Sunday, September 30, 2012

September re-cap

Psalm 91:3-6
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.


The theme of our September.  Despite the many snares, arrows, and darkness that Satan threw our way, God remained faithful as our Protector, Comforter, and Guide.

There were certainly low points:

adjusting to having no alternates, just as the house filled up to capacity with 7 residents

dealing with hospitalizations with one of our residents

a resident running away from campus

mourning the sudden death of my cousin Michael

But the Lord is faithful, and promises not to give us more than we can bear.  Between the valleys there were highpoints.  Moments that refreshed, to help sustain us through those dark spots.

Labor Day in Illinois with our great friends Eric and Carrie and crew

Enjoying the local Grabill Country Fair - along with some pie...

Trip to the zoo with Hannah and Madeline

Hannah starting preschool!

Beautiful fall weather - campfires and hiking and S'mores!

Birthday celebrations with the Suvar's

Paul and I both running our personal best in the Fort 4 Fitness races (he the half-marathon, me the 10K)

Enjoying the moments when we can have a quiet morning of coloring and play-doh

And now September is behind and October is before us.  October will most certainly have some surprises, but we can lean on our Lord's faithfulness...and that means




Monday, September 17, 2012

Up for the challenge

"I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land.  I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn't have to destroy the land..."  Ezekiel 22:30

I came across this verse the other day as I was doing my morning devotional.  It stood out to me as I noticed the words "stand in the gap."  I have heard a few people use this phrase when speaking about foster care or adoption and I have always thought it was a way of describing how a person would stand in the gap that is created when a child is found without a home or parents.  But as I read it in this context here, it gave me a whole new perspective of standing in the gap.  Maybe you all have been clued in before now and I am the last to come across this, but I'll share what I have discovered anyway.

My Life Application Study Bible has an excerpt at the bottom that helped clarify for me:

"The wall spoken of here is not made of stones but of faithful people united in their efforts to resist evil.  This wall was in disrepair because there was no one who could lead the people back to God.  The feeble attempts to repair the gap - through religious rituals or messages based on  opinion rather than God's will - were as worthless as whitewash, only covering the real problems.  What the people really needed was a total spiritual reconstruction!  When we give the appearance of loving God without living his way, we are covering up sins that could eventually damage us deeply. Join with others by "standing in the gap" and make a difference for God in the world.

What a great word picture!  Just as Jerusalem's walls were in disrepair, as well as it's people, we are living in a country with a disintegrating moral infrastructure.  Morals are tossed to the side for whatever the newest thing of the day is. 

In fact, don't even discuss morals because then that would mean someone is wrong and well, we don't want to hurt anyones feelings, right? 

As children of God, we need to be standing up for what we know is right, and not apologizing for it.  This doesn't give us license to be rude or inconsiderate, but we have been called to show this light to a dark and hurting world.  Let's show it in love and compassion.

Where can you stand in the gap in your own life? 

Your neighborhood? 

Your workplace? 

At home? 

We have been given the great commission to go out tell others the Great News.  God is calling US, His followers, to be the ones to stand in the gap and make the wall of righteousness strong. 

In our homes. 

In our churches. 

In our neighborhoods. 

In the mission field. 

So when these trials of the Destroyer mark our path, our wall can stand strong.   In Ezekiel God states that He could find no one in the land who could stand in the gap.

 Let it NOT be the case for us.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

August look-back

August was exhausting.  By the end of the month, I felt like we had crammed about 8 weeks into the 4 supposed weeks that made up August.  I'm not sure what made it that way but I have a few theories:

-Auction Week

-post-vacation recovery (yeah, no one's feeling sorry for me on that one!)

- sending our oldest offspring off to Kindergarten

-bringing 3 new residents into our house in a span of 8 days

-saying goodbye to our alternate houseparents as they leave Gateway for greener different pasture

I think it was a combo of all those things.  I am actually kinda fatigued thinking back through it all.  But, I'm thankful that God built in nighttime so that our bodies can at least stop for a few hours and recharge (though, sometimes those hours are fewer than others!) Despite the exhausting circumstances, I managed to take a few pics of some of the events of August.

I'm ready for September to bring us a bit more gentle of a schedule.  So far, not so.  But fall is around the corner, and I can always find rejuvenation in that crisp fall air. Sigh...

I guess I am not the only one who is tired.  Hannah fell asleep like this one day.

Auction Week!  The view outside our front door.

Camping in the backyard in our "new" tent

Trying to keep my emotions in check on Owen's first day of Kindergarten

All set to go!

Steffen Family Campout - it was great sleeping weather

Went to see a war reenactment at the Old Fort in downtown Ft Wayne

Thankful for the time we had to work with the Beer's

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Day in the Life

Our apartment, our little haven (this spot is off limits to residents).  Down the hall is 3 bedrooms and a bathroom.
OK, I thought I would make a post up about this for all those family members of mine who live a ways a way and don't know all the nuts and bolts of what we do from day to day here at Gateway.  I have thought about doing a post about a typical day for awhile but always had the thought that it's going to come off a bit arrogant - who really wants to know what I do all day? 

But in the end, I am deciding to do it most of all for me to look back on some day.  Because someday this will all be past and I am going to think I was pretty crazy to be doing all this.  But blessed, oh so very, crazily blessed.

6:45AM  Wake up.  Roll out of bed.  Instant regret for not going to bed earlier. Get dressed and do about a 10 minute prayer and devotion time.  Paul heads out in the house to get breakfast for the residents and send them off to school.  I stay back in the apartment to get our own kids around for the day.

6:55AM Owen's up - I spend the next 30 minutes prodding him along to eat breakfast, do chores, get dressed, and head out the door for Kindergarten. 

7:35AM Hug and kiss Owen goodbye.  Thankfully, today my friend Stef is taking Owen to school, since her son Gavin and Owen are in the same class.

Spend the next 15 minutes getting breakfast for Maddie and Hannah, do a bit more reading, enjoy a few sips of coffee...

8 AM Hannah and Maddie hit the floor running.  So very thankful that they stay in bed til 8!

8-9AM  Breakfast, cleaning up dishes, getting little girls dressed, usher them through their chores

More of our apartment, it look this clean just about never (except for picture taking)
9:24 AM  A lady from Adult Services arrives to ask me questions about one of our residents.  This is only supposed to take 30 actually takes an hour and a half.  In the midst of the interview I run back to our apartment to referee a few mishaps between Hannah and Maddie and answer a few phone calls (these only take a few minutes combined, so that cannot be to blame for the extended interview...really).

11:05 As the "lady who takes longer for interviews than what she says" walks out the door, a Parole Officer walks up to the door with our newest (and 7th!) resident.

11:12AM  I realize this resident has come with exactly 1 dose of his medication so I hurriedly start making phone calls and try to track down a prescription so we have meds to give him.

11:27AM  Hop in the van with Hannah and Maddie and take off for CVS to see if they can help me with the medication issue.  An hour, and two squirrelly girls later, we have medication!

12:30 Lunch! Leftovers of whatever we can find in the fridge.  Paul and the new resident take a break from orientation to eat lunch as well.

1 PM-2PM  Spend the next hour cleaning up the kitchen, playing with the girls, trying to keep them quiet so as not to interrupt Paul's orientation with the new kid.  I finally just take the girls outside.

2PM Naptime for Maddie and quiet time for Hannah!  I get them settled in and manage to answer a few emails and make a few appointment phone calls before heading out the door to pick up Owen from Kindergarten.  Paul heads out with the new resident to go get him some clothes - he came with very little.

2:20-3:10PM On the road, picking up Owen and Gavin, dropping off Gavin, and coming back home.

One more shot of our apartment - the door in the middle of the picture leads to the rest of the house
3:15PM  Pull out snack for the residents, catch up with Maria our assistant, go through Owen's school folder and ask him about his day.  Chat with Paul and Maria about our plan for the rest of the day.

3:25PM  Residents arrive home from school - craziness as they wash out their lunch boxes, give us their homework assignments, get a snack, and head back to their rooms for 30 minutes of quiet time.

3:30-4 PM Spend the next 30 minutes trying to set up doctor's appointments and all that is required when a  new resident arrives.

4-5:30 PM The time is spent helping with homework, monitoring peer interaction (i.e. boy and girls in the same house!) spending bits of time with our Owen, Hannah, and Maddie, answering an unreal amount of phone calls, and checking email.  Occasionally a resident is pulled into the office so we can discuss something with them in private, usually about something that happened at school, or confronting them on breaking a house rule (talking about something inappropriate, standing a bit too close to the opposite gender, disrupting the house with their immature behavior, etc) or something wrong that they need to take responsibility for. 

5:30 PM Dinner.  A group therapy session in itself as 13 people sit around the table and discuss a wide range of topics (did you know that hot air balloons have fans that blow them where their need to go?  no?  yeah, neither did I...)  Occasionally  Often awkward and inappropriate things are said and one of us Houseparents step in to bring the conversation back on solid footing.

6-7:25PM  Dish jobs, hanging out, monitoring more resident peer interaction, and getting ready for Wednesday night church.

7:25-9 PM  Paul and our assistant, Maria, head to church with the residents, while I stay home with our 3 kiddos.  I spend the time giving the kids baths, brushing teeth, saying prayers, tucking the kids into bed, breathing a sigh, and completing the daily documentation that is required for this job.

9PM  The crew gets home from church.  The residents grab their medications and a snack and head back to their rooms for the night.  For the next hour Paul, Maria, and I sit in the office and discuss the day, grade the residents (part of the treatment program) and figure out what needs done for tomorrow.

10PM I FINALLY see Paul one on one without residents around.  We chat a bit, unwind with a funny sitcom on Netflix, and fall into bed around 11.

Now, this isn't what happens everyday, but it is a very rough estimate of what does. We don't get a new resident everyday (thankfully!) but just about everything else goes on.  Life feels like one big crazy right now with a full house, and I know it won't always be like this.  We are thankful for God's provision, and that He sustains us through each day.  Some days I want to be somewhere else, but most days I feel purpose in this work.  Showing these kids a stable family structure, one centered around Christ, is something that I know can have lasting positive results.  So, until God shows us differently, we'll keep plugging away here.

Oh, and prayers are always welcome.