Saturday, September 22, 2012

Yes, We Know We're Crazy

I ran into someone this past week who asked, "What is going on with y'all?" after seeing all of our "For Sale" items on Facebook lately.  I then spent the next 15 minutes summarizing the "crazy" things that have been happening in our life the past several months.  It was such a relief to see and hear her enthusiasm instead of the whispers, eye rolling, and not-so-encouraging comments we have gotten from others recently.

After this conversation and a very emotional week, I realized that it was time to sit down and explain what's been going on with us lately to all of you who think we're "crazy"---to confirm the craziness once and for all.  So here it is.......

We believe that God is calling us to full time missions.  What?  Yes, we think God is literally calling us to "Sell everything and follow Him" and "Proclaim the Gospel to all Nations."  If you read my blog "How God Speaks to Us" back in July, you might have had an idea. We had an idea, but it was just too "crazy" to believe back then.

But for quite some time now, we have felt God calling us to something "out of the ordinary" something "crazy".  It seemed to begin when He called me to quit my job and homeschool the kids.  That was the first "test".  It's where the "crazy" first began.  It was hard giving up that income and depending solely on the grace of God to survive financially.  We slowly began giving up things that really weren't necessary or important.  Soon, we learned the joy that came with living a fairly "simple" life.   It was hard at first, but the blessings that came afterwards far out weighed the sacrifices we made.  We continued to grow closer to each other, but more importantly closer to Christ. We became "Transformed in Him, through Him, by Him, and for Him."

I loved our new life of simplicity---no meetings, no ball games, no practices, no running from here to there.  We lived in our own little world---daily Mass, school, and family time with prayer all throughout the day.  We started growing our own food.  The girls began making a lot of our household items and sewing.  We were even teased by some of our friends for being "Little House on the Prairie" like.  It didn't matter.  We had finally found the "good life," and it wasn't the life the world supported.  I was so thankful that God had called us out of the "rat race" into this life of simplicity.  I thought that this was it--that this was what He had been calling us to. 

When we became a little too comfortable in our new life, God once again called us out of our comfort zone and led us to Family Missions Company.  He continued to call us to these weekly "prayer meetings" and challenged us to "proclaim the Gospel."  It was during this time that we realized that we couldn't just sit back and keep all our faith to ourselves.  That we had to share what we had found with others.  Yes, sitting at home teaching my kids and shaping them to be good Christians wasn't enough.  We had to be "in the world" being good Christian examples not hiding from the world.  Our life quickly became filled again with "meetings".  But these were "meetings" where we were called upon to share our faith---out loud, in front of people, sometimes lots of people!

We were then inspired by the Holy Spirit to take the whole family to Mexico for the Pentecost Mission Trip with FMC.  This was the next "test".  We were worried especially when we heard "Are you crazy?" from just about everyone we told.  But once again, we followed Christ's call despite how "crazy" it sounded and looked to others.  We put all our trust in Him.  And once again, I can't begin to describe the blessings He poured out on us while planning the trip, during the trip, and after the trip.

From the moment we returned, we knew that He was calling us to something more but we didn't want to admit it (although the kids did----constantly challenging us to listen and obey).  It was crazy, but we began to pray about it and pray about it and pray about it.  And over and over we got the same message.  "Proclaim the Gospel to all the Nations...."  "Sell everything, give to the poor, and follow Me....."  "Don't worry about what you will eat, or"  It was everywhere.  No matter what we read, where we went, what priest we went to for Mass.  The message was clear.

We laughed at the craziness of it all, but inside we were freaking out!  "What if this was really what He was calling us to do?"  So, we prayed harder for another more definite sign.  Sign after sign, passage after passage, reading after reading, prayer after prayer, homily after homily---it was all for us.  I began a journal of all the "signs" we were receiving.  I looked back at it this week and laughed at just how many we received and still didn't yet believe.  One day, I will publish all the random (yet not-so-random) things happened or were said to us. 

Travis, unbeknownst to me, decided one evening in Adoration to tell God that He would have to sell our house IF this was what He really wanted us to do.  We love our place, and the thought of selling it all was just too much.  Well, several days after this prayer, someone randomly offered to buy our house and land if we ever thought about selling it.  I just laughed some more, not knowing about my husband's prayer.  He looked like a deer caught in headlights.  Later, that evening, he told me about his prayer.  That's when we knew without a doubt that God was calling us to be full time missionaries.  We still have our share of doubts and question our own "craziness" daily, but each time God calls us back to the path He has set us on. 

We recently moved into "real" mode.  We have talked to our pastor and our parents and were relieved to have the support of all whose opinions mattered most to us.  We, as a family, then attended a four day "Come and See" with Family Missions Company and are certain that FMC is where He is sending us.  Travis and I have another directed (one on two) retreat coming up next month to continue to seek guidance from someone on the "outside."  We have also signed up to go on another short-term family mission trip in November to get another "taste" of mission life.   

We have just begun the sell of our possessions as our FB friends have noticed.  We had parted with a lot of stuff already during the past two years of simplifying life, so it hasn't been too bad doing another "purge".  That is until the sell of our last and favorite horse today.  It was like closing a chapter in our old life.  I, the one that complained for years about the expense of the horses and rodeo, was heartbroken at the sight of Doc leaving.  It finally hit me today as he was loaded into the horse trailer---this was real.  We are really leaving our old life behind.  I left before I cried and made all the kids cry. 

It had already been a bad week for me.  Travis was gone all week on a job out of state, and I worked all week on a list of home improvement projects.  As I painted and fixed up my patio and porch, my heart ached at the thought of leaving this all behind for someone else to enjoy.  But once again, God sent me the message I needed to hear.
"And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting."  Matthew 19:29
This has been another recurring verse in our lives the past few months.  It's really "crazy" how often and randomly it comes up in our daily lives.  

In the last month or so we have changed our prayer from "Are you calling us?" to "Show us what to do and HELP us do it."  He has been putting a lot of things in place for us and guiding us along this very difficult journey.  Our plan is to have everything sold by next summer and join Family Missions Company's In-Take (3 month training) next September.  Then after that we are off to "Proclaim the Gospel to all Nations and tell of all the wondrous things He has done for us."

Check our our FMC page here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Perseverance in Prayer

As many of you know already, we have been fostering our son for two and a half years now and have ridden many emotional roller-coasters during that time.  At times, we wondered just where God was.  Was He even listening to our prayers?  Had He noticed the pain and heartache in our lives? 

It was tough especially this last year and a half.  Each time we got close to what seemed like the end of the ride, we were put on a new roller-coaster.  Each one more loopy than the one before.  Each one leaving our stomach in more knots than before. But each time we got off, we were so much stronger than when we got on---stronger in our marriage, stronger in our love for our son, stronger in our faith.  Things never seemed to go the way we hoped and prayed for, but always seemed to work out in the end.  But we continued to worry and fret and not trust God completely.

A few weeks ago, I sat in the courthouse literally all day waiting again for the termination of parental rights trial to be over.  Once again, we started out on a roller-coaster bright and early at 9:00 am.  It was a good thing that I hadn't had coffee or breakfast, or else it would have come up.  By mid morning, my emotions couldn't take the ups and downs and craziness anymore.  I went outside for some air and to call my prayer partners to give them an update on the newest stunt.  That was when I spotted the Cathedral steeple towering over the building across the street from the courthouse.  I knew the only person that would be able to fix this was Jesus himself.

I walked across the street only to find that the church was locked.  In tears, I walked around trying every door I could find.  I had no luck getting inside, but then I looked up and saw a statue of Our Blessed Mother in a small garden near a side entrance.  I sat down on the sidewalk next to her and cried out to her.  She was a mother, too.  She would understand my plea and could bring it to her Son for me.  Jesus had listened to her and followed her prompting at the wedding in Cana even though it "wasn't his time."  He performed a miracle at her request and changed water into wine to help that family in need.  I needed a miracle, and I knew she would hear my plea, mother to mother.  She would ask him to help my family in our time of need just as she did in Cana.

So there I sat for a half hour or so, pleading with Mary to intercede for us.  I asked her to plead with Jesus to take care of this case once and for all and to send me some comfort.  Suddenly, the wind began to blow ever so gently across this small courtyard garden.  I felt the loving peace and embrace of the Holy Spirit and knew that all would be fine, maybe not today, but one day, in God's time.  I had to trust Him completely.  I thanked Mary for listening, thanked the God for sending the Holy Spirit to comfort me, and slowly got up.  I walked around the church building to find yet another statue of Our Lady.  One more plea wouldn't hurt, so I knelt down there at the grotto and prayed one last time for Her intercession.

I returned to the courthouse to find that there hadn't been any update since I had left, but I still felt that peace.  I sat down to read the book that I had brought, Full of Grace by Johnette Benkovic.  I was behind in my reading for my women's prayer group and thought that I would catch up today while I sat in waiting.  I opened up to the bookmarked page to find that it marked something that I had already read not where I had last ended.  As I skimmed the page, I knew why my book mark was in this particular spot.  It was all about perseverance in prayer.  That was what our last meeting was about.  I remembered how comforting that last meeting and video presentation was to me after leaving the courtroom devastated last month.  Here it was again.  Those same words there to comfort me again. 

As I began to reread this part, I began to see my own story on the pages. Once again the Holy Spirit led me to what I needed to hear.  I felt more at peace than ever before.  "Why does God delay in answering our prayer?"  I could see each reason given in the book played out in our situation.  Increased humility, increased sensitivity, increased gratitude, increased patience, increased sorrow, increased love, and increased faith.  The next part was about the importance of thanking God in our times of trials.  Thank Him for this long, heart-wrenching trial was the urging in my heart. 

So, there I sat thanking God for the two years of struggles, pains, frustrations, and heartache that came with this case.  And as I thanked Him, I began to see exactly how He had used this "trial" to grow my faith and the faith of my family.  I saw how much we had all grown over the last few years as we battled for what was "best" for this child.  I saw how my love for Him and our son had changed over the course of the two and a half years.  I saw how this child had changed, how he had grown, and how his faith in God had increased a hundred fold also.  I saw how He had changed us.

For all this, I began to praise God from the depths of my soul which ended up being the very next thing in my book--praise Him at all times especially in times of trial.  All those tears shed, all the doubts, all the sufferings was exactly what our family needed to get to where we are today.  I knew this in my head all along, but now I knew and felt it in my heart and soul.  It was one of those very profound "Ah, Ha!" moment.  There was a Charismatic prayer meeting going on inside my heart and head!  I never proclaimed so many "Alleluia! Praise the Lord! and Praise you, Jesus!" in all my life!

At that moment, a worker came through the doors with the paperwork needed.  This was going to be the day!  And it was!  Our prayers had been heard and were answered all in God's time.