankfully, it is the love of Christ, not the love of Nichole and Chris, that is being tested.  And we know that this amazing love is so very deep, there is no end.

So, I guess right now, our biggest “job” every day is to lay the foundation of our love.  Which is difficult, because there is the practical disciplines of chores, homework, behavior, etc that still need to be addressed.  And it is often very difficult, especially with our younger boys.  Please be praying for us that we will have moment by moment supernatural wisdom!

I am so thankful for our high school boys.  What a blessing they are!  One of our boys has been bringing home a treat for the kids who have been cooperating and contributing to peace in the home.  Another of our boys brings such a sense of calm to our house-the kids love him and he is so good about encouraging them and reminding them when they are out of line.  The younger boys all love him, and I am often looking for ways to give him a little breathing space!

I am still adjusting and from what I’m told, it will take a year or so.  I am often tired (I really wish I was one of those people who can nap!)  I forget things that I am supposed to do (even though I do have a list) and it frustrates me greatly.  I still have not organized my kitchen cabinets.  My back has been acting up.  I am at a loss many times with how to address behavioral issues.  I deeply miss my friends and family!  I miss getting to study God’s Word with other women.  I don’t like seeing our four boys struggle with lack of privacy.

But…

I love our family.  I’m thankful for days off when I can catch up on rest.  I am thankful for the grace shown to me when I forget something important.  I’m thankful that my boys don’t care if my cabinets are organized.  I’m sure I’ll eventually find a good chiropractor and massage therapist for my back.  God will give me wisdom-He promises.  I really like all the other staff members here-what a great group of people!  And while privacy is a thing of the past, I’m so thankful that we have boys that feel completely comfortable coming into our apartment and hanging out.  That they call us Mom and Dad (in fact, our 10 year old informed me the other night when I was tucking him in that he is part staff kid, anyway, because he is ours. *heart smile*)

Yes, indeed. My heart is full.

And now, I need to go make Breakfast Tater Tot casserole for my dear boys.

Hoping each of you have a blessed day!!

Changes

I am sitting here on the floor of our new bedroom, surrounded by boxes and other items that have yet to be placed in their “spot”.

But, not the bedroom of the 2300 sq ft home with five bedrooms that I wrote about last time.  We did move into that house, and we lived there for 3 months before God moved us to Mesa, Arizona.

The end of August brought with it the loss of Chris’ job.  But it opened the door for us to look into full-time ministry, which is where our hearts have been for a long time.  We weren’t quite sure how or where we wanted to serve, but we knew we wanted to be involved in people’s lives.  After one week of praying and searching and trusting God to close any doors He didn’t want us walking through, we were offered a job as house parents at Sunshine Acres Children’s Home here in Mesa.

Sunshine Acres was started by a godly older couple in 1954, after seventeen years of seeing the need and asking God to use them to meet this need.  They wanted to make a home where any child that God brought their way would be loved and protected.  They found this property in shambles on 129 acres of land and their dream became reality.  This beautiful home has been raising children in a loving environment for almost 60 years-and God continues to bless and grow this place!

And now, here I am.  Still in a bit of shock that I am actually living in Arizona, missing my family and friends back home, missing the beautiful fall colors that Wisconsin is enjoying right now, and ABSOLUTELY loving where God has us.  While adjusting to new schedules, expectations and larger family doesn’t always come easily, I just don’t want to settle for “comfortable”.  I never want to be in a place where I am not desperately dependent on His grace, His mercy, His wisdom and His strength.

Our days start at 5:30am, when we wake up our fourteen boys and get them ready for devotions and breakfast.  After eating in the dining hall, we come back to the house and do some chores to clean up the house a bit and get ready for school.  Chris and I finish up laundry and cleaning after we see the kids off, and our days have been filled with meetings, doctor appointments for the boys, settling into our apartment, and running errands.

Our boys start arriving home at 3:00ish and, as you can imagine, trying to wrangle fourteen boys and their homework can be slightly confusing and overwhelming.  We are still learning the ins and outs of the school systems our boys are in.

I am so thankful for the dining hall.  We have our meals during the week (and Sunday dinner) prepared for us by some awesome cooks!  I am truly so grateful for their service to us.  It makes my job as a houseparent so much easier!  And getting to cook on the weekend for the boys allows me the opportunity to do one of the things that I love to do!

After dinner, each house takes turns throughout the week doing “KP”.  We end up usually doing it once a week, and the children all receive a small allowance for helping out.  We are responsible for washing and putting away all the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen and dining hall.  It reminds me so much of growing up at Tambo!

The evenings are busy with different sports and activities, showers and snack time, and of course, free time.  The boys all love riding bikes, or playing on their skateboards or scooters.  We have a playground right in front of our house and a nice lighted basketball court in our back yard for the kids to use.  There is truly a lot that God has blessed us with.

Every evening, we all gather in the living room for family devotions.  We are here to love these children, but the reason we love these children is to help them understand God’s love.  If we love without centering on Jesus, it is all in vain.  And so we take every opportunity to talk to them about God, and their relationship with Him.  We have LOVED these times at night.  We have watched a couple of neat videos, we have shared Scripture and Chris is also reading through a story Bible that we have used with our children for years.  When I think of these boys and eternity, my heart aches for them to be with us!!

A quote that I have thought of frequently during these first few weeks when things have been difficult or I’ve been exhausted, are some well known words from Jim Elliot.

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

I pray fervently for my vision to always stretch to eternity, and not be short-sighted or self-centered.  There are precious lives at stake!

Our day ends with putting boys to bed, praying with them and over them.  And continue praying for them as we fall asleep.  We asked God to put His love for these boys into our hearts, even before we knew their names or their faces.  And He has.  And it is a beautiful, sometimes painful, thing.

Our days are busy, our hearts are full, our minds are often weary, but we are so thankful that God has placed us here.

Dear friends and family, we hope that our days will eventually settle into a routine and we will have the time we desire to make phone calls, write emails and all that wonderful stuff!  In the meantime, know that we carry you still in our hearts.  I think that has been the hardest thing for both of us to deal with-missing you all deeply.  We are so blessed with the most amazing people in our lives, and we love you dearly.

Blessings!!

 

 

 

{leaving Wisconsin}

Tuesday 9/4  Chris spoke for an hour with someone from one of the children’s homes we sent in a resume to.  It seems like it was a really good conversation and we have a Skype interview set up for tomorrow at noon.

Wednesday 9/5  We are nervous and excited about this interview.  Please, Lord, shut the door to this place if it is not where You want us!  We will keep walking through doors until You shut them!  Miles is worried about not being able to bring his pets along.  I don’t blame him.  It’s on my heart also.  We have our long list of questions and concerns.

Thursday 9/6    We had a very good interview.  All of our questions were answered and we were very pleasantly surprised that most of our concerns about pets, etc were unfounded.  Wow.  Turns out that this place is very pet-friendly-it seems like we are very like-minded in many ways.

Friday 9/7   The people at S.A. (the children’s home) spent time praying and talking and called us back to offer us the position.  We asked when they needed us and they told us that they could use us as soon as possible.

Monday 9/10   We are working full-time on getting ready for this big move to Arizona.  This week we are planning for our HUGE rummage sale.  Planning on selling everything we have (except for some special home decorations, a few pieces of furniture and clothing.  Our goal is to fit everything into a 14ft truck)  So much to do.  Trusting God’s leading…

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Friday and Saturday 9/13&14   Rummage sale.  Most everything sold.  For very cheap, but it is just important to get rid of stuff.  We are told that almost everything we need will be provided.

Wednesday 9/18   TJ coming up and I’m going home with her to Sheboygan

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Thursday-Saturday 9/19-21  In Chicago with Clare and Nikki for the Revive Our Hearts conference.  Wonderful, wonderful time…I loved the speakers.

 

Friday 9/27   Picking up the truck today and packing it all up.  Lots of friends coming over to help.  Pastor Gary is coming over to do an interview with Chris and I.  Just an opportunity to share about God’s faithfulness and provision and what this next part of our journey is going to look like.  It is part of a series they are doing at Pathways.

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Saturday and Sunday  9/28 and 29  We are spending one last weekend in Sheboygan with family…Johnsons are coming up and we are staying with the Balint family.  It is so hard leaving family.  One more Sunday at E-Free Church with our friends, and then we leave after church.

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The end of September and the first week of October was a week of traveling.  It was a very long week, but we could feel people’s prayers for us.  It was beautiful to see different parts of the country and we are excited about this new chapter in our life!!

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{religion that God accepts}

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The boys just left with Chris for their first day of school.  It will be quiet today-just Chris, Anna and I.  We need to run a few errands, but mostly today will be working on a resume to send out to children’s homes and maybe that church in North Carolina.

Lord, how desperately I need You!  As I open Your Word and study the book of James today-please give me the message that You want me to hear from You today.

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Help me to not run ahead of You, but to wait patiently for Your plan to unfold.  

You are God alone from before time began
You are on Your throne, You are God alone
and right now, in the good times and bad
You are on Your throne, You are God alone
Today’s homework seems to speak very much to where our hearts are right now.  Is this message really from You?
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: 
to look after orphans and widows in their distress
and to keep oneself unpolluted from the world.  James 1:27
After Beth talks about “adjusting your lens and see what specific opportunities make your heart jump…or maybe sink”, she says a couple of things which speak to the doubts that I shared with Chris last night (I had a migraine, and was feeling like maybe working at a children’s home is not something I wanted to do-or that I could do)
She is talking about keeping ourselves unpolluted from the world.  
“A heavy veil of smog between us and God’s horizon, distorting our vision and weakening our resolve.”  
“James wrote for people serving actively, openly and humbly, right in its thick, pungent pollution.  So, how on earth do we serve in it without smelling like it?”
“With serious discipline and determination, that’s how.  With courage and deep conviction.  With a large daily dose of the Holy Ghost, as my girlfriend says.”
“You don’t life this like accidentally.  You make up your mind who you want to be and daily die to the rest.  You surrender yourself to living in the tension where you’ll always be stretched and often be broken.  Religion pure and undefiled is grit without the grime.  You accept that easier ways to live exist, but you were born for nothing less.  And when we sniff ourselves and smell the world, we run to the One who can wash us.”
Lord, I asked You to speak to my heart.  Is this what You are telling me-that I can do this children’s home thing?  That it isn’t supposed to be easy?  That you want to stretch me and break me in order to use me?
Today we are going to start sending in applications and resumes to different children’s homes.  Please, Lord, direct us, guide us, and please protect us from discouragement.  Confirm in our hearts Your calling on our life.  

{consider it pure joy}

Saturday, August 31, 2013

On Wednesday, Chris came home from work in the middle of the morning.  After being with the company for 16 years, he was let go. Tears were shed and Scripture was read.  We prayed and we talked.  We went to church for the evening service and baptism and our hearts were filled with courage.

Chris is relieved to be no longer be at this company and excited about serving God full-time.  Just last week, he prayed and told God that he wasn’t going to give up and that if God wanted him to do something different, He would have to move Chris from this job.

Lord, this is what you want, right?  Chris has wanted to be in full time ministry for so many years.  We believe that you took away this job so that he could serve you in a different capacity.  We’re just not sure how, when or where.

At this point, I feel unable to think.  I’m not sure what I am supposed to be doing.  Moving or not moving?  School or no school?  In state or out of state?

James 1:2-8
                            Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let
 perseverance 
finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you
lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives to all without finding fault, and it will be
given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts
is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  Those who doubt should not think they 
will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do.
 
Psalm 62
Truly, my heart finds rest in God alone-I will not be shaken-trust in Him at all times.
 
Psalm 67
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine on us-SO THAT
Your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
 
Psalm 106:13
But they soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His plan to unfold.  



 

{august 27, 2013}

August 27, 2013

I’ve been awake since 2:00am…will probably need a nap this afternoon!  My mind can’t stop!

How do I increase our income and decrease our spending?  

  • rummage sale-pay off one little bill?
  • take in another child/child care
  • watch electricity and water usage
  • meatless meals
  • homemade baked goods-muffins, bread, etc
  • homemade oatmeal packets

I need to read through Miserly Moms again for ideas on how to save money, stretch our dollar as far as it can go!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Last night, Matt and Melissa called.  They are wondering if Michaela would be interested in moving in with them and helping out with Mercer in the afternoons.

My heart and mind are racing.  I have taken so much comfort in the fact that she will be home for at least another year.   I can’t believe she might not be here, but I really want the best for her!  Lord, if this is the plan You have for her, please show her-and us.  I will need confidence that this is from You in order to comfort my heart.

Please give her wisdom and insight into Your plans for her future!