Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Long (But Ultimately Awesome) Weekend

To explain everything that went on this weekend, let me give you a brief prologue.

Please be in prayer for Blake's grandpa, Paul. He has been diagnosed with liver cancer. This patriarch of our family means so much to us, and has been battling various health issues for almost two years now. For me, personally, all my grandfathers and great-grandfathers have passed away or just simply aren't in the picture. Paul is my grandpa; and anyone who has been close to a grandparent or parent knows how difficult these situations are. Blake's parents, Odus and Paula Kaye, are back in Texas tonight and will find out more about Paul's diagnosis and treatment options tomorrow. We are optimistic that God will do a mighty work in our family through this situation, and that everyone--especially Papa--will come out stronger on the other side. On Sunday, two of Blake's brothers came to stay with us here at the Ranch for a week while Blake's mom and all of his sisters went to stay with his grandparents in Texas to help take care of Paul.

With Blake's two brother's here for a whole week, T got to play with boys closer to his age, and also have a tiny idea of what a bigger family dynamic might look like when we have more boys here. It was neat to watch T get more involved in helping things run smoothly and have more of a "part" to play in the family. He volunteered to help with dishes--twice! In a row!

On Friday, Blake, his two brothers, T, and all the boys and Jon from next door went to the mens retreat at Falls Creek. Blake said it was a lot of fun, but he wasn't so sure how much T got from anything because he was a lot younger than most of the men that went; but, when we were driving to Shawnee on Saturday night, Blake asked T what his favorite part of the retreat was, and T said his favorite part was the worship/tabernacle time. Blake's response was, "You're not just saying that cause you think that's what I want to hear, are you?" and T said, "No, there was lots of cool stuff, but that really was my favorite." You just never know with boys that come through the ranch how guarded they will be, depending on where they are coming from--T is so open to learning, and asks so many questions (some days too many).

On Saturday night, we all stayed in Shawnee with Blake's family to discuss Paul's health. T sat in on our family meeting, and even though his face definitely communicated "I have no idea what's going on here," you could see him trying really hard to understand and be a part of what was going on, and trying to understand the complex combination of the pain that comes with dealing with the reality of sickness in a loved one, and the hope we have that Christ is stronger than that pain. I think that by the end of this weekend, he was starting to feel like he was really part of this family--not just Blake and Adeline and me, but also our extended families.

Today we ALL went to church together, where Blake, two of his sisters, our friend Luke, and I all led worship and his dad preached. At one point today, after it was said several times in church "We are just so glad the Comptons are with us today" and the like, T leans over and whispers to me, "I'm a Compton, too, aren't I?" There's no denying when you get thrown in with all the Comptons, you're going to feel the love; and T really felt the love this weekend, and really saw how being a family is being a team. Even with the undertone of sadness in discovering Papa's cancer, this weekend was such a blessing.

So, after this long story, here's some praise and prayer points for T and for our house:

  • Praise: T is doing A LOT better in school. He brought one of his grades up TWO LETTER GRADES from the last nine weeks to this nine weeks. 
  • Prayer Point: Adjusting to Chandler schools still has its challenges. We are hoping that after the summer he will be adjusted enough to be excited to go back to school. 
  • Praise: As far as I know right now, we are up to four possible new boys to come to our house. These are still in early, early stages, and would wait until after school to come (because why change school's when we have only a few weeks left to go?). 
  • Prayer Point: for these four boys, please pray that God would bring their parents/guardians wisdom, that God would help these boys to find a home here at the ranch, and that He would prepare our hearts and our home for whoever He brings.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for interceding on behalf of our family and on behalf of WSBR. We so covet your prayers. For more information about our part at WSBR, you can sign up for our monthly email newsletter here. For more information about the ranch as a whole, you can like our Facebook page and check out the link on my blog. :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Long Story, Short (Well, Actually, Not That Short).

It occurred to me this morning that many people don't exactly understand how Blake and I ended up at Willow Springs Boys' Ranch, or what exactly we were doing between graduation, Adeline being born, and when we started here in January. And boy, is it a long story. One that is way too long to say in a simple response to the question, "What were you doing before you went to the Ranch?"

So, let me start at graduation.

It was May 17th. We walked (or, in my case, waddled) across the stage and proudly held our fake diplomas in lieu of our actual diplomas that would be mailed shortly. We were happy and excited for the future God had for us at a church where we thought we would be leading worship sometime that summer. Until then, we were still serving at Faith Baptist in Harrah.

Two weeks later, Adeline arrived 17 days earlier than expected on May 31, 2013. As excited as we were, we also knew this put a little pressure on our job timeline. Did this mean we would leave Harrah sooner? Later? We had no idea. At this point we were hearing nothing but radio silence as the other church was still working out details about hiring us.

When Adeline was two weeks old, we came to visit our friends Jon and Whitney, who had just become houseparents at Willow Springs. Hearing their excitement and nervousness as they began this new journey and ministry together was awesome. After talking for a long time that day, it was said at some point (I think by Jon), "Hey there's an empty house here. Wouldn't it be crazy if God called you guys to be houseparents out here?" *nudge nudge* *chuckles* *eyebrows* "Crazy."

We had a two week old infant in our arms. We thought God might be calling us to this church. But when Blake and I got into our car to head home that night, we both knew. A brand new daughter, and an undeniable urge to disciple others and live a missional life. From that night on, our house in Shawnee didn't feel like home any more.


We talked to our now bosses, and they were pretty much like, "Are you crazy?" Yeah, we basically are. We knew it may be a little while before we got to the ranch, because the house we would be in needed some TLC. Blake started a full time job at Lowe's, we left Harrah thinking we would all be at the Ranch within a month or two, and we began to wait.

And wait. And wait.

The house renovations moved slower than expected, even with Blake spending so many hours when he was off work to paint, and hook up sinks, and replace lighting fixtures and fans, and do tiling, and everything else he worked so hard doing to try and make the wait shorter for his family. The boy that we thought would be moving in to our house at the ranch with us suddenly fell through after months of investment. For six months we prayed earnestly to get to come home, we prayed God would magically make the numbers add up for us to have the money for the groceries we needed. We prayed for whatever boys we would have. We prayed for God to make time move faster. We prayed for anything God would give.

"You guys are still in Shawnee?"
"You still aren't at the Ranch?"
"So, what other options are you looking into?"

The enemy loves to take whatever you're called to and make you question it. He throws obstacles in our way and makes us think, "Well, this is kind of hard. Maybe God wouldn't make it this hard if I was really supposed to go." I am so glad that when Jesus was on the cross he wasn't like, "Well, this is hard. If God really wanted me to bring redemption to the nations, he wouldn't have made it this hard."

Man, going through the hard stuff is no fun at all. You definitely don't feel like God is making you stronger when you're in the middle of it. In fact, you feel like you're doing something wrong. And people like to tell you you're probably doing something wrong. Sounds familiar, right, Job?

One day, after things with the boy that we thought was coming fell through, Blake and I prayed earnestly. What now? We know You will provide for us, God. We know we are supposed to be at WSBR. What now?

The money was out, y'all. I had my knitting to help us sometimes (but not much at all). We got a lot of help from our parents--Blake was working for his dad for four months, they fed us often, and my parents often chipped in for things we needed (especially things like diapers). Blake started applying for jobs again, bearing in mind that he would have to find a job that he could leave at a moment's notice if we were finally able to move in at the Ranch. Blake found a job in Edmond at Tack Designs, who had bosses and employees who were missional minded as well, and willing to work with us in our calling. We began looking for apartments in Edmond.

Then, the call. On December 31, 2013, we were finally told that we could move into our home in Chandler. On January 1, 2014, we moved in. We had all of our boxes unpacked by January 5. We got our first two boys on January 6. After months and months of waiting, things were finally set in motion, and fast.

All this to say, if God has laid something on your heart, trust Him. Trust Him. Trust Him. Others will not trust Him for you. When it seems like there is no possible way, trust Him. Follow Him. Give Him everything you have got, and when that runs out, wait for Him to give you more, and then give that to Him, too. Sometimes what you give Him is ugly and it isn't much and it's practically leftovers and scraps, but give it to Him. If it's a tear-stained pillow case and a ton of question marks, give it to Him. He is faithful. I know God is faithful. It will almost never be how you imagined it, but He will do it, whatever "it" is for you.

So that's our story, thus far. We know that God's story is being written over all of space and time, and that we are the tiniest little part of it--but we love the part He has given us. We wait expectantly for all of the adventures that are to come, and go with confidence in the direction He has sent us. We are blessed, and we are so thankful.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Quiet Moment to Catch Up

Even with just one boy, it has been an eventful last however-many-days-since-I-last-blogged. Which, by the way, T is doing great. For those of you who have been interceding for him, know that it is working wonders. God is so good, and in spite of whatever challenges may come with each day, he is doing really, really well. We are so thankful for how God is working in his heart and life, and are very excited to see what God will continue to do.

SPEAKING of intercession, in case you hadn't already heard, we had a prayer walk for WSBR on Saturday. I sent out a brief Facebook status about it, but wow! I was amazed at the amount of people who came to pray--even more so, how many people I met for the first time. What a great reminder that the legacy at the ranch goes far beyond whatever Blake and I may accomplish here, because it is all about what God has already accomplished and is going to accomplish long after we are gone. For those of you following this blog who care about the ranch because you care about Blake, Adeline, and I, thank you. Really. Thank you. However, I would encourage you to continue to pray without ceasing for those serving at Willow Springs long after Blake and I are gone, however far in the future that time may be. Make a spiritual investment in this place. If God leads you to do so, any monetary investment would be so appreciated; but, first and foremost, we covet your prayers.

Please be in prayer for us as we navigate some possible future residents in the near(ish?) future. WSBR is in contact with their people, but it is all in "baby stages" at this point. T gets along great with the boys next door, but he really needs a friend close to his age. Adeline makes a good playmate most of the time, but naps too much for his taste. ;)

Also, please pray for two of our staff members who are each getting ready to have babies very soon! Things will definitely be eventful around here for a while with new little ones around! Oh, and don't get any ideas. Blake and I are planning on waiting a little longer before we contribute to the new baby club ;)

We are blessed, we are thankful, and we are so glad to be on this journey with all of you. Praise be to God!