Another “Gotcha” day..

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Sixteen years ago today a couple of toddlers  walked into our home and that began our forever family journey.  Even though at the time we didn’t realize it would be forever.  At the time it was supposed to be a temporary thing. You know….foster the children in our home until they can return home with their parents. A few months later their older brother would move in as well and our “family” would grow. And a few months after that the long process of adoption would begin.

Most people who know us have heard our story, and I have blogged about it many times.. so here is a slightly edited post that I wrote a couple years ago..

On February 28th sixteen years ago our lives forever changed and turned upside down. We had been married almost 8 years by that point and there was no hope of ever having children. At least in my mind anyway. I had kind of resigned myself to that by that point. Certainly we were happy on our own, but in my heart of hearts, I longed for children. I had spent years running a daycare and caring for other people’s kids, but I wanted children of my own.

It wasn’t supposed to happen the way it did. The CAS had told us from the beginning, when we first started fostering that they would never place children under the age of 6 in our home.  We would get attached. We wouldn’t want to send them back to their parents…blah, blah, blah. They were absolutely right of course.  But God had another plan.  He is so good! He had another purpose. Those things thought once thought impossible, were made possible.  Because with God nothing is impossible. Where once there was no hope, he brought hope.  There was an emergency. And on that day sixteen years ago, two toddlers in desperate need of a place to live, walked into our home. Ben…a rough and tumble, accident prone, almost three year old blue eyed boy with curly blonde hair and his spunky eighteen month old little sister Elisa. On that day we became a family of four overnight. A few short months later their older, fiesty brother Jacob moved in and we became a family of 5. I recall his social worker warning us that he was a pistol. Her description was pretty accurate. Over the years he always kept us on our toes, that is for sure.

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The years have gone by crazy fast.  At some point they just seemed to blend into one another and before we know it another year has gone by.  It has not always been easy. This journey has had its shares of ups and downs, joys, tears and heartaches. It’s been complete chaos at times. There have been times when we didn’t know what we were supposed to do. There have been times when we have been completely broken by some of their choices.  But through it all, love remains. There is nothing that these kids do that will change or cancel out our love for them.  Nothing. We have not been perfect parents by any stretch of the imagination. We have made our share mistakes for sure and there have been many times where I have felt insecure about my abilities to parent, and I have at times (many) felt like a failure as a mom,  but all in all we have always tried to steer their hearts towards the Lord.

They are all at the age now where we cannot fight their battles.  I still want to.  It is hard to sit back and watch when everything within me is crying out to respond. Step in. Punch someone in the nose.  And by someone, I don’t mean my kids. It hurts if they have been wronged, rejected or treated unfairly.  It’s painful to see them hurting over a wrong choice made. We can try to direct them, or offer our two cents, but ultimately the choice is theirs. And sometimes there are consequences.

It’s hard to imagine what our life was like before Jacob, Ben, and Elisa entered our lives, and it is equally hard to imagine what life will be like when they all have moved out.  That will be our new reality very soon. I am not sure we will be ready for that. Our house will be so quiet… We want to slow down time. Hit the pause button somehow.

Our oldest son Jacob moved out two and a half years ago and began life on his own in Canada. He spent over a year working in a coffee shop and now works in factory making Amish furniture. He is super talented. Produces music on the side and has an apartment of his own.

This past summer Benjamin moved back to Canada and began Bible College at Masters in Peterborough after spending his summer working and paying room and board with an awesome family in London. He too is doing well. He loves God and is strong in his convictions. He always has been black and white when it comes to certain things. I’m so proud of them both…

In just a few months Elisa will begin the next chapter of her life in the Niagara area….having been accepted at the Niagara College a couple weeks ago.  She will be taking the pasty and culinary arts program. It  doesn’t seem real right now and I can’t help but worry a little about how she will transition back into Canadian culture..Dale and I are going back for several weeks to help her get set up wherever she chooses to stay…be it on campus or in a home boarding with someone.

And then the moment will come when we will head back to Honduras with no kids this time and in the blink of an eye, it will go back to being just the two of us.  I’m not sure my heart is ready for that…but ready or not, that day will be upon us very soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big news…

 

We have a few new things that have come about that we are so pumped and excited to share. And that is the many doors that Lord is opening up for the gospel to continue being taught in the public schools in District 8.  It serioulsy blows us away how good our God is and how open the teachers and directors are to having the Bible in the classroom. Who knows how long those doors will remain open here but as long as they continue to open, we will walk through them as the Lord leads.

For some time now it has been on Dale’s heart to take the Bible classes into the highschools.  But here’s the thing…  neither Dale or I are youth people. That’s not to say we don’t like teenagers…we do, but our giftings are with children. With the youth…not so much.  While we were in Canada over Christmas, Dale shared his vision with a church in Ontario, and they raised enough finances to enable us to hire a person with a heart and passion to reach the youth of Honduras.

Last week we went and visited three highschools to get official permission for Schools of Hope to go into these schools.  All  of the directors of these schools want their students to receive the Bible lessons and all of them told us that their doors are wide open for us to come and instruct their students.  Now there are 1300 highschoolers who are hearing the Word of God on a regular basis! Hanson teaches our youth. He loves God and has a heart to serve. He is super creative! Soon he will have a co worker and they will teach together.

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We also went and checked out three kinder schools that we recently learned about and are now taking the Bible classes into these schools as well. This will impact more than 180 of our tiniest (and cutest) students. These schools welcomed Schools of Hope into their schools and gave permission for Karla one of our kinder teachers to come and instruct their students.

Also, there is a school Director of a very small private school who asked Karina if Schools of Hope would come into her school with the Bible classes. ( I will share more about Karina at the end of this post.) It’s in the area that Dale and I teach in and super close to Karina’s house, so they see each other almost every day. The Director remembers Dale and I from our Bible classes in another school and now she is directing this very small private school.  Schools of Hope has only ever gone into public schools in the past and while this is  a private school, the annual fee is very, very  low.  It is located in an area where there is no running water or proper roads. There are around 1oo students in this school from K-grade 9. The invitation was accepted and now Karla will be going into this school to teach the kinders. We have not worked out all the details as of yet for the other classes but it is another open door.

For the last couple years there has been a school on Dale’s radar. We heard a rumor that this particular school was massive. So a couple weeks ago Dale went and paid that school a visit.  Surprisingly he found out that he knew the sub director because she had previoulsy been a teacher from another school that we are in. She was so happy that we were offering the Bible classes to their school as well and she told us that having instruction in the Bible was something needed and necessary. This school has 840 students. That’s 29 classes! This is the largest school that Schools of Hope is in and because we teach class to class, it will take more than one day and more than one team to cover all the classes.

Finally… as of this school year, Dale has handed over his postion to Karina. ( pictured below in red) She has been with us for three or four years now.  She is smart and talented and gifted with children. She loves the Lord with her whole heart and loves the children she ministers too. She has a servants heart and loves what she does. She is more than capable of handling things. Now Karina is the one cooridinating all the teams of teachers and their schedules. It is a huge undertaking. And a huge load off of Dale. She will be keeping track of hours and pay and making sure everyone stays accountable.  So in a sense she is now our boss..:-) Dale and I will still be teaching in our usual schools but it now frees us up to pursue other dreams God has placed in our hearts, while enabling us to visit the different teams at the  various schools to offer encouragement, support  and maybe bring them a coke now and then.

 

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Here today and gone tomorrow..

I am sitting here at my lap top not sure where to begin.  I have had so many thoughts running through my mind and for me a way to process everything is just to write, but the struggle is where to begin.  It feels like in a way I have taken a hiatus from writing or had writers block or something.  Infact for this post I have started writing  countless times only to delete and start over.  So for what it is worth…

We were on our way to church in the afternoon yesterday when we saw the lights of the ambulance across from the Walmart.  We saw the crowd of people gathered looking on. What we saw something that broke our hearts.  We saw the thin elderly man, laying on the road near the median.  He was wearing jeans.  His white dress shirt with blue stripes had ridden up,  exposing his flat stomach. We saw the pool of blood beneath him. We saw the medics kneeling over him.  He’d obviously been hit. It’s possible that he took his chances and tried to run across the busy road and been struck.  Or perhaps he’d been standing on the median waiting to get to the other side  and lost his balance falling into the oncoming traffic.  In that moment he was certainly in a lot of pain if he was even alive. He probably didn’t even see it coming.  It was so sad to see him laying on the ground so still.

Then on the way home from church  we noticed there had been another accident on the other side of the highway holding up the traffic and bringing it to a standstill. A lady was lying on the road, not looking so good.

Today after Elisa’s bus came we headed to the military base where Dale likes to run and I enjoy walking the track or hiking on one of the trails connected to the track. Traffic on the other side of the road was not moving and soon we realized it was due to another accident.  (This accident was the reason Elisa’s bus was not able to get through and picked her up late. ) A pickup truck had slammed into the back of a bus that had stopped on the road to pick up more passengers. The entire front end of the truck was crushed. It seems to me anyway that buses cause a lot of accidents. They really do stop without warning to pick up passengers or drive super slow.  It can be very annoying! Dale is assuming the driver of the bus would be charged because technically they are not allowed to just stop and are supposed to pull over into the designated areas. But who knows?

Accidents.  Things that we aren’t expecting can happen in an instant and change everything. They can be life altering and life ending. We are guaranteed that the sun will rise and set each day but none of us are actually guaranteed tomorrow.  There will be people in our lives to whom we will not have a chance to say “goodbye.”  Without warning, they will be gone. It’s pretty much a given fact. I have had this happen more than one time in the last couple years. People may suddenly die or they maybe they have to move away unexpectedly.  Like  our older friend Absolam who left Honduras to care for his parents in Nicauragua when his father became ill.  He was here when when we went to Canada over Christmas. He was so excited to be learning more english,  but he was gone when we came back.

Life is a precious gift.  It’s important to live intentionally and live in the present. Not focusing on the past. Not holding onto grudges. I am saying this for myself as well.  It’s important to be present.  At the end of each day, I don’t want there to be regrets. I don’t want to put my head on the pillow at night with my mind full of things I things I wish I would have said or things I wish that I would have done. I want to respond and not react. I want the people I love and care about to know it.  I don’t want someone to die without knowing how I feel about them.  I don’t want there to be things left unsaid.  I want love and care deeply about those who God has placed in my life. I want to always, always forgive.

I John 4:19 We love because he first loved us…