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Ten Weeks In

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Today marks the end of ten weeks since driving onto our property with our two trucks, two trailers, two kids, and the dog. It seems like so much longer. The hardships, the emotional roller coaster, the rain and mud, the isolation, all add up to make it feel like an eternity since leaving our comfy home and friends in West Virginia.

We rolled in late in the day on July 14th and set up camp. It took a couple days to get set up and we took a few days in St Paul at my brothers house- to rest up and stock up. We got the building permit two weeks after arriving but realized fairly quickly that things were not going to go as planned. Our initial desire for pier and beam foundation was not going to work with the heavy clay soil on our property. The locals were pushing a frost protected shallow foundation but the problem was that no one could do the foundation work for six weeks or more. We finally decided to do the slab ourselves. Rain and more rain kept us from doing any more work, but four weeks and $2200 later, we got our slab done!

By the time the slab ready to pour, we had two family members come up from out of state to help get the building up. I took the kids to my brother and sister-in-laws house for a week while the boys worked. Two weeks after starting to build, they got the house ‘dried in’. They ran out of time to get the roof on, so we had to pay a crew to get the metal on, but everything else was done by my husband, his brother, dad, and some help from my brother and his wife as well. My help mostly involved shuttling supplies, taking care of the two kiddos, camp cook, and support. I wanted to be more involved in the building process, but a three year old and an infant made that pretty much impossible.

We moved into the house eight weeks in, and have spent the last two weeks wrapping the house, putting in the electrical, insulating, and completing the outside insulation for the frost protected foundation. We do not yet have any water, septic, or electricity, but we have a house, we have hope, and we have the excitement of seeing our dream become a reality.

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Refine Me

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Today I had a serious discussion with God while standing on the back of the truck, siphoning water from our 55-gallon drum to our 7-gallon jug. Since coming to Minnesota, our path has been blocked so many times that I lost count. We have had weather delays, material delays, delays on getting help for projects. It took six weeks to get a foundation, and at almost nine weeks, we are still ‘camping’ in our house. We have had anger issues, communication issues, discipline issues with the kids, spiritual issues. We have fought with each other, fought with the kids, fought with God. We have prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed some more. Today I finally reached the breaking point. I sat on the edge of the truck and cried. I pleaded with God to take my anger from me, my bitterness, my grumbling. I prayed for him to replace it with the light and love of Jesus. I want to be a beacon of light to my family, my community, my friends, my kids, my husband. I got down on my knees and asked God to refine me. We talked for a bit about my selfishness, my inability to remain steadfast when I am tired, and crabby, and feeling worn down. I came back into the house with a renewed sense of purpose, and also a bit of happy sadness. I know, I know, that is an oxymoron, but it is true. I felt happy because I know that God is working with all his heart to refine me, and sad because it is rather painful and is going to require me to do many things and give up many things that I cling to desperately in my humanness.

Refining in the spiritual sense means a process similar to refining silver. There are many references to the refining of silver as a metaphor for the refining that God will do within us. Refining means being broken, and crushed, and put into the fire. It means being thrown into the fire to remove impurities, with more and more heat until all that is left is the pure and true. I always had some notion that following God would be easy. There is nothing easy about being refined! But this is what God wants for each and every one of us. Two verses came to me throughout my day:

1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV) 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

James 1:3-4 (NIV) 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I know that God wants us to be here in this place. I know that we cannot do it alone. I know that God will refine us and if we let him, he will complete us. So today, while filling up the water jug, I prayed. God, refine me in the rain and mud and wind. Refine me in the tantrums of a toddler. Refine me in the cold morning frost. Refine me in the endless sea of dishes and laundry and dirt. Refine me in the hauling water and slop buckets. Refine me as we build our house from the foundation to the roof. Refine me as we lay in a cold house with no insulation. Refine me as we try not to worry about having enough money to finish it all. Refine me as we head into winter with possibly no water,no septic, or electricity. Pull out my impurities- my bitterness, my anger, my selfishness, my stubborness. Heat me to the point of boiling so that all that is left is a reflection of you. Refine me God, so that in the Spring, I will emerge as a butterfly from its cocoon- fresh, new, and beautiful.

A Moment in Time

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imageJust a quick post of our progress over the last two weeks. So much more to do- so little time. It is supposed to be 37 degrees on Thursday night so I am really hoping we can get into the house to sleep.

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