La Rambla, Pocitos

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

In Tune

If you are tone deaf then you probably don’t mind when an instrument is played out of tune or when a person sings and just can’t seem to hit the right note.  I’m no musician, but I live with a talented one, and I’ve become accustomed to beautiful music - so much so that now I cringe when music isn’t what it should be.   It wasn’t always this way for me; although I could identify an off-note, I hadn’t been around greatness enough to care.  But now that I’ve been listening to my wife play and sing for more than 13 years, and more than that, now I'm watching her lead people into the very presence of God, combining her musicality with her spiritual gifting; I dare say music and worship are forever changed for me.  

Both of us grew up in Christian homes, and our parents taught us so much about God and the things of God.  We grew up praying in our families and with people from church.  Our churches had prayer meetings.  But with all this richness, we somehow missed it.  Although we knew they were important, we saw prayer meetings as the most boring events at church.  Many in the church must have felt the same way because it was usually the least attended event in the church calendar.  Many times the whole meeting was changed into a teaching service with little time actually dedicated to prayer.   We grew up knowing prayer was important, and we valued it and practiced it, but we never really stopped to consider if we really knew how to pray or not.

That changed for us when we visited a church in Tallahassee, FL in October of 2010.  We were in one of the hardest times in our lives.  It had been a rough couple years.  I had begun experiencing panic attacks on almost a daily basis; we had no job; we were needing to move out of where we were living; we had just been told our opportunity to serve overseas with the C&MA was postponed indefinitely.  Our recent past, present, and near future were all a mess.  We still were invited to come to Tallahassee and spend a weekend, and we had no idea what we were going to share.  So we pretty much opened up and shared with the church what we were going through.  I’m sure it was pretty raw, and we didn’t know how the people would respond.  

That’s when it happened.  As I finished that opening meeting, the pastor called some people to pray for us.  I knew we needed prayer and didn’t blame the pastor for praying for these troubled people.  But as they began to pray, both Timbrel and I heard prayer like we’d never heard before.  It was beautiful music that was in tune.  Maybe we had heard others pray like that before in our lives, but this was the first time our ears caught it.  Something was beautiful about the way they prayed for us.  It was with authority, yet was so tender.  It was honest and genuine. That whole weekend, that church wrapped their arms around us in love, encouraged us in prayer, believed in God’s plan for us, blessed us financially, and gave us a plan for learning how to be in tune with God.  We quickly saw that we weren’t there to bless the church or have a missions emphasis weekend.  God had other plans, and we accepted and received the gift He had for us.

That weekend opened up a door for us, and we began to encounter and enjoy God's presence like never before.  We were drawn to this good music, and we wanted to more of it; we wanted to learn it.  Our hearts were drawn to be around the talented musicians who had been around Greatness.  We took the advice of that pastor and jumped in.  Our prayer life changed dramatically as we grasped our identity and began to live in it.  We were set free from so many strongholds. We hung around a lot of “good musicians,” and the secret we're learning is that they, like us, are part of the symphony, but it's the Conductor - He’s the one we really want to be around. The Conductor has welcomed us into His studio, and we are learning first hand from Greatness Himself.

The journey at times has been painful, but we leaned in and began to embrace what God started revealing.  We learned quickly that what God reveals He wants to heal.  He has opened up wound after wound, cleaned them, and applied healing oil to them.  As long as our response was “yes” to Him, we have truly learned that He is gentle and faithful with our vulnerability and honesty.  He is taking us places, and we are walking with Him in faith journeys, both personally and with others, we never would have imagined.  We have learned what Isaiah learned: He doesn’t break a bruised reed, but cares for it as the Master Physician, and makes it strong once again.  He is for us. He is making us whole. He knows what it looks like for us to be in tune with Him - holy as He is holy - doing what we were created to do, joining in the song of heaven and watching His kingdom spread in our surroundings, starting in our own house. 

"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, 
for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."
-Revelation 4:11

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Housework: Mundane or Meaningful?

Palm Sunday's so exciting. Thousands of people paving the way - adrenaline pumping, branches waving, anticipation rising.

Then it came time for the Passover meal. Think Thanksgiving Day when it comes to the scale of preparation required, only add specific and vigorous cleaning requirements along with the food and spices that took days to prepare.

Jesus had no house. His disciples apparently had no landing place either. I would have been stressing about where to eat Passover dinner at least six months ahead of this moment, but the disciples were clearly so caught up in each thrilling moment with Jesus that they it has only just occurred to them that they had no place to go for this major holiday - just now as Jesus says to Peter and John "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it" (Luke 22:8).

The disciples had lived moment to moment with Jesus for three years, seeing food appear from nowhere and miracles surge out of messes. Now it's on them to pop out a Passover??

Hence the obvious question "where will you have us prepare it?" (along with the certain thought...where do we get the million and one things required to make this meal?!?)

Someone had prepared "a large upper room, furnished" (Luke 22:12). Someone, in the midst of all the hype of Passover week, had prepared the environment where Jesus would establish the covenant of the new Kingdom, including the establishment of communion. This person had worked for days but somehow had no guests lined up to eat there?

We have no way to know the details as to how and why, but we do know that Jesus was very aware of the preparations going on around Him. Judas was in the midst of his own devastating preparations as the unnamed person paved the way in the Upper Room for the Passover meal. Jesus was aware of it all, and it was all part of the plan.

Application: I now have a new "why" for doing housework and food prep.

As I processed these concepts, taught by my friend Paige Kolb with SureFire Prayer, something happened for which I'm pretty sure my husband will be thankful for the rest of our life together. God transformed housework (and other "trivial" things) from mundane to meaningful.

My house belongs to God. I've always believed this. I've always known that my job, together with my husband, is to take care of it, just as it is my job to take care of my body, etc etc. But housework (and also me getting exercise - how many other things could we name???) so often turned into a tension-producer. How do I juggle the busyness of it with the desire to spend time with the kids, with my husband, with God, etc?

Here's the new "why":

Cleaning my house, making food, working out and ______ (insert pretty much any seemingly trivial but necessary job here) all pave the way for God's best plans for me and my family and whoever else He brings in my door. Just as the preparer of the Upper Room had no idea what would play out after his hours of preparation, I have no idea what God will bring about in my house, in my body, etc. I want EVERYTHING He has for me. I want to be aware of what He is doing and constantly on the look-out for His gifts in each moment.

This new "why" has helped me even in the messes. For example, one day I spent all day cleaning the house, making food, inspiring children to clean (um, maybe),  and then what played out that night wasn't exactly what I had expected. But BECAUSE I had prepared all day with the right "why," disappointment gave way to the awareness to ask God what He had for me and for us in that moment and receive it instead of being frustrated with how things played out.

Peter and John were led to the Upper Room by a man carrying a pitcher of water. A man. Carrying water in that culture was women's work. How many times have I felt like what I was doing was maybe not as significant as what I knew I "could" have been doing in that moment? This guy served in the way that was required for that day, and became part of perhaps the most famous meal in history.

Sometimes all I want to do is be the front-runner in a Palm Sunday level worship fest, but instead I find myself carrying water - or maybe the other way around! Either way, in each of these moments I have the opportunity to participate in what God is doing.

Thanks, Paige, for teaching me that "preparation" comes before "manifestation." My house says thanks as well:)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Messes make way for Miracles: Learning how to fight well in the struggles of parenting

Conflict Resolution - do you know your style? Do you know your child's?

Under stress (and we've had a bit of it lately), my tendency is to become a teddy bear. "[Teddy bears] will accept blame just to bring peace to angry situations. The struggle of this style is that a teddy bear may be taken advantage of, becoming a doormat. They can enable others by not allowing them to face and wrestle with conflict" ( 

So now you know my greatest struggle in parenting - knowing how to enter into conflict with my children in a spirit of love, fighting in the right way, holding the gates of peace and righteousness open around them. 

One of the statements I wrote down at SureFire Prayer's Activate Training was this:
"The struggle - it's about how you view it.
Messes make way for miracles; family life is messy."

Our journey in emotional healing has taught us that trauma plows up the soil of our hearts to receive the seeds of deeply-rooted beliefs. Will the belief be truth from the heart of God? Truth expressed in His Word? Or will the belief be deception from the enemy, carefully disguised as truth that can be subconsciously absorbed by our hearts in moments of pain. These seeds of deception grow into strongholds - lies that, left intact, will impact us for the rest of our lives.

For most people, conflict is traumatic. Conflict stirs up emotions. Conflict is messy. Situations of conflict and stress will be the situations where my children learn from me the most - not necessarily by hearing the words coming out of my mouth, but by observing the state of my heart. My kids are especially good at seeing straight to my heart. 

All of us parents, teachers, and anyone who pours themselves into children like to visualize beautiful moments of peacefully imparting wisdom and truth into rapt and receptive minds. These moments, when they happen, are cherished memories. But perhaps not the ones that will stick with my kids the most. 

I've been struck lately by two biblical characters who didn't always jump at conflict, but knew when to dig in and hang on: Jacob and David

Jacob didn't often fight fair. He ran from his angry brother Esau and from his frustrated father-in-law. But when he found himself in an all-out physical battle with what he recognized as a messenger from God, he refused to let go until that messenger blessed him (Genesis 32). 

David was not a hothead. He waited for God time after time to lead him into conflict. But when he heard Goliath defy his God, he refused to retreat in dismay like everyone else. Instead he demonstrated God's righteous anger and went after the giant (1 Samuel 17).

When I brush conflict under the rug, or snatch control in the conflict, taking charge of cleaning up the mess myself, I do myself and my family a great disservice. God wants to use each emotionally charged moment to plant His truth deep into my heart and my children's hearts, often revealing and uprooting a formerly planted lie. 

Fighting well means receiving God's anger. Fighting well means choosing to worship, receiving battle orders in worship and prayer. With his leadership comes insight and deliverance. Fighting well means fighting together with my children against the giants - not fighting against my children. 

"Then David said to the Philistine, 'You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.'" 
1 Samuel 17:45-47


Sunday, January 18, 2015

the birthdays

January in Montevideo, love it or hate it.
"Normal" life is at a stand-still. No school, no weekly commitments (at least we can still have our team meetings), high probability of whoever you're trying to connect with being disconnected at the beach.
There's more time to think, to process the past year (Uruguayans are usually more reflective than those of us from the USA), to think and pray about your desires for the year ahead.

For us there's also the matter of 3 birthdays.
This month the birthdays got me. We had a great party, with a super-fun bouncy house (see our new profile pic), cutesy decor, halfway decent food, and (most importantly) a significant smattering of friends. The birthday honorees loved their cakes, and the boy still thinks his birthday IS a lion bouncy house.

But I lost the most important battles. The days leading up to that party were more than a little tense in our house (er, the house we're house-sitting, which we have enjoyed immensely). Somehow birthday parties always end up requiring more hours than I realized, and can't the kids just take care of themselves for a few days while I put in those hours? Apparently that doesn't go so well.

After crashing through that week, and ending up on my face (again), I am ready to embrace what God is showing me to be my mission in 2015:

my role in the battle is to praise Him, engage in spiritual warfare TOGETHER with my family (not against them), and go forward in assignments that are fiercely protected in prayer.

When the enemy sees us walking in unity, he does what he did with the Jews who worked together with Nehemiah to rebuild the wall, he and his forces "plot together to come and fight against [our home] and to cause confusion in it" (Nehemiah 4:8).

"From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail...Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other" (Nehemiah 4:16-17).

Sometimes it feels like a "waste" of time to have to spend so much time covering all we do in prayer. We are gradually realizing that it is THE most important thing we do. We know we are in a spiritually dark place, a place where marriages and family have been attacked and left beaten and often destroyed. We have not been immune to these attacks, but we have seen God "turn back [the enemy's] taunt on [his] own head" (Nehemiah 4:4).
We have one more birthday this month. Oliver would have been turning 7 on January 21st. God continues to remind me that He is taking care of Oliver, and that He is enabling me to take care of the other 4.

Grieving together has made our marriage stronger. Praising God together always brings us into sweet unity. January 21st will be a day of doing both.

May this year be a year of breakthrough praise!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lillian FAITH

from Jimbo - 
After hanging up with my parents and looking at the clock, I was getting up from our couch to get Lillian more fever-reducing medicine before putting her to bed.  She had begun a fever the night before, and we were helping her along with Tylenol and Ibuprofen.  Nothing out of the ordinary drill that we are used to with a teething baby.   It was about midnight, and she had fallen asleep on my chest as I was skyping, as we were waiting for Timbrel to get home from reflection group.  

Timbrel had texted me saying she was on her way home.  As I was getting up off the couch, Lillian started shaking, as if she was acting out a dream in her sleep.  I looked closer and the movements were the same and more like spasms.  I began calling her name, trying to wake her up.  She opened her eyes, and then I knew something was wrong.  One eye was looking up and one was looking to the side and up as she shook in spasms.  The only thing I remember praying was, "Lord, help." She was having a seizure.  

She continued convulsing as I called Timbrel, telling her she needed to get home now.  She said she was around the corner.  I left the other three kids and ran downstairs from our 3rd floor apartment.  I got outside, in front of our building, and couldn't see Timbrel.  The convulsions continued as I looked to heaven asking Jesus to intervene.  Our night guard saw what was happening and ran into the road, trying to flag down someone to take me to the hospital.  I told him the other kids were upstairs and that Timbrel was coming.  Just then, I saw Timbrel running up the sidewalk toward me.  I ran to her and told her to take Lillian to the hospital.  There was a car stopped at a stop light, and a guy opened his door and stepped out, asking if he could help us.  I told him to take Timbrel and Lillian to the British Hospital (the best in Montevideo) quickly.  Timbrel climbed into the back seat of the two-door car, and I told her to keep talking to Lillian.  The convulsions continued.  Timbrel and the unknown helper, took our baby girl and disappeared down the lonesome street, speeding toward the hospital.  

I ran back upstairs to find the other three kids huddled at our door, waiting for daddy to come back.  Our friend and colleague, Mark Taube, who had dropped off Timbrel, was on his way up to our apartment as I gathered the diaper bag and a bottle.  I was rattled.  I gathered the three kids and prayed with them before leaving them in good hands. Then I ran downstairs, jumped in our van, and sped to the hospital.
On the way, I knew I had to call Timbrel to see what was happening, but I was afraid.  I didn't want to call and hear bad news of an unchanged status, or of something worse.  I called.  When Timbrel answered, I heard a beautiful sound.  The sound was Lillian, crying in the background.  Timbrel said that the seizure had stopped when they were about half-way to the hospital. Still, I raced through the streets, horn blaring, running red-lights cautiously,  getting there as soon as I could.  I pulled up on the sidewalk, in front of the hospital, and left the van with the hazards on.  I offered the hospital guard the keys, in case he wanted it moved.  At that moment, I had to get to my family.  He waved me along and told me where to go.  

I got to their room in the ER just as they were taking blood from Lillian.  Timbrel was holding her down, singing and talking to her.  Lillian was screaming, of course.  The nurses were gathered around and I joined Timbrel in trying to explain what happened.  Our vocabulary was definitely expanded in the course of the night.  They took Lillian's temperature and it was over 39 degrees Celsius.  I had the same reaction as you are probably thinking.  I asked, "Is that high?"  Apparently it is.  

They put a port in Lilly's wrist and gave her some medicine to help with the fever.  Other friends and colleagues, the Beers, showed up; we were very glad to see them.  Through the night, they made sure we understood all that was being said.  The hospital staff ran a series of blood and urine tests and did a chest x-ray.  We sat in the room and waited for the results.  

Lillian was trying desperately to go to sleep, but the fingers that she sucks every time she goes to sleep were wrapped in gauze with a "tabla" preventing her from bothering the port on her wrist.  She waved her wrapped hand around and with her sweet Lilly cry let everyone know that she did not like what was going on with her hand.  

Finally the doctor came back and reported the results.  Everything came back normal, except a high protein in the urine test.  The doctor, who was 6 months pregnant, told us she would feel better if Lillian stayed in the hospital until our pediatrician came the next morning.  They moved us to another room in the ER that was more comfortable.  Stephanie Beers stayed with Timbrel and Lillian, and I went home.  I'm not sure what time it was, but I think it was around 4.  

Mark said the kids had just fallen asleep a little while before that, as they enjoyed a late-night movie.  Mark left and I unwound a little, feeling the exhaustion as I came down off of the adrenaline rush.  Sleep came.

I woke up and heard someone coming into our apartment.  It was around 9.  Bruce Beers had brought Timbrel and Lillian home.  Praise God. Lillian was her normal self, playing with her stuffed bear, very glad to be home.  Timbrel told me that the fever spike was due to a UTI (urinary tract infection) and that Lillian was on antibiotics.  As we sat in the living room, I began to read Revelation 21.  I read the first 8 verses and began to weep.  The emotional trauma of the night before was being released as I read the promises of my God.  

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me,“It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Praise God for His very great and precious promises.  

from Timbrel - 
God's lesson for me the past few months has been all about learning how to turn on the enemy the attacks and lies that are thrown against me. I have been learning that great victory is often only possible after walking through a dark valley. Last night in reflection group we talked about Jesus' death and resurrection. All I could think about was how Jesus walked through the darkest, deepest valley, knowing that victory was coming on the other side. He loved us so much that He chose to walk through crud and muck so that He could win victory for us. God has been teaching Jimbo and I that in our relationship, it's the same. To go higher in our relationship together, we have to be willing to walk with each other through dark places, icky places, places that show the residual dankness of our hearts. Only through honestly recognizing pain can we honestly recognize the lies that have allowed that dankness to build up. Then we can give Jesus those dark places, allowing Him, the Truth, to cleanse the lies and help us start over again.
So as I sat in the car with two complete strangers, trusting them to get me to the hospital, I desperately pleaded with Jesus to guard my baby's life - the life He gave her to begin with. It really helped me when I began to visualize Jesus in the car with me, singing and talking to Lillian with me. As the night went on, and I saw the stress on Jimbo to be in a hospital room, again, I asked God, "Did it have to be this valley? You know how hospital rooms affect us. Did it have to be this?" Yes. He has victory waiting for us. We can't see the victory yet, but pray for us as we continue to process all that we felt in these very traumatic moments.

As we prepare for a weekend of celebration (Saturday & Sunday) here in our apartment, we have seen the assault of the enemy very clearly on our family in the last few days.  We ask you to rally around us in prayer.  It is an exciting time, because the enemy is always active when God is about to do something big. We can sense the victory coming, but the valleys are hard. Please cover us in prayer - our marriage, our health, our safety, our connection to His Presence. We are committed to doing whatever it takes to love and serve each other and our kids, and to see His Kingdom come in Uruguay. It is the assignment He has given us; we will not turn back. Will you escort us on this journey, covering us in prayer as we continue to anger the enemy with each new step?

I was pushed back and about to fall,
    but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.
Ps. 118:13-14

Monday, August 5, 2013

Prayer Warriors and the Minivan

Thank God for our prayer warriors and for our minivan.

Before we had the minivan, I would take a bus to and from Madeline's school to pick her up.  That involves walking a few blocks to and from bus stops, which is good exercise.  And really, it is cheaper to just take a bus, which we still do on occasion, to save money on gas.  Earlier this afternoon, I had debated on taking the bus to pick up Madeline, as that would have saved gas and given me a little exercise.  But as I was deciding, the whole family voiced that they wanted to go along as well, and so we took the van.

After getting home, Madeline and I ran up the block to buy some meat for supper.  I had just come inside and sat down when I began a conversation with one of our new prayer warriors who was telling me about a dream from the night before that involved me being violently, physically attacked.  As we were chatting, everything was breaking loose outside.  I looked off our balcony and saw dozens of police cars and motorcycles racing, sirens blazing, in front of our apartment building and around the corner to what appeared to be some horrific crime.  This was something very unusual in our part of Montevideo.  So as our conversation continued, our prayer warrior told me about how she prayed for us after the terrifying dream.

After a couple hours, the headlines were all over the news.  There had been a violent robbery around the block that involved a shoot-out where a police officer was killed and two others were injured. One of the robbers was killed and two others were arrested, with a fourth escaping.  Apparently, it had occurred just as I was walking to and from the meat market.

When I take the bus to get Madeline, we walk a few blocks from the bus stop to our apartment.  Our path often takes us right in front of the post office where the shooting occurred.  As far as I can figure, if we had taken the bus, we could have been walking in front of the location where the shooting took place at about the same time it occurred.  Praise God for the minivan.

When I went and purchased the meat, I went by two banks.  The shooting happened as I was in route.

Why they robbed a post office instead of a bank, I don't know.  Could it be possible that our prayer warrior was warned about an attack planned by the enemy in the dream and the prayers changed the location of the robbery?  If I had gone in the bus, it's very possible that Madeline and I would have been walking in front of the location right as the event happened.

Who knows?  But I am so thankful for God's special warriors who are battling with us thousands of miles away.  I don't think we will know just how much is accomplished through the prayers of our intercessors in the spiritual realm that we never see.  All I know is that without them, we fight defenseless.  Please keep praying and communicating with us what God is telling you in your assignment to pray for us.

If you'd like to see the story of the robbery/shooting, click on the link:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Good things come to those who wait

Buying a vehicle in Uruguay (or probably in any context where you don't know the system) is an adventure.  We first found out about this van in January.  We had looked at several options and swallowing the price being doubled was getting harder and harder.  Then we found out about an embassy couple leaving this June, selling their used Honda Odyssey.  We were buying some of their household things, and they then told us about their van that they would also be selling.  We looked at it, and it was beautiful, with all the dings and whistles.  After sitting in it and looking at all the cool features, I reluctantly asked the price, thinking it would be way out of our price range.  To my surprise, the price was the same as what we were going to pay for something of far less quality.

Then the question about waiting until June for a vehicle hit us.  Did we really want to take buses and taxies for another 6 months?  We had just finished a year in language study with no wheels and we couldn't wait to get to Uruguay to be mobile again.  We had a few weeks to think about our decision and after looking at the same quality type of vehicles and seeing that they cost from $70,000 and up, the phrase, "good things come to those who wait" came to mind.

So we decided to wait.  We didn't have the money needed yet, anyway, so waiting gave us time for more money to come in.

We were blessed by being able to use vehicles from other international workers for part of the time, at times cramming all 6 of us into these small spaces.  But we persevered.  We even made it through visits from family, although it was a tight squeeze at times.  Once we took 8 people over an hour away and back in this vehicle made for 4, maybe 5.  We are thankful for the use of these vehicles, as we didn't have to take as many taxis and buses.

Then June finally came.  Time to really start jumping into the buying process.  We had to hire an "escribana," or someone who would help us with all the legal papers (a requirement here).  The United States Embassy has a set of rules and a procedure for purchasing a vehicle from their employees.  It became apparent that our escribana wasn't familiar with all the embassy requirements for selling a vehicle, but she got in contact with the embassy contact and the process got on track.

We found out that June 25 would be our signing day, and that we could get tags for the van and take it home on the 26th.  The 25th came.  I went to the embassy at 9:30 to sign the papers and deliver the remainder from our vehicle fund to cover what we still owed.  (We ended up having to pay half out of our savings, which we will be able to have reimbursed when the remainder of the money comes in.)  Everyone was there who needed to be.  When I pulled out the check, the embassy contact person immediately became upset and told me I had the wrong type of check.  I was supposed to get a check against a bank in the USA from a special money changing house.  I had the equivalent to a cashier's check from our bank here.  The check they wanted would cost several hundred dollars, as the cost is based on a percentage of the total, and not a flat rate.  Or I had the option of wiring the money.  Either way, it had to be done that day.  With the embassy family leaving on the 28th, they had to have a buyer for their vehicle. They couldn't wait around.  So I had that day to fix the problem or they would have to sell the van to someone else.

Never have I been so thankful for our national office.  I just wish they opened their switchboard a little earlier. We had to wait until a little before noon to find out if they could even help us or not.  Time was ticking.  Thankfully our field director got through and the national office agreed to wire the money stateside to the seller's account.  But the deal was that the money had to be in the other people's account by midnight or no deal.  No sweat, right? Every wire takes a couple of hours, and this one was done between noon and 1.  All afternoon, we waited.  All evening we waited.  I had assurance that God was going to take care of us and Timbrel's word from God was that He was going to build our faith through this experience.  At 11 we just assumed the sellers had forgotten to contact us and we started the process of going to bed, anticipating all would be ok at the 8:30 signing.  No news is good news, right?

I woke up at 7:15 and a text from around 11:30 the night before said the money still hadn't transferred, but that they would check again in the morning.  I am glad I didn't read that the night before, or I don't think I would have slept very well.  Then another text came with the good news we were waiting for.  They money transferred sometime during the night.  Praise God!

I went for the signing, with that all too familiar feeling of anticipating something to still be wrong.  I met and signed with the embassy people, and then it happened.  They handed me the keys.  The van was ours.  Finally.  After all the waiting and last minute stress-waiting.  I walked out of the embassy with the keys in my pocket and a smile on my face.

We had to go get the tags, which had minor hiccup of us having to return the embassy because of a forgotten signature.  Then we found out we had to pay a tax that was remaining from the previous owner - a tax of $.10 - yes, 10 cents.  We walked 3 blocks, paid the tax, and returned for the tags.

We returned to the embassy again to pick up the van.  I spoke with the sellers one last time and then was able to drive our new van.  I told the sellers that I was going to pull in my garage (er, parking spot in the garage) and just take a nap in the van.

As I drove home, I thought about all the God did in order for us to purchase this vehicle.  I thought about Troy, and the money that came from his death.  Thank you Troy and Sarah.  I thought about all the gifts that have come in from so many different people.  Thank you to so many friends and family.  God's provision is amazing.  I am overwhelmed with thankfulness.

Then we went and picked up Madeline after school.  As I walked out of the school yard with her, she was telling me about her day, totally oblivious to the van sitting right in front of her, not even noticing that I wasn't walking, just standing there trying to get Timbrel's attention to turn on the video camera.  Then we walked to the side of the van and it clicked.  A Madeline smile appeared.  My heart smiled.  We are greatly blessed and very happy that good things come to those who wait.  Waiting is definitely an appropriate word for this van.