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Chapter 51: You are Mine

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
    I will bring your children from the east
    and gather you from the west.

 

Isaiah 43:1-5

When life seems to consume you, it is easy to lose track of your identity.  In this scripture, we are reminded to whom we belong, and the character He has.  We read about His presence in our lives, His desire to intercede, the abundance of His strength, His capacity for Love.  We read about a loving Father who has adopted us into His family.

We are His.

Michelle and I have been praying for God to give us wisdom, discernment, strength, and understanding about a great many things in our lives.  For the past 6 months, God’s response has been simply, “Trust me.”  This seemingly ambiguous phrase seems to be our family’s mantra. “Trust Him.”

Our family has sought out to live a healthier lifestyle.  We have been quick to turn to food during stressful(filled) times.  Working at a phenomenal bakery doesn’t help this problem, but enables my improper response to be deliciously satisfied.  My Uncle Tom would say, “all things in moderation,” but I have not followed this advice.  I have come to recognize that instead of taking smaller problems to God, I was replacing Him with food.  I was replacing precious time with our creator, for a creation that would satisfy an immediate gratification.

We took a 40-day break from sugar and the times we have had of worship have been much more satisfying.  Instead of splitting a bar of chocolate, we have shared prayer.  How much more rewarding this has been!  Of course, we did take a quick break from this sugar fast to properly celebrate Dotties’ first birthday!  Wow!  Time flies!  Dottie is now staggering (almost walking) around the house.  She is fiercely determined to catch up to life around her.  Jack and Loralie dote on their sister and joyfully interact with her.

Two years ago she wasn’t in our lives.  One year we didn’t know how to add her into our lives.  This year we don’t know what we would do without her in our lives.  Our hearts are full.

We talked about a door shutting for the kids school in our last newsletter.  We will finish out the semester (June) for the kids and then begin the process of Home school in the fall (unless God changes our plans!).  As this door has begun to shut ,we now have a door opening!  In the next few weeks we will be receiving a car!!

That’s right, RECEIVING not PURCHASING!  A friend of ours is out of the country and she has graciously offered her car until she returns next year.  This means that by next month we wont have to take the public transport to the kids school!  Woohooo!  I have never been more motivated to receive our International Drivers License.  The only expenses that will come with this car will be Insurance (200zl/month), gas (equivalent to roughly $5/gallon), and any other regular maintenance (oil change, tires, etc).

Our first response to this was, “how can we possibly add another expense to our airtight budget?!”  All our close friends kept reminding us of how God doesn’t provide blessings that will lead us into debt or down a destructive path.  When we prayed about what we should do, we received a simple response.

“Trust Me.”

I know some of you at this point are doubting our family’s decision.  “If you don’t have the money, you shouldn’t be doing this.”  I know because that was my first response.  But that isn’t how God operates.

-When we didn’t have the income, we had some debt, and needed our plumbing fixed, God provided.

-When I had a plan to pay off our car, pay off our debt, pay off our student loans, pay off our house…and lost my job?  God provided (and in record time!).

-When I kept a part time job with Starbucks and Michelle worked at the YMCA and our income never exceeded our expenses.  God provided.

-When we needed $5,000 to complete our fundraising to come to Poland, we quit our jobs and moved to my parents house with no new leads?  God provided $6000 3 days after we got to Colorado. (6months from receiving the call to work with Sweet Surrender till the day we arrived)

-When we needed to raise more money to return to Poland for a second year, it took 3 months and God provided.

-When we were in a car accident that should have taken the life of Loralie, during a 3 month trip where we earned 3x our normal monthly income while on the road, God provided and protected.  (Also a rental car for 2 months).

-When we prayed for a car, not having the finances for it, God provided.

So after all this, I am going to say that God won’t provide the 500zl a month?!  I would be crazy not to see this!  We are so thankful for this huge blessing that will give us back 2-4 hours every school day.

With the understanding we will be (99% sure) homeschooling this fall, we turn to the problem of my 45 minute commute to work (one way) every day.  Aside from the kids school, our lives are focused around the city center, so our plan is to not renew our contract at our current flat.  We love the apartment, I MEAN LOVE IT.  But with a huge commute, it limits our ability to connect the kids with Sweet Life, the amount of time I am able to spend with family, and our interactions in the city center.

We are currently discussing what to do about our flat with our landlords.  There is a possibility that we will be released from our contract a few months early so they can renovate the flat and prepare it for the next tenants.  This would allow us to house sit for our friends while they are gone this summer to the States.  We are at the early stages of these talks, but it looks promising!

We have great expectation for this year.  God is stirring something in our hearts and we are eager to see what God has in store.  If I look back on these last 4 years, I know it’s going to be awesome!

In all of this we are humbled by God’s provision.  The presence of our family, friends, networked churches, and our home Church (Centerpoint) has been overwhelming. Your prayer and financial support has encouraged us every step of our journey these last 5 years.  We do want to be transparent with you.  Last year we saw our expenses rise and our funds take a dip.

Even though I am working full time for Sweet Life as a barista and Cafe manager, we are in the early years of the business so my pay is minimal (as any new business would need to operate with).  Our expenses are roughly the same as they would be in the United States, so our living expenses are not covered by my salary.  Your commitment to partner with our ministry and immediate family needs have been tremendous.

Would you consider partnering with us and committing to support the Graves family for 2017?  We will need to increase our budget by $500 a month to cover the increased costs of food, clothing, baby needs (forumula, diapers, etc), car needs(insurance and gas), and housing.  Please prayerfully consider joining us on our journey in reckless pursuit of God.

Please join us in prayer:

-Continue to pray for Sweet Life: God’s will, presence and movement would be clear and evident and that we would follow it.  We have some big decisions and opportunities coming up.

-Pray for our kids with regards to schooling.  Which home school or international school we should enroll them in.

-Pray for health as we brave 2017. We are continuing to make changes in our lifestyles in order to make our lives more focused on health both spiritually/soul deep and physically. We are God’s temple!

-The Women’s prayer group Michelle is involved in. Building women up, speaking prophetic encouragement and loving those involved through relationship with our Father God.

-For Brad as he is balancing work, home life, and ministry.  He would identify with his current role, continue to work on better managing time,  father and husband.

-With the damages to our apartment and the renovations that will take place, that we come to an agreement with our landlords about timing.

-That God would provide financial support through partners in our ministry.

Giving:

If you feel led to give we have several (tax-deductible) options:

1.  Go to https://app.easytithe.com/g3/
2.  Select First Time to create an account (recurring options) or quick give (one time)
3.  Change “my donation” to “Missions- Poland Missions”
4.  In the “Other Comments” you can say “Graves Family”
5.  Give as the Lord leads.
– OR –

Make checks (or cash) payable to: “Centerpoint Church”
In the notes say it is for: “Missions- Mission to Poland”
Send to:
Centerpoint Church
2750 Cornerstone Dr
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

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