Thursday January 7, 2016
We had a wonderful Christmas break with Aaron’s family in Illinois. It was restful and uneventful until Grandma Sanders decided to give us a scare on New Year’s Day. Long story short, John and Aaron ended up taking her to the hospital where they did tests and found she’d had a stroke and had some bleeding in her brain. They weren’t going to be able to operate on it because of her age. Thankfully she recovered to the point where she was able to be moved to a different hospital for therapy. She won’t be able to move back into her own house for awhile, she’ll be living with one of Aaron’s aunts while she regains her strength, but we are so thankful she’s ok.
The thought of the transition back to the van was difficult again. We used to dread the thought of it because we were fighting it, then we started to accept it because it was where we knew we were supposed to be, now we’re back to dreading it again because that feeling of “rightness” is gone. Ugh. We shared the email we had received last month with the kiddos and talked about being frustrated with it never looking like anything is happening, but things really are happening. People are reading our story and instead of the judgment, that our fear tells us people will have, they often respond with a desire to experience more of God for themselves, which is exactly what we pray will happen.
We were able to have a little life lesson on prayer recently. Because they involve other people’s stories I’m going to be very vague, but the lesson is the same even without knowing details. Last year we prayed about two different situations months apart, but we were praying about them with a self focused point of view. I have now heard stories that have shown me that all of that prayer had nothing to do with us and everything to do with the people currently involved in the situation. This is my take away: we often pray thinking we know exactly what it is that needs to happen for a situation or a person. We don’t stop to ask God what his feelings on that certain topic are because, well, it’s quite obvious what they should be. Often we are so focused on the things in our life that we only pray that our situation changes, and we miss the fact that God calls us to pray for others, in the middle of our own trials. Dude, I’ve been smacked in the face. I kind of knew that before and if I had been in a conversation about it would have agreed with the arguing side that we need to wait for God’s direction, even in prayer, but I obviously did not have it in practice in my own life. We simply don’t know what the best outcome is in any circumstance. Only our Daddy knows that. My new endeavor is to quiet myself in prayer for any situation and find out what my daddy’s heart has to say about it and pray that way, even if I don’t understand.
While we were in Illinois one of my devotions was talking about Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of God.” This was another thing that has challenged me. I wrote out some of my thoughts about it in this blog post.
Friday January 29, 2016
We are still waiting for God to show us what this unsettling is all about. Waiting…waiting…and a little more waiting…
I do believe our “invisibility cloak” at church is gone! 😉 Our first service back after break we sat by a couple we had seen before, but had never interacted with. Stop! First I’m going to interject some thoughts I’d been having. While we were in Illinois I thought to myself, “When we get back I am going to talk to Pastor Jeff.” (I had the thought over the summer that if he and his wife were to pray for us, we’d have our house. Well, I’m sick and tired of not being in a house and if it’s a supernatural thing then I want the pastor praying about it!) During church this first morning back I thought, “This is the morning! I’m going to talk to Jeff today.” At the end of service he went back and stood by the doors as people were leaving and would hug, shake hands, pat on the back, whatever, as people would go out the door. He’s never done that before so I thought, “It’s a sign!!” haha!! We had sat next to a couple that we had seen around church before but had never talked to and they struck up a conversation with Alex as everyone was waiting to leave their rows. They had a son that had been in theater and were enjoying theater nerd speak. We started talking with them as well and it wasn’t long until we were swapping life stories. Interestingly they were very similar, so we stayed there talking to them for quite awhile. I thought maybe I wasn’t meant to talk with Jeff that morning since we don’t normally connect to people like that and he was busy talking with people by the time we were done chatting. I went to the food pantry and got what we needed and headed back to the van, but it kept bothering me that I should talk with Jeff. I thought to myself, “Ok, I’ll go in there to talk to him, but only if he is still standing by the doors when I get in there.” I walked back in and there he was standing by the doors. I walked over to him and apologized in advance for my inability to talk properly because I’d probably start crying. He was so so kind!! If there was anyone with the heart of a pastor it’s him. I shared a snippet of our story with him and he held my hand the whole time and would hug me when I started to tear up. He and his wife, Becky, prayed for our family and prayed over my feet that wherever we walked would be blessed. Jeff asked me to follow him to his vehicle because he wanted to give me the cash he had. He apologized that it wasn’t a lot, but he wanted to give it to us. When the offering was collected that morning they let us know that none of that money was going to be staying in the church it was all going to go out to help a local ministry. I felt like I needed to give whatever I had in my purse which happened to be $45. When Jeff gave me the cash he had in his car it was $48. 🙂 I’m not really sure what is going to come of me talking with them and them praying for us, but I had felt like it was an important thing to have happen, so there we go!
The next week we found out where the offering was being given: End Slavery Tennessee. It’s an organization that helps rescue, council and rehabilitate girls that have been in the sex trade. The lady there to accept the donation had no idea that was why she was there, she thought she was there to speak to us. They let her come up and share a video so we could see what the organization does and how they help women. When the video was over they interrupted her and told her they and tricked her about why she was there and that we actually had some money we’d like to donate to her organization. They did a fun ticker type thing on the screen starting in the pennies place and moving through the different dollar places. In the end the ticker stopped at a little over $300,000!!! The place erupted in applause and whoops, hollers, whistles and tons of tears. None of us knew how much had been donated either. She was so overwhelmed and thankful! It was such an awesome thing to be part of!!
We had seen the couple we talked to the previous week as we came in the doors that morning and waved at them. About half way through the songs the husband came over and gave Aaron some money. He said he felt like he was supposed to give that to us. When we talked with them afterward he told us he had felt it so strong he had left at the beginning of service to go to the ATM to get the money. Another man, that we had met last year, but not spoken to since came up to Aaron. He said that God had given him a word for Aaron a while ago, but he hadn’t seen him to give it to him. He asked for Aaron’s email so he could send it to him. Aaron checked email after we left and this was the word: “December 13, 2015 – Yesterday was a significant day. Romans 12:12 Keep your eyes on Him! Trust Him! Take the next step!” It is both wonderful and aggravating. I heard that same message of stepping into something months ago so it’s neat to hear that confirmed through someone else, but it’s aggravating because we don’t have anything definite to “step into”. Not that we are seeing right now anyway.
We met with Pastor Tony on Thursday. We weren’t really sure what we were going to talk about, but we had multiple people tell us they thought he would be a good person to talk to so we thought, “Why not?!” We gave him a brief synopsis of our story, brief as in almost two hours…haha! He sat quietly through the whole thing and at the end made this observation. He told us that our story causes tremors in people’s lives; it shakes them and causes them to have to make a decision. He said that he was having to make a decision even then: Do I help come up with a plan to “rescue” these people or do I trust God enough to take care of them? Other reactions are a self examination to see what God is saying to them or anger and distancing themselves from us. So often we have been hesitant to talk about different things going on in our life because of these reactions. For whatever reason his observation has really freed us from that. It was like God was showing us that those reactions are ok and that is what our story is meant to be doing. Regardless of those reactions we continue to walk in what we know He has told us to do. All of that is “well, duh!”, but it was something that finally penetrated our thick heads and gave us strength. He also gave us two passages of Scripture:
Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant?
If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light,
trust in the LORD and rely on your God.
But watch out, you who live in your own light
and warm yourselves by your own fires.
This is the reward you will receive from me:
You will soon fall down in great torment.
O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more.
He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.
Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink,
he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes.
Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.
He told us he felt like we had two choices: we could allow God to be our light for our path and follow where He is saying to go, or we could make our own way and it will look like it’s a good way, but in the end we would end up with death bed regrets. This is something we talk about often and it was good to hear it from someone else. We HAVE to keep trusting God. We don’t know what exactly He is doing, but we most definitely do not want to get to the end of life and wonder “what if we had waited on Him a little longer and trusted Him a little more?” We want to completely trust Him now.