Tuesday, July 30, 2013

uprooting

that's what i feel is going on in the patten8 home and hearts.  we're s.l.o.w.l.y. being uprooted from what we've known and lived over the past 10 years (give or take).  and in this place of uprootedness we're finding ourselves handling it differently.

my hubby...well, he's in ninevah jackson, mi starting his second full week as the new manager of the store he was given.  which means he's gone all week.  spending his nights in a hotel room.  eating meals either from burger king or red lobster, alone.  and he's talkin about finding an apartment to lease for the next few months just to help with expenses.

my olders (b and sj)...surprisingly they're on board about this move.  before when our family would hypothetically talk about moving neither of them wanted to at all.  now that it's reality and there's no way around it they have had more of a positive response which i can only attribute to God doing a work in their hearts.

my littles (m and j)...have no clue as to what is going on.  although, i'm sure they sense the "uprootedness" from the rest of us.

my middles.  you know the ones (q and k)...they're not handling it well.  which really is an understatement.  they don't like talking about moving.  about leaving their friends.  about leaving all they known.  and it was this reality that brought about a difficult yet honest conversation with the two of them last night as i was putting them to bed.

before we get to that i probably should tell you how i'm handling this uprooting...i have my days of being super excited (especially when looking at the houses and dreaming) but then i also have my days of sadness/questioning/anger.  and then things come up like a dead battery in my van.  husband's in ninevah
jackson.  not helpful.  but trying to see the blessing in it all. {breathe}

okay.  so back to my middles and the convo...i just got back from the shell gas station with pop and candybars for my olders as a "thank you" for watching m and j while i kept my eyes on q and k all day yesterday.  and q made a comment, "wow, they're lucky!".

"no", i said, "they earned that for helping me today because i had to watch you and k to help you make good choices and remind you what happens when you make bad choices."

"oh", q sighed.

and maybe it's all the emotions i'm feeling from all that's taken place this summer so far (israel, trip to iowa, in the process of moving, and now no working vehicle) but i couldn't let it end there.  nope.  i had to keep going.

so i proceeded to say, "i'm praying that one of these days you both will understand how much i/we love you.  and it's okay to have 'yucky' feelings about being scared that we might leave you and that we might stop loving you.  BUT the truth is we will ALWAYS love you and NEVER leave you.  we are your family.  i'm your mom.  that will NEVER change."
"but it isn't easy loving you", i continued, "in fact, it hurts to love you.  it hurts because we, as your parents, love you so much and want to teach you, help you, and grow you into followers of Jesus but you two don't care.  and how we know you don't care is by how you behave and treat each other and others, especially your family."

q pipes up, with tears and flailing arms, "WHY DON'T YOU JUST PUT ME IN A SPACESHIP AND SEND ME OFF TO SPACE THEN?"

thankfully, and divinely, i remained calm during the whole conversation even at this point as he was right in my face.  and i fixed my eyes with his eyes and lovingly yet firmly responded, "yes, it would be easy to do that.  send you off into space."

q interrupts, "see, i knew you were going to say that, you want to send me into space".

"q, listen to me.  please.  just listen.", i whispered, "i don't want to do that.  it would be the easy way out.  but God did not put me on this earth to live with easy way outs.  He put me on this earth for His glory and to love Him and others.  and if people can see Jesus in how i love you, then bless God.  yes, it is hard to love you but i wouldn't take it back for a second.  i wouldn't go back and change a thing or do anything different.  do you think it was easy for God, who deeply loved/s Jesus, to watch him come down to earth to live the life he lived and go through the torture and pain of his death?"

"no."

"i don't think so either, buddy.  so who am i to say i am not gonna love you because it's too hard?  i won't.  ever. say. that.  it hurts to love you but i will always love you.  that will never change.  never. ever."

in His grace and all for His glory.

amen.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

facebook status or "we're moving to ninevah"

okay...i'm sitting at my folks' farm thinking back over the status i posted on facebook.  and i feel like an explanation is in order.

so here it goes...

my status does reflect how i think now and where my heart is now about this whole moving to jackson.  but what you don't know is that for about a week i was very much a jonah (remember his fit throwing about going to ninevah?  that was me). throwing a tantrum.  crying.  stomping of feet.  asking God, "why ninevah jackson?  of all the places in the world, ninevah jackson?  where there's no friends, no family, no church family, and no lake?  just a prison?  really?"  His answer, "yep".

i knew in my head that this is what we needed to do.  and i was excited in my head for my hubby to finally achieve, by God's grace, one of his dreams of becoming a manager of his own store.  but all of this news came almost immediately after we got back from israel, a.k.a life changing/once in a lifetime trip.

in israel and because of israel and what God started in us and what he formed us into (insula), i couldn't understand why He would want us to move now.  i was completely open to moving before we left for israel.  i was open-handed and willing to go wherever He felt best.  then israel.  where we formed an un-compareable bond with 40 other broken, desperate followers of Jesus. in fact, one evening while staying in one of the hotels in israel, my hubby said, "i'd be okay with not moving and staying in GR as an outside sales guy.  i can't imagine not having these people in my life".  yep.  he said that.

and that's only the tip of the iceberg.  i can't even begin to tell you of all the friends in the coopersville community that have become like family...our next door neighbor, connie, who is so patient and tolerant of all the noises that come from the patten8 home.  my running partner and friend, mel, who's stuck with me over the past seven years when i had some bumps in the road - she's been there.  and the teachers at coopersville that have gone above and beyond their call as teachers (y'all know who you are) has been a rare gift for me and my family.  then there's our church, crossroads bible church, and the brothers and sisters in Christ that have locked arms with us over the last five years as they've watched our family grow...meals and groceries brought to us, babysitting, nannying, sleepovers, anonymous gift cards in the mail, praying for us, helping us with our house, helping us with our marriage...oh, and sending us to israel.  to name a few ways the people we gather with on sundays have become part of our family.

and i can't forget family.  biological family that's in the GR area.  they too have only been supportive of our growing family.  and we know and have seen their love in so many ways.

one more thing about israel...that's where we learned, in a deeper way, of trusting and following the Shepherd.  getting into a quiet space and listening to His whisper.  that's where i saw my husband put a stake in the ground and humbly state that with the help of Jesus, he's going to be the spiritual leader of our home.  he's going to be a part of our children's walk with Christ.  i've never doubted either of those things, but it took courage for him not only to confess that but to confess that out loud to 40 other broken Jesus followers.

so trust we will.  follow we must.  and listening.  yes.  always, listening to His whisper.  my hubby and i, hand in hand, are learning by walking.  which is more like an abraham than a jonah.  so jackson, it is.  for now.  and He's made my heart okay with that.

all for His glory.  and in His grace.  amen.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

my 2 cents about israel

so it's been a week since my return from israel.  and over the course of that time i've had some time to reflect and ponder over what took place those 12 days.  i'm putting my thoughts into words so that I won't forget.  because i never want to forget.  ever.  every last minute of that "once in a lifetime" trip.  but, i have to confess, i'm writing it for you as well.  in hopes that maybe, just maybe, His Spirit will nudge you and place in your heart a desire to go to israel.  and if He does, which he very well may, i pray you will be obedient to the nudge.  because it is so worth it. 

and with that being said, here's my two cents...

top 10 reasons to go to israel:

10.  when God clearly makes a way for you to go...you go.  what i mean by clearly is not only were my hubby and i graciously gifted with this trip BUT we also had four families step up and say they would take our 6 kiddos for 12 days.  all i can say is there are many treasures in heaven for y'all. seriously.  treasures. for. y'all.

9.  ethnic food and lessons in dining etiquette.  it only took me a few days of eating breakfast at the hotels when i finally realized having a salad bar with lettuce and toppings and dressing was the norm for that part of the world.  not to mention corn or mushrooms or fish...for breakfast.  i usually stuck with good ole yogurt and granola.  and as far as dining etiquette...there are NO lines.  none.  standing in line for a buffet style dinner means nothing to the native israelis.  there's no such thing as waiting in line.  if you want to get something to eat, just go for it.  which was slightly challenging for this rule follower, recovering type-A personality kinda gal.

8.  an awesome workout.  hiking 6 - 10 miles a day for 12 days is a great cardio workout plus carrying a camelback along with all your gear (bible, guidebook, journal, snacks, shot bloks) is great strength training.  my arms haven't looked better, nor have my legs.  although over time i had a hard time seeing my ankles due to the swelling.  (can you say "cankles"?)  my feet were about three times their normal size by the end of the twelve days.  even with that it was well worth it and i wouldn't have changed a thing.

7.  an insula (family) builder.  when we (41 of us from different walks of life) started out on this trip we each had our own reasons for going and our own journeys we were on.  some were more reserved than others in telling their stories about why they were on the trip or what they were really hoping to come away with when all was said and done.  but after you hike with, eat with, sleep with, carry water bottles for, encourage a fellow teammate who says they can't take another step, grab a hand to help the one behind you up the next steep climb; share snacks with, share sunscreen with, share sweat rags with, smell each other's stinky selves (there was not enough deoderant or body spray in the world to cover all our stink)...with all of that, walls came down and hearts were shared and we became an insula.  'cuz we're all equal at the foot of the cross and it really didn't matter what brought all 41 of us to this place when it was obvious that it was sovereignly ordained by our loving heavenly Father.

6.  to be a sheep.  not literally, of course.  but we were told from the very start that we needed to be able to trust our leader/shepherd (a.k.a. rod vansolkema, one of the pastors of crossroads bible church) which meant we very rarely knew where we were going or what we would be seeing until we arrived at the site and were told whether it would be a 1, 2, or 3 water bottle hike.  and for most of those sites we had to hike up mountains, through valleys, across desert, through wadis in order to reach the spot our shepherd wanted us to land.  and when we landed it was always well worth the trek.  always.  not only because the view was spectacular and breathtaking and made the Bible/Living Word really come to life but because you had to push against yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  or maybe it wasn't you pushing against yourself so much as it was you wrestling with God about your own human limitations.  and you wrestling with TRUST in the Gentle Shepherd.  and wrestling with keeping your eyes on the Gentle Shepherd.  to follow Him.  and Him alone.

5.  a marriage strengthener {smile}.  in order for something to become stronger, it has to be weak or broken. right?  well, broken and weak is what my marriage is without Jesus.  and even as i type those words my mind goes back to a point towards the end of our trip when i literally had an all. out. panic. attack.  (ask me about the holy sepulcher)  and wanted to go home...home as in coopersville, mi, usa (ask me about peeing my pants, if ya want).  through both of those unfortunate events, my hubby was a rock.  he let me share my fears without judging and also gently questioned and challenged me as to why in both of those situations i was not able to trust him.  and he reminded me that he would not let anything bad happen to me.  but me in my pride and being a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kinda gal wasn't gonna let anyone, even my hubby, tell me what to do. the other question he asked in a non-condemning way was, "why didn't i trust Jesus?".  good question.  and i don't have a good answer.  i could go on and on and on about justifying my actions but the bottom line is i trusted Jesus up until that part of our trip and then i "took my eyes off Him".

4.  to experience the richness of culture.  one of the stops we made was the western wall in old city Jerusalem where men, women, and children of all ages come to pray/read Torah/study.  i could have sat and people watched for hours.  the way the young girls and women were modestly dressed.  and the young men and fathers with their yarmulkes and little boys running around with their payots (sidecurls).  priceless.  another experience was observing a jewish Shabbat shalom.  from Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown, no work.  they rest (except for those who have services for foreigners).  all of it made me wonder is culture alive and well in America today?  if so, what does it look like?

3.  a lesson in letting go.  leaving 6 kiddos behind might sound easy but for this momma it was a big deal.  i was especially concerned about my middle daughter, k.  so my hubby bought a cell phone plan that gave us unlimited texting and some minutes to talk.  and we also were able to skype twice with most of the 6.  but we had to coordinate times (israel is 7 hours ahead), know where we were going to be, and have internet availability or at least not be out in the middle of the desert in order to make contact with any of them.  so most nights when we had no contact with any of our 6 i had to let go my need to know they were okay and just trust that He was taking care of them.  no news was good news. 

2.  quiet time.  one of my favorites.  there were times during our hike that our shepherd would say, "okay, for the next part of our hike we're going to be silent".  that was like music to this momma's ears.  i was able to quiet my heart and open my ears to hear what He wanted to share with me.  something i find hard to do at home but was challenged to strive for it even when it seems unattainable.  for other insula members it wasn't easy to be silent...to push out the noise and really listen to what God wanted to speak to their hearts.  it's not easy.  but it's part of the journey. 

1.  LIFE CHANGING.  not. even. kidding.  and it's really hard to put into words but let me just say that when our group was told by the shepherdess (a.k.a. libby vansolkema) at jfk airport to do two things, "get alone with God and ask him to open your eyes to see what he wants you to see and open your ears to hear what he wants you to hear while you're in israel.  AND take a good look at yourself in the mirror because you will not be the same person when you come back".  i, honestly, didn't entirely believe her.  (sorry libby, if you're reading this)  i mean really, how can i not come back the same person?  but she was right.  God started doing something new in me while i was there.  something i've never experienced before.  and all i can say is it has been, and i pray forever will be, life changing.

all.  everything.  in His grace. and for His glory.

amen.