Saturday, September 21, 2013

Camping camping camping...Wilderness here we come!!!

Hello there! I'm sorry I haven't been on here in a while. Two weeks of school have already passed and I am tired! The first full week was this week. The week before was like a preview and an open invitation to others to apply.
So for this week we started with amazing worship where we get to linger in His presence. AWESOME! And then usually a devotion or testimony and then we head straight to class. This week we learned the entire bible...summarized in the 12 Era's and had to memorize the 66 books of the bible. I was sooooo grateful for Awana's when I was a kid because that childhood song has stuck with me forever with the books of the bible. After that class we split into the three terms. Aaron and I are term 1 and then there are students in the second and third(final) term that we worship with and then separate for different learning. We have done a bunch of preparation for tomorrow...WILDERNESS WEEK! We are backpacking on Catalina Island for Sun-Friday! We will hike/walk 27 miles with our packs/tents/all food on our backs! It will be amazing. We are going to be studying the book of 1 John and I am so excited to know my class better and to really come to a greater understanding of God's love and His commands on restoring that and real true reconciliation! The reason we had a bunch of prep for this upcoming week is lots of people here have never backpacked, let alone camped OUTSIDE! It was great. I think my class will grow so close to each other and Lord willing become more of a family as we serve each other.
I can tell you a bit about who's in my class. We have three younger ladies from age 18-21 and I love them! Then another girl probably close to my age and right now she is driving back and forth to L.A. to come to school so pray for her to find a place here so she can rest more. Then there are six guys in my class. One is from Lithuania, one is from the Congo and the older gentleman is from Syria!!! WHAT?? So cool. And another great guy who seems close to our age and one amazing man in a wheelchair who just blesses us all every day. He is also able to go on our hike...but will be driven to our camp sites to grow with us and fellowship. His mom, who is AMAZING...is in the term three class and has prayed for him to be able to go and I don't know anyone who isn't excited for him.  There is one more guy in my class and I have to connect him to the 21 year old girl...they are engaged! They were to be married in November  out in Arizona where they are from and God just rocked their worlds and called them to call the wedding off until they go through Impact together!! Aaron and I have been so blessed to have them over for lunch and both really are seeing that we have a love for these two and want to encourage them in starting their marriage off in the most amazing way by coming to know how to follow Christ whole heartedly and making disciples as a couple!
One thing we both are seeing is a real neat connection we have with the staff and interns at the school. Most of that comes from Cisco's fervent prayers for us and telling everyone about us. It just encourages us so much to know that by us being here during the first week a woman, who's a mom...felt she had no excuse anymore to not come to Impact and finally applied and is in Aaron's class!! How awesome to see God move...and man is He moving.
A couple things you would see if you came to our school...
-People praying...everywhere! When you'd pull in to the parking lot people's heads are bowed and praying right and left. As you walk down the hall people are praying...all the time.  Whenever we talk to anyone...and anything of great praise or just simple needs comes up they bow and talk to our Savior. What this really does is avoids the trails of gossip and small talk and puts us in constant communication with our Creator...and man does He deserve it. It is such a blessing.
-Smiles and laughter...Our school is full of so many different people from so many different walks of life and cultures...shy and outspoken and they are full of the love of God. It radiates!
-A community you have probably never ever ever seen...and if you did some of you might be uncomfortable. What I mean is this is the body of Christ...and some of us have never really experienced people who seek Him in a way that they are learning to give WHENEVER there is a need, hug, pray for all things, sacrifice things that are hard to let go of and to see you as He sees you without judgement.
 
As far as Aaron and I we are good. A bit tired because this week in between his class and mine we had to run to Goodwill,REI,Target and Walmart...and another sporting store to get stuff for our wilderness trip..we sold a bunch at our yardsales in CO and sadly had to replenish...but God was so faithful! I found REI & Patagonia clothing at the goodwill!!! WHAT? We also were given our packs, sleeping bags, ground pads, tarps, plates and water bottles from multiple people at school who are in different terms or on staff that aren't going...EVERYONE offered EVERYTHING. It is unbelievable. We will leave tomorrow at 7:00am and Cisco's wife, Naomi and her two girls Serena & Ariel will be here all week watching the kids. And two or three other women are coming every day to help her take care of our kids!  They are so excited!! Malachi just can't wait for us to leave.
As far as the kids school...we enrolled them in a charter school here that provides a home study...so I am home schooling. What happens is we meet with a facilitator every 20 days to check work for the kids. She met with us and we ordered the curriculum we wanted...and how awesome is this...the Story of the World(A Christian History curriculum) is in there system and we got all of the books and photo copies and an art kit full of supplies FREE! And by them doing this each kid is allotted $850 towards extra curricular activities..i.e. soccer, piano...dance...baseball!!! WHAT? How great is our God that things we had not planned on doing just so we could watch our budget and we knew we didn't NEED them either...HE PROVIDES with such great joy. We start their curriculum the week we get back from wilderness. The kids are doing great. Rachel had a blessed birthday at the beach. Malachi can't wait for his birthday. Rachel officially bikes with no training wheels and is trying to get her front teeth out...they are loose. Isaiah is a bit tough lately with anger issues and being three with high highs and low lows. He is still a snuggle bug and so cute. Isaiah is a doll! Also has a bit of a temper but really our most laid back munchkin. He's not talking yet...may be a bit stubborn like Isaiah in that area.
 


Please stay with us. Pray for us!! God is moving and we are desiring to draw near to Him and that means a battle is waging for our attention to be drawn away from Him.  I am learning to worship louder and more constant. Prayer has been such a weapon and His Word is our greatest weapon!! We love you all. We are also in prayer for where we are called to go on the 2 week missions trips between terms. So pray for us.
 
Here's my sweet sister, Analisa who is an intern for Impact and she is leaving for Oaxaca, Mexico in April for two years to bring the gospel to the least reached people group in the western hemisphere.(based on population) ...did you know there are 6000 people groups that are NOT reached.
Here is Cisco's amazing family...baby Ariel who turned 4 months old!!!, their oldest daughter Serena who is 15 and beautiful Naomi(who is also on staff at Impact). They are staying at our house to watch the kids next week!
 
 
More pictures to come...



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

1st day of school, 1st day of school!

     I keep getting that scene stuck in my head from 'Finding Nemo' where Nemo is waking his dad up and yelling at him "First day of school!"  Today was that day for Andrea and I.  This week is an event called Rock The House and it's designed for us as well as family, friends and others to come and see what Impact is about.  I went from 9-1 and then met up with Andrea and the kids for free lunch.  We then left and went back at 5:30 for free dinner and Andrea stays for night class until 10 or so while I took the kids home and put them down.  Yep, me with 4 kids, 5 nights a week...so grateful that I don't have to prepare dinner this week!  Next week, we might have pancakes and waffles a lot!
     Getting a glimpse today of what we will be going through was amazing!  The day consisted of a quick registration, meeting quite a few people, worship, 2 teachings and hanging out getting to know some of the staff, volunteers and students.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around this being my new 'normal' for the next 12 months.  It feels a bit like I'm on an extended vacation and that I will be going back to 'work' here any day!  Thankfully that's not reality for us right now. 
     Today we learned about Luke 19:1-10 (story on a guy named Zaccheus).  In short, this story is about a Jewish man who is a tax collector (so he's not liked) who is working for the Romans (that makes him doubly not liked) and he is also getting rich off it!  He's corrupt, so he's pretty much hated by lots of people.  By the way, his name means "righteous one."  So he's basically living contrary to his identity and his destiny.  Jesus goes out of his way to visit this town and Zaccheus hears of his coming.  So he does 2 strange things for a man of prominence in his time, he #1. Runs and #2. climbs (a tree) so that he can see Jesus.  Zaccheus was willing to go against the 'cultural norm' in order to get his eyes on Jesus, but at his point, he's still a spectator, and in the tree watching Jesus without getting involved.  Jesus looks up to him, calls him by his 'name' (righteous one) and says "Zaccheus, HURRY and come down, for TODAY I MUST stay at your house."  So he hurried down and received Him gladly.  After that Zaccheus told the Lord, "Behold, Lord, HALF of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much."  Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house."
     Some things that God was speaking to me through the teacher on this example:
     -   That was a radical transformation!  50% of everything to the poor!  Just like that.  And 4 times as much as he stole!  What radical transformations has Jesus done in my life?
     -   Am I desiring to just watch Jesus as a spectator or am I willing to be involved?
     -   Zaccheus "hurried down."  Am I willing to make decisions quickly to follow Jesus?  The longer one usually waits, the less likely that person is to follow the Lord.
     -   Jesus wants to invade every part of my life (today I must stay at your house) TODAY.  Each day is a gift, I could die any moment from any number of things.  Am I willing to give Jesus the title to my house and let Him have full reign over every part of my life?  Or am I wanting to try and restrict His access to certain "rooms" of my life.
     -   There must be a response from me.  If Zaccheus would not have gotten down from that tree, would salvation have come to him?  I must respond to His call in order to grow closer to Him. 
     -   Only after Zaccheus took action (giving his money away) did Jesus say salvation had come to his house.  Once I have an encounter with the living God, my life must look radically different than before.  If I am living like the rest of the world around me, have I encountered Jesus?  Jesus will not move into my life and leave it the same.  His faith produces work and fruit.  Salvation is not life insurance, it's not pray this prayer and you can live however you want to, it's radical transformation in my life and continual surrender to His desire for me. 

     I hope this encourages you like it did me, challenges you like it did me and ultimately helps grow us closer to the One who loves us and poured His life out for us!

And by the way, I never ever ever ever ever ever ever thought I would be saying 79 degrees feels so amazingly great in our room!  I used to complain when our house in Fort Collins was 75 degrees!  Our house doesn't have A/C (common in San Diego) so it has been getting to about 89 degrees in our house on a regular basis!  Our master bedroom (which used to be a garage) has a small A/C unit mounted to the door so we leave that bad boy cranked all day with the doors shut and boy does it feel good walking into that room!  We also have box fans in the windows running all night and ceiling fans in almost every room.  I am thankful for door mounting A/C units right now!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

We HAVE arrived...and are three days from Impact 195!!!

Hello friends and family...hopefully you're still there. I am sorry this has taken us so long to update. In the midst of our move we have thought about when we would update everyone...and here and there we have tried to post minor updates on Facebook so people knew we were ok. So...here's what's been happening. After Aaron's last day we moved forward with packing every single day and trying to get everything figured out with our move and housing here...and saying goodbye to everyone. In the middle of that we also had had a family retreat we had planned a year ago for both of our families(The Taylors and Manfreds) in Estes Park and it was great! We were a bit frazzled here and there with knowing that after that weekend we would have 2 1/2 days left to finalize the home for closing. The day of closing a great group of friends and family showed up to clean our home and load the Uhaul! It was such a blessing! You would have never thought we got rid of anything because the Uhaul(the largest they make) was full from the front to the top to the back...NO KIDDING! Aaron and his great friend, Lakin, are very good at the game Tetris...helped out a lot with loading. We literally left our house a few minutes late mopping out the door and headed straight to close. We were filthy and they were all dressed in business attire! Ha! It was humorous. But it was so good for me during our closing to see the people who are blessed with our old home. I had prayed that they would love the Lord and would continue to bring His Truth to our neighbors. Carol and Roy both love Jesus and it just blessed me when the lady in charge asked if we were related in any way(a question on our paperwork.) Roy answered that "we are brothers in Christ".  It is so good to know that the Lord is in every aspect of our decision to follow Him. Yes, it's just a home. It wasn't terrible to leave it. It didn't leave me utterly broken or so sad that I thought I couldn't breathe. But we had taken care of it and grown plants and made changes to it that we loved. And most of all, our neighbors had been really placed on our hearts this past year and now to know that this family would be there really encourages me. Please pray for them to further the gospel there. We left closing and went to pick up the kids. They had stayed the night at my sisters house with their cousins and hung out all day while we cleaned. Saying goodbye to my sister was the worst....

     It broke Aaron and I and little Rachel to weeping in the car. When we drove away on our way to the hotel little Rachel and I were sobbing. In that moment I cherished the fact that I had never had such a tender cry with my daughter. A cry out of true sadness because we loved someone...or some people so much it just hurt badly. I wanted to hug her so much. I just kept telling her it was ok to cry and we wept. Then I turned the radio on and the song on KLOVE was by Unspoken called "Lift my Life". I was stopped at a stop light and could see Aaron in the Uhaul  behind me and saw him weeping and I wept more. Here are the words;

You brought me this far
So why would I question You now
You have provided
So why would I start to doubt
I’ve never been stranded, abandoned
Or left here to fight alone
So I’m giving You control
Chorus
I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
You can have it forever
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord,†I leave it in Your hands
I lift my life, lift my life up
Have Your way in me
Have Your way in me
If peace is a river let it sweep over me
If I’m under fire I know it’s refining me
When I hear You calling out I follow now
Wherever the road may go
I know You’re leading me home
Chorus
I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
You can have it forever
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord,†I leave it in Your hands
I lift my life, lift my life up
Have Your way in me
Have Your way in me
Bridge
Take my life let it be
All for You
Take my life let it be
All for You
Chorus
I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
You can have it forever
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord,
I leave it in Your hands
I lift my life, lift my life up
Have Your way in me
Have Your way in me
Have Your way in me
Have Your way in me
Take my life and let it be all for You
 
 
 
This was the beginning of our travels. We went to the hotel that Aaron had received from a customer. It was amazing! Such a blessing for us and the kids. A great gift! Then the next morning we headed to Grand Junction to stay with my folks for a few days and enjoy some Grandpa Bob and Grandma time! It was super fun. The kids got to enjoy the Dinosaur Museum and splash park and of course the pool. They really were enjoying this great adventure of moving. Then on Sunday morning we got up super early and left at 4am to drive to Victorville, CA where we would stay one night then be in San Diego the next day by noon. The drive was interesting to say the least.
Probably some of the highlights would be the kids got a free helicopter toy and a Christian coloring book from the man who worked at the first gas station we stopped at in the pitch dark of the early morning hours. Also fun times were always had trying to find places to eat and of course when we were in Utah on a Sunday restaurants are not open till night...so we finally found a Smashburger and it was so empty..kinda nice! Then on our drive through Las Vegas(my first time there) I was really praying that God would protect my sons eyes from many of the billboards there because Malachi was trying to take it all in. Such a blessing...he said, "Hey Mom. The sign says "who is Jesus?" Mom I feel it in my heart that these people need me to tell them about Jesus. I just know they need to know Him." AWESOME! Thank you Lord. Well we got right out of Vegas and hit major traffic. We had never driven this so we just assumed it was some sort of agriculture check going into CA. No...it was literally a stand still or roll into CA traffic for 1 1/2 hours. No potties and absolutely no water for a long long long long time. Yes...we did have potty accidents with Isaiah...fully expected.
 It was great to get to our extended stay hotel and rest and eat. The next morning we drove into San Diego and arrived at 12 at our rental home. Soon we were greeted by Cisco and about 6 or 7 people from Impact who helped unload the Uhaul and one wife played with the kids and they even stayed to build furniture! It was awesome.
It was a super super super busy week unpacking. We literally were up at 6 every morning and unpacking till 9pm. We both really pushed ourselves to try to get the house settled mostly for the kids to feel normal. And in the midst of us thinking that was good we hit a day four days in where tension rose and it was not fun. We both realized that we had lost focus on why we were here and hadn't even prayed together in a few days. It was a great reminder that we didn't just leave our life of "security" to just have a normal home. The kids have been great. Really excited for this place and new adventure. Isaiah is a normal 3 year old and we are praying through dealing with his temper. And they all have moments, but some great things have come already from this move with them. Malachi and Rachel are very close and it is so great to see their love grow for each other.
So this past Tuesday Aaron and I both had our last panel interview for the school. Yes...we moved here without actually fully being accepted to the school. I know...sounds nuts. Let me say... nothing we have done in this move has sounded normal to most people. Following Jesus just isn't always normal. Leaving your fishing nets, your family with no goodbyes is not normal. "Follow Me." The interviews were awesome. It was so great to give them insight into our lives and our marriage and our desire to grow and be challenged. It was super fun to start to meet people from the school and have them welcome our kiddos with so much love and family feel. Just the past two days have been more relaxed. We finally have all boxes and most everything put away and hung. As far as the kids home school I have been stumped. I have heard from probably too many people ideas of what to do...and it seems to be the first question from everyone who talks to me or the kids..."Did you start school?" Yes...it does weigh heavy on my heart. I am learning to lean on Jesus and seek Him in this decision. I know we will figure it out and it will bless us all and just having Aaron home has truly been amazing.
 Rachel turned 6 today and it was a full and wonderful birthday...I will post more on that tomorrow or Monday. One highlight for me of having Aaron around for the fully birthday experience was last night. I overheard him asking Rachel for her last 5 year old hug. It just touches me to see the dad he is created to be come out more and more as he is home more. I love it and I know they do too.
We start our school on Tuesday and it's a week of Rock the House. It will be so much fun! They have free food for all three meals and encourage all families to come for all the meals to fellowship. Should be amazing and we will keep you posted on that and our crazy...crazy...wilderness backpacking week we have in 3 weeks!
 
Love you all! Please keep praying for us!