We’re Getting Three Housemates!

When we moved to the east bay last summer and bought a house, we purchased a four bedroom home because our plan is to eventually adopt as many children as God gives us capacity for. As we searched for homes, we decided it wise to purchase a bigger home now, in order to provide for these children down the road while housing prices and interest rates are so low. However, with just the three of us right now, we are only using two of the four bedrooms.

Since moving in, I have entertained the idea of using our downstairs bedroom to provide housing to someone in need once we set the room up. It just seems to me a colossal waste (and selfish hoarding), to have two empty bedrooms while there are so many who are homeless (particularly in this economy). We finally finished our guest room in July, but the summer had been a busy one and I put my hopes to use the room to bless someone on the back burner. Then on August 4th, I saw a status update in my facebook news feed that caught my eye. It was written by a woman who I met while Sean and I were raising funds to be missionaries with Campus Crusade for Christ (and who faithfully supported us while we were on staff with the organization). It read:

Hey I woudn’t have made it if it weren’t for someone who stepped out of their “nice little life” and brought me and my daughter in during a very bad time in my life. Think about it……. God saves but He uses His people to help other people. I will always be grateful to Alan and Danette Lauer who opened their house to me, a lost, broken up drug addict in the 70’s. Did they know what they were doing? NO… But did they trust God? YES AND I AM SO GRATEFUL!

I read the post over and over and couldn’t stop tears from welling up in my eyes. What a powerful testimony! I don’t even know this woman well personally, but I do know she is an amazing woman of God and has an incredible, thriving prison ministry that is impacting numerous inmates’ lives. I just kept thinking: “I want us to be them. I want us to be Alan and Danette Lauer. We have no idea what we’re doing either, but I want to trust God like that.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about her post for the rest of August, so during our 5 year anniversary get-away over labor day weekend, I brought it up to Sean. I read him her post and my desire for us to open up our downstairs bedroom to someone in need. He readily agreed, so we added “contact our church to see if they know anyone in need who could use our downstairs bedroom for free to bless them (single mom, a young girl who recently aged out of the foster care system, missionaries, etc.)” to our list of actions we wanted to take immediately.

When we returned from the trip, I emailed the local missions director at our church to ask her if she knew of anyone. Within a couple of days, I received a response that she indeed knew of a single mother of four who was currently pregnant with twins and living in a motel. She said she has known this family for quite some time and believes this is the turning point for this young woman. She also informed me that her children were being placed with a “safe family” (a family that agrees to take care of children for a short period of time during a crisis situation). After receiving her email, we set up a time to meet this last Thursday (9/20) to discuss this young woman’s situation further.

At the meeting, I quickly received a curve ball and was told she had delivered the twin boys via emergency c section at 35 weeks gestation the day earlier. During the meeting, I just kept thinking: “I can’t imagine having just had a major surgery, two newborn babies, no home to call my own, and no help from a spouse.” I came home and told Sean all about the meeting, we prayed together, and determined this is something God is calling us to do. So tonight this young woman will be coming to stay with us, and her twins (who are one week old today), will soon follow when they get released from the NICU. Talk about a madhouse! 🙂 Right now, our commitment is to provide housing for her, help her care for her twins, assist her in securing longer-term housing, and enable her to attend an addict recovery program during the next 5-6 weeks.

This may just be the craziest thing we’ve ever done (or at least right up there), and while I’m apprehensive about the unknown and selfishly grieving all the sacrifices we’ll have to make, I am thrilled by this opportunity to lay down my life (John 15:13), and to deny myself and take up my cross to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). 1 John 3:16-18 states: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

Even if this young woman’s life remains unchanged by this experience, I know our lives will forever be changed (and I hope this will be the first of many more opportunities like this to come). Though this experience will be difficult, I’m sure, I am excited for my character to be refined and molded more and more into the likeness of Jesus. “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.’” -Mother Teresa

Please be praying for all six of us during this time, we will need it!! But hey…good thing God won’t give us more than we can handle right!? Haha! 😉 But seriously, this will be a great opportunity to put into practice what I recently blogged about. Isn’t it funny how God does that?? Maybe I should be more careful what I blog about in the future, because it seems He likes to test me on my subject matter soon after posting to see if I really understand 🙂

5 Year Marriage Eval

View from our balcony

Making fun of Caleb’s stank face of course…seriously, this is what he looks like half the time

Sean and I just returned from a fun trip celebrating our 5 year anniversary in Santa Barbara where we met at school! It was the first time I was separated from Caleb for more than six hours since he was born, and while we missed him a lot, it was great to spend three days of uninterrupted time with each other (and from what I hear, Caleb had a blast with his nana, pop pop, and uncles)! Yesterday morning I asked Caleb if he wanted “mama” or “nana,” and he said “nana”…burned! Haha!

While the trip was super restful, we also used it as a time for us to intentionally take a pulse of our marriage and lives in general. We brought Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book “Real Marriage” on the trip, and over the course of the weekend, we talked through each question at the end of the book. We concluded the weekend by creating a list of areas of maturation for us and goals to work towards, as well as areas we agreed we are experiencing success in. I decided to share both lists on my blog as a record for us to reference, as well as for accountability. If I share our areas of needed growth publicly, I think we will be more likely to take them seriously. We also invite those of you who are actively involved in our lives to hold us accountable to these things, and periodically check in with us and ask how we’re doing with them.

20 areas of growth/actions we want to take immediately/future goals of ours:

  • Sean wants to begin attending the Wed. morning men’s Bible study to be in fellowship with older men
  • Pray for mentors/mentees for both of us
  • Enroll Caleb in an LARPD class to meet moms in the area who are not from my church (in order to branch out my friendships)
  • Invite our neighbors over for dinner
  • Sean wants to consistently bike to/from work four days a week
  • Be in bed by 11 pm so we get more sleep
  • We have appointed Friday nights as our sabbath and want to respect that
  • Make a meal plan, eat more meals with Caleb, and I want to cook more (Sean does a lot of cooking)
  • Walk together at least three times a week to pray as a family
  • Sean wants to grow in spiritual leadership of our family
  • Begin researching adoption options more in depth
  • Grow in hospitality and invite couples from our young married’s bible study over for dinner at least once a month
  • Sean wants to pursue friendships with other men more and I want to pursue deeper friendships with my women friends in Livermore
  • Finish working on our kitchen, downstairs bathroom, and laundry room by January
  • Pray for our families more
  • Watch less TV and read more instead
  • Be more disciplined about reading the Bible daily
  • Work towards buying a bigger car next summer
  • Strive to be more welcoming and outgoing in group settings
  • Contact our church to see if they know anyone in need who could use our downstairs bedroom for free to bless them (single mom, a young girl who recently aged out of the foster care system, missionaries, etc.) I know this one will be hard for me because I really value my privacy/alone time, but Jesus said to deny myself and lay down my life for others…so I will work towards that

20 strengths of ours:

  • We communicate well and are honest, open, and transparent with one another
  • Actively pursuing community and friendships in Livermore
  • Recently took on a leadership role in our young married’s bible study at church
  • Faithful in attending our church weekly
  • Pursuing relationships with our neighbors
  • Serve one another well and share the work load (personally I would say Sean does this better than me)
  • Staying “mission minded”
  • Always self-evaluating and checking if we are really living out our faith
  • I have done a good job exercising consistently
  • Consistently praying individually
  • Take our respective jobs seriously and are hard workers
  • Spend/save money wisely and tithe 10% (and more) of our income faithfully
  • Make connecting with each other a priority
  • Verbally affirm each other often
  • Genuinely enjoy one another
  • Challenge one another and push each other to become more like Christ
  • Both of us spend a lot of quality time with Caleb
  • Constantly have meaningful conversations and are always seeking to learn and grow
  • Always eat dinner together
  • “Fight” well (i.e. we don’t yell at each other, we resolve the issue before going to sleep, we strive to empathize with one another, etc.)

Of course we could easily come up with far more than 20 areas we could pursue growth in, but I think that’s a good/manageable start. I’m excited to see what God does as we strive to make healthy spiritual, emotional, and physical changes in our lives moving forward from here!