Monday, July 20, 2015

Two Weeks and Counting

Two weeks.  In two weeks, we will be loading up a moving van and heading west.  It still isn't real.  It should feel real because we live in a state of utter chaos right now.  Two rooms are full of packed boxes and every other room in the house is in a state of half packedness (I coined yet another term).  In an effort to "get ahead", I have packed everything I think we will not need in the next couple of weeks, but obviously, some of our stuff we do need.

After starting to pack up the kids' rooms, I realized, if there is any chance I will retain any amount of sanity, I actually have to allow  them to have a few of their toys, games, etc.  Although, for a couple of days the perfectly neat rooms were amazing!  I did however, have to break into some already packed boxes and give them back a few items so that I did  not end up in jail after reacting to the favorite saying of mothers everywhere, "I'm bored!"

Needless to say, things have been a bit crazy around here!  Chris is still working a full time job while trying to fundraise, which is also a full time job.  He works a full work day each day and then disappears upstairs to make calls until bedtime...and he has not complained once.  I know he is exhausted, but he has pressed on.

I confess, this fundraising has to end soon, or I will weigh 300 pounds!  As often as possible, we are taking people to coffee or dessert or doing dessert in our four or five times a week, I am eating/drinking about 5 million calories and I haven't exercised in two weeks.  So yes, if you see me...I am packing on the pounds.  AND, I have discovered that when you stress eat, you NEVER accidentally find yourself munching on a carrot!

Honestly, this has been just an amazing time of seeing God work.  Chris was released about a week and a half ago to begin fundraising...and we are at 64%!  That is just so amazing to me.  Knowing we had to raise our own funding was so intimidating to me and I just did not see how it was possible...but, I am telling you, we have the most amazing group of friends, family and church members.  We have been floored and humbled and left speechless by the generosity of people!  We still have a LONG way to go...but our faith has been bolstered by how people have stepped out, have made sacrifices and have believed in this ministry enough to support us.

We were blessed again last night with another answered prayer.  Adam (our 15 year old) was accepted into the high school he wanted to go to.  That is one area that I have continued to worry and pray about.  We had no idea what we would do if they denied our request to get him in.  When I heard the news, I cheered, did a little dance, praised God and ran in to tell Adam.  His response?  "Oh."  I asked him if he was excited and his response, "I guess...about the non required classes."  Welcome to 15 year old boy land!

So, for those who are coming here to see how they can pray:

If you ask Chris, he will be very spiritual.  He will ask you to pray for the kids we will be ministering to and for our volunteer leaders.  The kids will be going to camp next week, so pray for them as they travel and that they would listen as God speaks to them.  Pray that, as we hit the ground in SLC, we will be able to meet kids and that we would be able to establish relationships with the schools.  Pray for the committee and those already in the area that we would be able to blend ideas and visions and work together to reach the kids.

I am not so spiritual right now.  Please pray that we can get our house to an acceptable place to put on the market and that it will sell.  Chris is really stressed right now with work and fundraising and he just does not have time to work on home improvements.  He is having trouble getting people to call him back and it is just more stress he doesn't need.  I, being the more emotional one, am just scared to death of the what ifs...I love this house but know it needs work and just have trouble imagining someone who will love it enough to take it on.  I can't sell this house, but God can!

Pray for Chris' parents as they prepare to send us off and welcome our oldest son into their home.  Brooks is going to live with them and attend Union so that will be a HUGE change for both of them.  We are so grateful for all they have done for us over the years and it is going to be so hard to say goodbye...we are just hoping for some long visits eventually.

Pray for Brooks as he starts college on his own.  In a way, I am so excited for him...this is a big growing up stage, but I am so sad to know that we won't be experiencing it with him.  This is what we raise our kids for, but it is HARD!

Pray for our other kids as they move to a new place and have to start over meeting new friends, new schools, etc.

Well, I could list a million things because I am worrying in advance and have a million what ifs that run through my mind daily.  For now, just pray that I would keep focussed on the eternal.  My tendency is to get bogged down in the practical and forget the kids that we are going to minister to.

Finally, please just give thanks with us, because we serve a good God!  He has been so faithful.  One thing I so want to share with these kids is that He loves us not because of us but because He is LOVE!  I find myself striving to earn that love and I just can't.  Any success, any good you see in us, is just God working in us.  We are so amazed at what God has already done and cannot wait to see how He continues to work!

"Lord, you are my God;
    I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
    you have done wonderful things,
    things planned long ago."

                                        Isaiah 25:1

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I'm Freaking Out a Little Less Often!

I have not, once again, forgotten this little blog.  I really want to keep up with this for my own benefit so I can see how God works through this crazy time.  We have been out of town on a LONG vacation, so I have been MIA.

This year is our 20th anniversary, so Chris surprised me with a cruise to Alaska!  We headed out on June 10 for the three day drive to SLC, to leave the kids with my mom and dad.  After dropping off the kids, we caught a plane to Seattle and spent a day seeing the sights before boarding the boat on Sunday.  We  have never cruised before, so everything was a new experience.  I was a little worried that the stress of all that is going on in our life would affect our enjoyment of the trip...but I am telling you, I have never in my life, ever, been able to just forget everything and just enjoy myself like we did on that cruise...maybe too much because by Friday, Chris and I both admitted to one another that we had so gotten into the relaxation and getting away of the cruise, that we had not even prayed about  all that was going on...oops!

The cruise was really the trip of a lifetime and we had and amazing time...but we did have to come back.  We got to spend four days in SLC with my family before heading back and that was such a blessing.  In fact, one of my big prayers was answered during that time.  One of the things that has stressed me the most about all of these changes, is that our 15 year old was TOTALLY against it.  We had prayed about this, felt he would be okay, still felt God leading us to do this and just started praying for him.  While we were on the cruise, he got LOTS of time with his cousins, one of whom he just absolutely adores.  They have so much fun together and have really similar senses of humor.  She actually lives in Boise, about 5 1/2 hours from Salt Lake, but much closer than we are in TN.  He also has another cousin in SLC that he is the same age as and they have a great time together.  So, by the time we got back from the cruise, his spirits were already higher.  On the first day back, my husband had some things he needed to do for his new ministry, including taking pictures of the area that he will be working in.  So, while I was catching up on MOUNTAINS of laundry, he took my 15 year old and they went exploring.  As it turns out, they looked at all the high schools in the area and our son found one he was really interested in.  I called the school and we ended up going the next day to tour it.  It was AMAZING...people, I think I would go back to high school if I could go here.  It has so many cool classes and so many opportunities, my son was fired up!  He grabbed his phone and said he was about to text all his friends in TN and tell them....he was moving!  I took an opportunity later that day just to check on how he was really doing and he said that as soon as he had seen his cousin he adores so much, he knew everything would be okay and he was ready to move.  Y'all, I cannot even tell you what a blessing those words were.  So much stress lifted off my shoulders and I knew that our God that loves us passionately had worked a miracle in the life of my boy!  How precious to see Him working...and how glad I am that my friend advised me to document it so when things aren't going so smoothly, I can look back and be reminded.

I would like to say that I have been soaring on cloud 9 since, but that would be untrue.  Just as God's people have done through the ages, as time goes on (and, clearly not much time), we tend to forget the blessings and dwell on the tough.  As soon as we got home, the reality of what we were doing smacked us in the face again and the stress began piling up.  We are slowly packing up the house and trying to get things out of the way so we can start getting it ready to put on the market.  A realtor has come by to look at it and was very gracious in his recommendations of what we should fix so we are trying to get done what we can.  The biggest stress there is just our time frame.  We are planning on packing up the moving van on Aug. 1 and heading out Aug. 2...that is not a lot of time to pack up a house we have been in for 11 years with 5 kids!  OY at all the STUFF!  I am trying to be ruthless as I go through the process and purge, purge, purge...some of it is easy, but I also realize that I may be slightly over sentimental...I saved every piece of paper my firstborn touched for awhile...I have BOXES of art projects and notes and papers...I know I need to purge, but I feel so guilty throwing them out, especially now that those tiny little hands are grown up hands that we are about to leave behind (sniff).

Just before getting this opportunity, I was reading Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker (by the way, you should totally read this book...if you are willing to have your world rocked).  She was talking about making a radical life change and how scary it was.  She talked about her husband leaving his job and going 12 days without any idea of how they were going to survive.  So, as we began this process, I kept remembering that story and how, on the twelfth day, they got a call, out of the blue, from a total stranger that began answering some of the questions.  So, each day, as I was having my panic attack, I would cling to that story and remember, just 12 days...we can survive, just like the Hatmaker's did...for 12 days.  Well, it has been over a month and, while some things have become clear, we still have a lot more trusting to do than answers.  We know where two out of our 5 will be going to school (we hope, if the high school will give permission for our son to attend), but I am not sure whether I will be getting a job immediately or home schooling the littles for one more year.  We still have not been cleared to begin fundraising, so we have no support yet, we have a house we have to sell and no way of buying or renting there until we do...and the questions continue.

I lean towards panicking on a daily basis, but a few days ago, in my quiet time, I read a very familiar story.  It is from 1 Kings 17 and it is about Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath.  It is one of those favorite childhood stories that used to come around about once a year in the children's curriculum and I have heard a million times.  One of those that you start to read and then just kind of skim over because, please...I know this one already!  But this time, it really struck me, this story.  So, the CliffsNotes version is this...there hadn't been any rain for a long time and the brook that Elijah was using for water dried up so the Lord directed him to go into Zarephath and find this widow who was going to supply him with food.  So, being a good prophet, he went and sure enough, he saw this widow out gathering sticks and asked her to bring him some water and a piece of bread.  The widow replies that she has no bread and is, in fact, on her way to use her very last bit of oil and flour to make a final meal for herself and her son and then they will die...because the food is gone.  So Elijah, being the sensitive guy that he is, tells her go ahead and go home like she planned but before she makes that last meal for her son and herself, make him a little bread first because the Lord has told him that the flour will not be used up and the oil won't run dry until it rains again.

Y'all, she did it!  I mean, I like to think of myself as super christian, but I'm gonna be honest, as a momma, I think I would have looked at that man and said, "You have got to be kidding, you have some nerve asking me to give you the very last food I have for my son...You are crazy!"  But she did it.  She trusted  and believed that God would take care of her and do exactly what He said He would do.  She didn't ask for a guarantee.  She didn't ask for proof.  She put her life...and the life of her son, on the line because she trusted God's word!  She must have been so scared.  I wonder, as she was going through the process of making that bread, was she talking to herself, was she telling herself she was crazy, were tears running down her face because she was terrified that her trust was misplaced?  Did her son know that she was possibly sacrificing his last meal?  Did she balk at the last moment and wonder if she should just sneak the bread to her little boy?  She must have been so full of worry and fear, but she was obedient, and, of course, He was faithful!  I really wish there was a "where are they now" update on that story...I would love to know what happened to that widow and that you boy after the rain came.  I wonder, did she have a faith that was just unstoppable, or did she eventually forget?  I cannot imagine ever forgetting something like that, and yet I know that is my see God work in amazing ways and then when the going gets tough, to feel defeated all over again.  But for now, every time I feel that wave of discouragement, that panic trying to overwhelm me again, I remember that widow...I remember her actions, she didn't just SAY she believed, she radically acted on that belief and I want to do the same.

So, that is where we are today.  Today, there will be more packing, more purging, and probably more crying.  I will have moments of victory where I pat myself on the back because I am making so much progress and moments of utter defeat as I look at all that is left to do.  I will feel guilty for neglecting my kids and will roll my eyes when Chris gets home from work just as stressed out as me.  But through it all, I will know that every single moment of stress and fear and struggle is worth it, because He is refining me and even though I may not be able to see the end right now, He does and He is faithful and loves us with a ridiculous, unfathomable love that it is a privilege to get to share!