Jericho prayers: in progress.

Back in November I made a list of huge, crazy, possible impossible prayers. Looking back at my journal tonight, I found that some of them have been answered. Not that I’m surprised, really, because God is God and He does awesome things. But I did think, Man, wow, He really did hear me! Ummm, you fool. Of course He did. #derp

#1 – That our debt will be paid off & finances released in order to give more to missions and do God’s work more effectively.

A summer research assistantship basically fell into my lap, and the professor heading it up told me that he wasn’t expecting to get the grant money for it at all. Aaron got deployment orders, which secures tax-free income and a bunch of other financial goodies, and I got word that I will be keeping my assistantship into the fall. Making progress!

#2 – That we could be missionaries in the Middle East/North Africa

We went to the World Missions Summit in December and met an amazing couple who serve in Jordan and hit it off with them quite well, actually. Making progress!

#4 (#3 is there, still working on that one!) – That Aaron and I would have an opportunity to travel over there (Middle East) soon.

Aaron’s over there now, deployed. Making progress!

#5 – #9 – Still working on those.

 

So… I guess it’s safe to say that I brought this deployment down from heaven. Hmmm, maybe that’s why I feel so “okay” about it?? I dunno, just thinking out loud here…

I’m posting this as a testimony to God’s faithfulness, and as a reminder to myself that I need to be diligent in praying for these and other “Jericho” prayers. Remember Joshua, and how God told him to march around these ginormous walls and they would eventually come tumbling down? No need to go and fight any dudes.. just march around the city. And it worked! Imagine that.

Imma keep marching.

 

Direction

This has been Missions Week at church, and it’s encouraged me to start thinking about the future, our future after the military. We literally could see ourselves anywhere, on any continent, speaking any language. We’ve even thrown around the idea of Aaron staying in the military… but the chances of that right now are like .00000573%. Seriously. However, if God asked Aaron to reenlist, well then, of course he would. It’s about timely obedience.

We’ve talked about the Middle East quite a bit. Something about that area of the world draws me in besides the need… the people, the dress, the food. Ohmygosh, the FOOD. The Middle East is where we’re leaning more than anyplace else. Arabic is a language that’s always fascinated me, from the sounds to the script. I’m taking an anticipatory step and I signed up for Arabic next semester. Definitely a perk of being a student! If I end up not needing it, well then I still satisfied my linguistic curiosity.

I can already hear the criticisms, or maybe it’s just the doubting Thomas in my head. How could you live in the desert? (I assure you, there are worse deserts than El Paso.) How could you take your children into an environment like that? Why do you care about Muslims? Aren’t you afraid of what could happen? How will you raise enough funds to go?

Like I said, it’s about obedience. God will find someone for the job; I want to be that someone, not someone He’s passed up because of my fear and unwillingness.

But really, I could totally see us living in Egypt, in the busyness and bustle of a world-class city like Cairo. Or Amman, Jordan. Or Beirut, Lebanon. Or any number of major cities in Northern Africa/lower Mediterranean.

We have no idea about the means. Would we go as Assemblies of God missionaries? Or attached to a different ministry and working as a teacher and IT guy. I don’t know. I do know that God will use our talents, gifts, and past experience to serve Him in the future.

We will keep talking to missionaries we know, and I hope at the World Missions Summit that we’ll gain another  piece of our compass. And then there’s this PhD program I really really want to do…

A challenge for every day of the week

I have to say… I quite content right now as a stay-at-home wife/nanny/tutor/seamstress/entrepreneur????/short-term missionary/volunteer “Sunday school” teacher/dog trainer… I think some of the best jobs are ones whose titles you really can’t pinpoint to a couple words.

Even with Husband Man being gone for almost three weeks (he comes home in two days, wheeeee!!) I’ve managed to keep myself quite busy. I’ve been working out 4+ days a week, hanging out with friends, sewing like a mofo, grocery shopping, cleaning….

The other day in my whirlwind of such exciting domestic activities, I got a call from a private school organization here in El Paso asking if I were interested in a part-time Spanish teaching position through the end of the school year, with a  possibility of full-time employment next year. Ehhhh. For once, I didn’t feel pressure to jump on a teaching opportunity. Besides, I’m already committed to the family I’m nannying for, committed to the trip to Honduras, and I love spending so much time with Aaron when he’s home.

Truth is, I am content. I’m truly excited for the next few months, as they’ll be super busy and challenging! I think for me, being challenged is a requirement for contentment. I feel challenged in my workouts, in training my dog (I got a Gentle Leader and it’s working well so far!), in creating something for someone when they send me a picture and say, Hey! Can you make something like this?

Just yesterday I made a messenger bag, and while I didn’t have a pattern for a smallish messenger bag, I had one for a purse with a long strap. So, with my super-awesome mathematical skills, I used proportions to make the pattern bigger and guess what? It totally worked! I may make one like this for myself….

I also finished my first legit quilt this week, with squares cut with my fancy-schmancy rotary cutter, batting, and actual quilting stitching on top! That took patience… and then I had to miter corners. Phew. However, I believe this is just one of many quilts I will make in my life.

Anyway. Today I had this idea of a shop I’d like to open someday before I die. Call it a bullet on my “Bucket List”, whatever… but a shop like the pottery shops where you can take your mom, grandma, BFF, whoever, and paint pottery. Except mine would be a sewing shop, where you can make a project in one sitting, or have your daughter’s ninth birthday party, or take a class, or buy a coffee (an in-house cafe would be essential!), or purchase supplies for a project… wouldn’t that be fun?? Maybe someday, after we are done traveling and serving around the world, and our children are grown and have given us beautiful grandbabies, and we’ve purchased that $590,000 property in the New Mexican valley, and opened our animal rescue….. and my husband would work next door in his used bookstore…. someday. 🙂

Staying missions-minded

As time goes on, it’s becoming more and more evident to us that we are being called into missions. “Called” can be a term thrown around in the Christian circles.. but basically what I mean is that we have a very strong inclination and desire to go. Aaron still has four years left in the military. He’s just passed his three-year anniversary. (I know. Seven years. Unfortunately his year of training wasn’t included in his six-year enlistment. Someone screwed up.)

But really, four years isn’t that long. That’s… high school. College. A car loan. Actually, in about three years we’ll need to start formulating a plan for life post-Army. I’m really really excited about that. And nervous. But mainly excited. We both have portable careers (me=teaching, him=computers), and we could take it around the world. We could become Assemblies of God missionaries. We could support missionaries who are already in the field. Who knows?

Where will we go? What will we do? How long will we do it? I have no idea, and I’m thankful, because being the planner I am, I would be going crazy right now.

It’s exciting to me that we will raise our family to be in the world, but not of the world. While we (well, I) wouldn’t mind moving back to Illinois, central or the Chicago suburbs, I don’t think settling down, buying a house, and having a picket fence is what God has in mind. And this isn’t a new development; we’ve felt for most of our nine-year relationship that we’re meant to travel into the world.

It’s encouraging to think that, hey, we won’t really need to buy new furniture, or appliances, or cars, for the next 3-4 years. Our cars now are old, but what’s the sense in buying newer ones if we can make these last? So many people we know are settling down, having children, buying newer and bigger cars for the children they’re having. And as well they should… we’re in our later 20’s now. It’s what happens.

It’s hard to not center my desires around what most everyone else is doing. Then I hear about some distant relatives of mine who are doing various things in Afghanistan, Uganda, Tanzania…. all over the world, and it makes me want to go somewhere, too, and leave the comfy American lifestyle behind.

I think the military was always in The Plan. I never could have guessed that it would have been. I think it’s preparing us… 1500 miles from home is only a drop in the bucket if we go to Asia, or Africa, or the Middle East. Seven years pales in comparison to a lifetime of serving globally. Trusting God for our personal finances now is small when you think about having to trust God for the finances of an entire non-for-profit, or school, or orphanage. 95 degrees in El Paso is cool compared to 115 in the Middle Eastern desert….

This is big stuff, people.

A life fulfilled.

This morning was great! We ran our first race together, in the same zip code, in the same country! It was the Ft. Bliss Holiday 8K Run on post.

We don’t have official times yet, but Aaron ran around a 40:40 (8:05 mile! SO PROUD) and I ran around a 48:30. My goal for this first race in Texas was 51:00… pretty conservative considering my last 8K was a 46:18. I guess I just didn’t want to be disappointed.

The gun went off. It had the feel of a small hometown race, with about 200 participants. It was cool outside with a crisp breeze. However, when the sun comes out in Texas, it warms things UP! I could have run in shorts and a t-shirt and been fine.

I always try to save energy at the beginning. I looked at my watch and was starting out at a 9:00 mile… WAY too fast. So I ran between a 10:00 and 10:20ish mile throughout until the last mile, and I kicked it into gear. I ended up passing several people I was contending with the whole time; always feels good to do that towards the end of a race! It was a silly fear, but I was worried I’d be towards the end. My slowest split (I have the Garmin set to .5 mi) was at 10:16 pace… sweet!

Aaron met me at the finish line… that was great to see him! So many times I’ve had to call him and give him a report. We recouped for a second, then grabbed Starbucks and headed back to the gym for the awards. I was disappointed that the age groups were so large… there was no way I was gonna get an award when the group is 20-29. Maybe someday….

I feel elated, like I usually do after a great run, an appreciation and an attitude of I. Love. Life.

Despite not having a ton of extra money…

Despite unexpected bills…

Despite not going all-out for Christmas…

Despite not being with family for the holidays…

My life is fulfilled. If you’ve been reading my blog for two seconds you probably know that I’m Christian. Thank you for continuing to read even when you don’t agree with my views or how I got there. I never want to sound preachy; my goal is just to tell the good things God has done and let you take it from there.

I just want to tell you that these past couple months of trusting God for our needs have been some of the most rewarding. We’re seeing things happen, opportunities for relationships arise, and of course, all of our needs met. We are committed to giving sacrificially to missions. I was listening to KLOVE radio the other day (not generally a huge fan of “Christian” radio…) but I heard a song by Matthew West with a line that goes like this:

“I throw a twenty in the plate but never give till it hurts.”

Wow. When I heard that, I didn’t feel conviction but confirmation. We are giving sacrificially, even when it looks like we can’t afford it. Even a lot of Christians will say it’s foolish to do this… what about the bills? Food? Gas? Saving? What about retirement? Saving for kids’ weddings and college tuition?

And I counter that by saying… Have we ever gone without? Have we ever run out of gas? Food? Nope. As far as savings and retirement, we’ll get there.

So… trusting, living to the end of ourselves (physically, financially and spiritually), looking ahead to the future with unbridled anticipation… these are the things that make my life fulfilled.

Feeling blessed

Even last pay period when we had just a few dollars until payday, I felt blessed. Blessed that we didn’t go in the red, blessed that we were “broke” because we chose to pay extra on debt. I am so incredibly determined to get the rest of it paid off! This pay period we were able to pay another decent chunk. It feels good to get back into paying extra because the past several months have been a little crazy with job changes, moving and honestly, spending more fun money than we should have.

However, we’re back on track. And just to let you know, I’m not shy about talking about money. I wish more people weren’t so secretive about it. I don’t tell just random people about our debt woes or anything, but I like to get it out in the open what we’re accomplishing and that anyone can do it. And this is on a modest middle-class income.

At the end of this month, we will have paid off close to $27,500! That is roughly 44% of the debt we started with. It’s hard to sacrifice the things we want, even small things. Aaron’s not too fond of this Dave Ramsey saying, but I love it: “Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else.” Basically it means that right now, live like no one else does… saving money, giving up your latte or fast food, doing whatever you can to save money, so that you can live like no one else is when you’re older.. i.e. having a good retirement, putting your kids through college, etc.

Now we’re really into the heart of paying off my school loans. I’m so thankful to have a job where I get to work in my field AND contribute to paying them off.

 

Here’s a list of things we’ve been doing recently to save money:

-Going to the library or buying books at garage sales instead of buying them new or for my Kindle.

-Using coupons when we want to go out to eat (fast food).

-Using cash for our spending money each week. Right now we’re each spending between $10-15 per week. I know this is silly, but I get excited when I see that $10 bill in my wallet! We use our debit card a lot so I hardly ever have cash.

-Making Christmas gifts and purchasing only a few. This is a win-win because I get to share my love of knitting and sewing AND save money at the same time.

-Buying ice cream or frozen pizza at the store instead of going out.

-Running around our neighborhood instead of Aaron meeting me at work to run. I work about 15 miles from our house so that’s a lot of extra gas if he meets me there!

-Taking coffee and lunches from home to work.

-Being homebodies and in general spending a lot of our free time relaxing together at home.

 

Deployment is still on the horizon, and I actually look forward to the extra money coming in during those nine months. (Hopefully it’s only nine months.) Military pay is tax-free during deployment, and we’ll get other allotments like separation pay. I would like to get a second job (possibly?) to keep me busy (really busy!) and supplement our income so we can pay and save faster. We would like to take a trip after he gets back and I hope we can save enough by then.

And then, of course, the other thing we can do is pray. I’m excited to where we’re seemingly being led so far, and I want to be ready financially when that time comes.

Committed…

…to a  life of following the Lord wherever He leads.

…to selling our possessions and going across continents and oceans.

…to giving generously of our finances in order to further His kingdom and show our obedience.

…to raising and educating our children to love people in a foreign land if we are so called.

…to adopting children from a foreign land if we are so called.

…to being content with what we have.

…to being thankful when we have what we need, even if it’s not in excess.

…to storing our treasures in heaven, because then our hearts will follow.

…to literally dying for the Truth.

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I won’t say that we know for sure that we’ve received “the call”. What I will say is that we are willing to put aside the American dream-life that we’ve been planning for our family so that we can pick up and move halfway around the world. I won’t say that we know that we will be ministering to Muslims… but we are willing to take the Gospel there because there is a huge harvest waiting to be brought in. There are so many people in so many places who have little to no access for the Gospel.

I feel the way we are living life right now is in the center of God’s will. It’s seriously is the best place to be… physically, emotionally, spiritually, matrimonially. We are giving generously and sacrificially… we are content with what we’ve been blessed with… and we are working hard to pay off our debt.

We know that having some savings is important, but we’re not interested in building so much wealth that we don’t know what to do with it. What is the point of being a millionaire, really? Sure, your kids have a great inheritance and you can enjoy whatever material pleasures you want… but I only want to accumulate wealth so that I can bless others. I’m not saying this to sound “holier-than-thou” or whatever.. it’s just where my heart is right now.

Waiting to have children is really hard for me. I admit it. I go in stages of either being really happy for people or really jealous of people when I hear of their pregnancies. I’m in a continual stage of surrender. I know that our time will come someday, and I am committed to caring for whatever children God gives us, whether biological or adoptive. We’ve talked about having both… we’ve also talked about adopting all of our children. Really, I want to prepare my heart for whatever happens.

We’re committed to living dead. John 12:24: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains alone.” We must die to self, to selfish desires, fabricated plans, everything, in order to follow Christ fully.