Sanders Family Unabridged Part 17 (September 2015)


Thursday September 2, 2015

Craziness! It is all craziness!!!!

I have been trying to get our unabridged series out on the blog, but we have been inundated by meetings, meetings everywhere! Meetings at the school, meetings at Starbucks, meetings at the bus garage…

We spent the week trying to get the first blog post written and helping our friends finalize their move. It was incredibly hard to go back over my journal entries. The only word I have to describe it is “heavy”. There were a lot of emotions that we were working through. What I thought would be a single post turned into three. Mostly because it was a lot to process and I did not want to dump that much on people. It is one thing when I have a long blog that is full of my goofy, rambling thoughts, but a blog post full of crazy confused emotions is not fun!

We were very encouraged as we helped our friends with their move. Last year at this time their situation look completely hopeless. Now their second mortgage has been miraculously forgiven, they are selling their house, walking away with equity and relocating to a place they had wanted to move to for a long time. God can do something at any moment!

Two different times this week I have awakened in the middle of the night to the presence of God being so overwhelming, all I could do was cry and pray and pray and cry. It did not feel like intercessory prayer, it felt like a conversation with my good Dad and I was being overwhelmed with His love. It was so real and tangible, it was almost like I could touch it. I have never experienced God like that.

We finally got the first unabridged blog up yesterday. It caused quite a stir! Haha! I sent the link to my family first because we had not told them any of the behind the scenes details yet either. We had former co-workers contacting to make sure, first hand, that we actually were okay and new friends contacting our close friends to see if we were okay and if there was anything they could do. 

Last night, well, really in the weeeeee morning hours, 3:30 a.m. to be exact, we hear a THUMP THUMP THUMP on the van and hear a voice very loudly saying, “Sir, sir? Could I speak with you?” Aaron took down the curtain that was on his window and there are bright lights shining on and in the van from three different directions. There were three police cars surrounding us, all officers were out of their cars, one behind the van and two at Aaron’s window. They asked us what we were doing there and Aaron responded, “Sleeping.” That is so funny to me now!! Haha! The 3:30 a.m. brain does not work very fast! They informed us that “—-” does not allow cars to park overnight in their parking lot. Apparently trucks and campers are allowed, but not cars and vans. They asked us if we have anywhere we can go and we told them we are homeless, but we could probably find a friend to let us sleep over. The officer speaking to us was incredibly compassionate and helpful and had another officer start calling different shelters to see if they would take us in. I did freak out a little at that point. I know that we are not supposed to be taking government assistance or seeking out help from shelters, but how do you tell a police officer “that is not what God wants us to do.”? I really had to pray to calm myself down. They heard back from various sources and none of the shelters take whole families. The officer that did the majority of the talking gave Aaron his card and told him that if we ever needed help to contact him. They asked us if we had a job or money and Aaron told them yes, and that he had recently been hired as a bus driver. We then assured all of them that we had friends that would take us in and that they could follow us there if they would like. They said that was not necessary and sent us on our way.

We drove to a friends’ house and parked in their driveway because we did not want to freak anyone out by pounding on the door at 4 o’clock in the morning. Aaron and I prayed individually for about an hour. We both had tons of things going through our heads that we had to give over to God. Aaron was doubting the whole “adventure” and wondering, “Are we even right? Maybe we should stop all this nonsense and get the kids somewhere stable.” I was freaking out about the kids being taken away from us. I knew that was fear talking and it was not God. I mentally drew a picture of me placing our situation and our children in my hand and holding my hand out to God, asking Him to take it, to hold my babies and remove my fear and replace it with His peace and love. I felt much, much better after that, but the fear has come back a couple of times during the day. I just hold my hand out again. Fear is not from God and I am not going to accept it. Both of us were encouraged during our Bible reading today with verses from Isaiah 61 and Psalm 73:23-28. God has a glorious destiny prepared for those that serve him. Little things, like our Bible verses coinciding when we have done individual devotions, reminds us that God is with us and knows where we are. Another thing that encouraged me was the fact that I actually laughed as we left that parking lot. I had just faced one of my biggest fears and had not been shaken. Doubts came flooding in afterward, but during the situation God’s peace was surrounding us.

Friday September 4, 2015

Definitely feeling “bleh” today. We were going to take the kiddos to KFC for the buffet last night for a fun pick me up after such a crazy night on Wednesday, but a friend called needing a babysitter so we all went over to their house to babysit instead. They had ordered pizza for us and I made some mac n’ cheese to go with it. Jack in particular was thrilled. Mac n’ cheese is his favorite comfort food. Everyone was able to take showers while we were there since we were not going to be able to make it to the rec center. It was a nice change of pace. We were able to chill out on the couch and eat hot food and watch PBS. Haha!!

It was another stinking hot night last night! Once again I woke up feeling gross and smelly. Aaron is still in a leftover funk from Wednesday night. He is unsettled and says things like, “I don’t understand what God is doing and I don’t know where we are supposed to go. Why can’t God let us know something? I don’t understand any of this or even God! Why don’t I get to understand?” I have no answers to give him. I feeling disgusting, hot and sweaty and that is all I feel at this moment. So, I give him our “favorite” answer, “I don’t know. We will have to wait for God to tell us when it is time.”

We dove to the Tennessee DMV so Aaron could take the CDL test, after we dropped Bella off at school. I was still exhausted from horrible sleep, so I stayed in the van and slept while he went in to take the test. He came out in a worse mood than when he went in and had more questions for God. He had failed two of the four tests. 😦 “Why would God set all this up just to let him fail? God controls the weather, couldn’t he have cooled it down so we would have slept better? One of the things I have been imagining is that God has been giving supernatural help to the kiddos in their school work so that they are able to focus and do well even if they have interrupted sleep. I guess not.” And again I have no words, I am still disgusting, hot and sweaty. It is probably better that way. Word filters tend to be broken when the body is uncomfortable and there has been a lack of sleep. Aaron sat there for awhile and then said, “Well, it wouldn’t be a time of perseverance if it were easy and we didn’t have to persevere.” After more contemplating, he remembered his original feelings about the test. When he first prayed about taking the test he had felt that he should wait for next week, when we would be house-sitting for our friends. He felt pressure to take it sooner because he had started over thinking it and wanted to get it over with, so we could start having regular checks coming in. He wondered if maybe the whole thing flopped because he knew what he was supposed to do, but then changed it to a plan he liked better.

Tuesday September 8, 2015

Our friends are away at a conference/vacation for almost two weeks and we are house-sitting for them. We have been here since Saturday morning. The timing was wonderful because the rec center was closed all weekend, due to Labor Day, and I had told Aaron I did not know what we should do because that would be three days with no showers for us. GUH-ROSS!!! We prayed asking God what to do and a day or so later our friend told me they were heading out of town and asked if we would mind house-sitting? Well, no, we wouldn’t mind at all! Thank you very much! And thank you, Lord!

Saturday was a really hard day for me. I was not expecting that. It was wonderful to be able to shower and spend the rest of the day in my PJs, but I was so sad. Aaron reminded me that we need to be thankful for whatever the Lord gives us and for however long. I know that is true and I am thankful for this time of hot food, convenient bathrooms and horizontal rest, but it still hurts. It feels like I am only getting to play or pretend something that I really want. The bright spot has been the time we have had just hanging out with the kiddos. We purposely did not do anything over the weekend except go to church.

Alyn Jones spoke on Sunday and put Christ’s sacrifice into a perspective I had never seen before. If you were $100,000 in debt and someone came to you and paid that debt it would be amazing, but you would still need money to eat, pay bills and maintain a house and vehicle, etc. To actually be able to thrive you would need more than the debt being paid off. When Jesus died on the cross he paid our debt, he brought us to zero. His death means that we no longer have debt, but left at just that, we do not have life either. He rose to life and gave us His spirit, so that we could find and have that life. He wants to bring us to a place of honor, a place where we can accept the good that God has for us and bring that hope to others and help them be lifted up in honor as well. They will be able to see that they have worth in the eyes of their Father.

We are still getting intense questions on our Unabridged blogs. The unfortunate thing about social media is that a lot is lost in translation. People cannot hear when I am being sarcastic or tongue in cheek (hint: almost all the time) or whether I am whining or simply stating a fact. On our end we cannot always tell if a person is simply asking a question, or if they are genuinely angry or upset with us. For a long time this was very upsetting and we would not even know how to respond to the questioning, but God has really been talking to us about the importance of obedience to Him at any cost and that has given us a confidence that we did not have before. The hesitancy and sometimes even fear of answering people’s questions is being removed from us. We are able to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand either” to people and actually be okay with it. We were not okay with that before. Who wants to be living a life they do not understand? If you are wanting a life obedient to God that is exactly the kind of life you have to live. He does not give the whole plan. That really stinks sometimes…most of the time…okay, all the time.

Friday September 11, 2015

I am praying continually that God would be glorified and His love and goodness will be shown through our life. I do not understand any of what is going on right now. I keep thinking of Joseph sitting in a prison. We never see anything significant happening to him in that prison other than meeting two of Pharaoh’s servants. I need to be okay with whatever God is doing and why he has us here. Maybe it is for one person. I have never before thought of Joseph’s prison experience through the eyes of the baker and wine taster. Were they thrown in prison just to meet Joseph and be shown that God can speak and reveal Himself through dreams and that He is with His children no matter where they are? More “I don’t knows”, but it is an interesting thing to ponder.

Around 4:00/4:30 a.m. I heard a knock on our friend’s front door. The boys were sleeping downstairs, so I quick hurried down there because I did not want them answering the door by themselves when no one else is awake. My momma heart hopes that common sense would prevail, but my momma heart also knows that is usually wishful thinking. I got downstairs and no one was awake. I was upstairs sound asleep with a fan on and it had woke me up. How could they have slept through that? No one was at the door. So weird. Nothing in my dream had been about someone knocking on the door. I can distinctly remember how the knock went, it had a specific little rhythm. And no, it was not the da-dada-da-da…da da. I went back to bed and thought maybe the Lord was trying to get my attention. I thought of Revelation 3:20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” I have no idea what any of this could mean, but I am writing it down because I could find out later that it has meaning.

Aaron went and took his CDL permit test again this morning and passed. 🙂 He is going to email the person he has been in contact with in the transportation department to let them know he is ready to begin training.

Sunday September 13, 2015

One of the things said this morning at church was about the importance of seasons and not trying to hurry through the seasons of life thereby missing what God is wanting to establish in you. Our life seasons are not on a time table, they are on a comprehension and growth level. The way to get through a season is to allow whatever needs to happen, to happen. Even winter (which most people would associate with death) is not death, it is rest. Do not fight the rest. Rest is where your roots are going deeper and you receive the strength to endure the next growing season.

Thursday September 17, 2015

I sat down to write this morning and was not able to. I suddenly burst into tears and had a full body convulsing sob session for nearly an hour. I know God has good things for us and good plans in store, but a lot of life right now looks so disheartening. I have begged God to let this part of the journey end, and if it is not time for it to be over to please give me the strength to endure it instead. Out of these feelings I wrote “Winter is not Death, it is Rest”

Monday Spetember 21, 2015

Karen, the sweet lady at the church’s food pantry contacted us Thursday evening asking if we were available to help pick up a load of bread that had been donated. I dropped Aaron off for his bus driver training and then took her with me to pick up the bread. We talked about our story, how we came to be in Tennessee and what God has been speaking to us since we have been here and more specifically, what He has said recently. I told her of my desire to have a safe place that is always open for people to come, rest and find hope and encouragement. She told me about a man from Grace Center called Papa Joe. He has a similar passion for certain areas of Nashville and has been able to start multiple ministries there. We got the bread and brought it to the church and got it put away and went on our separate ways for the day. The older boys were at the school that night. There was a football game and Alex had parking lot detail with JROTC and Jack wanted to watch the game with his friends. We took the two littles with us to the rec center to swim and then went and got a 1/2 gallon of ice cream to share. Nothing like sabotaging your workout as soon as you are done working out! haha! Karen contacted again saying they had some milk for us and asked if we would like to come over and pick it up? When we arrived they gave us the milk and some pudding snacks for the kiddos and also let us borrow a movie that had been made about Papa Joe called “Unconditional”.

We had a work day at the school on Saturday for the upcoming theater production. This was the first time some of the parents had seen us since our unabridged blogs had gone out. They were very sweet and caring and asked if we were truly okay and if there was anything they could do for us.

Sunday we were at church and often times in between worship and the pastor getting up to speak, they will take time to let everyone chat for a little bit with the people near them. Karen and her husband, Bill, happened to be in front of us so we gave them hugs and Karen told me that Papa Joe was there and she wanted to introduce us to him. So she took Aaron and I out to the hallway where Papa Joe was talking with some other people. We waited until they were finished and she introduced us and we told him the “Reader’s Digest” version of our story. There were parts that he completely connected with because God had given him the same principles, but had used different word pictures. Like Aaron’s 4×4 stack of one hundred dollar bills; God told Joe to use invisible money. What at first we thought was just a sweet lady wanting to introduce us to more people turned into something that felt like a God connection. He gave us a verse in Proverbs that had been encouraging to him, got our contact information and then prayed over us.

I don’t know what prompted me, but when we all got back in the van after church I asked the kiddos if they would be okay always living in the van, if the manifest power of God was with us and wherever we went people were being healed, or we would have words to speak directly to situations they were going through, or raising people from the dead, etc. They were quiet for a minute and then all of them, except Alex, agreed. Alex was not sure. He said all those things would be really cool, but he is really tired of living in a van and just wants to have a house to live in again. I said, “Lucky for you, you only have two years left with us and then you can legally move out and get your own place. Bella is stuck with us for nine more years.” Bella chimed in and said, “I’m glad!! If God does stuff like that I don’t care if I always live in a van…I just hope he would give us a bigger van.” Hahaha!!!

Wednesday September 23, 2015

I spent the whole day with my bestie yesterday. The whole day! So fun!! I was originally going to go over to her house to do laundry, but when we got to the storage unit, after dropping the kiddos off at school, the gate to the units would not open so we could not get in to get our laundry. So, we spent the day talking and drinking coffee. Yeah, it was pretty rough. 😉 When it was time for Aaron get the kiddos back from school she invited all of us to stay for a pizza and movie night. Aaron also picked up ingredients to have root beer floats. We sat down with our pizza and root beer floats and watched “Unconditional”. Now I am even more excited to have more interaction with Papa Joe and his family. What an amazing story!

Saturday September 26, 2015

I went with my bestie and her husband to a church conference that was in Nashville on Friday night. Her husband was helping with recording, or sound, or something technical like that and I wanted to go to see my cousin, whom I had not seen in years! Yay!! We ended up staying later than first intended, because some extra recording needed to be done at the end of the services and so we did not get to go out to eat with anybody. The three of us ended up stopping at a Steak n’ Shake in Franklin. Our waitress was hilarious and pretty quickly picked up on my bestie’s inability to order due to indecision and had a wonderful time of razzing her about it. We left there around 2:30 a.m. and I konked out when I got back to the van. We had another work day at the school so we had to be up at 8:00 a.m. There were a lot of cars parked around us, so Aaron moved to another part of the parking lot to fold up blankets and get the van a little more “normal”. We also needed to get the kiddos some breakfast out of our boxes in the back. While he was doing all of that, I noticed a person that had been sitting in their car for awhile getting out of their vehicle. It was the waitress from Steak n’ Shake! I waved at her and she came over to talk to me. She said she had been sitting there because she was trying to decide what to do; she had just gotten off work and had only made $20 in tips all night. Her family was getting ready to move to be with her mom who had recently become disabled and she was needed to rent a truck and get moving supplies, but also needed groceries and other essentials. She had been sitting there trying to figure out what was the most important and what could wait until later. We had recently felt like we needed to put money aside so that we would have something to help someone if they needed it, so I was able to give that to her so she could at least get more groceries. God has good timing…sometimes. 😉

I had to be at the theater work day in the clothes I had worn to the conference last night (which were rather dressy and had been slept in), because my sweet honey was so distracted from having the kiddos by himself, taking them to the rec center, feeding them and then getting all the dirty clothes and extra stuff put in the storage unit for the night that he forgot to bring my bag with my change of clothes. I did not really mind that much, I just knew I looked silly. I told one of the moms about it and she laughed and said to look at it as a good way to keep everyone guessing what I could be up to. Haha!

Sunday September 27, 2015

Aaron and the boys got to help in the food pantry this morning before church and see a little bit of the process of how it is run. They marked out bar codes and restocked shelves.

The message today was about Abraham and how God had seen that he was faithful before he gave him any promises or made any covenants with him. It was because of that faithfulness that God chose him and gave him a promise. From there Abraham grew in faith and believed God’s promise without being able to see how that promise could become reality. We need to partner our faith with what God has said to us before it comes to pass in order to grow in our faith. I thought about the times over the last weeks when I have decided to share our story and what God has said to us and how freeing that felt. Up to now I had only been sharing our story and God words with people that I thought would understand, or had already been where we were. As Pastor Jeff was talking this morning, I realized that I have been holding back not only out of fear, but out of a lack of faith. My new prayer is for strength to share our story, or whatever God wants me to say, so that my faith will grow and God will see someone that is willing to work in any part of His kingdom.


Author: Jen Sanders

I'm the wife of a gorgeous hunk of man named Aaron and momma of 4 beautiful offspring that occasionally make me want to pull my hair out. My life goal is to be like Jesus.

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