Saturday, October 25, 2014

Counting on Your Prayers

Yesterday John had us start the day by each saying one thing we are grateful for. That was a good exercise because it’s easy to grumble and complain during transition when nothing is familiar or comfortable. Today I am thankful for those of you who are praying for us and want to solicit your prayers for, not just our family, but also the other five families in our house church.

Here are some details, using only first initials:

Family #1: D recently bought a piece of land with trailers occupied by renters, one of whom D found dead, apparently from a heart attack. D’s family has been busy cleaning out that house and dealing with the emotions of the situation. They are also working to get a new renter into the house, as they need the income.

Family #2: E’s son and our youngest were found playing on Highway 199 in front of The Gem. Thank God traffic had been temporarily stopped a couple of miles up the road for an unrelated issue. Our whole group was shaken and took the matter very seriously. A fence has already been built around the Gem playground. Also, just two nights ago during a Bible study, E got a text from her neighbor that E’s husband had a seizure causing him to fall and bust his head open. He is currently doing OK, but they don’t know what caused it.

Family #3: D was just diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing a very painful treatment. She has four children and is understandably very concerned.

Family #4: M just delivered her fourth baby after a stressful week of erratic labor. Also, we are living in this family’s back yard in a travel trailer.

Family #5: L shared at our last meeting that her husband is not at all interested in meeting with any church that requires more than one hour on Sunday morning. She added that she may not believe what she has learned in our Bible studies anyway.

I should also note that we are talking about new Christians, and four of the families represented here have a spouse that is not a Christian. So, as you pray for our group, please pray first and foremost that God will use whatever is happening to strengthen the faith of the young Christians and bring those who don't know Him to Jesus. We are experiencing a great deal of upheaval and uncertainty but we are sure God sees the future and hears our prayers. Thank you for joining us; we are counting on it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

First Night in the Trailer

Last night was the first night we spent in our new, albeit temporary, home. As travel trailers go, this is about the nicest one we've ever seen, and we are thankful. Andy and Ben slept on the pull-out couch with their new dinosaur bedding. (Sorry, Grandma, we had to give them their Christmas presents early, as we're a little short on storage space right now.) 
Jonah got his own "room", but he only gets to keep his door closed when nobody needs the bathroom. He spent the evening building a Lego set he bought with birthday money. 
We've moved most of the big things out of the house but still have all the little stuff that ends up taking more time to sort through than it's worth. Thank you for praying for our family. This has been a very challenging time. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Preparing to Leave

We met our new friends Michael and Mandy this spring, and today we're moving into a travel trailer in their back yard.

At the end of April a petite and quite fit pregnant woman introduced herself to me in the group class auditorium at The Gem. She had just hired our family for a pet sitting gig over the phone, by way of the "Jonah's Pet Sitting" flyer on the bulletin board. Our boys enjoyed their three tail-waggers while they were on vacation, but our relationship didn't end there. Mandy and her family had us to their house for dinner and presently took part in our Sunday church meetings and weekly Bible studies. We found out that she too had recently lost her mother to a terminal illness. There was an immediate connection.

Mandy, her husband Michael, and their three young children have become a comfort and a joy to our family. Their willingness to learn and respond to God's will for their lives is a great encouragement. And they're not the only ones. There are four other families we are watching transform before our very eyes. Though God has done truly amazing things in the lives of this vibrant group we call our house church, we have been very distracted by our own precarious circumstances. You see, September 16th was the probate hearing for my mother's will, which transferred ownership of my mother's property to my brother and me and put us equally in charge of finalizing her affairs and distributing her assets. It was a relief in that John and I thought this difficult chapter was over; we thought it had finally come to an end and was time for grieving and looking ahead. The enemy had other plans.

My brother, who John baptized in November, made a very disturbing phone call to me just days after the hearing, in which he accused me of abusing my power of attorney for personal gain. Because he had nothing to do with taking care of her during her illness, he has no idea how her money was spent--he doesn't know how very expensive Alzheimer's can be and suspects that we embezzled her assets. I was hurt but waited to see if he would repent and relent. He did neither and gave us no opportunity to answer questions or address his fears in a rational discussion. Then he called John and verbally assaulted him in ways that don't warrant repeating. Unexpected? Yes. Unbelievable? No. Matthew 12 warns:

"Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation."

We understand that this is a spiritual battle and ask you to join us in prayer for our circumstances, and more importantly for my brother's soul. John and I believe, because of personal threats, that it's best to shut down communication and move out of my mother's house. We retained an attorney and she agrees wholeheartedly. Our goal is not to litigate or even to get what's rightfully ours. We are immediately seeking a safe place for our family and ultimately a release of our legal responsibilities regarding my mother's estate. We didn't come here for a pat on the back or to receive an inheritance, and we are working daily at giving the injustice of the situation and all the related negative emotions to God. I'm tempted to say I will forgive when it's all said and done but am painfully reminded of the fact that Jesus was still on the cross when he forgave his murderers.

As I try and miserably fail to take persecution and injustice well, I see God's grace and patience. Michael and Mandy have offered to let us move our things into their workshop and our family into the travel trailer parked in their back yard. Despite some well-intentioned warnings from family and friends, we're taking them up on their offer. Acts 4 encourages us:

"And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them."

So, today we are packing suitcases and boxes, preparing to leave the place we have called home for the past couple of years, trusting God to take care of us on His terms and in His time.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

We're Going Private

I've been writing this blog since 2007 and don't plan to stop any time soon. I do plan to make some changes, however. Thanks to all of you who have followed or subscribed to it over the years; I hope you'll continue.

As you may know, we haven't been able to publish as many details as we would like, due to the personal nature of some of the information. In fact, the best stories remain unwritten and have only been shared in person. Well, our family has some considerable changes on the horizon, and we don't want to keep those stories to ourselves. Instead, we want to encourage you, solicit your prayers, and ultimately glorify God by sharing what He is doing. 

This blog now requires a password for access. We're sorry for the extra step but hope you understand the need for it. Thanks again, and we look forward to being more informative and transparent in the months to come. We certainly need your prayers and encouragement as we embark on our next mission, and we're excited for you to be a part of it.