Saturday, April 28, 2007

Garage Sale Steals!!

One of the things I love to do is garage sale. For me, it is like modern-day treasure hunting. Before we moved to Crestline, I found this great coffee table for $3.00. It took a ton of work to refinish it, but we loved it so much in the end, that it was one of the few items that has made the numerous cuts we've had to make during all the moving.
Anyway, last weekend, I saw a bookcase, and it was mostly painted pink. I think they must have gotten tired of the project, because it wasn't finished. But it was wood, so I saw some potential. I was thinking a beautiful, sleek black finish for the living area, to hold books, etc. I haven't gotten to it yet, so it is just sitting on the front porch (oh yeah, for $8.00).
This weekend, Ben and I went and scored again. We found another bookcase, type piece that has doors on it, so I thought that might be even better because I could put kid's toys and/or craft items in it, and close the doors!! I also got a killer mirror, which is framed in lime green wood, but will look like it came from Pottery Barn when I am through with it, I hope. =) I got both items for $23.00.
So this afternoon, I began painting the bookcase type thing with the doors black. It was looking pretty nice...Emma came to admire my work and said, "Oh mommy, it is very pretty. Since this one is black, I think you could clean the one in front, and paint it ALL pink, and then it could be mine."
My goodness, I guess it starts young. Then again, maybe she would enjoy helping me with that project. She's almost four, she can refinish furniture, right???

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Agony of a Decision!

So, Ben has been working for his dad's company, and enjoying his work...He feels good being a part of the family business, and likes knowing that he is helping the family, so to speak. He had been waiting to hear from a job with Aera energy, an oil company here in Ventura. It was taking them so long, though, and finally, Ben's dad just needed to know if Ben would stay or go. So, Ben made the decision to stay.
The next week, Aera called and offered Ben the job. Ouch. That hurt...but, right away, Ben said that he was not going to take the job because he had already made a commitment. So, that was fine, the decision was made.
Then, Ben's dad said that he was changing the health insurance, so Ben got all the paperwork, brought it home and we re-worked the budget with the new numbers. Uh-oh. I know, it sounds crazy, but yes, it made such a difference that we weren't going to make it. I don't mean, oh, it will be tight, not going to make it. I mean, no cable, no internet, cut our food budget $60 a month, and still can't afford diapers type of situation. Anyway, then the agony began. Ben talked to his dad, who was INCREDIBLY gracious and wonderful, but that didn't make it any easier on Ben because he didn't want to disappoint anyone or let them down.
Then, a few days into it, I had a little epiphany: if Aera had called a week earlier, it would have been easy, he would have taken the job. If the insurance situation had come up a week later, it wouldn't matter because he would have already past the deadline for accepting the job with Aera and it would be easy. But could it be, that instead of an easy decision, the point of all this was just so that we would seek God, desperately, diligently, relentlessly until we had an answer? Could it be, that over the last two years, we had let the thought creep into our theology that God didn't really care what we did as long as we were obedient, and our hearts were right (which is not completely wrong), but that He didn't really have a specific plan for us, and that He wouldn't speak to us?
Thus, began our pursuit....we cried, we prayed, we read God's Word (at the end of twelve hour work days) until we couldn't keep our eyes open. I know it sounds weird, but we LABORED over this decision. Seriously, at some points during this, I would have picked actual, child-birth labor over this. But we prayed, and we said that we needed to hear from God, and that we could no longer live with God's general but needed God's specific plan. We needed to hear God's voice.
Now, I am not saying that God opened heaven, and we heard him audibly tell us what to do. But he carried us through and this is what happened.
I had prayed that God would send some prospective workers, since that was a source of pressure, already being a bit short handed. There are two prospects, so we are continuing to pray that at least one of them will work out.
My friend Amber (THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!) said she would be praying for Ben's dad, that he would "release" Ben from his commitment more forcefully, so Ben would really know that it was okay. We had sought advice from a couple other sources...And within two hours of me talking to my friend Amber, Ben's dad called him and said just that, "I RELEASE YOU."
This by no means made the decision, but it helped.
We read much of God's Word, but didn't sense a specific direction, only encouragement:
"The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you." 1 Samuel 10:6-7
So, finally, Ben made the decision. He called Aera, and he was already a day late sending the acceptance letter, so he didn't even know if he could still have the job. And when he called, no one was there, he had to leave a message. But he sent the letter, and then called his dad. Anyway, his dad was so kind and so encouraging, and although sad to see him go, he even said it might work out better in the end for him. And some other details went according to the way we had prayed, and then Aera returned his call and said that they had actually been waiting to see if Ben would accept the job and that they were so please that he did!! And so, the Lord has acted mightily on our behalf.
To tell you the truth, at most points in all this, I didn't even care what Ben decided, I just wanted to be done with the decision. And yet, the agony, that is what is the most exciting thing to me in all of this. GOD IS NEAR TO US!! GOD DESIRES TO SPEAK TO US!!! It is my responsibility to know my Shepherd's voice, but you better believe I am ready to get to know it for sure!!!! And if God is near to us, if God speaks to us, and if God has a specific plan for us (WHICH HE DOES!!!) then life has meaning, then there is boundless amounts of hope and joy even IN THIS LIFE!!! GOD IS NOT IMPERSONAL!
Oh, so about the job....
I am not exactly sure what Ben will be doing, except making sure those oil-pumping machines off the side of the freeway work. But he will work seven 12 hour days, then have 7 days off. Then he will work seven 12 hour night shifts (6pm to 6am) and have seven days off. Our insurance is great, and he will have a pension and 401K. I am not really even sure what all of that is...but, they also have some educational incentives, and I thought, hey, 7 days off is perfect for trying to finish that degree he's been talking about....or surfing, or studying God's word and laboring with me over the next decision we face. Only next time, we will even start off in a better place, because we know and believe that He will speak to us, and He does have a specific plan for us.
P.S. Interestingly enough, my Wednesday night Bible Study, which started about 3 hours after Ben made his decision is about Discerning God's Voice. I CAN'T WAIT!!!
Please pray for us, with moving soon, and the change in jobs, and Ben's new schedule...we can't wait to see what God will do!

Some Catching Up To Do...

So, the last two years have been a little rough for our family. And it usually has left me in one of two places: either in tears as I attempt to talk about it, or just speechless. Which is sort of how I have felt in the last few weeks. Speechless. Which is also why this past year, I didn't send out the Christmas letter that I always send out, the one that Ben's family always tell me they're so glad I send because it's the only way they can keep up with us and remember who we are...yes, that Christmas letter. I couldn't send one because I simply had no words. There are no words to describe when you are in the midst of the situation, and without knowing it, you have somehow come to a place where you think that the God of the Universe, who not only created you but redeemed you, is far away, and just maybe, has forgotten about you. I wouldn't have admitted it, even to myself, but I think that's what I was feeling, that God had become impersonal. That he didn't have a specific plan, but just a general plan for my good, and that I would just have to figure it out and suffer the consequences if I got it wrong.

Well, let me just say though, that this is a terrible place to be. Really. But there was a part of me that held out hope, because I knew I had heard God's voice had been a while, but I knew that I had experienced God's SPECIFIC plan for my life, not just some general, yeah, God has good plans for me. I knew that God had to love me, and He had to be very near to me, because that's what His word says...and yet, I had started to wonder.

There are many things for which I have no answers for, even still, but there is one thing I know and I wish I could shout it from every roof top...I am no longer speechless...

So, here is the summary of the events, and I will describe with more detail in another post.
Ben and I are moving to a super cute three bedroom house here in Ojai, sometime in the next two weeks or so.
Ben will be staring a new job working for Aera energy (an oil company in Ventura) in the next three weeks or so.
The Lord has proved Himself mighty and faithful on our behalf, and we are rejoicing simply in the fact that God is very near to us!!!

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:24-28

Monday, April 02, 2007

Cadence Taylor Hester

Yeah! Cadence Taylor Hester was born March 22, 2007 at 6:53pm to proud parents Ryan and Kelly Hester. She was 7lbs., 4 oz. and 19 1/2 inches long. Kelly is such a trooper...she was in labor all day! Kelly and Cadence are enjoying some time at home, and Ryan is already back to work. Cadence is a beautiful, petite, precious little blessing, and she is healthy and doing great!