Giving Our Account

About 7.5 years ago, the Lord did a miracle to place our family in our home.  It was over our price range, but He invited us in and worked grace through two banks to give us a short sale (where a loss is taken just to get the property off of their books) within our budget.  And the work began.  While the potential of the house was great, the condition of it wasn’t.  Broken light bulb in a socket, sprinkler system out of commission, bushes grown into barricades,  a deluge from a skylight, and so on.  One night early on I prayed for direction whether to use our savings to replace the teenage heating and cooling system or to begin a kitchen restyle.  That very week the furnace began making an alarming noise and the repairman gave us his “kindly sober” look while asking us to say our final goodbyes.  We’ve torn down wallpaper, painted top to bottom, updated fixtures and functions,  ripped out and replanted, until our pillows whispered sweet nothings.  Last year we made it through the kitchen makeover  with a lot of help, and actually enjoyed the Costa Rican cabina feeling of doing life in our kitchenette/dining room/living room space and washing dishes in the bathroom sink.  While the place we call home is still far from perfect, we’ve come a long way by investing our time, talents, and treasure.  To say that I’m attached is an understatement.

A few months back I was lamenting the approaching “for sale” sign to the Lord.  “But God, you did a miracle to get us in this house.”  His sweet whisper immediately answered, “Yes.  And do you think I only have one house-miracle for you?” With a smile I conceded that He was big enough to do as many as He wanted to.  How often I forget.

He spoke again as I was reading in Matthew 25 the other day.  You’ll probably recognize the story.  A man goes on a trip and gives his servants different portions of silver to take care of while he’s gone.  After a long time he returns and gathers them to each give an account of how they had used his money.   Those who had made a good return on his investment received praise and the commendation: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.  Let’s celebrate together” Matthew 25: 21, 23 NLT!

His whisper on my heart was simple, yet profound.  How much easier to bear His yoke, how much lighter to carry His burden when I remember that this roof and everything under it has always belonged to Him.  He’s been letting us tend it, and now He is calling us to give our account.  We have been diligent with this thing that is small from an eternal perspective.  Now He has in mind for us new responsibility: to care for sweet brown eyes in Costa Rica and nurture fellow believers as they step out of their country and culture to serve.  Kingdom festivities are in the works.  So I nudge my heart to release its grasp on this box of treasure in the prairie and take hold of the greater plan that He has for our family in the land of rainforests.  The Master is worthy.  Let’s celebrate together.

A little instruction on the fun picture gallery of our Kitchen Remodel above:  Hover your mouse pointer on a picture to see its caption.  Click on a picture to enter the full-size slideshow display.

Where Your Treasure Is

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.  Matthew 6:21 NLT

In keeping with my last post about setting up our nest of family life in Costa Rica, I wanted to share some pictures of the “treasure” that I have tucked away there.  We are going out as a family of 5 to serve by hosting short term mission teams and helping with the children at the Home of Life.  I can’t tell you the excitement that rises in me when I think about those sweet brown eyes, and the laughter of team members at their cabins as I walk up the path to greet them.   From this end of the plane ticket, however, I find myself being the practical wife and mama, strategizing how to stuff our suitcases with just the right essentials to enable us to hit the ground running (physically and emotionally) upon our arrival.   I’ve seen “bed in a bag” sets at the store, but how to pack “home in a suitcase?”

The Lord, in His kindness, gave us a head start.  Last summer we took down 4 large tote’s worth of sheets, socks, skivvies, books, and other basics to store at the Home for our upcoming launch this August.  Given our family’s fondness for tasty sustenance and my heart for hospitality, outfitting the kitchen has been getting the lion’s share of my attention.  Good food at an inviting table is home in a nutshell to me.

Costa Rica’s tile floors have a knack for shattering glass and pottery, so this plastic tableware above is a gift of grace for our bouncy crew, with a pattern pretty enough to make the endless dish washing more interesting.

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Of all the bags we packed, this one was my favorite.  Tropical kitchens have sparkling critter potential. Grocery stores there sell many items in small individually wrapped packages for protection against the humidity.  These canisters are going to be my go-to for making the most of our cabinet space while keeping our food all safe and cozy.

What’s the significance of all this plastic?  Cinnamon rolls and homemade bread coming out of the oven, beckoning in the neighbors.  Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks shared over school lessons and silly stories.  Peaceful organization and future grocery hauls.  A bit of worldly treasure marking the spot on the map where the Lord has planted our hearts.  Home.

Bird Houses, Bed Quilts, and Beginning Steps

It’s been a little quiet on the blog-front lately, so we thought it would be good to share some of the sweet moments we have enjoyed lately.  Just the other day, “severe epicness” in birdhouse form went up in our backyard.  As a celebration of his 7th birthday, Elijah was thrilled to spend the last few days with his Grandpa Bob “doing guy stuff” and making a bird community.   Why stop with just one house? We asked the Lord to invite wrens to come live in this not-so-humble abode, and we are hoping they pick one of the entrances that we can see from our windows.

 

 

Eliana also got some special girl time when she turned 9 this summer.  Grandma Ruth whisked her away on a fabric choosing, quilt piecing retreat, complete with giggles and chocolate breaks.  Now Eliana can wrap herself up in Grandma’s love anytime she feels like it.

Step by beginning step, our family’s heart and future are turning toward the nations.  The Lord has given us a timeline to pray and move into on our journey toward full time ministry at the Home of Life in Costa Rica.  We will spend 5 weeks there as a family this June/July, helping to receive two short term teams and doing some legwork for our long term move.  We hope to raise support this coming fall/winter/spring and begin language school in San Jose, Costa Rica in August of 2013.  Sometimes that seems like a long way away, sometimes it seems imminent.  We are leaning into the Lord for each step, trusting that where He has called, he will provide.

At the moment, Kris’s efforts are taking one form: Rubbermaid.  Given the humidity and critter potential of Costa Rican kitchens, she is investing her time and Christmas money strategizing pantry storage solutions.  Throw in some kitchen linens, a crock pot, and a set of stainless steel mixing bowls, and you have the contents of Kris’s Costa Rican hope chest to date.  These things will make the journey to the Home of Life this summer and wait for our family’s arrival in 2013.

Matt has re-begun the Gnuse kitchen renovation movement and has lined up time and helpers to work on updating the heart of our home in February.  In the meantime we have been making color choices, scouting out sales, and getting bids.  We need to sell or rent our home before going out on the field, so it’s time to make it as inviting as possible.  We are shooting for “cozy” even without one of our rhubarb crisps in the oven.

One definite blessing we are thankful to report: our suitcases this summer will not need to pack any pull-ups.  Ezekiel is doing great with using the toilet like the big boy he is.  Thanks be to God, the giver of all good gifts.