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.

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