i’ve been here before

monday august 8th josh found out he won’t have a job after the end of this year.  the bank where he works has been acquired by another bank and the new bank isn’t keeping his position.

i’ve been here before.

i’ve been here four times.

in 2002, right after we celebrated our first wedding anniversary and bought our first home, josh lost his job.

in 2006, right before our oldest three kiddos came to us, josh lost his job.

in 2010-house, three kids, vehicles, dog-pretty comfy life, josh lost his job.

i’ve been here before and here i go again.

in 2016-house, vehicles, cancer recovery, nine kids-josh is losing his job.

our last period of unemployment was just under 13 months long.  we never missed a car payment.  we never missed a house payment.  our kiddos stayed in their school. this morning i’m encouraging myself with some of the words He gave me during that time.

“the LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”~deuteronomy 31:8

“have i not commanded you? be strong and courageous. do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”~joshua 1:9

“let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in Him, for He shields Him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between His shoulders.”~deuteronomy 33:12

“it is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”~2 samuel 22:33

“you will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.”~job 11:18

“LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.”~psalm 16:5

we trust the Lord and His provision for our lives.  we’ve tasted and seen His faithfulness to us.

will you pray for us?  that we continue to trust Him, to follow Him.

will you pray for me?  that i will be an encouragement to my husband.

will you pray for josh?  that he will be confident in who the Lord has made him to be-in his gifts and abilities, that he will be himself for interviews, that he will not take a ‘no’ as personal rejection.

we are excited to what the Lord has prepared for our family.

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13 years

today is our 13th wedding anniversary.  normally, we’d have made plans to escape for a night or two, but this year things are very different.  we currently have seven children.  c.r.a.z.y.

i turned on our wedding video this afternoon.  the three and a half year old who is living under our roof said, “i’m so happy.  i’m gonna get a josh when i get married, like you!”  be still my heart.

the prayers offered on our behalf, the day we got married, are full of things that have actually happened over the past 13 years.  i can’t believe where we are.  i never would have imagined any of this the day i stood with my man and pledged my life to him.

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“upon joshua and kirsten may Heaven’s richest benedictions abide, making you a blessing to all who shall know and love you.  may the blessings awarded the compassionate be yours in abundance.
may God tie your hearts together in the never ending bond of pure love.
if you should be blessed with children, may they bring you joy,
returning your love for them many times over.
may you be blessed with true friends to stand with you through the joys and sorrows of life.
may daily work never cause you undue anxiety nor the passion to acquire captivate your hearts.
may contentment and peace characterize your spirits
and may grace and mercy saturate your relationships.
may you live a long and happy life together serving others in humanity’s kingdom on earth
so that you may reap the reward of the faithful in God’s eternal Kingdom in Heaven.
may almighty God bless you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
blessed forevermore.  amen.”

“and now we pray for this couple.  we ask that Your blessing be poured out on them.
we pray that they would learn to work together.
we would ask that they would get everything in life that they desire,
but then we realize that most of the time it’s when we’re in need that we learn to hold together.
so i pray that they will have tests that purify, that they will experience those things that unite them,
and that Your hand of love and grace would always be upon them in whatever circumstances they face.
i ask that they would love one another for a lifetime.
i ask Lord that they’d laugh together and weep together.
that they would serve together.  that they would hold one another, encourage each other,
and be to each other what the other needs.  and in the moments when they cannot,
may the understanding hand of God reach into their hearts and help them.
now we pray Lord, that the union they have brought to this place would be forever blessed
by Your Spirit, Your presence.
that it would be the interjection of God in a world that really needs to see it.
and may others watch them live, live out this faith of theirs, no matter what comes their way.  amen.”

wedding

13 years.
3 times of unemployment.
infertility.
sickness.
the adoption of three children.
the fostering of four more.
a 12 passenger van.
seven children.
i can’t believe it!

“better than the promises is the day we got to keep them.
i wish those two could see us now,
they never would believe how there are different kinds of happy.”
 different kinds of happy, sara groves

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“i do” are the two most famous last words
the beginning of the end
but to lose your life for another i’ve heard
is a good place to begin

’cause the only way to find your life
is to lay your own life down
and i believe it’s an easy price
for the life that we have found

and we’re dancing in the minefields
we’re sailing in the storm
this is harder than we dreamed
but i believe that’s what the promise is for

’cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
so there’s nothing left to fear
so i’ll walk with you in the shadowlands
till the shadows disappear

’cause He promised not to leave us
and His promises are true
so in the face of all this chaos, baby,
i can dance with you”
dancing in the minefields, andrew peterson

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paid in full

we paid our final van payment today.  i was told the title will come in the mail in about two weeks.  feels so strange to make a final payment on something that is a pretty big thing in our lives.  and to know that now we own it.  it is our van.

we started paying for our van five years ago, when we “bought” it.  we were starting a family.  2 people to 5 people overnight.  we needed something suitable for carting around a family.  a van would do.  and i was quite proud to get a mini-van.  that meant i was becoming a mama.  and that, i really, really wanted to do.

i am so glad we purchased this van.  it has been perfect for our family. that doesn’t mean there haven’t been days when i would dream of getting a newer van.  a bigger van.  a van with more features, like a dvd player.  when josh lost his job, it was quite obvious that the Lord intended for us to keep our van.  and i became quite, actually very, content with that.

during our year plus of unemployment, we never missed a van payment.  never even made any late.  and when we realized the final payment was coming, we were thrilled.  the Lord’s provision in this way was and is amazing.

and now, that money is free.  it doesn’t go to the van anymore.  we now have a big chunk of money to set aside every month, for what we’re not yet sure.  but we’ve never had a time in our marriage where we could set that much money aside.  we’ll be seeking wisdom from Him in this.

the first thought that entered my mind as i left the bank was “paid in full, that’s what Jesus did for me!”  and i thanked Him for giving me such a clear and simple picture of His sacrifice at this time of year.

we’re heading into good friday.  a day that’s often viewed in a very solemn way.  i remember as a child, sometimes sitting in my room during the hours that Jesus hung on the cross.  it seemed as if it were always dark outside, cloudy, on the verge of a storm.  i remember being sad.  i remember wishing Jesus didn’t have to experience death the way He did, for me.

i still feel that way.  but, as an adult, i understand that the moment of His death was shared with the moment He declared victory.  all of my sin debt, paid in full.  all of yours.  all of everyone’s.  paid. in full.  in one moment of time.  thank you Lord!

“when you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh,
God made you alive with Christ.
He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness,
which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”
~colossians 2:13~14

“when He had received the drink, Jesus said, “it is finished.”
with that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
~john 19:30

“on this mountain He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations; He will swallow up death forever.”
~isaiah 25:7~8

“for this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  when the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality,
then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
1 corinthians 15:53~54

a new form of provision

worried.  scared.  discouraged.
the way people would describe how i must be feeling during our unemployment.

relieved.  happy.  weight lifted from your shoulders.  secure.
the way people currently describe how i must be feeling now that josh is once again employed.

content.  provided for.  at peace.  thankful.  safe.  trusting.  excited.
the way i would describe how i felt during our unemployment.  and, the way i would describe how i am feeling in this time of our new employment.

josh started a new job march 28th.

before josh lost his job last february, God provided.  when josh lost his job last february, God provided.  the new job, is quite simply, a new form of God’s provision.

His provision doesn’t always look the way we think it will, the way we think it should.  we knew without a doubt He would provide during unemployment.  and if we questioned that, what would that say about our faith?  what would that say about our belief in the Word?

i couldn’t be worried:
i’ve shared luke 12 with you here before.  matthew 6 says pretty much the same thing.  in vs. 25~34, the word worry is used six times.  “do not worry about your life…”  “can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  “and why do you worry about clothes?” “so do not worry saying, ‘what shall we eat?’ or ‘what shall we drink?’ or ‘what shall we wear?’” “therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

i couldn’t be scared:
“for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
~2 timothy 1:7
do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine!”
~isaiah 43:1

i couldn’t be discouraged:
“the LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”~deuteronomy 31:8
“have i not commanded you? be strong and courageous. do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”~joshua 1:9

i think the one word that has eaten at me the most is “secure”.  the idea that i must feel “secure” now that josh has a job.  as if i couldn’t feel “secure” without that one thing.  as if a job could/would/should provide my security.  but it doesn’t.  and it can’t.  and it won’t.  if i try to find my security in anything, anyone, other than Jesus, i will never be secure.  josh’s job could be taken tomorrow.  the salary could be taken tomorrow.  the salary could diminish.  the only thing that’s sure and secure is my Savior.

“let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in Him, for He shields Him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between His shoulders.”~deuteronomy 33:12

“it is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”~2 samuel 22:33

“you will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.”~job 11:18

“LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.”~psalm 16:5

“we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”~hebrews 6:19

 

passing judgment

i’ve noticed it lately, rolling around facebook.  it’s a new poll question ~ “do you think people on welfare should have mandatory drug tests?”  it appears as though most people answer overwhelmingly “yes”.

i am wondering how that ‘yes’ is determined.  everyone on welfare should be tested?  everyone?  how would we judge that?  are there certain behaviors we’d look for in an individual?  would it be based on where they live?  how they live?  if they’re single or married or divorced?  if they have children?  and if so, how many?  would they be judged as needing a drug test based on the color of their skin?  or their level of education?

who decides?  who judges?  based on the majority ‘yes’ answer to the poll question, most people who answered feel they’d be qualified to judge.

josh and i were on welfare for the past year. should we have been given drug tests?  who would be responsible for judging us?

without an official judgment, i felt judged every time i used my ohio direction card.   

it’s just like food stamps, only slightly more dignified.  or is it?  every time i pulled out my card at sam’s club, giant eagle, even aldi, someone, somewhere, was looking at me, passing judgment.

from looking at me, you wouldn’t guess i’d be on welfare.  i wasn’t dirty and unkempt.  i didn’t smell bad.  my car wasn’t falling apart, i wasn’t taking the bus.  by the grace of God, during our year of unemployment, we didn’t lose our home.  i was still able to bathe.  i kept the clothes i had before josh’s job loss.  i kept the jewelry too, and i wore it everyday ~ my engagement ring, my pearl bracelet, my pearl earrings.  i didn’t look like someone on welfare.  or did i?

welfare doesn’t have a look.  welfare has a need.  without that welfare assistance, we wouldn’t have been able to put food on the table at breakfast time or for dinner.  we wouldn’t have been able to pack our children’s lunch boxes or given them a snack after school.  without that welfare, we wouldn’t have been able to continue to make our house payment or pay our utility bills.  the ohio direction card freed up money to help maintain everything else in our world.

i am wondering if people knew that people like me were on welfare, if they’d still think people on welfare should have mandatory drug tests?  or maybe they’d have some compassion?  or maybe they’d  get some education on how the system works and who it helps?

i wonder what judgment would be passed on us.