Stirring things up…

I know that there are some people that followed us through this blog while we went to Oregon.  Followed our spiritual journey, and prayed for us.  I am so grateful for that!  I have been blogging more candidly on my business page (Homespun Branding Studio) and because of that, I haven’t had time or felt like I could unload enough onto here.  However, lately things have changed in me and so I thought I’d ramble about it a little bit and share with those that don’t follow my business blog, but do want to know.

I went to North Dakota last week to serve on a Dakota reservation.  What I saw and experienced was heart-breaking, and it was good for me to see.  Good to be used and to be ministering everyday, to be on the front lines and exercising my faith much more than I normally do.  I found it to be pretty sad that it’s not like that everyday for me.

Something else happened as well.  The Holy Spirit was really at work on me.  I’ve experienced some awesome things in the last few months.  I experienced the beginning of what this was over a year ago.  Alone in a loft in a beach house with no connections to the outside world, I had a conversation with God that, boiled down, went like this: God, if you want me to do this, you’re going to have to give me the ability because otherwise I can’t do it.  I won’t be a distraction from You.  So I need you to give me more, to give me more natural ability, and more of You.

In the two weeks after that, He poured out His grace on me and did what I asked.  In the year and handful of months since, He has continued to do so.  This last week though, He continued it in another way.  I can’t really explain it because I really don’t understand it, but God put something more in me.  It was all Him, His timing and His Holy Spirit in me that just went to town doing His thing.  I don’t have to understand it, at least, not yet.  All I know is that He gave me something I didn’t have before, and something has changed in me.  And I sit here, grateful, and yet wanting more.  Every taste leaves me wanting more.

My epiphany from all of this is that there is an inheritance for those that love the Lord, that follow Christ unabashedly and wholeheartedly.  It is greater than we can imagine, and through the Holy Spirit, we can taste it now.  Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t just to save us from going to hell, it was the beginning of something.  We are perfected in the resurrection, and we are constantly being transformed and completed.  The more we love Him, the more we pursue Him, the more power, love, and presence we get.  Because the more affection we have for Him, the greater our capacity to hold Him and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Eph. 1:10-24 talks about the inheritance we gain in Christ through the Holy Spirit.  Of course, there are tons of passages like this in the New Testament that show us these kinds of promises.  For most of my life, I’ve read over them and not gotten it.  Now I read and I see and I’m floored at what God has in store for us as Christians if we just take ahold of it. Instead of being satisfied with the way things are (and honestly, how many of us are afraid of getting more of Him?), our souls and hearts should be crying out for more and more and more.  When we do, He gives it to us.  Why?  Because He desires intimacy with us.  He gives us the mind of Christ so we can know Him, and do His work.  Intimacy is a path…it isn’t “Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross and rising from the dead, I believe I am saved through Your sacrifice.”  That is just the very beginning!

So that’s where I’m at.  Our church in Mead is really revolutionizing my walk with Christ, really showing me how alive God actually is, and I am so grateful for so many of the people in my life and how their obedience has allowed me to walk this path.  Now that my eyes have been opened and I’ve experienced His loving presence so tangibly, I could never go back to the way things were in me, the way I used to live.  There is so much peace to be had, so much love and so much real life!

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A lot.

A lot has happened since I last posted on here.  So much.  I’m full of all of the things that have happened.  They overflow from me, and they pour back into me.

It’s hard to explain it all, and of course, I can’t just do that on this blog.  There’s too much.

We are out in the sea, our little family, in our little boat.  At the mercy of God, sailing after him with everything we have.  Our meager rations, our little sail.  It’s all we have to give towards following Him, but it’s everything, and so it is so much.

There are storms on top of storms out here.  But we are in a column of calm.  The chaos is coming against us from every angle, from below, trying to sink us and confuse us.  Trying to destroy us, but we are not worried because we know, we KNOW that we have a Victor that has already won.  There’s nothing that can harm us.  We are this little boat in this ocean of the unknown, caught in a current that is heading somewhere we can’t see, but we can look up.  We have thankfulness.  We have Christ.

A lot of people have been praying for us, and we can feel your arms around us.  We can feel the love you are sending us, the whispered prayers from your hearts to God’s.  Your hands are steadying our boat in the waves.  Your prayers mean everything to us.

i lift my eyes unto the hills verse

On Sunday I closed worship with Praise You In This Storm (Casting Crowns) after Jon preached a sermon about Amen.  It was so powerful to me, a song Jon had requested two weeks before because of his sermon, but it had so much more meaning to me than it normally does.  Which is saying a lot.  This song was my anthem when my Gramma died.  It was her anthem when she was dying.  It stirs deep emotions that have been trying to heal and scar.  Normally, I wouldn’t have gone near it, I wouldn’t have been able to.  But God-things abound here, and it was just what I was supposed to do.  When singing it, I just kept singing the bridge over and over…

I lift my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth.

It wasn’t planned, but the Holy Spirit led me there and the words sunk into my spirit like rays of light through the clouds and radiated through me, warmed me.  I know where my help comes from, and I look to Him expectantly.  A gentle reminder that He is here, Jon’s mom sent me a message telling me that she is praying Psalm 121 over us, and asking us to read it and meditate on it.  Guess what it says….

My Help Comes from the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Take heart, friends.  We are alive, we are standing firm.  When all we can do is stand, then still, we stand firm.  Our cleated warrior boots are dug into the ground, and He will not let our feet be moved.

We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, quite literally we could be in a thousand different places doing a thousand different things.  We don’t know what is happening with Jon’s health, and that is our biggest concern, so we are working on figuring out a diagnosis as soon as possible.  We are considering every option and the hows of every option, we are in flux.  We have a solid God that does not change, and He is always good and He is always faithful.  He has plans for us, we know.  He is not done with us, He has just finished building His foundation in us and that means something.  He has plans to prosper us and not harm us.  He is our Protector, our Refuge.  We are residing in Him.

Please, do not stop praying on our behalf.  We need it, desperately.  We love you all, our hearts are so filled with our love for you.  Thank you.  Each day, everything seems to flip a 180, everything we considered the day before seems to fly out the window, and sometimes new options cross our path, and we really have no idea where we are headed, but things are moving fast and it’s dizzying, and we are clinging to the hand of our Creator.  He is in control, and we trust Him completely.

 

More fun times for EJ

E is now just shy of 2 1/2 and things have changed a bit from last year.  We recently allowed him to eat too much soy, without realizing it.  When he gets bits of it in his diet over a period of time, then he doesn’t sleep.  We’ve known this from the beginning.  What’s new is that we have finally figured out the link.  Why do his food intolerances make him not sleep?  He doesn’t seem in a lot of pain.  Sometimes we can still hear him refluxing, we know that dairy and soy make that worse.  We always thought that the reflux made it hard for him to sleep.  But in the back of my mind, I knew there was something more.  He was too fidgety for it to be just that.  Almost hyperactive and on those nights, he adamantly will not sleep.  Hates laying down.  This lasts three hours or more, sometimes all night long.

On normal nights, though, he goes down perfectly.  Says his prayer, says, “goodnight, sweet dreams Mommy” and rolls onto his side and goes to sleep.

The link?  RLS.

I finally tried laying down with him during his most recent stint of not sleeping (it lasted about a week).  During that time, he wouldn’t stop moving around.  He finally fell asleep, and I could feel the bed shaking.  His legs were still moving, twitching, bouncing.  I couldn’t believe it.  I put my hands on them, and they still didn’t stop.  He stayed asleep though.

Every night when I put him down, I hold him and sing a song while pacing around.  It’s part of his routine, and it is the only thing that has ever worked for him.  Only this song and only a swinging motion.  Even while falling asleep or getting sleepy on me, he is kicking his legs.  I can’t remember when it started.  A long time ago.

When a child has food intolerances or allergies, their bodies don’t absorb nutrients efficiently.  Even when they eat well.  There is a very strong link between restless leg syndrome and nutrient deficiency.  I was shocked to find that out.  I don’t know why.

I know our food can have a tremendous impact on our health.  You eat to live, or you eat to die.

He is growing.  I think back two years ago, and I can’t believe we survived it.  It was awful.  Now, I believe he is catching up.  His height is closer to 50% than ever before.  He keeps getting taller, and his pants keep getting shorter, yet he’s so skinny they still fall off his hips.  I love that he is finally outgrowing clothes.  I thought he was going to be in 18-24 month clothes until he graduated high school.

Just kidding.  Mostly.

On top of the RLS stuff, a doctor thinks that E’s soy reactions sound more like allergies.  I don’t know about the dairy, it doesn’t seem to be worsening and I let him eat things with butter sometimes.  The soy is definitely getting worse.  He breaks out around his mouth now if he eats something with it, like eczema.  Bright red and irritated.  No hives though.  It only takes one consumption of it to mess up his sleep patterns.

He also still has the nastiest diapers ever.  I don’t know if he could fully potty train just because of that.

Prayers for this are always appreciated.  He is a healthy boy, and such a joy to us.  He is hilarious and loves to laugh.  It could be so much worse, it has been worse, and we can tackle these issues.

And you know what?  I’m still grateful.  I hate that he has gone through so much already in his life, but at the same time, his issues have had a huge impact on the health of all of us.  We have cut out all processed foods from our diets.  We don’t use refined sugar, only coconut sugar, raw honey, and grade B maple syrup.  We are in the process of cutting out wheat and many grains because of our gluten problems (it’s mostly me, but it affects us all).  We eat lots of good protein, veggies, good fats, and we are training our bodies to burn fat instead of carbs for energy.

It’s all because of E.

Then again, his problems probably come from the horrible food I was eating before he was born.  It’s a vicious cycle, but I’m glad to be awakened to it.

 

Spiritual Triage

Our churches meet once a week on Sunday.  Perhaps they have small groups throughout the week, maybe an event here and there.

What are we doing?  Who’s idea was it for churches to have one big meeting?  One day a week?  Large churches have Saturday services, sometimes they hold three or four during the week.  The same sermon preached four times, different people in each service.  How many people go to the same meal twice?  Where is the true community, the family, the unity of one body?

Churches aren’t just for feeding.  They are for equipping.  Leading.  Sending.  Utilizing.

Sending soldiers into battle.  There is a war on, and even though the battle is won, the battle is still going on.  For us, trapped by flesh and time, we are on the front lines.  But so many of us are sitting crouched in our bunkers, making ourselves comfortable, not even wearing our gear, our armor.

The church should look like a M.A.S.H. unit.  It takes in the hurting, the battered and bruised.  The leaders and pastors are there to assess, to perform triage.

Who needs help the most?  Who needs healing?  Who is ready for it?  Assess those wounds!  The battle rages around the church, the front line of the war is so near, but so is the Kingdom.

We have access to the Doctor, the great Healer, Jesus Christ.  And yet we walk by the wounded as though they are fine.  We see them, bleeding, curled into balls in the streets and we walk right by them.  We even share a smile.

Where is our sense of emergency?

Thought the battle is won, and we have a Victor, the souls still hang in the balance.  We are here to fight for those souls and save the lost.  We are here to love, to share Christ, and to be vigilant.

 

Christianity

Unschool // Houseschool // Homeschool

Huh?  Yeah.  Apparently, there are a million ways to homeschool your children.  And it’s confusing, because each one is like a different community with different beliefs on how to do it the “right” way.

Jon and I have decided to homeschool our kids.  It wasn’t an easy decision.  It’s something that I always thought I’d be good at, and that I would love my kids to get to have that.  There is a big homeschool group here, and they are active.  They have get togethers.  I think there are over 60 people in it, each with kids.  So pretty big.  But.  The challenge of it seemed overwhelming.  I’ve been saying for awhile that I am not made to be a stay at home mom.  I have tried so many things, wanted so badly to work from home.  After moving here, I have tried to rebuild my photography business, to no avail.  There’s just a very small market on the coast and over saturation everywhere else in Oregon.  Not that it is impossible.  It’s just a competition that I’m not that interested in.  I’ve never been a business-minded person.  I’d much rather use my creative skills to further God’s Kingdom.  To increase awareness for missionaries and causes that have that same aim.

While that stews in me, Charlie is ready for pre-school.  And she is really smart.  In fact, Emry is probably ready for a little pre-preschool as well.

Planning is easy.  I really enjoy the organizing and planning stages.  Love it.  And God is changing me.  I am enjoying my days with my kids a lot more, even though I have less actual work to do.  I have a job, I am the worship pastor.  I do have duties to do throughout the week for it, and it is very fulfilling.  For now, it is a part-time commitment.  Unlike Jon, who is working two full-time jobs (our positions at the church are missional at this time).  Eventually, I’d love to see a more formal group be developed.  A homeschool cooperative that keeps it Christ-centered, but doesn’t take away from the home teaching.

It’s amazing how fast children change.  It seems like they stay the same for awhile, and then, when you’re not looking, they quickly morph.  They become butterflies, and you missed the cocoon.  They flutter around in a new kind of beauty, and it’s fascinating.

Starting in September, Charlie will begin school.

Now we just have to get the teacher grandparents out here to help!  Granny for math and science and Nana for English and Grampa Craig for nature walks and theology and more science and Poppy for playing and learning about who God is, faith, and joy.  Consider this your official job offer!  Ha!

Prayer Requests:

  • Funds for school supplies
  • Fall clothes for the kids, especially long-sleeve shirts for both and jeans for E (he’s finally growing like a weed!)
  • Additional income through lessons and photography
  • Emry now has RLS symptoms and his reactions to soy and dairy have been a lot more severe
  • Phyiscally, Jon’s been worn down and sick and stressed, but in good spirits
  • Our church would continue to grow and we need a building

 

And some praises too!  We are so blessed here!  Our church family is wonderful and supportive.  We are all pretty healthy, especially in comparison to the past couple of years.  We know without a doubt we are where God wants us, and are lives are filled with a deep peace because of that.  Even when storms rage, the peace is inside.  Spiritually, we are being fed and growing as well.  We love our pastors.  And God is so good.  So very good.

godisgood

 

visitations // part one

I can’t really process the last two weeks, so instead I’m just going to blog.

After four days of traveling through the plains, the sandhills, the Rockies, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, desert, high desert, the Cascades, and the Coastal mountains….they finally got here.  My mom and stepdad, the first to come visit us in Oregon.  Hopefully the first of many trips for them, and the first of many friends and family.  We’ve made it both hard and easy…we live in one of the most amazingly beautiful places in the country, but it’s also remote and takes quite an effort to get to.

Southern Oregon

Crater Lake on their way to Brookings

They arrived around 2 and we said our joyful hellos, a little incredulous that they were actually here.  We got in the car so I could show them around Brookings, had some dinner, and then they headed to the Bluff House where they stayed for half of their time here.  I felt so full.  I wanted to show them so much, and impress them with the magnitude of awesome things in the area.  Because there are a lot…I don’t even know that much!

Katie Dommel

all decked out walking to the store

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showing their booty…bags full of toys from the money that Gigi sent

The next day, Jon was off of work, and we started the morning with Bible study with some ladies from The Rock, then all piled into the car and went to Harris Beach.  It was a beautiful day, but not quite sunny.  There was a marine layer hanging about, above our heads and just offshore.  It made everything ethereal, as though we were in a different world where the sky moved like smoke.  It was beautiful.

Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, Oregon

Heading to the water

E has to be watched like a hawk at the beach because he just wants to run headlong into the crashing waves.  Hasn’t gotten a mouthful of water yet, and hasn’t had a close call to scare him off.  Craig and Jon had their hands full.

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C and her daddy

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Grampa and E

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Jon and the kids

C, on the other hand, is obsessed with the sand.  Especially if it’s warm.  She lies down and swims in it.

Me and C after I got her up off her belly

Me and C after I got her up off her belly

We were all hungry afterwards, so we went out for pizza at Zola’s Pizzeria.  And wow, it was amazingly delicious!  Sitting on a picnic table outside the pizzeria right on the boardwalk…bliss.  I tried to soak it all up, the feelings and the joy…but it’s already hard to grasp and remember it all.

This was only the first two days, but it’s about all I want to relive right now.  It’s hard for me because I lived within an hour of my mom my entire life.  Really, I was always that close to most of my extended family.  On top of that, we spent a majority of the last year living with Jon’s parents, and so being here, 2,000 miles away from any of them….well, it’s different.  And it’s hard.  But it’s not too hard.

Having this visit from my mom and Craig was wonderful.  I can’t wait for more.  A few days in, I remember thinking, this isn’t flying by.  This isn’t going too fast.  I’m taking it all in, and I’m so grateful for it.  But then, the last few days did fly by, and now it feels like a dream, even though I just said goodbye two days ago.

Why do we need patience?

Patience…I’m starting to get what that means.  I know I am only getting a taste of it, too.  I know when I am twice my age and looking back, I will probably laugh a little at what I thought was hard at 30, and what I thought I was learning.  What I think is a great epiphany now is just the beginning of wisdom.

Still, I feel like getting this down.  I think it’s an important step in the thinking process.  When I used to think about patience, I would remember all the people in my life that said, “Don’t ask for patience, because you’ll get it.”  We learn patience through trials and suffering, and waiting for something better to happen.  Basically, patience really sucks.

Throughout the past year, I’ve learned a lot about sowing and reaping.  God blesses a giving heart.  It works that way with faith as well.  Step out in faith, and you’ll get more.  Of course, I am simplifying faith, but it really does work this way when you boil it down.  When you look at your life objectively and keep track of your prayers, you can see God moving in your life.  He is alive.  A very important truth.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

There is a lot going on in these verses.  What I am focusing on in regards to patience is that we are running a race, and it’s not a 100 meter dash.

We are running the greatest marathon, and there are a lot of people falling by the wayside.  Patience is a virtue because we need it!  We need to set a pace and work steadily toward the goal.  God teaches us patience because the race is a lifelong marathon, and if we are to make it to the end with our eyes on Jesus the whole way, we need patience. We need it!

God has given me dreams, and I want to reach out and get there.  I want to dive in head first, unprepared because I want to see how it all comes together.  I want to see the view from the mountaintop without the climb.  But half of the satisfaction of that view is the effort it takes to get there.

So instead of spending time brainstorming, wondering what I can be doing to hurry it all along, I wait on Him.  If I come to the water every morning, I am refreshed, and ready for another day of running steadily.  Every morning I must strip off the unnecessary things I tend to heave on my back throughout the day before.

Do you see the importance of patience?  Do you see the importance of daily coming to the Living Water and taking a deep drink?  Without it, we fall to our knees and lose sight of what is most important in this life.

1 Corinthians 9:23-25:  23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishablewreath, but we an imperishable.

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