Sunday, June 30, 2013

Busy Weekend

9:40 p.m. and we are about to pull the curtain on this weekend. 

We had hoped to take the train to Hokaido and explore...but we felt the need to stay home and continue house hunting.  We have many options and finally narrowed it down to three. Two of them sent us leases. The third has an application process and a credit check.  This can take days. We debated if we should fill in one of the other leases or apply for the third. We told the children on the way to chapel we would have a family meeting this afternoon to decide.  It came down to two. One in a gated community and one in another subdivision that I guess used to be a cow pasture in the near recent past. ::snort:: In any event....Michael, Zander and Stacia liked the idea of the Gated Community. Arielle and Nolan really liked the other home much better. I was unable to decide. I pointed out the rent is cheaper, the house is BIGGER and newer and it includes lawn service and more utilities.  BUT I liked the lake across the street, the pool, the security of the home in the Gated community. I was NOT looking forward to WHITE BERBER CARPET throughout the home... As we kicked it around Michael suggested we simply apply for the bigger home and if we don't get it we'll look more at the Gated Community. Actually, I would be more than happy with any of these three homes (though I'd be worried about the white carpet) we shall see.

Other weekend accomplishments....we junked my Prairie Joy. I loved this little car. It's not been driven for months and for the first time the battery wouldn't start. It's like Joy new she was heading to the junk yard. I'd hoped to give it away but the repairs to get the JCI done cost more than the car is worth. It was the perfect car the past four years. The kids all fit in it and it was small enough for these roads.

Our pre-inspection with our Realtor is tomorrow. We patched holes.....

Washed walls - the last of the "Alex" which he scrawled on the wall 3 1/2 years ago! 

Today our freezer went to a new home with dear friends

And's time to sleep - this week is going to be screaming busy! 

Choosing Joy!
©2013 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Last Lesson

We've had our final Akikosan lesson. We plan to continue trying to learn Japanese because,  yes, we do believe God will open doors and some day we'll be back in Japan.  We'll get together another time or two before we leave in 2.5 weeks, but it will be for fun.

I love that we're good enough friends for Akikosan to tease me.

"De'Etta san?" She points at the shoes and raises her eyebrows? "All these shoes when you are leaving?" I assured her we'd  get them all on the plane. I reminded her we can take eight suitcases of 70 lbs each with us.

We had a great discussion tonight. We talked about future dreams. We shared our love for Jesus. Akikosan helped us understand more religion/culture in Japan.

I'm not sure we've learned much Japanese, but have learned much about culture and we did make a sweet friend.

Choosing Joy!
©2013 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wedding Invitation!

Look what came in the mail today!   We LOVE this wedding makes us smile for so many reasons every time we look at it.  There is debate among the Gherkins as to which movies which lines came from. LOL

Yep - five and a half weeks until the wedding. Two and a half weeks until we fly to the states. Some have asked where the happy couple are registered. You can click here for links.  Below are a few more pics I've shamelessly stolen from online locations. ::wink::

Choosing Joy ~ Still!

I began Tuesday working through some portions of Living a Life of Prayer. I also prayed through a Prayer Covenant. I loved the God-coincidence of the first verse in  Living a Life of Prayer,  to pray and meditate on, being  the very first one I assigned to Mentor Group 2013....
Ps 25:4-5 "Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." (NIV) 
I still haven't blogged about "paths" and all God has been illuminating....but I spent some time recommitting to stay on His path, as He revealed His path. I especially prayed,  "SHOW ME YOUR PATH."

Some of you know we are facing some unexpected challenges and opportunities for faith growth. I may share more of the growth later. I've started a blog post - but am  unsure how to write it with honesty and yet an eye to the privacy of others. I suspect that post is destined for the "unvarnished blog."

 It simply would NOT be a Gherkin move without some adventurous drama thrown in. ::snort::

 The home we've  had a written agreement to rent since March 3rd, was put on the market 4 weeks ago. To be clear no money had changed hands. We have been asking and waiting for a formal lease and instructions for transferring money. In any event, the home had a buyer  within 1 week.  There seems to be some hold up with closing the sale. We found out it was on the market yesterday.  Stunned. Disappointed at the lack of communication. Reeling as we consider options. Frustrated. More upset by the lack of options caused by the choices of others, than not living in the house. We always pray God puts us where we'll bless others and be blessed. He has a different location for us.  The chicken thing is a bit perplexing but great opportunity for growth and shepherding our son's heart. One thing I've learned is it's not my responsibility to "work out answers" for my child's prayers. God doesn't need my help.

Our options are severely limited by the choices made in the past month. Lack of forthright communication cost us the chance to fly free to San Francisco to look for a home at the start of rental season. We are confident Abba Father will lead us through this valley not of our choosing. Already two women living in the Beale area have offered to drive by homes when they saw we were once again looking at rentals.

I'm encouraged.  We CHOSE JOY! God is for us. He has never deserted us and won't begin now. He knows the right home for us to live in and our prayer has always been that He show it to us. He will. We individually chose to walk in forgiveness - we're all sinners who make bad choices - saved by grace.  Friends and family around the world are praying we discover the home God has hidden for us until it was needed - which would be now.  We had planned to have household goods delivered to the rental on 23 July. We leave for 2 weeks of wedding the start of August. We need to line up a home in that one week in July or we'll be trying to find a rental mid-August...not good timing. God knows.

Tuesday could easily be overshadowed by our housing situation.  HOWEVER - some great things happened.

The day began with a trip to the clinic for more fun and a play group with a precious group of five young moms, their kidlets and me.

We got our freezer and pantry completely cleaned out and the boys and I drove to Hachinohe to deliver the contents to an Assembly of God missionary family which has been in Japan 26 years.

I was able to share our heart to return to Japan.  Ron shared insight into our next season with us....some good information  to consider. Hard to believe we'll be making some drastic changes to our ministry in two short years.

In family circle we revisited the parable of the King and his two slaves (Matthew 18:23-35). We had discussed Monday night what forgiveness IS (surrendering it to God) and what it is NOT (absolution, amnesia). We talked about what happens to one if they refuse to forgive. We shared a few personal examples. We prayed and committed to be a family which walks in forgiveness. O*U*C*H* Jesus - not funny. ::snort::

Twenty-four hours later....we revisited the parable and our commitment as we sought to walk it out in a situation where we are "naturally" stinging. It was a precious night with the Gherkins....

We "ended" the night by looking at rentals online. ::snort::

 All went to bed.... I began hours of wrestling with my NASTY flesh.  I forgave....but oh I didn't want to. I finally went to bed at 0200 this morning. I was frustrated with myself for wrestling so hard when the rest of the house was sleeping.   What kind of an example IS this Mama?

I laid in bed and prayed, "You KNOW I need to hear from You about this."  In the stillness, I was reminded, when faced with horrendous consequences brought about by others, Jesus wrestled and then surrendered.

"Thank you, Father. Wrestling with the flesh is to be expected. Surrender is the norm of the new creature and eventually she comes out on top.  You know we want only Your will, Abba, but the way this all came about stings."

"When Jesus was faced with deception and purposeful betrayal (we aren't); He forgave."

"Show me your ways Oh Lord, teach me your paths.... Yes, Jesus I DO want to walk in your ways and you walked in forgiveness and total surrendered obedience to Father God. Help me."

We had planned a road trip sit in a toilet surrounded by fake things worked out it seems appropriate. ::snort:: I realized I was far too tired to be driving 2 - 3 hours away and back. I called Mandy and confessed, "It took me five hours to wrestle my flesh into surrender and I'm too tired to responsibly drive on a road trip."  She and her friend will go today and I'll go later with the kids - maybe next week.

Mandy reminded me play group (which I missed much of due to needing to be at the clinic)discussed Jacob who wrestled with God. She encouraged me it was o.k. to wrestle...but to walk out the surrender.

The kids told me to take a nap and as I drifted off I read an email from my mentor. She shared, "E.  Stanley Jones said  he allowed himself one hour to be upset, then he moved on." You know I WISH I was mature enough, holy enough to have surrendered in one hour. I could be sitting in a toilet if I had. I take comfort in the fact that E. Stanley Jones recognized this wrestling with the flesh, emotions and will.

I am thrilled to see our children reached this spot before me. Truthfully, I'm amazed it only took five hours to reach a place of the not to distant past it would have taken weeks, months, years....God is good.

If we shared anything with you which was out of line (and I can't think of anything) I ask your forgiveness. We are praying only God's very best for our former-almost-landlord and his family. Yes, I wish we had known the house was on the market weeks ago so we would have more options - but God loves to have us where He is our only option. He is our provision. He will get us out of this predicament. We are looking for that home which He has hidden for us until this time.

And the chickens, garden, room to roam...doesn't really fit the picture of prepping for missionary work to a crowded country does it? ::snort::

{Editor note: I totally realize my situation is NOTHING compared to Jesus' but I'm not God either. If you love us, please do not post nasty comments. They needed to sell for their family - we get that - we're stinging. We covet your prayers.}

Choosing Joy!
©2013 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Balanced Day

I asked several months back  how to prepare to say goodbye to a place you love. My concern was how to lessen the pain of leaving for the children (ok and US) and I received many good suggestions.  Scott has said  the most painful "see you in heaven" goodbye I can imagine - that of a parent to a child....he shared  he found it helped not to try to avoid the pain, to accept it. Corinna shared her thoughts on a glorious sorrow - a sign one has loved well at an assignment. I always remember the TCK goodbye Corinna and I shared in AK...didn't look at each other, wasn't a big deal....walked off...and denied the pain.  ::sigh::  And realized I really needed to deal with my Third Culture Kid issues to help my kids deal with it. ::snort:: 

I pretty much embrace the moment - so living in the moment has been easy.  I determined not to be morbid, but to allow the pain to hit when it sit with it...get comfortable with it....and in that way live this out  fully  - embracing both the NOW and the upcoming departure....and that's worked.  It's pretty much what I've done through the past four years when longing to be with the Gherkins would hit at odd moments. We continue to minister, to spend time with friends....and yet we know our time is growing short. 

Glorious sorrow hits at odd early a.m. drive through the rice fields. I got out of the van with the remnants of tears on my face and one of the Gherkins remarked, "It's that kind of day isn't it?"

We spent a few hours working on "the move." I made kennel and vet appointments. We moved all the things we don't think we'll give away to the garage for the garbage man to give us an estimate. I sent out a few move related emails. We took the bulletin boards off the walls and the boys smashed them to smithereens so they would fit in the trash can - and yes - it hit again! Those silly things have been with us since our very first military assignment.....we finally had enough $ in the budget to BUY bulletin boards....but the movers didn't pack them this time and I really don't think I have wall space for them in CA.
I went through the pantry and pulled out all the food I don't think we'll use in the next three weeks. I'll do the same with the freezer tomorrow - get down to our fridge freezer so we can prepare to give it away. Sometime this week we'll drive to our missionary friends and bless them with a carload of American food.

Then - I followed Mary's advice. We headed for the beach. It helps to go do something you love when the sorrow hits....

I said "put on shorts" but I also said we weren't going to the swim beach....

Which didn't seem to matter

Naughty Yuuki 

Arielle and Stacia walked up the beach to the potties. I was laying on the sand and only needed to hold her leash. She kept turning her back on me and flicking sand at me. She was irritated. She finally laid down right at my head and when I said "good dog, Yuuki chan" she covered me in sand...she kicked and kicked and pummeled me. I'm still trying to get it all out - hours and shower later. 

"Arielle" watched Colton and Lawson this afternoon. Actually we ALL play with them.....but you know. Sure love these boys.  

I made up a quick filling using things in the freezer and veggie crisper. I put meatballs in the crock pot for those who would rather die than try something new. ::snort::  
I finally was able to head to the gym to work out - they were closed this a.m. Picked Michael up, came home and stuffed  puff pastry (found in the freezer too), took a shower and then enjoyed dinner. 

Michael, Arielle and I all had seconds of whatever it is I made....yum! 

In family circle we discussed the parable of the Master and servants with the debts. Good talk about forgiveness - what it is and what it isn't. 

I had hoped to book flights for the girls and I from SEA TAC to Eugene - but I'm still trying to figure out if I can make a 1:00 p.m. flight. 

Another full day in the can. ::grin::

Choosing Joy!
©2013 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Friday, June 21, 2013

End of the Road - Honshu Style

We've been hearing about snow monkeys in Northern Japan for over four years. We've heard different drive for 4 hours and see a monkey in a cage...others have said they saw them by the roadside....we've kept our eyes open every time we've driven that way and have never seen any. 

This was our last chance. We decided to combine two goals...find some monkeys and reach the most western point at the bottom of the "ax head." Checking out the map below - the wild horses are at the top right, Cape Oma to the top left...we wanted to see the bottom left.

I found a map in English....SCORE! Our atlas leaves much to be desired. There was a "monkey park" on the map and if we didn't see monkeys before we reached it we'd stop and watch them in a concrete cage. (See red arrow).  We told the kids we MAY not see monkeys in the wild - but this was our last chance. We also told them we were going to drive to the end of the road....and off we went. 

We shouldn't have been surprised to find a Japanese Naval Station - but we were. Of course, I had to take pictures of these beautiful frigates.....decided I'd settle for this as the next step was over a barricade and probably ill-advised. 

We stopped for a picnic lunch and a bit of stretching at/or near Jogasawa Beach. 

Concrete stairs is a new one - sleeping her way through the goodbyes? 

We've noted all kinds of concrete in seawalls...but whiffle balls were new to us! 

The drive was BEAUTIFUL and eventually we began to see signs that alerted us we may find Snow Monkeys in the trees.

We saw the turnoff to the monkey park before we saw monkeys. We overshot the turn off and ended up in a parking lot with a little white pickup truck. Michael spotted monkeys in the tree and shortly we all joined him.

The branches moved....we heard some "hooting type" calls....and then we saw them. Snow Monkeys - EVERYWHERE.....what a blast!

Mama kept throwing flowers at us...

Yes, I took the next three shots!  Gherkins in their natural habitat! ::snort:: 

Eventually we decided to explore the "park" and discovered bungalows and cabins nestled in the trees. We have info and plan to call and possibly stay there before we leave.  The trees with the monkeys are right outside your cabin. (WHY aren't these photos side by side as they ARE on the compose screen???)

We skipped  the animals in the concrete cage, but enjoyed looking around and buying drinks from the vending machine. I was inspired by the monkeys, no one was around but the kids and me and so I broke into a Snow Monkey Dance.....never overlook the man across the road with the big lens. 
Arielle's so reserved....

Stacia's joining in! 

We still hadn't reached the end of the road....we started further inland (the road curves back to Misawa) - then we headed back down the road to find a little road that would go to the edge of the island. We found Atagoyama Beach and stopped to enjoy a bit of fun. 

This is a GREAT swim beach. Oh boy, Stacia fell and landed face first on the concrete jetty. It could have been much worse...she ended up with goose eggs, scratches on her face, elbow, hands, legs...but nothing broken or knocked out.
We all felt Wakinosawa Village was the end of the road...but Michael kept driving until we got to Kaizaki! And that truly was the END OF THE ROAD on Honshu. The experience reminded us of finding our way to Homer, AK - the end of the road in America. 

There is a story here. You may remember the Call of the Foam G from Thursday.  Unbeknownst to me - not fully trusting in the providence of my foam G - Michael had said a prayer of his own on Thursday. "God, if I find three glass rollers - together - I'd take it as a sign we are returning." ::snort:: Now - in four years we've never found these types of rollers....I didn't even know to look for them!  Michael wanted to find three and wanted them close together. These do not float. They sink - they don't often wash ashore.  I went off exploring beyond those rocks you see above. I came back and Michael said, "We're coming back." I'd could tell he was having a moment of some type. I was happy but a bit perplexed...and then he told me about his prayer and showed me three ceramic rollers and here's the picture of them on the beach at the end of Honshu. Still not skywriting....but we're starting to feel a peace that somehow it will all work out. We're content to follow it out - though we don't know for sure where it will lead.

Loved this little island - doesn't it look like a whale? 

The road ends at a little fishing spot

Ferry in the background going around the corner of Honshu

Our geography is weak but because of where we are, we do not believe the land in the distance is the other side of Mutsu bay (that is to the south and left). We think this is the south end of Hokkaido - though at first we thought it was China. 

The housing at the end of the road

Sure enough - as we turned to start back home we found a little white truck...proving at the end of the road in Japan - you will find a little white pick up truck! 

These make me want to go back and try hunting the beaches a bit south from this village. LOL 

 We drove straight up 338 on the way....Coming home we dropped onto 279 at Mutsu and drove to Noheji and then on to Misawa on Hwy 8. It  shaved a good 30 - 40 minutes off the trip.

Choosing Joy!
©2013 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...