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Thursday, April 25, 2013

a curve in the road

Hello Faithful Friends!

Many of you already know about the changes that God has brought into our lives recently, but I wanted to update the blog so that you can continue to keep us all in prayer.

Lots of changes are in the air!
We have moved to Texas. And there's a baby on the way.
I'm due on October 16th, my birthday. :)
We are staying with Matt's parents for a while in Allen, near Dallas, while he finishes his Masters and Credential in Education and we prepare for our little bean to arrive. Gambit and Rogue are adjusting great and we are getting to know our new city as we settle into a new church community and discover gluten and dairy free options for me in the area.
On a side note; I finally got tested for Celiacs Disease, and it was NEGATIVE! WooHoo! So I will continue to follow my diet while my immune system is down from growing an alien in my belly, and then eventually begin to retest my limits and research more about intolerance and allergies.

Okay. I think you're ready for the big news.
Our foster kids are now living with their older sister in California.
We are very happy to have had the opportunity to be family with them for this past year and for the rest of our lives onward. We are so blessed to have had the time before they came as we let God transform our faith and show us how to trust Him with huge concerns and tangible needs.

There came a time when the kids decided they wanted to be cared for by their sister, and she was ready and wanted to have them under her care.
We felt like God was leading us to let go of our previous ideas and pictures of what the future would hold, and support this change.
It was very hard, but overall, we felt God's amazing peace and comfort as the time passed and arrangements became settled.

Hilariously enough, 3 days after the kids left, we found out I was pregnant!
God has given us a new light and gift and now we are preparing for what's ahead.

Thank you all for everything you did to make our last year successful and full of joy.
We are so grateful for the community that came around us in incredible support and love.

God is good and He is FAITHFUL!!!
Trust Him with everything you can manage and you will be blessed and delightfully surprised with His Favor and Provisions.

Love to you all!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

God has been so faithful

Hello all! :)
After months of silence I am ready to start writing and sharing again.
Let me tell you that God is good. When He told me in the very beginning of all of this that He would provide, he indeed meant it. It's funny now to look at my easily accessible doubt. He has been beyond faithful. He has blessed us abundantly.

Want to know what I've been learning?
You can't do it all
Keep praying
It's okay if you can't fix it
You messed up again, but God WILL cover you with His grace
Take care of yourself or you're out of the runnings to take care of anyone else
Continue to give in the midst of fear and when things don't add up
Take a nap
Play with the dog
Listen to advice and then remember that nobody really understands your own circumstances better than you and the Holy Spirit
It's okay that everyone thinks you're crazy
Keep asking for help
Take a break when you feel like strangling someone
Listen first, process, don't feel like responses have due dates
Trust God with everything you possibly can release your grip on

I want you to know how thankful I am. My life has made such a turn and although I face challenges every single moment, the Lord has given me such treasure. I am crazy about my family. I love our house. The quirks and pet peeves of each of our children. I love how much fruit I buy every week. I love setting timers, taking pictures, playing 4 square, making nutella, listening to Swahili, watching ridiculous movies, talking about maturity. I am so fulfilled.

If God ever asks you to "jump" with him, don't be scared like I was. He is beyond Faithful. He has abundance and He wants to give it to you.

Have a great day friends!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Still Me

HELLO!!!! :)

It's been such a long time. But here I am, back to writing. Sort of. I'd like to protect my kids' privacy more than I had been so I will be leaving out a lot of details, but trying to log as authentically as possible while in that realm.

For those of you that are interested, here is a current list of our needs;
  • lots of prayer :)
  • desktop computer
  • 3 or 4 stuffed armchairs (“sitting room” type, worn is fine)
  • 3 or more chairs for kitchen table (mismatched is great)
  • 2 small ottomans to sit on
  • Sewing machine
  • Patio furniture
  • Clean Rap/hip hop music
  • Tall plastic hampers
  • Kitchen towels
  • Square or rectangular storage baskets or storage cubes (any size)
  • Large push broom
  • Plastic measuring cups
  • Large tea kettle or hot water heater
  • Large tea pot
  • Hammer
  • Screwdrivers
  • Fans
  • Forks
  • Step ladder (something like 6 ft.)
  • Tall step stools
 I want to say that we are doing great, really great. We are very happy and feel like God continues to equip us moment by moment for unique conundrums. There's no way we could be parents without him. Of course we are riding a roller coaster, as I'm sure we will be for at least the next year or two, but this is a huge sign of success to me.

Here's a crazy story about how God specifically provided for another huge need;
We always get a check back during tax time and then get to decide what to do with it. This year was different. We owed thousands of dollars. Who knows how that happened. And how we would make it right.
When we were putting the pieces together, preparing for our family, we were given not one, but two vans to drive everyone around. This was crazy, because we only had one car to share before, and I had never thought of us having more than we needed. I figured we would just see how everything went and decide what to do later, and for the meantime count my blessings. Well, I'm still counting.
A few months ago, I was driving with some of my kids in the early evening and for some weird reason I felt a nudge to go down a different way that I never go. It was not only different, but actually out of the way. All of a sudden, SMACK- our first car accident. With everyone okay, and a really strange mistake made by the other driver, I was asking God why he would let this happen. There was a lot of damage done to one of our vans, but it was still drivable. Immediate positives were that seat belts became more than just a rule into a rule that we follow because we understand it and value the outcome. Also some stickers from the nice officer, which is always a plus. Anyways, I'm driving around in this gift, feeling weird and unnecessarily ashamed, daily waiting for more word. A few weeks ago, I got a call that the other insurance company had accepted 100% responsibility for the accident, that our van was totaled, and that they would be sending us a check for...a little over what we owe for taxes.

The rate at which growth is happening in our family is blowing me away. English, culture, food, bonding, dogs- everything that gave pause and reason to have fear- is being completely overrun by God's Power, Grace, Favor, and Love.
I pray that I will continue to trust God with EVERY part of my life, because I know and have experienced that He will be there Lead and Provide if I am a willing servant to His Kingdom.

Summer is almost here and we are full of activities. The dogs are full of energy, as can be expected with puppies of 2 different sizes, and we are trying to sub-prioritarily take care of that. I am a little tired of our dinner menu, but still thankful that it happens to be gluten and dairy free so that I don't have to daily make additional meals for myself to eat.
Everything's getting more natural all the time and we are even fighting like a real family :)
I have been so proud of my husband and so grateful to have him as a partner in life. It's a good thing we have learned to be flexible in our marriage, as we use that tool constantly now.
I'm getting a garden!!! All of these people that I don't know :) came over this last weekend and used time, energy, muscle and brain power to completely redo a section of our yard so that I can plant vegetables. There's even a plank to walk on as I tend!!!
I've been thinking about getting chickens too!!!! Matt thinks I'm crazy, and it's still just a thought in a cloud, but we are having fun making new dreams for our future. We are talking about taking a camping trip this summer with our kids. Anybody have lots of tents we could borrow!?

I don't feel that different. It's strange. My life has completely changed, but I'm still me. Still working on pursuing God, listening instead of thinking, and being content with my circumstances.

I'll leave it there for now and save the rest of my ideas for next time :)
I hope you're having a great day and thanks for reading!

Monday, March 26, 2012

family details :)

Quickly while I have internet access I will write as many treats as I can think of to give you a vision of our wonderful gift of a family;

We are beginning to see their personalities very clearly already! It's fun to see each of them uniquely emerge. Lydie is the light of the family, bringing joy and mischief. Kerene is sensitive and adorable, quick to obey and follow. Ornela is simply beautiful. She is a servant at heart and strong in mind. Chance is hilarious. She is constantly saying things that we exchange for a laugh and I know she will charm many as they enter our home. Fiston is respectful and gracious; quick to help and eager to learn. Belise...she is amazing. She is a strong woman, considerate, bold, willing- truly a beacon indeed.

We often wake up to find the youngest girls singing and dancing in their bedroom. I am doing my best to learn as many key phrases in swahili as possible. I am trying to learn to cook food they like and they are trying to eat things they don't like. :) We go to the park, hang out at home, watch Footloose and Mary Poppins, read books, and are becoming a family. Of course we have hiccups, but I am so thankful. I see that God has been preparing me for this my entire life.

The other day the kids voted Matt as the Kizungu family President :)
I am the First Lady, Fiston the Vice President, Ornela the minister, Chance the radio???!!!, Lydie the "first born", Kerene the "last born", and Belise the cook :)

The 2nd day they were here we went to the beach. Lydie and Kerene were terrified of the water. We built sand castles and ran into the ocean, collecting rocks. When Matt and I went to put our shoes on and leave the sweetest moment happened.
Lydie took our shoes back off and began to clean our feet from the sand. They she put our shoes back on for us. She didn't speak much English at this point and it was such a precious sign of respect. When Kerene stepped off the plane, she didn't speak any English at all. They are learning so fast. They are so happy too.

Pray for continued bonding! I've finally updated our needs list:

more stories to come later...


Of course the story continues :)
The timeline blurs now, so we will switch to events and praises.

I'm sure you are all waiting to hear about the house...
Our friend went to view a bunch of houses in the areas that I mentioned. I didn't go to see them with her as I had a million things to do, but a friend that did told me what happened.
She looked at Belmont and San Mateo and decided that we needed to live in Redwood City. She went to visit 2 houses that were no longer on the market, both in RWC and decided that it was between the 2 that she would make a move. She would pray and wait for discernment before moving forward. One was downtown, and one within walking distance to the church.
My heart was not in this debate as I was full of doubt and fear and contended with the Lord that I did not deserve this kind of provision and was sure it would fall through.

But alas, God is big. and powerful and loving.
She chose the house on Virginia Ave (within walking distance to the church)
She put an offer in and the owners accepted.
WE HAVE A HOUSE!!!!!!!! We have to wait awhile to move in, but we have a place to stay.
What a huge that God did. And there is absolutely no way for me to take credit. I didn't even know this woman :)

With the help of urgency from the realtor, I had purchase agreement in hand and was able to push my way to get my kids into Redwood City Schools.
We have had to commute for the time being, but I prefer it over another transition for them.
It was on Thursday that we finally had them all enrolled and Matt and I took our first date as parents that morning to a museum and bookstore for an hour :)

Ready for another Miracle?
The commute is obviously very hard on us all. It takes about an hour from house to school. With all of the different schools and class end time, we have to wait in Redwood City starting at 12:40 until 4:40 for the last bell until we go home. And try getting your kids in a schedule when you live in a house with 17 people. Throw in lots of different cultures, a dislike of all American food, a million doctors appointments, and lots of homework and what do you get? An exhausted and overwhelmed family. Needless to say this isn't the best situation as a transition to America :)
It's definitely been a blessing in many ways, but I knew that God had healthier provision in store for us. Although I was told that it wouldn't happen, we began to brainstorm about a temporary place to stay in Redwood City until our new house was ready.
A few days ago another woman I don't know contacted a friend of ours saying that she would like to host us in her house.
She has 4 open bedrooms and will allow our dogs to stay. We request a temporary exception the bedroom rules. A verbal exception is granted.
Can you believe this? God is AMAZING!!!
We are awaiting more legal jargon, but should be moving there in a few days hopefully.
I am overwhelmed at God and His Love. Jehovah Jirah indeed.

Their arrival...and we are changed

:) a long awaited post....
It's almost been 3 weeks since the arrival of our new children and it's without saying that we have been busy, but also without internet- making it very hard to keep everyone apprised of the many miracles we have recently witnessed.
So, let me start with a very big one...
The kids arrived on a Wednesday. Let me take you to the Saturday before;
I had started to panic about where we would live. A lot of people were telling me to find a place in Fremont. I started looking a few days before and visited a few options out that way. I even pushed hard to some landlords to get us into their places, but to no avail. It was like God was closing doors for us. Matt told me he no longer wanted to consider Fremont on Friday night as he felt that a body of water separating us from our community was not what God was leading us to.
On that Saturday I was foraging Craigslist for possibilities on the peninsula. I would not compromise price, as I knew we could not afford more. I had been sent a possibility in Daly City by many people that was $10 under our budget, 5BR, and seemingly perfect. I anxiously called the number and set up an immediate viewing for 45 minutes later. We drove up to see it and were overwhelmed with excitement. It was very small, but adorable. It was of humble means, which is something that I love, and very out door oriented, with 3 of the bedrooms leading to the backyard. Close to the schools, an easy commute for Matt....check, check, check.
We talked to the property manager about our story and he said we could move in immediately, probably on Monday. That would ideally give us enough time to prepare for the kids' arrival a few days later. It was the first time walking through a house that I was moved to tears, imagining our family living in that space. I was overwhelmed and for the first time in recent days of panic, had some hope.
The next morning we woke up and ventured up to church. I finally had some good news for our community. I finally can feel safe and stable. We are sitting in the pew together singing some worship songs. I look over at Matt. To my surprise, he is not joyful, but distressed.
I ask him what is wrong and he says, "The Daly City house doesn't feel right for some reason."
Down, down, down goes my hope and fast my heart starts to beat as my thoughts begin to roll. I am angry, confused, unwilling. I begin to cry. I am asking God, "WHY!!!???" I sit with this bitterness and fear all day, now unwilling to jump.
That night I get an email.
A woman I do not know....
She has heard about our story and feels like God may be leading her to buy a house to rent it to us. "and you’d have a Christian landlord with a heart for refugees (and pet-owners)"
Keep in mind it is Sunday. The kids are arriving on Wednesday. It takes 30 days to close a sale. And what if something goes wrong? Where will we stay? What about schools? "I don't want to wait!!!!", I tell God, "I want to feel stable and in control!!!" I remember that God asked me to jump. I can't decide at this point if my heart is willing. I give the reigns to Matt to follow up and lead our family in this risky endeavor of a decision. Thankfully, he is full of faith and joy and has the strength to take on this weight. He phones the woman, followed by a realtor, and then we wait. I tell him I don't have the strength to turn down the Daly City house and that if it's offered to me "tomorrow morning," I think I will have to take it.
Monday call from Daly City. Remember the property manager had assured me we would move IN on this day.
Meanwhile, the ball is rolling with our new friend and realtor. Together, they start looking at the market. They are zooming in on houses in Belmont and San Mateo, with options in San Jose.
I ask God, "Why would you have this great opportunity for us, only to still compromise on location? Why did you tell me Redwood City and then NOT provide!?" I am confused, angry, and scared.
I feel strongly against living in a hotel, but realize at this point that we will not be able to move into a house in time for their arrival.
My social worker calls with great news. There is a house in San Jose that we can temporarily stay in for about a month until we find a place permanently. It's a large house with 5 empty bedrooms. There is another Congolese family living there and will be able to speak Swahili with the kids as well as talk about culture and transition with them.
AHHHHH!!!!! Some hope, Lord! Thank you!!!! I am depleted at this point and needed this dose of provision.

Tuesday comes and we start to move into our temporary place. We forage through our 3 randomly packed storage units for what we may need for a month, searching for things that we have been saving for the kids. The ball keeps moving with our friend, but my heart is not ready for more hope.

Wednesday comes...
We don't know what the future holds for our family, but I tell God that I know He will provide. I am honestly angry that I don't have more control and that He has not yet revealed this secret to me, but I know I can count on Him. My worries start to get buried by the pure excitement and anxiety of meeting our children. We don't even have time to shower as we scurry around trying to make their bedrooms perfectly inviting with every last detail we can think of. Eventually, we have to agree that we did as much as we could and we switch clothes into something halfway decent and grab the keys to drive to the airport. We pray and laugh, and shake with the wait.
We walk into baggage claim and there they are; beautiful. I'm nervous, excited, insecure, hopeful, and not quite sure what to do!!! :) It's as awkward as a first date. We pile into the car and drive home, asking as many questions as we can think of at this point with our brains on overdrive. We show them around, give them space, start our meetings and then everyone leaves us to be a family. We have dinner, go to sleep, and it sets in. We are forever changed.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Not what I planned and that's okay :)

<p>Just a quick update before I try to get a few hours of sleep.<br>
We found a temporary place to stay down in san Jose and do not have to stay at a hotel. Yay! :)<br>
The home owner is another refugee foster parent who also has a boy....from Congo! Ha! They live in a second house a few blocks away. This house is NINE BEDROOMS! And temporarily has space for us. We can stay here for about a month while we look for a permanent home. Another cool thing is that there is another family currently living in some of the rooms and they...are ALSO FROM CONGO! wow God, very cool. They speak swahili so we can have on site translaters and they can talk to our kids about their experience. <br>
God has been shutting doors all over with the housing, which I'm very thankful for. I have a hard time saying no to options, so I'm grateful He's not really giving me the option. I know He will lead us to the right place.<br>
We are super excited, scared, overwhelmed, you name it. I can't believe its tomorrow! Folding their clothes and putting them in dressers really got to me. I can't wait to see them. <br>
Another amazing thing, tonight all 3 of our mattresses were supplied! We have all of our mattresses! Praise God. We have tons of food in the cabinets, transportation for the entire family, lots of adorable clothes, sheets, school stuff, books...we have surely been blessed.
It doesn't feel real yet and I doubt it will until I'm at the airport waiting for the flight to arrive, full of every kind of emotion.
Life is crazy and full and God is leading the way.