When things get tough and you start to wonder how it’s going to work out or whether the Lord is really going to get you through this one, it’s a good idea to look back on how He was faithful in the past. This is one of my wife an my favorite “standing stone” stories from our life together.
Listen to what God has been doing! When we heard God’s call to move to Cru headquarters in Florida, we began to pray that God would use our NJ house to bless whomever bought it and that it could continue to be used for ministry. In spite of its great condition, however, it sat on the market for months with only 2 couples even coming to look at it. One put in an offer, but it was contingent on the sale of their own house.
Frustrated and confused, we took a trip to the house (Karen’s mother has been graciously hosting us this summer) in order to pack it up. At dinner, Karen’s heart was gripped by the Holy Spirit when she saw another family across the restaurant. She felt like God wanted us to do something for them. She tried to get me to buy them dinner and we ended up offering them some of our kids’ outgrown toys.
It turns out the man, Justin, is the pastor of a local church plant who has heard of Cru and loves the idea of connecting with me in my new role as the Church Partner Specialist. We hit it off and exchanged contact info. A few days later, as I was putting his business card into the computer, I saw that they were the ones who put the offer on our house! They’ve wanted this house for years, but weren’t in a position to buy it when we did. We became friends and have continued to pray for one another, and they were able to rent their house to a friend. God asked us to take a major step of faith by selling the house at a significant loss, but He has shown again and again that it isn’t our money or our house to begin with—everything is HIS. The house we moved into in Orlando only became available the exact day we said “yes” to their offer! Our new home is exactly what we need, and we’re excited to see what God will do with our new home 🙂
What a month of changes! Arthur started 2nd grade and Katherine started Kindergarten (always makes us laugh that we slip into German between pre-school and 1st grade). Kat was so excited to ride the bus with Arthur and MacKenzie (daughter of our dear friends/co-workers/neighbors Brian & Amy)!
Arthur has been accepted into the gifted “SPARK” program at school; we’re so proud of him and thankful he has this opportunity to challenge and inspire his amazing mind. We love his teachers and are excited for him. Little man finally lost both his top front teeth, victorious after many weeks of wiggling. Karen shed a tear when she realized he had officially grown out of his “baby face.”
Katherine has been majorly into “arts & crafts” lately, drawing and cutting all kids of things (creatures, cars, landscape) out of paper and foam pages. We’re still reeling from the idea that our tiny daughter is off to school and growing up so fast. Her first few days have been met with mixed feelings as she adjusts to all the structure in addition to being away from home so much, but we’re confident that her sweet and experienced teacher is the perfect ally as we help Kat grow and develop.
I (Karen) have been delighted to be back out on campus ministering alongside Jeff. I’ve had some really great conversations with students at Full Sail and Valencia East. I had the incredible opportunity to share the gospel with Stephanie and see her put her trust in Jesus. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t get much better than that! I also got to meet with Emily, who is a Christian but has gone her own way recently. While talking, it became clear that she is unsatisfied and has felt a desire to walk closely with Jesus again. I’m hoping God will use me to continue to encourage her and help her grow in this way.
Please join us in praying for Arthur’s teachers Ms. Smith (2nd grade) and Mrs. Whalen (SPARK) and Kat’s teacher Mrs. Beaudet 🙂
Karen and I made a plan, about the kind of family we wanted to be and that included goals for the short term and long term.
We want to be a home where our kids feel comfortable inviting their friends to play, where we can be a part of that process and not wonder what they’re up to and with whom. At the same time, we’ve got some anxiety about visitors and especially young ones. Deciding that God does not give us a spirit of fear, nor does He want us to be controlled by it, we set the goal of throwing Arthur his first birthday party with friends. Lest that should shock anyone, he only started having friends his own age about a year ago.
Of course, we went all out. Arthur chose the theme and we went to work, turning paper plates into masks, printing pictures over our friend’s “cornhole” target, decorating ping pong balls and an exercise ball and of course decorating a cake all to his favorite theme. It was exhausting for sure preparing, herding children through games and then cleaning up, but it’s not every day your young man turns seven and everyone had a blast that they won’t soon forget.
It’s a small step, maybe, but I think it’s important to set goals that define our family’s values and give our kids (Prov 22:6). I found some good tips in the book, “Raising a Modern Day Knight“
Spring has meant tons of fun for Arthur and Katherine. Arthur has been to some birthday parties with friends, the weather has been beautiful, and we are realizing how much “inflatables” have transformed the face of childhood entertainment!
Arthur has been particularly excited about wildlife education. His favorite show right now is Wild Kratts, where two biologist brothers teach us about exotic animals and then jump into animated adventures of themselves gaining the powers of those animals to save the day. He has been so enthralled by this that he has already incorporated the Kratt brothers into the board game he has been designing (yep, creative just like his parents) and begging his daddy daily to print a new coloring page of an animal with fun facts about their habitat, diet and behavior so he can add it to his homemade science books.
Arthur was also excited to win a copy of the Jesus Film for Children at the Cru tent of our church’s Easter extravaganza (see front page) which was perfect timing as the kids got to see the gospel as one of their first experiences of a live-action movie.
Katherine still follows her brother around in almost everything he does. If he likes Wild Kratts, so does she, and she spends her rest times crafting her own “creature power discs” and her own board game (“Teaspoon the Camel Game”). She has also been super into a toy camera/projector her grandparents got her for her birthday last month.
The house being built for Karen’s mom is almost finished, and we’ll be kind of sad to see her leave, though being a 10-minute walk away eases the blow considerably :).
Our gorgeous daughter turned 5 this month! We praise God even more so because it is only by His grace that our little cannonball has survived this long. Katherine is an absolute fire cracker who loves, fights, plays, cries and plays with all her heart since the day she arrived. She and Karen are now a gospel tag-team too. A few weeks ago, Katherine was riding in the grocery cart when she held up a cross she’d made out of a straw and toothpick. She proceeded to quiz the woman behind her in the check-out line about what it means. Karen overheard and joined in the conversation and now the woman has been coming to our church for several weeks along with her husband and son, and she asked about bringing friends of her own as well!
Arthur hit a milestone this month, too! He had his final eye therapy appointment and a graduation celebration with the office workers, including a 3D viewing of Disney’s Frozen (Arthur had never been able to see 3D before therapy)! Arthur and Karen have been a real light in that office, including last time where the therapist told us through tears about her father and grandfather being in the hospital and her heartbreak over growing up in a broken home. Karen is sad that she won’t see all the ladies she has been ministering to in that office for a while, but they all gave her personal numbers and want to meet up for lunch and some even for a tour of Cru headquarters!
We have also begun alternating attendance to our church’s 7 days/week 6am prayer meeting! We have been growing in our faith and in our friendships with fellow church members, as well as seeing God do some pretty amazing things. We are grateful beyond words that Karen has experienced new freedom from despair, and life in our house has been different in a very positive way these past few weeks!
God is so good. Yes, we all got sick (very sick, sinus infections and bronchitis ran laps around our house), but He provided the strength we needed to get through it. He also provided family and dear friends who visited us over the holidays and this month as well.
One of the great things about living in Orlando is that people we love always have some reason to be here. In Katie and Darren’s case (top), they were here for the Run Disney Dopey Challenge (48.6 miles total)! Whatever reason brings you to our city, definitely call us up so we can give you a hug (and possibly a tour of Cru world headquarters)!
The kids had a great Christmas, full of art supplies and construction toys. They even got a crayon maker (thank you, garage sale!) so they could melt their old broken art supplies and construct new ones :). Karen bravely went “dumpster diving” and cleaned up an old whiteboard that is big enough for both to draw on at once (thank you, neighbors!) 🙂
We are excited to have taken on a new role at church, as part of the teaching team for our middle-school Sunday school class. This is an answer to our prayer that we could get more involved in serving our church family, and we ask for your prayers for wisdom and love as we seek to disciple these young hearts well.
Our family ministry continued this month as Karen’s muscle therapist, Sammy, came to church with us last week with his girlfriend and two kids. We were also blessed to attend the wedding of Shelby and Ryan, two employees at our local grocery store with whom Karen has become close. Shelby’s mom told Karen, at the baby shower, how happy she was that Shelby has been coming back to church, and it’s hard for me not to believe that Karen’s friendship played a part in that.
Arthur has begun reading books to Katherine (which she just LOVES). He is also starting to reach out to the other boys in our neighborhood, especially Case, so please pray for Arthur to be a light here. Also this month, Arthur underwent a progress assessment in his eye therapy. We are seeing remarkable improvement! For example, Arthur started with only 1% of “normal depth perception” and is now up to 45%! There was only one area that they noticed hadn’t seen much improvement (a certain kind of 3D) but last week he even saw THAT for the first time! Praise God, and pray for the office workers, as Karen reaches out to them with the love of Jesus.
Please pray for Katherine, who had a very rough week of behaving in Pre-K and Sunday School. We bought Dobson’s updated edition of “The Strong-Willed Child,” which has been encouraging. Praise God all her teachers are prayer warriors as we battle to direct her fierce and loving spirit toward God without crushing it.