Monday, February 28, 2011

January & February 2011

So much has happened in our lives in these last 2 months. Some of you have heard directly, others indirectly, and some of you not at all. So here is the story…

About 4 ½ years ago, the Lord began a huge healing in our lives. He opened our eyes up to the deep down root issues of what was broken in us as individuals and in our marriage. He weeded that out of us. He sent Jon out to the desert to find our Lord and wrestle with Him. And Jon did find him. So much amazing healing happened in us during that very intense time. The Lord was speaking so specifically, clearly, and unrelentingly to me. It was awesome and exhausting. We began learning new ways to live; healthy ways. We sold our condo and began looking for a new place to live.

The Lord blessed us with a house to rent, with room for the kids to live abundantly and to have space to be kids. He made it very clear that it came from Him, it was a gift for Jon specifically, and He was blessing us with it. He wanted us to share it and bless others with it as well. We had 3 ½ wonderful years there. God did some light pruning on us, but it was a very peaceful and joyful time. God taught us to focus on abiding in Him and to trust Him in new ways, deeper ways. Near the end of 2010 I began to think about the soft and gentle time with the Lord I’d had in those years and I began to wonder why the Lord wasn’t talking to me in the same way He did at our last house. I just settled on accepting that the Lord must talk to me in different ways at different times in my life. I was okay with that.

Then January came and the Lord’s clear and specific voice came with it in full force. He began requiring me to obey Him in new ways. He gave me words to share with individual people and groups. He had me come against fear and hate in others with His love. He had me tell people their value to Him. What’s so weird about this is that I’m terrible at “words.” I have the hardest time accessing the right words in my brain at the right time. I’m very cut and dry. I’m orderly. The Lord used me in such tender and soft ways; ways that are not mine, but His. The Lord also had me hold my tongue a lot. To be obedient to take all my words to Him before I spoke, and there was a lot I was required to hold back. In all of this, the Lord was requiring me to stand in meekness. Meekness means strength under control. Meekness means to curb the “natural” desires to rebel, fight, have your own way, push ourselves forward, defend ourselves, etc. and to instead submit to the Lord in obedience to His will. The end of January brought a sense of completion for me in these things the Lord was asking me to do.

Practically the moment all that ended, the Lord started something new in Jon and me. The Lord delved deep into us both again. He showed us aspects of ourselves that He wanted to bring healing into. It took me by such surprise. I thought those things had been dealt with. But the Lord knows better and took us deeper. In part, what the Lord showed us is that deep in Jon was a survival mode that was ingrained in him. It prevented Jon from living fully and dwelling on the joys in his life. Instead, it caused Jon to subconsciously feel burdened by life and to focus on just getting through the day. Our wonderful and sweet Lord began transforming Jon. Our Lord took that survival mode out of my husband and left room for Jon to have space to want and to desire; to have a new hope. To have space in his brain to think about what he wants out of life…to LIVE…and to live fully!

So we’re moving to Texas for Jon to go back to school to study forestry. Within a very short two weeks, from the first moment that the Lord brought up the areas that needed healing, we had a plan with many of the pieces in place. And these pieces fell into place so effortlessly, that we know it’s the hand of the Lord in our lives and in this plan. Jon has a job secured at a cabinet shop. We’ll be renting Grandma Jean’s house, which is a three bedroom house for $800 a month. We own a little one bedroom house next door that brings in $400 a month, so we’ll only have to pay $400 out of our own pocket! Grandma is on her way to move to Kauai. Thank you so much Grandma and Aloha! We’re in the process of applying to Blinn College (the local junior college in Bryan, Texas) and having Jon’s Vanguard University transcripts sent. After completing his general education, Jon intends to apply to Texas A&M for their forestry program. We anticipate all the schooling will take about 3-5 years overall. And after that…who knows where we’ll end up.

There are so many aspects about our new adventure that excite me. I’m so excited that Jon is beginning a new career which down the road will breathe a lot of life into him. I’m excited that the boys will be living in a house in the woods with creeks, ponds, and wild life. They’ll have room to explore and be boys in a way that they can’t in Orange County. I’m excited that they can go down the street by themselves and see if their friends can play. I’m excited that there are friends down the street for them to play with! I know that this place will build into the boys a self confidence and independence they wouldn’t get in Orange County either. I’m excited that we’ll be surrounded by wonderful people in our new neighborhood and I can’t wait to get to know them better. I’m excited because, in my heart, I know we’re already loved out there and that my family will immediately be welcomed, cared about, and invested in. I’m also excited that our new situation will likely allow us to completely settle/pay off the last of our debt and that we will no longer be adding to our debt since we will no longer be self-employed. Yay!

The Lord told me that there was going to be a final piece that would complete things and solidify “the plan.” I thought that was going to be a word from a random person who would walk up to Jon and say, “Hey, the Lord told me you’re supposed to move and go back to school.” We got a call from my mom on a Sunday afternoon, just two weeks into the whirlwind we were already caught up in. She told us that she just found out she has breast cancer. Bizarrely, none of us were worried. She’s not even worried. We knew this was the final piece the Lord prepared us for. There is a wonderful peace that passes understanding covering us. Praise the Lord!

We immediately began preparing to move out of our house so that the kids and I could move to Hanford to take care of my mom. Jon will stay in Southern California working and living out of his suburban. We packed up our house in one week. It was a crazy week! Really a crazy few weeks counting the crazy stuff the two weeks before. In such a short amount of time, while Jon was still working normal days, we had to figure out what would fit in a moving truck to put into storage for Texas, pack for 4 months of living and homeschooling in Hanford, figure out what Jon would need while living like a homeless man, and get rid of what was left. We had wonderful help packing and moving from many wonderful friends! For now, Jon is of the mind that he mostly wants to spend some good time alone in the evenings, but we’ve been so blessed by the numerous offers of places for Jon to stay, offers of help in any way that we need, and encouraging notes and phone calls. Thank you all so much!

Before we left Costa Mesa, we were blessed that Caleb got one final ocean trip in with his best friend Sam and some quality Dad time. Caleb really enjoyed talking with the scientist on board about all the microscopic sea creatures they pulled up in a sample of the ocean floor. The outing was featured in the Orange County Register online.

While the big boys and dads were enjoying the ocean, Tracy and I took the little ones to the Santa Ana Zoo. It was so refreshing to do something fun after all the crazy moving we’d been consumed with. We’d been living/camping out in our house for a week with absolutely nothing in it, not even beds. We enjoyed it and certainly made the best of it, but it was nice to get out and do something fun.

We also had time to squeeze in an 80’s birthday party to celebrate our friend Claudine’s birthday. It was so much fun! Happy birthday Clu!

As I’m writing this, I’ve been living in Hanford for just over a week. Jon came up for the first weekend and it was so wonderful to reunite after only a week apart. We’re thankful for this allotment of time we’ve been given these next 4 months. It will be a time for Jon to fast family life and focus on the Lord and on himself; so that he can start our new adventure freshly focused and grounded in the Lord. It will be a time for me, our kids, my parents, and my brother (who also is living at my parent’s home) to spend really good time together, to bond closer, and to just really enjoy each other. And the extra bonus is that we’re saving quite a bit of money by not having a large rent to pay for the next 4 months.

The first Monday that we were in Hanford, we went wig shopping with my mom. First we went to a little place in a strip mall. There were creepy mannequin heads everywhere and lots of ugly hair. The owner of the shop ended up helping my mom try on quite a few wigs. We found one we liked okay, but decided to keep an appointment we had at another shop. Thank goodness we did. It turned out to be a really classy private studio with the most wonderfully kind lady. It was such a better experience! She was so caring and welcoming. She gave us so much helpful information. The kids were welcomed and the mannequins weren’t creepy.
So many of the wigs looked fabulous on Mom. It was hard to narrow it down. But we did and we purchased a really cute medium length wig & a long one too. It was a really fun day, tiring (we were at it for 4 ½ hours), but fun. It was nice to do it before Mom’s first chemo appointment. Ben, about halfway through our visit, spotted a hot pink short wig on top of a really tall cabinet, and he kept quietly and insistently pulling on me. Finally I asked him what he wanted. He really wanted Grandma to try on the hot pick wig and he wouldn’t let up until we agreed. Before we left, Mom tried it on and the grin and joy on Ben’s face was precious. We all cracked up and especially enjoyed those moments. We couldn’t convince the boys to try it on, which is just fine. I tried on a fun pink tinsel wig. It was great! So, we'll see how she feels after the chemotherapy. These next two weeks will let us know how she reacts to the treatment. Keep the prayers coming! Pray for peaceful hearts here. Pray that the Lord sustains Jon, the boys, and me through this time of being apart and outside of our normal day to day living & friendships. Pray that the Lord sustains, comforts, and holds up my mom through the chemotherapy. Pray that my mom's cancer shrinks & shrinks, & shrinks. I feel like the Lord told me that the cancer will shrink each time we pray together, so I'm standing on that.

The current status report on my mom is that the cancer has not spread to any part of her body & it has not gone into her lymph nodes. This is really unusual because she has a very large mass that is stage 3, fast growing, and aggressive cancer. So, praise God for that! Her treatment plan is also unusual. They normally do an immediate mastectomy in a case like hers, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. For her they're doing chemotherapy first to reduce the size, then surgery, and then radiation. I pray that she only has to get a lumpectomy or nothing! That would be so much better! The doctors have said that's not an option, but we'll see...God is good, God is big, and God is amazing at doing the “unusual”!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is my focus today, this week, the next 4 months, and the rest of my life.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Galatians 6:9-10 was really encouraging for me in a moment when I was feeling overwhelmed and overly tired. I’m holding onto this verse for myself over these next 4 months.

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."

The verse I’m holding onto for my Mom is Isaiah 43:2.

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers,they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”