Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Movin' On

Welp, the time has come.  I've officially become a Wordpress girl.  Soooo....being the hi-tech gal that I am, I managed to move all the content from this blog on over to our new blog (that actually has a name relevant to the stuff we talk about..ha!).   

You can find our new blog at wideawakefamily.com  

That isn't the official Wide Awake International site, it's just the new spot for this family blog. 

Soooo don't come here anymore, 'cause it will be really boring. :)  I hope to hear from you at our fancy schmancy new spot!  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Guess What We Just Did??

Today.  Today is a very big day.  

Today we sat down at the computer and bought 6 one-way tickets to Ukraine.    

After we finished our transaction Jed and I just stood there looking at each other with really stupid grins on our faces.  HA!  

"We just did that!"  

I've traveled a lot, but I've never, ever bought a one-way ticket...or SIX one-way tickets!  

God is so faithful to us.  We had budgeted $7,000 for airfare based on the rates we had seen and paid before.  The tickets we bought this morning totaled a whoppin' $3,600.  WHAT???  That's right!  Praise God!  

So, November 12th (11/12/13...yes!) we'll be leavin' on a jet plane, bound for our new life in Ukraine.  

Giddy doesn't even begin to describe it.  Scared out of our brains doesn't even begin to describe it either.  Happy as clams and sad as can be at the same time.  82 days and we'll be off!  YEEHAW! 

Do you have questions for us?  I'm preparing to do a big detail-filled post for your reading pleasure :) We try to fill you all in on the details, but it's easy to forget what we've told people and what we just think we've told people.  Ask away and we'll be more than happy to give you an answer!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tangled Up Knots of Goodness

"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you?  Who said anything about safe?  'Course he isn't safe.  But he's good.  He's the King, I tell you."
-The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

We've been reading The Chronicles of Narnia aloud for the past few weeks.  First we read The Magicians Nephew, and we just finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe today.  Wow.  So timely.  

This thing is really happening.  How did it get to be almost the end of August? This is really happening- and it's happening soon.  I wish I could put into words the way I feel, the wild knot of emotions that run through my heart and mind all day these days.  

As we're cleaning out our two rooms here in our temporary home in preparation for our final garage sale, I find myself almost unable to wrap my brain around the fact of what needs to go.  This is it.  We aren't storing anything but keepsakes.  There's no back-up-plan storage unit filled with our stuff "just in case".  It all has to go.  All In.  

A Bible study for moms is starting up at church in September, and I'll only be around for a couple of the sessions...then they'll continue to meet and I'll be gone.

Our Home School co-op will continue, plans being made for the year and we won't be there.

At church camp this past weekend I was chatting with a missions friend about the massive intimidation of the Russian language and he said "Don't worry.  Take your time.  Think long-term; you've got years to learn it!"  OMG.  I guess I hadn't thought about it that way!  :)  This isn't a crash course in Russian, this is life.  

I'm so excited for what God has.  I've never felt more alive or more filled with faith than I do right now.  I've never known, like I know now that we are exactly, precisely in the palm of God's hand.  

In some moments I don't worry at all.  In some moments I feel giddy about what this new life will bring, fairly bursting with optimism, peace, hope, and joy in the journey.  In other moments I feel afraid, overwhelmed, and a little like I know we have absolutely no idea what we are getting ourselves into.   

So, you probably get the idea that the knot of emotions and thoughts is pretty impossible to untangle right now.  But that's okay!  It's messy, but it's okay.  All God is asking of us is to say yes to Him, and to trust in His goodness.  

Is this a safe move?  Well, God didn't call us to safety.  He called us to yes.  I have no doubt that safe or not, it will be good.  Very good. 

Tonight, whatever you are facing, whatever 'yes' God is calling you to- trust in His goodness.  All He is asking for is your yes.  It might not feel safe.  It might feel really uncomfortable.  It might feel scary.  You might not be able to predict the outcome.  You might not be able to wrap your brain around the sacrifice, but I guarantee you also can't wrap your brain around the joy.  I know I can't, but I'm already getting amazing glimpses! It is our joy, it is your joy to say yes to Him.  Think about that day when all has been said and done and we stand before our King, our Love, our Friend.  Will it matter if we were safe and comfy?  Or will we take a deep breath after a life completely spent for Him and think "Whew!  Now that was a wild ride!"  

Say Yes.  Give it all.  Step out.  He is good.  He is worth it.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Saying YES is SO FUN.

We are alive!  We really are!

I have been a bit of a blog slacker lately, it's true.  It's not because I have nothing to say...we all know that would never be the case!  ;) It's just that we've been go, go, going like crazy and I simply haven't had the time to tell you all about it.

Delicious stop along the way

I'm a broken record, but I really can't believe how good God is.  Every time we have a worry He covers it.  A couple weeks ago we were worried about how we would be able to get the word out further than just the people we know right now.  We didn't have speaking engagements lined up, though we'd put the word out to many, many pastors.  We just weren't getting a response.  Oh dear, how we love to just hop in and take matters into our own hands.  All the while God just watches us with a little smirk on His face like "Oh this'll rich.  I can't wait to see what they do."  And all the while He KNOWS exactly what HE wants to do, and if we'll be still enough to give Him the right of way things turn out so much better.  Whew.  Still learning that one...obviously.

Tongue of concentration

We were worried about getting the chance to share and then when we had nothing left to do but sit and wait God had His way.  BAM.  We've been busier than ever sharing the word about Wide Awake and it couldn't be more awesome.

A couple weeks ago we got to share about Wide Awake with a church on the coast.  The people were so welcoming, so warm, almost giddy with excitement to hear what God is doing.  Awesome.


Then this past weekend we got the extreme honor to share Wide Awake and our story of "Yes" with the Vineyard youth of the NW at "Anthem", the NW regional youth conference.  Oh man, so stinkin' fun.

We stood in awe as many young men and women said yes to Jesus.  We got to pray over them, encourage them, cheer them on in following Jesus one step at a time.  We cried tears of joy as one girl said yes to Jesus for the very first time.  The Vineyard youth of the NW are AWESOME.  We made many new friends and hopefully we'll see many of them in Ukraine some day sayin' yes to Jesus.  :)

A big bonus of the trip was that several pastors who were there with their youth got to hear about Wide Awake and we've been invited to share at 4 more churches!  Praise God for that big answer to prayer!  The visions and dreams God has given us are too big for our church to support on its own.  Many, many hearts must get behind this thing.  We are thankful for the opportunity to share with whoever will listen!


What's up next
-The Wide Awake website should be up and running THIS WEEK!  Be on the lookout!  That webpage will be a great place to direct your friends who need to hear about Wide Awake.  It will also have easy ways to give financial support online.

-This blog will soon be moved to a Wordpress site.  I'll let you know when that happens, but just be forewarned...changes are a'comin!

-We'll be traveling almost every weekend between now and October, sharing Wide Awake at churches, saying goodbye to faraway family, and spending precious time with dear friends.

-This is Jed's last week of full-time work as he transitions out of his job.  His last day of work at his current job is September 12th.  (just typing that gives me goosebumps on my arms and butterflies in my stomach simultaneously)

If things go as planned we'll be making our big move in approximately 14 weeks.  Good gravy.


PS: Although we have a lot of speaking dates lined up we are not too busy to share with you and your friends!  We would love to come to your home or your small group to share about Wide Awake.  We have all the time in the world to answer questions and meet with those who want to hear.  Bring it!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

All In.

Home again!  The National Vineyard Leaders Conference was basically amazing awesomeness wrapped up in wonderfulness.
Best.Time.Ever.  I loved every second of it.  

Truth be told, I was a bit nervous heading into this conference.  I may, or may not have shed a few tears over it in nervous anticipation.  Ha!  I wanted Jed to be the one to represent us, but he had to work, so he sent me instead.  He's the "connector extraordinaire".  I'm usually too busy herding kids to do much connecting.  But, God definitely had a plan for me this week.  I'm still reeling in the wonder of it all.

This is an absolutely amazing time to be a part of the Vineyard family.  God is calling the Vineyard out in the areas of justice, mercy, and compassion like never before. 

"If we're Kingdom people- believing that God's kingdom is coming to earth right here and now- than we should be the frontrunners in justice, mercy, and compassion ministries"  
-Tri Robinson

YES!!!  Oh man, I loved it when I heard those words spoken.  To see a room jam packed with Vineyard folks wanting to know how their body can better serve the lost and forgotten did my heart good. I won't soon forget it.  

The theme of the conference was "All In".  "All In" has two meanings.  One meaning is that all ages are "All In".  All are needed for God's full purposes to be accomplished.  We don't just need the young- forgetting about the wisdom of the old.  We don't just need the older- forgetting about the energy of the young.  No.  ALL are needed in this movement.  We honor what each age can bring to the table.  Everyone gets to play.  

The second meaning of "All In", is that we are ALL IN.  Not just dipping our toes in the things of God, not just testing the waters. 
No.  We are ALL IN.   

"We believe that if the pursuit if the Kingdom of God is worth anything, it's worth everything."  
-Phil Strout (National Director, Vineyard USA)

He is worth everything.  EVERYTHING.  
Why not?  
What have we got to lose?  

One speaker that I loved was talking about the fear of the Lord.  He said that what we fear most is what we love most, what we want most in life.  We should fear losing sight of Jesus more than anything else.  More than fear of failure, fear of change, fear of losing my kids, fear of giving everything up...we should fear the Lord above all else.  

We're giving up just about everything to move to Ukraine.  We're all in.  But what do I fear?  I find myself fearing how my kids will do.  I find myself wondering if our kids will hate us for this decision.  I find myself fearing failure.  But, why?   If my kids are perfectly safe and comfy, but I have lost sight of Jesus, than it's all for not.  We must step outside of our coziness, our need for safety and control and fall into His arms.  ALL IN.  Fear losing sight of Him over fear of losing control, fear of being unsafe.  Jesus never called us to safety.  He bid us come and die.  Only then will we know true life. Oh boy, I want true life so badly.  I want to be all in- holding nothing back.  What have I got to lose?  If He is my reason for being...why not spend myself for Him?  

All In is saying yes.  Step, by step, by step we say Yes to Him. Comfort, my expectations, safety, all move aside in order that I might keep Him in my sights.  

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."
Matthew 10:37-39

Will you dive ALL IN with us?  What if you stayed on the same path you're on for the rest of your life?  Would it lead to Him?  What if? What if you said yes to Him today, and the next day, and the next day?  What have you got to lose?  Whatever it is, He is worth it.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Good Gifts

"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  
He will take great delight in you, 
he will quiet you with his love, 
he will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

You know that feeling when you're about to surprise your kids with something they really love?  I don't know about you, but when I know I'm about to bring my kids joy I can hardly contain myself.  I get so excited, looking forward to their reaction- the squeals (or screams) of joy, the huge smiles, the knocking-over-with-force hugs.  The fun things in life are that much more fun when I get to watch my kids enjoy them.  I delight in my children.  Greatly.

Yesterday I learned that no matter if my kids are small or grown, that delight in watching their joy won't end.  The same with our God.  He delights in us, His kids.  He LOVES bringing us joy and giving us good gifts.

So, I'm here in Anaheim for the National Vineyard Conference.  When my dad heard I was heading to Anaheim for this thing and we would be arriving a couple days early, he asked the burning question, "Are you going to Disneyland?"  Well, if you know me at all you know that I absolutely ADORE Disneyland.  I can't even adequately describe to you my love for all things Disneyland.  I love everything about it.  It's my most favorite place ever.  But, we were just given a trip to Disneyland in March and we're trying to pinch every penny to save for our big move, so I didn't think I could justify spending the money for a day in Disneyland.  My dad, delighting in his grown-up daughter simply replied, "Oh, you're going to Disneyland!"  He said if I could find a way to get there he would pay my way to spend the day.  You should have seen the grin on his face when he saw my joy.  Dad's love giving good gifts to their kids.  

So, the question remained, "how would I get to Disneyland?"  I was coming to the conference with our pastor (Lanny), his wife (Anne), and their two grown daughters (Christen and Abby).  I knew I wouldn't have a car, so I would just have to wait and see if it worked out.  We arrived in Anaheim and realized the little condo we are staying in is literally RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from Disneyland!!!!  Shut the front door!!!  Case closed.  Disneyland was definitely happening on Sunday.  (Plus the wifi password at the condo is "TO DISNEYLAND".  I took that as another sign.)  ;) 

On Saturday night as I prepared for Disney I was super excited, but a tad bummed that I was going by myself.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I could enjoy Disneyland alone- no problem.  But, I did realize it's much more fun to share your joy with someone else.  Annnnddddd the love of parents stepped in again.  Abby, Christen, and I were in the bedroom chatting and Anne walked in and asked the girls "Do you guys want to go to Disneyland with Kim in the morning?"  You should have seen the looks on their faces.  "Ummm OF COURSE!"  Anne let the girls know they would pay for them to go to Disneyland in the morning.  No matter what the age, parents love delighting in their children and giving them good gifts.  (I may, or may not have been jumping on the bed with joy...)

I know you might find it cheesy for me to use Disneyland to talk about the Father God's love for His kids, but if you do, you don't know me well enough, or understand the extent of my love for Disneyland.  :) When we were on Space Mountain I was just laughing- out loud!  I could not believe God gave me that opportunity before we head to Ukraine.  Before heading to Anaheim I actually had quite a bit of nervousness and anxiety about attending the conference.  I felt like "Who am I?  What business do I have attending this conference and chatting with other missions folks?  What makes me think they'll be interested in what we're doing?"  Well, Jed put me in my place about that.  He reminded me again that it's not about us or our abilities.  It's about obedience to The Lord.  All we have to do is say yes and tell our story.  The rest is up to Him!  This has never been about our abilities or lack thereof.  This is about what God is doing and His ability. 

When I was on Space Mountain I felt like God was saying, "Look at what I've given you today!  I am taking care of every single detail.  I love you and I love delighting in you and watching you laugh.  I delight just as much in my children in Ukraine in their cribs.  I'm their Father and I want to give them good gifts.  You don't worry.  No one will stand in my way.  I'm gonna give my babies good gifts and delight over them with singing- and I'm going to love every minute of it.  The joy you feel right now is just a glimpse of the joy that's on its way." Oh my word.  It brought me to tears.  I don't care how cheesy it sounds, God spoke to me on Space Mountain in a big way and I won't be the same.  

Today, wherever you are, whatever you're doing, know that YOUR Father in heaven delights in you.  He loves you.  He rejoices over you with singing.  Maybe things are rough for you.  Maybe you feel like you have nothing to be joyful about.  Maybe you think "Easy for you to say, Kim.  You don't know hardship!"  Maybe I don't know your hardship.  Maybe I've never experienced the pain you've experienced, but I've experienced the delight of the Father- and He is your Father too.   I know His Word is true.  If He can bring joy and delight to children wasting away in cribs, and He promises to do that, He can bring joy and delight to you.  Fix your eyes on Him and allow Him to father you.  This is not about your ability.  This is about God's ability and His great, never-stopping, overflowing, abounding love for you.  I see Him with a big ol' grin on His face.  That grin is for you just as much as it's for me.  

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." 
James 1:17

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The New Digs

We have some pretty fantastic news to share!

We know where we get to live in Zhitomir!!!!!  THIS IS HUGE!!!!

When we were in Zhitomir in May we stayed in a house that we talked about in this post.  Let me jog your memory.  We stayed in a house that is owned by a Ukrainian who lives in Israel. The house was renovated to be used as a small guest-house, or hostel for people who are coming to serve Mission to Ukraine (MTU), like mission teams, and people like us!  The house has 4 bedrooms and is literally like a 4 minute walk away from MTU.  People can rent the house out by the night, or just rent a room.  We loved staying there, and while we were house-hunting my smarty pants Mother-in-Law suggested we ask if we could rent that house for a year while we're living in Zhitomir.  Duh!  Great idea!  So, we asked Ira, the director of MTU if she would talk with the owner about us renting.  Ira, being the wise one that she is, was already a step ahead of us.  She had a feeling we would like the house so she had already contacted the owner.  :)  Well, we found out just a few days ago that the owner said yes!  Thank you Jesus!!! AND, he's renting it to us for well within our budget.  THANK YOU JESUS!  God is so good to us.  

It would have been so super smart of me to take pictures of the house while we were there, you know, in case the owner said yes...but of course I didn't.  We thought it was such a slim chance we would be living there- kind of like a pipe dream, I guess I just didn't think of it.  Lame.  Oh me of little faith, right?  So instead I guess I'll try to describe it to you.

The house isn't it's own free-standing structure, it's kind of connected/a part of a big building that I *think* is other houses.  You walk around the back of the building, along a pathway of 2x4's covering rubble, and our entrance is there in the back.  There's an un-used shed back there...hmmm, not sure if that comes with the house or not.  

When you walk in it's a pretty nice open space.  To the right is a dining room table and the kitchen.  The kitchen is one counter with sink, a little counter space, stove, and fridge.  What I love is that the kitchen is open to the dining area and entryway!  Most of the other kitchens I saw were a small separate room.  Having the kitchen in an open space will help us tremendously with homeschooling, and with just the fact that we have 4 kids.  :) To the left of the entrance is a bathroom with a tub, shower, and clothes washing machine (ooooooh so teeny tiny! Haha!).  Right next to the bathroom is a bedroom.  The house has no living room, so we'll turn that bedroom into a living room.  And then directly in front of you when you enter the house is the staircase leading upstairs. 

Upstairs is so great!  You walk up the stairs to an open hallway.  There are 2 bedrooms to the right and then on the left is a bigger bedroom with a shower in it.  Also on the left is a small bathroom with just a toilet.  Straight at the end of the hallway is an enclosed balcony where we will hang our laundry to dry.  We're thinking our kids will all share a room, like they do now, and we'll use that third bedroom upstairs as a guest room (hint hint)/Wide Awake International office space.  

Quirky things of note:
-The kitchen cupboards are made of bright purple metal.  Yesssssssss
-The stairs in the house are hazardous.  We're taking bets now on who's going to be the first Johnson to take a tumble down the ol' stairs.  They're like just a little too short for your feet, so you have to turn your feet sideways to walk down them.  They're also slippery, shiny wood.  This should be interesting...
-There is a drying rack for the dishes in a cupboard right above the sink.  So smart, right? 
-There are no closets in the bedrooms.  There are wardrobe thingies.  Addy is pretty excited about having a wardrobe.  Can you guess what book she's been reading?

Amazing things of note:
-It's a hop, skip, and a jump from MTU.
-It's like a 10-15 minute walk to the city center of Zhitomir where there are fun things to see, nice places to walk, and easy access to bus lines.  
-It's ground level; as in, it's not a flat 9-stories up.  YAY!  
-It's clean.
-It's furnished!  We were anticipating having to buy everything needed for a home when we arrived in Ukraine.  Now we can slowly accumulate the things we'll need for a future place over time.  The kitchen is stocked with the necessities for cooking, there are beds, linens, towels.  All we'll need to buy at the beginning is the fixin's to make the downstairs bedroom into a living room.  Easy peasy.  

What a huge answer to prayer.  This is just another way that God is laying out the path before us.  What a blessing that I can picture where we'll be living.  We can describe it to our kids.  We won't have to take a bus to MTU.  I could go on and on.  We are just so extremely thankful to the Lord.  He is too stinkin' good!!!