Thursday, October 23, 2008

For Christians Regarding the "Scary" Election

"It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes." (Psalm 118:8, 9)

I received an e-mail this week saying the upcoming election is the scariest election Christians have ever faced and I have heard similar talk in the mainstream Christian realm. I am blogging with the hope of Biblically debunking this type of propaganda-like talk that promotes unnecessary fear and paranoia.

God’s Word makes it clear that His Children never need to worry about the politics of the world because our Father is ultimately in control. Daniel 2:21 says that God raises up kings and removes kings and Daniel 4:17, 25 & 32 all say, “...until you know the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He will...” With this truth in mind, why should I be scared about who our next president will be?

The e-mail I received also quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14 regarding God healing the nation if His people humble themselves, pray, seek His face and turn from wicked ways. I agree these are crucial instructions to be followed by all believers. However, the premise of the e-mail implied that Christians need to pray for a particular candidate to be elected as part of God healing our land. I say, let’s turn from our wicked ways and seek His face and not worry about the results of a worldly political election; God can forgive our sins and heal our land no matter who is elected president. It is pure myth that a particular political candidate is THE answer for our country and/or our Christian liberties when the Bible says not to trust in princes:

"Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help." (Psalm 146:3)

"It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes." (Psalm 118:8, 9)

If there is a particular candidate I think might do a better job than another, I still realize that Satan is the god of this age and therefore, has his influence on worldly governments and their leaders (2 Cor. 4:4).

Even so, God orders the powers that be and it is my responsibility to obey those leaders, pray for them and not speak evil of them (Romans 13:1; 1 Tim. 2:1-3; Titus 3:1, 2; 1 Peter 2:13-19; Jude 8). And whether our next president is a democrat, republican or a third party candidate, he/she cannot prevent me from loving God with all my heart and loving my neighbor as myself.

My main exhortation is this: Let us not allow a presidential race distract us from the REAL race and prize at hand (1 Cor. 9:24, 25) and let us not be guilty of placing our hope and trust in politicians rather than the LORD.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Adventures in Oklahoma City

First off, Dennis graduated from the FAA Academy after almost 8 weeks of vigorous training! We're thanking God that he made it through and now he'll start work at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Monday (Sept. 15th). I thought I’d blog about our summer in Oklahoma City (OKC) for those who may want to know what all we were up to. On the above map, you can see OKC is in the middle of the state. Directly south of OKC, where all the interstates intersect, that is where the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is located. So you can see it was quite an easy commute for us.

While our time in OKC was strictly business for Dennis, it was like a long summer vacation for the children and me. We stayed in an extended stay apartment complex in the city of Moore, but on the border of Oklahoma City (only 15 minutes from downtown). As far as Moore’s claim to fame, the nearby water tower brags “Home of Toby Keith” (perhaps that means something to any country music fans out there). Our apartment complex was very family-friendly with sweet little ladies working in the office, a pool, playground and a community dinner on Thursdays --- where we would go to the office building for dinner prepared by the people who work there. We also met all kinds of people from all over the country (and even a family from India). It was enjoyable for me to talk to different people and for the children to have little playmates. At the academy (Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center), Dennis ran into people he worked with at McConnell and Dover Air Force bases.

Our “adventures” around the city included regular trips to the Moore Public Library, a picnic at the Stanley Draper Lake, getting wet at a sprayground (see photos below), and a visit to the National Memorial where the bombing took place at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. We took 3 trips to the wonderful Oklahoma City Zoo - thanks to Retro Wednesdays through August where it was only 75 cents for admission. And it is a very nice zoo – I can see why it is ranked the 3rd best family-friendly zoo in the country!

At a local’s suggestion, the children and I also checked out the Norman Public Library. Norman is about 20 minutes south of Oklahoma City and it is the home of the University of Oklahoma. The Norman library was the best library for children I have ever been to --- they had soooo much fun stuff there. I won’t bore you with the details though – unless you’re a parent or grandparent of a small child, you probably don’t care lol! :)

Our last few days in OKC were a bummer because the children and I all got sick – probably from all the germs at the library lol! It was also very rainy the last few days so I guess we wouldn’t have been able to do anything anyway. I felt bad for the little ones because they didn’t get to play with their friends much those last few days (a 6-year-old boy from India and a 13-year-old boy and his 8-year-old sister from West Virginia – who were so sweet with our young children, by the way).

I was a bit sad to leave Oklahoma. I know we were only there for 2 months, but that was long enough for me to feel comfortable there and get into a routine. Now, I’m a bit overwhelmed at starting over and making roots in Texas. Lord willing, I’ll blog in the coming months about all the wonderful friends we’re making and how much Dennis loves working at the third busiest airport in the world. :)

Below is a slideshow of pictures from our time in OKC --- taken by me, not from the Internet this time. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008

You Could Learn A Lot From A Stroller.

Hello from Oklahoma City! We arrived here Tuesday, July 22 and I intend to blog soon about our adventures in this lovely city. For now, I wanted to share somewhat of a testimony about God’s goodness. This story revolves around a stroller, which I acknowledge is not important at all in the big scheme of life, but I feel it is worth sharing because of the lessons involved.

I suppose this testimony began back in PA when we were getting rid of most of our possessions. One thing I really wanted to hold on to was a Graco double stroller that a relative picked up for us back in 2005 for only $5. I used the stroller a lot which is why I wanted to keep it. However, it was kind of bulky and since we were trying to get down to the bare minimum, I knew it was not a necessity and gave it away on Freecycle.

Once we settled in Hurst, I started to have an itch for a double stroller again. However, after having one that was only $5 and seeing other good deals in the past, I really had it in my heart to pay no more than $20.

In June, our family went to a midnight madness sale at the local Goodwill where everything was 50 percent off. Dennis immediately spotted a very nice Eddie Bauer double stroller with an infant car seat for only $40 after the discount. This was a great deal, but we had a hard time trying to figure out how to close it and we both agreed it was rather heavy and bulky. I told Dennis that I knew I would use it, but wasn’t sure about how heavy it was and the price. I admit that was a great price, it just wasn’t the $20 or under I was thinking. In the end, I told Dennis to decide and we left without it.

Fast forward to this past Thursday (July 31); after taking the children out by myself a lot lately, I really wanted a double stroller ASAP. I looked online to see how much a brand new double stroller costs at Wal-Mart and the cheapest I saw was around $100. Again, not such a bad deal [and we could afford it], but I just knew I could get a better deal. As I was sitting at the computer thinking about that, I felt I should pray about it. My first thought was, “I’m not praying about a silly stroller. There are people dying in the world – who cares if I get a double stroller?!?” But I just felt an even stronger urge that I should pray and have faith that God would answer. I tear up as I type this because it is all just unbelievable.

So, I prayed a short prayer just telling God that I really didn’t think it was important, however, I really had a desire for a double stroller and I would like to get one for no more than $40, preferably $20. After dinner, I decided to check out the local Salvation Army and Goodwill for our evening outing. I thought for sure I would find a double stroller at one of those stores but I didn't. I was then tempted to buy a $10 single stroller that was much nicer than the old umbrella stroller I’m using, but felt that perhaps I would be lacking faith if I bought it since I specifically prayed for a double stroller.

As I was driving home, I was kind of confused that I did not find a double stroller. I can’t explain it, but I just felt the prayer was going to be answered soon and that perhaps I simply needed a lesson in patience & trusting God.

But, the night wasn’t over yet! Around 9:20 p.m., I looked up Oklahoma City (OKC) classifieds on Google. The first link that appeared was for OKC CraigsList, so I went to it and clicked on “baby + kids.” The second listing which had just posted at 9:10 p.m. was for a 3-year-old sit and stand double stroller for only $20!!!

First, I looked up how far I would have to drive if I would buy the stroller and it was about 20 minutes away. Second, I called the woman who posted it to make sure it was still available and it was! And off the Dunnaville family drove to Midwest City, OK on Friday morning to buy a double stroller for just $20! After my prayer was answered, I thought:

“O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” - Psalm 144:3&4(NIV)

Now onto the more important matters to be taken from this story:

1. A big lesson was patience. I had to be patient by not having a double stroller for about 9 months and I recently regretted not getting the Eddie Bauer stroller back in June but now, I am so glad I waited because the stroller we bought is better than any others I have seen! I never would have imagined I could get a sit and stand stroller so cheap since they cost $180 or above brand new. And it is perfect because the older child doesn’t have to climb in and out of an actual closed-in seat (see pics below) and overall, the stroller is easy to use and is not heavy. So, in being patient, I was blessed with something far better than I ever imagined!

2. THE most important lesson was letting go of something I loved in order to receive something better. I had to let go of the Graco double stroller in order to receive the far greater blessing of a sit and stand stroller. I cannot help but think of the greatest example of letting go of something that we want to hold on to in order to receive something better: Jesus said, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35). And not only will our life be preserved, but Jesus promised us life abundantly (John 10:10)!

It may be painful to let go, but we have to trust God is faithful and will give us something far greater in return. A stroller is a silly little token, but I know the Living God can do the same with anything in life that we have to let go of. He is truly an awesome God! But of course, we cannot manipulate the Creator; Our hearts must be pure and we must delight ourselves in Him first and foremost if we are to receive the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4).

And just think...if I had bought a brand new stroller, I wouldn’t have this great story to tell. :)

“I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” - Psalm 9:1&2

Moriah would normally sit in the front - but she was napping during the time I took the photos; Josiah and Hannah will take turns in the back. :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Home Is Where Hurst Is

Well, our time in Laredo is over and we are now in Hurst, Texas. Dennis’ last day of work at Laredo International Airport was June 15th and we left Laredo the following day. After a pit stop in San Antonio and an overnight stay in Temple, Texas, we arrived here in the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) area on Tuesday, June 17th.

We looked at apartments Tuesday afternoon, signed a lease Wednesday morning, shopped for furniture that afternoon and by 6 p.m. that same day, we almost had our entire apartment fully furnished! Since we sold and/or gave away nearly everything back in PA, we arrived here with only a van and a car full of belongings so we were starting from ground zero. Throw in a bunch of trips to Wal-Mart and Super Target along with the usual routine of having 3 children and we have been exhausted!

We’re still getting settled in our adorable apartment/townhouse and we are so happy to have all this space, grass outside for the children to run around in, 2 pools in the complex and everything we could want and/or need within a few miles. And with being an interracial family, we are also appreciating the racial diversity in this area.

Nevertheless, the traveling doesn’t end just yet. We will be heading to Oklahoma City (about 3 hours north of DFW) where Dennis will attend the FAA Academy for 8 weeks beginning July 23rd. Thankfully, we are all able to go with him; the FAA will pay him “per diem” and that will cover our stay in a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom furnished apartment. After Dennis completes school, he will have one day for travel before having to report to work at the DFW International Airport ATCT (Air Traffic Control Tower(s)).

As always, everything is LORD willing...

“Come now you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit; you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’”
James 4:13-15

I’ve included the map [below] so you can see where all we drove through in Texas to get to DFW. From Laredo, it was a 7-hour drive and we basically just took Interstate 35 the whole way and drove through San Antonio, Austin and Waco before hitting DFW. Hurst is about 15 minutes northeast of downtown Fort Worth and 30 minutes west of downtown Dallas.

I hope from here things will calm down a bit and my next blog will be to share something other than the Dunnavilles’ travels lol!

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Verdict Is In...

Last week, Dennis received an offer for a job with the FAA at...Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)! He is in the process of completing all of the necessary paperwork and examinations (i.e. background check, physical, psychological evaluation, etc.). Once all that is complete, he should be given a start date either to begin working at the airport or to first attend the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City for 8 weeks.

In other news: As of today, Dennis is now fully certified at the air traffic control tower here in Laredo. We are praising God for this considering all the trials he's faced!

As for heading to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex (LORD allowing), I am looking forward to it. I am excited about going somewhere else new and about all the opportunities living in such an area. For example, there appears to be various established homeschool networks we could link up with which would mean all kinds of opportunities for the children. There are also quite a few large ministries in that area and I look forward to engaging in that arena (including Life Outreach and also Gospel for Asia - a ministry Dennis volunteered for in the past).

I just pray that Dennis' job isn't extra-stressful being that he'll be working at one of the busiest airports in the world. Although, it could feel like a cakewalk after all that he has gone through here lol! Seriously though, after his interview at San Antonio, it appears the FAA is nothing like these contract towers Dennis has worked at so working for the FAA looks promising and we are hoping for the best!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dennis Got Semi-Certified!

Praise God...after a couple rough weeks at work, Dennis was certified last Friday (April 18th)! It will not be official until an FAA person comes to the tower to look at him, but for now, he is able to be in position and do his job without being under a trainer. His first week of being certified has gone really well --- drama-free especially after everything that took place last week! I thought about sharing it all on here, but it took Dennis 7 pages to write about it in an e-mail!!! Just know it has been quite the trial for Dennis, but the LORD has sustained him through everything and in the end, good prevailed over evil! So, Dennis will keep working in Laredo while we wait to hear from the FAA.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pictures of Laredo from the Web

Laredo - Gateway to Mexico

On March 1st, we left San Antonio for Laredo (pronounced luh-rā-doe) , a city dubbed “Gateway to Mexico”. Remember Dennis talking about ending up in Mexico?!? Well, we’re just about there; from where we’re currently staying, we are about 15-20 minutes from the border! We have yet to take a trip over to Mexico, but we have driven close enough to the international bridges to see the huge Mexican flag waving in the air. I included the map of Texas to the left so you can see where Laredo is located (for those of you who do not know the geography of Texas; Laredo is on the southwestern border).

Here is the LATEST NEWS with the Dunnavilles as of TODAY: Dennis had an interview with the FAA this morning and it went very well. Based on certain information, we suspect he could be offered a job at either Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport or San Antonio International Airport. We were told the hiring process for the FAA could take up to 6 months and for seems the LORD wants Dennis working here in Laredo.

During one of Dennis’ online searches about Laredo, he came across one site that labeled it the worst place to live in the U.S. In other online research, one can find some other not-so-nice statements about Laredo. BUT, we have learned to judge for ourselves before taking others’ words for things and sure enough, I would say Laredo is a fine place to live. That is, if you can handle the crazy drivers and avoid getting a chipped/cracked windshield [which seems to be an epidemic here]. :)

We have been here for 6 weeks now, and I have felt completely safe and comfortable. Laredo is just like every other part of the country where we have lived in that you have your nice people and your not-so-nice people. Some Laredoeans are even extra-social: we have had numerous smiling people walk up and rub Josiah’s head, touch Hannah’s curly hair or grab Moriah’s chubby legs and make some nice comment. Others might find this intrusive, but I find it endearing.

Culture-wise: Laredo is reportedly 94 percent Hispanic. We have been told that Laredo isn’t south Texas, but north Mexico. However, we’ve also heard that Laredo is not like anywhere else in the U.S. and it’s not like anywhere in Mexico either. Most people here are bi-lingual, but out and about, Spanish is definitely the dominant language. Apparently, I fit in here because I have had several people speak to me in Spanish, assuming I understand what they are saying. :)

We have encountered a handful of people who did not speak any English. This could be frustrating, but we find it inspires us to work harder at learning Spanish. We came to Laredo looking forward to being immersed in a Hispanic culture where we would have to be more diligent at learning the language (which is something we’ve talked about doing for years). And we thought if we settle in Laredo and become fluent in Spanish, then maybe we could go in and out of Mexico to minister there.

In other aspects, Laredo is just like the rest of the country with a nice-sized public library, a state park, a shopping mall, many wonderful parks for the children, Wal-Marts, Targets and every fast food you can imagine on almost every street, etc. It is commercialized all throughout the city, which has its pluses and minuses. It is convenient, but being a rural girl, I miss seeing more of nature (although there are palm trees all over the place here which are very pretty). However, I appreciate the unique architecture of various homes and buildings throughout the city.

We recently visited Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) here in Laredo and the campus is beautiful! There is a herd of whitetail deer living around the campus and we were able to see about 5 or 6 of them --- they just graze around right on the main road you take in and out of campus.

Weather-wise: March in Laredo was BEAUTIFUL! The daytime temps were anywhere from 70 to 100 degrees; although the 100 degree-days have been hot, they are not as bad as they sound since the humidity here is nothing like the summers in the northeast! The evenings have all been gorgeous with perfect temperatures and lovely breezes (although I should note sometimes it can get quite windy)! I have thoroughly appreciated January, February and March in Texas. So far, April in Laredo has been quite hot (mostly 90's) so I can't imagine what it will be like in a couple months.

Since coming to Laredo, we have been staying in an extended stay hotel --- which is not bad at all. The only thing getting to Dennis and me is sleeping in the same room with our children given all the noises they make (including Moriah’s snoring lol)! Other than that, we feel we are still living quite luxuriously since we have unlimited AC, a bathroom, a small kitchen with a full-sized fridge, stovetop, microwave and toaster --- and housekeeping. :) After our experience in Connecticut (another long story lol!), we have learned not to make any set plans. Despite our longing to settle down, we came to Laredo knowing that it might only be temporary so staying in a hotel was our best option.

We have just been happy to have a paycheck after 8 months without one! We have enjoyed living on the edge, so to speak, but it definitely wears on you and I am happy to be moving back into a “normal” life (but I'm also not getting my hopes up in case the LORD has other plans lol!).

This should get everyone up-to-date to the present although I have left out many details on the ups and downs of these recent months. In the future, maybe I will rewind and share some of the struggles I’ve experienced. For now, I’m just trying to focus on the positive, namely the LORD’s faithfulness and the overall peace we’ve had throughout everything!!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Welcome to San Antonio!

A photo of San Antonio at night (taken from the web):

After we left Alabama and were on our way to San Antonio, I was being a little fearful about this whole journey and Dennis asked me, “What would it take for you to believe you’re on the right path? What sign could God give to prove it to you?” I couldn’t really answer that but I must say our arrival into San Antonio that night was quite convincing. We drove into San Antonio right at midnight on New Year’s Eve...fireworks were going off everywhere, including right over Interstate 10 as evidenced by the fireworks' debris falling on our van! Since it’s so flat out here (and apparently they don’t have the same firework laws as in the northeast), you could see fireworks for miles and miles! It was truly amazing! Perhaps it was all a coincidence but either way, I’ll never forget our “welcome” to San Antonio!

As far as our friends we stayed with --- I thank the LORD for their kind hearts and willingness to open their home to others. These guys were already in hospitality mode: They had the wife's grandmother and 3 siblings live with them for an entire year and then, they had a co-worker going through a divorce stay with them for a few months. So, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to stay with a family who was used to having their privacy invaded. :) We know that having a family of 5 stay with you cannot be easy breezy, but we are so grateful that the LORD has made this couple so laidback and welcoming --- we truly did feel at home while there.

While in San Antonio, we made a short visit to the Alamo and the RiverWalk. This was more exciting for me since I had never been to Texas, but Dennis was in San Antonio for basic training in 1998. Here's a photo of the RiverWalk from the web:

Ministry-wise, Dennis was able to visit numerous churches, hand out tracts, talk to people on the street and engage in two different small groups from area churches. I helped take care of the little girl where we were staying to help the family save money on daycare costs. Hannah loved having a little girl to play with!

I also have to mention how gracious our friends were regarding Josiah’s cat allergy. They have a cat and we figured we’d make it work, but after a few days there, Josiah was having asthma-like symptoms to where we tried to keep him outside as much as possible. Our friends asked around to see if anyone they knew could keep their cat and a sweet couple from their church small group offered to keep him while we were there! That was so kind of everyone to do that for Josiah and we never would have expected that! He was fine once the cat wasn’t in the home and we could vacuum up most of the hair/dander.

We enjoyed our 2 months in San Antonio and despite feeling at home with our friends; we did not want to overstay our welcome (Proverbs 25:17). Back when we arrived in Texas, Dennis felt it was time to get a job as a type of tent-making venture so we would not be a burden to anyone (see Acts 18:32 & 2 Thessalonians 3:8). After he looked into various jobs, the first solid offer he received was in his trade at a place we had never heard of before coming to Texas...Laredo. Not long after we arrived in Texas, Dennis looked on a map at all the airports in the U.S. that bordered Mexico and saw Laredo International. Mexico was an area where he had often talked about doing mission work so we were intrigued by the area despite being told that it wasn’t a place we’d want to go --- which we didn’t let deter us.

So, Dennis accepted a position with RVA (an air traffic control contract company) working at Laredo International Airport; which finally brings us to the present location of our travels!

Bayou La Batre, Alabama

First of all, be careful of using phrases like, "I'll NEVER do such and such..." I always used to say that Alabama was one place I never cared to visit since I assumed it would not be a fun place for an interracial family. Lo and behold, we made plans to head to Bayou La Batre, Alabama: the deepest part of Alabama. The map below was the best I could find to show everyone where Bayou La Batre is located. Hopefully you can see the red circle to the east of New Orleans. Bayou La Batre is right along the Gulf of Mexico and is not too far from the Mississippi border.

Fortunately for us, the family we went to stay with was also interracial so we figured if they lived there and were still alive, then clearly there were no crosses being burned in their yard or bricks being thrown through their windows. :) So, just to help with any stereotypes of Alabama --- our experience there was totally uneventful regarding our mixed marriage. Contrary to popular belief, we found Alabama to be quite diverse and everyone seemed to get along just fine.

So...after 2 months of getting rid of most of our things, we left for Alabama on November 27th with just a van full of belongings, not having any idea what the next day would bring. We knew we had a certain amount of money to last us a certain amount of time and we also knew that we had a decent income tax return coming sometime in February. We were comfortable with this. We had money for food and we kept plenty of clothing and had the offer for a roof over our heads, so what more did we need?!? After almost 36 hours between driving, sleeping at rest areas and food/bathroom breaks, we arrived in Bayou La Batre on November 28th. And I thank the LORD for allowing our 3 little ones to be awesome for that entire road trip!

Our friends in Bayou La Batre were very kind to open their home to us. We appreciated their generosity especially considering they have 4 boys of their own and were expecting baby #5 while we were there! Josiah loved being there with all the boys --- their home was definitely his favorite stop throughout this trip!!!

We planned on going to Alabama and ministering there just like anywhere else until the LORD led us otherwise and within 2 weeks, we had an inkling that we would not be settling in Alabama. Before leaving PA, Dennis kept saying we could be there for 1 day, 1 month, 1 year or 10 years. (Note: He also said something about ending up in Mexico, although his mention of this overwhelmed me.) In the end, we were in Alabama for 5 weeks. We had various plans for our time there and although we were unable to see some of those through, we learned several lessons and so we feel that our time there was not a loss. Dennis was able to evangelize to some people here and there (including a woman who appeared to be considering an abortion), but it seemed that our stay there was more for our sharpening and refinement.

On a lighter note, we went to a park one day that was right on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico (Hannah called it "the park in Mexico"). It was beautiful, however, the mosquitoes were TERRIBLE even in December!!! Dennis might tell you the bugs were a deciding factor to leave Alabama lol! :)

Once we were in Alabama, we began making tentative plans of doing a “circuit”; spending summers in the north and winters in the south. The idea then expanded to evangelizing around the country (i.e. Arkansas, Texas, Nevada, California, Montana, West Virginia), being hosted by various friends/contacts and then making our way back to PA. It was at this time that Dennis began making calls to arrange hosts in various places. Since Dennis had 2 job offers in PA, we thought perhaps we could end up there or take a job anywhere he was led throughout our trip. During our visits around the country, we would do our best to evangelize, minister and spur on other believers in those areas.

From Alabama, our options were to go to Arkansas or Texas but in the end, Dennis felt a leaning toward some dear friends we knew from our time in Delaware who were now in San Antonio.

And thus began the next phase of our journey...

God IS Our Provider!

When we made the plans to get rid of our things, I did not know the work that was going to be entailed; it included a lot of time and organization. Believe me when I say you don’t know how much stuff you have until you are trying to get down to the bare minimum lol!

Throughout the process, I joked to Dennis that I now understood how the rich young ruler might have felt when Jesus told him to sell all his things and follow him. Mark 10 says that the rich young ruler was “sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” I say, “Perhaps he was sad because he knew how much work it would be to get rid of all his stuff!” :)

In the beginning, Dennis suggested giving everything away while only accepting donations, but another close friend and I both shot down his idea real quick. In the end, Dennis yielded to our suggestion of having a sale with price tags. So, we planned to sell as much as we could and give away the rest on and make donations to local thrift stores (along with throwing away numerous items).

We made plans to have a moving sale on October 13th and immediately posted about the sale on the Lancaster County Tag Sale site. Next, Dennis e-mailed a flyer to a local pastor (initials = N.B.) and asked if he would share it with his congregation. Well, that one man must have e-mailed our flyer out to every Mennonite in E-Town and Mount Joy lol! We had soooo many phone calls and people come by our home from that one man spreading the word --- thank you LORD for directing Dennis to N.B.

Within a matter of hours of Dennis e-mailing our flyer to N.B. along with a Freecycler, we had about a dozen “shoppers” in our home. Now this is what was really crazy: From that night on, we had people come to our home, give us money (one person paid us $400 cash), tell us to call them when we were done with our furniture/appliances and then leave empty-handed!!! When all was said and done, we were able to live in a fully furnished house up until a week before we left PA! How awesome is God?!?

The Thursday before the sale, our rental company called as a courtesy to let us know that they were bringing people by to check out the house on the 13th. Dennis said that would be fine, but it might be a little crazy since we would be having a yard sale. Our rental company guy then said that we couldn’t have a yard sale because it was forbidden by our lease. For the record: we are law-abiding kind of people and what the lease said was “No business activity.” We had no idea this included a yard sale – go figure.

BUT, this brought up a wonderful turn of events. At first, we were trying to brainstorm about how we could still have a yard sale, but not necessarily on rented property. I was distraught trying to figure out how to make this work. But eventually, Dennis suggested that we revert back to the original idea of donation-only. I was still distraught, but quickly started making a donation can since we had a woman on her way over to "shop". Dennis started praying over me that the LORD would increase my faith but I was too disgruntled to even stop what I was doing during his prayer lol!

The woman arrived and asked if she was at the right house for the sale. Dennis told her "Yes and No". We explained the situation to her and in the end, she donated $60 for what I honestly would have only asked $10 for --- we had an answer to Dennis’ prayer; praise the LORD again! Before she arrived, we had a Freecycler stop by to pick up a free coupon book. After telling him our story, he put $10 in our donation can!!! God is good!

So, we told everyone that everything was free – just give as they were led; there were people who gave us more than we would have asked, people who gave less than we would have asked and people who gave exactly what we would have asked. We even had people who didn't take a thing but gave us a $20 donation. God gets the glory in all of it!

Something else worth mentioning was the change in atmosphere once we went from a sale to donation-only. For one thing, Dennis and I were having disagreements about what to charge for certain items although we laugh about that now. Overall, donation-only made for a better environment for us and the "shoppers" or donors; although one man said his wife was "going bananas" because we didn't have any prices on the items. :)

Of course, we met all kinds of people during this process. At one time, we counted over 100 different people who came through our home within a couple weeks! I think the most memorable people for me were this sweet older couple who originally came by for the donation-only giveaway. The wife called me a week later just to see how we were doing. I told her that we still had a lot of children’s items left and wondered if she knew anyone who could use them. She and her husband came back by our home because they were going on a trip to Costa Rica to visit their niece who helps at an orphanage there. They said they wanted a suitcase of clothing to take for the children at the orphanage. I told them not to give us a penny for the clothes since I was just so happy to know the clothing would go to children who were truly in need! They still gave us $5 and the next day, the wife called and said they felt they should give us something else so she brought us dinner. It really touched my heart to basically have a stranger bring us a meal!

Another neat person we met was a kind local doctor whose church was sponsoring refugees from Burma (Myanmar). We had a few of the Burmese refugees come through our home and take many items they needed – including Dennis’ mountain bike which could help them get around town. Again, we were just happy to give to those in need but the doctor gave us a generous donation for all of the items.

One of the most amazing things to me was that during this whole process, Dennis received 2 job offers from Christian men [without having to chase after the jobs]. The first opportunity came from our oil guy who, the year before, kept asking Dennis to come work for him. Well, the day after we gave our notice to move, our oil guy accidentally called our home. Dennis called him back because he was curious if he still needed help. Sure enough, he did.

The next job offer came through a woman who came by our home to see what we had. She was also a believer so we spent a lot of time talking and sharing about our journey to that point. She called her husband [W.E.] to ask him how much she should donate to us and when she got off the phone, she said to Dennis, “If you want a job, my husband said you’re hired” (W.E. has his own carpentry business). W.E. and Dennis talked on the phone a few times and we even visited their church. We also had their entire precious family over for dinner, but in the end, Dennis passed along this job opportunity to a friend.

So, even with the tempting offers which could have allowed us to keep living in the wonderful farmhouse on that gorgeous land, we decided to continue as planned and embark on our journey. Below are some pictures of what we left behind:

I like to believe Jesus when He said, "...there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life." (Mark 10:29&30). He was sure not to leave out the promise of persecution along with the other stuff lol! :)

In the end, with the money from the sale of our car, items and other donations, we had just enough money to last us until we received our security deposit check in the mail at the end of December (i.e. with only $2 to spare)! Praise God!!!

Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow - what we will eat and what we will wear - because our Father knows that we need these things (Matthew 6:25-34). I thank the LORD for the opportunity to see that He is faithful – even down to the penny (or dollar)!

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

How This Crazy Journey Began

While living in E-Town, PA back in June 2007, Dennis made a tough decision to leave a job that he loved (working as a caregiver at a group home for mentally disabled men). From there, we made a decision that he would not go looking for another job but that we would wait upon the LORD to see how we would be led or wait for opportunities to present themselves.

Note: I'm sure you might be wondering how we could financially swing such a decision. Well, we've been blessed beyond measure in the area of being financially savvy (Praise be to the LORD) and therefore, we've learned to live off of the least amount of money possible. But even through many months with NO income, we STILL lived very comfortably. We always had more than enough food, more than enough clothing and a roof over our heads at all times [and with no government assistance]. This is an area where I sincerely pray that we are able to help others someday. I do not believe we have this knowledge just for ourselves.

Back to the story: In July, we had a Spanish exchange student living with us so we considered ministering to him our full-time job for that month. We then had a Japanese exchange student stay with us for a few nights. Throughout the summer, we spent extensive amounts of time writing, handing out, and mailing Gospel tracts. In August, Dennis spent the entire month doing some intensive seeking of the LORD in a way he could not have done while working (e.g. a 21-day water-only fast.).

In September, Dennis started a business he had the idea for back in August. I thought this was a great business idea, but for some reason, when he started actively promoting it, I was not at peace. As it turned out, he had various physical ailments [linked to his coming off his extended fast improperly] that kind of slowed him down with the business. So, he would take a break, but then when he would go back at it, he would get physically hindered again! Coincidence?!? Perhaps, but between the physical ailments and the dissension because of my lack of peace, Dennis let go of pursuing the business despite the promising prospects he had.

From there, as certain events took place [or didn’t take place], we were pointed in a whole new direction that we never could have planned on our own. One of the biggest events that took place to affect our decision-making process at that point was on October 1st when Dennis went to a dealership to sell our Honda Accord. Funds were getting low and so we decided to get rid of one of our many "spoils." Dennis had been doing full-time ministry and we agreed that we did not need two vehicles. Over the phone, the dealer said that we could get a check in 20 minutes and our rent was due that same day! So, Dennis went to the dealership and the dealer told him to pull the car around. Dennis got in the car and...It wouldn't start!!! We call it "the click that changed everything." Had that not happened, we would have sold the car that day, paid our rent for that month and continued on as we had been (i.e. waiting upon the LORD's provision, one month at a time).

However, on October 5th, we had dinner at our landlords' home and Dennis filled them in on our situation up to that point. Knowing that the "king's heart is in the hand of the LORD" (Proverbs 21:1), we had a romantic hope that the LORD would move their hearts to work with us in some kind of way, but apparently the LORD had other plans because that didn't happen. And so...after a delicious dinner with them, but now knowing we would have to give our 30-day notice and move, I was quite distraught since we had no leads on what we would do next. When we got home, I went straight to bed.

Dennis was distraught at seeing my demeanor but before going to bed feeling defeated, he decided to just praise the LORD through it all. During his time of prayer and worship that night, he had a complete paradigm shift and received what he calls a “realization-revelation.” In our romantic views, we were expecting some type of grand supernatural deliverance in order to keep our current lifestyle, but that wasn’t necessarily the LORD’s desire.

In this case, Dennis received the realization-revelation that we were actually in a very blessed situation where we were being forced to be freed up from worldly wealth and possessions [which often equal prisons because they can become our treasure and possess us]. In the end, Dennis felt an impression to downsize by getting rid of all of the possessions that we couldn’t fit into our minivan and then leave for the “mission field.” What we once feared and saw as a burden (i.e. losing our lifestyle), we could now embrace as a blessing and newfound freedom. Without being tied down to a home and lots of stuff, we would gain the flexibility to do or go wherever the LORD might lead.

After that weekend, we got the car fixed (cost=$400), sold it and paid our rent for October. I'll share some of our neat stories from getting rid of most of our things in the next blog.

Plans For This Blog

The main purpose of this blog is to help all of our friends, family and internet pals keep up with our lives. It's been hard for me to respond individually to everyone since daily life of just being a wife and mother consumes much of my time. This way, everyone will get the overall picture of what's going on and I won't have to write novels every time I e-mail someone. :)

I'm also blogging for my own journaling purposes regarding this crazy journey we've taken. I know that it could be over before I know it and I might regret not writing down these little tidbits.

Once I get everyone caught up on all that has taken place these recent months, I hope for this blog to be a place where I can share lessons I'm learning, various Bible passages that speak to me and most importantly: preach the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14)! I hope to encourage others to seek the LORD with all of their hearts (Deuteronomy 4:29) and to study to show themselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15). We are fortunate to have God's Word at our fingertips and we are so blessed when we spend time in it!

The disclaimer for the spiritual side of this blog is: I do not claim to be an authority on much of anything anymore. I'm learning the truth in "the more I learn, the more I learn I don't know." Despite my continual struggles, my prayer is that the LORD can use this flawed, fleshly being to help point others to Him and the truths that lie within the pages of His Word.

With all of that being written...happy reading!