A thank you, some thoughts, and updates on my life

Hey.

So it was the morning of Aug 8th and I had an interaction that put a thought into my head about posting back on WP. Not going to lie, the timing was spectacular. Recently I was thinking about how I had a good thing going on WP and I miss it.

I’m not sure what the future holds for me on here (if any) but I just wanted to drop in again and say thank you (I haven’t posted since Aug 2017 if memory serves me). I miss this place. Most of all I miss the interactions and family of God friendship I had on here. I don’t want anyone to think this place wasn’t important to me, it was and always will be. A lot of what I have taken from my time on WP I have stored up in Heaven as my treasure to come in His Kingdom. I still pray for many of you who were my regulars. You all are truly blessings in God’s family and I was blessed to have you all in my life, if only for a season of it.

Well, now that I have said that, I want to share a little bit about my life the past year.

First off, my family and I are one month away from adopting 3 kids. We are about to be a family of 8 – 6 kids, 2 parents (oh and 2 dogs). All in all it’s going well. I have struggled intensely at points and have gone through several bouts with depression. The emotional strain of becoming a father to 3 severely abused and neglected children has been at times overwhelming. I even started seeing a therapist recently to help me work through the emotions. But we are confident this will pass and that God’s will truly is to see these children become a part of our family. I also got laid off again! (3 layoffs in 3 years – the American economy is struggling in certain sectors). That was traumatic for me, but God came through for us, as always and now I work in a great company that is very stable. I’m expecting to be here long term.

I left my serving position in our kids ministry during my low point over the summer to help jettison the emotional load. I started back serving recently and I love it.

Through all this in life, things have gotten deeper, more raw and intimate with God than I could have ever imagined. I love that about my life and he is the best thing in my world.

So life is going really well right now for me. Even with all its brutal challenges, it’s beautiful and lovely and broken, yet healing and hopeful.

I would love to hear how all of you are doing! Please leave a comment to let me know how life has been over the past year. I hope to hear good news but I know that’s not always the case. We rejoice together and mourn together.

Bless you all my fellow family in Christ.

Joel

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17 thoughts on “A thank you, some thoughts, and updates on my life

  1. Crazily enough, the Lord brought you and your family to mind either yesterday or the day before as I was walking and praying, so I prayed for you all. Are these the same 3 kiddos you had fostered before?

    Things are crazy here with 3 teenagers (one of whom is a senior – yikes!) I’ve struggled through some times where it seems my husband and son are pulling away from the Lord but God constantly reminds me that it is His work to draw the human heart after all. And my daughters are doing amazing in their walks with Him. One has a blog and the other is working on starting one!

    Headaches are better, but whether from the enormous quantity of medication I’m now on or from tumor shrinkage, I don’t know. (It’s a benign pituitary tumor, by the way. Although honestly I would have welcomed other news just as easily!) Working on revising Book #2 after learning a great deal from failures in Book #1. Failure is one of the best teachers. 😉 This one is looking more promising…

    Good to “see” you again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so good to hear from you Heather! God has brought you to mind a number of times over the past year. Yes these are the three kiddos we fostered before. We are just wrapping up the adoption process. Parts of it have been brutal, the spiritual warfare has been harsh and the entire process has put me through a spiritual harrowing – one that I feel I am finally moving out of. Better than I was before as I know God has pulled out some deep, deep roots of sin and just garbage out of my soul and mind. It worked on getting me up to speed where he wants me, but was rough going there for awhile.

      We are homeschooling all of 6 kiddos Are you still homeschooling some of yours? A senior?! That’s big! Any after high school plans yet?

      I’ve prayed for your headaches on and off over the months. Is it the tumor that has been causing the headaches all along? I’m glad to hear they are getting better!! That is good news!!

      I’ve been there a couple times with failing on a book. I gave mine up sometime in the haze of when we first started fostering last year. Wow now that I reflect on it, it has been a long time since I worked on that book. How is book #2 coming along? What genre is it?

      I’ll be in prayer for your family that God’s Spirit rests close to you all’s heart. Hope you have a wonderful Friday evening. It was really great to catch up!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow! Funny story: On one of the routes in our neighborhood my husband and I walk, there’s a mailbox with the name, “England” on it. Every single time I’ve walked past, I’ve added the “-er” to the end and God has reminded me to pray for you guys and those kids. I will continue to do so. I can only imagine the difficulty of dealing with all the horrors of their past. But praise God they can be shown His love and find hope!

        All three of mine are in the private school now. However, I’m basically homeschooling my friend’s girl who is also a senior. She has chronic migraine and I’m kind of part tutor, part life coach, part mentor to her. It’s incredible but can be difficult at times, too.

        Nathan – my senior – really wants to go to a college in Huntsville, AL. Right now, my bigger worries are for his spiritual walk (which is more of a spiritual decline). But I know he is in God’s hands, and He really can do amazing things.

        The headaches got pretty bad for a while. Not sure yet if it’s the shrinking of the prolactinoma (a hormone-producing pituitary tumor) or all the new medication I’m on, but the last month has been WAY better. I’m hoping to start weaning off some of the medicines just because they all have other effects. But I have to admit – it’s been nice to have some days without head pain here and there!

        The first draft of book #2 is complete but I’m revising it. Some of the characters and plot elements grew as I wrote, so I’ve got to catch up the older parts with the new. Haha! I have an online critique group to help me with the revising and editing, so that’s pretty great.

        I’ll be praying for you and your wife through the adoption process and for the kids to find Christ even as the devil rages trying to keep his hold on them. I just read Russell Moore’s book, “Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel,” and he reminds the Church that we have the luxury of fighting a battle which is ultimately already won. It’s a great comfort to remember that for me. May you all have the great and unquenchable peace of God! Great to hear from you!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is too sweet of a story with the mailbox, Heather. Thank you. It almost brought tears to my eyes! Thank you.

        They are getting better. To just give the magnitude of what happened to them, I usually say, think about what you would consider a horror child abuse story you might see on the news…that’s where our kiddos came from that we are adopting. The turn around from where they were to where they are now…incredible. Its2 God. His healing is taking place, in between the wisdom he has given my wife to the therapy appointments and the loving attachment we do, it is happening. We’re going to get to a point when this is gone forever, until then, we’re going to love them with all we have. But it’s getting a lot better.

        Yes I remember you telling me about homeschooling your friend’s girl! It sounds like you are doing some deep and good work in her. Bless you for doing that. I bet that could be challenging at times, but also really rewarding.

        I’ve never heard of a prolactinoma before. I’m glad to hear the headaches are better! Did they do anything on it to shrink it? Or is that just natural? Or radiation or chemo? Sorry I’m not too familiar with that type of tumor and how a medical plan to deal with it would play out. I can imagine though that having a tumor on your pituary gland that produces hormones probably would throw you off balance (I can only imagine, I would probably be a wreck emotionally)

        Thank you for your prayers. That’s a good and accurate outlook on our war. We’ve already won it…I feel that could help us have more confidence to be bold in how we engage the culture for Christ.

        Hope you have a great night and a great Sunday tomorrow. Really great to catch up!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh, so sorry to hear that about the kiddos. But God can do such amazing things… what a huge, huge blessing for all of you! I know it’s hard – I’ve seen it with some of my friends and family who’ve adopted, but Biblical blessings often are. I always think of Mary who was called by Elizabeth, “Blessed among women.” And look what she went through!

        I’d never heard of this kind of tumor before, either. I take medication to shrink it, and I guess I’ll be taking it for life. It’s kind of fascinating for me, really. It’s really not a big deal at all. I guess I’ve had so much cancer around me that a little benign tumor doesn’t scare me a bit! Haha! The weirdest thing is that it produces prolactin (the milk-producing hormone), so that had some odd effects until we found it. I’m just glad to be dealing with it and moving on!

        Anyway, great to hear about your family and I’ll keep praying as I know the kind of engagement with the enemy you are doing on behalf of those kids is NOT for the faint of heart. Thank the Lord of Hosts He fights for you!

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      4. That’s so true. I needed these encouraging words today friend. We had a great Saturday but Sunday was rough. It’s hard to keep patience when there is just a lot of conflict going on in our house – which is exactly what happened after church Sunday. And then Satan is really attacking hard this morning – no surprise there – since today is the first day of homeschool for us. He knows when to attack.

        Sometimes, if I’m really honest, I feel like I’m going to faint in this fight when it gets really hard and the spiritual warfare is very intense. My wife is strong. She’s really good at this. I’m proud of her. I’m still getting up to speed though. But I’m trying so hard. I just want to be the best Godly daddy that I can be to our kiddos. I had one of those really hard moments Sunday and I’m still trying to gain my balance from that from yesterday.

        If you would, please keep us in your prayers this week for home school. We have been struggling and really want to get the year off to a great start. Also please keep our new small group in your prayers. We havrd 4 foster and adoptive families all reach out Sunday about fellowship and needing others to lean on in Christ. So this Sunday we start our new small group. I’m very excited for it. I just pray God uses it for good and I hope through the group he starts to weave our lives in with these other believers.

        Sorry to be more of a Debbie downer in my comment – I think I just needed some space to talk and ask for prayer.

        Hope your week is off to a good start! Blessings in Christ.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I will absolutely keep you all in my prayers! The start of the school year is hard no matter what kind of school you do, it seems. We’re not much better off here. I’ve certainly fallen far short of the glory of God in my responses. So thankful His mercies are new every morning!

        I’m happy to hear your heart and be a place to go with your worries. You will all get through this. It may be ugly at times, it may be brutal, but God has been through ugly and brutal in a very real, corporeal sense. It comforts me to know that He can commiserate with pain. He will use it for good for sure. It may take time, but it will be good.

        I’m so glad you have other foster and adoptive families reaching out. From all my friends and family who have adopted or fostered, there is a HUGE need for others to share with and to lift each other up.

        Praying for God’s peace to settle on you and your wife even in the midst of turmoil. May His hand guide you both and hold you fast, and may His Spirit stir in the hearts of the kids. 1 Thessalonians 5:24, my friend! He will do this!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Thank you so much! This was really great encouragement in Christ. And good wisdom. The race is hard to run at times and I’m not always the quickest or best. But as Solomon said in Ecc 9:11, “I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” Thankful that God’s hand guides us in all these things though. And you’re so right, he does have first hand experience of our trials. Knowing that helps so much. He leads the way as the Son of Man.

        Hope you all have a good evening! Thank you friend

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Joel!

    Thanks for popping your head in to say hello 😉 I have missed you. Great hearing from you.
    I’m sorry to hear about your spiritual warfare, ups and downs and – well, life isn’t easy. But it’s good to hear you are finalizing the paperwork and becoming a bigger family. I’m a big fan of adopting and helping abused kids.

    Life on my end is as is. Homeschooling is not my forte and I wouldn’t choose it if I had a child who could function in a normal school. Despite antidepressants, she still has depression though now with less anxiety involved, though personally, I think that’s due to normal adolescent growth than medication… She’s now 11 and will have very little to do with Jesus (though I know she does believe in God, she does not believe He is good… which I can actually understand I’m sad to say…), but she is adamant of following and worshipping 7 Korean guys called BTS (and even got mom onboard too – yikes!). We are on summer break and I’m writing a teen/young adult story which may or may not be published in the future. I’m painting again which feels so nice after a h*ish year of school. Mom is NOT ready to take on another year of homeschooling but behold: the Lord spoke and I bowed my head.

    Maybe you visited my blog… if so, you’ll see that my blog-world also went downhill with the homeschooling. I dried up, simply put. The Song of Virginity blog is “done” so to speak, so I’m reposting old posts when I remember to…

    Great hearing from you friend. Praying for you all.
    Love in Jesus
    Lene

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Lene, it’s really good to hear from you too! I’ve missed you as well. You’ve been in my prayers over the past year. I’m sorry to hear about the troubles with your daughter and homeschool. That’s hard. I’m really sorry to hear that. Short anecdote: my friend had his heart broken by his wife recently. Before he met her he was a believer but after going through the pain and suffering he calls himself a misotheist – which is someone who believes in God but hates him. Your story of your daughter reminded me a little of my friend’s pain and his view of God. He’s suffered a lot (he was suicidal at one point -I had to bring him back from the edge of the cliff. Plenty of late night talks and drives around town with him the past year) and it’s hard for him to see God’s goodness in it all.

      We’re at a difficult point ourselves with homeschool…just starting off the year and we’re really struggling with behavior issues with several of our kiddos.

      If you dont mind me asking, what curriculum are you using with her? We use My Father’s World and really love it. Might be a little young for your daughter though. We also are apart of a science co-op from church. My oldest daughter is getting deeply involved in performing arts – I’m so proud of her.

      My blog is depreciated too, unfortunately. Bummer! We were rocking it there for awhile! I might be able to rebuild it. I’ve contemplated doing it the past week or so.

      How’s Tokyo, friend? This might sound silly but in addition to my coffee addiction, I also drink a cup of matcha green tea every day. It’s really high quality Gyokuro and is sourced from Kyushu. Anyway I’ll remember to pray for you when I brew up a cup from time to time. You are definitely doing God’s ground level work there! I know the Gospel isn’t prevalent or widely accepted there.

      Hope you’re drinking some good coffee these days too! I recently found a fantastic new coffeehouse by my new office and LOVE it!!

      Hope you have a good start to your week friend. It’s always great to hear from you.
      Bless you
      Joel

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  3. Hi Joel my friend!
    You’ve been on my heart a few times during the year actually. Was praying for you too.

    Yeah, your friend sounds about like my daughters story. She got her heart broken and crushed so many times by Gods own people… Only Jesus himself can convince her He is still good.

    Homeschooling is not for me. After having tried it I can sorely say: no thanks! But it’s where I have to be… I used a curriculum called “moving beyond the page” because it caters especially to kids who needs hands on projects to remain focused and everything is integrated in everything and focuses a lot on teaching the how-to-do-research. I highly recommend it! This coming year, because I need her to learn “to finish the task”, I’m using an array of (harcourt family) workbooks in combination with MBTP. Hopefully that will leave me with more story-writing time so I don’t burn out… I really can’t cope with this homeschool stuff. I can’t bring any biblical aspect into it as she will flat out reject it (the academic stuff, not just the Bible). But the Lord takes care of His own and her math tutor, because she’s dyscalculia, is a very strong Christian and had a great influence this past year.

    I’m so glad you guys are doing great with homeschooling!
    True – we rocked the blogosphere ❤️
    It can be rebuild. I’ve done it a couple times before so no worries.
    Tokyo is HOT!!
    Matcha 🍵 yummy! Thanks for 🙏🏼 for me…

    Actually… please don’t choke… I’ve gone >>decaf<< this past year. Still using the tasters choice coffee but my body feels better without the caffeine. I still get a dosage once in a while when I meet a friend at a coffee place 👍🏼 or I have a headache 🤕…

    How is Oklahoma?

    Take care Joel. And do stay in touch!
    Miss you.
    Blessings
    Lene

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so hard. And sucks. That she’s had her heart broken by his people. I know we all have, it’s life and relationships and just how things happen this side of heaven, but its not fair. Its not how it should be. My friend has had a number of bad personal experiences with some higher ranking people in the church and its brusied his heart for wanting God. He’s told me a number of times that me driving around with him at midnight talking him through the relational horror and just being there with him in love has done so much for him seeing God. But I feel like I’m fighting for him for God while trying to hold back the people he’s exposed to in the church that do and say unwise things – while still loving them as my brothers and sisters. Lest I be a hypocrite, I’ve been on the other side hurting others plenty of times when I know there’s been other people advocating for me to just stop and love and let God be seen through that. I’ve hurt others at church, friends, family, WP…everywhere. It’s still frustrating and hurts though. Especially when it’s your child you’re spiritually fighting for. I’m sorry. Prayers that you and Jesus will win this battle for her heart. And also for homeschooling. It sounds like it’s been a rough go on that one? We’ve found a lot of help in support with other homeschooling believers. Not surd if that’s an option where you’re at or maybe you already have that. Our Christian co-op has really provided great support (and babysitting too haha!).

      Decaf? I…I…I’m…I just don’t…yeah…BUT 🙌 for matcha! Its so good! And incredibly healthy for you. It’s hot here too. But it’s been rainy the past week and really nice. I’m ready for fall!

      We did rock it. So question, not just as a friend but as a fellow blogger, when you rebuilt your blog, did you do it with the same mindset as you did before? Or did you change anything? And if so, what did you change? I’m still tossing around the idea of rebuilding In the Desert With Jesus. You and Heather were the two people I talked with the most on here, but there were others that unfortunately I haven’t connected back with yet. I’m just not sure if I want to…you have to do all the commenting and flipping through other peoples blogs to get their attention to drive your traffic. Not that there isn’t great stuff out there, there is, but its almost like taking a trip to the library and picking out your favorite 50 books and then asking the authors to come over to your library and hang out for coffee 😂

      Also how long did it take you to rebuild it? Was it worth it for you? These are all the questions swirling atound in my head lol

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah well, when you have a keen sense of justice as my daughter does, living in this world will feel like h*… It’s a battle but life gets easier when you care less, so I suppose that’s why one coping mechanism is to shut out the Lord. However, I have managed to have talks with her about Jesus and I do believe there is faith buried underneath the rubble. Maybe one day she can build an altar on it for Him.
    I’m sorry about your devastated friend. We all fall short… but it’s sad because as Jesus-loving people we really ought to know better.

    The homeschooling was rough because I burned out. Without any time to myself, e.g. writing or meeting friends etc, I just don’t function very well and having mental health issues to cope with too, makes a nasty cocktail. Adding to that, I’m seriously not a teacher! Never wanted to go that direction at all, so it’s all really not my “style”. But you know; We do what we need to do.

    Sorry – didn’t mean to go decaf on you, but I’m pleased to know you survived the heart-attack – ha ha ha
    Green tea is very healthy… matcha… well… not so much, but it certainly is tasty.

    I think the first question you must answer is WHY do you want to blog again.
    If you know the reason why then you will know the how.
    I kind of look at blogging as an extended facebook that anyone can read or choose not to.
    Next questions would be WHAT do you want to blog about.
    I changed the theme and the colors when I rebuilt and I had my thoughts about what I wanted the posts to be like: short and easy to read. Regardless of what I chose to write about.
    My first blogroll was about stress… then I rebuilt and blogged about faith… then I rebuilt and blogged about my journey in life. The old posts were/are still there, but the blog was new in the sense that it looked and felt different.

    You don’t have to read every post on the feed, but do hand out “likes” like they are business cards. This will attract attention to your blog. When they visit you, you go visit them. Pick tags that you always tag your posts with. Pick one of them and follow the same tag in your feed. Mine is “Jesus” and on a mobile device it’s easy to scroll and hand out the likes. This is only important in the start-up phase.
    Blog frequently in the beginning – 4-7 times pr. week, but keep the posts short.
    So I think you need to consider why you want to do this, what you write about and if you will have the time for it.
    Time may not be an issue if you can write up short 2-300 word posts and be to the point. Remember that sometimes a picture can speak louder than words! Some YouTubers do a daily video of their family life. You could do that in diary form and add photos, if that is what you want your blog to be about.

    Either way, do not stress about it. Blogging is supposed to be a relaxing time, not a noose around your neck – and I have a feeling that was why you left it last year.
    Love you either way.
    Blessings in Jesus
    Lene

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would use similar language for my friend…underneath the rubble there is something. Agreed. Honestly sometimes I wonder if he was ever really God’s in the first place. We should know better.

      I love your advice. I just took it and ran with it. I also really liked the idea of likes as dropping of business cards. Though I do still have self reflection to do on this.

      Gosh I’ve been out of the blogosphere too long. Yeah you’re probably on to something there with why I left. I wanted to maintain all of the friendships and interest that having a blog generates but then got to a point where I felt like it was an expectation that I crank stuff out to maintain the good benefits it produced, and an uncomfortable expectation at that. And I wanted out. Then with fostering it was just like…I do not have the emotional or time capacity to do this. Now that things have leveled off…I miss it.

      Well I hope you’re week is off to a good start. We started home school this week and it’s going well. And work is good also. And church too. And of courae God is always good. Too good to me.

      Blessings in Jesus
      Joel

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  5. It actually took me a while to be okay with handing out the business card – likes – because I thought I must actually like what people were writing. But then I realized that we all have something to say and we all write in our own style. We must “like” that. Occasionally I come across a post tagged “Jesus” that isn’t for Him, e.g. it’s Islamic of some sort. I rely on the Spirit to nudge me if I need to look deeper before I hand out my business card. But if you want traffic on your site: handing out likes are needed.

    Have you thought about what you wish to blog about?
    The meet N greet thing was fun… or your foster/adoptive parent life?
    Anyway, I miss you here though I must admit that I haven’t been on my blog much this past year and actually only got back on due to you… 😉

    God is good – All the time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I want to get back to my old gig…life with Jesus. Its what I love and its my passion. But will definitely pepper it with foster and adoption posts.

      Yes on the Meet N Greet! I almost posted one yesterday but took it a diffetent direction! I’m going to do one either today or tomorrow. Those are super easy to put out and really fun because its almost like a virtually coffeehouse conversation atmosphere. I’ll drop one either today or tomorrow unless God has other plans.

      Well thank you for that. I always enjoy catching up. Honestly I have no idea how long this next run will go for. But I like doing it so i figure I will give it a shot, right? Even if its just for a short season.

      God is always good. Good to us always. Blessings!

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