Friday, September 14, 2007

Return to Eden (Prairie)


As the day approached for us to leave Washington, despite the slow housing market, I said, "Why hasn't our house sold yet? I would buy our house. What's wrong with it?" We had said that if our house sold before we left on Aug. 27th, we would probably stay the extra month until it closed. Andrew said, "Watch the Lord sells our house right after we leave. Maybe He just wants us to move first, so that we won't delay our move."

Well, our buyer arrived on Tuesday, Aug. 28th the day after we drove off to Minnesota, and made his formal offer by Friday morning. He even wanted to close quickly, by Sept. 26th. We are amazed at how the Lord has continuously answered my prayer that if He willed to move us to Minnesota, that it would be quick and easy. Wow. (If you've been keeping up with our blogs, you know of all the ways things have worked together from my recent blog, "Movin'!").

The Drive

Despite how I don't like road trips, somehow, it was quite painless, yes, quite fun to drive to Minnesota. The children did shockingly well. I think A.J. even enjoyed it, looking out the window at all the new landscapes and pointing out all the different kinds of trucks. Gracie didn't even fuss that much and when she did, it wasn't that bad. That was the best the kids have ever done on any kind of a car trip. Clearly, the Lord was answering all those who were praying for us.

The first morning we left before 7am and met up with our friends the Wards, who were driving back home to Minnesota with us after their vacation visiting family in Seattle. Between our two children, the Wards' four children, 7-month pregnant Sherry, and the rest of us adults, we stopped every 45 minutes the first day. Usually, we'd all end up getting out and all of our children would run around playing together. Somehow, though, we made it through the whole state of Washington, Idaho, and into Montana by 7pm that night. (We didn't even speed).

Tuesday, we took a break and a tour of Glacier National Park. It was really beautiful and we really enjoyed it.

Wednesday, our family split off to visit a college friend in Billings, Montana. We weren't sure if we'd be able to meet back up with the Wards, but it turned out they were driving through the city we were eating dinner at just as we finished up and were buckling our kids into their car seats.

Thursday, we drove through North Dakota and the landscape became more and more beautiful as we approached our home, Minnesota. We arrived at my sister's house by 9pm that night.

By Saturday, we were able to start moving into our apartment in Eden Prairie.

Redeemer Bible Church

Our first Sunday at church was wonderful. The teaching and preaching was so convicting and we are learning so much. My brother-in-law, Bob Glenn, is a really really gifted preacher. I rate him among the top preachers of our day (apparently so do others cause you can find him on listed as R.W. Glenn).

Everyone was so friendly and open. People we didn't even know approached us to tell us they felt like they already knew us, as they have been keeping up with our blog and praying for us. Many of the elders and their wives also approached us to welcome us and tell us how they had been praying for us. Aside from Andrew's cancer, I think we have been on their prayer list for months, if not years, for us to be able to move here. During worship, we sang the Lord's praises in awe of who He is and all that He's done. Andrew said he was so excited to be there, he just wanted to run out into the street and shout at the top of his lungs.

Wednesday was prayer meeting. I had been cooped up trying to settle into our apartment, and despite my sister dropping by daily, I was beginning to feel lonely. It was so good to be able to go back to church and see everyone again.

At prayer meeting, after everyone shares their prayer requests to the church, we break up into small groups and pray. In the past, I always prayed with someone else, but this time I asked my sister if I could be in her group. She had Joy, her 7 year-old daughter in her group and Joy's friends. Each of them asked for prayer for things like that they would obey their mom or not fight with their brother. Gayle knew each of the little girls very well, and I was so impressed by how she took the time to point each one of them to Scripture, diagnosing their sin issues with the Bible. She said, "You know what James says about why we fight don't you?" She didn't dumb it down for them. She asked, "Do you desire to fight with your brother?" The little girl admitted, "Well, sometimes..." Gayle said that we should pray that we would really hate our sin. It was so sharpening to talk about our sin and pray for each other that we would hate it and love God instead.

We feel so challenged by the teaching and by the brethren, who are so transparent about what God is teaching them and what they are struggling with, that we feel like we want to be at church every day, sharpened to love God more, do all that His Word says, and to hate our sin. That is our greatest longing - to love Him more and to do His will, and to hate and kill our sin. When we are with the brethren, who help us to worship Him more, it is a shadow of what it shall be like to worship Christ the way He designed us to, with all of our hearts, and one day without sin.

Jersey People

On the same day of our arrival, the Smerillos arrived from New Jersey. They are a family that have known Bob and Gayle since college. The church hired Chris Smerrillo as their church administrator. The Smerillos have desired to move here for just about as many years as we have. On Saturday, Bob's sister, Kate and her son, Billy, arrived from New Jersey to move here. Both Billy and Noah Glenn are 11 years-old. Billy and Noah get to go to school together, be in the same classes, and share the same locker. On Sunday we were all at church, and it was amazing how the Lord has brought us all here from New Jersey, the Glenns, us, the Smarillos, Kate and Billy, and the Wards. It's neat how all the cousins can be with each other, my nephew and nieces with Billy and our kids.

There are still lots of people that before we moved we knew we would miss and wish we could take with us. A.J. walks around saying "Rhonda, Rhaaanda, Rhaaaaanda," all the time, though he knows her as "Mrs. Luse." I miss Lisa and a whole host of other people. We also knew we had a very unique set-up on our block. Our next-door neighbors, The Coopers, were like-minded believers whose children would run out and play with our kids nearly every day whenever we were outside. We really liked all of our neighbors and don't expect to ever have a block like that again, where we're all in similar stages of life and enjoy each other's company. There were so many very special people that we really enjoyed and miss all the time.

But we are also very grateful for the Lord fulfilling our long-awaited desires and bringing us here. Little by little we are settling in and look forward to see what the Lord has in store for us on this new adventure.

AJ enjoying the view at Glacier

Long Days for the kids

Andrew's 26th Birthday Party at the Glenns'