Monday, December 17, 2012

She’s Not Mine

I didn’t want to write this blog. I still don’t. But it started writing itself in my head, and those of you who blog know that there’s almost no stopping it once that starts. I haven’t posted a single thing about the tragedy in Connecticut on Facebook. I haven’t watched a single news story on it. (And I admit – I’m kind of proud of myself for that since by all accounts the media is not doing well with the topic.) Almost everything I know about it is from word of mouth or things my friends have posted on Facebook. I’ll even admit that I haven’t shed a tear. Not for lack of care – not even close. But I’ve sort of shielded myself and “cared from afar”. Selfish? Maybe.

I felt like so many others have said things far better than I can. Case in point… My friend Jen wrote a lovely blog that shares her thoughts so eloquently here. I don’t want to compete with her words or anyone else’s. Part of me hopes no one reads this and it’s just my way of getting this out of my head so I can move on with my day. But there’s the other part that will share it in hopes it helps someone out there, too.

“My” six year old is upstairs in bed coughing next to “my” four year old. “My” one year old is in the next room with my husband. Ellie (the 6 year old) is recovering from a virus. Her fever broke yesterday, which is good news, but her cough is relentless. We all lost at least an hour of sleep over it last night – probably far more for her. As I lay there last night begging God to give her some relief and allow her to sleep, I found myself grateful. Grateful that I could hear her in there and, while struggling, know that she was fine in the grand scheme.

We’ve been home schooling this semester, but we’re sending Ellie back to public school in January. We live in Littleton, Colorado now. You could practically throw a rock from her school to Columbine High School. It’s impossible to remain unaffected by that. Will it be tough to send her to school on January 7th? Without a doubt.

Here’s what I’m reminded of, though. We call our families “ours”. It’s not even totally untrue. The family I have on earth is the one that has been given to me. So…they’re mine. But then again, they’re not. They’re not mine in any sense that I can control. They’re gifts. Each and every one of them from my extended family to these precious 4 people I live with. I’m not promised another day with any of them. It’s not something I even deserve. Such a tough truth to swallow.

Even when Ellie, Emma or Nathan are in my care, I’m still not in control. Something unimaginable could happen to any of them at any time – a thought I refuse to dwell on lest I crumble into a heap of despair. But this is what trust is all about. They belong 100% to my God and Father. And I trust him. Completely. That’s not to say I trust him to keep them with me well into my old age, although this is absolutely my hope. I trust him to take care of me and them in his way which is not always clear to me.

Some question how God could “let” something like the tragedy in Connecticut happen. When he chose to give us the will to choose him – such a gift, by the way – he also knew that in that gift of choice, we’d bring poor consequences upon ourselves. If God stepped in and stopped every evil act, would we really still have free will? I think not…

I posted on a similar theme about a year ago and will end with this: I will use my gift of free will to choose to cherish every moment I have with “my” family. I vow not to question God and his sovereignty in the midst of tragedy – mine or someone else’s. I vow to grieve and mourn the tragedy and not remain unaffected. And I vow to raise my children and influence my part of the world for good and the truth that comes from Christ in hopes of doing my part to minimize the horrible choices that lead to the evil in this world.

They’re not mine. They’re his. And I’m grateful for that, too.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Letter 2012



The Wiebes find themselves living back in beautiful Denver, CO as 2012 comes to an end. We are as surprised as anyone about this development, but God’s direction has been clear and abundantly confirmed. Amy’s earlier blog post has all the details about how it happened, but the mile-high version (pun intended), is that God has called us to move here to continue the pastoral work He has been leading me into for the last several years. We wrapped up our loose ends in Dallas in late October, and drove our two Uhaul vans to Denver with the three kids taking turns in each truck. God has made His sense of humor clear though in this transition. The church we are leaving behind in Texas is The Ranch Community church, and  I will begin a 2-4 year position here in Denver starting in January at The Church at the Ranch in Highlands Ranch, CO. I will be training during this time to plant a church somewhere in the area. It is not what I expected, but God rarely checks with us to see if our plans line up with His. Yet, I could not be more excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. What has also been incredible to watch is how God has graced our entire family during this transition.

The kids have had a very busy year with all that has happened. Ellie played another season of soccer in the spring and scored several goals this year. With the trips back and forth to Denver in July and again in August and then permanently in late October,  the girls spent the summer swimming, driving, hiking, and generally enjoying the outdoors. Because we knew that we would be moving to Denver in August, we started Ellie in an online home-school that we teach to her at home. She has been doing great with it, but with both of us working full-time jobs, she will return to public school in January.  Emma was very sad to leave her fantastic preschool in Texas, but has quickly adapted to her new preschool here and is being her usual social, hilarious self. Both girls will be taking more ski lessons this winter and are really looking forward to that. They have also been waiting for some big snow to fall here since I promised to use my expertise from a childhood in upstate New York to help them build a snow-fort. Nathan turned 1 in mid-October, and continues to amaze us. His sisters smother (sometimes literally) him with affection, and he loves to roughhouse. He’s been teasing us for months, but it seems that he’ll be a slow walker, as his sisters were. He has been a total champ in the chaos of our move, and we thank God for his sweet disposition. 

There were definitely some other noteworthy events this year as well. Back in February, we drove with some great friends, the Hubers, to Red River, NM to do some skiing. The weather and conditions were perfect. We all had a great time tearing up the slopes during the day, and relaxing sore muscles at night in the cabin we rented together. 
In May, Amy and Nathan were blessed to join a number of  other family members at her cousin Lee’s graduation from West Point Military Academy. It was a weekend to remember. West Point is one of the most beautiful places in the country. Lee upped the ante by getting married to his wonderful wife Kim in July at a beautiful ranch up in the mountains west of Denver which we were blessed to attend as a family. 

As I wrap up this letter, I cannot help but to share with you how remarkably grateful and mystified we are by God’s goodness, faithfulness, and the depth of complexity by which God works out his plans in our lives. We had absolutely no plan to move to another state, but in hindsight, God has been training us to trust him completely for a long time. To trust that He knows what He is doing, and that he will both provide for us and use us as He sees fit, is the reason we are here now. It is also the reason that we will be blessed to work with a great church here, and eventually plant a church ourselves. The blunt truth is that we are imperfect people in the supremely capable hands of a God who has a plan to redeem humanity one heart at a time. As the popular saying goes, “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips those He calls”. We’ve been blessed over the past 6 years to work alongside an incredible group of people who love God with their whole selves, and we have watched God shape those people and we’ve felt him shaping us. What we are certain of as we walk through this huge transition is that we will continue to be refined and that God will continue to use us and bless us and stretch us in ways that glorify Him. And at the end of the day, that is the purpose of our existence. The cool part is that we get to be part of a plan that stretches back before time began, and forward into and endless eternity with a God who loved us enough to send his only Son to earth to reconcile a lost world to Himself. This Christmas, know that God loves you, and be blessed in the knowledge that he will use you remarkably as you place yourself in His supremely capable hands. We wish you the merriest of Christmases!    James, Amy, Ellie, Emma, and Nathan Wiebe. 



Saturday, November 10, 2012

How God Moved the Wiebes to Denver

I've been debating on when to write this post. It seems like the story isn't over yet. But it may never really be over. So, we'll just call this part 1 and continue from here as we go.

My last post was about our trip to Denver and New Mexico. I posted about the happenings of that trip but saved most of the important stuff for this post. 

James has been on staff at our Texas church (both under the name Four Corners and The Ranch) for 6 years. There have been financial struggles at the church really that entire time, but we thought the sale of the Four Corners building and our move to the leased space at the Ranch would resolve all of that. We learned shortly before our July 4th trip that it wasn't the case. I'll spare you some of the details as they're really to personal to publicize, but the events of the late spring and early summer had us seeking God intently for direction. We very much love the people in this church and honestly had no desire to make a change. James and I spent our time in New Mexico in July listening for what God wanted us to do. By the end of that trip, we were certain our time at The Ranch would be short. This was a sad realization but also a very clear one. 

About 3 years ago, God spoke clearly to James that he was being called to be a lead pastor. This is something James never expected, but he was obedient and has been mentoring under our pastor ever since to learn how to write and deliver sermons, etc. So, of course knowing we needed to leave our church also meant a job change for James. We were not naive to the fact that God could call us anywhere. There are a lot of churches in Dallas, and God is certainly able to open up a position there for James. We knew he may or may not choose to do that, so we worked at opening up our hearts to whatever God had. 

I'll admit...I love Texas. I mean, I really really love Texas. I wanted to raise my kids in Texas and live there forever. When we first started discussing that a move was a possibility, I was dead set against it. But, as he does so well, God changed my heart rather abruptly. We left Denver in July thinking, "Okay, we have to leave the Ranch soon, and God may ask us to move. If he does, Denver wouldn't be so bad." That was exactly where we were at. 

When we got home, we really didn't share these thoughts with others at first. We were just praying and continuing to seek direction. What was amazing, though, is that God used our friends and acquaintances to insert references to Denver into countless conversations we had during the few weeks after our return. And these people weren't just referring to our trip there. They'd mention Denver in what seemed to be completely random ways. None of them knew we were even thinking about moving at that point. By the end, it almost felt like God was yelling "You're supposed to go to DENVER!"

So, I remember one conversation we had in our closet in late July. I asked James how sure he was that we were going to Denver. He was at 70% at that point. We continued to get confirmation that we needed to go. We went on a previously planned beach trip with our friends, the Turners, and spent more time in prayer. James had a dream that resulted in us knowing this would be a leap of faith. God was asking us to go to Denver before there would be clarity on James' job. Do you think we were acting crazy? I thought so. I wasn't comfortable with going before the job, either, but God changed my heart again really quickly. 

Gratefully, I had the whole month of August off of work as I still had a month of leave left. The first week was our beach trip. The second week, we started getting the house staged to put it on the market. We got it ready and on the market by the end of the second week in August. We decided James would go up to Denver the second half of August to job hunt. Since I was off, we decided to go as a family. 

My aunt and uncle live in Littleton, a southwest suburb of Denver. They were kind enough to let us stay with them in August and also offered to let us stay in their basement for a while when we moved. James got two separate job leads during that time, so it was a fruitful trip. Also during that trip, I got confirmation that my employer was going to let me work remotely from Denver 3 weeks out of 4 at my same job. That was a huge blessing and another door opened. 

At the beginning of August when we realized we'd be moving soon, we struggled with what to do with Ellie's schooling. We learned that there's a public online school in Colorado called COVA that we started Ellie in. It's basically homeschooling with teacher support. It's been fun so far, but we're thinking that once James starts his job, we'll put her back in public. The flexibility in location has been exactly what we needed during this season, and she's doing great with it. 

We originally thought we'd make the move in early October. My aunt and uncle started finishing out their basement in August. We realized that it wouldn't be finished until late October or November, so we decided to set our move date for 10/28. 

We got a contract on our house in late September and set the close date for the Friday before we left. We were super excited, but sadly it fell through the Monday before we left. We were disappointed, but we know God has it under control. In fact, God has already shown us a potential reason why, so we're trusting. 

After also being hit with the stomach virus the week before our move, a bunch of our sweet friends came to say goodbye and help us load the Uhauls on the 27th. We filled one 26ft. truck and then had to get another 20ft. truck which we also filled. We got a car transport and loaded the Maxima on it. We finished loading and cleaning by 8pm and went ahead and got on the road to get started. We made it to Wichita Falls. Nathan's car seat was in the middle seat in my truck, and the girls took turns in the passenger seat of both trucks. We were a sight, but the trip went well. The kids did fabulous. We made it to Denver by 10pm on the 28th. 

We've been getting settled in. James had his interview with one church on Thursday night. It's for a mentorship position where he would ultimately plant and lead a church in 2-4 years. The interview went really well, and we should hear back in a few weeks. If he gets it, he would start in early January. The basement is still in progress, so we're staying upstairs right now. James and Bill have been taking the girls on lots of hikes, and we also already found a preschool for Emma that we really like. We'll start looking for a house sometime after James starts his job and our house sells. UPDATE: James got the job! He's working out details this week and should start at the first of the year!!

I'm so excited to see what God has for us here. It's going to be life changing. I feel like we're at that point in our life where you look back from here and the past 6-8 years have been preparing us for this. And we'll look back to this moment and know that this is when everything changed. What an amazing place to be! We welcome your prayers as we continue this journey. Stay tuned for part 2!
 

I blog with BE Write

Monday, August 27, 2012

4th of July 2012…A Road Trip, a Wedding, and an Older Kid-Free Vacation!

As I mentioned in the earlier WestPoint post, my cousin Lee got engaged and set his wedding date for 7/7/12. Easy to remember, as it’s also my Dad’s birthday. So, the Wiebehaus loaded up in the car and departed at 6am on 7/3 for the 13 hour trip to Denver. The kids, yet again, did GREAT in the car. Nathan didn’t fuss except for about 5 minutes the whole way there. It was kind of amazing. My aunt and uncle again rented a pool house to allow us to all stay together, which was SO nice. There was one crew at the Littleton house (my aunt and uncle’s house) and then we and another crew stayed at the Ohio house (the street, not the state) near Cherry Creek. This house was POSH. I’m not kidding. We shared the upstairs with my eldest (he’s way older than me) cousin Joe and his wife, my parents, and Ashley (Blair’s girlfriend who was our roomie in Red Hook). We were blessed to be given the master suite since we had the kids. The suite included a sitting room with balcony and wet bar, an ENORMOUS closet (this is where Nathan slept in his pack-n-play), an amazing master bath complete with steam shower and jetted tub with a light that changed colors, and of course a beautiful bedroom with windows all around.

View from our bedroom:

Our bedroom:

The sitting room:

The kitchen (and the old cousin I was talking about):

We basically spent a very lovely 4th of July just hanging out by the pool all day. It was so nice…

Thursday was another pool day, and we spent Friday doing pedicures and then heading out to the rehearsal dinner. The kids went with us, and the girls were cared for by a sitter my aunt had hired. How nice is THAT? Nathan hung with us and was seriously an angel baby – staying up until after 10. The rehearsal dinner was great. It was up in the mountains a bit, and the food was so good. It was kind of in a big barn, and a thunderstorm rolled through in the middle. It was actually really neat and just added to the experience. Here’s a photo of Ashley, my cousin Bonnie and Nathan at the dinner:

The wedding itself on Saturday was also in a barn a bit further into the mountains. For some reason, our sweet baby was MISERABLE the whole way there and through the wedding. He clearly wasn’t feeling good since this is super out of character for him. We get to the wedding, and he’s still screaming…super. My dad offers to take him for a walk. This is a few minutes before the wedding, so I just think he’s going to go to the back for a minute and bring him back to me before it starts. He doesn’t, and I keep looking for them, but the wedding has started, so I’m stuck. It was a beautiful wedding with super cute bridesmaid dresses (short pink chiffon with brown cowboy boots). Here’s a photo I took with my phone that I thought turned out pretty great for a phone pic:

Turns out Dad had taken Nathan to the car and missed the whole wedding! What a great Crouchburger!! I felt really bad, but then again. As long as Dad gets cake at a wedding, he’s happy. Keep in mind that the wedding was on his birthday… Here’s a photo of him and James a little bit later at the reception:

And here’s a sweet photo of the female Wiebes:

The sweet bride Kim and Nathan:

The whole fam:

Here’s a bad mom story for you. Nathan was WIPED, and there were some bedrooms upstairs. I put him to bed in his stroller thinking he can’t get out of it. (I know, I know…) I laid it down flat and it seemed like he’d gone to sleep. James checked on him at one point and he was fine. Then Ashley went to check on him later. He was on the floor playing with a garbage bag. (I KNOW, I KNOW!) Who knows what happened when he actually hit the floor from the stroller. Won’t be doing that again. Lesson learned. :)

We checked out of the Ohio house the next morning and went to Bill and Pen’s for a brunch before driving down to Angel Fire with Nathan. I’ll tell part of the story of this trip in another post, but suffice it to say here that we had such a nice time just the three of us.

We were down there until Wednesday morning, and it was so relaxing. On Tuesday, we went over to Red River and went up the chair lift and hung out on the mountain for a while. Here’s our photo from the top:

Me and Nathan on the chair lift:

Then on Wednesday, we drove 6 hours up to Idaho Springs to go to a great little hot springs resort we know. We did a quick unload and then got BACK in the car to do the 2 hour drive up Mt. Evans to over 14k feet. It’s the highest paved road in North America. Here’s Nathan at the end of that trip. He did SO great:

Our time at Idaho Springs was also fabulous. We swam in the warm mineral pool which Nathan loved, each got massages, went down in their cave baths, and had some great food.

We went back to Denver Friday afternoon and spent some time with Aunt Pen and Uncle Bill before heading home first thing on Saturday. We didn’t get home until midnight, so it was a long day. Again, the kids did great, and we were able to unwind a bit on Sunday before hitting up a new work week. It was a great trip to say the least.

Nathan and Amy go to WestPoint!

We already had a lot going on this summer including my cousin Lee’s wedding in Denver (more on that later), so we couldn’t figure out how we could make his graduation from WestPoint, too. Finally, we decided to use some points we had forgotten about to fly just me and Nathan up to New York for the festivities. James couldn’t go due to some other commitments, so he and the girls stayed behind.

I was a little nervous about travelling by myself with Nathan, but he did awesome. My parents picked us up, and we went back to the hotel to settle in. We shared the hotel room on the WestPoint property with my parents. (This was a whole adventure in itself. I love them, but they crack me up with their quirks. Mom brings her own reading light that clips onto her bed, and Dad doesn’t go anywhere without his manicure kit.)

Friday morning was the cadet parade. It’s basically where the seniors “pass the torch” to the junior class. It was really cool to watch all the pageantry.

 

The graduation itself was also great. Joe Biden was the speaker. It was a neat event for sure. The only drawback, really, was that it was HOT. There was a lot of walking, a lot of baby on me, and a lot of sweat. A LOT. But, thank goodness for showers and washing machines. All of that was handled in short order.

Here’s Nathan sleeping on me at graduation. Sweet love.

On Sunday, we moved from WestPoint to a house up in Red Hook that my aunt and uncle had rented for the family. Nathan and I shared a lofted room there with my other cousin Blair’s girlfriend Ashley. Nathan won her over quickly, so we were good buds. Here’s a photo of Nathan swinging in the yard at that house:

 

Here’s a photo of my dad and aunt being….well, themselves.

Here’s my super cute Memorial Day baby. (That’s Ashley in the background checking her armpit – actually she’s just braiding her hair – and Kim, the fiance of Lee who graduated is actually holding Nathan.)

Me and Nathan in the pool:

Here he is sleeping in the cute little crib they had there:

Here’s the view from the back deck – lovely!

We made homemade ice cream. Nathan was the cutest ingredient:

And these are his sweet feet on the airplane on the way home. He did great, and it was such a great trip. Congratulations, Lee!

1st Annual Rib Throwdown

Ahhh…look what can come from a simple Facebook post. James put a comment about making some ribs one day, and our friend Rene’ commented that her husband Bruno could beat him any day (basically). Thus began the first annual Rib Throwdown. We invited some of our mutual church friends over to be the judges, and it was a super fun event. The kids played in the pool, the adults chatted outside by the grill, and good food was had by all. The voting commenced, and I think you can see who the winner was:

Thanks to Stephen for the fun shirts that say “Winner” and “Loser” on them!

6 years, 4 years and 6 months Photo Shoot

Leah took our photos for our milestones noted above, and as usual I was thrilled with the results. Enjoy!

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I’ve Been a Bad Blogger

It’s true. Life has been even more nuts than usual, so… I’m working on getting caught up! Yea! Stay tuned for lots of fun posts in the coming days – QUICK! Before I go back to work!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Life Group Camping Trip – Spring 2012

I think it’s been almost two years since we went camping. Which is sad, because our family loves to camp. And no – no camper or RV here. We do tent-style. Our air mattress is a must, so it counts and roughing it to some and not to others. We also prefer real bathrooms somewhere nearby. Two days or less – no showers for us. More than that, showers preferred.

We lead a great Life Group through our church, and one of our members suggested the camping trip a few months back. We have 5 families represented in the group right now, and 4 of the 5 were able to go. (The other was in Hawaii, so, while we missed them, we didn’t feel SO bad for them!) It was so fun to have such great participation.

We drove up to Beaver’s Bend State Park north of Broken Bow, OK on Friday afternoon and got our tents set up around 7pm. The Spencers had arrived earlier and secured a great location right on the river with lots of trees. We did a simple hot dog dinner and went to bed sweaty and tired after all that setup.

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I’m not sure any of us slept well on Friday night. Just takes some getting used to to sleep under the stars, I guess. There was also an annoying bird that contributed. We had a super early start, a yummy breakfast thanks to the Callahans, and got ready to go horseback riding. There was a little place to do it just around the corner from our camp site. They determined Ellie was too big to ride with me or James, so she had to have her own horse. I was nervous she’d get on the horse and get scared and not want to ride. No reason for nerves! She LOVED it! Emma sat behind me, and she loved it as well.

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After the horses, the Spencers provided our yummy lunch, and we rested for a  bit before getting ready to go swim in the river. It was around 90 degrees on Saturday, so we were all looking forward to getting cooled off. Little did we know just how cool it would be! The water was FREEZING. Most of us worked our way in (and James forced Dax in), but it was crazy cold. It was still nice to get cooled off, though.

We went back to the campground and had a nice relaxing evening. James made the Wiebe dinner of BBQ chicken, corn and beans. And of course S’mores were made. We got the kids to bed and had a much more relaxing evening by the campfire.

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We did sleep much better on night two, I think. The kids all did SO great. They played by the river for hours and came back up super muddy. No one had any major bug issues (except for a few ticks), so I was really proud of all of them. On Sunday morning, the Aleman’s made a great breakfast, and we all started packing up to head home! Here’s the whole group:

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Clearly we wore out our kids:

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Can’t wait to go again in the fall!