Thursday, September 29, 2011

Faith and Feelings

2 Corinthians 5:6-8

New International Version (NIV)
" 6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord."

Picking blackberries on the airport
So here we are in Eatonville, Washington, finally "settling in" a little. We arrived three weeks ago,and today we are finally signing the lease on our townhouse! Our new friends Dan and Jeannie Mulkey, who run Trinity Aviation Academy, have graciously let us stay with them while we've searched and waited on the Lord to find us a temporary dwelling here :-). Staying in their cozy basement and cooking in Jeannie's wonderful kitchen and just having a "home" these last few weeks has been a blessing beyond what I could have imagined or asked for.

Basement camping at its finest!

We've settled into something of a schedule; Gabe gets up and heads across the yard to the hangar/classrooms for prayer and pilot/mechanic training, the kids and I roll out of bed a little later :-), get breakfast and do home school. We're all done with school by early afternoon so have time to run errands. Then we eat dinner with the Mulkeys, taking turns with the cooking, followed by a lap or two around the runway to work off all the delicious food, and settle in for a peaceful evening. Mostly.

We're also starting to get to know the community; Sammy started Cub Scouts and loves it, I found a midwife who I think will be a good fit for us, and we're trying out churches to see where we're called to serve. I'm anxious to see what the local Mom's Club is all about and meet some local moms. We also checked out the Puyallup Fair with our friends Tad and Hope Henry, missionaries serving here at the school with YWAM. Lots of fun!

It's still an adjustment. The kids and I particularly miss our friends in Tucson and at Calvary Chapel Christian School. It's cold and sometimes rainy and I didn't leave enough warm clothes out in the packing frenzy(silly Arizonans!). No one seems to mind though. It's also green and dazzlingly beautiful when the sun comes out with stunning views of nearby Mt. Rainier.

Berry Booty
I look at all the blessings around us, how our needs are met above and beyond every day and wonder, what was I so worried about? You see, I have a confession to make. I didn't want to come here. Every emotion and feeling in me fought against it from the day Gabe quit his job to the day we arrived. I cried almost every day. I prayed and sought the Lord, found temporary peace, and then was overwhelmed again with grief and loss for all we were leaving behind. A strong church with excellent Bible teaching. A wonderful Christian school for the kids. Amazing friends. Financial security. Health insurance. A house I loved in a neighborhood I loved. A good life. But....

I couldn't deny the call out of all that. I couldn't deny the call on Gabe's heart to missions and as hard as I tried to deny the call on mine because of my emotions, it was there. In the rare moments I could set my feelings aside and return to what I knew to be true, that this was how Jesus was calling us to "pick up our cross daily and follow Him", I had peace. Of course, the part that I didn't understand was how that was supposed to be "an easy yoke and a light burden" at the same time. It didn't feel easy. Leaving all that He had given us in Tucson behind was incredibly hard.

Then today I read this in "Streams in the Desert" by L.B. Cowman:
"By faith, not by appearance; God never wants us to look at our feelings. Self may want us to; and Satan may want us to. But God wants us to face facts, not feelings; the facts of Christ and of His finished and perfect work for us."

"When we face these precious facts and believe them because God says they are facts, God will take care of our feelings."

Wow. Why didn't I find this six weeks ago when I was freaking out? Probably because I would have missed the truth that He has now enabled me to see so clearly. And as I look back on the rough time it was getting here, I can also see His faithfulness and His grace. I was never alone. He gave Gabe an amazing amount of strength to carry us into this walking by faith and to carry me when I was weak. God is faithful, no matter what our feelings.

Be Blessed :-)

View from our new backyard

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Move

The Move
If there was only one thing we could take away from this experience so far, it would be "Trust God." He knew we needed to learn that first, especially considering the hardships that are yet to come, so in lesson after lesson, we were reminded to simply put our trust in him.

We held our first moving sale early in August. We asked God to help rid us of the weeds in our life: those things that distract us from loving and following Jesus. I know Tucson is one of the best places to hold a yard sale, but even given that, the amount of our excess that moved that day was amazing. Very little was left over, and our neighbors remarked that they had never seen as many cars in our neghborhood as showed up that day.

We continued to reduce our load, anticipating a second yard sale, and realizing that it wasn't all going to fit in a 16-foot storage container. On one particular afternoon, when Gabe was feeling discouraged and prayed for some confirmation, he sold 4 items on Craigslist within the next hour...items that hadn't had interest in weeks.

Gabe also put his car up for sale, pricing it just at Bluebook, neither high nor low, as a question to God: is this something you want us to sacrifice? It was a question very closely related to
Cowanother: where are we going to live? If we sell the car, we will probably need to live close enough for Gabe to ride a bike to the airport.

The car sold, but there was even a lesson to be learned in that. The titling of the car had slipped through the cracks while Gabe was in Afghanistan, and on the day he was to make the deal, he couldn't find it. Panic! But, wait, we can just get a new one from the MVD. The trip was made, the MVD searched, but no title. It was still titled in Wyoming! Panic! Call Wyoming, find out that a duplicated title would need the bank's release of lien...3 days in the mail to receive, 3 more to send to WY...and then an 11-day waiting period...another 3-4 days in the mail...Panic! God must be saying "no." Text from Bonnie to Gabe: "I love you. Persevere." Those were the words God gave her, so Gabe persevered. 20 minutes later, in a file box with some other odds and ends he'd never seen before, Gabe suddenly found an unmarked envelope containing the Wyoming title, sent while he was still deployed. The next day, the car was gone.

Then the POD came.

The Move, Part 2

The Move 2 The POD.

This gadget is particularly interesting to people who like gadgets. The POD delivery system is a wonder of hydraulics, chains, levers, lifts, and motorized wheels. It deftly deposited a 16-ft storage container in our 20-ft driveway, and then the panic began. There was NO WAY POSSIBLE to
PODload everything that remained in that and a small U-Haul trailer. Alternatives were discussed, but none were appealing. Bonnie's pregnant, and doesn't feel up to driving by herself if Gabe rents a truck, and there's not enough room in a truck for everybody if we tow the car. What to do?

Trust God.

We prayed simply that he would bend the "laws" of physics and make everything just fit. And to prune from us what would not. In the end, there was nothing discarded that would be missed.

And then there were the helpers. God sent some incredible people to help us. They did it because they love God, and because they wanted to show their love for us. They packed boxes, loaded POD and trailers, cleaned our house, worked on our irrigation system, hauled rocks, dumped garbage, donated our excess, lent us their vehicles, prayed with us, housed us, fed us, blessed us, and showed us incredible love. They were truly the body of Christ.

Moving Guys

The Moving Guys

Throughout the last month, the spiritual war has been raging. It got more intense the closer we got to the trip. Bonnie was the usual target, and more vulnerable because of her pregnancy, but even Gabe broke down under the strain as we drove away. It was like a cloud of depression suddenly settled over him, and he was unable to see the light.  Tears of sorrow streamed down his face (making it difficult to drive) as he confessed that while he could believe that God loved him, he didn't feel like God had ever particularly liked him.

As if to dissuade even this doubt, God smoothed out almost every external bump in the trip. He gave us a second day of rest on the Oregon Coast. He helped us get to every destination on time, allowed us no mechanical breakdowns, kept us safe on mountain roads and in crazy traffic (with an overloaded u-haul trailer!), and delivered us to
Trinity Aviation Academy, the formal name for a few folks called by God to produce missionary pilot/mechanics.

And so, we have arrived. We would almost equate the last month to labor pains, but that would imply the pain was now over. Instead, we anticipate the enemy's increased efforts to make us ineffective and mediocre. The only defense we have is the armor of God and your prayers. There is nothing else you can give us that is more important and effective. Thank you.

OR Coast Bonnie
& Kids

Gabe and Bonnie, September 8, 2011