Hey Everyone! Happy Summer!

I wanted to first just give a word of love and joy and encouragement in the Spirit to all of you πŸ™‚ I hope you are blessed in your relationship with Jesus, your families are blessed and hope to hear you are having a wonderful and fun summer!!

So it’s been a little while since I’ve posted. A long while. I want to apologize for the break. Honestly, if I’m really honest, I feel God calling me off WP as a regular contributor. Which is why I’ve been MIA and probably still will be (for now at least). But I wanted to touch base, say hello and give encouragement in Christ. It’s been kinda crazy on my end. The biggest news is we started fostering a couple months ago! We have 5 kiddos total in our house (3 bio + 2 foster). And are bringing in another one of the siblings in the next couple weeks. My book has kinda been shelved for the time being, but it’s for the best. God kinda needs me in action now. I made it to chapter 4, about 13,000 words in.

Since we started fostering I am

  • Sleeping less than ever (we have two kiddos 1 year old and under now)
  • I’m tired, worn, exhausted, sleeping like 5-6 hours most nights
  • Poured out. I am giving out the love God has given me to these children who have nobody without the expectation of getting anything in return or that they will stay in our home for a long amount of time (or forever)
  • Yet, honestly I haven’t felt this good spiritually with how I am with others in a long time. My wife told me the other night that through the fire of being poured out I’ve become more patient, more gentle, more thoughtful. I listen better. Which was a total surprise to me! Haha! And I feel like I’m barely hanging on over here!! Hahaha!!

I’m literally in the fire and somehow results are being had and fruit is being born. I’m just happy to be able to love and serve God by being a daddy (even if it’s just for a season) to some kiddos who have no one to call daddy.

Another thing…God really put me under the microscope for things that I have struggled with Him over for years. He really forced me to search out some resolution with Him. But that’s a whole other blog post so let’s leave it at that today…

Other than that…not much else is going on. I’m drinking more coffee than ever. Which isn’t a bad thing, right? πŸ˜‰ Instead of getting a lunch coffee at Starbucks I’ve started getting redeyes. For our non-coffee connoisseur readers, a redeye is a cup of coffee with a shot of espresso in the center. And they are YUM! And then about 10 minutes after drinking it down, you get that espresso buzz that really revs you up. I’m needing it these days! Haha!

We’re about to start home school! Eeek! So excited! I’m teaching the kiddos an intro Hebrew class after work. I’m getting some neat flashcards and textbooks off Amazon that I think will really jive with my kiddos πŸ™‚ I’m still learning Greek too. I’m wading through non-finite verbs (eg infinitives, participles). I’m going to aim to teach a Koine Greek class to my kiddos in a couple years (at least).

I started rereading Beowulf last weekend. Planning on finishing it up this weekend because next weekend we’re hitting the road for a short trip and I’m starting Lord of the Rings – I have a tradition where I read LOTR every Fall, usually finishing right before Christmas. I LOOOOVVVEE reading Tolkien by a warm fire in the fireplace and snow falling outside with a hot cup of coffee (lol because when you have 5 kiddos, those moments don’t come every day!!)

Did any of my American friends watch the eclipse?! We had a solar eclipse watch party at our work. If you watched it through solar glasses, wasn’t see the Sun such an amazing sight? It’s a beautiful, amazing creation of God!!Β In solar glasses, it looks like a beautiful orange ball in the sky.

God is so good, oh sooooo good. I’m so in love with Him. I hope you are in a place in your walk with Him in this season that you feel the same way, because there’s nothing sweeter than being unconditionally carried away in His love for you.

Blessings and hope your summer is wonderful!!

Your brother,

Joel

 

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19 thoughts on “Hey Everyone! Happy Summer!

  1. Good to “see” you again! Wow, fostering can be a tough business. May God give you and your wife the patience and physical, emotional, and spiritual strength you will need for each one of those kiddos – biological and otherwise. Sounds like you’ve got enough to keep you busy for the present! Hope school goes well for your young people this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Thank you Heather, it’s good to “see” you too! Yes, definitely agreed, it is a very tough business. One day, I’ll have to write a post on the struggles of fostering…you know what though, much of it, for me anyway, is internal struggling with my selfish nature and not relationship conflicts with or anything like that. Our foster kiddos are just about as well behaved as can possibly be for kids coming out of abusive situations. That, and I’ve learned I have ZERO ability to claim works before God. Truly even our righteousness is filthy rags. I’m happy to say that too, because it all is because of His good grace toward us. Thank you for your words of prayer over us! Yes, definitely busy these days. Hope the school year goes well for yours too! Blessings!

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      1. That is so true. My pastor and his wife are fostering a teenager (they have two daughters aged 3 and 5), and it has literally been amazing to see God working out crazy things in their family so far. Some hard times, but still amazing. Of course, our God is amazing! And goodness, I struggle with my own selfishness and I only have 3 teens. Boy, though, those teen years will really bring you face to face with you own selfish nature. Humbling, but good.

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      2. I’ve seen similar things over the past several months with our kiddos. God just pushed things through that need to happen…I feel like were living in a stronger/more easily felt part of the current of his movements in the world in fostering. All together we have a 7 yo, 6 yo, two 5 yos, a 1 yo, and a 4 month old.

        Oh I hear you, there is no doubt in my mind this is about my sin nature…I am truly in my sin nature diametrically opposed to things of God. I want that out of me!! Its contrary to God. Very humbling.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh, and that’s really interesting about Charles Stanley. I’ll have to look into that. I’ve waffled about that particular concept for years, too – especially when I think of the many warnings not to drift away, forsake our first love, etc. Right now, I’ve just been praying that all my family will be so wrapped up in God’s will for us and in love with Him that we don’t really need to worry either way!

        As for the humbling, I don’t know, but I would guess it’s probably going to be more than a 10 year plan for all of us (unless, of course, we go Home or He returns before then)!! πŸ˜‰

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      4. I have gone back and forth for years as well, always returning to the “that we can lose our salvation” paradigm as home base, but still exploring eternal security out of interest. This time I think I’ve decided to stay there. Here’s part 1 of 6 of his sermon series if you ever get the chance! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_4fCE8l_L8&t=948s

        Agreed though…I really just want my family so deep into pursuing and loving Jesus that it’s never even brought up as a safety net. I want our nature to be in God’s love, living for union with Him.

        Haha I hear you! It’s a war against our nature that will continue until we step into our Father’s house. I’m hoping on His return before I go home πŸ˜‰ hopefully sooner rather than later!

        Speaking of heaven, my favorite author John Eldredge is releasing a new book on hope for heaven next month. I got an advanced ecopy because I preordered it. Oh it is so good. It’s focused on the tangible hope of life with God and the restoration of all things and ourselves in heaven with God. He really tried to ground the hope of life forever with God as something we need to concretely hope in daily, especially in order to overcome the pain and trials we go through. I’m excited to be home with God and all of my family and all of our Father’s family! it’s going to be wonderful!! πŸ™‚

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      5. Wow, that sounds amazing! I’ll have to check it out for sure. I’ll definitely listen to the sermon series soon – now that all 3 kids are in school, I have a wee bit more time – although I’m sort of tutoring another teen who was thrust into the homeschool world due to illness. Her parents both work, and the last year was horrible for her, so I’m helping her get her feet under her this year. It came about literally a day or two after I fasted and prayed for direction on what God wanted me to do – so amazing…

        From the other comment thread, that is amazing for your family, especially about your 4-year-old. How cool to see God work like that! A friend of mine had twins in May, and it’s been neat to see how her bigger kids have stepped up to the challenge and been enormously helpful. So encouraging.

        Yes, the teen stuff can definitely be scary. It’s comforting to know that God does really have their best interests at heart and that He will do whatever is necessary to get their attention, but it hurts to watch as a parent. And it’s scary to think they could ultimately turn their backs on Him. I have definitely found a new frequency for prayer in that! To know that there is literally nothing at all I can do is humbling, and I have to bring my fears, concerns, and even anger to God and trust Him with the outcome. I’m praying while believing, though – whatever comes, however bad it gets, I am believing in Him for their salvation, too. I had an interesting “in-your-face” kind of moment the other day talking to my doctor. She is very secular and the worldview is so vastly different. It’s a long story, but basically my take-away was that the problems I see in my kids (all revolving around where their focus is, sin nature, etc.) is vastly, vastly different from what she sees as a “problem.” She’s talking teen pregnancy and STD, while all the time I’m thinking of a lack of spiritual discipline, wrong motivations, and self-focus. But the funny thing is that they are really different points on the same path; sin is sin, and continuing to walk in it only leads to greater and greater evils. It was a pretty… interesting experience!

        And yes – it will be wonderful to have eternity to get to know our eternal family better and better!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. You know that peace that you get when you just know that the path down the road of time works out the way it is supposed to because God has destined it to be that way? And the only anxiety you feel in that moment is just because of internal fears you haven’t wrestled to the ground in Christ yet, but you know the truth that it’s going to be ok? That is the type of peace I consistently feel about my kids being in Christ as adults. And I’ve had that peace pretty much since they were born. So I guess when I say I do have fears about the teen years, it’s that I fear they will have to walk through seasons of pain and wounding. But I just don’t get scared any more of whether they will or will not land on the eternal shores of God’s Kingdom. I just know, for some reason the Spirit has given me, that they are safe.

        I could write on and on about how proud I am of my kids. I told you about my son, but my oldest daughter…oh goodness, she is INCREDIBLE! For starters, she knows parts of the Bible better than I do. She has these Bible comics called Bible Journey. They are actually well written and illustrated, really accurate and surprisingly in depth. She reads them every day for anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours. And then she ponders the Bible in her mind during the day. One evening a couple months ago, just out of the blue without any prompting from anyone, she asked me, “Hey dad, why does Joseph not have a tribe? Why was it Ephraim and Manasseh?” Another time I was talking patriarchs with my wife and Esau came up and out of nowhere my daughter says, “Oh that’s Rachel’s brother in law.” lol…I’ve never heard him called that before! Those are just a couple of proud daddy moments of my girl who loves Jesus.

        I hear you on the viewpoints of secular success and what we see as Godly viewpoints of success for our children. What you listed there are the underlying areas we want firmed up in Christ so that our children won’t deal with the behavioral issues that come out in things like teen pregnancy, etc. We want a house built on rock, which is their hearts and minds built on Christ, not on sand that shifts when the wind blows the other direction.

        The entire process of parenting is very humbling indeed. That sounds fun and rewarding tutoring this teen girl who is struggling. Prayers for great success for you and her! We’re in a somewhat similar spot with our two oldest fosters. They have lived in rural Oklahoma, dirt poor and lacking any type of education. We decided for my wife’s sake of successful homeschool with our kids and also due to not knowing whether these kids will stay with us long term, to send our fosters to public school. So they are going from backwoods, dirt poor country Oklahoma (I don’t say that in the pejorative, but to give some context as coming from a home culture where knowledge and wisdom are shunned, not embraced) to now they are attending the “preppy’ elementary school in town. Culture and knowledge shock indeed! But if they do end up staying long term with us, we think them having a year of intense, good schooling under their belts will save my wife some really big catch up time if we ramp them into homeschooling next year – if adoption looks to be a real possibility, And amen, it is going to be very wonderful to have eternity to get to know our family in Christ! And share the inheritance of the Kingdom we are getting with Jesus!

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      7. Actually, this has brought up a bigger internal conversation with me…God has really driven home my own sin nature. That he saved me from my nature. Which for years I always thought it’s my choices he saved me from, and yes that’s true, but it’s my nature that’s the source that he saved me from.

        So I’ve wrestled for years with the debate of eternal security…once saved always saved vs you can lose your salvation…I was listening to Charles Stanley the other day on Youtube…he did a series back in the 90s on eternal security and it was SO good. And I’ve been back and forth on the subject for years, but after listening to him, I think he might have swung me to eternal security. Especially since his focus was that Jesus saved us especially from our nature – not just our sinful choices. It’s good stuff.

        Oh man, I’m gonna be there in like 8 years. I’m gonna have a house chalk full of teens. So basically what’s left of my selfishness will be purified in that white hot fire. Maybe God has a 10 year plan on me to make me humble in the next decade lol!

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      8. I hear you. What is so challenging and humbling about having teenagers is that you see not only your own sin nature, but where your sin nature has caused damage in the past – often in places you were not even aware of! It’s good stuff, but not easy to go through. It’s a little scary, too, when you are faced with the reality that no matter how much you have poured into them, how much of God and His word they have been exposed to or trained in, they will still have to own their faith… or not They still may reject Him. That is the most frigthening and humbling thing for me and has gotten me on my knees very literally.

        Always, we want our kids to make better choices than we did (I know I surely do – I made some very horrible choices), yet sometimes to address their very nature, God really lets them go through some pretty tough stuff. I find that I am torn between not wanting them to make horrible decisions and mistakes and looking forward to how God will use them when they do. It’s… a different time.

        Wow, that’s a houseful of little people! I just met a couple who have 4 natural children and two sets of adopted sibling groups for a grand total of 12 kids. From what I hear, they are all just wonderful. God definitely equips those He calls to that kind of ministry!

        Funny you say that about teens – today I do have a house full of them. Some of the kids’ fiiends (including my son’s girlfriend) decided to come over after our karate tournament. These are the times that make all the tough times worth it. I love having them all here, and I love it that they want to come. πŸ˜€

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      9. That’s scary stuff! Necessary and wise and I know that I’ll be saying similar words one day, but still scary. I don’t want my kiddos to ever have to walk through painful seasons. But I had to – both to deal with bad choices that I made and also to deal with my sin nature. We all have had to at some point. It’s Ecclesiastes 3:4.

        Haha yes we have a full house of little people! Oh wow, 12 kiddos! That’s impressive! Yes agreed with the equipping. I was just talking with my wife last night while we were both holding the babies and putting them to sleep, that we could’ve done twins, or triplets for that matter. At this point the only thing I feel like we’re losing is more individual one on one time with each of the kids because we’re more spread out. But I see that as gain because of the incredible spiritual and character development that has gone on in my kiddos since we started fostering. Oh my goodness, my 4 year old son…I told my wife we need to foster like he does. Because he’s doing better than any one. He’s rocking it. And he was our ‘acting outer’ before we started fostering, and now he’s leading the pack. God had to bring us here so he could really blossom.

        That’s what we want to be…we want to be the house that all the kids come over to. The house everyone wants to be at πŸ™‚

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  2. Well Joel… Let me first get this off my chest: You possibly leaving WP just sucks! Plain and simple… sucks.
    So now that’s out of the way, I appreciate you reaching out to your fellow bloggers. Personally I miss you and our long long loooong conversations and deep thoughts about this that and the next big thing, but – I get it… Kids all around, school, job, wife etc. Of course you are busy but at the same time, I must praise the Lord that you are spiritually filled beyond bursting limit… which could possibly be why you are back on here for a quick pit-stop and hello.
    Praying Blessings into the life of you and your loved ones – all of them.
    Always in Jesus!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get it. I know. I feel similar. It sucks. Let’s get real…the “I’m too busy” reasons are basically cop outs. I’m a finance guy, remember? I write stories out of the details for a living so execs can make business wide decisions lol. I’m a story writer. That’s not the real reason. If you want to do something, you make time for it. Unless, unless God just says, “not right now.” And that’s the real reason I’m walking. For a plethora of sub-reasons, one definitely being I get wayyyyyy too into blogging. It can turn into a mini-idol for me. Goodness and don’t ever let me download the app for WP! Or FB or anything else for that matter. Jeez, I’m literally on it all day. My attention is focused on this little screen. What sucks is that there is legitimate fellowship in the Spirit bound up in the world of blogging and social media and everything else, but it’s just not where He wants me. And God was just like, “No, no, we’re not doing that anymore.” So I’m out for now. But as his children, we literally have all time forever. So for now, I humbly step away from WP for this season and continue on the road He has called me to.

      Praying blessings over you as you go along further down the road in this world into what Jesus has called you into and your loved ones too. Always in Jesus! *raising a cup of coffee in the air* Cheers! Bless you!

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  3. I know friend, I know; It’s a question of priorities and I do understand, but I’ll still miss you. Your path is laid out for you now and that’s the way you need to go, so go with peace in mind and joy in heart.
    Always in Jesus – and with coffee in hand. Bless you.

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    1. I’ll miss you too. Bless you, go in peace and joy with God, and HOPE! Hope for his Kingdom and the riches of the Father’s house one day. Looking forward to sharing a cup of coffee with you in our Father’s house someday soon!

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  4. Blessings to you Joel, I always looked forward to your posts. I got off too, I just felt like it wasn’t wasn’t what God wanted me to devote to right now. I also have had a very tumultuous year, that is still hard hitting. Now we are going through the torrential rains from hurricane Harvey. It’s been quite a year. I’m thanking Jesus in all things. I know he is working it all out. Your blogs made in impression though–praise the Lord!
    Sounds like God has you right were you need to be. Prayers and blessings to you and your family.
    The Lord is good isn’t he?!
    Johanna

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Johanna! It’s so good to hear from you. Blessings to you too. I always enjoyed our conversations and hearing your thoughts about our God. I hear you, this just isn’t where God wants me right now.

      Oh I’m sorry to hear about the difficult year! I hope it gets better. And that you can just rest in the peace and hope of knowing the great good you and all of His children have coming to us very soon in his Kingdom! I’m so excited for it πŸ™‚

      Stay dry in the hurricane sister! Both physically and spiritually. That really makes me happy that my words made such an impression on you. Thank you for that. That means a lot to me.

      Bless you and your family. The Lord is so, SO good πŸ™‚ His love endures forever!

      With hope,
      Joel

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