Monday, December 31, 2012

It's the New Year!!!

A lot can change in a year's time! At the end of last year we were preparing for a 2012 that, in our minds at least, was probably going to look a lot like the year before. Busy, but largely predictable from one month to the next.
At the end of last year, God was preparing us for a 2012 that would look nothing like the year before. Busy, and totally unpredictable. He just hadn't told us about it yet.
Not long after the year began, it became apparent to us that we were going to be facing some major changes in the coming months. We realized that there would be a job change for my husband within the year, but there were a lot of unknowns too. As more time passed, it seemed like whenever one thing about our future became clear there were at least three other things that immediately became more cloudy and muddled. It was a very frustrating time for us - until we began to give our fears and worries over to God and truly trust him with our future. It's not that things immediately came together when we did that, it's just that the unknown became easier to deal with. Ultimately, it was only about a month before our move that things began to clear up significantly.
Things don't look "right" before they're finished. Whether it is a cake, a quilt or a house - if we look at it when it is only half put together it is probably just going to look like a mess. Only the craftsman knows what ingredients still need to go in the mix, or what pieces need to be sewn together, or where to put the wiring so that everything works perfectly together to create the finished product.
We have to learn how to handle the waiting. We can choose to try and interfere in an attempt to speed things along. Or, we can choose to trust the craftsman and wait patiently. Worrying won't change anything at all, but it will make us feel a lot worse. Attempting to speed things up simply won't work, and will probably complicate things even further. Difficult as it may be, if we choose to trust we won't end up eating a cake that's half-baked!
Even though it has been a few months since we have moved and we have begun to establish ourselves in our new community, the truth of the matter is that there are many things that are still in process. God is still at work. (He never actually stops working, does He?) I can't help but wonder what 2013 is going to look like for us!
So from our family to yours - Wishing you a blessed and Happy New Year!
"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6: 31-34

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!
May the joy of Christ reign in your hearts this Christmas and may you be filled with His peace.
Be blessed!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Comes Early


Christmas came a little early this year, as we enjoyed a visit from my husband’s parents.  They were here for a little less than a week and the time just flew by.  Here’s a little of what we did during their visit:

Now is the perfect time for viewing bighorn sheep in our area.  They come down off the high mountain peaks over the winter, so they are easy to find and view pretty close up if you know where to look for them.  Mid-December to mid-January is also their breeding season, so you can often see the rams facing off with each other and butting heads while competing over the ewes.  The rams will approach each other and turn their heads at funny angles, kind of showing off their headgear and sizing each other up.  Sometimes that is enough to decide who “wins”, and sometimes they’ll back off a couple paces, rear up and crack their heads together to decide the winner.  Here is a picture I took several years ago:

Hubby’s parents were interested in seeing the sheep (and I always look for an excuse to go and photograph them), so we headed off up the road one afternoon in search of the critters.  We sure got to see a lot!  We found a number of small groups of sheep and a couple larger groups.  



The last group that we saw was the largest by far, and also the most interesting to watch.  There were a number of nice sized rams, including a group of four or five who were all jockeying for position in pursuit of one hot little ewe.  :)  

The ram that is sniffing the ewe was obviously the senior ram in the group.  He was always nearest to the ewe.  None of the others really challenged him, they just followed along behind (hoping for a lucky break, I guess).  We did see the younger rams engage in some face-offs and a little (not serious) head-butting among themselves.  
We watched this group for a little while before heading back to the house.  Besides deer (which we see anytime we drive anywhere, even in town), we also got to see a large bull buffalo.  He eyed us up a little, then turned his butt to us and walked off.  We didn’t hang around too long.  The bulls that winter in this area have been known to total vehicles that get a little too close!

We also hunted for a Christmas tree.  Really hunted.  None of that tree-lot, $7 a foot stuff we did last year.  Eight bucks buys you a permit that allows you to cut any tree up to 20 feet tall, and you have literally thousands of acres of trees to select from.  Oh, and if you want a bigger tree than that, you just have to purchase one more permit for every 10 more feet you want.  I think we’re covered.  
It was cold and the forecast called for a chance of snow, so we bundled up good before heading out.  Here’s what it looked like heading up to the mountain.  I didn’t think the weather looked too promising.  

As we drove up the mountain, we drove into a thick fog.  Although it wasn’t snowing at the time, the roads were snowy.  I’m thinking we picked a great day to do this...  Then, suddenly, we drove through the top of the cloud and found blue skies!  The trees were covered with a thick white hoarfrost.  There were deer on every corner.  It was gorgeous!  Just beautiful.





Here’s our tree!  It was about 10’ tall, but we only used the top 7’.  

We saw lots more deer on the way home, too.


Tree's up!

We had Christmas with Grandma & Grandpa while they were here.  The kids were very excited, and they both loved their gifts.  Then it was time for supper!  The elk roast had been in the crock-pot all day and it was tender and delicious.  
All too soon it was time for them to head back home.  We look forward to seeing them again this summer!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Why Laundry Is Like Rabbits

*Multiplication.  Laundry has, in my house at least, an astounding rate of multiplication.  Many times I leave a shirt and a pair of pants alone together in a room and return several hours later to find that they have somehow added to their number a pair of underwear and several mismatched socks.  Left alone for more than a day, they can easily quadruple their numbers.

*Prevalence.  Laundry is always showing up everywhere.  I find socks hiding under the kitchen table and shirts stuffed in the toy bins.  Blankets love to hide in faraway corners.  There is seemingly nowhere that laundry cannot be found.

*Resistance.  Laundry can never be fully eradicated.  Even when I think I have thoroughly scoured the house and turned up every piece of laundry.  Even when I carefully transport all items to the washer while watching for dropped socks.  After all is washed, folded and put away, I settle down onto the couch for a well-deserved break, reach for the remote, and feel the familiar knit of a sock under my fingertips, and I sigh... 

Because:  Laundry is like rabbits.  (but not as cute)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Small Trip On A Snowy Day



It is snowing today.  The sky is grey and you can’t even see the base of the mountains because of the low-lying clouds and falling snow.  I had to make a quick trip with the kids out to the bank and the post office.  It was snowing pretty steadily when we left home, and as we drove through town I caught a whiff of wood smoke and saw bundled up kids walking home from school.  It made me think about hot chocolate and fireplaces and coming in from outside with a frozen nose and hands.  

The atmosphere at the bank was friendly and relaxed, as it usually is at our bank.  The two tellers were in no hurry at all even as more people came in and lined up.  One customer carried in a tiny puppy just to show it off (totally normal at our bank – people are in there with dogs and puppies more often than you might believe).  As I waited for the teller to finish with my deposit, I found myself contemplating whether western bankers would be able to keep a job at an eastern bank or if they’d be let go because they were too slow at processing transactions.  Not that I mind waiting at all – it’s just an observation based on my experiences with both.  In addition to the customary lollipop (which people out here seem to call “suckers” – I am going to have to get used to that), the bank was also offering up cookies today.  The kids each got an M&M cookie from the tray and we made our way back out into the cold.

 Just as soon as it became our turn in line at the post office, my daughter dropped what was left of the cookie she was holding on the floor.  I grabbed it up before she could, intending to trash it.  Of course she instantly started screaming.  Please don’t judge me because I gave it back to her.  I did brush it off a little first.  (I wonder what the lady who was standing behind us in line thought…)  Anyway, we finished our business and got out of there.  (B.U. – If you’re reading this, the key is in the mail now!)  When we got to the car, the cookie was still in hand and looking pretty much untouched since its fall.  Maybe I should have taken it from her then and just endured the protests.  But I did not.  

I found myself contemplating relaxed bank tellers and dropped cookies as I drove us home.  Maybe I was a little too deep in thought, because I stopped at an intersection totally out of habit and not because I had a stop sign.  The SUV going the other direction did have a stop sign and was waiting there dutifully for me to figure out what I was doing.  I muttered something to myself about her having a stop sign and me not having one as I waved her on through, thinking that she was the one not paying attention.  Then was the “DUH” moment when I realized that yes, I was the one WITHOUT the stop sign and SHE was the one WITH the stop sign.  (Wait, didn’t I already say that?  Oops.)  I paid a little more attention to what I was doing after that, even as I felt rather sheepish and found myself contemplating the dumb mistakes that distracted drivers can make.  Oh well.

Since my last post I have finally unpacked the last of the boxes and I have gotten some pictures up on the walls.  To me, having my pictures up on the walls is what makes a place feel like home.  I have heard some say that putting their curtains up does it for them, but for me it is the pictures.  Blank walls just feel very impersonal.  So, that’s it then.  We’re all moved in.  Of course, there are still some areas that need organizing, and we need to find some sort of bed that we can use for guests, but by and large it is done.  

A couple weeks ago we were invited to visit some friends of ours who have been living and working on a ranch out of town.  It was a rather cool and snowy day, so the views weren’t what they could have been, but I wanted to share some of the pictures I took anyway. 
These few were taken on the drive up there…




They live decently far back into the mountains in bear country.  We didn’t see any bears the day we were up there, but they had recently had a pretty close encounter with a 350-lb. grizzly.  Of course, the guys were shooting guns and blowing stuff up while we were there (don’t worry, only rotten pumpkins and dead trees were harmed), which may have hurt our chances a bit.  Apparently, exploding pumpkins are actually quite funny, as evidenced by the gales of laughter coming from our son and his friend (who were safely tucked away in the cab of the truck with the dog).  


After our rather explosive field trip we said hello to the horses and had a quick tour of the barn.  Then we headed inside for a delicious dinner of elk steaks and mashed potatoes.  Here are a few more pictures I took outside their house.  The mountain just behind their place was nearly obscured by the clouds/snow, but you can see a little bit of it.



And finally, a note on an 18-month-old’s creative ingenuity.  Since we moved into the apartment, I bought some plastic place mats for the kids.  Our daughter very quickly learned something interesting about her place mat.  If she wants something on the table that is out of reach, she will push her place mat underneath it and pull it towards her until she can reach it.  Even if this takes multiple tries she does not give up.  She is very persistent.  What this also means is that pretty much nothing on the table is out of her reach, even if she is strapped into her booster seat.  I can’t turn my back on her for a minute or she’ll have pulled my plate over and be eating my food.  Kids - they keep you on your toes, that’s for sure!

But, as you can see from the above, I also do a pretty good job of keeping myself on my toes.
Or off of them.  Whatever.  : )

 “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’” 
- Job 37: 5-6 (NIV)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

We Made It!

Well, it has been quite a while since the last time I wrote a post.  This is due in part to the fact that we don’t have internet service at home yet.  But, mostly it is just because moving is hard work and I'm still recovering!
 
It has been a little over a month now since we packed up, pulled out of the drive and began our journey.  I should begin by saying a BIG THANK YOU to all those who were able to come over and help us out by packing, cleaning or watching the kids (while we packed and cleaned).  We really appreciated all of the help!  A special note of thanks goes to R.S. – who shall henceforth be known as “Master Packer”.  We would have had to leave a lot more things behind if it hadn’t been for your amazing skill in packing the moving truck!  And of course I can’t leave out our families, who were a big help and support to us during this time of transition also.

We spent a long day packing the truck and cleaning the house on a Saturday in late September.  Sunday was a hard day, spent saying our good-byes to family and friends.  Sunday night we slept on the floor in our empty house.  (And it was finally starting to feel like, “Yes, this IS really happening…”).  When we got up on Monday morning we ate breakfast, did a little touch-up cleaning and packed the last-minute stuff in the van and the cab of the truck.  Hubby’s grandparents met us there at the house.  (They had called us a week or two before we were planning to leave and offered to drive out with us.  We couldn’t turn them down!)  We rolled out a little later than we had planned, but with four long days of travel ahead of us I doubt that hour really made much difference.  :)  There were a couple last minute stops at the bank, post office and grocery store before we could finally hit the highway, and then… we were off!

We pulled out in a minivan and a 20-foot moving truck towing a car hauler trailer with our SUV on it.  Four adults, two kids and a dog.  Four days on the road.  We have never taken that long to drive that distance before, and by day three it was starting to feel like we were never going to get there…  Every time we stopped it seemed to take so long.  A "simple" gas-and-potty stop could take over a half an hour till it was all said and done, and meals were worse.  

All in all, though, I cannot complain.  Everything went so smoothly.  We had no mishaps or mechanical issues with any of the vehicles.  (Well, one tiny mishap when the mirror of the moving truck brushed into one of those tall orange pylons they put up at construction areas… but that’s it.)  Thanks to all of those who had our trip covered in prayer!

Now, while we were driving, we still did not know exactly where we were going.  Of course we knew the town we were going to, but we had still not found a place to live.  On our way out, we found out about the possibility of a house that a friend of ours had coming open for rent.  It wasn’t ideal, but we figured it would work temporarily, so we made plans that way.  It wasn’t available until over two weeks after we arrived, so some other friends of ours offered for us to move in with them for the time being.  We also made a call to a friend of ours who has some warehouse space, to see if we could store our things there for a couple weeks (and that worked out as well).  The house we would be renting was 25 miles away from Hubby’s job, it was small (2 bedroom) and it was for sale (so we would really need to be ready to move at a moment’s notice if they got an offer on it).

After we got to C-Town we moved our things off the truck and into the warehouse.  We returned the truck (thankfully the broken mirror was covered by our insurance).  We got settled in at our friends place.  We took Hubby’s grandparents to the airport after they had a day to do some sightseeing.  Then we all got colds and the dog stuck her nose in a wasp nest.  Hmph.

A day or two later, after further consideration, we decided to call our friend and back out of the house deal.  We did the calculations and found that it was going to cost us far too much in fuel for Hubby to travel that distance back and forth to work every day.  So, we started searching for something else much closer to Hubby’s work.  We ended up finding a reasonably priced three bedroom apartment just a few doors down from Hubby’s work.  After we applied for it, it took about a week and a half before we were approved and could move in.    

We moved into our apartment in early to mid October.  It is pretty nice – ground floor, three bedrooms, 1000 sq.ft., big windows, clean.  There is enough space for us, but we do still have quite a few things in storage (mostly all stuff that we would ordinarily store in a garage or shed).  Our son was insistent that he wanted to share a room with his sister, which we agreed to.  The third bedroom is a large room, and is now part office, part storage room and part guest bedroom (anyone wanna come visit?).  This arrangement is actually working out really well, and it makes it feel like we have a lot more space.  I am still not used to apartment living.  It still unnerves me to hear someone walking around upstairs, although I am slowly getting used to it.  It sure is an adjustment to get used to hearing other people at all hours of the day and night.  Our building only has three other apartments in it, so it is not a lot of noise.  We mostly just hear the guy upstairs.  It is just interesting… usually if you get up to use the bathroom at 4am, you don’t have to think about waking your neighbors up – but there has been more than once that I have found myself awake in the middle of the night because I heard some noise from upstairs.  I guess eventually I’ll stop hearing it.  Although today he was vacuuming and it was so loud you would have thought he was IN our apartment!  Also, something about it makes me feel like I’m living in a hotel.  I’m sure going to be eager to move into a house whenever that time comes!  As far as location goes, we are in a nice spot.  Hubby walks to work every day.  We have two nice parks where the kids can play outside within a short walk from our door.  There is also easy access to two different sets of hiking/walking trails right in our neighborhood, and we are within walking distance of downtown.  And, of course, we have some pretty nice mountain views right outside our door.  

Perhaps the biggest downside to our place is the fact that it is “no pets”.  As I mentioned before, we did bring our dog with us.  We’ve had her for six years now, and we were just sure that we’d be able to find a place where we could keep her.  We really tried.  There is really not much at all available here that is pet-friendly.  Our son was really sad that we were going to be moving into a place where we couldn’t keep her with us (like, tears-sad), which made us feel even worse about it.  We have some good friends who are allowing us to keep her at their place (in their outdoor kennel) for the time being.  We’ll have to see what happens with that.  We don’t look forward to moving again anytime soon, but if we were able to find a place that is dog-friendly after our lease is up on this place….  If we end up staying here for much over a year, though, we will probably try to find her a new home.

Hubby started his job just a few days after we arrived and it has been going great.  He is enjoying his job and he likes the people that he works with.  We are going to need some additional income to be able to meet budget, though, so please be praying for that. 

We are attending the same church that we worked with after we first got married.  We have enjoyed catching up with old friends and making new ones.  Hubby has preached twice so far, filling in for the pastor while he’s out of town.  At this point, we do not have any official position at the church.  Hubby just helps out as requested with prayer, communion, preaching, etc.  He has also started playing on the worship team.

One exciting thing that happened recently was a (very) unplanned visit from my brother and sister-in-law.  They were actually out doing a tour of the southwest (Arizona and Utah, mostly) for a vacation.  Then Hurricane Sandy hit and they ended up stuck in Las Vegas when their flight was cancelled.  The next flight they got wasn’t until almost a week later.  We offered that they could come and stay with us, but it was a long drive and they were considering going out to California to see Yosemite, so we were quite surprised when they called on Monday morning and said they were headed our way!  They arrived very late on Monday night and stayed for two days before leaving on Thursday morning.  We were very happy to have them!  We all really enjoyed having them here and were sad to see them go.  We hope their next visit can be a little longer! 

Hubby’s parents are planning to come out in mid-December, and his sister wants to come in January or February.  So we are eagerly anticipating their visits!

Well, what can I say to sum this post up?  I guess I’ll just say this:  It is good to be here.  That doesn’t mean that it is always easy to be away from our family and friends back East (it isn’t).  That doesn’t mean that we don’t have any difficulties in our lives right now (we do).  It certainly doesn’t mean that things are perfect here (they aren’t).  It is good to be here because we know this is where we are supposed to be.  This feels like home.  God led us here and He isn’t going to let us down.  We will do our best to walk forward with courage, to stand tall, and to be faithful in what God has called us to.  And as always, we appreciate your prayer support.

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does."
-James 1: 22-25

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fast-Tracked

You've heard the saying...
"Sometimes God says 'yes'.  Sometimes God says 'no'.  And sometimes God says 'not yet'."

And sometimes God says, "Were you serious?"

(me):  "Wait.  What?"

(God):  "Were you serious when you said you would 'maintain readiness'?"

(me):  "Uh...  yes...?"

(God):  "Well, saddle up!"

Monday, 11:30pm - Tuesday, 11:30am.  Twelve hours.  That's how long it took for us to go from "hold" to "go"!  We are still reeling a bit...  Excited.  Nervous.  Happy.  Sad.  Answers!  Questions...  Here's how it all went down:

Monday evening - Hubby had a meeting at church with the leadership team, which was concluded with prayer.  During the prayer time Hubby felt that he needed to bless the church as he left.  He remembered some words that his grandfather had spoken to him months ago.  "If you bless the church as you leave, God will bless you."  So, he prayed a prayer of blessing over the church and the leadership team.  An hour or less after he got home from his meeting his phone rang.  It was a friend from C-Town.  "Are you still interested in moving out here?  I think I've got a job for you!"  He went on to describe the job a bit.  It was an open position at his workplace - in the hospital.  Hubby was interested, so the friend said he would speak with his boss on Tuesday morning.  We were a bit stunned.  Hubby had prayed specifically that a job in the hospital would open up for him if we were supposed to move out there.  He had even applied there (for a different position) a couple months ago, but had not heard anything.  Could this be the open door we were waiting for?  What of our current plans?  What was God DOING? 

Tuesday morning - Hubby's last day at the church.  He cleaned out his office and was home just before lunchtime.  He was still bringing boxes in from the car when his phone rang.  It was the friend's boss.  "Hey, are you still interested in coming to work for us?"  In a word...  "YES!"  (Some discussion ensued.)  "Your friend gave you a great recommendation.  I have your application here.  I'd like to offer you the job.  I'll send the paperwork over to HR and get a salary worked up for you."  He said he'd get back to us later in the week.

Wow!  Hubby is so excited - he was on the phone pretty much the rest of the week calling friends and family to let them in on this big development.  We've been listening for words of caution and warning flags, wanting to be sure of ourselves, but everyone has been excited for us and very encouraging.  Of course there is some sadness on the part of our local friends and family, and on our part too.  We'll miss everyone here, but we can't really ignore something like this!  God is in the details!  We can see His hand in the way everything is coming together perfectly.  A few weeks prior, Hubby had prayed that God would open up a job in the C-Town Hospital if we were supposed to move there.  Now this!

Later in the week - We didn't hear anything back, so Hubby called him on Thursday or Friday.  As it turns out, he can't officially offer the job until it has been listed on their website for a full week.  We are feeling confident, and I have been moving forward with packing, but here we are waiting again!  :)  We have been checking into moving companies and rental trucks - pricing things out and trying to determine our best course of action as far as that goes.  We've been looking for rental houses online.  I gave notice to the ministry I work for and Hubby gave notice to the construction company he's working for.

Waiting....

Monday (today) - It has been two full weeks since this all started, although it seems like just yesterday.  It has been a whirlwind.  On Friday we got an email from the hospital with the starting wage for the position, which was just a little bit less than what we had been hoping for, but it should be doable.  And today the starting date was confirmed.  We have just two weeks to pack and get everything in order here and say our goodbyes.  We are still praying for God to provide a place for us to live in C-Town and the finances for the move.

While this job and this move are what we have been praying for, I must admit that my emotions now are much different than they were when I started typing this post a week and a half ago.  Reality is setting in... and it is overwhelming.  I'm sure this is quite normal, but even knowing that doesn't make me feel much better.  There is so much to be done that I'm quite sure I can't do it all!  I should make a list to help me organize.  However, when I think about everything that needs to go on the list - I am sure that writing it all down will make me panic!  The kids are in tune with the changes and (dare I say) my attitude as well.  I can tell because their behavior has collectively been so atrocious these last weeks that it has been incredibly difficult for me to get anything significant accomplished during the day.  *sigh*  God, give me the strength... (and the patience!).

I will try to update here if I can - if I have the time!  But there is a distinct possibility that the next time I sit down to write a post that I will be sitting down in front of a computer in C-Town.  Still seems a little unreal...

As always we appreciate your prayers.

"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you..."
-Psalm 55: 22a (NIV 1984)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On Hold

I am not exactly an enthusiastic flyer.  I typically endure take-off, landing and any bumpiness in between with clenched teeth, prayers and by squeezing my hubby's hand until he loses feeling in his fingers.  A good dose of anti-nausea medication doesn't hurt, either!

While I don't enjoy most aspects of flying, there are some that are decidedly less pleasant than others.  For example, I hate when you've nearly arrived at your destination but are forced to circle above the airport and wait to land.  For one reason or another your plane has been placed in a holding pattern.  How frustrating is that?  You are so nearly right where you want to be, but you are forced to wait until you recieve clearance from the tower to land and get on with your plans!

Can you see where this is going?

Yeah...  We are the plane.  But in this case it's not all bad.

It has been a month and a half since we felt that God was calling us to move to C-Town and work with a church there.  Right away we decided that we needed to pray and ask God for the following three things before we made the move:  a job, a place to live and the finances for the move.  Since that time we've been actively pursuing item #1 (job).  Hubby has been calling contacts in the area to spread the word that he's looking for work, calling businesses to inquire about openings and filling out applications.  So far, nothing has opened up for us.  In addition to this, we've been hit with several big bills recently (and are still expecting some more), so the finances are definately not there yet. 

We felt the call.  We still feel it.  But we've been placed in a holding pattern - waiting for clearance.

Hubby has less than two weeks remaining at his current position at this point.  Two weeks ago he got a call about a job from an old friend of his who owns a construction company near here.  Last week he met with the guy and interviewed for a position.  The terms were good, so he took the job.  We were both relieved and puzzled at the same time.  He needed a job.  Obviously we weren't going to make it with next to no income.  And this job sounds like it will be decently good for us.  However, we feel confused about things because, well, we don't know what God is up to.  We were pretty sure that our next move would be to a job and home in C-Town.  Now, we are making the move to a job in this area, and we will also be looking for a new house to live in around here.  (The house we currently rent is a bit too far from the new job and also a bit too expensive.)  This will be our fifth move in seven years.  To say I'm getting a bit tired of packing and unpacking would be an understatement.  Although, I will admit that it seems to get a bit easier every time.  I pretty much know how to pack every item I've got into a box without it breaking.  I know what fits well in boxes together.  And, I've greatly reduced the amout of clutter we have in our home!  Every time we move I throw out, give away or sell a great deal of stuff.  I've always been a person who likes to hang on to nearly everything because of sentimental value, but I have learned to let go!  There are things that I just don't value enough to pack up and move anymore.

We don't know how long we'll be "on hold".  It could be as little as two or three months to as long as a year or even more.  Sometimes I feel a little frustrated about this, but I'm trying not to be.  After all, God's timing is always the best timing and we don't want to jump into anything before the way is prepared for us.  Hubby and I are united in our feelings about moving to C-Town... and about waiting.  While we feel anxious and ready to go, we also feel content about waiting.  God has provided a good job for us while we wait and we are confident that he'll also provide affordable housing.  While we are here, hubby can continue with the college course he is taking without the hassle of doing it long-distance.  We also will continue to make the most of every opportunity we have to spend with our family and friends.  I can continue on with the ministry I am employed with for the time being.  We can give our kids the opportunity to enjoy some of the same things that we enjoyed while growing up in this area.  Additionally, we are feeling led to attend a certain church.  We are excited about the opportunity to make some new friends and take a bit of a break from pastoral ministry.  We need to slow down and relax for a little while and spend some time just being a family.  The kids don't get to see enough of their dad right now.  We also need to improve our financial situation.

So, yeah, a lot of mixed emotions right now. 

Therefore, I've come up with some "Strategies for Surviving the Wait."

1) Be Content.  Live in the moment and focus on the positive aspects of waiting (see above).

2) Be Patient.  Don't get ahead of God.  Trust Him.

3) Be Flexible.  Stay open to changes and don't get stuck in a rut.  (This is a hard one for me!  I like a steady routine.)

4) Grow in Relationship with God.  Prayer, devotions, healthy church life...  Stay in constant communication with Him.

5) Stay Assured of the Call.  Don't doubt.

6) Maintain Readiness.  Don't get too comfortable in the current circumstances.  Be ready to go when He says "go".

7) Be Teachable.  Use every opportunity to learn from this experience.

I'll be referring back to this post frequently, I am sure.

As we head into the final days before we begin making the big transitions, we would appreciate your prayers.  Goodbyes are never easy.  We've made some good friends at our current church and we'll miss them.  Our son is old enough now to have some real concerns about changing churches and getting a new house.  Our daughter isn't affected by it yet.  At 16 months old, she does not understand what we're talking about when we say that we are going to move.  However, I know that she is a girl that likes her routines and familiar surroundings, so it will be interesting to see how she reacts.  Of course we'll all adjust - there's just questions about how smoothly it will all go...  Through it all we will look for God to sustain us.  We are excited about the future and the possibilities!

"We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you."
-Psalm 33: 20-22 (NIV)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Perspective

Recently my husband attended a weekend youth group retreat at a cabin several hours from our home.  He was a driver for the group and was using his vehicle.  He was also sharing and leading worship for the weekend.  We said good-bye to him on Friday around lunch time, and as part of our good-bye we said a short prayer for safety and that he would drive carefully and have a good weekend, etc. 
What followed was a long weekend for me - dealing with sick kids and little sleep.  Both the kids came down with Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, with symptoms beginning to show on Friday night just hours after daddy had gone.  (I'll spare you the details.)  So we muddled through the rest of the weekend looking forward to 6:00pm on Sunday when daddy was supposed to get home. 
Then, Sunday afternoon around 4:30, I get a call from my husband.  "We broke down near the city.  I don't know when I'll be home."  I want to know whose car it was.  I was hoping it wasn't OUR car, since he didn't say "I broke down..."  But it was.  Bummer.  More than bummer, I am mad.  I didn't deal with this well - I'll admit it.  After the ridiculous weekend I just had I am tired and frustrated and I just want my husband HOME and I don't want to even THINK about spending money to tow a car and have it fixed at a garage an hour away from home and then having to find time to drive up there and get it... 
After I got off the phone with him my three-year-old son came over to me and asked when daddy would be home.  I told him that daddy's car was broken, so he wouldn't be home for a while.  He questioned me about daddy's car and what was wrong with it for several minutes.  I tried to explain, but I could tell he wasn't really understanding.  I paused and looked into his face.  He looked a little confused, and like the wheels were really turning in his head.  Then he said (in a questioning sort of way), "We prayed for daddy to be careful."  Wow.  I was floored.  I didn't expect that.  He had been so concerned about the mechanics of the situation - WHY isn't daddy's car working? - that I never considered he'd be thinking about that short, simple prayer we'd had on Friday afternoon.  (I know I wasn't thinking about it at that point...)  "Aww, buddy..."  I gave him a hug and tried to reassure him that daddy had been careful, but the problem with the car was beyond his control.  Then I offered to him that he could pray for daddy to get home safely with no more problems and that the car wouldn't be hard to get fixed, which he did.  Then he ran off to play.
This got me thinking about perspective.  His, as a child, versus mine, as an adult. 
While his comment forced me to look at the situation differently and grounded me a little bit, I still needed to calm down some more.  I was kinda praying/kinda just talking to God about things.  I was expressing my frustrations, mostly.  I mentioned the fact that I was upset that the car would be so far away and I just wanted it to be home so it would be somewhat easier to deal with.  I wasn't mad at God, but I did express to Him how mad I was about the situation.  And I wasn't really being mature.  Because, let's face it, cars break down from time to time.  It happens to everyone.  I was overreacting.  Eventually I calmed down, but I was still irritated.
Then my mom called.  "Have you talked to your husband lately?"  No, I hadn't.  "A guy from your church is driving up with a car hauler and bringing your car back to your house.  Your dad and I are going to get our extra car and bring it down to your house so your husband has a car to drive for work."  Oh.  I was humbled.  I said a thank you to God.  I also said I'm sorry for throwing a fit.  Then I made a mental note to bake that friend from church a plate of cookies!
Don't you know God loves us?  I was both humbled and blessed by this answer to a prayer I hadn't really prayed.  In some ways, I felt like I should have been reprimanded for my stunning display of immaturity and apparent lack of faith, but instead all I felt in that moment was the mercy of a loving God who knew me and understood me and chose to extend His favor to me despite my imperfections.  The car isn't fixed yet (in fact, it is in the transmission shop - needs a rebuild), but at least dealing with the problem hasn't been as difficult or as stressful as it could have been. 
Perspective.  A three-year-old's versus an adult's versus God's.  A child takes things at face value - simple and uncomplicated.  As adults, our perspective has matured with age and has been shaped, at least in part, by the experiences we have gone through.  We may think we have it all figured out.  That our perspective is the most accurate.  However, we do tend to overcomplicate things many times (I know I do), and the experiences that have shaped our perspective weren't always positive, so we don't always get it right.  God's perspective is the ultimate.  He sees the beginning and the end of every situation at the same time.  If I can remember that as I go through my daily life, it should give me some comfort.  Even though I don't know what is ahead, God does.  And He will be there for me through all of it.
It is good for me to remind myself of that frequently, especially considering our current situation.  My husband now has only one month left at his current position, and we still don't know for sure what we're going to be doing after that.  We are considering and praying about a certain town.  We have even recieved several confirmations toward that end.  We still need several things to happen before we go ahead and call the moving company, so we're praying for those things to come through if that's where God wants us to serve (and that they don't if He has something else in mind for us).  This particular option would require another cross-country move away from our families, so we want to be extra sure of our decision. 
Ahhh... life.  A constant adventure that keeps us totally dependent upon God - for breath, for provision, for sanity...
"Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. 
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."
-Psalm 62: 5-8 (NIV)