Wednesday, April 30, 2008

You Said That Before

While considering what to post, I thought I would look back over some of our early posts and see what might be worth revisiting. This is a post from May 6, 2007. It is based on a question.

Today at church, two different people asked me a question I had not considered before, "Are you going to be sad to leave your job?" It caught me off guard - both times. Am I going to be sad? I have basically worked there since I graduated from high school some 19 years ago. Am I going to be sad? It has supplied me with a good income and a good deal of training. It will be a big change in my life. But sad? I hadn't thought about that.

At times I have hated my job and would have done nearly anything to get away from it. But that was never His plan; so there I stayed, praying waiting, and watching. Then there would be a conversation of faith with someone and I was reminded of the mission field all believers are in regardless of where we are.

As we have prepared for this transition, coworkers have asked me if I am looking forward to leaving my job. Over and over I have responded that my excitement is about the new direction that my Lord has placed before us. I generally enjoy my current work - even with its stresses.

Am I going to be sad? I guess I don't have an honest answer yet to that question. I suppose I will miss many of the people and the predictable income. But I am leaving with the expectation of doing what I think God has prepared me to do. I suspect that when things are going well, there will be no sadness. When things are not going so well, there will be much whining (with or without sadness).

I suppose my answer has not changed much at this point. Going back to work for the outage was good in that I was able to see some friends again before we take off. It was also good to see another way that God can provide. But my joy and excitement is not about leaving the plant and all it entails, but rather in pursuing the path He has set before us.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

One Month

Only one month left! We leave one month from today! There is so much left to do, but God is faithful to provide a way when we follow where He leads.
We have ordered some luggage so we can maximize our packing. Thanks to those who offered packing suggestions. We are still open to any tips or tricks you may have to offer. We need all of the help we can get.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Concrete Angel

This morning got off to a rough start. Being the father of four girls and the only male in the house, I have become quite sappy and can get emotional somewhat easily. The first class of the day at EMS Expo was about child abuse - Good Morning! WHAM!

I had not understood the title of the class, Saving the Concrete Angel, until the speaker played the video below. (I don't recommend watching it unless you are ready to shed a tear, yourself.) This is somewhat outside of the scope of our blog, but I am including it today because it hit me so hard.

Having only served in EMS at the plant, it is easy for me to not think about all of the things my EMS counterparts who serve in our communities encounter. This week has been a reminder for me to keep these people in our prayers. They see some heavy stuff. They help people through their darkest hour on a daily basis. I cannot imagine trying to sleep after responding to some of the situations I have heard discussed and seen pictures of in the past few days.

Our family has a practice that when we hear a siren, we pray for the people who need help and the person who is going to help them. It is easy to not think about the responder. This week has reminded me that my prayers for their well-being need to extend beyond just protection of their bodies but their minds as well.



Friday, April 25, 2008

Ballrooms and Backboards

Wednesday morning I got up early and travelled to the EMS Expo. It is being held at the Amway Grand Hotel - posh for this small town boy. I included pictures because I know my little princesses would enjoy looking at the elegance of the room. Pay no attention to the EMS personnel who are paid so little that they would never be able to afford such accommodations for their own enjoyment. Of course, most of us don't actually stay at the Grand. I am staying at a Days Inn in a nearby town. Much more reasonable.
Wednesday and Thursday I spent most of my day in a course called Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support. That is a lot of fancy words for, "Get hurt people to the hospital with air going in and out and blood going round and round." It was a good class. Given my limited practical experience - fortunately not many people get hurt at nuclear plants - this was a really good class for me to review some of the basic philosophies and actions to take when someone is really hurt.

Pictured above are the paramedics that I was fortunate enough to be teamed with during the class. They were a great help and taught me a number of things as we talked and worked together. Thank you Leasa and Senez for helping your EMT!

I was also able to squeeze in a couple more classes this (Thursday) evening. I have earned 18 credits so far - wooo hooo!

Thank you to the doctors who have agreed to help to underwrite the expenses of this training for me. You have no idea what this means to my family. Hopefully, I will never need to use this training. But if I do, any good that comes from it is a result of your generosity.

Grand Rapids is a nice city - quite a compliment from someone who hates to be in the city. But just down from the hotel is this nice little park. I am not sure you can read the signs in the background, but Subway is just across the street. I have been able to enjoy a couple meals sitting under a tree enjoying the sunshine - nice.

I miss my girls and won't see them again until Sunday afternoon. Two are spending time with Grandma and Grandpa, while Lisa and her mom are taking the other two to visit Lisa's grandparents for the weekend. I am looking forward to a day next week where we can spend a day all together.



Monday, April 21, 2008

Mary, Martha, and Tom

Today I finished my tour of duty as a contract RP technician. It was good to see my friends at the plant again. I believe the Holy Spirit was at work in setting the scene for several conversations I was a part of during the outage. I pray that He will work in the hearts of those involved that they may see the Father more clearly.

Now for the work of getting ready to go. Personally, I am looking forward to this next week as a large part of my preparation. Because of my schedule during the outage, I have not been at church for the past several weeks. Additionally, I have not made time for regular prayer and study. I am looking forward to spending more time than usual at the feet of the Father. I hope to use my evenings when I am away at the EMS Expo this week to reconnect with Him. It is easy to focus on the logistics of moving and let the One for whom we are moving fade in importance. I miss the times - or rather, lifestyle - of worship and prayer I experienced during our Crossroads Discipleship Training School. Talking with God and listening for His voice was becoming a natural part of my day. I long to regain the intimacy that has faded. This intimate walk with Him is the most important part of our (my) preparation. That is an easy thing to forget.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Not in the Twilight Zone

For whatever reason, I have been waking up at about 5:30 a.m. on a regular basis. I am not one to feel like being an early bird, not being interested in worms for breakfast or any other meal for that matter. If I was a bird, I would tend to be more like an owl. Eating snacks in the quiet dark of night, free from the labors that come from a nest full of little ones saying, "Can I have some?" Anyways, a good use of that hour and a half before my nest gets noisy would be of course spending time alone with God which I do many mornings. Then there are some days like today that I just lay in bed thinking,"I'll just stay in bed a little longer..." So I am just laying there and I feel the bed start to shake,and it continues to shake for some seconds. Being the intelligent person I am, I think, "Wow, that felt just like an earthquake. (Not that I've ever experienced one but we did just study them this year in science.) But this is Michigan, so I must have dozed off and it was just a dream." NOT! The news was a buzz with stories of the 5.2 quake. No need to be concerned about the girls, they slept through it. They tend to be more like me than their early bird father and relaxed in their bed several minutes after the blare of their alarm signaled them to begin the day just like any other day.


Friday, April 18, 2008


Just the word "packing" causes me to feel a wee bit stressed. You see there are six of us and last year, when faced with packing for 5 months, it was challenging enough and that was knowing we were going to spend the first 3 months in close proximity to a mall and the All-American Wal-Mart. Part of the challenge was we had no idea where we would be going on outreach. Now we know where we will be living. Still six of us. Not 5 months, 2 years. Thomas tends to be a minimalist packer and I tend to be a "just in case" packer. In the end it is the airlines that set the limit. We are each able to check two bags up to 70 pounds each. For those of you trying to quickly do the math, that's 840 pounds. Sounds like a lot. After all, I could check a few girls. Then there's all the books and school stuff, they're heavy. The next requirement is the size limitations. Our checked baggage has to be 62 inches or less, when you add the different dimensions. Great real life school so I had Adriana figure out the total volume we could check. Didn't you hear her say "Yes, ma'am, I would be happy to do another math problem." No, I didn't either. Anyhoo, that's 82,212 cubic inches. Then Thomas continued the late night math lesson and had her figure how many cubic feet that would be. The answer is 47.576388cubic feet. That's just under 8 cubic feet per person. Obviously we will be stopping way before the kitchen sink! There's always those amazing vacuum pack bags. Quite entertaining to see the huge bag shrink something big and bulky like a sleeping bag into something flat like a pancake. We do each get to take a carry-on along with a purse, briefcase, or small backpack. So if you see me with one of those HUGE purses and we look like we've gained weight, don't be surprised. One of the girls had the great idea that we could each wear several layers of clothes on the flight. It's great to problem solve with our children, we told her to keep thinking. So we are looking for the best luggage at the best price of course. Any recommendations? Also, love to hear from you, if you were us, packing for 2 years of life in the Philippines, what would you make sure to pack?


Tuesday, April 15, 2008


What homeschooling looks like varies among the many different families. Tonight we joined family for the movie Nim's Island. The main character, Nim, is homeschooled. She spends her days playing with her animal friends and reading books. This would be just what Adriana would love school to be like. Of course, being that we will be living in the Philippines, she would have different animal companions, maybe a gecko on her shoulder, a chicken and a stray dog following her around. Not sure the rest of us would like to live far away from everyone, dining on meal worms, however.

I have spent many, many hours thinking and planning our next two years of school. We will not have the luxury of a library full of shelves upon shelves of books. We will not have a Wal-Mart to pick up all the misc. school supplies, stuff for science experiments...As far as I know the nearest bookstore is six hours away. Between the four girls, we will be covering first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth grades. In all this anxious planning, I am reminded of what someone told me long ago. This was before we even had any children. His family homeschooled and I asked him, "How do you know you're teaching them everything they need to know?"

He replied without hesitation, "My job is to introduce them to their Heavenly Father. He will make sure they have everything they need for what He has planned for them."

These next two years our homeschool will probably look different but I'm thinking it will be crammed full of learning way beyond any textbook or curriculum. Hopefully we will all know Him more and those around us will too.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Announcing the Brand New...

Some of you have been waiting and waiting for this new blog we spoke of weeks ago. After much discussion and then more discussion (there are many decisions to be made in creating a blog and with four girls there are plenty of opinions...) the girls' very own blog is ready for its debut. Check it out and post a comment. Really they are the missionaries, we are just there beside them; because what kind of parents would send their children halfway around the world on their own?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Death and

They say the only sure things in life are death and taxes. With death, God is who I am accountable to and He has already taken care of it and I don't need to worry about the due date. Taxes, on the other hand, are created by man, made more complicated every year, and increase sales of aspirin as the deadline approaches.

This is the latest I have been in getting my taxes completed in a long time. But today, I sent my tax electrons on their way to the appropriate government offices through the magic of the internet. Usually, I have them completed and any refund safely in my bank account by this time. To say that 2007 was more complicated than previous years is a bit of an understatement.

I am a big picture kind of person. I like to take an idea and see how I can make it work. Details are not my preference. I generally see details as a necessary evil. Taxes are a detail, therefore taxes must be evil. Going into full-time missionary service is big picture. I have a pretty good grasp of the challenges we will encounter in this transition. I can handle that. Besides, God forgives, the IRS doesn't. God understands my intent. The IRS only cares about what made it to the paper.

Oh well. One more item is now checked off the to-do list. We have a whole 48 more days to clean up the rest of the list.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

First Game of the Season

Tonight was Annalise's first soccer game. I got some exercise running around the field coaching our team to victory. We did not let the fact that our opponent scored on the kick-off discourage us. Later we managed to score on a throw in. As you can see from the photos, Annalise had fun. Really that is what is important. All in all a great start to the season even though I had some difficulty keeping my team on the field during play. A few of the boys on the team would prefer to stay with their mothers. I was so excited that I was able to convince one of them to play the last quarter of the game and he was able to score. Just wait until we really know what we're doing out there...
Our little number 5 giving it all she's got.
Really it is a co-ed team!

Just one of the many goals we scored.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Long Days

Outage has officially arrived. For those of you not used to a job at a nuclear plant, that means working many hours of overtime while refueling. This is the first time Thomas has worked one as a contractor. Another first is working five 12 hour days then one day off schedule. In the past, he has worked six 12 hour days a week. A rotating day off means Saturday was his last time to have a weekend day off until the outage is over. He is up at 3:45 a.m. and home about 14 hours later. Too many nights of staying up so he can spend time with his girls has caught up with him and he is now sick. Contractors don't have any sick days so he went to bed under the influence of medicine so he can get up for another day.

The girls are not on Spring Break like many of the area schools. Our goal is to close the books on the Garden of Grace Girls Academy 2007/2008 school year at the end of this month. Outage is scheduled to be over then as well. Then we'll have just under a month to finish preparations for our move! Just writing that forces me to take some deep breaths so as not to be overcome with panic. So much still to do...


P.S. Outage has always been a challenging time for our family but we are thankful for the opportunity to earn some money to pay for those plane tickets. Don't think we're strong enough swimmers to make it otherwise.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I Hope...

I hope you see the faithfulness of God in everything He has made. I hope you learn to trust that all of this is His care sworn to you. But mostly, I hope you know Jesus through whom God has wildly and ferociously loved us. I hope you know and that you become sacramental to your neighbor who God also loves passionately. I hope you leave them little doubt about His love and the victory Jesus won over hate and death.
--Rich Mullins

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Alexie's Cafe

Saturday was the grand opening of Alexe's Cafe. Reservations were required and the restaurant was quickly filled with hungry customers. Alexie and her staff were kept busy making pizzas and sundaes. It was a successful evening of fun. I know many of you are anxious to call in your own reservations to be served by such adorable waitresses but the kitchen is currently closed. It seems the staff failed to secure the necessary working permits. The authorities encouraged the girls to focus on school, soccer, and friends rather than having the fifth graders hold down a job waiting tables.
Service with a smile

Pizza made just for you

Ice cream always make a sweet ending

Adorable waitresses of Alexie's Cafe

Lisa, Tanya, Alexie, Jordan, and Emily