Trusting An Illogical Logic

The last 4 years has been a wild ride for the Sanders family. As detailed in the post “No More PR”, we Initially felt challenged to stop being “PR” people for God. We realized that for some reason we felt an obligation to put a spin on things that always made God look good (from our perspective). It was not a conscious thing, it was more of an involuntary response that had developed over time and it resulted in us counting the “good” things God did, or said, and ignoring the “bad/strange” things.

The problem with this was that it is completely contrary to the revealed character of God. We see from a cursory reading of the Bible that God asks his followers to do ridiculous things. Things that are completely illogical and down right foolish. Even though he clearly says, in Isaiah 55:8, that his ways are not like our ways, we still behaved like he has a specific formula that makes perfect sense when applied. That is why churches build leadership structures based on accepted leadership gurus and apply “tried and true” formulas to their gatherings. It all makes perfect sense, if Isaiah 55:8 and all of the examples of an illogical God doing crazy things, were not included in the Bible.

As you can see from reading the book that details the first 4 years of life in Tennessee, re-training our brain to accept and trust the illogical nature of God was extremely challenging for our family. It is one thing to mentally acknowledge God’s illogical nature, it is another to trust your family’s life and well-being to it. That is what we had to do when we were challenged by the passage in Matthew 6:19-34. Surely this illogical God did not expect a family of 6 to sell everything, quit their jobs, move 1,000 miles away and not worry about where they would live or what they would eat! He simply does not do that, or so our completely logical Christian religion told us.

4 years later, we know that our illogical God really did mean for a family of 6 to trust him completely. The un-learning was the most challenging part, but once we accepted that he could be trusted, completely, we were able to relax into his unorthodox plan. Now we find ourselves happily settled in a beautiful home, with no debt, never needing governmental assistance and having more than enough finances to live a full life. All because we trusted an illogical God who asked us to do a crazy thing.

Now you might be asking yourself what are Aaron and Jenny going to do next? The book of Proverbs, Dave Ramsey and my many years in the financial services business has prepared me well for what to do next. We are debt free, living rent free and have a steady stream of income so, obviously, we should be living frugally and saving every penny to be prepared for October, when our living situation will need to change. The problem is that God is still illogical. Instead, we feel that God has invited us to test his word again. This time it is 2 Corinthians 9. In a time that we should logically be focused on saving and being prepared, we feel that we are being asked to give abundantly and without care for our own needs.

A couple of months ago, we had a family meeting and unanimously (my kids are AMAZING!) agreed that we will continue to trust God and follow his “illogical” logic. As a result, we have been actively looking for opportunities to give our time, our money and our talents away to whomever has a need.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

Home At Last-Now, Where Are My Feet?

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Finally, after over 4 months, I am sitting my tushie down and writing. I have had many, many thoughts and things I have wanted to share, but I have not been able to gather them together to form any kind of coherent sentence let alone blog post. I have been trying to find my way. I had very definite ideas about what living in a house again would look like and how I would respond to it. None of them were even close to what happened. It did not really surprise me that the house coming together was different than I imagined. I am very familiar with Isaiah 55:8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” I have repeated that over and over throughout my life to remind myself that God has everything in control. What surprised me was my response.

Late summer/early fall of last year I felt like I needed to go on an extended fast. Specifically, a 49 day fast. I had been reading through the Old Testament and was intrigued with the Year of Jubilee. For 49 years the Israelites could sell their land, houses, even offer themselves as slaves, to pay off debts, but in the 50th year, the Year of Jubilee, all land and possessions would be given back to their original owners and slaves would be set free. I felt like the Sanders family needed a jubliee, that it was time for restoration. During that time I attended a ladies Bible study at our church. Our study was on the power of our words and making sure we are speaking life over our lives, our children, families, etc. So I became the crazy praying momma, declaring restoration, life, direction, any good thing I could think of over our family. Toward the end of the fast Aaron received a letter from the company he had worked for in MN. He was informed he now had access to almost $30,000 from a retirement plan that had previously been unavailable. Believe me, had we had access to that puppy in November of 2013 we would have used it!!! Now, for whatever reason, it was available to cash out. Our rule as a family is that whatever seems like a no-brainer to our human minds probably needs to be seriously prayed about. This definitely seemed like a no-brainer, so we prayed. We told the kiddos about it and asked them what they thought. They all thought we should cash it out, but no one had the same thoughts about what to do with it. One thought for sure we should rent a house, one thought that maybe we were supposed to use it to help other people, one thought we should get a new vehicle and one was undecided. Since we were not in unanimous agreement, we agreed that we would cash out the money but hold onto it until we could agree on what we should do.

The kiddos had fall break at the beginning of October. Aaron and the kiddos stayed with his parents in Illinois and Amanda (the bestie) and I traveled up to Minnesota to see our families. We left Minnesota and went back to Illinois on a Sunday, which happened to be our “day of jubliee” (end of my fast). Nothing happened. Monday we left to go back to Tennessee. After we got Amanda home we contemplated our next move. We always needed to decide how long we were going to stay at a particular hotel. I had found multiple hotels while we were gone where we could stay for 3 weeks, but I wasn’t with the family to discuss it. Now that we were back, in Tennessee, there was not one single hotel, that we could afford, that had anything available for that long. We decided to find one to book until Friday. Isabella had a favorite hotel because of their continental breakfast so we stayed there. I suppose that is a good reason to choose a place. Haha! As we were getting ready for bed that evening we were all talking about what we should do with the money. We decided that we should just look to see if there was even anything we were interested in that was in our price range. Finding a rental house in this area is a miracle in itself. Anything that is remotely affordable is snatched up immediately. Even high-end rentals go fast. I did a search online and found 3 houses that we could afford. Two of them were set up so that a person could go and look at them without waiting for an agent. For the other one I sent in a request. We prayed together before we went to bed and asked God to make it abundantly clear if we are to move into one of these houses and to make the process smooth without us coniving to make things happen.

Tuesday morning the agent of the first house called me. I explained to her that on paper Aaron does not make enough to cover the rent of the house but that we had just gotten $24,000 (ouch on the taxes) and we could pay for six months or the whole year if that worked for them. She let me know that the company did not do that so we did not bother to go look at that house. Tuesday evening we went to look at the other two houses. They had the same monthly rent. One was in one of the neighborhoods we wanted to be in the other one was bigger, but not in a bus route for the kids’ schools. We went to look at the bigger one first and as soon as we walked in the door the kids said, “This is the house.” We went ahead and looked at the other one (in the neighborhood we liked), but knew that it was the first one we needed to go with. We contacted the rental company Wednesday morning and told them the same thing we told the first rental company; we were interested in renting the house, that Aaron does not make enough to cover the monthly rent, but that we had money set aside and could pay six months to a year in advance. They said yes, we could do that and asked when we wanted to move in. We told them we were living in a hotel and wanted to move in as soon as possible. They sent us the rental agreement to sign that night and gave us a move in date of Friday. The same Friday that we would be checking out of the hotel and would have been needing to look for another one to stay. So many more things happened after this, but I’m going to save those for another post because they are so fun and amazing and I do not want them to get lost in this one.

I was a giddy mess on Thursday morning. We had coffee dates with two of our friends and we were going to surprise them by showing them pictures of the house and then telling them we would be moving in the next day. I loved it!!! I had the giggles all day and was no doubt rather annoying. Their reactions were everything I hoped and, being the awesome people they are, were excited and giddy right along with me.

Friday morning we met the rental agent at the house to get the keys and go over leasing rules and what not. I was still a giddy mess at that point. Then the agent handed us the keys and left and that is when I did not know what to do with myself anymore. It was real. This was not hoping for something to change, this was not a short reprieve from van or hotel living by staying in someone else’s house, this was our place, to move all of our things into, not just our suitcases. This was those stupid storage units finally being emptied. No more standing in the rain to find and swap out clothes, no more tearing through boxes to find the items the kids need for school the next day, and having no idea where it is. No more days planned around the hours of the Rec. Center, so we could make sure we are all able to shower, no more looking for free things to do and places to go on the weekends because we did not have our own place to go back to. It all hit me and I laid my head on Aaron’s shoulder and cried. And cried, and cried. That evening we packed up the first stupid storage unit into a truck. Our boys are big tough guys now so we had that thing emptied and in the truck in less than 2 hours. Whoop! Our amazing friends came over to help us unload everything. I stood in the house and occasionally bossed people around, but was mostly quiet. Mulitple times I caught the bestie staring at me. Finally she said, “I keep waiting for you to freak out! You’re so quiet!!!” Haha! I must be pretty predictable! Lol! I don’t know what was going on, I think I must have still been processing everything.

We moved into the house in the midst of theatre madness. Alex had a role in “Arsenic and Old Lace” at his high school. Aaron and I love volunteering for the theatre productions so we unpacked the essentials and continued on with the theatre madness. As soon as the play was over I had 3 opportunities to be a vendor at holiday craft shows and markets. I was making caramels every spare moment. I happen to make ridiculously amazing caramels and they sold like mad. I think I made around 3,000 of them from the end of October to the beginning of December. Then we had another theatre production (a smaller one), visiting family for Christmas break, back to rehearsing and prepping for another theatre production, helping friends in their very successful business venture and, of course, the everyday crazy that is the Sanders family.

I completely understand that most people have very busy, eventful lives so there is nothing special or spectacular in what we were doing, but I have not been able to find where I am supposed to be. I have been busy, but I feel like it is running in circles busy, not productive busy. As I said, I have not been able to find the words to write (I think I’m making up for it though). The best way to describe it is if you could see my brain, all the words are busy dancing around in there instead of making any kind of formation. Rather fitting for me, really. I have expressed my frustrations about this with friends and with Aaron and recently he said something that really helped me. He told me I had been on “war footing” and now I have to find what to do with myself in a new place. He has used that phrase for himself frequently throughout this faith journey, but I have never applied it to myself. He is right, I was on war footing. I didn’t recognize it because his war footing is very intense and serious and almost angry. My war footing looks like ensuring everyone is safe, fed, comfortable (as much as possible), encouraged and happy. I had a daily routine for this war footing and suddenly my footing shifted. I knew the day would come, but I didn’t embrace it like I thought I would. Like a sailor that longs for land after months and months at sea; so happy to finally be on that land, but needing time to find “land legs”.

This post marks the point where I find my new footing and begin running, with all my strength, into this next season of the adventure that God has for us.

What is Next?

What is next

I have been reflecting on the last 4 years of our adventure and am overwhelmed by the things we had to un-learn. So many of the things we thought we understood about who God is and how he behaves had to be re-framed. I now know how Paul could say that he counts all of his former knowledge as rubbish in light of gaining Christ. Paul’s dedication to the scriptures was not bad, it was just framed incorrectly. He allowed the truth of the scriptures to be interpreted through the lens of anger and fear. As a result, Paul was willing to kill in the name of the god he served. I do not believe that Paul was saying that his dedication to the scriptures, and his pursuit of God were of no benefit. He was indicating that once he had experienced God, first-hand, he could clearly see how his former knowledge was based on human reasoning, not on Spiritual revelation.

With this in mind, I looked back at my early blog posts. I saw that as I began to realize that my truth was skewed, my writings became very bold in pointing it out. I became a crusader, burdened with what I saw as the responsibility to reveal the skewed truth to everyone that would listen. I often threw tact and diplomacy to the wind in favor of a direct approach. I now see that I was probably pretty annoying…sorry about that. I was seeing the goodness of God like never before and that revelation allowed me to experience more joy, peace and freedom than ever before, yet I chose to share the revelation in a harsh and often degrading way. I truly want to ask for your forgiveness and assure you that it was never my intent to hurt or offend.

We have also learned things over the last four years. Most notably, for me, has been the revelation that you can actually have peace and rest, no matter the circumstances. I have always marveled at the Bible’s account of Stephen’s stoning. He was not looking forward to the “end of this season” or wishing the pain to pass quickly, he was at rest in the middle of the most horrific situation. In the last eight months of our homeless season I learned to rest and truly be at peace, regardless of the situation. A lesson that Jenny and the kids had learned much earlier in the journey. I firmly believe that God asks his children to do hard things and intentionally puts them in challenging situations, but he does not intend for us to experience the stress and physical strain of those experiences. He offers peace and joy while we are in the training, not just when we make it through.

That is why we are excitedly looking forward to the next part of our journey. We are grateful to be in a house and have enjoyed the comfort of that experience, but we do not feel like we need to rest and recharge our batteries before the next season. As Paul stated in Philippians 4:12, we know what it is to be in need, and we know what it is to have plenty. We have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. In the last week we have gotten some very specific words from God regarding our future and are excitedly looking forward to where God is taking us next. Stay tuned for more detail on that.

As for me, I am going to focus on loving people. I now realize something that had been hidden in plain sight before. That is the fact that perfect love casts out fear. I am called to wake up sleeping giants and fear is the one thing that is currently holding that group back. Fear of leaving their current religion, lifestyle, friends or comforts. As far as I can tell the only way to conquer that kind of fear is with love. That is why I am so grateful for my bus driving job. I can not think of a better group to teach me about unbiased love and abundant forgiveness. It truly is a ministry, not from me to the children, but from the children to me.

Red Brick and Black Shutters

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After two years, nine months and twenty three days, the Sanders family is in a house again! If you have just started following the Sanders family adventures, you can catch up on the last three years here, by scrolling to the bottom and clicking “older posts” until you get to the first post.

Since the beginning of the year we have felt that it was time for a change. As you can see, from previous posts, when we were living out of our van we had peace. We did not love the inconvenience of the situation, but we all knew that it was for a purpose and it was what we needed to do. That started changing at the beginning of the year, but we could not see how our living situation could ever change.

I have mentioned before that we are in the ninth wealthiest county in the country. To say that finding a home is expensive is an understatement. There are few apartments in the area and houses rent for thousands of dollars per month. We felt like God had opened the door for me to drive a school bus but that was not a money making venture, besides it is not the type of job that could take a family from less than a hundred dollars to their name, to spending thousands per month on rent and utilities. Still we all felt an overwhelming sense of hope that restoration was coming. We regularly discussed the frustration of having hope when there was no apparent reason to have hope.

In May we explained the feelings and situation to a couple of ladies from our church and they prayed that we would no longer need to be in our van, and that God would begin to provide a place for us each day. God must have heard that prayer because from that day on we had a place to stay. Sometimes it was in a hotel, sometimes friends offered to allow us to house sit, or just invited us to stay. We are truly blessed with amazing friends and family! We understand that our family adventure is challenging for people. We see from Biblical accounts that God’s Training Plan often involves some peculiar situations, but Americanized Christianity has no time for inconvenient and uncomfortable times of testing/training. So we are doubly thankful that God has provided us with so many loving, accepting people who were willing to listen to us, check in on us, and love us as we’ve walked out what we felt God was asking us to do. This journey has been the most challenging thing we have ever done and there were many days of complete frustration and despair that were brightened by a call from a friend or a note of support from family.

As the school year progressed the feeling of hope got stronger. The pastor at our church was teaching a series on speaking life (Jenny’s specialty!) into situations and Jenny was attending a ladies Bible study that was addressing the same topic. During one of the sermons, my mind flashed back to a conversation I had with a friend from China. He was in the states and called to check up on us (see! Awesome friends!). I was explaining to him that my kids were thriving and that they are almost always positive about our adventure. I also explained that I often get frustrated about not being able to provide luxuries that are part of the American culture. He encouraged me to allow the children’s positive words to change how I speak/think about the journey. I was getting the message to remove negativity at every turn.

I began to make an effort to speak faith regarding our adventure and to stop talking/thinking negative things. When I began to focus on my words, I was surprised to discover how negative I was. Then the radiator in our van sprung a leak and needed to be replaced. We had under $50 to our name and our only source of transportation was out of commission. You try being positive about that!

Jenny calmed me down by speaking faith (she is AMAZING for me) and I took it to a local repair shop. A friend (more amazing people!) allowed me to borrow his vehicle while the repairs were being made. The repair shop called and informed me that the cost to replace the radiator was more than $600. I told him to go ahead with the repair, not knowing how I would pay for it. Within minutes of authorizing the repairs a fantastic friend (see a pattern here?) contacted and said they wanted to pay for the repair, sighting Acts 2:44 as the basis for their gift. It has truly been humbling and amazing to witness the true church in action over the last 3 years. They do not attend the same church or belong to the same denomination, but they are listening to the Father’s voice and for that we are grateful.

So, how did we get a house? At the beginning of October I received a letter from a former employer. 15 years ago they had started a retirement account for me. I vaguely recalled it because I had tried to tap every available resource nearly three years ago when our adventure got scary. At that time the account was not available for withdrawal. I could not even find out how much was in it. Additionally, they did not send statements on the account. As a result, I had forgotten about it. The first letter I had ever received from them stated that the account was available for immediate cash withdrawal and provided the paperwork to make the withdrawal. The account had a substantial amount of money in it. We requested the money and it came a couple of days before Jenny finished a 50 day fast that she felt led to do (coincidence?). That money allowed us to get a beautiful, spacious home near our schools and friends.

We had recently cleaned out our storage units and given our bedroom set away. We also had to throw away a couple of our mattresses, due to water damage, so we needed mattresses. The day before we were scheduled to move into the house a man flagged us down as we were leaving our hotel. We had not stayed in that hotel since last year, so we were sure he could not have recognized us. We stopped and he asked us if we needed mattresses. What? We hesitantly said yes and he explained that he had been hired to remodel the hotel and he had a pile of practically new king size box springs and mattresses left over. He said that he did not want to throw them away, so he thought he would ask us if we wanted them. We gladly accepted! As I was leaving he shook my hand, leaned in and looked me in the eyes. Then he said “remember, God is always good.” I asked him what his name was and he said, “Jesus.” So, we can legitimately say that Jesus gave us two king size bedroom sets.

In the post “A Call to Christianity”, I stated that I do not record this adventure to convince atheists and unbelievers that there is a God, I record it to encourage Christians to be Christian. An unbeliever or an atheist could use coincidence, or chance to explain away how a phone bill arrives and the next letter opened has a note with a check. The note says “for your phone bill” and the check covers the bill. Or to explain when we feel led to write out a list of our bills and pray for God to pay them and hours later someone contacts us and asks for an itemized list of our bills, because God blessed them and they want to pay our bills. We have hundreds of little miracles like this in the last 3 years as a testimony to shake the Americanized Christian to the core and wake them up to have a God adventure of their own. When you step out, he will test you, refine you and always provide for you because he is always good.

P.S. Over 2 years ago a friend of ours told us that he felt like God had told him that He was going to give our family a house. Specifically, a house with red brick and black shutters. We had not thought about those words until we had signed the paperwork on the house and were reflecting on the amazing blessing of having a house without striving, stress, government assistance or selling our life away to make monthly payments. It is God’s good pleasure to answer prayers… and he is into details, that is why our new house has red brick and black shutters. It is exciting to know that we are exactly where we are supposed to be and we are looking forward to living out the passion that God has placed in us.

Waking Sleeping Giants

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One of the biggest challenges for us, and those who follow our blog, has been the fact that we felt God directing us to not have employment for the first two and a half years of the journey. Jenny addressed this in her “FAQ” post a few months ago. I wish I could explain why we had to do that, but God does not promise to answer all of our “why” questions, he simply asks us to obey and promises to give us grace and peace as we do so.

Obeying is a concept that Christians are familiar with, but sadly we are not as familiar with God’s character. According to the Bible, he consistently asks his people to do outrageous things. For example, he directed his 12 disciples to go out without provision (after he asked them to leave their employment) in Luke 9 and then directed 72 others to do the same in Luke 10. It does not say if they had families, or what it looked like to walk it out. They just obeyed. This direction was clearly not a rule, rather it appears to be a specific direction, for a specific time (Luke 22:35). What God has asked our family to do falls into this category, but it was very frustrating because I could not imagine that God would ask someone to do it. This was due to a lack of familiarity with his character, as revealed in the Bible. One thing that I did gain from God directing us to trust him alone for our provision was a desire to seek his character out (mostly because I was mad!). As I saw more of his character, I found that my Christian relationship was with a weak, false, logical, Americanized Christian god and not with the God of the Bible (see post “The Day We Got a Divorce”).

As I stated earlier, I can not explain why God has directed us to do what he has or why Jesus directed his disciples in Luke to do it, I just know he did. When Jesus directed his disciples to go without provision it was for a specific purpose. They were to go and perform miracles. God did not instruct us to perform miracles, but he definitely gave us a mandate. He specifically asked us to do what I call “wake sleeping giants”. One of the unfortunate results of Americanized Christianity is that it has produced a large group of people who know that they are meant for more but fear, debt, uncertainty and love of comfort keep them from pursuing their passion. They are sleeping giants. Three years ago, when we originally felt the call to wake these sleeping giants, I assumed that waking sleeping giants would look like speaking to churches and church leaders, but that was not the case. I now believe that our journey, itself, is specifically designed to grab these sleeping giants by the lapel and shake them awake. After detailing our story to the family pastor, at a local church, he stated that our story was a “wrecking ball” and it forces people to take God seriously. I pray that is true. People like Francis Chan, Rick Warren and David Platt have obeyed God and written book, after book in an attempt to wake up the sleeping American church. Maybe God has now chosen to use the Sanders family adventure as a “wrecking ball” that will get the job done. We are willing and he is able.

Ready, Set, Summer!

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Here we are at the end of another school year. We made it! Whoop whoop! The kiddos had a fantastic year socially and academically…with the exception of a few missed assignments due to sheer laziness. But we won’t dwell on those. If you think my blog posts are long, you should hear my lectures. Ask the kiddos about it and you’ll get a lovely exaggerated reenactment of my voice and facial expressions. How did they get so mean and sassy? I can only hope they are all parents some day and I can mock them in return. Anyway…they closed the year out with a bang; attending awards ceremonies, receiving awards, certificates, letters, lots of hugs and words of encouragement for their futures. Lots of running to and fro, with a little bit of clueless wondering mixed in, means Aaron and I couldn’t focus our brains enough to form a single coherent sentence, let alone an entire blog post. But, here we are now with our brains functioning as well as any parent’s of four offspring could.

All that being said, I have about five different post ideas running through my head and I know Aaron has at least that many. Be prepared!! (Did anyone read that to the tune of Scar’s song from Lion King? I totally sang it in my head as I typed it.) I have a one year devotional on the Bible app on my phone that I’m following and I’ve almost given up on it half a dozen times. Each time I’ve thought, “I’ll read one more to give it another chance.” and each of those times, BAM!, it is something that speaks directly to a current thought or conversation that has been had. This time it was a conglomeration of some of the blog posts that have been in my head. For a quicker read than what I normally would have for you, I decided to share part of it. No worries, my loquacious self will still write all the ideas I have in my head later. Consider this a teaser trailer:

Put Your Reputation on the Line

by Gloria Copeland

God is a good God. In most circles, that’s still shocking news. Do you remember what Jesus told the mad man from Gadara? After He cast out the demons that had possessed him, Mark 5:19 says Jesus told him to tell his friends the great things the Lord had done for him.

Jesus was concerned about God’s reputation. He wanted it corrected. Everywhere He went he taught people that God was not what they had thought He was. he taught them that God is a good God. And that’s the job He gave us when He left the earth. (Mark 16:15)

Mark 5:25-34 tells of a woman with an issue of blood, who put her reputation on the line. It was against the Jewish Law for a woman with an issue of blood to be seen in public. But she risked public humiliation, even arrest, and fought her way through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.

Why? Because she was more interested in Jesus’ reputation than her own. She knew she couldn’t get healed by staying at home doing what the religious community of her day said she should do. To receive her healing, she had to hang on to Jesus’ reputation-and let go of hers. She wanted healing so desperately and believed in Jesus’ goodness so fully that she was willing to risk it all.

That’s how you have to be if you’re going to see God work miracles in your life. You have to become so confident about how good He is that you’ll dare to lay everything on the line. Choose His reputation over yours every time.

“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Mark 5:19

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Now you get to have fun trying to decipher what phrases in there are things I’ve been thinking about. Hehehe.

Sanders Family Unabridged Part 22 (March 2016)

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Friday March 4, 2016

A friend contacted last night asking for help for a widow friend of hers that needed her washer fixed. Aaron doesn’t really know anything about appliances, but we figured you can Google anything, so he said he’d give it a whirl. He jiggled a few wires and got it running in no time. The three of us ladies chatted while he did that and I ended up sharing part of our story. The lady wanted to know what she could do to help us and I assured her that prayer is the best thing ever! Aaron let her know that if she ever needed help with anything else to let us know and we’d be more than happy to help her. He told me later that there was no way anything he did fixed that washer because all he did was jiggle a cord and it wasn’t even loose. We’d like to think that God used that situation to introduce us to someone we could help. 🙂

Saturday March 12, 2016

We’ve had a wonderful week of good memories and God moments! I love it when God shows up and you know He sees right where you’re at.

Last Saturday I decided we needed to add a little variety to our life and do something we haven’t done yet, so we went for a hike around Radnor Lake. I chose a lake because I’m feeling a little homesick for all the lakes and rivers we had up in Minnesota/Wisconsin. I miss water!! I figured the kiddos would love an opportunity to be outside in nice weather doing something new. They were big whiny babies! Well, the boys were, Bella was excited to be out. They got over it eventually, but the whining reached it’s peak when it started raining in the middle of the hike. Ha!! The weather was supposed to be nice all day! We didn’t get too wet, just enough to make the walk slightly chilly. There were signs everywhere about the different birds one might see on their hike so Bella became an avid bird watcher the whole time. She had a blast! The boys were eventually suckered in by her enthusiasm, which led to the end of their whining. I think she ended up spotting eight different birds. We went to the library afterwards to charge up our phones and they were having a book sale. That thrilled Bella’s little heart even further! I had intended on writing, but she was so excited to go look through the books, I took her over there instead. She ended up buying 6 books! She’s definitely her momma’s girl! We ended the night by going to Culvers. When we had gone up north over the summer a friend had given us a bunch of coupons for free scoops of custard so the kiddos all enjoyed a yummy treat.

I have been thinking a lot about the change I have felt since talking with the pastors at Grace Center and basically put ourselves under their authority. Nobody likes that phrase “under authority” or “submitting”, I don’t like it either, but there really is something to letting yourself be vulnerable and giving someone the permission, or making room, for them to speak into your life; correction or encouragement. I guess we have never really seen or thought about the blessing that comes from submitting, because our pastors had almost always been our parents. I don’t have an example or anything tangible that has happened since talking with them, it just feels different.

Our new friend texted saying that her washer worked for one cycle and then quit again. She asked if we would mind coming over to take another look at it. Aaron looked at it again, but still not having any knowledge of appliances, couldn’t find anything. We YouTubed all sorts of options but none of them worked. Finally, he told her to try resetting it and if that didn’t work to let us know and we’d be back on Friday with a voltage meter (after we track someone down who has one) to find where the problem is. She called later that afternoon to let us know that resetting it hadn’t worked, so we made plans to go back Friday morning.

I had another book club gathering on Thursday. At our last meeting I had mentioned the fact that I would love to have a taco truck. Only one of the people there had ever had my tacos, so I volunteered to make them for this meeting. I made tacos, refried beans and fideo. It’s always sooo delicious, but it is also sooo stinky and because our meetings go until 9:00 or so, I had no access to a shower, and I had to go to sleep smelling like a fried taco. There are worse things I suppose.

I had asked a friend if her husband had a volt meter that Aaron could borrow. She said he did and she also volunteered her husband to go with Aaron to check out the washer since he wasn’t working that day. The house they were going to was near her house so I texted that morning asking if I could shower at her house, while the guys were out so I wouldn’t have to go to the Rec. center. She said, “Of course!” Yay!! A temperature regulated shower!!! Ha! The guys came back shortly after I was finished and said the motor was shot on the washer and that our friend was going to put an “in search of” add on local garage sale sites. She texted me later that evening and told me that someone had given her a washer for free and would be delivering it next week. Woohoo!!

Monday March 28, 2016

I’m behind in writing again!! Ugh!! Why do I always do that?!?

On Sunday March 13, Alyn Jones spoke about the kindness of God and how there is a piece of us that doesn’t really believe that God is that good. He asked the audience some questions and told us to think about them. How do we live like we believe? how do we live like we expect God’s kindness? At the end of his message he invited anyone that felt like they had excitement or hope about what God could do, but didn’t see how it would happen, to come forward and he would pray for them. Aaron popped right up! He doesn’t normally do that so it took me a moment to comprehend what was going on and then I popped up and followed him. The boys were even slower in comprehension, so they trickled in behind us a few moments later. Pastor Tony came over and prayed with us and then prayed for Aaron specifically. He spoke some things that were spot on to how Aaron had been feeling lately. While he was praying for Aaron a lady came over and prayed with us and then walked away. A few moments later she came back and stood in front of me and took my hand. She had taken a bracelet off of her wrist and was holding it. She told me she wears it because God has done so many miraculous things in her life and she likes to look at that bracelet to remember that. She said that God told her to give me that bracelet because He is going to do the miraculous in my life. She put the bracelet on my wrist and prayed for me. It is amazing how a person can have a wonderful time in prayer and be spoken to by God and in less than an hour be questioning what was said. Things start to be blown off as generic and “anybody looking at us could come up with something like that to say”. We need to determine to take those thoughts captive and remember the connection our spirit felt when those words were first spoken. There is not a special spirit connection every time we are prayed for, so when that connection does happen we need to take those words and cling to them. Even when the doubts start clouding in, we remember those words connected because they were from our Father, just for us.

I met a friend for coffee on the 15th. She said something that has really helped us in interacting with the people in our life. Whenever people have asked us how they can help we have said, “Pray about it and whatever the Lord tell you to do, that’s what you should do.” We further caution them to make sure it’s the Lord and not them trying to “fix” anything for us. My friend told me she thought the last part of that statement throws people off and causes them to second guess whatever is in their heart to do. She said that most people “hear from God” by a feeling that they have, or a thought that just won’t go away, but when we put the disclaimer “make sure it’s the Lord” it makes people unsure of what they’re hearing. She told me that if God wants to send us help through people, He’s big enough to handle it when people help without asking Him first. We don’t need to make it so complicated and cause people to second guess whether they are hearing from God or not. This was great advice and it goes for all situations, not just ours. If someone feels directed to do something to help and it just won’t leave their thoughts or their heart, let them do it. Maybe they need to do it for their walk with God and it actually has nothing to do with you. Do we really think that God isn’t going to do something in our life because someone gave misguided help? I hope not, because I’m pretty sure I’ve been one of the misguided helpers a time or two in my life. Thank you, friend, for speaking so freely and opening our eyes to what we were doing. Love you!!

Aaron, Alex and I went to see Phantom of the Opera at the TPAC (Tennessee Performing Arts Center) with Alex’s theater class on the 17th. We had never seen the whole thing before and we loved it!! We had to add a little flavor to the evening, of course. Aaron drove the bus for the group and dropped us off at the front doors. He had been told by the people at the TPAC that there was special bus parking, and there was, for about 4 buses. He ended up having to park about 5 blocks away. No big deal, we had arrived 30 minutes early, but after all his parking search he only had about 10 min to run back to the TPAC to make it to the show. I had to leave his ticket with the attendant, so I could go in and sit down. I didn’t want to be locked out for the first 12 minutes of the show if he didn’t make it back in time. Ha! Yes, I am very compassionate. He made it back in time! BUT, the kiddos had switched seats around so they could sit next to their favorite people (totally can’t blame them, I’d have done the same) so Aaron and I couldn’t find where our seats where and the lights went down for the show to start. Longish story shorter: we ended up standing in the far back for the first half of the play because there were no available seats and we didn’t want the usher walking up and down the aisle with a flashlight trying to find them for us while everyone else was trying to enjoy the show. We were able to work out the seating arrangements for the second half and enjoyed it sitting down. Aaron was a little put off by it all, but I told him that it is just more adventure to our life so it was all good! That, and we both looked really cute that night. How can things be bad when you’re looking good?! Ha!!

We had a great spring break!!! Our original plan was to drive down to Florida to be at the beach for a few days and we were just going to stay in the van. We do that most of the time anyway, so why not do it at the beach!? As much as it sucks sometimes there certainly is a freedom that has come with this crazy life. Not everything has to be perfect, just go out on an adventure!! Live life! Make a memories! Create a story! It turned out that we didn’t stay in the van because a precious friend gave us enough money for gas, hotel and food for our trip. How sweet is that?!? We found two jellyfish, saw dolphins playing in the ocean and had the Blue Angels fly right over our heads. Izzy and I brought back half an ocean’s worth of shells and Aaron and the boys brought back some serious sunburn. After a few days at the beach we went to Illinois to spend Easter with Aaron’s family. He couldn’t do anything for the first two days we were there because his feet were so swollen and burned. He had said he wanted to get some sun. I think he’s an overachiever. Both of Aaron’s grandmas were able to come over on Saturday to have an early Easter meal. Grandma Sanders is doing great! She even went for a ride in ATV around the property, so she could see what’s been going on since she’s been away.

Wednesday March 30, 2016

After a wonderful time away together and weeks and weeks of feeling hopeful and that God can do anything…I had a HORRIBLE day yesterday. Bleh! Bleh, bleh, bleh. It was a bunch of little things that only happen because we’re living in a stupid van that all piled together and broke my brain. I won’t list all of them because I know they’re stupid little things, but ugh! HOW MUCH LONGER IS GOD GOING TO KEEP SAYING “Wait.”????? AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! <—- Insert cartoon image of me running around crazed and senseless with my hair flying everywhere. I used the only weapon I had: sleep. I couldn’t keep my brain focused to think of anything good. Even while listening to music (which normally helps), or reading my Bible, or a devotional (which usually helps) I only had snarky comments popping up in my mind when I’d hear or read certain phrases. Therefore, sleep was a must if I wanted the rest of my family to survive the day. I curled up in the back of the van and slept for about an hour and a half while Aaron went into the library. Because this faith walk is an entire family decision, I asked the kiddos how they were doing when they got home from school. I was hoping at least one of them would be done with it all so we could talk about Aaron getting a corporate job again and just be “normal”. I asked each of them, “What would you do right now if you were the daddy or the momma?” This time was a little different than previous talks. Alex thought we should at least explore job opportunities to see if anything opens up because he is sick and tired of the van. He doesn’t mind not having a lot of money, he just wants a place to shower, eat, sleep and have friends over. Jack thinks we should explore job opportunities because he wants to have a little bit of extra money to get nice clothes and do things with friends. He actually doesn’t mind the van too much; “the shower thing gets annoying, but other than that it’s really not too bad.” Max says we need to just keep waiting for God to tell us what to do next. If He is still saying “wait” then we need to keep waiting. He doesn’t think the van is that bad either. Bella says we need to wait for God, but she hopes He says something soon because “everybody keeps growing and pretty soon there is not going to be any room at all!” Great. Now what? Our family agreement was that we would all stay in agreement and we’re not all in agreement! Aaron and I talked about him contacting his former boss to see if there were any remote positions available. We mentioned this to the kiddos and their first reaction was horror. They thought we meant we were moving back up north. They said “absolutely not!” to that because they love their schools and their friends and they said it “just feels right here.” We explained that it would be a remote job and that we weren’t trying to make anything happen, but if something opened up we’d probably move forward with it. They were all ok with that, but said if anything did open up they’d want to pray about it as a family to make sure it’s what we should do. There ya go. Not the greatest way to end March, but hey, real life, people, real life. I have absolutely no judgment on the children of Israel, anyone else in the Bible or modern times that tries to help hurry along God’s promises and plans. He takes a really reeeeeeally long time. Another C.S. Lewis quote we love to say is from The Chronicles of Narnia where Aslan responds to Lucy’s question of “What do you call soon?” and he says, “I call all time soon.” Yep, that’s God. All time is soon. And for us all time is not soon enough.