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Chapter 60: Thankfulness

Rejoice in the Lord always, Again I will say, rejoice!

Philippians 4:4 NKJV

Rejoicing is not always easy.

Life is not always easy.

Michelle shared this not too long ago:

ApartmentLife

“Back in November, when I was heavily pregnant and we were still living with my brother-in-law and sister’s apartment. I heard God tell me to take a photo of this room and call it “thankfulness.” I was, to be honest, losing hope.

I felt like Mary. I had just left the country I loved (Poland) out of very difficult and traumatic circumstances. Our last year in Poland was tumultuous, actually. It was home. It was where Brad and I grew and became even more humble, honest, hard working humans. We sacrificed a lot by being there. But saw so many miracles. We experienced God in ways we only read about in the book of Acts. We learned heart ache, betrayal, loss, hunger, anger, resentment, unforgiveness, lies, dreams being crushed. The list goes on, really. There were times we thought it was too much to breathe. It was a very hard time.

In the middle of our pain and sorrow we learned to focus on thankfulness and cultivating an attitude of praise. Deciding to be grateful for it all. We learned, slowly, how to let go. One by one we forgave those who hurt us. We prayed for those who needed healing. We stuck it through. Literally the only thing we never let go of was hope in a love bigger than us.

Fast forward to November as I say on the living room floor by myself. I found my thoughts going over the pain and loss of the last five years and cried so hard my cheeks burned. But when I cried I didn’t feel that gut wrenching pain from wounds that never healed. The sorrow I felt was for “home.” Somewhere to feel we belonged. After months of being on the road and having no space to ourselves it was hard to imagine our own home other than our flat in Kraków. So I cried.

That’s when I heard God say “go take a photo of your kids’ room. In a short while your world won’t look like this and you’ll want to look back on this and say ‘thank you’ to me.”

So here I am 8.5 months later, in our own home (because of some crazy people who love God and us and wanted to partner with us in this crazy new ministry/life). The kids have their favorite pictures hung on the walls of their rooms. The backyard has a trampoline we all spent four years praying for. Dottie squeals with delight in the paddling pool.

And all I can think about is this picture and how I feel so so thankful.

Thank you for partnering with us these five years. Thank you for your monetary support as we never forgot to be grateful. Thank you for praying for us in the night and hugging us when we visited your home or church or coffee shop. Thank you for thinking of us. No one really knows how many prayers were answered because of your kindness to our family.

God is so kind. And I am a blubbering grateful human because of Him.”

 

 

This last year has been a wild roller coaster…isn’t that how our family’s life seems to be?!  Hah!  I feel like I have written this statement on more than one occasion.  It has been used to describe some incredible highs like moving to Poland, the birth of 2 children(since you joined us on the journey), opening a cafe, new jobs, healings, and awesome miracles.  It has also been used to describe some crazy lows in life like a severely burned arm, car crashes, leaving Poland, leaving friends, tiny homes, constant transition, and financial stress.

But God.  He is the full package, all inclusive.  Resting at the bottom in the lows, God was(and is!) there.  Soaring to each one of the highs, God was(and is!) there.  Because no matter what part of the ride we are on, God is there.  He isn’t looking ahead or distracted by what was behind, He is watching us with an unquenchable joy.

Most of you joined us during our time in Poland.  We filled these newsletters with our grand adventures abroad serving God in a far off place.

We were Missionaries.

When God called us back stateside we thought everything was going to be different.  We heard rumors that our time as missionaries had ended, and that since we were not moving to Canada, we had returned to “normal life.”  I have talked with our sending church’s Pastor Jon about how nothing feels different.  Our families perspective on life has been forever changed.  The only thing that has changed?  Our mailing address…and the size of our family.

We “returned” from Poland to a culture that was not familiar to us.  What were these oversized trucks that don’t fit into normal parking spaces, supermarkets that have more varieties and brands of cereal than they have customers in a day, the eye contact, the inquiries into “how are you today?” with disinterest at any response given, and….pajamas in public?  We realize that our adventure is far from over.  Because…

We are missionaries.

Because we all are.  I still work with coffee.  We still serve.  We still show up.  We thank God during all parts of the ride.  We are on the ride, the grand adventure that is life.  That in itself is enough to bring forth praise, thanksgiving, and much rejoicing.

This culture is just as foreign to me as any other.

This upcoming month Jack and Loralie will be attending a new public school.  Davis Elementary is not the highly ranked and offers a diversity rivaling that of the UN.  We are excited to get them plugged in and meet our new neighbors.  The school is only a 5 minute walk from our home!

I am continuing to work with Intent Coffee Roasting and am loving every minute of it.  It is still the healthiest work environment I have ever been in and the shared vision of what a coffee shop can/should be is really exciting!

Michelle is looking forward to the return of school, but rocks the role of Mom.  She leads the kiddos fearlessly, setting an example that is noticed by all who meet her.  I am thankful that God has blessed me with such an amazing partner in life!

We have been settling into our new house nicely.  We are winning the war against the ants, enjoying a yard with a trampoline and kiddy pool, and  we have space.  So much to thank a generous God!

Please join us in prayer as we:

~search for a new church home and community to be apart of.  We believe we have found the right one, but are praying for wisdom.

~adjust to a new School, new neighbors, new friends.  We are excited to get plugged into our neighborhood and city.

~prioritize our time, needs, and resources.

~establish our home as safe space for our kids friends, small groups, and other ministry opportunities.

 

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