Our God of Providence

•November 9, 2019 • 1 Comment

Over the last 3 years, God has been persistently speaking to us about the possibility of building or moving a house out to Big Woods. Initially we had a lot of resistance to that idea, but God began to make it obvious that He was serious as He began to provide for the things that seemed impossible. First, we were given a plot of land at Big Woods to put a house on. Then, two very generous donors felt called to give large donations specifically for our needs, knowing that we were trying to move or build a house! God was showing us He was serious about the house!

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After looking for houses to move for about 2 years, in April we finally found one that seemed to fit our needs and felt like home. In May we purchased it, in June we put in the driveway on the property that we had acquired, in July the land was prepped with a pad of dirt to raise the elevation, and we were scheduled to move the house in August. After such a long journey trying to find this house, we could hardly believe it was finally happening!

 

 

The house was too big to move out of the neighborhood that it was in, but the mover said he could cut it in half…no big deal, right? Because of that, we decided to place the 2 pieces apart and build another 2 bedrooms between in order to fit the needs of our growing family. We found a builder that would be able to build it in as soon as the house was leveled on our land. It was all coming together!

IMG_1249On August 9th, Erik and the kids went to watch the moving company get the first half of the house on the truck and pull it onto the street. Once they made the turn out of the neighborhood, Erik decided to bring the kids home for naps and wait to see the house
rolling down the pasture to our lot in a few hours. Or so we thought! About 30 minutes after Erik got home, he received a phone call from the owner of the moving company saying that something had happened, and the truck and the house were on fire. He didn’t have details but would call us back once he got to the site and knew more. Erik prayed with him on the phone and then immediately went to the chapel to pray. Bridget and the kids began to pray, and then we waited. Finally, after not hearing anything for quite a while, Erik decided to go see what was happening. When he got there, the house had totally burnt down. Even in the shock, there was an immense peace.

PHOTO-2019-08-12-17-49-00 (3)The morning of the move, we had read in the daily Gospel about Jesus telling Peter to go
fishing, take the coins from the fish’s mouth, and go pay the temple tax. He is a God of radical providence; crazy providence that doesn’t make sense to us. When we read that, we knew that God was reminding us of how He had provided for this house already in so many ways, and that He would continue to provide…then the house burnt down. Did that mean He lied? Or was this somehow His providence for us?

PHOTO-2019-08-12-17-49-00 (2)The Friday before the move, Erik had spent the day with the guys from the moving company as they took chainsaws and cut our house in half. It was a crazy, eyeopening experience in many ways. Erik came home that night with a heavy burden on his heart for these men. He began praying for opportunities for them to encounter the love of Jesus. Monday morning they stuck a power line, their truck caught on fire and spread to the house. None of them were even burnt in the process, even the young man who was on the roof holding the power line with his hand when he felt it start to arch. God protected them and provided. When Erik got to the site of the burnt truck and house, he saw a crew of men who just days before had been hardened and yelling at each other, now looking devastated and apologetic. With God’s abundant grace, he was able to be
God’s love and mercy to them. Where they were feeling guilt and shame for letting this happen, Erik was able to speak the truth and pray with many of them. God was providing.

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While we didn’t know exactly what God was going to do to provide for our house, we trusted that He would take care of us. God had continually been revealing to us that He is a God of providence; a Father who loves His children and desires to provide for their needs. And He was also opening our eyes to see that His heart is for the hearts of His children, so if our house had to literally be the burnt offering for Him to encounter the hearts of these guys on the moving crew, He was willing to sacrifice it, not for us to suffer, but for a greater good. He is very capable of providing something even better for us than the original house we had planned to move.

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The moving company had full insurance coverage for our house as long as it was on their truck, so for the next month, we waited to hear what the insurance company was going to settle on. They eventually came to a decision and paid us enough for the cost of rebuilding just half of the house. After talking with the moving company, we decided to have the other half of the house destroyed, which the moving company offered to pay for.

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With the settlement from the insurance company and the money from the generous donations that had received, we hope to build a house on our land. While this is a daunting thing, we continue to feel the Lord’s promptings and the sense that “the Master has need of this house.” While we know that it will definitely be a blessing for our family, we also believe that God desires to use this house for a powerful ministry in our community. We hope that it will be a place where people feel welcomed home into a safe place to encounter the Lord and rest in His love. We desire for it to be a place of discipleship, friendship and family; a place to be, to be heard and to be journeyed with. We hope to have a large guest room for others to come visit or possibly live with us for a season. We also hope to have an art room that would be available for the community use, as well as a meeting room for spiritual direction. Please pray for this huge undertaking, that we would have clarity in how to proceed, and that God would continue to provide for it to come to completion. We will keep you posted as things progress!IMG_3373

Summer Adventures

•August 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment

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We are finally back at Big Woods after 3 months of intense travel!  In the past three months we have lived into our theme song “On the Road Again”, starting every new leg of the journey playing it out with kids singing along!  Between May 24 to August 23, our little missionary family has driven over 9,946 miles, spent over 167 hours in the car (of which Bridget drove about an hour and a half), slept in 24 different places (and only 16 nights in our own beds), driven through 19 states, visited Haiti, Canada and Mexico, saw 43 states license plates (including Hawaii) and most importantly connected with countless friends, family, mission partners and missionaries! What an adventure it has been!  We have felt the Holy Spirit’s presence with us each step of the way, blessing conversations and interactions, building us up and encouraging us, calling us deeper into the heart of Jesus.  Our kids have enjoyed every minute of it, often asking, “Who are we having dinner with tonight?” and “Where are we gonna sleep tonight?” They are real troopers! It’s been a blast, but in the words of John Denver, “Hey, it’s good to be back home again!”

We began our travels in May, heading to New Mexico for Erik’s aunt’s funeral.  We decided to take a little detour on the way to visit Erik’s Aunt Linda and Uncle Terry in Oklahoma and stopped in Houston to visit Bridget’s Aunt Peggy on the way home.  Lots of family time!

After about a week at home, we hit the road to Augusta, Georgia for Bridget to finish her School of Spiritual Direction.  Erik spent the two weeks having fun with the kiddos!

After the School we took a few days to visit Camp Hidden Lake, Covecrest, friends in Tampa and Miami on our way to fly out to Haiti.

We were so blessed to get to spend 2 weeks in Haiti with our missionaries there.  We put on a retreat for them in Port Au Prince and then went to their base and lived life with them for 10 days.  We celebrated Lena’s 5th Birthday while we were there!

After Haiti we flew back into Miami and drove back up through Florida, stopping for a quick visit in Pensacola with the Benzinger family.  We made it back to Big Woods in time to have a quick visit from Bridget’s sister Holly and her family.  We spent a week at Big Woods and then back on the road again!

This time we headed north to visit family and mission partners!  First stop was St. Louis with Bridget’s sister Julie and her family!

Big excitement in Michigan!  We got to attend Sister Peter Thomas’ final vows!  She had been a summer missionary at Covercrest in 2009 when Erik was camp coordinator.  Such a beautiful joy-filled day!  We even got a tour of the convent from Sister Peter Grace, another summer missionary from that same summer staff!  We had a blessed visit with friends and mission partners in Michigan and then traveled further north to Canada!

Growing up, Bridget’s family always spent their vacation at her aunt and uncle’s cabin in Canada.  Some of her favorite and most dear memories are from her times spent there in the rustic cabin with no TV or electronics, just spending time as a family, swimming, fishing, boating, hiking and playing games.  This year was the first time that we were able to bring the kids up to enjoy the same beauty, peace and family time.  After 5 days at the cabin, we drove to Ohio for a visit with the rest of Bridget’s family.  It happened to be Hall of Fame week in Canton, so Erik and the kids got to experience the Football Hall of Fame Parade for the first time!  Lots of family fun again and then on the road heading South to Mexico!

 

We traveled to Allende to lead a mission trip, which was so blessed.  After the trip we made several stops visiting friends before arriving home to Big Woods on August 23.  Hey, it’s good to be back home again!!

 

 

 

Run Hard After Jesus

•May 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

pexels-photo-568027.jpegRecently I have gotten news of many sad, disturbing and devastating things happening in the lives of people who I have been privileged to know on this journey seeking after the Lord. Some really hard news, some really heartbreaking news…news that makes me question where God is in all of this?  These are people who love the Lord.  These are families who have given years of their lives to serve Jesus with total abandon.  And still bad things happen to good people.  How is it that even after trying to live countercultural lives, they are still finding themselves, their children, susceptible to the same things the culture breeds.  They fall right into the same statistics that they have lived so hard to fight against.  Why God?

As I am reflecting on these things: vocations lost, death, cancer, divorce, adultery, depression, attempted suicide, gender confusion…I can start to feel overwhelmed.  What is in my future?   If I am giving my life and my family’s lives to follow Jesus, will I just end up suffering in the same way?  I want to know the key to avoiding these things for me, for my children.  I want to find a way to peacefully continue serving the Lord, feeling safe from these deadly cultural norms.  But the reality is, that safety that I think I have is a false security. God is Good, and still bad things happen to good people.  People have free will and sin enters in.  Satan has a big red target on the backs of those who come to serve the Lord. But Psalm 34:20 says, “Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him from them all.” And so, the safest place to be is running hard after Jesus and His will for me.pexels-photo-694587.jpeg

Where is God?  Right in the middle of all this mess.  Right there, offering healing, freedom, restoration.  “Behold, I make ALL THINGS NEW!” (Rev 21:5) As I’m mulling around all these pieces of bad news, I am clinging to the the Good News.  “The righteous cry out, the LORD hears, and He rescues them from all their afflictions. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.” (Psalm 34:18-19)  I can trust in Jesus.  Not that nothing bad will happen to me, or to those around me, but that He will be with me when bad things do come.  And if I cry out to Him, He will rescue, heal and restore what the evil one has come to steal, kill and destroy (Jn 10:10)  Jesus, I trust in You!  Bring real healing to those who are suffering.  Help us to run hard after You!

Our Newest Missionary

•May 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

We welcomed John David into our family at 6:50pm on March 27th.  He weighed in at 9lbs 3oz and was 19 inches long.  On April 15th we welcomed him into the family of God through his baptism. He has been such a happy baby, and his older siblings are smothering him with love and kisses!  We are so grateful for the gift of his life!

My God Provides

•May 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This morning we were having a prayer time with our family, and we were singing a song by Housefires called “Build My Life”. There are a couple lines in that song that really struck me and confirmed what God has been speaking to me lately. In the chorus it says, “open up my eyes in wonder, show me who You are, and fill me with Your heart and lead me in Your love to those around me.” It goes on to the bridge where it says,” I will build my life upon your love, it is a firm foundation. I will put my trust in you alone and I will not be shaken.”

A couple of weeks ago we were leading a short term mission group here in Abbeville. It was a High School youth group from New York of about 30 people. We were responsible for finding the work projects and home visits, as well as leading this group spiritually throughout the week. As we were visiting potential work projects, I was led to this gentleman named Mr. Wayne. He was partially blind, barely seeing out of one eye, and soon the doctors said he would have to be placed in a wheelchair. He was living and taking care of his brother, Mr. Terry, who looked like he possibly had a stroke, all the while still taking care of his two daughters and their children.IMG_20170420_125607

The first time I met Mr. Wayne he was sitting outside of his house, sunglasses on, with some of his friends gathered around . I could tell this was a little bit of a rough crowd in a rough neighborhood. When I shared with Mr. Wayne why we were there, that we wanted to help him build a wheelchair ramp, he turned to his friends and emphatically continued to repeat with confidence, “My God provides, I told you my God provides.”

IMG_20170420_172939The Joy in this man’s face, and the confidence in His voice is still etched in my mind. I can only imagine the conversations they had prior to our arrival. “I’m going to be placed in a wheelchair soon.” “How you going to get into your house?” “I don’t know, but I know my God provides.” “Yeah, yeah, right, let me know how that turns out.” Blessed are the persecuted for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

IMG_20170421_115729As I reflect on that mission week, and specifically Mr. Wayne, my eyes are opened to His wonder, His providence. That week I encountered Mr. Wayne’s unshakeable trust and faith in a God who is Love. In our current season of life, in the waiting and watching to see how God will heal us of our Lyme disease, I’m reminded that when we hope in the Lord and we build our life upon a foundation of His love and His trust, then our eyes too, shall be opened to His wonder. Our hearts will be filled with His, and we will be lead in love to those around us who need it, to the Mr. Wayne’s of this world who are tucked away in every town watching and waiting to say, “I told you my God provides!”IMG_20170421_115911

Summer Adventures

•September 26, 2016 • Leave a Comment

img_20160802_155721Since coming back to the States in April, God has had us on an unexpected adventure.  We came back for this season because the Lord was inviting us to return for healing, restoration and rest.  While it hasn’t exactly looked restful, we have experienced the rest of retreats, family time and deeper prayer in this season of grace.

We started this summer finding out that we were expecting number 4, and 10 weeks later learned that Jesus had decided to take our Faustina Rose to be with Him in heaven.  While our hearts are sad, they are also filled with joy knowing that we have our own little saint interceding for us.

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We feel spoiled to have attended healing retreats and spiritual direction courses for our own personal formation this summer.  We also took the opportunity while we are in the States for awhile to visit some family and friends.  This summer we drove over 7,700 miles through 19 states, spent the night in 14 different places, and visited with countless friends and family!!  What a gift and a blessing!  The kids had so much fun seeing cousins and grandparents and making new friends along the way, but we are grateful to be back in Louisiana again, helping out wherever we can with the missionaries in Intake and in the field.

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During our time with Erik’s parents we were able to be seen by a doctor who specializes in Lyme for an evaluation.  He has a 6 month waiting list, so we have an appointment in February for Erik, Joseph and I to begin our treatment, which should last only a few months.  Please keep us in your prayers!

Family Retreat in May

Visiting a farm and the Zoo while Mommy was at the School of Spiritual Direction in GA

Surprising the Ohio family for Father’s Day and Celebrating Lena’s Birthday

Visiting Family and Friends in Oklahoma, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico, and driving through Yellowstone National Park

 

 

The Lord gives, the Lord takes away – Blessed be the Name of the Lord

•August 25, 2016 • 1 Comment

Dear friends and family – we wanted to share with you our sad news that we lost our sweet baby. On July 20th, at 15 weeks, we went in for our first check up and ultrasound and found that the baby had stopped growing at 8 weeks. We are sad, but trusting in God’s perfect plan for us as we rejoice that we have a little saint, Faustina Rose, in Heaven to intercede for us and our mission. Please keep us, and especially our kids, in your prayers.

 
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