Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Apartment Tour

So many people have prayed that God would provide a place for us for so long that I thought I would give a photo house tour for you to enjoy of our new apartment. The tour is not quite good enough for apartment therapy (also we do not have a pet which we think is a requirement for apartment therapy house tours) but it will give you an idea of where we are living :)

Here is the entrance to our apartment. Our door is the one on the left. If you could see through the side of the porch you would be able to see the bathtub that was in our living room so long. It is still there. Someday I hear it will be going to the reStore but I am not sure when that will happen until then there it sits :)
After walking in the front door there is another door to go through. We think that this is great because it is a better insulator from the wind and cold than just having one door.
In the entryway we have a closet. It is pretty deep with shelves behind the hanging area.This is from the living room looking back at the front door. The wood doors cover 6 (I think) shelves that we keep our games and the kids hats and gloves and snowpants on.
Here is the living room from the entryway. There are built in book shelves behind the Christmas tree, to the right of the fireplace (which we can't use because there had been too many big fires in it and the chimney would need to be completely re-done)
Here is the living room from the dining room.
Here is the dining room/ school room. Our book cases and school supplies are all stored on this side of the room.
The computer and printer are in the other corner of the dining room.
This is the built-in linen closet just outside the main bathroom. Behind the doors are 4 shelves and there are three big drawers underneath. I love built-ins! They are something that I was really looking for in a house when we were trying to buy. I am so glad God gave me some here :)
This is the main bathroom. It is off the dining room.

The girls are sharing a room. It is right next to the bathroom. They are all sitting on the bed that they are using for now.Here is a picture of the kitchen from the dining room. I love the island and all the old cupboards. There is lots of storage space. The door next to the cupboards goes to the back stairway which leads outside and to the basement where there is a front loader washer and dryer that we can use (for free!!) Next to the fridge is the door to Caleb's room.
Here is the kitchen from the other angle. Some may say it is a little unconventional to have a medicine cabinet over the kitchen sink but the kids have fun talking to themselves while doing dishes and it hides some of my spices and the dish soap :)
Here is Caleb's room. He is very excited to have his own room! He is looking forward to having a bed someday instead of sleeping on a futon mattress on the floor but we haven't found one on Craigslist yet. Soon, hopefully!I almost forgot our bedroom. It is actually off the living room so I guess I should have put it back there. Glenn uses our room to study when he is home.
And this is the bathroom off of our bedroom. I guess technically it is a full bath since it has a bathtub in it but since the bathtub "has mostly been used to store golf clubs" the pipes are all corroded and water doesn't come out of the faucet so we are just using it for storage. It is really nice to have two toilets though!Well, that completes the tour of our home for tonight. I hope it gave you an idea of where we live, this place that has really begun to feel like home to us. We are thankful for this place. God is so good!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

One of our Thanksgiving traditions that we recently started is to have everyone record as many things that they are thankful for as the number of years they have been alive. This year we went to PA for Thanksgiving to spend the day with our friend Rachelle's family because she was getting married the next day. We wrote down the things that we are thankful for in our car ride there. Here they are from youngest to oldest in no particular order (and these are not necessarily the only things we are thankful for or the most important) but here they are.

Abigail (on her 4th birthday!)
1. stayed at a hotel with Grandma and Grandpa
2. Kaylee
3. going to Rachelle's mom and dad's house
4. moved to Syracuse

Lydia
1. we got a TV and a Wii
2. moved to Syracuse
3. we got an apartment
4. we made leaf roses
5. lilacs at Highland Park - our backyard where everybody went

Hannah
1. we have a church
2. Caleb gets his own room
3. Petit Library
4. roses
5. new friends- Elodee, Franscesca, Kaylee
6. got to see Grandma and Grandpa Reynolds
7. we got to stay at a hotel with Grandma and Grandpa

Caleb
1. got a Wii and TV
2. new friends - Dallas
3. Grandma and Grandpa Reynolds visited us in Syracuse
4. we could go to Rochester (when we went to Hamiltons and I had brothers)
5. roof over our heads
6. almost done unpacking
7. .I have my own room
8. we can witness to people around the neighborhood
9. there's a playground 2 1/2 blocks away

Glenn
1. Sonja and her support and that she's my best friend and our 10 years of marriage
2. I was accepted to medical school
3. I got into summer anatomy
4. our sublet for the summer
5. people that put us up during our time of homelessness
6. Gavendas and their friendship
7. Mom and Dad came to visit for Christmas
8. all the people who helped us move- Chris B, Jenn N, Matt G, Kendra O, Robert M
9. new van- a working vehicle in the price range we wanted
10. our current apartment - the blessing of price and location
11. Burb turned over and got to Syracuse
12. Caleb and how he's keeping his room clean and his improved attitude about school, he's maturing and taking better care of his sisters.
13. God's provision of furnishings for our home - dressers, free couch from Ferrys, table from neighbor girls, table from Gavendas, $25 desk, table from Salvation Army
14. my small group
15. my summer anatomy friends
16. Grandma and Grandpa Reynolds came out to visit
17. Grandma and Grandpa Nicodemus and Grandma and Grandpa Nelson came to my white coat ceremony
18. Hannah- she's sweet and helpful and she loves her little sisters
19. Lydia - her tenderheart, she's maturing, she loves to run, how well she is doing in school, she likes to sing.
20. all of my kids have tender hearts and hurt when their siblings hurt
21. our trip to the Adirondacks for 4th of July
22. my single speed bike and road bike from craigslist
23. we did not buy a house that we don't love with lots of problems
24. Abigail- she's getting bigger, she has such a personality, she likes to sing
25. all the kids sing praise songs and I have a lot of fun with them.
26. 237 is starting to feel like a home
27. Sonja's work with homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, caring for us
28. I am handling medical school and doing well
29. all that God has done and provided and made Himself evident in this past year and that greater things are yet to come!

Sonja
1. our small group in Rochester
2. our sublet at 315 Roosevelt
3. Glenn got into medical school
4. Glenn took summer anatomy
5. Joel and Michelle's hospitality and friendship
6. Matt and Christina's hospitality and friendship
7. our apartment w/ 2 bathrooms and 3 bedrooms on Roosevelt
8. Steve and Debbie visited
9. Yuko visited
10. our North Baptist family
11. Fillmore Wesleyan church family
12. our van
13. people who let us borrow their vehicles while we were looking for a van
14. Petit Library
15. Brighton Library and especially Miss Cris
16. Grandma and Grandpa Nicodemus and Grandma and Grandpa Nelson came to Glenn's white coat ceremony
17. Barry Park
18. Highland Park
19. Strong Museum of Play
20. we've met and made friends with neighbors
21. clothing for the kids from Melissa and Christina
22. God's provision of housing when we were homeless
23. school is going better this year
24. Glenn- my best friend
25. .Caleb - my good big brother
26. Hannah- my big helper
27. Lydia - my little sweetheart
28. Abigail - my crazy little cracker
29. facebook - it has helped me reconnect with old friends
30. we survived lice and it wasn't that bad
31. safety when our house was broken into

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The End of Homelessness (for now)

Those of you who only follow my blog and don't know what else is going on in my life (i.e. you don't stalk me on facebook) are probably wondering if we fell off the face of the earth, if something came up with our apartment and we weren't able to move in, if we did indeed move to Green Lakes State Park (brrrr it frosted last night, I am SO glad that we are in our apartment and NOT in a tent!!) Sorry for the delay in updating this blog but I have been having fun posting to our new blog http://lovenpeanutbutter.blogspot.com/ that I am using to keep a record of God's provision for us through our 4 paycheckless years and have been neglecting this one.

We did get to move into our apartment finally on Wednesday, October 14. When we arrived to start moving in the entryway, living room, dining room and main bathroom we all full of stuff and sawdust. There was a wall in our bedroom (the previous wall had been destroyed by a water leak upstairs) but the main bathroom was not in working order. We had already swept Caleb's room so we decided to go and get our beds at least and put them in Caleb's room while it wasn't raining (they had to go on top of the van) and our landlord worked at getting the rest of the apartment to a place where we could move our stuff in. We moved in our beds in a couple of loads then went to get the first load with the van. The van doesn't have the storage capacity of the Burb but, with the seats out, it still does hold a lot of boxes when they are stacked in there well. Our stuff was stored in the attic of the apartment we sublet this summer so to get stuff to the van we'd carry them 7 steps down to the landing, turn, 7 steps down to the 2nd floor, turn, 7 steps down to the next landing, turn, 7 steps down to the 1st floor, turn, 7 steps down to the side door landing then one step down and you were outside. It was very helpful that there were 7 steps on each section because then you just had to count, not look where you were going.

It took about an hour and a half to fill the van the first time then a half hour to unload it then we took a lunch break of leftover pizza (I made sure the microwave came in the first load!) After lunch the landlord asked Glenn to help him get the stove that he was going to put in the kitchen up from the basement. They got it most of the way up the stairs when Glenn's back went out. He ended up laying on his back for the next hour or so unable to move but thankfully at about the same time Kendra showed up to help and helped me get the van filled another time. More stairs and more heavy boxes and the van was full again. Kendra helped unload then left and Matt and Christina showed up with dinner and helpful hands. Christina had just been rear-ended the day before so she couldn't help carry stuff but she could help unpack and keep the kids occupied. Robert came to help too and he and Matt carried 3 loads of the big stuff down from the attic and into our apartment (our steamer, table, dressers, etc). I was SO thankful for their help! When Glenn's back went out I had no idea what I was going to do! Glenn was able to walk back and forth between the apartments (we just moved a block north) and carry chairs and stuff that we had stored in the basement while I moved more stuff out of the attic while Matt and Robert were moving the big stuff. Finally, it was dark and the kids in the 1st floor apartment were supposed to be going to sleep so we gave up for the night with mostly boxes and random stuff left in the attic. Robert went home and Matt and Christina helped us set up our beds and I collapsed in exhaustion while Glenn and Caleb went back to Julaine's and spent a couple of hours cleaning and getting the rest of our stuff (partly because Glenn needed his white coat for the next day at school but I am so glad that he went and did it - I was exhausted!).

I spent Thursday unpacking at our apartment while Glenn was at school because my body refused to walk those stairs again and my arms refused to carry boxes very far then on Friday we finished emptying the attic with about 3 loads (with the seats still in the van). I guess I really should have been in training while we were homeless my body was not prepared for all those stairs and carrying of heavy boxes. I am so thankful that we moved into a 1st floor apartment because I couldn't imagine carrying everything up lots of stairs to get in it! The kids were real troopers and pretty good helps through the days of moving. They walked those stairs lots of times too carrying down what they could. Our kids are amazing. I am so thankful for their good attitudes through all of this. I am also thankful for the help in moving. No one could be there for the whole time and I missed my brother (he has helped us with many of our 15 moves) but I am very thankful! I am also thankful for the strength and endurance we had to get everything done. God is so gracious.

After moving in our landlord was at the apartment every night and all day Saturday and Sunday for the first week and a half. He had hoped to have the bathroom in working order for us when we moved in but he had run into some problems and it had not worked out. When we moved in the toilet off of our bedroom was working but the main bathroom was completely not operational. He got it fixed enough for us to shower in it by Sunday morning which I am sure people appreciated at church. The toilet and sink finally moved from the dining room, where they had been, into operation the following Saturday night. There is still a bathtub in my living room but where else would I put give away stuff that I find as I unpack?

Well, enough of my book. Lots more has happened but that will have to wait for another time. We are so thankful that God provided this apartment for us! He is amazing and knows what is best!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Adventures in Homelessness Part 7

Well, it has almost been 2 weeks again.... That first week at Julaine's was great. Monday was Rosh Hoshana and so Glenn had no classes for the day. It was the first time in months that we were able to not leave where we were staying all day long. No drives to school or to look at houses, etc. It was the most wonderful thing! That night we sat in the living room just enjoying being with each other as just the 6 of us again! I am SO thankful for all these places that God has opened up for us to stay at. When we packed up our apartment on August 1 we packed a week's worth of clothing, our sleeping bags, tents and camping supplies. We assumed that, at least for part of the time that we were homeless, we would be camping at Green Lakes State Park or something but every night we have slept on a bed or air mattress in someone's home. I am honestly amazed at how gracious God has been and the people who have opened their homes to us!

On Thursday I got a call from a friend from Rochester. His babysitter had backed out on him at the last moment and was wondering if we needed somewhere to live for the next week. He told me that they would give us unlimited access to their house provided that we took care of their 6 kids. He was surprising his wife with a weeklong Caribbean cruise for her birthday but was going to have to cancel if he didn't find someone to take care of the kids. I know that they needed this trip together and I know that someday I want someone to do this for me so, after talking to Glenn, I said yes. Glenn drove me out here on Saturday and then turned around and headed back to Syracuse because he had a lot of studying to do and a busy week of school ahead with just over a week before his next exam. It has been a busy week being a mom of 10 kids. They have 3 in 1st grade, and one each in 6th, 8th and 10th grades. It has been fun for Caleb to have some brothers for the first time and Paige (their only girl) to have some sisters this week. I was nervous coming into this week because I had never really spent any time with any of their kids but it truly has gone so well. I have had quite a bit of help from Carrie, a friend from church who Jay ran into when buying food for the week at Aldi. She has helped get the kids on the bus and helped get them to bed a few of the days which has been a big help. It was also fun to get together with a few friends while the kids were in school after we had gotten our school work done for the day. This week has not made me want to have more kids but it sure has been fun to have 10 kids for a week and I am kind of sad that the time is nearing it's end. Next time though I think I'd like to have my husband along for the ride because I sure have missed him.

I think that this may be the last adventure in our time of homelessness. I may be wrong but I can trust God that He will bring the adventures I need to draw me closer to Him. I have really learned to trust Him a lot more in these last few weeks. He has proven Himself faithful again and again. I will be getting a ride back to Syracuse on Sunday afternoon and then scrubbing the apartment on Monday and Tuesday while Glenn studies/ takes his exam then on Wednesday he has a day off and we will be moving in, Lord willing. I am really looking forward to opening all of our boxes and getting rid of lots of stuff that obviously we don't need since it has been in boxes since the end of May and we have basically lived out of our car for the last 2 1/2 months - we really don't need much.

I guess the song that is on my heart is the one that has been wafting up the basement stairs on and off all afternoon thanks to listening to KLove on the way home from school: "Take my life and let it be, all for You and for Your glory. Take my life and let it be Yours. Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God forever!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Hug from God in the Meat Department

written Sunday, September 27, 2009 3:30pm

I blogged this morning before church about the last 3 weeks and God has continued to work in my heart about my ingratitude. During Growth Groups this morning we were asked how progress is coming on securing more permanent housing. These people haven't known us long but I think that they have gotten the idea that we are a bit more transient than most :) We told them that we had decided to rent and that, Lord willing, we will be able to move into our apartment next Monday because, Lord willing, the landlord will be done with the repairs on it by then. Dallas said something about us being given a discount on rent on the apartment and we realized he was thinking about the other apartment and I was thunderstruck again by God's grace and shared that the apartment is actually $150 less a month than the discounted price on the other apartment and we weren't responsible for things if they broke and it has two bathrooms. God is so good to us, better than we deserve.

After church we followed Julaine to her house that she is letting us stay in until we can move into our apartment then headed over to the apartment to pick up a key from the landlord so we can get in and do some cleaning in the apartment sometime before we move in. We called about a block from the apartment and found out that, though he planned to be at the apartment noon to 9 today, he was still at home because he had gotten really sick last night. We found out where he lived and went to his place to pick up a key. Glenn chatted with him a minute and found out it would probably be two more weekends so we won't get in there until the middle of October. Again the 'Lord willing' of timing comes into play :)

After getting the key we stopped at P&C to pick up some milk and butter and to let Lydia go to the bathroom. I picked up a flyer and saw that their boneless skinless chicken was only $1.88 a pound. That is a great price so I thought that I would go over and pick up a pack to have some chicken sometime this week. When I got to the chicken I discovered that there were “Manager's Special” tags on all of the boneless skinless chicken and it was discounted to 99 cents a pound or less. I don't know if I have ever seen it that cheap before. I stopped and thanked God and bought 7 packs and a box of freezer bags. They weren't on my list but I figured since it was such a great deal, how could I not? As I was leaving the grocery store this song from Paul Baloche and Benton Brown was on my heart:

O Lord you are gracious, and full of compassion,

You're slow to anger, abounding in love,

As high as the heavens are above the earth

So great is Your love for those who fear You

You heal our diseases, You forgive our sins

You remember that we are formed from dust

And all that we are depends on You

You do not treat us as our sins deserve

You will not accuse or your wrath preserve

We rejoice that You have removed our sins

May the world now see that

Our God saves, Our God saves

There is hope in Your name

Mourning turns to songs of praise

Our God saves, Our God saves

Thank You God for being gracious to me. Thank You for blessing me beyond measure in things great and small. Thank You most of all for saving me and not treating me as my sins deserve. I love you Lord!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Adventures in Homelessness Part 6

Has it really been 3 weeks since I blogged? It has been more of a roller coaster for me. I spent most of our first day back in Syracuse prowling the University neighborhood and calling phone numbers that I found on houses for rent. I found one about a block from where we were living over the summer and called the number and the man was there showing it at that time so the kids and I ran right over. It was a pretty nice 3 bedroom flat but when I asked how much it was he told me a price far out of our price range. I swallowed hard and said thanks and took an application knowing that we could never afford that much money in rent while Glenn is in medical school. The flat wasn't that nice. I took Glenn to see it and the man seemed really interested in having us come live there since he thought our kids were great and his daughter and grandchild live in the upstairs flat and told us that he would consider taking less a month in rent if we would cover some of the maintenance things around the house.

Knowing that we couldn't afford that apartment we decided to go and look at more houses to buy. We went to two houses that Friday, one was a "no" and the other one was an estate sale a little farther out than we wanted to live that we instantly fell in love with. It needed quite a bit of work but at the asking price we figured we could make it work. We offered the asking price since we knew it would sell that day because there were two other groups waiting outside to get in. On Saturday we went to look at another house that might be a backup plan and found out that our offer looked good but there were at least 6 other offers on the estate house.

On Sunday we went to church and Pastor Mark preached on "Lord Willing" from James 4:13-16 which says, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.' But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil." It was a very convicting sermon for me because I had not been thinking "Lord willing" in anything. I had been that arrogant person who made my plans trusting that the plans I made were going to work out, that I knew exactly what tomorrow held. For four different houses at that point I had said, "We are going to buy such and such a house," but my gracious, sovereign God had other plans. We had fun on Sunday afternoon touring the new Golisano Children's Hospital at Upstate and checking out the Wescott Cultural Fair then on our way to a friend's house for dinner we got a call from our realtor telling us that our offer on the estate house was accepted! We were very excited and made a detour on the way back to Joel and Michelle's house to drive by and see it. We were finally going to buy a house, Lord willing!

On Monday while Glenn was at school I was so glad that we had heard that sermon on "Lord willing" the day before and had had 24 hours to let it work in our hearts because we got another call from the realtor telling us that the owner decided to not accept our offer because on the way to her attorney to check out our offer she got another offer that was cash and about $10K more than ours. I was crushed but trusting my God that He knew what was best. On Tuesday Michelle opened up some apartment websites on the internet for me to check out and I looked but did not really found anything in the price range we wanted with a place to store our bikes being a necessity. I went back to orangehousing and found a listing I had never seen before for a 3br, 2bath flat on Roosevelt, the street we had lived on this summer in our price range. I called about it and Glenn went to check it out that night. The landlord was working on it because the bathroom upstairs had exploded and so he is having to completely redo the bathroom upstairs and then fix some walls downstairs so it wouldn't be ready for a couple of weeks because he is only able to work on it on the weekends.

We had a visit from Glenn's Grandma & Grandpa Reynolds from Wyoming from Wednesday to Monday. It was fun to see them since we hadn't seen them in over 3 years. They stayed at a hotel close to where we have been staying that had a pool. The kids loved the pool and it was a lot of fun visiting with them. They even got a suite for us for a couple of nights at the hotel and we stayed with them which was a fun experience.

We went to see one other house while they were visiting us, a foreclosure that was an amazing house for not very much but it was going to require a tremendous amount of work to move into. It was not livable at this point so we decided to say no and say yes to the rental so we could get in sooner. I have been struggling with contentment with the decision to rent. God answered my prayers. Early on in the summer I had said that if we were to find a 3br apartment in the neighborhood that we were living in for less than $700/mo I would take it and live there for all 4 years. God provided that (and we even have a second bathroom!) so why am I so discontent? Buying a house would have been fun and provided us with more space but it also would have provided a lot of struggles and unknown financial expenses and stresses. I think that I am struggling because so many of my friends have been able to buy houses and get this first time home owners credit that is being offered that I really wanted. What is God's best and His plan for them is not necessarily God's best and His plan for me, for us. I am deciding to trust Him that He knows best and that He will take care of us and lead us and guide us day by day as we seek Him, Lord willing.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Adventures in Homelessness Part 5

We have been back in Rochester this weekend visiting friends because our friend Joel's parents were in town so we couldn't stay at their house and we wanted to come back anyway because Glenn had a 3 day weekend and we were hoping to find his Bible that we thought that we had left at church. When I heard that the sermon was on "God's Prescription for Your Depression" and that this weekend was Church at the Beach I was very much looking forward to the Sunday of our visit! While at church though I was reprimanded because I have not blogged in a while with an update.

So, last I blogged we had just found out that our offer on a house had been accepted. We were pretty excited but when we had our inspection on Tuesday afternoon it did not turn out that well. The first thing that he noticed was the roof. On the disclosure the owner had said that 2/3rds of the roof was new but the inspector only figures it was 1/3 and it was a poorly done patch job over too many layers. There were also problems with the plumbing (the upstairs toilet and sink weren't working) and the electrical system (there were scorch marks above the light switch upstairs) among many other problems with "amateurish workmanship." We still really liked the house but our offer didn't really leave us room for putting on a new roof with no real paycheck coming for 4 years so we asked for some concessions from the owner which she didn't want to give us so today we discovered that it is back on the market. I know that God has a plan in all of this so we are trusting Him.

In the mean time we have had a pretty good week. We went to the New York State Fair on Wednesday which was a lot of fun. Glenn had Wednesday off from classes so we made a day of it. I think you could probably make a day of it everyday for the duration of the Fair and still not see it all but we had a fun day exploring and learning. On the way back "home" from the fair and after having dinner with some friends it was about 10:30 and one of our tires blew about a mile from Joel and Michelle's. Glenn walked to their house to borrow their van to come back and get us then they put our tire that we had taken off because it had a slow leak back on it and in the morning we drove to Dunn Tire to get 4 new tires put on. Getting 4 new tires was actually on our "to do" list for last week because we knew it needed them ever since we bought the van back at the end of February but Thursday was definitely not the day I would have picked to do it nor was I planning on getting a flat tire but I am so glad that it happened when Glenn was with us and when we were not on the interstate! Michelle laughed at us that Glenn walked the mile to their house instead of calling and later when we were talking I had to laugh too. We are so independent. I am not sure when we are going to learn that it is OK to ask for and accept help from others. You would think that in the last month and a half of living with various other people we would have learned it by now but, obviously, we have not. 

On Friday we headed west and stopped in to visit my grandparents on the way to Rochester. The kids took a quick swim with Grandpa and we shared a apple pancake dinner, Hannah played Grandma in checkers and we watched the end of Beethoven. Glenn had school work to do so we hit the road and got to our friends' Dave and Hannah's house where we have been staying. It is fun to visit them here because we lived in this house for 2 months when it belonged to Brian and Kristina in our last time of homelessness. 

Yesterday, to allow Glenn time to study for his first exam which is on Friday, we headed out to Hannah's friend Heidi's house for the afternoon. It was fun to visit with them, the girls all played dress-up and had shows and the boys did boy stuff while I got to visit with Leah and Peter. 

This morning we went to North and I was really challenged by the sermon and the life of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. It was good and I would really challenge you if you ever struggle with discouragement or depression like me or know anyone who does to listen to the sermon.  We had a lazy afternoon that culminated in Lydia possibly getting a sprained ankle on a trampoline. I am not exactly sure how she did it but she is in a lot of pain. After that we headed up to Durand Eastman Park to have a picnic before Church on the Beach with Dave, Hannah & Hudson then we heard testimonies and watched 19 people get baptized in Lake Ontario. It was an awesome service. It was so neat to hear how God had worked in all of those people's lives. One thing that I thought was really neat was that 3 different couples got baptized together. What a neat opportunity. 

Well, back to the grind tomorrow. Glenn doesn't have class tomorrow but he does have a study session that he would like to go to so while he studies the kids and I are going to drive around some more and look for a place to live. This seems to be the theme of our lives lately and we are all so tired of looking at houses and not having our own space. I feel like I have cried wolf 4 times on our 4 different offers. I don't know if even I will believe myself next time I say a house looks promising but I know that God does have good plans for us. This song by Brenton Brown based on Well with my Soul by H.G. Spafford is on my heart today and with it I close for this edition of Adventures in Homelessness:

Sometimes it's hard sometimes I cry
Sometimes my heart wants to know why? 
But Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light 
And though my heart is aching
And there're tears in my eyes 

Whatever my lot, you have taught me to know 
It is well, it is well with my soul 

It's not always easy, I'm not always right 
Sometimes I do things that are wrong in Your sight 
But I have decided I'm going to follow Jesus 
And there's no turning back,
There's no turning back. 

You have reached down to me,
You have rescued me 
And have shed Your blood for my soul
And I live now knowing that the sky
And not the grave will be my goal 
And just as in life, also in death
This truth will comfort and console 
That soon I will see Your face
And hear Your voice and know that it is well...

Whatever my lot, You have taught me to know 
It is well, it is well with my soul 

But please hold my hand Lord and hold on tight 
'Cause the road here is narrow...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Adventures in Homelessness Part 4

It has been a week again... let's see if I can remember all that took place.

Tuesday night we decided to stay at Luke and Christina's because we knew that we weren't going to be invading anyone's space there because they were still on vacation. Staying there was such a blessing, like a vacation home, it was so nice! On Wednesday morning we headed back to Syracuse for Glenn to do some orientation stuff and to check out a house on Vine St. We decided to make an offer on the house because we liked it but someone else did too and on Thursday, during Parents/Family Day stuff and orientation, we found out that the owners decided to take the other offer. Thursday afternoon was Glenn's White Coat Ceremony. His Grandma and Grandpa Nicodemus from Wyoming were able to be there as well as my Grandma and Grandpa Nelson from Waterloo. It was a neat ceremony and the kids were pretty good during it. I was glad when Abigail and Lydia fell asleep though :). Glenn was busy with orientation stuff all weekend. They really kept all the new med students busy and tired them out just in time for school to start Monday morning. We spent Wednesday through Saturday nights back at our friends Matt and Christina's house. We scoured the available houses and rentals but weren't really able to find anything.

On Sunday morning at church our friends Joel and Michelle offered to let us stay at their home so we went there after Glenn's dinner with a doctor on Sunday night. They told us on Sunday night that they were planning on having us stay at least a week or two. That was a huge blessing because Glenn was getting stressed out about not knowing where we were going to sleep and starting medical school all at the same time. It has given us a little breathing room.

We expanded our house search to a broader area and decided on 4 houses to go and look at Tuesday morning when Glenn didn't have class because he took anatomy this summer. 1 and 3 were definite "no"s and 2 and 4 were "maybe"s. The more we thought about it and looked at numbers we decided to go with #2 and put an offer on it today, Hannah's birthday, after her birthday cinnamon rolls and going to the free movies to see Madagascar 2. Glenn had all day off today because of summer anatomy. I am glad he took it :). Tonight for Hannah's birthday dinner we had Hawaiian Haystacks and Wacky Cake with Peanut Butter frosting (probably the most requested birthday meal) with Joel and Michelle and Logan (Curtis is too little to get any) and at at 9:30 tonight we got a call from our realtor that, though our earlier low ball offer was not accepted, our later offer that was more in the amount that we were originally thinking was and so we are buying a house! Here is a link to some pictures of it as long as it stays up. http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/440-Stafford-Ave_Syracuse_NY_13206_1111169488 It is cute. There are 4 bedrooms so we'll be using the one downstairs as a school room/ office. I am excited not to have to use the dining room table as our school table! There is pretty tile in the entryway, good sized bedrooms, a mud room out back, a big deck and a decent sized yard. We like it. Hopefully we'll be able to get an inspection on Friday afternoon or on Saturday and get the process started. Yeah! We are not going to be homeless forever!! I am very excited about that!

I am so thankful for all the people who have been praying for us and sending me encouraging notes. It has been a long 7 months looking for a place to live in Syracuse but it is really looking like we are finally going to have one soon! Praise the Lord! To God be the glory, great things He hath done. As I was looking at the words to that song I came to the last verse and that is my heart "Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done, and great our rejoicing in Jesus the Son; but purer and higher and greater will be, our wonder, our transport when Jesus we see!" I am very much looking forward to having a home here on earth but even more so I am looking forward to being at Home with my Savior. I look forward to looking on His face. "That will be glory, be glory for me!"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Adventures in Homelessness Part 3

After I blogged last Sunday we heard from our realtor that the owners of the house that we had put an offer on had to talk to the bank on Monday morning to find out how much they owed on the house and that we would hear then so we decided to stay one more night at Matt and Christina's apartment with them.

On Monday we heard that the home owners still owe over $7000 more than we offered on a mortgage that they had taken out on the house after it had been given to them. We would have to offer about $10,000 more than our original offer for them to come close to clearing their debt which we can't do because shortly after moving in we would have to put $12,000 into a new roof not to mention other repairs and updates that the house really needs so we decided that it was not financially smart to increase our offer. We went to look at one other house that was available on Monday but it did not have a dining room which we would really like to have so we decided that it was not the one for us. After more consideration we decided that we wanted to check out the first house that we had gone to see with our realtor again but he was not available until Tuesday morning so Matt and Christina were gracious enough to let us stay one more night.

On Tuesday we went to see Strong again and because I was in panic mode thinking, "We really need a place to live and this might work" we made an offer on it. Glenn really wasn't fond of the house, especially the really wet basement and stone foundation that looked bulgy in some areas. After making the offer we went back to Rochester where our friends Luke and Christina had offered to let us house sit for them while they were on vacation.

On Wednesday morning we went to the movies (we love Regal's free movies in the summer!) and during the movie we got a call telling us that our offer was accepted but that the owner didn't want any nit picking afterwards so we scheduled an inspection for Thursday morning.

Up early on Thursday to go back to Syracuse for our inspection dropping our kids off at AmyJo's on the way. During the inspection we discovered that we disliked even more the house that we weren't really sure how it was going to work and didn't love in the first place. I think that the kicker for me was when the inspector poked between the stones in the foundation lots of dirt and sand came trickling out. He said that we would have to have it completely cleaned out and re-mortered inside and out which sounded like an expensive ordeal on a house we didn't like so we decided after the inspection to call our realtor and say no. I really shouldn't have forced Glenn into making an offer on the house in the first place but we did learn quite a bit about what to look for in houses in our $350 walk through with the house inspector. The inspector was really great and if we decide to buy a different house we will definitely use him again. After the inspection we went to the library to look for houses again online but didn't really see anything so we headed back and picked up our kids and ran back to Rochester to make dinner to take to our friends Zach and Maryellen's house. After dinner and visiting we went back to Luke and Christina's and Glenn suprised me by packing up clothes and PJs for the kids and taking them to our friends Dave and Hannah's house for the night because Friday was our 10th anniversary.

It was so nice to be able to sleep in on our anniversary. We haven't had a kid free night in several years so it was nice to spend about 16 hours kid free. (thanks so much Hannah!!) After sleeping in we went out for lunch at an Indian restaurant and then wandered the shops in Pittsford Plaza.

On Saturday we had a picnic with my friend Anita and her kids in Highland Park and ran into our friend Miss Betty. In the evening we dropped Caleb off to play with his friend Gabe and took the girls to the Museum of Play to play in air conditioning!

Sunday morning we went home to North and then had a relaxing afternoon and I worked some on lesson plans for the Caleb for the fall. My friend Sarah came over to visit in the late afternoon and we visited and played Toss Your Cookies with us.

On Monday we to Sea Breeze. Some friends from North had 5 extra tickets they weren't going to be able to use so they gave them to us and we only had to buy one for Abigail which was so nice! We had a fun day in the sun and got sun burns despite the SPF 50 we put on everyone. We had never been there before and we really liked the water rides. We stayed a little longer than we planned because on our last waterslide Glenn's glasses bounced off when Abigail's head hit his so the two waterslides that dumped into that pool were shut down while 3 lifeguards scoured the pool for them. Thankfully after about 15 minutes they were found and we were able to go home with Glenn able to see and the rides were able to be opened again. :) After leaving Sea Breeze we went to a BBQ with our small group at Eric and Racheal's house which was fun even though it was really hot!

Today we are heading to the Museum of Play for the day to meet up with some friends and then who knows. We have tickets for the Syracuse Cheifs game back in Syracuse tonight but we can stay here tonight because we don't have to be in Syracuse super early tomorrow so we may skip the game and not go back yet. We don't know. Tomorrow hopefully we'll be looking at more houses and driving around to look for rentals. Maybe we'll find a place tomorrow. Who knows? Well, I know God does.

It has been such a blessing to use Luke and Christina's house as our vacation home this week. It has made being homeless a lot easier! Starting tonight or tomorrow we'll be homeless again. Our friend Brad from our small group asks us every time he sees us "Have you started living in your van down by the river yet?" and I tell him that Syracuse doesn't have a river (at least I don't think so) but maybe we can live by the lake. We have yet to sleep in our van (besides the kids falling asleep while driving) during our homelessness but if we have to sleep in our van it will be OK. I'm excited to see what this week will bring... Glenn starts orientation, his White Coat Ceremony, etc. Still trusting our God to take care of us!

"There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say "It is well" "

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Adventures in Homelessness Part 2

When out and about with our kids we often hear the words, "Can we go home?" "When can we go home?" "Do we have to go home?" Now when we hear those questions a discussion ensues: "What do you mean home?" "We don't have a home." "Do you mean our van?" "Do you mean Moby's house? (or Levi's? or Puccio's?)" "But it is home because my stickers are at that house." (meaning our sublet) This week we spent Monday and Tuesday night at Chris & Miranda's (Levi's) house then we visited Russ and Camy on our way back to Syracuse to house sit for Matt & Christina (Moby) from Wednesday until today. We looked at some houses on Thursday and put an offer on our favorite one that we have seen so far on Friday. There has been no response as of right now on our offer so I am assuming that it is being ignored. If that is the case we should probably go and look at more houses tomorrow and put in another offer.

I must admit, I am tired of not having a place to call home. As I was thinking of that this week though I thought of my Savior. He said "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." (Matt.8:20) Jesus did not have a home but I think that He was OK with it because it gave Him the best opportunity to be used and I wonder - how can God use me during this time? I long to be available to Him.

On our way to church this morning we passed a lady at the intersection by the offramp with a sign "Two kids. Need food. Need essentials." andI thought to myself I couldn't imagine! I wished that I would have put the food that we had left over from staying here in the car already and I was reminded again of how blessed I am. We are not lacking any of the essentials or food and we are not homeless because we do not have the resources to be in a home. Part of the reason we are homeless is because we don't want to sign a years lease when there is a possibility that we might buy a home. (and not have to move for almost 4 years!!) Another part of the reason is because we are on vacation, Glenn has a break from school for over 2 weeks so we don't necessarily have to be here in Syracuse. Another part of the reason is because I am picky. We have lived so many places there are definitely things that I do and don't like in a house. Also, Glenn has been able to walk to work the last two years and I would love to not be dependent on two vehicles for at least the first two years here with Glenn walking or riding his bike to school.

We are not sure what this week holds. We have been offered the opportunity to house sit for our friends Luke and Christina in Rochester starting today until Glenn starts orientation on the 18th which sounds like so much fun but we aren't sure how much of that time we should be in Rochester and how much of that time we should camp out or sleep in our van here in Syracuse and look for a place to live. I guess I will let you know in Adventures in Homelessness Part 3 what we decide.

One thing that I do know is that I am thankful that my real home is Heaven and I "eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (Phil 3:20) Come quickly Lord Jesus. I also know that God is at work in my life and is using this time for my good and His glory. Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Adventures in Homelessness Part 1

Well, I woke up Saturday morning knowing that we needed to be out of our sublet and not knowing where we were going to be sleeping that night. As the girls were sitting around the table eating breakfast they were chatting about how exciting it was and they were very excited about the prospect of sleeping in "Winnie" (our minivan). I was trusting God that He knew our needs and that He would take care of us. We set about moving more stuff to the attic and cleaning up. One of Glenn's classmates came over to lend a hand which was nice and a fun distraction for our kids. They seem to be more helpful when there is someone exciting there helping too. :) We took a break to go and check out a couple of houses up in Eastwood with a realtor but neither of them really seemed to be "the one" so we went back to the apartment to finish up. Sometime during the day my friend Bethany who I met at the Museum of Play last April and convinced me to change my life with my great home based business called and asked how I was doing and where we were staying that night. I told her I didn't know and she said that we should come and spend the night at her house in North Chili so we did. On Sunday morning we went back to North and it felt like a family reunion. How I love that church! I was so encouraged by the sermon too about Elijah in 1 Kings 17 and how God took care of him even though it wasn't safe or easy. "God often sustains us in ways that we would not anticipate" and I was challenged to pay attention to where and how He is doing it. I was also challenged by Obediah and how he was faithful where he was even though working for Ahab I am sure wasn't the easiest job in the land or exactly where he wanted to be but God used him there and I need to be faithful where God has placed me and look for opportunities to serve God where I am. In that my desire to live in the neighborhood that we just moved out grew even more because I can see lots of opportunities to share God's love with the families that we have already met there and many others that are in the area.

Monday we had fun just hanging out with Bethany's family (they have 4 kids about our kids ages) and relaxing for the day then we got to go to our small group! It was so great to get back together with them. We have missed our Monday night discussion and prayer time. It felt great to be home! Then we spent the night at our friends Chris & Miranda's new house that they hadn't closed on until after we left for Syracuse. It is beautiful! Today we are hanging out with Levi (their little boy that is Abigail's age) and meeting up with my cousins at the Museum of Play to play for the day. It should be fun.

Monday, July 27, 2009

5 Loaves, 2 Fish

The kids really needed to go to bed tonight, I really needed them to go to bed tonight. Caleb was still working on supper dishes when I started doing "thank yous" with the girls and Glenn in the living room and he got there just as I was starting to read Matthew 14. I got to verses 16 and 17 "But Jesus replied, 'That isn't necessary - you feed them.' 'What!' they exclaimed. 'We have exactly five small loaves of bread and two fish!'" and started crying. Caleb turned to Glenn and asked him if he had picked out what we were going to read tonight and Glenn told him that no, that was just where we were at. Caleb said, "God must have known." After I composed myself and finished the passage Caleb turned to me and said, "You see mom, if God can use five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand men and that's not including women and children then He can provide for us."

I have been struggling with trusting God. I have been struggling with the whole "where are we going to be living next week" thing and then today I realized I hadn't calculated health insurance for Glenn into my projected budget for our family. The kids are eligible for Child Health Plus in NY so they will be taken care of but Glenn and I are not and he is required to have health insurance or he can't be a student. It is going to cost us a lot of money that I had not calculated in on my budgeting. It was a surprise to me and I said, "What! We have exactly 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish" and God said in vs 18 "Bring them here." OK, God, here are my 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish. They are Yours. You know our needs over the next 4 years until we get another paycheck again better than I do and You know how You are going to use what we have and what ever else You have up Your sleeve to provide for us. I can trust You.

Soon to be Homeless but Never Hopeless

Today is Monday. We told the man we are subletting from that we will be out by the 3rd at the latest. That is next Monday. I have no idea where we are going. Glenn's final test for anatomy is on Friday and he doesn't start orientation until 8/18 so that means we don't have to be in Syracuse for those almost 2 1/2 weeks. Where should we go? What should we do? I don't know. A few people have offered to let us stay a couple of days at their homes. We have been given permission to put all of our stuff up in the attic so that is my task for this week. I guess I am packing like we are going camping. A week's worth of clothes, tents, sleeping bags, etc and sleep where ever we find a spot. It may be interesting.

During our marriage we have never lived in any one city or town for 4 years in a row so living here in Syracuse for 4 years will be a first. I am interested to find out where we will be living for those 4 years. Moving an average of once every 9 months for the last 10 years has been exhausting. I would love to live in one place for the next 4 years to move our average up to moving once a year with our longest stay being almost 4 years instead of our current record of almost 2. I don't know if that is going to happen or not. We have been pre-approved for a mortgage but we aren't sure if that is what we want to do or not. We have not been able to find any rentals that we really liked. We have looked at a few houses to possibly buy. I think that we are spoiled. For the last 2 years Glenn has walked to work and this summer he has biked to school. It saves on gas, having to have 2 vehicles, paying for parking, insurance, etc. Because of all of that we are mostly looking in the University neighborhood because it seems to make the most sense. I am not sure if that is really the best thing to do or not. We could really use wisdom. We are considering putting an offer in on a house about a block from where we are currently living but the house needs a new roof and the hardwood floors redone among other cosmetic things. There is also people living in the house now that don't really seem eager to leave (they aren't the homeowners). This may complicate things. I am not even sure if the owners would take our offer of the price minus the roof price. We will see.

Anyway, we will be homeless as of this weekend. I don't know exactly what we are going to do. I guess it will be an adventure :) As we were heading home from church on Sunday we passed a couple under 81 with a sign saying something about being homeless and I couldn't imagine being in their situation and it made me think about how thankful I am for the situation I am in. Yes, we am soon to be homeless but I know that it is not for forever and I know that God will provide a place for us to live. I can trust Him that He will work it out in His time. We may be living at various New York State Parks for a while but we have a couple of nice tents. It will be OK. Glenn got into medical school. That was a huge hurdle. There will be many other hurdles along the way but no matter what God will be by our sides and in that I have hope. I will soon be homeless but I will never be without hope.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Scattered - Part 2

As I was thinking about this some more I was thinking about the fact that we aren't the only ones who have been scattered lately. It seems that there has been a large number of people scattered from our church in Rochester. Not scattered because of persecution but because of school and jobs and other things. People have left Rochester for Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York city, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and soon Portugal (and these are just ones that I came up with quick off the top of my head - please forgive me if I missed you!). All of us have been taught and trained and given leadership opportunities at North and now we have been scattered by God to impact various parts of our world with the gospel of Christ. Our leaving also has opened doors for other people to get involved in ministry at North who otherwise "wouldn't have been needed." I am so excited to be a part of God's work. I loved our time at North and I learned so much from the messages, being involved in small groups, serving with the kids, and Adult Bible Classes. Phil. 3:13-14 seems appropriate "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." For those of you who have also been scattered keep looking ahead. Use what God has taught you in the past to make an impact where you are. I get distracted when I long for home (Rochester) but when I long for Home (Heaven!) my priorities are aligned and my vision becomes clear. God has placed us here at this time for His purposes and I don't want to miss out on them!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Scattered

I am often asked why we move so much. I don't really know what to say. This morning in church the message was from Acts 8 with Phillip and the Ethiopean eunuch. Phillip had been heading toward Jerusalem after preaching in Samaria when God told him to head toward Gaza on a desert road so he went and came across the eunuch reading Isa 53. It is a pretty familiar story that you can read if you would like. The thing that God pressed on my heart was the beginning of chapter 8 the reason that Phillip was up in Samaria was because of the persecution that caused the followers of Christ to scatter. The persecution didn't seem like a good thing at the time. They had to leave the comforts of home where they had friends and family to go into the unknown. If it hadn't have happened though how big would the church have grown? Because of the persecution followers of Christ were scattered and multiplied and their reach encompassed the known civilization.

The word scattered got to me. I don't like being scattered. I don't like leaving my friends and church family to go where I know no one BUT I don't go out and meet people if God doesn't "force" me to be scattered. I really would have preferred to stay in Rochester BUT if I had stayed in Rochester I would have stayed in my little bubble of Christian friends and not met the people that I have already met here and will meet in the days to come. I am lonely right now which makes me want to go out and meet people and get together with significant others of other med students which I wouldn't have needed to as much in Rochester. I know that I really need to allow God to scatter me. It is hard. I hate saying goodbye. I hate going to places where I know no one but God is faithful and proves Himself faithful again and again. I always see our scattering (moving) to be a bad thing but God always brings about good from it.

Thinking about the message and being scattered over the years brought me to a conclusion. I am thankful that I have been scattered. I have friends all over the country and all over the world that I know only because God has forced me to leave where I felt comfortable and step out in faith. There are people all over the world that pray for me because I was a part of their lives for a season. For that I am so grateful. There are 5 great churches that we have been a part of over the years that, when the time comes for us to go overseas, and even now, will pray for us because those who haven't had the "privilege" of being scattered so many times are still there and remember the impact that we have had on them for our short season there. For that I am eternally grateful. How many fewer people I would know if I stayed where I was comfortable instead of going where God lead? How many fewer people would I have impacted?

One thing that I was convicted of today though (and quite a bit over the last few months) is that I have gotten to know other followers of Christ and impacted them but I have not really gotten to know any non-Christians in the places where I have lived. Well, here in Syracuse I have already gotten to know a few people who are not followers of Christ. I am excited to develop relationships with them and also with some of Glenn's fellow medical students and their significant others. I have lived in a bubble for too long.

As I was sitting in church this morning part of Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns was going through my head:

"Oh,what I would do to have
the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is,
And he's holding out his hand...

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth"

I want that kind of faith. I am going to step out of my comfort zone and listen to the Voice of truth as I try to make an impact on this community for Christ. Our last morning in Rochester I woke up with the song God of this City on my heart, "Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city." God has brought us to Syracuse for a reason. "There is no one like our God" and He is going to to great things and I want to be a part of it.

Speaking of which I really want to stay in our neighborhood. I am one to talk to my neighbors when I see them but not generally go out of my way to see them. If we move out of our neighborhood I may never see these people again to become friends with them. I guess that is a matter of prayer. We still don't know where we will be living at the beginning of August but we found out on Friday that we may be pre-approved for a mortgage. Our application (for which I still have to write a letter explaining why we have moved so much over the past year. Should I just send a link to my blog??) will go before a loan committee this week and they say yes we may be buying a house. There is one just 3 doors down that we like and they are asking an amount which is a bit less than it is worth and a bit more than we will probably get pre-approved for. We will see. If it is where God wants us He will work out the details.

Scattered. It is not a comfortable place to be. It is not an easy place to be. It is not a very desirable place to be or something that people seek after but, I am thankful to have been scattered and I know that God will scatter us again several times in the future should He tarry. I long to be purposeful where ever He scatters me to because the call is the same every time: "Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:19-20, The Message)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Where am I looking?

I have been wallowing. I guess that is the best word for it. I know that I need to stop so I dug out Calm My Anxious Heart (I never have to dig far. It is one of those books that I can never have too far from me) and started to read it again. Chapter One is convicting. It starts out talking about a woman who has, from an outsiders' view, a nearly perfect life - cute, well behaved kids, loving, generous husband who works hard and helps out at home, beautiful new furniture, etc. and all that she does is complain. She is contrasted with another woman Ella Spees who was a missionary in Africa for 52 years where she had to bring in her thermometer in during the day because it would break when it got over 120 degrees who has been a huge challenge to me ever since the first time I read this book. Ella's prescription for contentment was this:
* Never allow yourself to complain about anything- not even the weather.
* Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else.
* Never compare your lot with another's.
* Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
* Never dwell on tomorrow - remember that [tomorrow] is God's, not ours.
OUCH! How has my thought process, even my blog from yesterday lined up with that prescription? Not so hot, I'd say. I think that I need to print that and put it on my fridge next to my Andrew Murray quote. How often I complain about everything, especially the weather "It's raining again?" "It is so hot." "Boy, it has gotten chilly." Ugg. Speaking of wallowing, it made me think of another quote from one of my Dillow books,"Two women look through prison bars, one saw mud the other stars." What is my perspective? Where am I looking? I love the quote from Elisabeth Eliot "I know of no greater simplifier for all of life. Whatever happens is assigned. Does the intellect balk at that? Can we say that there are things that happen to us that do not belong to our lovingly assigned "portion." ("This belongs to it, that does not")? Every assigment is measured and controlled for my eternal good. As I accept the given portion other options are cancelled. Decisions become much easier, directions clearer, and hence my heart becomes inexpressibly quieter. A quiet heart is content with what God gives." Someone has to be in control and if I choose to let God be in charge instead of me I will be content. The first time I did this study I had to write a definition for contentment and I wrote, "thankfully, happily taking whatever God sends my way as what He has for me/ His will without complaining or desiring things to be different." That is how I long to live my life. It is a conscious, day by day, moment by moment choice. My life is not perfect but it is the perfect life for me according to God's plan to make me into the woman He wants me to be.

Anyway, I wasn't intending to do a chapter summary on chapter one or I would have gone into the monk story, I guess I will save that for another day. The real reason that I sat down to write this was because I was laughing at myself. I was digging in the cupboard for chocolate (it doesn't really help but I always think that it is going to, hence the reason why I have gained so much weight lately) and a song started going through my head. I still ate the chocolate but came to the computer to look up the words/ listen to the song. The words that were going through my head were "Find rest, my soul, in God alone Amid the world’s temptations; When evil seeks to take a hold I’ll cling to my salvation." It made me laugh... Why am I looking to chocolate when I am down? Where should I be looking? Psalm 62 has the answer "My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him." I love the song by Aaron Keyes that we sang at North based on Psalm 62. So I ate my chocolate and went to look up the words online.

My soul finds rest in God alone, My Rock and my salvation,
A fortress strong against my foes, And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse, And lies like arrows pierce me,
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness, I’ll look to Him who hears me.

CHORUS
O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world’s temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I’ll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go,
Don’t set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven. (TO CHORUS)

I’ll set my gaze on God alone,
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul,
And He will prove His mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever. (TO CHORUS 2X)

BRIDGE
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah! hallelujah!

Is this a battle I will struggle with my whole life? Will I ever be content? Oh Lord, please help me to keep my eyes on You and to turn to You trusting that You will prove Your mercy again and again as You have so many times before. O praise Him, hallelujah, my Delight and my Reward, Everlasting, never failing, my Redeemer, my God.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hahns... Files... Trips to Waterloo

It has been a while again. Time to play catch up. Not as bad as some other times which is nice. It seems we have become quite popular since moving to Syracuse. We have had quite a bit of company which has been a lot of fun. I guess it helps that we have a bit more space for people to be in our current apartment compared to the little house we were living in in Rochester. Sigh... how I wish we could stay in this apartment...

Anyway, last weekend our friends the Hahns who are friends of ours from our first year at Houghton came up to visit us. It was so great to see them. It had been almost 2 years. They came on Friday evening and enjoyed my birthday dinner of chicken fajitas on navajo fry bread with us (so yummy!) and stayed until Sunday morning after church. On Saturday we all went to the Regional Market (not nearly as cool as the Public Market but OK) to check it out. While there we got to look around at a lot of neat stuff and bought a tomato plant. It was pretty big and already had some flowers on it (it has itty bitty tomatoes on it now, we are very excited!) On Saturday evening we hosted our Domino's American Legend houseparty and got all 6 American Legends pizzas to try and share with our guests. Our neighbors from next door and downstairs came as well as my aunt and uncle and cousin and her little guy and friend. We had a lot of fun and the pizzas were very yummy! It was great to spend time with Sam and Jen, get reacquainted and catch up some on their lives. I guess one benefit of moving a lot is that we get to meet and make new friends everywhere we go. The common bond of Christ helps keep those relationships solid even when it is months or years between visits or talks.

We have been plugging away at school this week. I know that it will be harder for the kids to want to focus on school in the mornings once the neighbors come back from their vacation so I am trying to keep them focused and working now. We have made some progress and have had some fun in the process. Hannah is improving every day in reading and I really think that she will be reading on her own by the end of the summer which is very exciting.

Glenn has been studying hard. He had his first exam on the Wednesday before last and did really well on it. It was a confidence booster for him. After being rejected so many times and by so many schools it was good for him to do so well on his first exam in medical school to help him believe in himself again though he does know that it is all only by God's grace.

On Friday we had another visit from friends from Rochester. Karen, Priscilla and Gabe came for Gabe to be able to spend part of his birthday with Caleb. We had fun visiting with them and hanging out at our house and eating lunch then we headed to the zoo (it is completely reciprocal with Seneca Park Zoo memberships if anyone else wants to come out and go to the zoo with us). We had to dodge some raindrops but it was fun.

The kids and I had to make a couple of trips to Waterloo this week. The first one was unplanned. We got school work done in a hurry on Wednesday morning and headed to Waterloo to sign some paperwork that I had to sign during business hours then spent the afternoon hanging out with my grandparents at their pool. Some cousins and Uncle Russ stopped by to swim too. As we were leaving AmyJo and Ehren stopped by with two puppies. We were already planning on heading to Waterloo yesterday for a party at Phoebe's house. It was fun to see her and other friends while I was there and the 8 kids that came with their moms all played really well together in the backyard while Leah watched them. After the party the kids and I headed up "to meet the puppies" which really meant we went to see Paul and AmyJo and Kyle. We visited with them for a while then moved our little party to Grandma & Grandpa Nelsons' for a pool-side picnic. It always goes this way - feast or famine. We had missed seeing Grandma & Grandpa in all of our trips between Rochester and Syracuse in our moving process because they were never available as we were passing through. It was great to spend 2 afternoons with them and Grandma even made me birthday cupcakes :). It has been years since someone else made me a birthday cake so that was a nice "surprise" :)

This week we also have continued our search for a home. We went to see a couple on Thursday but the first one we weren't even allowed to look at because the landlord "doesn't rent to people with children" (I know, it is illegal, but I don't really want to rent from her if she has a problem with kids, there would just be problems the whole time we lived there) and the other one was slightly larger than our little house on Meadowbrook but pretty gross, smelled of cat pee, and had basically no kitchen. I have been pretty discouraged this week but I have looked back through my blog at where we have been over the last several years and seen how God has faithfully come through over and over again and I am trusting Him to do it again.

So for this coming week we will continue to look for a place to live so we won't be living in a box (I guess it would take several boxes) when August 3rd rolls around and continue to get more school work accomplished while Glenn prepares for his next exam which will be Thursday then he has a 3 day weekend! We don't know yet what we are doing but we are hoping to get away somewhere.

I'll try to keep up better with this so it isn't such a book everytime. No promises though. Until next time.... keep l@@king up :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

One Week down, Another 7 to Go

Leaving Rochester I promised people that I would try to keep up with this but so far I have not been successful. We spent Glenn's last week of freedom getting settled and exploring the area a bit. There was a Hike/Bike homeschooling event at Erie Canal Park in Camillus that we got to late and did kind of run into 2 other homeschool dads with their kids but didn't really connect much. We had only brought the kids bikes so we decided to bring a picnic lunch with us and everyone's bikes to go back there after church on Sunday. That was a lot of fun. There is a museum there that we got to check out with a Canal Store which was neat. I decided that we should study the Erie Canal this summer with our school so we checked out some books on it at the library. Another outing that we had was to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. We ended up buying a family plus one membership to the zoo so that everytime we go we can bring one guest with us for free - anyone want to go to the zoo? :) It was a lot of fun to check out. It is different from the Seneca Park Zoo but our membership here is good there too whenever we go back to Rochester :)

Glenn started his anatomy class last Monday so the kids and I started school as well because we have taken too much time off this past school year. We are not going to have to do math for all 8 weeks but we are going to have to do phonics. I am praying that Hannah will gain confidence in herself as a reader this summer. She is almost there but she gives up and gets frustrated too easily. Glenn has been a bit overwhelmed with all the material that he now has in his brain that he did not have a week ago. His first exam is on Wednesday on the thorax. He has been studying a lot but has made it home for dinner every night except tonight because he had review sessions. He has been biking to class. It is a little less than 2 miles. His lab group is working together pretty well and they have become a study group as well. He says they seem to study pretty well together so that is good.

The kids have thoroughly enjoyed having kids nearby. They love playing with 4 year old Elodie downstairs and 5 year old Kyle, 8 year old Trevor, and 11 year old Francesca next door. They play with them outside and then as soon as I tell them that we have to go in for dinner they run upstairs and back on the back porch to talk to them some more. It is fun for them. (yes, we have porches. Abigail told us her favorite thing about Syracuse is that we have "twoooo poh-cheeeeehzzz" - front and back). The next door neighbors have a fun backyard with a pool and the kids have gone swimming with them several times. We love this apartment, if only we weren't subletting and could rent it for the 4 years.... Alas, the guy we are subletting from has had the apartment for 11 years, I doubt that he is going to want to give it up :( I know that God has good plans and He knows where we will be living in 2 months. Why is this always the story of our lives? Everyone here makes you sign a 1 year lease so most likely we will be at our next place for 12 months, at least.

We went to a different church this week and I really don't think that we'll be going back there for regular service. It was OK. The service seemed more like a show than a time to gather and worship. It's not my style. After church Caleb asked if we could go back to West Genny next week. We kind of felt at home there so we may be going back next week, or we may check out a couple more churches. We really don't know. I know that if we had just stayed at FWC like we did at North it would have saved us a bit of misery. Sometime before Sunday I'll try to get a chance to talk to Glenn about that one.

VISITORS!!! We welcome visitors :) On Saturday night our dear friends the Lishawas came to visit us and brought us a picnic supper. We headed out in search of a park with those little grill things. We were told about a couple of them but we decided to go up to Onondaga Lake Park. It is a fun park but it is hard to find grills. They are way up at the north part of the park, I think that it was Willow picnic grounds or something. After driving around the park for a while it was a relief to finally find what looked to be 'grill heaven.' The guys manned the grill while the kids played on the playground. Brian had promised Caleb that before we left Rochester he would take him for a dip in Lake Ontario but we ran out of time and it wasn't able to happen so they (Caleb and Brian) insisted that it happen when they visited us. So Brian and all 4 of my kids went into Onondaga Lake. Gross. Our downstairs neighbor told me that they are probably some of only 10 people who have been in that lake in the last 30 years. Anyway, they did it. It was too dark by the time we got there for me to really see how gross the water is. I will have to check it out next time we go to the park. Anyway, it was so much fun to visit with Brian and Kristina. They are leaving Rochester soon as their residency is ending this month and they'll be heading to MI for a while before heading overseas.

On Sunday night we had other visitors. Mike and Rachele S came by to see us on their way to NH to see her family. Rachele and Glenn had gone to India together back in 1997 with TMI. We had not seen Rachele since she came by to check out TTU before we had even gotten married. We have gotten re-connected with them over the last couple of years through their update letters. They are getting ready to go overseas too at the end of July so it was so great to see Rachele and meet Mike. The kids made fast friends with these people who are on our fridge that we pray for. (big surprise there.)

We would love to have more visitors. I know that I need to go out and meet people and make friends here since we will be here 4 years but I would love to see old friends too. Oh, and what better opportunity than my Domino's American Legends HouseParty this Saturday at 6pm. I am super excited about it. I was picked by houseparty.com to host a party and they sent me a gift card to buy one of each of the American Legends specialty pizzas from Domino's and a fun new game to play with my guests as well as coupons for pizza and the game and free movie popcorn. If you can't come but might want to host your own houseparty you should register on the site. I think that it is going to be a lot of fun!

OK, this concludes my book. I will try not to let it go so long between postings so I don't have to write a book each time.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

It's all About You, Jesus

So, yesterday was one of those morning after days. Allow me to explain. At North Baptist a new song of the month is introduced on the first Sunday of most every month. They are always great and I almost always cry and part of it gets stuck in my head but I can never remember all of the words so, on the morning after, I have to get onto the internet and look them up from the little chunks that I can remember - google and youtube to the rescue. :) On Sunday at church we sang a song that was new to me. On the program it said "Jesus, Lover of my Soul" and I know a song by that title so I thought that I knew what song we would be singing but I didn't know this song. It was really good though. Here are the lyrics I found for it:

It's all about You, Jesus
And all this is for You
For Your glory and your fame
It's not about me
As if You should do things my way
You alone are God
And I surrender to your ways

Jesus, lover of my soul
All consuming fire is in Your gaze
Jesus, I want you to know
I will follow you all my days
For no one else in history is like you
And history itself belongs to you
Alpha and Omega, You have loved me
And I will share eternity with You

So anyway, as we were singing it in church Lydia started crying because "we don't live at 1090 anymore" (we haven't lived at 1090 in almost a year) and I was crying because of the words, especially "It's not about me, As if You should do things my way, You alone are God, And I surrender to your ways." I always want things to go my way but it's not about me. He is not always going to do things my way but I can surrender to His ways and know that He knows what is best. If you would like to hear this song you can listen to it on youtube here.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Updates from Syracuse

written 5/30/09 at 7:30pm

Well, we are in Syracuse. We have been here just over 24 hours. So far so good. We were really planning on sleeping here at our new place on Thursday night but it didn't happen because on Thursday we packed and packed the Burb and the van and worked on cleaning the house but we realized at about 4pm that we were not going to be able to fit everything. We ultimately decided to go to Syracuse leave the Burb, unload the van and then head back to Rochester to grab the rest of the stuff and finish cleaning the house. We all slept on the floor at our house at 59 Meadowbrook one more time. In the morning we finished up, dropped off our modem, went out for breakfast and went to the Museum of Play, then went back to our new apartment that we are subletting in Syracuse. We unloaded and made pizza for supper.

Added 5/31/09 at 8:40pm

Friday night we set up our beds and went to sleep. Saturday morning we got up and started setting things up and putting things away. Tim, the guy who is working on the bathroom, came over and was surprised that we were already here. He had an audience of 4 as he taught plumbing to our kids while he got the sink and shower into working order. He used to teach preschool and got to use some of his teaching skills as our curious little ones watched him. While we were working some more we sent the kids outside to play with the kids next door. There are two little girls who live downstairs in our house, they are probably 10 months and 4 years old. Next door there are 3 kids – the 2 boys are 5 and 8 and the girl is 11. Our kids had a lot of fun with them and they are so excited that kids moved in next door. I think that it is going to be hard to leave here in two months because we have already made little friends. I also think that we need to get as much schooling done as we can in the next couple of weeks before school gets out here because my kids are going to want to be outside playing not inside getting schoolwork done while Daddy is in class. In the afternoon we got a little taste of Rochester here in Syracuse when we went to Levi's birthday party at Miranda's parents house. It was fun to see small group people so soon after leaving. We had to be home by 6pm to flip the Burb to the other side of the street since we have to park on the street and after flipping the Burb we went to P&C to do some grocery shopping since we have a very empty fridge then the kids took baths and we took a walk around the block and went to bed.

This morning we went to West Genesee Hills Baptist Church. People are always surprised when we go to church on the first Sunday we are in a new place but I always think, “What else would we do, stay home and unpack more boxes??” Though church shopping is hard, I think that getting out of the house is a nice break. There was a North connection at the church with a few family members of people from North in the congregation and at least one person who had gone to North a few years ago. After church there was a going away fellowship meal and we were invited to stay for it “since our kitchen wasn't all unpacked” by the pastor's mom. She told the kids that everyone calls her Grandma Ferry and that they could too but Lydia called her “Fairy Godmother.” We got to meet many of the people and everyone seemed pretty friendly. On our way home we stopped at Wegmans – how can you pass Wegmans and not stop? They didn't sell my 5# bag of cheese for less than $10 that my old Marketplace Wegmans sells but it is OK. I am still trying to figure out this town and where we are going to shop. When we finally got home we took a nap. After our naps we took a walk down to Barry Park to play then we headed home to warm up (it got cold tonight!) and watch a movie. Now it is off to bed. We need to be out of the way in the morning when Tim comes back to finish the bathroom so we don't know what we are doing tomorrow but we will probably get to the library to post this and see what has happened in the 4 days since we've had internet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Packing Funny

Abigail is always making us laugh but I rarely remember to write it down. Tonights' quote couldn't go without being written down though.

Glenn was packing in the bathroom and as he was packing up the nebulizer Abigail looked at it and asked what it was for. Glenn said, "It is to help you breathe when you can't." A puzzled Abigail asked, "When you're dead?"

I guess it is a good thing. It means we haven't had to use the nebulizer in her memory and for that I am thankful. I think that I just laughed and didn't tell her that it won't help you if you die. Maybe Glenn did. A discussion for another day....

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sometimes a Light Suprises

Yesterday was our last Sunday at North Baptist Church. That is hard for me because our church is our family. We love our blood family but in so many ways our church family is so much dearer to us. It is hard to leave. As I was walking into church yesterday we were singing "Sometimes a Light Surprises." It was such a blessing to me I wanted to post the words here so I can remember:

Sometimes a Light Surprises

1. Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord Who rises
With healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after the rain

2. In holy contemplation
We sweetly then pursue
The theme of God’s salvation,
And find it ever new;
Set free from present sorrow,
We cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow
Bring with it what it may.

3. Tomorrow can bring us nothing,
But He will bear us through:
Who gives the lilies clothing
Will clothe His people, too:
Beneath the spreading heavens
No creature but is fed;
And He Who feeds the ravens
Will give His children bread.

4. Though vine nor fig tree neither
Their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the fields should wither,
Nor flocks or herds be there
Yet, God the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice;
For, while in Him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

©2001 Kevin Twit Music.

I started crying when I got to the end of verse 2 and was so blessed that verse 4 is from one of my favorite passage in Habakkuk. God is so good to us and will prove Himself again this time as He has so faithfully in the past. I am so thankful for the unchangeableness of our God, His immutability. I think that it is my favorite attribute of my God.