Shakin the dust off my feet….

It’s no secret, we had a rough year! I can’t even begin to tell you how it has changed us. My whole family, hubby and all 3 teens are much different than we were one year ago today. Even though it was tough, I’m glad we made it. We have changed for the better in many ways…..but in other’s we have picked up some gunk in our hearts (sorta like damaged arteries in a heart attack patient) we too have some nasty build up from the abuse of life. This next year, I am praying that God will heal each of us from any negative or cynical attitude and or unforgiveness we might have. I want to be completely whole and useful to God. As I reflect tonight, I know that I am forever changed by this year and it’s events. I don’t want to be bitter (and I feel like I could do that very easily). God, please help me!?!

Here is a recap of 2008. I’ll admit, much of it’s depressing. I wish it were not so, but it’s the reality of what my family has lived. Rehashing it is nerve-wracking and I don’t want to seem ridiculously pathetic…..but I do want to move on! I am so very thankful for all that God has done for me and my family. Even in the bad and dark times…..He was there! He was watching (because He is El Roi–the God who sees)! He was helping (because He is Elohim–the God where my help comes from)! He was providing (because He is Jehovah-jireh–the God who provides)! How can I not thank Him for all that? He was and He is!

We started out the new year on vacation. Something hubby didn’t have time to do until the very end of the year. Looking back, we needed that time to get our act together and we used it accordingly for the things to come in the next few weeks. During this month, we had 2 snow delay’s from school, frozen pipes in our home, I won a Bible & cd from K-love on the air (oh yea, that was so awesome!), Gavin & Ally got to hang out at the Indy State House with the big-wigs and JCYL, and hubby got his first pair of glasses! Yes, he’s never needed them before.
By this time, we know that we have to do something drastic regarding hubby’s job as pastor. People seem to be turning on us and whispering behind our backs (sorry, but that’s how it went down). He meets with Deacons, trying to salvage what was left of our dignity. While they were very loving (they also had their heads in the sand to the problems we were facing). No positive help would come. We make the decision to take 3 weeks leave to pray and figure out what God wanted us to do. This was very painful (little did we know… would get much uglier in the coming weeks). People we had loved dearly and ministered to…..never even acknowledged us, it was as if they never knew us. I can’t describe the hurt we felt in our hearts. I can’t help but think of Titus 1:5-16….we truly tried to live that for our family and church. We never played being Christian….we were genuine in our weaknesses and in our strengths. During this month, we would have 5 snow days, the Giants would win the Super Bowl (go Eli), our friends in Tennesse would be hit by the crazy tornado, and our Sweetboy would get a speeding ticket (yes, it was devastating!).
We really began to feel the effects of issues with the church (hubby had pastored there 6 years). We feel God’s peace to resign. People were saying mean and untrue things; they had to fire the preacher!, he was taking money!, he never visited the old people!, he this…he that! Each of them untrue and very hurtful! We thought they knew us better than that and we thought they loved us. We learned so much through this trial about people and what sin can do to you. We clung to each other and to the cross barely hanging on for dear life. We cried out for help! We wanted it all to just go away. But it wouldn’t! It would only get worse! With no job hopes in sight…we set out to find God’s peace and to survive. We would never return to the church that brought us to this town again except to move out of hubby’s office. During this month, we would have a big snow storm, Gates would perform in the middle school play, Gavin would be inducted into the National Honor Society (woohoo, sweetboy!), we’d attend the fabulous Easter Pageant @ SouthEast Christian Church in Louisville, Hubby’s parents would visit us for 5 days, our middle babe would turn 15(yay Allypoo), we would join 1st Baptist N.V, and Sweetboy would take a Band trip to Florida during Spring Break! Wow, what a month, huh?
We start out the month auctioning off all of our kids. No, not forever. Just for a little fund-raiser for youth camp. Each get a nice percent knocked off their camp costs. Thank you Lord! We are feeling His love and care. We are trying to be normal…but it’s not quite working. No job is getting us very stressed and we are wondering if we are going to make it. Emotions are soaring, depression is setting in and health is being affected. Hubby and I are invited as guests (thanks to some sweet friends) to attend the annual state’s Pastor’s & Wives Retreat in Nashville, IN. We feel so awkward and yet loved. God blessed us with Dr. Davis and his financial generosity. He will never know what a faith lift that was. We were feeling quite low. The month would end on a very sad note….the loss of a dear friend’s teenage daughter, Tara K. Sharp. More strain on my already broken heart. It was a hard time for me.
Sweetboy would kick off this month by taking the SAT on Prom day! He was not so happy about that. He would have rather slept in that morning. Hubby would beat the streets looking for a job, any job. Even Walmart! So sad! Nothing would happen. He would find part-time work with a computer tech company. But it was hit or miss! A mortgage it would not pay….but food it would. During these months we would have our water turned off two different times (something that had never happened to us before) we were so broken and low. Prom would be a highlight! We love going and especially seeing our sweet kids there. Ally would be honored and chosen as a freshman to be a prom page (a slave that gets to work at the prom). She loved it! Sweetboy would be a Prom King candidate (awesome son!). Gates would perform in the musical, Honk at JCMS. Gavin would be selected to march in the Indy All-Star Band at the Indy 500 parade. He and hubby would go to the Indy 500 together for the first time and love it. I have forgotten to mention that my girlfriends at work are rallying around me….showing me God’s love and acceptance every single day. This keeps me afloat! I wanted to go to bed and stay there. Thank you God for sweet friends! School would finally end….along with that any hopes of a paycheck. I had chosen to opt out of summer paychecks way back before I knew my family would need it due to a job loss.
Again, Sweetboy starts off another month. On June 1st, he turns 18 and my heart is broken. We cannot do anything to celebrate for him nor give him a gift. He is so precious to us and we were just broke (in finances as well as spirit). He is a trooper and understands. To say that time is ticking… now an understatement. We wonder just how long this unemployment can go on. When are they going to come and tell us…”move out!”? We don’t want to answer our phone! It is the ultimate of embarrassment! Especially as we have to face our kids. They are hurting and feeling our shame. No one wants to live this way. But for us…..we cannot escape it. The darkness of a bum summer is closing in on us. Hubby, Ally and I would attend the SBC in Indy and have a wonderful time catching up with many ministry friends. We pray for something to happen. By the end of the month, a job offer. Not in ministry…..and we are sort of relieved. The computer tech position becomes full-time. No benefits, but with a real salary that we can eventually begin living on. Thank you God and Bill! We feel delivered! Bruised and battered but finally like “we are gonna make it!”. But, would our mortgage company think so?
Guess who gets a blog? Yes…..Queenie! It was so exciting! But, I felt guilty because we had been so broke for so long, how could I justify having a desinger fix me up all fancy? I would spend a lot of time feeling guilty for any “indulgences” for a long time after the previous 4 months. It’s just how I felt! Sweetboy would have the honor of going to Hoosier Boys State in Terra Haute. On the final night, he would give the invocation prayer at the closing ceremony. We beamed with pride! Ally would fly to Florida to visit with grandparents (all by herself). Our girls would be invited to go on vacation with family friend’s and they would get to stay at the lake all week. A luxury we could not afford to give them. God, you are so good! Gavin, Ally and I would go to M-fuge in South Carolina for youth camp! Gates would attend Crossings camp in Kentucky. We would not put on swimsuits at all this summer (except Gates and Ally at the lake). Weird for us….we are water people, ya’ll! Life was just not the same. Hubby would be asked to preach for Brushy Fork Baptist Church until they hired a pastor.
We prepare for a new school year. Sweetboy would begin his last year of high school, a senior year to remember forever. In a good way, we hope! He would start it off with Band camp (a grueling week in the burning hot heat of Indiana). This year, we would not buy school clothes or shoes. We would have to be very frugal. Hubby’s boss hosted a party for the employees and we would meet the whole gang. I’d finally get a paycheck after months without one (woohoo). Sweetboy get’s hired to work part-time at the YMCA! There he would meet a cute girl and totally crush on her. The month would end with our 3 teens singing at BFBC during morning worship. They just bless my heart.
Ally would kick it off by starting piano lessons. A few days later we ordered Gav’s senior cap & gown. He’s getting closer. We’d attend a youth purity event, Transformed with our girls, . Gavin would perform at Ivy Tech with the Jazz Band. The middle of the month brought with it, Hurricane Ike! I’m not even making this up. He hit us way up in Indiana. It devastated our town. We were torn up and without electricity for a week! NO KIDDING! We missed 4 days of school because of it. Our church started the study, Live Like You Were Dying! We led a very large class and felt blessed to do so. Experienced from afar, a family tragedy. Celebrated 19 years of marriage by going somewhere special for the day.
Both of us turned 42! Incredible! It just seems like yesterday we were twenty something…. Our son became a donor of the National Bone Marrow program thanks to a sweet friend fighting a battle with cancer, John Romine. We hosted the Middle school youth at our house for a Detour event. Then we invited our LLYWD group over a few days later for a fellowship. We watched our Gates in the best choir show ever at JCMS. On Halloween, hubby and I went to Texas Roadhouse (it was a Friday night remember?) and walked right in and got a table. We’re still in awe over that one. Cool, huh? Ally had her first piano recital…even though she’s only had a few lessons. It was great!
Guess who had to get up early and take the SAT’s? Yes, Gavin! He was thrilled again. Poor kid, can’t get a break with that stinkin test. Oh brother! We have to roll back our clocks, this rocks as I love to sleep in. We watched our first-born vote in the national election for the first time. That was a proud moment. Ally went on an exciting Student Council trip for the whole weekend. We celebrated Thanksgiving with our great friends for life, the Nelson’s from Tennessee. Our sweet baby, Gates turned 14. God bless her. She’s been such a joy to have in our family.
The big excitement to get us started in December was tickets to the Pacer’s vs. Laker’s game in Indy. We took Gavin and Allison. We received bad news as we were leaving that our dear friend, John Romine was also in Indy fighting his last few days on earth at Riley hospital. It was there, that Don and I spent our evening. Witnessing the most precious testimony to John, as person after person came to say goodbye. We watched musical’s, choir concerts, band concerts, went to Christmas parties, donated canned goods and had a snow day. Gates reached the top in excitement by getting her braces on, finally. We travelled to Florida to help move in-laws and visit with our families for Christmas. I realized something profound there….we hate the heat! We sure love Indiana’s cold season. It felt like Christmas in Indiana and summer in Florida.

So, as you can see it was quite a year. I’ve learned some valuable lessons and experienced loss. I have felt betrayed and forgotten…..and loved and cared for over many of the same issues. My family and I have grown despite the pain and unknown. We spent this Christmas different people than we were last year. I guess you could say, we skipped it. No big shopping for gifts. No decorating our house and having people come in for soup and chili open-house. No cantata’s at church, no presents under a tree. We just felt it meant something else to us this year. We’re more centered, more in tune with what is important and what’s not. We cherish something more. Loving God and each other and having the family that we have. We choose to move on. We know that God has a purpose for our lives and we are claiming that promise for our family. We are excited to leave behind 2008! May God bless us…..and make us more like Him in the coming year!

Matthew 10:14 “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.”

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