Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (not in that order)

We bought the house in the Spring of 2013, hoping to live in it someday.  While we knew our time at Gateway was continuing, we thought we were closer to the end than the beginning.

The house was therapeutic as we painted and made it our own.  Spending time on our off days and the mornings when the kids were at school.

The house was a flip, bought off a Sheriff's Sale.  The flipper painted everything creamish brown and stuck about 5 different trims up in the entire house.  The living room has 4 different trims in itself.  There were various 'window' openings of different heights that made the room feel off.  We loved the layout of the house, but it needed some TLC to make it our own.  I felt in some places things were painted over just for presentation while there were things under the surface that needed worked on.

Picture taken on the day we closed on the house

I was literally in the process of painting the last room, after 9 months of painting, when the Flood hit.

As I looked back through the pictures to find the one to post here I could feel the tears rising to the surface.  Just remembering the feeling of stepping into our house, hearing rushing water that sounded like a river, and feeling water rise up over my ankles.

 Picture taken after 24 hours from when the cleanup started.

But I also get emotional thinking about God's faithfulness, and how He brought us through that craziness and taught us some things along the way.

 Mid-March, new studs and new pipes installed

Later in March, drywall!

Whew, the drastic change from initial to end is enough, let along adding a little destruction in the middle of it all.

Today!  Love the bright white walls and the trusty leather couch 
that has traveled with us from home to home.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

On burning out and keeping the zeal

Never be lacking in zeal, 
but keep your spiritual fervor, 
serving the Lord.
Romans 12:11

As so many of these Romans 12 verses have done, this one is so relevant for the month of July.

For so long Paul and I have felt used up entirely.  At the end of the day we did not have anything left.  We would literally sit on the couch and stare at the wall.  Party people, that's us.

Some people get out of something before they burn out.  And perhaps we should have done that.

Maybe we should have moved on when we still had something left in our burners.  

Go out on a high note.

But if anyone knows my husband well.  You know that Paul does not do things partially or half way.

Full tilt all the way.  

So, I married into that, and sometimes I have to hold on for the ride.  It comes with the territory.

As we were nearing our final days on campus I felt guilty. 

Felt bad that I didn't have more to give.  I still felt it in my heart.  But my body couldn't keep it up.

People, we left it all there.  Burnt out.  And I guess that is how I would like to do it.  

Makes me think of a quote by Erma Bombeck:

                                           “When I stand before God at the end of my life, 
I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, 
and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.”

There were so many lessons learned in those last few months, struggling through the burn out.  But if there is one, it's what Romans 12:11 tells us:

NEVER be lacking in zeal (enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective), but keep your spiritual fervor (passionate feeling), serving the Lord.

Those are some strong description words.  We are to NEVER lose our enthusiasm for the pursuit of telling the Good News, keeping our passionate feelings for the Gospel on our sleeve, so there is no doubt where our allegiance lies.

Maybe you are in the middle of something that is just wearing.  you.  out.

Feels like you've done it hundred times with the same results.  Maybe you are ready to throw in the towel.

Maybe God wants you in that place for another year.  

Maybe He'll change things up next week.

Oh, that we would not lose our focus.  Lose our zeal for the cross.

Keep serving, keep loving, keep telling the Good News.

So we can say we left it all on the table, used it all up.

For Him.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It takes a little work

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  
Honor one another above yourselves.  Romans 12:10

OK.  First I will start off the disclaimer that yes, this is June's verse.  And yes, I am publishing this in July.  No excuse.  Let's move on.

As you know, life for our family has been full of transitions in this past month or so.

One such transition is from being a Houseparent (along with the authority it holds) to being a mentor and friend (and the responsibility that holds!)

As I focused on this verse for June, I thought about the 50+ relationships that I have started in the past 6 years with teenagers.  Some, unfortunately, have fallen off my radar.  Due to them being juveniles, it's hard to find them once they've changed an address or phone number.

I can't remember if it was in my thoughts when I first took on the challenge of houseparenting.  If I knew that these kids wouldn't just be in my life for 9 or so months.  That some of them will most likely be around for life.

I feel like that is where I can apply Romans 12:10.  Where we all can apply it.

With the duties of houseparenting off my plate, I can focus on maintaining and growing those bonds I've started over the past few years.

If there is one truth to this task it is this: Relationships take work.

Scratch that.  GOOD relationships take work.

It takes commitment, devoted time.  Loving with a brotherly love, compassion.  Committed to making the relationship work.  Putting others' needs and interests above my own.

Most importantly, seeking to exude Christ's love in my words and actions.  That they can see that it wasn't just part of my job.

It's how I live life.

What relationship do you have in your life that needs an extra shot of devotion, brotherly love?  Who can you be Jesus to this week?

Christ served in humility.  Who can we look to serve, honoring that person above ourselves?

How can you live out Romans 12:10 today?

To see more in the Romans 12 series click here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July Mission Moment

This post is part of Lifesong's Adoption Journey Series. See previous post, "Adoption: 3 Ways to Prepare for the Journey" here.


While nearly two in five practicing Christians have considered adoption, only 5% have actually done it.* What keeps people from growing their families through adoption?

One of the biggest barriers to adoption is the cost. Depending on the circumstances, adoption can cost up to $50,000! It makes sense why many families who have a heart for vulnerable children, look at adoption as something they desire, but is just too hard to grasp because of the high costs.

There are families who have seen God perform miracles as they have stepped out in faithfulness to follow His call for their family...if it's His will, it's His bill. He will make a way to show Himself as THE Provider of all things. Don't let money stand in the way, when He has provided many avenues for families to bridge that financial gap.

Here are few tips and resources for funding an adoption...
  1. Save & sacrifice. It's never too early to start saving for adoption. Try to cut back your budget to set a portion of money aside each month to pay for some of the initial adoption costs, like home study and application fees. Make sacrifices as God moves you, maybe that's postponing a big purchase or selling some of your possessions.
  2. Learn from others. In her must-read book, Adopting Without Debt, Julie Gumm shares how to find extra money in your household budget, apply for grants, and fundraise in order to build your family without saddling it with debt. 
  3. Apply for Adoption Grants & Loans. Research and apply for national, state, and local adoption grants. A few favorites we direct families to are our friends at Show Hope & Abba Fund. See Resource Report for more grants & loans available and don't forget to check out our adoption grant & loan page.
  4. Think outside the box. The fundraising creativity of adoptive families continues to grow. Check out organizations like Both Hands, who help families fundraise for adoption while doing a service project for a widow. Other groups like 147 Million Orphans & MudLOVE provide jewelry, t-shirts, and other products you can use towards fundraising. 
  5. Don't be afraid to ask. Maybe the word "fundraise" and the thought of asking people for money makes you nervous. WATCH the video below to see how God moved in this couple's heart to show them adoption was so much bigger than their family.

I want to hear from you? What ways did your family raise money for adoption?

*from Becoming Home by Frames Barna Group & Jedd Medefind

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

June Lookback

 June 2014 was literally unlike any summer we have ever experienced.  The last time we had a June where we did not have to supervise 5+ teenagers and make sure we had work and activities planned daily, our children looked like this:


Hannah (2 months!) was in the midst of battling acid reflux that left her screaming more often than not.  Owen was a curious 2 year old.

But now, 5 years later, we had a June filled with Soccer games, graduations from 1st grade and Kindergarten, family vacation, getting back into gardening (call me crazy, but I love pulling my own weeds!  Someday I'll wish for that help of teenage residents, but for now, I'll enjoy it.), VBS at church, and catching an EVENING ball game.

June 13th we said goodbye to the crazy, rewarding, fulfilling, draining life of Houseparenting at Gateway Woods.  We stepped into the world of preparing for teaching High School Math, Chemistry, and Physics (Paul!) and me taking on an office job (at Gateway! Woot!).  To have evenings with our children has been our biggest thrill.  To have unrushed moments at night before bed is something to be treasured.

We know life is going to start getting crazy once school hits.  So, for now, we look at this time as rest. renewal, and putting up stores for the fall.  Praising God for his provision and faithfulness!

Hannah and Owen and their soccer trophies

 First Grader!

 Welcoming our newest nephew Ryan into the world

 Having a blast on our family vacation with the whole Suvar clan

Taking walks and enjoying the sunsets over Lake Michigan

Group pic before we loaded into our cars and went our separate ways home

 The girls and I found this moth as we were walking out to the mailbox.  
It was close to 6 inches across.

 Taking in a Tincaps game with Grandpa and Grandma.  
The Tincaps lost but we got to see fireworks!