General sweetness—Today, Judah (6) wanted to write a letter to one of her little friends and ask for five dollars. I tried to explain to her how that was kind of rude. Apparently, she then prayed to God for the five dollars. Then she went outside and told Maggie (16) the whole story and said, “God doesn’t answer prayers.” Maggie then went to her room and got five dollars and gave it to Judah.
The kids in a sentence each—Josiah (20) plays ultimate Frisbee, disciples 3 freshman, is an anatomy professor’s assistant, and is headed towards med-school, God-willing. Mariah (18) loves , is putting Facebook to good use, is taking piano lessons, & is greatly missed by her sisters at home. Maggie (16) finally got to go visit missionaries in Myanmar and Cambodia (and loved it!), practices her guitar every day, loves “night swimming” in the pool, and also loves Facebook. Andy (16)—amazingly, gets himself up for school, is excelling at cross country running, keeps straight A’s, and is the only one that can make Gracie giggle. Sarah (14) is working hard at public school and getting all A’s, misses free time, is an affectionate and loyal friend and is the “hugger” of the family. Lydia (12) rides her bike to tai-kwan-do and loves it, is always willing to help out, and reads a lot lately. Noel (10) now has the status of a “big kid”, likes building cities with blocks, and likes riding her bike. Esther (8) is the first one up, knows all the neighbors and their dogs, likes “little” things, and LOVES monkeys. Micah (7) still loves, loves, loves trains, puts up with tai-kwan-do, and can now ride a 2-wheeler bike. Judah (6) is in a “make up” wearing phase, is a fish in the swimming pool, always wants to help (even when it’s not helpful!), Corrie (almost 2) likes to pack our cat around, has a gift for finding i-pods and cell phones (can’t keep her little hands off them), and is quite a little character. Gracie (3 months) still really likes to be held constantly (night & day), but we love her anyway!
No longer an “idealist”—In the last couple of years I have been made more aware of the widespread corruption in Christian ministries. My faith in God Himself has not waivered, but I admit, my faith in His kingdom coming in any visible way has. Cynicism is a terrible burden to carry……how hard to live with the idea that “it won’t make any difference anyway.” Actually a true cynic is someone who believes that people are motivated in their actions entirely by selfishness. I guess I’m not a true cynic because I know too many “self-less” people. Yet, I have seen a handful of the most Jesus-like people I know be cast out by other “Christians” and I’m not sure how to process that reality. Honestly, the scripture that has helped me most is the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew. The master sows good seeds, but in the night a robber comes and sows weeds among the wheat. The master says to let them grow up together and then each would be shown for what they really are. I am impatient for that day. I am thankful for all the innocent children around me daily that help balance out those negatives. Truly, the kingdom of God belongs to these.
Stones of remembrance—Many of you prayed for our family to find the “perfect” home while we are here in Florida. I want to follow up on that. You know we “bought a house” back in February, but I want to give God a little more glory. I want to build an altar of remembrance to God’s faithfulness and for the miracles He performed on our behalf….partly because it’s a good story, and partly because I need to remember it myself. We lived in a house on NMSI’s campus for 3 months when we first moved. We actively searched on-line for something that fit our criteria……5+ bedrooms, a pool, a safe street & neighborhood, a yard bigger than a postage stamp, in our price-range, not too far from the mission, something that didn’t need a lot of work. We set out hopefully on this quest since we heard it was a buyer’s market down here. We quickly realized that 5+ bedroom houses are hard to find at ANY price. The only ones we really saw were brand new, huge homes in gated communities with VERY small yards (not sure we could take a family picture on the front lawn). There were also a couple houses really far away from campus which would mean a long commute in traffic. Finally, we realized that unless we wanted to pay at least $100,000 MORE than we were really able to, then it didn’t even look possible at all. I pretty much gave up and convinced myself living on campus wasn’t that bad. A week after Christmas a co-worker of Joe’s mentioned a home in her neighborhood (nice area) that we might want to look at. It was only a 3 bedroom, though, so we didn’t know if it would be worth the time. Well, the house was in a great part of town (great if we had to re-sell again, too), and it was at the end of a cul-de-sac (no traffic) on a palm tree-lined street. . The house was a really big ranch style with almost all tile floors. There were 3 bedrooms, but also two rooms without closets that were called an “office” and an “exercise room” that could easily be bedrooms, too. The house was dirty, not lived in, and dark—but we could see great potential. The lady selling it was a realtor herself. She was REALLY hard to work with, and we found out later that someone else had tried to buy the house, but she was just too ornery (nice way of putting it) for them to do a deal with. She wouldn’t bargain on the price, but it was just under our “high” boundary. Thankfully, God also provided an energetic Christian realtor we could trust to “play hardball” for us and help us in many other ways, too. I feel like God had “reserved” this place for us. The backyard has a chain link fence barrier, but there is a tall, wild hedge (10 feet high) all around it too, so when the wind blows it feels like we are in the country. There is also an empty lot beside us to give us “elbow room” (probably acts as a sound barrier too!) A postscript to the story is that Albert (our realtor) also paid for a home warranty for us out of his commission (we probably wouldn’t have done that ourselves). We have used that warranty three times and it has saved us literally thousands. My friend Amanda Trussinger gave me great encouragement that God knew the exact spot we would live and would lead us there….I feared it wouldn’t be true, but God showed me that he cares about the smallest details. (For instance, I always thought it would be cool to have some of those doors that slide in and disappear into the wall, and this house has several.)
The moral of this story is……”Even though some stinky things happen in life, God still ROCKS!” Now think about YOUR God stories and remember His faithfulness to you. I love you friends. Jennie
(I’ll have to think of a God story (weed through the many and decide on one or two) to post soon. Blessing to all my friends who call me “Friend”.)