Friday, March 30, 2012

Update on the Family

The past few weeks have certainly been a roller coaster of emotions, that is for sure! We've experienced time apart, renewed closeness as a family, and many miracles -- both big and small. Through it all, God has been with us and has taught us many lessons about faith and trusting in Him for our needs.

The family finally arrived home on Tuesday afternoon! We thought last week that Troy and the kids would be home by the end of last week. But that didn't happen. The transmission took a really long time to arrive at the mechanic's shop for some reason. Anyway, Monday morning, he received the call from Mr. Ken that the van was ready. Here's the amazing blessing. When he went to pick it up, he was informed that one of the men from "The Springs" paid $300 out of his own pocket to help out with the final costs of the transmission and labor! This was a completely unlooked-for blessing from God.

By the time Troy and the kids were able to pick up Betty-Lou, it was too late in the day to drive home, so they remained one last night in the cabin and came home on Tuesday. It's been so wonderful to be able to hug my family again. To hear all about their experiences. To enjoy prayer time together in the evenings as a family. To share meals together.

Thank You for your continued prayers for us. The Medicaid situation is not finalized yet. I did receive an indication from my caseworker earlier in the week that if our paperwork was in order (and I pray it is), her supervisor was prepared to sign off on our approval. I'll call her on Monday to find out where we stand on that. In the meantime, I'll trust that there will be a positive resolution for that too, just as there was with the van.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Unexpected Lessons, Unexpected Blessings

As I've mentioned before, there was not room on campus for us after March 2. So, after staying at a very nice place that caters to folks in ministry (they don't charge, but operate solely on donations) for a week, he and the kids brought me back to campus Sunday night and went on back to the cabin. They were going to pick me up Thursday. Well, early in the week the van started acting up, so on Wednesday, Troy ended up taking it to a mechanic the manager at the cabin had referred him to. They were delayed a couple days and weren't going to be able to pick me up until Friday.

Friday, they picked up the van and were on their way back to the cabin to get our stuff when it started smoking and leaking oil. Thankfully, a sheriff pulled in behind where Troy had pulled off the road and radioed for this mechanic to come out with his tow truck. It was the transmission, unfortunately. I am very thankful for this mechanic, however. He’s an honest guy who wants his customers to get the best deal. He told Troy that he’s in the diagnosis business, not the “fix it at any cost” business. He wants to make sure he figures out exactly what the problem is and then do his best to fix just that at the lowest possible cost to his customers. We are both so thankful that the van did not break down on the road--that would’ve been the absolute worst scenario possible. Troy’s actually also thankful that it happened here, where we had a reliable mechanic, and not in Jackson. While he’s skilled enough to do the job himself, it’s not the sort of job one can do alone. And unfortunately, our more mechanically minded friends have all left Jackson. Nor does he know a reliable mechanic in the area he could really trust.

At that point, I would've had someone drive me out to join them if not for a certain voice mail I received on Wednesday. A woman from the Medicaid office called as a "courtesy call" (although there wasn't ANYTHING courteous about her tone) to let me know that I'd missed the kids' re-certification appointment and had until Friday at noon to appear for it or my case would be CLOSED. In a panic, I called her and explained that it's pretty hard to show up for an appointment that (1) you didn't even know about, and (2) when you're in a completely different state. I told her the absolute earliest I could appear was Monday. She gave me grace until Monday, but no more. And with Tayler's procedure scheduled for April 5, we could NOT afford for them to close our case! Especially since it takes them a MONTH to process the paperwork.

Since the van wasn’t ready, I went ahead and booked a flight home. I was able to find a one-way flight from Indy to Jackson (through Houston) for about $325 (all fees included). Not too bad! This is even about $200 cheaper than the flights were when I looked into flying up for my training session way back in February! And that was with less than 24 hour's notice! God definitely had His hand in that, I believe.

The problem was that I have an insanely ridiculous fear of flying (not the actual flying part. It's the GETTING to the airport and dealing with connecting flights that freaks me out. I really don't mind flying, except that takeoffs and landings always hurt my ears), but God really helped me. I was able to be calm and ask questions when needed. I mean, the last time I flew was back in '99, so things have changed a little since then.

Everyone on campus and here at home have been so good to me. One of my Hope61 co-workers drug her kids out of bed on Saturday to pick me up and take me to the airport at 7:30. Our director's husband is personally calling area churches asking if they can help us out with costs. A friend drove 30 minutes out of her way to pick up the rest of the stuff I couldn't take and then drove it out to where Troy and the kids are staying (an hour from her) so that they don't have to backtrack and pick it up once the van's fixed. A man from our church here at home picked me up at the airport and helped me put the relays back in Troy's Jeep and get the tire aired back up so it would be ready for me to drive. As he left, he even gave me a little gift card for the Kroger so that I could get myself some groceries. It ended up being just a few dollars more than what I needed to restock the house with groceries after almost six weeks away! The cabin place told Troy and the kids they can stay as long as they need to--and are even allowing them to use their personal washing machine and dryer (as there is no laundry facility on site), as well as giving them rides to and from town when needed. The wives of the managers (there are two couples managing the property) have provided several meals for them and one even sent over some “new” games for the kids to play. One of the couples had Troy and the kids over for dinner Sunday night and they all sat around and played our “Apples to Apples Family” game. So glad I brought it! A dear friend of ours even offered to give us a van and find a way to get it to Troy in Indiana!

So many other things that I can't even mention. God is providing and working out snags for us. This has been a great lesson for us on faith and trusting God for His provision. Troy told me that it's sparked some really great conversations with the kids about this, and he's thankful for all the one-on-one time he's had with them the last week. This is literally the most time he's spent with them alone, and he's loving it. On Sunday, as they couldn't go to church, the kids decided they wanted to have their own church at the cabin. They even made bulletins--complete with a section for taking notes! They sang songs, had an "offertory", and one of the kids even took notes during Troy's Bible study!

I thought Mama would love it too, but I miss my family. I'm going to use this time to get some writing done (as I wasn't able to get much done while we were gone), get some cleaning done, and just enjoy having the house to myself. That’s another gift from God in itself, actually. I was disappointed that I really didn’t have much time to write, and now God’s given me all this time by myself in a quiet house to do some catching up!

There have also been some frustrations along the road. Monday morning when I went to pick up our mail, as we'd expressly asked them to hold it at the post office until we could pick it up, as they often do, they disregarded my request. I drove all the way over there only to have the woman tell me it was out for delivery. And it was a lot, too. I shudder to think about what would've happened if I hadn't come back in time. Of course, there was the usual mail that didn't belong to us mixed in with it, one piece a package for the 722 WEST Northside Drive address (we're 722 EAST Northside Drive. We get mail for them, a daycare center, A LOT). I hope they weren't waiting for that long.

Then, I arrived at the Medicaid office and had barely sat down before my case worker informed me that they closed my case on Friday. Even though we'd spoken and I'd told her I couldn't appear until Monday. She said she had no control over it, but I think she could've gone to bat for me if she'd felt like it. I was angry, but tried to calmly explain that while the rest of my family was still stuck with a broken-down vehicle in Indiana, I'd flown back over the weekend specifically for this meeting. Then I explained WHY this was so urgent. She thawed and expressed some sympathy for Tayler at that point, promising to do her best to push the paperwork through. We'll see. She also had more paperwork that she surprised me with -- I had to go to the seminary and get someone to write a letter showing the dates Troy had been employed there. Even though it's been over six months since he last worked there and TECHNICALLY, they are only supposed to need your most current paycheck information. I went to the financial officer at the seminary, Mrs. Leigh, and started crying before I could even explain what I needed from her. I've submitted all required information. Please pray with me that she will indeed push the paperwork through and Tayler's appointment will not need to be rescheduled.

This was not at all how we anticipated the end of our time in Indiana going. By any means. But God has been faithful to provide in ways both little and big. We continue to trust that He will provide the needed funds for the transmission, that He will give the family traveling mercies as they drive back to Jackson (hopefully either Friday or Saturday), and that He will work out all the details surrounding Tayler’s heart procedure and our Medicaid status.

Exodus 14:14 - “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

1 Samuel 12:16 - “Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes.”

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Special BIRTHday

Tayler's birthday ended up being really different. There is no oven at the cabin, so I couldn't make my usual birthday muffins for her. We did get birthday decorations and put those up late Thursday night for her to enjoy. For breakfast, Troy made pancakes and we heated up some heat-and-serve sausages. The kids had school, as we really couldn't afford for them to miss--something completely new to her. I've always given the kids birthdays off. Anyway, we finished our abbreviated school day around noon and went into town for lunch at the DQ. Just as we all placed our orders, the power went off. Apparently there had been an accident and someone had slammed into the utility pole, knocking out power all up and down the strip in town---with all the fast food restaurants included. We drove around a bit, trying to find a place open, then ended up heading back to the DQ to see if their power had yet been restored. Thankfully, it had.

After lunch, we went to the laundromat to run some laundry, picked up her cake, and headed back to the cabin. Troy was going to grill these delicious sausages for the family. What I didn't know, however, is that Tayler doesn't like them. Oops! Thankfully for *her*, there was a mishap with the grill (turns out, those bacon-wrapped sausages SMOKE better than they GRILL) and the food was completely burnt to a crisp. We ended up driving into town to eat a late supper at a local restaurant.

ANYWAY. As this town is very big into Catholicism (there is a monastery and a convent in this little town), there were statues of Mary everywhere. Including in a little alcove of the restaurant right smack dab in front of our table. On the way back home, one of the kids asked why they had a statue of the Lady of Guadalupe, so we had a discussion about the differences (and similarities) between the Lady of Guadalupe and the Virgin Mary. This prompted a big theological discussion that ended with Cody making a comment that since "all of us have asked Jesus into our hearts"... We both looked at each other, momentarily uncertain as to what to say. To the best of our knowledge, that was a decision that Cody had not yet made, but how to get him to understand this? Interestingly, just a few weeks ago, we'd discussed our mutual concern that he had not yet made this decision. The other kids were each between 4-5 when they accepted Jesus, so we felt that a discussion was likely coming. We worried that it was something he'd think he'd already done. Sort of the, "well, my family members are Christians, so so am I" kind of thing. And as I had the privilege of leading both Tayler and Clayton to Christ (at the same time), and someone else led Tori, I really wanted Troy to have this privilege with Cody.

He explained to him, gently, that this was not something he'd ever done before and asked if Cody would like to do it now. He was so excited to accept Christ in his heart, he wanted to do it right there and then---on the road between town and the cabin! Troy had him wait until we got home, and then we all knelt around him while Troy led him in the sinner's prayer. It was absolutely precious. Tayler declared that it was the best birthday present she could've gotten (which made me even prouder).

So now all four of our children have each made the decision to trust Jesus as their Savior. We rejoice with Him and are thankful for His faithfulness to our children. It was especially poignant as our children, and their safety and futures, have been heavily on our hearts the last few weeks in particular. We've felt the enemy trying to instill fear in our hearts about them--hoping to deter or distract us from our purpose of ministry that seeks to set people FREE from Satan's bondage of sin. That this took place on the same day we'd both felt the most oppressed with fear only served to bring home in a tangible way to us Jeremiah 29:11. I even wrote it out, inserting each child's name and will pray that verse every time I feel tempted to fear for their futures. Truly, greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. Hallelujah, amen!