Photos courtesy of Ryan Prouty

Monday, June 30, 2008

For I know the plans...

Today is the kick off of my stint as a stay at home mom. I have worked part time for a long time and have looked forward to being at home with the kids when we moved. I felt like today was the official beginning of that stint since Paul had his first day at Agape Flights today. I was ready!! I had plans!! I was going to make sure we had a fun first day! Now, we are still in the middle of making this house our home (ie doing what Travis thinks needs to be done so I won't get sick looking at peach colored paint!). So, I knew I would need a little of the time to finish up a painting project started Sunday evening. We had breakfast together with fresh strawberries (a family favorite and a treat since they are expensive here now), I was going to do the little bit of painting to finish the project while the kids swam, then we were going to go on a bike ride (we live 2 blocks from the bike trail) and have a picnic at the park just off the trail and maybe swing by the grocery store a few more blocks away if we needed anything for dinner plans. Then we would cool off in the pool and I even promised to get IN the pool (I much prefer to sit near it in the sun and hate to be splashed!). Then, we would have dinner on the table when Paul got home around 5 pm (after I put on my best dress and lipstick, gathered the paper and a cold glass of lemonade and had the children play quietly to greet him when he got home as June Cleaver would have). Anyway, these were the plans. We went over the plans at breakfast and all agreed to the agenda for a super fun day. We cleaned up and the kids headed outside while I got started painting. I hadn't been at it for 5 minutes when from up on the chair I needed to get down for more paint. Now, I hadn't chosen wisely my chair and I was standing on a SWIVEL chair that was actually quite stiff and didn't swivel well. It did fine for painting, but not so well for dismounting. When I shifted my weight toward the floor the chair swiveled and placed the back of the chair between my feet unbeknownst to me. I can tell you can see where this is going...anyway, I hit the back of the chair and WHAM spun around to the floor (it is much funnier in the movies when it happens to someone else, trust me). By God's infinite grace and mercy I did not hit my head on anything, including the floor. I was inches from the kitchen table and one of the chairs. Also, I fell on my elbow, breaking my fall and protecting my head. I could not, for a few seconds imagine what had happened. Then the pain set in and I figured it out quickly. I will try not to dwell on the details, but we will say that the plans for the bike ride were foiled. I finished my project in about 1 1/2 hours and told the kids to pack the lunch up and get their bikes out before reality set in. I realized that if I could hardly walk, sitting on a bike would be impossible. I explained what had happened and they were immediatly sypmathetic (especially Gabe and Riley). They ate their picnic lunch by the pool and went swimming again without me. They joined me on the bed as I relaxed with my ice pack from heaven and figured out how to add music to our blog. (I hope you are enjoying listening to it now!! Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see what else we are into right now.) I am not sure what we will do about dinner, right now it is the furthest thing from my mind! And the whole June Cleaver welcome for can guess what will happen to those plans too! All this to say my plans for a memorable first day on duty as a stay at home mom were rearranged a bit, but the day certainly remained memorable!!

Paul heads off to work with his new (to him) wheels...both of them!

The kids enjoy their fresh strawberries with their breakfast.

I actually really enjoy painting. It was a dramatic change from peach to shades of brown. I'll post some before and after pictures later.

The kids swim without me (again) without complaining and ate their lunches while I showered.

We settled for snuggling and working on the computer together!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

We made it!! From P.

“To the saints who are in (Iowa and other parts of the world), and are faithful in Christ Jesus. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 1:1-2. (I took the liberty to add the Iowa part.)

I could not come up with my own words sufficient to greet you, but I knew the Word would have it. We cannot express to you our thanks for your outpouring of grace and service during this time. We have finally arrived, but not without many tears and much pain in separation from our family at Grace. I spent the first several hundred miles in Iowa and Missouri thinking of the faces of those who poured themselves out for our family. Tears come to my eyes as I write this now. The emotion of the flood, the hurting people, the move, the tension between the two of us, the delayed closing of our house, and our children, has been overwhelming. The enemy has taken every opportunity to attempt to sidetrack what God has sent us out to do, but God has been God and shown me time and time again that I am not. He will complete the work He has set out to do, and that includes in us as well as in you.

Your love and generosity cannot be expressed. Thank you all for every second you gave of yourselves to get us packed and ready to move. Special thanks go out to the following families: Holt, Joe Christiansen, McDill, Irmen, Blackley, Barker, Miller (Ryan and Natasha), Pitcher, Young, JoDee Martin (Travis’ sister), Anderson (Lance and Lynn our gracious neighbors and friends), Jim, Dawn and boys Tucker, Davis (Gabe Davis-the master of packing a 24 foot truck), O’Rear, Lightner, and all of our supporters. Thank you so very much.

What now? The work continues and new work begins. I will be finishing up with support over the next few weeks while working at Agape and learning the ropes there. The mail room at Agape is a continual place of action and frenzy, but Jeff (the mail administrator) keeps a close grouping of the volunteers that come in daily to make the operation run smoothly. Putting a plane together to serve the long term goals of Agape is in the forefront. It’s worse than building a house. Nothing is cheap for a plane, as any of you who fly know well. New staff is on the way in several different departments, please pray that we are able to secure housing for them (one of the things I will be doing) and meet all of their physical and spiritual needs. We are placing a family from Agape (John and Sarah Niesen (daughter Evie) in Santo Domingo. They are expecting and will have their new child while on the Island. Please pray for God to make way for them and give them strength as they move even further from their home in Missouri. I will need guidance in caring for them from here.

We are planning our first trip back home in October for a Free to Love marriage conference. We hope to see as many folks as possible during that time frame. The week prior, if Agape duties allow, I will attend a training conference in Atlanta put on by John Regier and Caring for the Heart Ministries. Again, this is dependant on my Agape work load.

God has been so gracious during this time of transition. He has been in front of us the entire way paving a straight and narrow path for us to follow. It is evident which way he wants us to go, and when he wants us to go.

Thank you for your continual prayers and support. We love each of you and pray God’s blessings on you all.

Philippians 4:7 (NIV) 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

With Love in Christ to our brothers and sisters,

For "Uncle" Kent: see the suckers made it to Florida too!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We made it!

Jaclyn Pitcher, Alayna, and Briana Holt played as we packed. As you can see, Jaclyn and Alayna have a passion for dress up and found some "costumes" in Alayna's room!
Packing made a mess of the house!! Wow, were we grateful for the help we got!
The kids took a break for supper on the floor.
The moving van filled up and careful planning allowed almost all of our posessions to fit!
Our hearts were touched beyond words for the love poured out on us by all who helped us get packed and loaded and on our way to fulfilling our calling in Florida.

Wow, it has been a strange, long 11 days without internet access! We are realizing just how much we utilize it on a regular basis. Well, we are up and running finally here in Florida! Thanks for your patience. I will try to have a logical order to what we have been up to since we left. Paul, Gabe and Riley left on Friday the 13th with the moving truck early in the morning, hours before the interstate was closed. They made it to Atlanta that night. They stayed with my dad and stepmom and headed on, arriving in Venice Saturday early evening. Holden, Alayna and I drove to Mandy Mallicoat’s parents’ home that was so graciously opened for us when we knew we would have a difficult time getting to Moline due to the interstate closures. We detoured through Mount Vernon and made it to their home in less than 2 hours. We were up at 3:30 to get to the airport for the 5:55 am flight. Paul and the boys met us in Sarasota with our new to us minivan (just like our old one only white!). We went to the house we hoped to rent and got our first look at the home. We spent the next couple days looking at furniture we had found on Craig’s list and relaxing while we waited to be able to move in. We were allowed to move in on Wednesday morning while the owners moved out at the same time. We have spent almost every second since then becoming somewhat settled. I am desperate to paint some of the areas (and have permission to do so!), so we are not doing much with those areas, but the kids rooms are all fine and they even have window treatments up in their rooms! Most importantly, we have a guest room (aka Gabe’s room) all set up with a King size bed and its own bathroom and room on the floor for air mattresses and a pack and play!! We are ready for visitors!!! We are finding our way around the town and have visited 2 churches already. Of course none measure up to Grace (high standard!!), but we had really good teaching at one of the churches and the other had really good social programs and Bible studies in place for us and the kids. We will continue to search. The kids are at VBS this week at another church where they are teaching sports with their curriculum. That seems to be a major emphasis around here. Almost everyone we meet asks what sports the boys are involved in. We sheepishly answer that Gabe is the only one who has played on an organized team. People here are very warm and we have yet to meet a single person who hasn’t heard of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They are all very sympathetic to the flooding you are all enduring in some form or another back home. It has been so hard not to know how you are all doing and how things turned out in Iowa City. We have heard a few blurbs on the news, but not much and no internet to check. We have spoken to a few of you and are grateful for the news you have shared with us. I would say that we are adjusting well so far. I was surprised that going to church was the hardest thing to do. I kept comparing where we were with where we left and felt the flaming arrows of the enemy as he dangled all I had given up to follow Christ, in front of me. I am most grateful for the recent sermon series and my ability to now recognize those as arrows and for the tools to extinguish them. The next hardest thing has been hearing about happenings around there that we are missing out on. I do hope that will get easier soon. God keeps placing confirmation of our call in front of us and has not failed to supply his grace when needed. We initially thought we would have to find a place to store all of our things until July 1, when the home we are renting was going to be available, but God worked on their hearts and not only did they let us move in, but they didn’t charge us any rent for the month of June. The moving company allowed us to keep the moving truck an extra 6 hours and didn’t charge us for it. We have met a family with a boy who will be in Holden’s class at school. We have met a family at one of the churches who lives in our neighborhood (I had prayed specifically for that one!). Please know that we hold you so tightly and regularly in our prayers and that our hearts ache at the loss of homes and businesses in the area. We continue to ask for your prayers for our family as well. Here are some specific requests:
1) We have not finished raising support and will need to figure out how to do that from here, or plan a trip back to complete it.
2) For our families as they process through this change with us including our kids and parents.
3) For new friendships in God’s timing and the patience to wait on His perfect plan.
4) For God’s direction in finding a new church home that has everything we are needing. For us to be open to His leading too!
5) For Sue and Burke Wasserman (we are renting their home) who unaware that God is drawing them to Himself through our rental agreement!

I have interviewed each of the kids, asking them what they would like to say to their friends back home. Parents please pass their messages along for them:
Gabe: It is nice and warm down here. My brother Holden is addicted to catching geckos and lizards. Where we are living right now has an orange tree and a grapefruit tree and we have a little pool in our back yard. The ocean right now is really warm and clear, but in the spring it is dirty and cold. I will miss everyone! I should say I do miss everyone! I miss you and I hope I will see you sometime, bye!
Riley: Hi friends! It is hot down here. The ocean is really sandy and dirty. I moved into a house with a swimming pool. It is not big. I have a bunk bed in my room and I sleep on the top with Holden on the bottom. My dad’s work will have a plane fly down to the island called Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I feel good about moving. I am going to a sports camp and I am learning more about soccer this week (through Venice Bible Church VBS), Holden is too. Gabe is practicing basketball at the camp too. How is the flooding doing? Has it gone back down over the 380 bridge? See you later, I hope to hear from you!
Holden: Cristina, you are a good friend! I have made some new friends and I hope you have a great time in Iowa. Victoria, I hope you have a good time with all the snow and stuff, I hope you have a good time playing with each other and playing games and make one or two more friends. Levi, I hope you have a good time with your brother and I hope you can have a fun time if you know where the North Liberty pool is. I got my letter Monday from you, I love you too!! Alex, I hope you have a good time with the snow and your brother and be in the snow and play in the snow, have a snowball fight, all kinds of stuff and have fun at school. I have been swimming a lot and I have been going to the beach and I have gotten to go swimming in our swimming pool a lot this year. I hope you are all having fun, bye my class, BYE! I hope you have a good time Ms. B!
Alayna: Victoria and Cristina, I never get to play in the pool with them, or play dress up or play with their tigers and jump in the pool with the girls with their swimsuits and hunt for geckos and butterflies. We play dress up and cook food and my brothers hunt for grapefruit (we have a tree in our yard with lots!). I got 5 shots Monday so I will be ready to go to school (on August 18th) with my brothers. I got an airplane ride to Florida, I liked it. I played with my stuff and my mom braided my hair and I had pretzels and orange juice. I slept the entire 2nd flight and woke up as we landed asking when we were going to leave! Dear Abby and Jaclyn, Ashlyn, and Amanda, I miss you, I never get to dress up with them, go to the pool with them, jump around with them, and never climb trees. Come see me soon!
Our package for internet/phone allows us to have FREE, UNLIMITED long distance also, so when you want to talk, give us a call and we will call you back to avoid cell minutes or long distance charges on your end! Email us for our address and phone number.