Sunday, July 28, 2013

Grandpa Jack's Last Resort

   Last Saturday, we gathered one last time at my dad's "campground" down south. This is a large property that he owns. It has a camper, garage, and a lot of grass. The kids love it. Isabelle, Lydia, and Vivian love to help walk the dogs. All the kids love to swim in the little pool and slide on the large, homemade slip and slide. The adults simply enjoy being together. We had a great time, but did miss Owen, Grahm, and Cole.

Right after lunch, we decided that we should have corn on the cob for supper.
Kent and Ben went to fetch it and then husked it.

Vivian and Grady on the oversized slip and slide.

Hunter, Ben, and Ryan trying to figure out the bow and arrow.

The guys just hanging out.

Brandy doing what she does best, teaching!

The swing set is always a big hit too!

Please note: This is Grady's eye after 5 days of healing. He hit is on the trampoline
at his cousin's house. It was pretty bad.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Our Get-a-Way to Bear Lake

    At the beginning of July we traveled with Ben, Tanya, and Vivian to Bear Lake. Now if you've never been there, it's important to know that there are no speed boats or wake allowed on the lake. It is very small, yet a wonderful place to get away and rest.  It was a wonderful time to reconnect. Grady loved every minute. Vivian is his best friend. So imagine 5 days with your best friend. You can't go wrong! We played games, shopped at Goodwill, watched fireworks, ate junk food, went to the Michigan Sand Dunes, rode the golf car, and the kids swam in the hot tub. My favorite part, by far, was the Dunes and the junk food. I have to admit, 2 days into the trip and we had to buy more cookies and candy.
The kids loved the water...

and the sand.

Aunt Tanya took each kid out on the kayak.

Kent and Ben tried to fish off the paddle boat. The fishing was very poor.

We enjoyed the fireworks.
However, the mosquitos were horrible. Grady had so many bites he
looked like he had chicken poxes.

The kids loved swimming in the hot tub, which wasn't really hot just really warm.

Uncle Ben is always a great hit. He's playing Meep-Meeps with the kids.
Grady thinks it hilarious.

Aunt Tanya had our Sunday School lesson and then we were off to the beach!

Daddy helped Grace to swim. She loved it!

Mommy and Grace enjoyed the sand together.

Grady didn't mind being buried in the sand. Grace on the other hand, hated it!
   Over all, it was a nice time to be with our family. It was nice to make new memories, while remembering the old.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Our Adventure to the Mission Field: Part 4

    So this post picks up with us beginning our work at HoH as part time house parents and applying to NTBI. We knew that NTBI was where we wanted to head, but getting there was another thing. So we applied and started to think about selling our house. The landscape needed a little work, so Kent asked Aaron McCormick to come and do some landscaping during his spring break. Well, as it turned out, Aaron did a fantastic job. So well in fact, that Kent and I like to say that he sold our house.
     This part was/is a huge confirmation in our adventure. .... We had this babysitter, Amanda, come to our house on the same day that Aaron was landscaping. I can't even remember where Kent and I were going, but we were going to be gone late. I do remember having a hard time finding a sitter, so I had to use a new one. Amanda came to watch our kids and spent time out front playing with them because they wanted to watch Aaron power wash the house. During this time Amanda asks Aaron questions about the house, at which point Aaron pauses and says, "Mmmm, Do you know they're selling their house?"
     The rest we'll say is history. She fell in love with the house and told her boyfriend who was looking for a place to buy. He comes 2 days later to look at it. Kent tells them the price, he accepts. 5 days later my mom lists it. We sign the papers. 2 weeks later have the appraisal and inspections, both go great. 2 weeks later we sign the papers and the house is officially sold!!! It's good to write this. It helps me remember that God just gave us the push we needed to start this journey.
      So just in case you missed it, God
  • Sold our house before it was on the market.
  • Sold it at our asking price.
  • Allowed it to pass inspection and appraisal.
  • Made the entire process go without a glitch.
    Now during this process we were accepted at NTBI. I really expected to have it be some big deal, but it wasn't. Todd, from admissions called and told us that our applications were accepted and we could start school in the fall. It was real. We were homeless and going to school.
    So that brings us to the present. We're living in someone's basement, waiting our departure date of August 19th. Kent's finishing his work at NAPA. We have 3 more times at HoH. We're enjoying our summer. Telling people about our plans. Preparing ourselves, as much as we can, for what college life looks like for a family.
   Thank you for the encouraging words about these post. I wasn't sure about them, but many of you have offered kind words. Hopefully, they have brought everyone up to where we currently are in this adventure.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Our Adventure to the Mission Field: Part 3

    Part 3 of our journey overlaps with part 2. We'll pick up in November 2012. We went to visit Aaron and Jill McCormick at New Tribes Bible Institute (NTBI). We had visited them one other time, and wanted to visit again. When we were talking, we found out that there was an opening in the Philippines for a supply buyer.
    A supply buyer is a missionary to missionaries. Missionaries that are living in the tribes, send there list of wants/needs to the supply buyer who is living in the city. That person then uses the missionaries money to buy the supplies that are available. They pack them and send them to the missionaries in the tribes.
     As some of you know, Kent is a parts purchaser for 11 NAPA stores in Ft. Wanye. He does something very similar to what a supply buyer would do. After gaining this information we began to think that maybe New Tribes Missions would be a ministry that we could serve in. However, our faith was still lacking in the area of finances. We didn't think that we could afford it. Therefore, we sort of put the idea over to the side. We thought maybe someday, but just not at the current time.
     So fast forward to Jaunary 2013 and change gears back to house parenting. We hadn't been perusing it because of the age of our children. Yet, Pastor Matt sent us an email in January telling us that House of Hope was hiring full time house parents. We were thankful that he had sent us the email but both agreed that we weren't interested in it because it was working boys. We had somehow set in our minds that we didn't want to work with boys. (Oh, how God can change our hearts.) The Lord wouldn't take no for an answer and had Alicia Hill, the Excetive Director at HoH, contact us. After some discussion we decided that we would at least interview for the position.
     We went though a very long process during Febuary and March of interviewing, talking, and praying. We were prepared to sell our house and move to the farm in order to be full time house parents. Through this discussion we began to talk about what would happen if we didn't get this job. Would we stay where we were? Would be apply some place else? Would we move to NTBI? The interview process for HoH opened our minds to moving forward in a ministry for the Lord. The Lord made it clear several times during this 2 months that he was ready for us to move, to be sent. It was clear that he was sending us somewhere. The main scripture that put Kent over the edge was  "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8.
       After much prayer, we were certain that we would be offered the position for full time house parents. So when we were offered the posisiton as part time house parents we were pretty upset. Many days of discussion and thinking and praying brought us to two decisions.
       1.   We could accept the position at HoH.
       2.   We could future consider NTBI. If we were willing to sell our house and move to HoH why not sell our house and move to NTBI?

     In the end of March, while waiting to meet with Alicia to give our answer, we went to visit Aaron and Jill yet another time. We thought that this was the direction that we were being lead, but we just didn't know if we could afford it, if it was really doable. We talked with Jill and Aaron more, talked with Todd from administration and prayed. It was helpful to talk with Todd because he had a rational view about the entire thing. You just do it and move on. Step out in faith and God will lead. We left that visit with decision that we would go to NTBI in August. Yet in all of this there was still HoH. How did HoH play into everything?

     So we came back and told Alicia what we were thinking. That we would be the part time house parents, but that we would be leaving in August for NTBI. We didn't think they would be willing to do that, seeing as it would have only be 3 months. Well, two really cool things happened during that meeting, encouragements from the Lord.
      1. When Kent told Alicia about Isaiah 6:8, she showed us a plaque on her desk that had that same verse. It was her verse.
      2. When we told her that we could only stay till August because we were seeking out NTBI.... she said, "Hold on." She looked up Joe and Brenda's resume, the full time house parents, and discovered that yes indeed they also had went to NTBI and had served for 10 years in Venezuela as dorm parents. It was a total God moment.

    So as it turns out they decided to take us on as part time house parents with the understanding that we would leave in August for NTBI.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Our Adventure to the Mission Field: Part 2

      Luke.... Well I'm do my best to keep this to the facts. Luke was 5.5 months when he came to us. God used this part of our journey to prepare us for things we have faced and will continue to face in the future. The first several weeks with Luke was intense. He cried a lot and then cried some more. One time Kent was able to hear him one city block away, with our windows closed. Three weeks into it, I told Bobbie I was going to give him back. She said that if I did I would be sorry, so we pressed on.

Luke about a month before he went home.

       Slowly Luke adjusted to our family. It took awhile. I read that part of my prayer journal a lot. It helps me to remember how God changed my heart slowly. In November of 2012, I was still ready for Luke to return home. However, by the end of December my heart had done a 180 and I was ready to keep him forever. Luke has such personality. My children loved him. Kent considered him our own. He was a part of our family.

     So way was Luke so crucial to our journey?
Well through it we learn:
  • Ministry is messy.
  • God's grace is bigger than we could even imagined.
  • Just because something is hard doesn't mean it's bad.
  • Things don't always turn out the way we hope.
  • Life is never about me.
  • Persevere, Persevere, Persevere
  • Lean hard into our Creator.
  • Our hard times show us who really cares about us.
  • Prayer works.
  • When we think something in our life is really about "A" God shows us that it's really about "B"
  • Once the storm is over it never really seems as bad as what it felt like at the time.
I'm so thankful for the time we had with Luke. Our Heavenly Father was present and active at that time of our lives. Even though it was sometimes hard to see his hand while we were in the storm, it's easy to see now that he was ever present.

I'm not completely over losing Luke and neither is Kent and Grady. We still hope that he would return to us. But God reminded me the other day, again for the hundredth time, that it's really not about me. Luke is safe at home. His parents are taking good care of him. Daily, I remind myself that it's time to move on. Time to press forward, to what God has for us next. We pray for Luke and his salvation. God is taking care of him, and I have to rest in that.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Grace's 2nd Birthday

What a joy it was a celebrate Grace's 2nd birthday. We shared it with our friends and boys at House of Hope. 
We made a honey bee cake for our little Honey Bee!

Grace loved her cake. She ate all of it!

Then we had presents. This is the blanket that I made her. It has a big G on the back of it.
It looks a little like a superhero cape.

She loved her backpack from the Coe's, the house parents on HoH.

Then on her actual birthday we took her out for ice cream at DQ.
She only ate about half the cone. She was more interested in running around.
It's hard to believe our little Honey Bee is 2!! Time sure does move on even if we're ready or not.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Our Adventure into the Mission Feild - Part 1

      Envision me 3 weeks from my due date, big round and very pregnant. It was at this point in our lives that Kent tells me, "I think we should look into missions." Now any women that has had a baby knows full well that when your that pregnant all you want to do is, well have your baby! He said that he wanted to look into working with Native American Indians. So he looked up a ministry in Show Low, AZ that was hiring dorm parents for the fall of 2011. Since, I was so pregnant and about to  delivered Grace Leann, the entire idea got put on hold.

       Well the hold wasn't long. We applied to this Indian ministry, not really sure what to expect. Within a week or two they had offered us the job but it was very low paying and dying ministry. However, some how in all the excitement we decided to go visit the ministry and another children's home, Sunshine Acres, located in Mesa, AZ. We also applied there, but didn't hear back from them.

        So with our 4 week old Grace, and Bobbie watching Grady, we bordered the plane to AZ to see what God may have in store.

       We visited both ministries. The Indian ministry was not good and we're thankful we decided not to do it. Sunshine Acres was a different story. We visited for a while and even started to be interviewed, when in walked the show stopper!!!!! We found out that they couldn't hire us because our children were too young. Their ages would hinder the amount of children they could have in the homes. They told us to come back in 2 years when Grady was 5.(Which by the way will be this October.)

    It's also important to note here one other thing. While we were there we were blessed to stay with Ducky and Chris, a couple we had met 2 years prior. We went to church with them and were able to talk with Seth and Brandy Beer, who wouldn't have normally been at their church, yet God needed it to be that way. During my discussion with Brandy, I found out that they had became foster parents. We talked for a long time about it, and God planted a seed in my heart that would begin to grow upon our return home.

When we returned home Kent was very discouraged. He was ready to do something and felt like God just kept saying no. Which now we know he was just saying wait.

Some time pasted and we searched again for another children's home. We found Big Oak Girls Ranch  in Alabama. We applied and they invited us to come stay for the weekend and meet some of the staff.  In October of 2011, we travel alone, thanks to Bobbie for keeping our 2 kids again, to check out this ministry. Our time there was great. We really loved the ranch and the people. We returned home pretty confident that this could possibly our next home.

    Jonathan, the director of the girl's ranch, called us a week later and told us the same thing that Sunshine Acres had. That our children were too young and to check back when Grady was five. (Do you see a reoccurring theme). 

     With this second disappointment we decided to take a break. So we started on the path of foster care. I love this part of our journey. The magnitude to which God had to carry us through is out of this world. The multiple times He gave us confirmation that we were doing the right thing was unfathomable. This season is a time in my life I'll never forget.

      We started the process in Oct. 2011. We drug our feet for a long time. In January 2012, I remember having a conversation with God about why I couldn't seem to get anything accomplished. To which he responded, because you're not being obedient. Needless to say, I started to focus again on our paper work. We were able to finish our paper work and classes by April 2012, making us licensed foster parents.

     I do have to add one thing that happened during that time. In March 2012, Jill and Aaron McCormick invited us to Catch the Vision at New Tribes Bible Institute(NTBI). We went just expecting to enjoy the weekend with the McCormick's. :) However, it was at that time God began to plant a seed in us about serving as missionaries through New Tribes Missions. At that time we didn't think we could ever go to Bible College because of the cost. It's not a lot, but it is something you have to pay for, while your both going to school. This is part of our story which always makes me chuckle. Nothing with our finances has really changed since that time. However, its amazing what God can do to your heart to help you be more willing to step out in faith. I no longer worry about the money. I know, believe, that God will provide it someway.

      So as you can see, even while we were doing the journey with foster care, God was working in our hearts to prepare us to go to NTBI.
     From April to June 8, 2012 we waited for "the call." I slept with my phone just incase we would get a call in the middle of the night. And then it happened.... we were called on June 9th at 1:30am to take Luke. I was told on the phone that he was 4 months old and had fallen off the bed. That he was in the hospital and would be brought to me from there. I went to wait on the couch and fell asleep. The case worker, a police officer, and little Lukey Duke arrived at my house around 2:45am, and my life would forever be changed.

      I believe I'll stop here. I'll continue my next post picking up with Luke and the impact he had on our family.