Now that we're living in Sherwood, and on staff at Sherwood Community Church of Christ, we're trying to develop a totally new missional mindset. Now we are learning about ministering to those in a more affluent, self-reliant context. The struggles are ultimately the same as those who live in the city, but they take on a different hue. Right now we are facilitating a recovery group for co-dependency and helping with a home community group focused on this book, as well as whatever else we are asked to do. We spend a lot of time just trying to get to know members of our community and see where Jesus is already working so we might join Him.
Between moving and starting groups here in Sherwood we also took a road trip as a family to Tennessee to attend a retreat/conference that we try to attend every year. This year I was asked to teach one of the classes which was quite an honor for me. I prayed about it and felt like it was something I was supposed to do. So when we got the news that we would be moving we only considered for a second not going to the retreat. We decided if God wanted me to be there He would also provide what we needed for that to work out. As always, He did. We moved in and unpacked our last box on a Friday, packed our bags, made food, etc on Saturday and left on Sunday. We took about three weeks to do the whole trip and got back in time to have about one week before Zak got on a plane and headed to Great Lakes, IL to do his summer Navy Chaplain drilling for three weeks. Zak got back from drilling on a Friday, we celebrated Arwen’s first birthday on Sunday, and Zak started this fall semester on Monday! And that was the end of our busy summer and the beginning of our busy fall!
Just as Zak started back to school, Koa was starting school for the very first time. He couldn’t have been more excited! One of the great things about moving to Sherwood is that we made a dramatic upgrade in public schools! His teacher is amazing and he is learning so much so fast that it is hard to keep up! He only goes to school from 11:40-2:15 every day, but he comes home and wants to practice everything he has learned. He is quite the budding artist now, and is making great strides in his ability to read and write. Just this morning he wrote and directed a play for him, Caspian and Arwen to star in. In the interest of sanity and naps we cut it down to the bare bones and Santa just delivered packages with Caspian as Rudolph and Arwen as the helpful elf. J We had our first parent-teacher conference a couple weeks ago and we couldn’t be more proud of him. Mrs. Thompson wrote that Koa is “a delight to have in class, hard working, polite and cooperative, a positive leader in the class and well regarded by his peers.” Whose kid is this!? Koa is also on par or ahead in everything he is learning. As a side note, I get to volunteer in his classroom every Friday, and it is a joy to see how everything works and to interact with some of his classmates. We are so thankful for such a great first school experience for Koa (and the rest of us)!
When Koa is getting ready for School in the morning I sometimes hear Caspian tell him, “Koa, I’ll miss you while you are at school.” Then Koa will reassure him that he (Caspian) will have fun while they are apart and that he’ll be home soon. Caspian will wave and yell, “Bye, Koa! Bye, Koa! Bye, Koa!” at the top of his lungs until the bus pulls away. If Koa can’t hear Caspian calling once he gets on the bus, the bus driver will point it out so Koa can go to the window and wave goodbye. It melts my heart every time! Of course, they also fight like brothers a lot, too, so we have to have lots of intervention for that. Sometimes I have them sit on the bottom step and work it out before they can resume playing. One day I heard Koa saying, “Caspian, one day Daddy and Mommy aren’t going to be around anymore. You wanna be friends?” I’m not sure what that means or if Zak and I should start watching our backs!
Caspian has become quite the talker now and loves to tell stories and sing or recite rhymes. He is as tough as nails and built sooo solid – you pick him up and it’s like lifting a bag of cement. We’re pretty sure he weighs the same amount as Koa. And he’s scared of nothing…which is scary for us. This summer he borrowed a balance bike from a friend and rode that thing to death. Literally. He broke the front wheel completely off. This summer we went pretty much everywhere by bike. Koa in front, Caspian next then me pulling Arwen in a bike trailer. We were like a little family of ducks. Riding behind Caspian was 1 part delight and 2 parts terror all the time. He loved it so much and he was really good at it, but soooo daring that it was a little freaky. When he did crash he would usually jump up and say, “I’m ok!” or just get back on while he was still crying and go again. Caspian also loves to go to StoryTime at the library (Ms. Theresa is a very gifted story teller and author!) and will listen intently to every story, but won’t participate in any of the other activities…until we get home. Then he recites everything word for word or wants to play the games over and over. He still loves to help me cook and was a junior chef for Halloween. Now he has to share the folding steps in the kitchen with Arwen,since she also wants to be in the middle of whatever we are doing.
Arwen is a delight! She is sooo sweet and sooo right in the middle of everything. I can’t believe how aware she is of everything that is going on around her and constantly trying to keep up and be involved. Someone commented the other day about her awareness and said, “It’s like she’s a four year old in a very tiny body.” She is. She just “gets it” all the time. She is an eerie combination of Caspian’s determined spirit and Koa’s carefulness. The other day she was throwing a fit and was about to throw herself to the floor in anguish when she noticed that it was a tile floor. She stopped crying, carefully lowered herself to the floor so as not to get hurt, then continued with the anguish. It’s hard to take the anguish very seriously at that point! She also loves reading books and singing, but I think she loves dancing more than either of the boys ever did. Anything with a rhythm will get her attention! When she’s on the potty she will grab her little baby iPod and turn it on, set it down next to her potty, and then grab a book to read. She’s gotta have her music! She’s starting to sign a few things and says just a few words and phrases, but nothing really consistent, yet. I’m convinced that just like when she started walking, she won’t talk until she decides she is ready and then she will start by telling entire stories.
The boys really miss our Portland back yard and the neighbors that they could just run outside and play with. It’s a bummer that we don’t have a yard, but it keeps us more active in the community trying to get out of the house more often. It was easy to stay home back when we had our own place for them to play. We have met a lot of new friends at the playground and the local toy store where we like to go play when the weather is cold and dreary. Other than that, we really like our new house. It is much warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer! The lay-out is really conducive to having friends over for meals. We love that!
When we made the decision to move to Sherwood it was a leap of faith in a lot of ways, but maybe the most dramatic leap was financially. Our rent almost doubled by moving here! Also, Zak is not getting the same financial aid he has gotten the last three years because the scholarship he was awarded was only for three years. For a move that was not planned and prepared for, these financial changes were a REALLY big deal. We were confident that if this was the direction the Spirit was leading us it would work out, but it was a nervous time since the numbers just didn’t add up. In addition to that, Zak didn’t get paid for the drilling he did in the summer until last week (yes, four months late)! I’m sure most or all of you have been there when things just aren’t making sense and sometimes you barely have enough hope, much less faith to get you through.
I was having one of those mornings one day and I woke up praying that God would just be very obvious and show us what we were supposed to do financially. Was I or Zak supposed to get a job somewhere? How would that work with schedules and kids? Who is going to hire someone that can only work for 12very specific hours a week!? So, I committed that I was going to be open to ANYTHING and I was going to be aware of His leading. Later that day I walked into the local donut shop (where we stop on our way to and from StoryTime at the library) and the owner said, “Hey Katie, I’ve got a name tag for you. Are you coming to work for me?” I looked at the name tag and said, “Haidar, my name’s not Katie.” This was a normal joke for us because he could never remember my name. He said, “Oh, well if I get one with your name on it will you work for me?” I know I must have had a pretty dumb look on my face, and jokingly said something like, “Sure, if you want me to...” But I didn’t say anything to Zak about my prayer or this conversation with Haidar.
A couple days later Zak was talking with Haidar in the donut shop (this was atypical, we don’t usually go to the donut shop that many times in a week! J), so when I walked in, Zak said, “Haidar says you’re going to work for him….is this true?” Again with the dumb look, “I think I’m supposed to….”
Zak: “You know you’d be selling donuts, right?”
Me: “Yeah.” More dumb looks.
Zak: “You know they’re not local, or organic, or fair trade, or sustainable, right?”
Me: “Yeah.” More dumb looks.
Zak: “You know you’re a personal trainer, right?”
Me: “Yeah.” More dumb looks.
Zak: “You know you will probably be making minimum wage, right?”
Me: “I don’t think this is just about paying the bills…”
That’s when I told him about my prayer and the fact that Haidar offered me the job without me asking. I told Zak we would pray about it, talk details, and see if there was any way it would work. There would be lots of opportunities for closed doors. About that time, Haidar came back out and told me to go home and talk with Zak, decide what hours I would be available and let him know. So I did and he said, “Perfect.” Haidar needed some extra help in the shop while they would be away in the coming weeks.
So, that is what I have been doing Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings for 12 hours a week while Zak watches the kids. My new job doesn’t solve our financial issues since I get paid so little, but it certainly helps. I even met a retired man who comes in regularly who raises organic, grass fed beef sort of as a hobby and he gave us a smokin’ good deal on a quarter of a beef! In fact, between the donut shop and volunteering at Koa’s school, I have met nearly everyone in town at some point (isn’t it amazing how God strategically placed us where we can be most visible). I have had the chance to work with some really great people and meet lots of new Sherwoodians! Haidar and Lama came over for dinner two nights ago with their youngest son, Isa (who is a year older than Koa). He and Lama are Muslim and had just gotten back from their month long pilgrimage to the Middle East, so we got to talk about their experiences in Mecca and Medina. And Grandma’s chicken noodle soup is a winner even with halal chicken!
I’m sorry this letter is so long. I hope it communicates to you what has been going on over the past months. More than that, I hope it shows how much fun we are having learning new things and being stretched. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not always comfortable, but that’s not what it’s about. We are hopefully learning more every day about bringing the kingdom of God into our every day lives and letting God really work in us personally. It’s tricky when we know we are being prepared for a long term goal to try to be present in the moment and effect the lives of those around us right now. Isn’t that true for all of us? We can have our eyes set on eternity and forget about the here and now. But when Jesus taught his disciples how to pray he said, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I hope as we are learning this important lesson we are encouraging you, too, to be present and aware of how you are bringing the Kingdom of God to those around you.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support! May you have a wonderful holiday season as you celebrate the birth of our Savior!