Saturday, April 30, 2011

Road Trip

This is a double post kind of day. Just like the Thursday before last was a road trip kind of day. After, that is, I cleaned up a huge berry smoothie that absolutely threatened (but did not succeed!) to ruin the interior of our Honda that's up for sale.


Just me and my girls hitting the open road. I am so thankful for this happy little chick. She knew her mama was strapping her in for something special.
One of my favorite parts of road tripping can often be the stops. Not necessarily the juggling three by myself, everyone's gotta potty, we winged it by going in a field next to the playground kind of stops though.

Don't believe me? Here is my view, nursing Alysse while simultaneously yelling at Hope to come my way and laughing hysterically and taking this picture, while the "Jones Family" busted up on our moment.

I love when we've reached that point enroute to our adventure where we're just about begging to stretch. We find a field or a park, grab our hodge podge of favorite eats, jump out barefoot and take in the fresh air and companionship of sisters.

Alysse's first melon. Verdict? Don't even try to pry it from her chubby grasp!

Take that, Jones Family. :)

Better still is the propelling force which promises that just ahead of us lies a week of possibility, a week of breaking away from the grind, a week of catching up with family and celebrating Nana, a week of hunting for (and finding!) our next home, a week...

...that went by in a flash!

Sweet Easter Sunday was a beautiful day to finally slow down. A day to go to church, hug some necks, follow a simple scavenger hunt to find three wicker baskets hidden in the barn, eat ourselves plenty full, open the last Resurrection Egg, play a little hopscotch, blow bubbles, and enjoy many rounds of catch.

Maybe it also included temporarily dethroning our sleep champion babe due to some whopper top teeth coming in. But I suppose you can guess what I have to say about that?

Yep, bygones.

More Bits

Are you ready for it? And by "it" I mean the, hmm, really cute truth?

Well, okay...

This is what life looks like around here these days (Nights? No, days? Nights? Oh well, they've become one in the same anyway!) Joe and I raising our eyebrows (and only occasionally our voices) at the wee hours in which we paint and touch up and work, the girls up way past bedtime tearing off those dag-nab slipcovers again and watching some borrowed something (except Alysse 'cause that girl has become a sleeping champion... so proud of her!), and all of us counting down the days until the newly placed sign in the yard yells...


Not because we are ready to move on from here AT ALL yet, but because I can stop being the Mom I am not. The one whose all pick that up, keep that clean, no we can't do that fun and messy project right now. When I get those days fully back with my girls... ooh, baby, when I get those days back! I'll leave it at that.

But even with my crazy, gotta get this done yesterday MO I still stand amazed at my girlies, at our family for how resilient and only semi-insane we can be through such a big transition. As is my favorite, the little bits.

"Hey, Mama, don't worry. I can help with all this!" This picture has sadly disappeared but a little pigtailed girl had herself a bunch of wet paper towels. They were causing water marks on the table more than anything, but help she did. By enlarging my heart outside my chest again.

I did find another picture I forgot I took of some flowers Joe bought from a lady who needed to sell them. Sure made our night.
Finding experiments in the freezer. Hearing Hope wonder. How long will it take to freeze? It could turn into an ice rink? If I added food would it change it all up?
Same with riddles shooting at me from the back seat. I hold animals from escaping and go around people's yards... What am I? I am delicious, cold, and held on a stick... What am I now?

Bedtime conversations.

Hope: After ten I'm stopping my birthdays.
Me: Why?
Hope: Because at ten I'm old enough to stay home by myself sometimes, but I won't ever have to leave you and Daddy.

Lord help that swollen heart of mine. May it get extra big as a reminder to me when she or one of our other lovelies rearrange a perfectly clean room in 2.5 seconds flat.
Eleven months and cruising.

She's grounded.

Maddie's first "school" experience with our little home school group that I've been teaching for the last two months. Watching her dance and learn and play with friends. She's got such a heart, that girl-- both highly sensitive and supremely sweet.
The feeling of arisen, of new life, of a hope that goes beyond anything we could ever hope to really comprehend. Easter is a favorite bit of every single year.

Hope you have a happy one!

*Written before Easter, but published after. Such is life these days. :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

On Being the Third Born

Sister's gotta catch a break...
{or a nap}
...wherever she can. :)

Bless her sweet little heart.

Monday, April 4, 2011

For Good

After an exhaustive search with more than two months in a one-room hotel for temporary housing... so happy! The day we got the keys to our Tennessee home.

After a weekend full of sunshine, it's gray and windy outside the guest room window. A dear friend gave up almost his entire weekend to deep clean our carpets and buff our floors, and this generous act alone makes me feel like everything is finished. Of course it's not, but I'm loving the lazy feeling that having such a big project done is giving me. The rain sure helps.

I, too, am remembering this post.

I think it's time to finally tell the latest part of our story.

You see, back in the fall Joe lost his job. A couple days before the fateful September morning, I had been a wreck. I was crying a lot, the nagging feeling I've had for years about being involved in youth ministry was especially strong. Are we where we're supposed to be? Why has this season, albeit many parts wonderful, been such a struggle and so hard in the most unusual ways? What is up with me, God? I thought for sure I was losing it. I mean, Joe had an amazing job-- one that allowed for me to stay home, while he fought for liberty. And our community here? Smaller, but strong, and incredible!

Come Monday morning, I heard the doorknob turn at 11 am and my stomach lurched. I called out, "Joe??" One look at his face when he reached the top of the stairs, and I knew it was bad. The economy, life had caught up with our place in the non-profit world, and the small satellite office here had to become smaller. Talk about shock. For us, for folks spread out everywhere who do this type of work. It didn't make sense to anyone, considering Joe and his God-given and hard-earned talents. Our minds were reeling, but God had already given me my break down in the days leading up to it all. I also had the consoling words my Mom had been uttering for months, "Katrina, I just feel like I should tell you that God has some great things in store if you'll just hold on." Through His grace, I was calm and I had strength.

My theme verse: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28

The rest is a blur, but we knew we had a severance and emergency funds to last for a little while so we could begin an extensive job search. We cut back, Joe took on contract work, I became more creative, friends rallied around us with support and encouragement. And we worked and waited and prayed, sometimes through gritted teeth. But, mostly, we believed. This had to be a part of God's plan.

After several weeks, Joe had a notion to contact a guy he hit it off with in our parenting class at the church in town we no longer attended. A random connection, to be sure, but a great guy who-- as it turned out-- no longer attended that church either. Amazing because God allowed our small windows there to overlap in the most perfect of ways.

Several interviews, including a spousal one later, Joe had a job working with bankruptcy attorneys at Dave Ramsey's organization. Bonus was we got hired just in time for the famous Christmas party! We expected nothing but walked out of there with $500 and an ipad which we could return for cash. Such things are fun-- but what a gift at Christmas time when things were tight! Thanks be to God. Not to mention being surrounded by excellent, uplifting, and talented individuals. Dave does it up right.

Joe's salary is mostly based on commission there, so it's enough to cover housing. However, such favor has been granted and he has excelled at the work. What we haven't brought home in dollars, we have certainly recovered in peace and knowledge. Dave's famous saying...

Live like no one else so that later you can live (& give!) like no one else.

... has resonated to the core with us. We've always been pretty frugally minded, we've always tried to be generous with resources-- but now? Now we have plans! We are excited to sell, cut back, simplify, and down size to REALLY live and give. Our Father has brought along resources through this job to teach us such a multitude of lessons and offer us the tools to achieve them. We are not yet done, but we are moving along. I love the seasons of marriage when we are extra unified and goal driven together. Through an incredible hardship, this has turned out to be one of the best times yet.

About a month into his new job, we received a call from Liberty University. Back in the fall, when we were searching, a college or university job seemed the natural next step to us and to all who know us well. Ever since we met on a college campus, Joe and I have longed to someday get back into this type of ministry. But the timing was not to be so. After major conferences, job interviews, and countless resume packets it seemed the odds were not in our favor.

Seemed, that is... but GOD!

When driving back home from Northern Virgina over Christmas, we began to talk about how we should have maybe looked around Lynchburg... you know, just in the crazy case that their phone call ever materialized into anything. Moments after this conversation our phone rang. On the other end? Liberty! We were so in awe, we couldn't even pick up the phone.

We decided to see how far we were from the area and told each other that if we were an hour or less from there, we'd swing by for a visit. Joe called our friend, Mark, and in a few minutes discovered that we were two exits away from the one we needed and indeed it was an hour away. We quickly exited and forged ahead with an overwhelming sense of adventure making us like giddy college students ourselves!

Liberty had wanted to set up a phone interview with Joe and he and the dean hit it off. Next would be the formal interview. Joe would work his usual hours, getting home around 6:45 or so, and then we would stay up half the night preparing his hour lecture to be given to the faculty. Me on power point, Joe on writing. Finally it was done, his flight was leaving, and we were whispering prayers for God to open and close doors to make His will known.

Not long after Joe's return home an offer was extended, the details of which still blow us away. After almost three years of wondering why certain things weren't working out, why certain things had gone down the way they did, why it seemed we were sometimes pounding square pegs into round holes... answers! Not only answers from this season, though, answers for prayers we had barely dared to dream in the last decade. Prophetic words came true down to some of the smallest details.

How could we not say yes? And so we did.

Since then, it has been so encouraging and so hard. To leave this community? It's not something I can entirely take in right now. Thankfully, things went well with sharing at Dave Ramsey and they love Joe and want to keep him on through when we leave. Oh the house prep with three small children, the remaining decisions to be made, the never ending to-do list, the mound of patience I waver between having and losing, the hope and prayer that God has just the right buyer for our house. Such an Israelite I can be! God has provided hand over fist and yet with the remaining details, I can worry that He won't also see to those.

I've been humbly put back in my place more than a time or two with that kind of attitude. But none so much as last week!

Our dear friend, and former c0-worker, came over to visit and shared that Joe's old boss at the non-profit had stepped down to go and work with another non-profit organization. That's putting it mildly as it was an incredible shock for the entire company Joe worked for! However, the clincher? They are closing down Joe's former office! Our friend is being forced to either move to some undesirable locations or across the country or lose his job altogether. And if he chooses the latter, there is likely no severance.

That could have been us.

Yet instead, God gave us the desires of our hearts. Teaching. Ministering. Being closer to both sides of our family for the first time ever. I'm already dreaming up the college Bible studies in our home, having Joe's classes over for dinners, and the like. Plus so much more. Had Joe not been let go when he was, we would have never been able to get this job or to learn what we have at Dave Ramsey. Had he not been let go, we would have never willingly left the type of work he was doing-- we feel too strongly about its mission.

Which leads to one of the sweetest clinchers of all.

One of the two classes Joe will teach... legal clinic. He and four students working on religious freedom, first amendment cases together!

This long post, meant for keeping my memory alive at the hand of God, only scrapes the surface. But when I need strength in these late nights and busy days, I don't want to forget.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28

Yes, thanks be to God.