We closed on our house. Or rather, we gave away our house. Well, ok, we sold our house. It felt like we gave it away though. It was a little difficult leaving our realtor's office. The buyers were not there because it was a dry closing and the buyers actually live out of state. I think that was best as then there were no tears. It was a huge weight lifted off our shoulders yet a little sad. Well, quite sad. Not because of the house itself, but because of all our neighbors and the kids' friends. That's the hardest thing of all. My friend Shannon was in my driveway and she had made a comment about how it was too bad we had to sell our beautiful home. Then I said, "it's just a house." Then she said, "that's true, I would live in a cardboard box if it meant that I could have my children back." Oh my gosh! Talk about a reality check. I will NEVER forget that comment. That's what you call real perspective. She has lost the ultimate things - her children. This is JUST a house for crying out loud! It's a material possession. Whenever I start to get down I just think about her and her two beautiful children. Yes, they are with Jesus. But that doesn't really make it that much easier when faced with waking up each day without them.
We're moving into my parents house, it's not ready, my sister is getting married this weekend and I'm going crazy! Since the basement is not finished, all of us are sleeping in the guest bedroom upstairs. We also share a bathroom with my aunt. And since my sister is getting married and we'll all need to get ready I'm wondering how this is going to work!
Moving into my parents house is not without it's challenges but also it's not without it's blessings.
Philippians 4:4 - 9 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Oh man...do I have to rely on this passage. I need to be thankful for everything and not to worry about anything. God has provided us with a home. What more can I ask for? And to think that I'm worried about how we're all going to shower and where we're all going to sleep. Such trivial things!
I don't have an electronic journal of the rest of our story. So, now I'll have to retype and write what I remember. We didn't have our computer hooked up for a few months after we moved in.
The kids had to switch schools and this was tough on Mitchell. Mackenzie had no problem and she even brought home a new friend on her first day! With his sensory integration disorder, Mitchell has a more difficult time transitioning. We have been praying that the kids would be blessed with good Christian teachers. And God answered our prayers. The funny thing is that Mackenzie usually LOVES her teachers and they her. But this year her 5th grade teacher was not a nice lady and there definitely was no connection there. This was a blessing because it made it much easier for Mackenzie to leave. And her new teacher is wonderful. Mitchell's teacher is amazing! I had told her in an email what a blessing she was and she recognized that I worked at a church and told us how she prayed for Mitchell and felt blessed to have him in her class! What a gift from God.
In the months to come after we moved in, there were many tears. You see, my parent's house is a very dark place. My dad is an alcoholic and he's in a deep state of depression. He goes to work, he drinks and he sits in front of the tv. That's really pretty much it. That's his life. My kids walked around on egg shells as to not bother grandpa. Not once did he play with him, say a kind word to them or ever hug them. They fear him. It was very sad. Of course, because we were living in his home and he was after all blessing us, we just tried to stay out of his way. Many nights I cried and prayed asking God why He would have us living here. It was very dysfunctional and very scary. My dad treats my mom very poorly and it brought back many sad childhood memories. I know my dad loves my mom and us. I know he's a good man and he definitely would give the shirt off his back for anyone. He did completely finish their basement so we would have a place to live. But my dad lives in darkness. He's trapped by his illness and he doesn't know Jesus.
The light...we are to be the light. These are some of the scriptures that helped us get through this trying time.
Psalm 4:6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?" Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.
Psalm 18:28 You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
Psalm 43:3 Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.
Psalm 89:15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.
We love you Lord we love you, we love you Lord! We know that we are called to be the salt and the light. We are called to live a Christ centered life. Even in the midst of darkness. No, especially in the midst of darkness.
During this time, for a short time, Dave became very depressed. He was feeling like a failure. He was coming under attacks and believing lies from the enemy. This became very scary for me because all along both Dave and I had always been believing God and that this was His plan for us. Our faith was strong. When Dave sat and told me that he was giving up on God, it felt like the ground was crumbling underneath me. Dave was my rock. He is the spiritual head of our household. He was beginning to turn his back on the Lord. It was the most awful part of this journey. He had no hope at this time. He wouldn't even take communion when we were at church and that really scared me! I was so concerned that I called my boss. He's a pastor, he's Dave's mentor as well. He called Dave and they met. I also began praying for God to place godly bold men in Dave's life to set him back on that path. And of course, our God did that. Every day someone was calling Dave for lunch, to pray with him, to give him encouragement, and just to check in on him. I didn't call one of them. Dave even asked me what I was up to. I had to tell him the truth...I turned to our Father! As quickly as he went into that state of "depression", he came back out and we got back on our rock! What a great place to be...standing on the rock of our Lord!
I have asked to be full time and my boss is trying to make that happen. Not right now is the answer and so we wait.
Meanwhile it had been over 5 months since Dave took the job at Avodah. He still had not received a paycheck. We were not getting any closer to paying off our debt and getting a place of our own. We began seeking God's will and asking what next? Dave started to send out resumes again. After a couple of weeks, he started to get some interviews. Before we knew it he had 2 job offers on the table. One offer was from a heating and air conditioning company. It was a great offer and would provide financially for our family. The other offer was half the money and it was with a non-profit. It was a job in the inner city (Dave's dream) and it would be helping men. Some coming out of prison and some homeless. It was an offer to work at Midwest Challenge. So, we're driving and Dave asks, "what should I do?" And of course, I tell him it's a no brainer! And he looks at me all puzzled and says, "well, what?" I laughed. :) Of course you need to take the job at Midwest Challenge I say! He can't believe it! Really he shouts? Of course, I say! We've been down the road of money. We've seen where that takes us. Now, we need to choose the road that God wants us on. I've never seen him so relieved and so happy. It's not about the money!!!! We're free of that!!! We no longer serve that master. Living with my parents gave us that opportunity. We now could dictate our lives and our means instead of it dictating us.
I can't tell you what a pivotal moment that was in our lives. It was a test I'm sure. Of course both of those job offers came at the very same time. Both in the same day. Who else would orchestrate such an event as that one? What was the test? Why would God test us? Or allow us to be tested? He had brought us to our knees. Now He was going to give us the choice to choose. We had to choose to continue to serve Him. God does not force us to do anything. He has given us the free will to choose.
I have learned many things over the past few months. One of them is best told through this scripture: Matthew 6:19 - 20 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."
I truly get it now! Our time on this earth is short and temporary. We will live for eternity in heaven. I want to have my treasure there...waiting for me. It no longer matters to me how much money we have. It no longer matters to me where we live. I mean of course, my "flesh" wants to have nice things, but I can honestly say that I will live and I will do what God asks of me. At least I hope I will.
God continues to work on our pride and humility.
Dave accepted the job at Midwest Challenge. We received a gift from Avodah. What a blessing that was. He's so excited. It's funny how God works, because if Dave would've taken the job as the president of MWC back in June, he would be overseeing the business and responsible for bringing in money. But now with this job he actually gets to work with the guys. That is where his heart is.
It's Christmas time and of course, we still don't have much money. Dave won't receive his first paycheck until January. We won't be buying a bunch of gifts like we usually do. I just love Christmas time and I just love buying gifts. I love taking the time to figure out what people really love and what they want. Now is the time for us to teach our children what Christmas is really about. It's about Jesus.
We got a call from the church to be a part of the Adopt-A-Family program. What happens is that people adopt a family to purchase presents for. This was really awkward and we didn't know if we should do it. But it didn't take long for us to realize that this was a gift and it would bless our children. Well, a couple weeks later we got a call from the church that said two families had adopted us and one of them had left the gifts and we could go pick them up. They wanted to remain anonymous. Then the next day we got a call from the other family. They wanted to meet us and give us our gifts. What?! They want to meet us? I was not ok with this. I was very uncomfortable, but quickly I realized that this was my problem and I was still full of pride. We agreed to meet them at church before one of the services. They asked us a little bit about our story and it was just really uncomfortable. I can't quite describe it. I know that God was developing my character through this. And I know that it was about pride. But also, I learned what a blessing it is to be an anonymous donor! We can take our victory and award here on earth or we can get it in heaven. Not that everything should be about an award, that's not what I'm saying. What I am saying is that God knows our hearts and He sees everything we do. I want to get to heaven and have Him say to me, "Well done good and faithful servant." I want His blessings. Like as a child when we do something for our parents, often we wait for their approval. Also, I'm not saying that everything we do should be anonymous. Like when my sister and Scott gave us that $1000. That was a time when it was a blessing to know that it came from them. It was so much more meaningful to know the story and how they came up with the 10 - $100 bills. But one day, I would love to be able to put a $1000 cashiers check in some one's mailbox and walk away without them knowing! How cool.
We got an offer to move into a house and pay 1/3 of the mortgage. But right now, we don't have that money and I don't feel like we're being released from my parent's house. So, as good of an opportunity that is, we will stay where we are. Now is the time of learning to hear God's voice. We really press in when we are presented with choices and ask Him what we should do. We pray that we make the right choice.
I still am not able to go full time at work. I would love to have the benefits as the cost for benefits through Dave's job are astronomical! $1400/month right now. Wow! It's a blessing that we're living with my parents so we can save.
We continue to make our way through this time in our lives. We wait on God to show us where we go. We are spending time at Dave's parent's house on the weekends and we stay at a hotel once in a while to take the kids swimming and get out of my parent's house. This gives them much needed breaks as well. I'm sure it's been hard for them having us there. They go from having a quiet house to themselves to a house full of an additional family of 6. And it's anything but quiet with 4 kids. I thank you Lord for my parents and their generosity. It's been great spending time with my mom.
Mitchell has made so much progress at his new school it's unbelievable. We had tried many things with him and had tried to not go the medication route, but now it is so clear that this is what Mitchell needed. After years of Occupational Therapy and Sensory Diets we had reached our potential with those and Mitchell was falling farther and farther behind academically. That was another blessing for Mitchell's new teacher. Of course by law she could not say anything about ADHD or medication and she didn't. But when I asked her opinion she did give me some great advice. And I believe that God spoke through her. Since starting on medication Mitchell has met almost all of his goals. He has advanced a whole grade with his reading. He actually enjoys doing his homework now! Wow! Before it was tears from the moment the papers came out of his folder. He was struggling so much. The first night he came home from school after starting his meds, he took out a 90 page academic workbook and did the WHOLE thing!!! His teacher couldn't believe it and emailed us that day telling how dedicated we were. But the thing is...we didn't even know until I "caught" him at 11:00 at night doing it! Anyways...yet another way God has provided for our needs and those of our children.
We are starting to look for a place to live. We feel like our time at my parent's house is coming to an end. My mom has tried to talk us into staying for another year, but there's just no way.
We've found a few houses that we really like. For now, we'll have to rent. At first we were thinking we could afford $1500/month. Then we found one that we loved and we were really close to signing the papers. That one was $1750/month. God clearly told me to do our budget before we signed. So, I did. I took all our expenses and factored in our savings and tithing. Guess what? We can afford $1200/month! Wow! We are not going back there again by allowing our home to dictate what we NEED to make. No way! So, the search begins.
After looking at houses, duplexes, apartments, town homes, etc. it's exhausting. It's really hard too. Because $1200 doesn't get you much where we want to live. We finally found a very small, but CLEAN duplex that we were going to rent. I tell Susan about this place and she questions if this is the place for us. It's super small and there's no basement but I tell her that I'm good with it and we'll make it work. We go to sign the lease and we're talking about our dog. The guy says you have a dog? Well ya. We assumed he knew because we have never even checked out a place unless it said pets allowed. But then we realize that this wasn't online or in the paper. We were driving by and saw a sign. Then we're righting down our children and he doesn't realize that we have 3 instead of 2. Because only our 2 youngest children were with us when we came to look at the place. Really I tell him we have 4 children, but only 3 will be living her. Now he decides he needs to think about this. :( I'm bummed. And I go into work the next day and tell Susan and she says "PRAISE GOD!". What?!?! I say, "no...this place was good. It was clean and we really are ok with it." Then she says "God's got more for you. I just know it. I've been praying that He would put up obstacles so that you would not move into that place." I just couldn't believe it. Now what? Back to searching which I was not looking forward to.
I then went into our staff meeting and sat at a table with Janee. Susan sat down with us and I was telling Janee what she did. Janee then tells me that she knows someone who needs someone to live in their house for 7 months while they travel around the world. Within a few hours I'm on the phone with this person. I tell her...we can pay $1200/month, we have 4 children and we have a dog. She says she'll need to talk to her husband about the dog. They were planning on renting their house for $2000 but knowing who's living there is worth the money. She asks me to stop by and look at the house. Oh my gosh! It's beautiful. It's on a lake with it's own private beach, a hot tub, a game room, a beautiful office/loft with the most gorgeous view, 3 fireplaces, and a bedroom to die for. Does God have more for me? I'd say so. We move into there and have so much fun. All the while wondering why we are being blessed like this or if this is just a cruel joke to tease us?
A now know that again, God was testing us. He was testing us for our obedience. He was testing us for our character. He was testing us for our hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 says"The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be."
God knows the condition of our heart. I believe that He knew that we were truly ok with living in a small place out of obedience. It's like the story of Abraham and how he was willing to sacrifice his son. When God knew that he really would do it, he sent an angel to tell him he didn't need to sacrifice his son. Our hearts were right. Then we were blessed with 7 months in an amazing house. God is so faithful. He knows our desires, our wants, and our needs. Throughout this entire journey I have known that. I've had complete peace with every decision we've made...when it's been the right one.
One day in our staff meeting, one of our pastors announced that he was leaving. They were being called to the east coast. God had already prepared me for that and I wasn't surprised. While he was speaking I felt as though we were supposed to move into his house. Strange. In the next month, we talked about this. But they were leaving at the end of December and we were to be in our house until March 15. They decided they would try to sell their house and so we had put that on the back burner. Fast forward to the end of January and we are now looking to find a house. We were exploring many options but I just had no desire to even look for a house. I continued to have this feeling that it was supposed to be this pastor's house. We called them again and they had not sold the house yet. And they were not officially planning to move out of the house until the end of February. Which meant they needed someone to move into the house in March! No way! God you're funny! At that moment I knew our search was over and it was indeed to be this house. Now many things had to take place and we were heavily in prayer. You can read here for more details about that. Basically, I needed to go full-time at my job. Not so much for the pay increase but for the benefits. If things stayed status quo, we would not be able to afford this house. You see, once again I had done our budget after Dave got a raise and we were still short. Of course if you read about the details just above by clicking on that link you'll see how God provided.
When I was talking to the pastor on the phone and he said we could go look at the house before we decided, I said no. I had no need to go look at the house. I knew this is where God wanted us and it didn't matter what it looked like. You might be thinking "Really?" and I would say "YES!". I had such peace about this house that I had no need to go look at it first. We signed the papers before I looked at it. Now I will say that I had been in there house years ago but had never seen the whole thing. And it was before they did some remodeling. So, I knew that the house wasn't a run down dump, but I had no idea how beautiful it was and how big it was! When we did finally go see it, I was floored! In case you didn't read this post, here's a look into our new home.
These are some key scriptures that we have been standing on.
Matthew 6:32-33 “Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.
Luke 12:15 – Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own.
Ecclesiastes 7:14 – When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.
God desires for us to live in abundance. Here and now! Does abundance mean being rich? Absolutely! Rich with love and rich with obedience and most of all rich with his character! Money is not what it is about. The world would tell you so, but not in God's Kingdom. If you struggle with money, let me know. You can remain annonymous if you would like and then I won't post your comment. I know that God has called Dave and I to help others through this struggle. And I will continue to remain obedient in that call.
What does life look like now for us? We both continue to help the needy and homeless. Now, our hearts are different. Dave continues to love his job and MWC and I love mine as well. Recently, I got to lead our church in an amazing service project. We made 40,000 sandwiches to feed the poor and the homeless! How cool is that? That is the God that I serve. Even within my own job He blesses me with opportunities to help those I feel called to help.
I pray that this is an encouragement to you no matter what your struggle is.
I leave you now with my final verse which sums up the past 2 years of our lives:
Philippians 4:12 – I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I pray all this for all of you! Bless you!