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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

House Fire in New Hope

As we were packing the U-Haul in Waynesboro, to come home to Alabama to stay in John's mom's old rental house (the house John grew up in), we got a strange and scary call.  That house we were supposed to move into the next day, was on fire.  It was a big fire.  The breaker box had old, faulty wiring, and had caught on fire in one of the back bedrooms where we had stored several boxes of our belongings.  It was unclear how long it had taken the fire to spread, but it is highly likely that the smoke detector batteries were old and not working.

For a few weeks now, I have been praying specifically for protection over my family.  John has been running in the rain a lot lately it seems, and I found myself praying against freak accidents (thinking lightening striking or a car swerving and hitting him or something).  Then, random thoughts of my car accident from a few years ago kept coming back, and I prayed again several days in a row for God to protect us from "accidents" (car accidents in my mind).  I thought I was just being a little paranoid, or an over protective wife and mama, and felt even a little silly for what I thought were shallow prayers.  Then, less than 24 hours before we were to move in to the old house, a dangerous accidental fire consumed most of the house.  I am so amazed at God's protection and grace to allow this to happen when our family was not inside.  I am impressed at the Holy Spirit's leading in pressing me to pray for protection.  I am awed and humbled by what could have happened if the fire started while we sleeping, or even awake but not able to escape, or injured.

Initially, we were very confused and sad about this, and felt homeless.  Then, we thought about our options, and knew that John's father lives alone in a 3 bedroom home.  We hadn't wanted to intrude on our parents by living with them, but we also don't want to wipe out our savings by spending money on renting.  All of this is in light of the fact that we have no real clue how long we will be here at all, as we are actively looking and praying for John to find a job in full-time ministry.  John's dad, Stanley, graciously and happily agreed to make room in his home for us.  He is putting new carpet in two of the bedrooms and hard wood floors in the living area and hallway, so we can't move in just yet as the floors are slightly under construction, and Jonah is walking well, but trips often, we know he would just fall all the time.  So we are staying at John's mom's, Nancy's house in her spare bedroom until Stanley is ready for us to move in over there.  He seems genuinely excited for our company, and glad to have us.  We are so blessed to have family that we can count on for times like this!

I came across this on facebook the night we found out about the fire, after loading 90% of the U-Haul.
photo credit
It was very reassuring because I felt like Satan wanted to make us confused, frightened, discouraged, and worried.  As soon as I saw that picture, I stopped and let God just speak encouragement, comfort and calmness to my heart.  I feel like He is going to use this for His glory.  I am looking forward to getting to know my father-in-law a little better, and add a woman's touch to his bachelor pad. ;)

We made it to Huntsville tonight by 7 pm, so it was still daylight enough for us to go to the old house and walk through and see the damage.  I had to keep my shirt pulled up over my nose because the overwhelming smoke smell was so strong.  We used flashlights to look at the smoke massacre because all power and water were turned off.  The walls were rippled, peeling, and black ash and dust covered everything.  The fire department moved most of the remnants of all of our boxed belongings outside, so there was a huge pile of partially melted and burnt items in the yard that our family had been sorting through to find what was salvageable.  The items I was most excited to find still intact were our wedding picture album, some of Jonah's newborn pictures, and my grandmother's China she had given me.  The saddest lost items are all of Jonah's newborn clothes up through about 9 months that he had outgrown, along with the total smoke destruction of our big, fat comfy L-shape couch that had been my "Congratulations on getting a job!" present when we first moved to Memphis. However, the total health of my husband, myself and my two babies, is far more valuable and important than any thing the fire took, and I would not trade the timing of this catastrophe for anything.  We will find a new couch whenever we actually have somewhere of our own to put it!

As we drove away from Waynesboro today, I was not sad.  The last few months have been so exhausting.  I was not worried about where we would be sleeping or unloading the truck.  I just felt absolutely free for the first time in a long while.  I had some great praise and worship time in the car on the way home as I drove in our vehicle and John drove the U-Haul.  I felt like so many people were praying for us, and I had complete peace.  I am not worried about the house situation or the job situation, at all.  I know God has totally got this! I was moved to tears of gratitude several times, but blinked them back so I could drive safely.  Baby #2 wiggled so much on the drive, it was a sweet reminder of this new little person we have been given.  I felt happy and grateful and blessed to be given this season to spend with my family.  This all could have been so easily taken away if the fire happened today.

Then, walking through the smoky, blackened house tonight brought to mind this passage:

Isaiah 61:1-3
61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.[a]
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,[b]
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,[c]
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

I'm not saying we were prisoners, but we definitely felt like captives sometimes in that house. With 5 kids, and no breaks, and little money to be able to take them to do things outside of the house very often, and two babies to make many outings frustrating and difficult, some days felt like there was no escape. Then, finding out about the house fire definitely put us in a brief period of mourning. Now, being here, resting, just watching Jonah play with his grandparents, relaxing with no thoughts of paperwork or discipline or making reluctant kids go to bed, bathe, or go to school (other than our own little guy), it is a time of beauty and festive praise for sure! John is still unloading the truck with his dad after 11pm, so I know he is going to be exhausted when he finally makes it to bed tonight.  He will be awfully tired, but in one handsome piece, totally untouched by fire, praise God!

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us!  Thank you so much! What could have been far more stressful, has really not been that bad.  Moving is exhausting.  Changing your moving plans at the last minute because a fire destroyed the place you were supposed to move into, does not help.  However, I can tell that the prayers of many people covering us, along with the grace of God, led to peace in our souls that will not be taken away.  We appreciate your prayers so much!  Thank you, friends! We appreciate you!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Going Home, but Seeking Direction

We are so excited to be going home on Tuesday!
We are happy to finally get rest.  Deep, happy, just-our-little-family kind of rest.
We are encouraged by many sweet people telling us how glad they are we are moving back.
We are glad to get to see our parents more often, and this makes the "Nanas and the Papas" very happy, too!

However, underneath it all, is that little strange feeling once again of stepping out into the unknown.
We don't have a job lined up.
We aren't worried about it, not feeling anxious, and are very excited for some rest, but this is in the back of our minds.

We have NEVER been in need before.
When we moved to Memphis, people said, "Oh, it's SO HARD to get a job in Shelby County Schools!"
Then God dropped the offer of two teaching positions in my lap as if to say, "I've got you right where I want you.  Do not fear, for I am with you."
We knew so many people in seminary who scraped by, and we never had to.
A part of us wonders if this will be our scraping season.

We are ready to be in full-time ministry.
We just don't have a place to serve.
Would you please pray with us for direction?
Direction on where to look, where to apply, or maybe just God saying "Go There." (would be great)

This will be our 6th move in the last 5 years.
It's exhausting, stressful, and difficult.
We are praying for stability and roots.
We want to serve in a place where our family can grow for some good, long years.

John went to Seminary to serve in ministry, and we are so ready to do it!
We are moving home for now to Alabama, and we are looking forward to the time of rest, but we are also wondering what the future holds, and where we will be living in a few months.
I find myself wondering where this baby will be born.
What kind of ministry will God lead us to be involved in next?

This Sidewalk Prophets song "Help Me Find It" is the cry of my heart right now.

Although I don't feel like we are worried yet, I can tell it will creep in if we do not actively hold on to Scripture and push worry away by trading it for faith and enjoying the present moments we find ourselves in until that job arrives.  Matthew 6:25-34 clearly tells me that God will take care of all of my needs, and I should not worry:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Photo Credit

We appreciate your prayers as we look for the right church to know that we are the right people for them.

Until then, we will rest, we will wait, and we will just have fun growing our babies!

Here's some of Jonah lately:
Smiling at himself in one of his new cloth diapers
Loves being outside
I love that smile!

Good news: We find out September 3rd the gender of Baby #2!  I have given my husband the task of surprising me with a little gender reveal that evening with our parents.  I am so excited!  I love surprises, and since I surprised him with the baby news, I told him it was his turn to surprise me. :)  There are always things to look forward to, even this side of heaven.

5 Minute Friday: Small

I really enjoy linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker and a hundred-something other bloggers to write for just 5 minutes on a given word.  You can learn more about it and participate here!

This week's word is Small.


I feel small when I stand in the sand and ocean waves splash against my feet.

I always wanted to be smaller than I actually was, ever since 3rd grade when I was head taller than my class and going to get training bras with my mom at the BX.
I never appreciated being 5'8" until my husband said "I'd never marry a woman shorter than 5'7" because I want tall kids." Hahaha!  I decided then that being small would have been overrated.

I feel small when I think about how great God is and all that he has so willingly, so lovingly, so sacrificially done for me, little, lowly, awful me.  Then I feel big and special when I think about His love and grace and parenthood being for me.  I am his adopted child, and I love it.

I feel small when I think about this little life growing in my belly. Belly baby #2 is only 18 weeks along, and I feel her move a lot (I think it's a her, we won't find out a few more weeks).  She is so small for now, but in the blink of an eye she'll be big like her brother, who runs away from diaper changes and laughs and throws food on the floor, and climbs up furniture just to jump off.  He's so small, but so big compared to when I think of feeling him move in my belly less than 2 years ago.

I feel small when I think about the fact that we are about to step out on faith again, asking God to lead us, provide for us, and this time really seeking for him to PLANT us somewhere permanent.  Being jobless is scary, and makes me feel small in this big, expensive world, but I know that His plans are always greater and better than our own, and we have never gone jobless or hungry before.

Life feels small sometimes, and I think it's supposed to so that we don't get caught up in thinking too much of ourselves.


Friday, August 9, 2013

5 Minute Friday: Lonely

I have so enjoyed participating in this link up for Five Minute Friday! You can read more about it and participate here on Lisa Jo's blog.

This week's word is Lonely.


I have been lonely many times in my life.  I can vividly remember struggling to make friends in Kindergarten in Germany, in first grade in South Dakota, in third grade in England.  I remember sitting in desks and looking around the room of students, knowing no one, wishing I had friends.  I prayed for friendship for years. 

Even in middle and high school, I only ever had 2-4 good friends at a time.  We would do things like sleep-overs and shopping occasionally.  I asked God to bring me more friends.  He answered that prayer in a mighty way and I made so many good female friends toward the end of high school and in college when I was finally able to just let myself talk to people.  I made real friends when I let myself be real and stop holding back. 

Then I was a gym instructor and teacher.  I made friends easily at the gym, from other instructors to personal training clients.  As a teacher I loved my coworkers, and valued their wisdom, creativity, and help.  I had plenty of friends for the last 5 years.  Suddenly we landed in Wabo, South Mississippi, knowing NO ONE.  This has been the most lonely I have been since about third grade.  It is so hard to uproot and move to a small town and make new friends!

However, God has taught my husband and I to truly grow our friendship.  It has been incredible to be able to look back and see where we were as a couple when we began, and where we are ending now.  I feel like we have learned to appreciate, value, and have fun with each other like never before.  We are very lonely here, and have struggled with this.  However, we live with our best friend: each other.  I am so blessed to be married to a man who seeks God's will for our lives. He is a spiritual leader, and the best father I could hope for my children.  I prayed for friends for years, and then God let me marry the best friend I would ever need. 


I wasn't expecting the post to go that way, but once I started writing about our loneliness down here, I couldn't help but write about our relationship.  I am pleasantly surprised by how God once again has turned something negative into a blessing. John has been so supportive and helpful, especially through this pregnancy lately!
Engagement picture - September 2008
Holding our Seminary accomplishments - the day before Jonah was born.

February 2013 - First date in a long time

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pregnancy #2: Weeks 13-16

Week 13 was so much better! I worked out FOUR times!  This is a lot for the lady who has been barely doing one workout a week for the last 5 weeks as I battled nausea and fatigue.  It felt good to exchange nausea for muscle soreness! I also found that peanut butter and jelly waffle sandwiches are great for breakfast or a midnight snack and curb nausea quickly.  I am really excited about still liking peanut butter.  During my last pregnancy I developed an aversion to peanut butter and couldn't even stand the smell of it.  I know how full of protein and healthy fats it is though, so I am stoked about still being able to eat it!  I want to get some gluten-free waffles when we get to Huntsville, but for now with my limited shopping options in Wabo, I just get the Nutri-grain whole wheat waffles.  A waffle sandwich is superior to a bread sandwich because you can use MORE PB & J courtesy of the nice little waffle compartments that sink down and cradle the spreads so well. Mmmmmm... Also, the dandruff is completely gone!

Week 14 was like "YAAAAAAY! Second Trimester Rocks!" Felt good, almost no nausea, had more energy, worked out, even introduced a little coffee back into my life. In my world these days, coffee is breakfast's dessert. I embraced adding it back to Bible study time a few days a week when I knew I had eaten a big enough breakfast to counteract the way coffee seems to drastically speed up my digestive system.  Week 14 was also my "Take Charge" week in starting to do things a little differently as I prepare for this Baby #2. Primarily - ordering some cloth diapers for Jonah so I can get used to them.  No, I'm not a hippie, but yes, I'm super cheap, (I almost exclusively shop clearance - where's the red tag?) and a little bit of a tree-hugger (God made the earth for us to live here and use, not abuse - Seriously, did you know that disposable diapers take between 250-500 YEARS to decompose in landfills!? It's disgustingly sad that poo residue lives long after the child).  Therefore after many months of research and thinking about it, I jumped in feet first (or booty first for Jonah as the case will be), and bought 3 different kinds to give them a trial run before purchasing more for new baby.  This cloth diaper review post and the links and videos inside of it over at Simple Mom really helped me in my decisions on which ones to purchase. I'll let you know which ones are my favs as I get more experience with them. Do you use cloth diapers? Do you have a special cloth wipe solution?  I have seen so many cloth wipe "Recipes" that I'm just going to dump some things in a spray bottle and see how it goes! Lol, just kidding. What kinds of diapers/wipes work best for you and your little peeps?

Week 15 came and it was officially time for maternity pants.  This is crazy considering I didn't even buy them until I was at least 19 weeks with Jonah, but everyone says the belly pops out faster after the first, so I'm dealing with it.  However, pulling that big stretchy elastic up over my tummy felt so very nice, like a homecoming of sorts.  Oh, elastic bellied pants, how I have missed thee! I also started craving Mexican and Chinese food all. the. time.  I miss Memphis more than ever right now because we had a smorgasbord of restaurants within ten minutes of our apartment. The two restaurants I miss the most right now are Pei Wei and On the Border, mmmmmm I would tear it up! I also started using a glass bottle and sippy cup with a silicone shell for Jonah, after reading this totally makes-sense article about all plastics being bad, even if they are BPA-free.  Jonah doesn't seem to care, and rarely throws his sippy cup so win! Now to buy glass bottles for new baby...too bad money doesn't grow on trees.

Week 16 brought us to the doctor for a routine check-up.  I just love that "Whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh" heartbeat sound!  The heartbeat was 157 bpm, so old wives' tales indicate girl, which would be nice, but we'll certainly love a little boy too! I also had my first workout where I did NOT feel like throwing up, and I was finally able to drink water in my usual copious camel-like amounts again! YAY! I can't say how happy I am about those two things.  I love both exercise and drinking water, and struggling with them during the first trimester was annoying.  Now that I can enjoy them both again and know how much they are helping my baby, makes me happier than a puppy with two peters (you can thank the redneck raising my husband received for that little analogy, which he frequently incorporates into conversation).  I also got super gung-ho about learning to sew this week when a friend sent me this neat link about homemade maternity clothes.  Too bad I don't actually know anything about or have a machine.  That's OK because my mom is a sewing wizard (she made my lovely wedding veil and a myriad of other things growing up), and she does have a machine, and when we get back home it will be one of my priorities to learn this art of fabric creations.
Baby Center 16 Weeks Fetal Development

16 Week Bump
        The last day of this "week" I FELT THE BABY MOVE!!!!!! I was so excited.  With Jonah, I know the first time I felt him move it was at 18 weeks and a few days in.  I know this because I was ready as soon as I hit 18 weeks and expecting it every day until it happened. I remember he felt like a little push from the inside as I was doing one of our girls' hair.  After that, his movements initially felt like a fish swimming.  So, this is almost 2 weeks earlier than with Jonah and it felt just like a butterfly!  It was fluttery and small and like a tickle from inside my belly.  It was just delightful!  It is so special and precious to feel this little tiny person wiggling.  It makes the nausea and fatigue all worth it. I can't wait to find out the gender!

I just read this link from a friend's blog and love the perspective: 3 Attitude Adjustments in Pregnancy.