Stepping into our "Jordan"

A couple weeks ago I (Kim) joined thousands of other women around the world as we participated in the IF:Gathering.  Throughout the weekend we looked at Joshua and his steps of faith as he took the Israelites from the desert into God's Promised Land.  

"The Lord said to Joshua... Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them--to the Israelites... As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you... Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it... Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:1-9)

To the Israelites, the Promised Land was full of bounty and blessings, but it was also full of giants and fortified cities.  To the human eye, it was impractical and unrealistic to believe that they would be able to overtake the land.  BUT... God promised that if they kept their eyes on Him and obeyed his commands, the land would be given to them.  40 years previous, the Israelites' fear prevented them from the land God has promised and forced them back into the desert.  This time, they were determined to BELIEVE what God has promised them would come to be.  

The command God gave was to set foot in the Jordan River.  Though the river was at flood stage and would normally have been impassable, God would part the water and allow the Israelites to walk across and into the land God had promised.  But God didn't part the water BEFORE they were to walk across.  He didn't see their fear and show them the dry path, reassuring them that it would be safe.  No, the people of Israel needed to OBEY first.  They were the ones that had to take the first step into the river.  Then God would show them the path.  

Sometimes I want God to reassure me that everything is going to be ok BEFORE I agree to what God is calling me to.  I want to see the clear path ahead and know that it's "safe" and won't shake me too much.  But consistently throughout scripture, that's not how God works.  God never promises a pain-free, easy life if we obey Him.  But God does promise that he will be faithful.  It may not "make sense" to the human mind, but to God, it makes perfect sense.  As God promised to Joshua, he promises to us today, "Be strong and courageous... For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  

As we ended the IF:Gathering, we were all encouraged to take a rock and write on that rock the next step that God is calling us to.  Just as Joshua marked the crossing of the Jordan with a pile of rocks in order to remember God's faithfulness in that place, we were encouraged to mark what God was speaking to us.  For me (and for my family), our "next step" is foster care.  God has been speaking this to me for a long time.  I was in high school the first time God started working on my heart for this "next step".  Bethany Christian Services would send out a brochure with faces of children who were in need of homes.  I remember sitting in the kitchen of my family's cottage, holding that brochure, looking into the faces of these children, and wondering how in the world anyone could say "no" to them.  I was born into an affluent, educated family.  The world was full of possibilities to me.  Why were these kids given such a drastically different reality?  God was speaking to me, even back then.

As I finished high school and went off to college, my heart was always in tune to poverty and brokenness around the world, especially for kids.  God gave me a deep love for children, long before I was blessed with my own kids.  I became a teacher, moved to Guatemala, volunteered with kids at an orphanage, moved back to Michigan.  God's voice never went away.  I continued to hear the call to care for the orphan.  But what would that look like?  I was single, working... God was calling me to it but also saying, "Not yet".

Then I met Chad.  And you know what?  He had a heart for the orphan too.  At one point he even said, "I don't know if I even want biological kids.  There are so many kids in the world without parents, why wouldn't I take care of those kids instead of bringing more into the world?"  And though biological kids weren't out of my desires for my life, when I heard those words, I knew God was not going to take away that calling to care for the orphan.  But God kept saying, "Not yet".  

Here we are.  We've been married 7 years, lived in 3 different states, and have 2 beautiful children.  I regularly hear the comment, "You have a million dollar family: one boy and one girl.  What else could you want?"  But God hasn't stopped pulling on our hearts to care for the orphan.  The calling has gotten louder and more clear.  God is calling us to care for kids in our own community through the foster care system.  Most days, we are excited about it.  God's voice has been clear.  Just as he promised Joshua all those years ago, he promises us that he will never leave us nor forsake us.  

But when we stop to think about all that is involved, it is also terrifying.  Just as the Israelites looked at the Promised Land and allowed the sight of giants and fortified cities to overshadow the goodness of God's promises to them, we can easily look at foster care with fear and anxiety, missing out on what God has planned for our lives.  Instead of running in fear, we are choosing to take a first step into our "Jordan", obediently following God into foster care.  We have no idea what that might look like, but we trust in a God who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

Do you hear God calling you to take a next step?  If so, I'd love to hear where God is calling you.  If not, what's holding you back?


Catching Up - January

And more from January!

We worked on potty training Cameron due to his intense interest in the toilet.  He did really well and "got it" but never got to the point of telling us he had to go.  We decided to give it up when we went away for a few days so Grandpa and Grandma didn't have to deal with it.  We'll re-visit it again later this spring!  He thought he was pretty big stuff with his "big boy" underwear though.  :)

My parents came to visit and brought basketball net Hope College hats for the kids.  :)

Chad and I took a trip to Dallas/Ft. Worth for a few days just to get away and have some time together.  The weather was amazing!  We enjoyed two days of 80 degrees and sunshine.  It sure feels good to break up the winter!

Ft. Worth was so much fun!  They have an amazing bike path along the river for miles and miles.  We enjoyed running outside in shorts and t-shirts!

My dear friend Colleen lives outside Dallas.  We had dinner with her and her husband one night, toured their church (she's a pastor's wife too), and drove around their town.  We also squeezed in a lunch date for about an hour one day.  It was such a blessing to see her (after 7 1/2 years), meet her sweet family, and get a little glimpse into her world.  So thankful for her!

The Ft. Worth Stock Show and Rodeo happened to be going on just down from our hotel while we were there.  We couldn't resist checking out the rodeo one night.  Apparently it's a big deal!  We had a lot of fun but definitely felt out of place without cowboy boots on.  :)

And now it's February!  I'll try to stay a bit more up-to-date on the blog in 2015.  :)


Catching Up - December

So is 2 months long enough to be away from the blog?!  Yikes!  How does time fly by so quickly!  Enjoy these pictures to catch up on life in the De Jager house.

We enjoyed a beautiful day in early December at Brookfield Zoo with Grampa and Nama!

Our first time into Chicago with the whole family!

This was the first year in our married life that we had a REAL Christmas tree!  There is a huge, long, funny (and slightly depressing) story behind this tree.  But in the end, I LOVED IT!  :)
 Aren't they just the cutest!
 Kassidy loves to put the star on top!

We left Christmas morning to head out to Iowa for a few days.  The kids LOVE doing chores with Grandpa on the farm!
 Who doesn't brush their teeth while wearing goggles?
 We spent 2 nights at a hotel in Sioux Falls, SD with Chad's whole family to celebrate his parents' 40th anniversary.  Our nephew Taylor had a hockey tournament while we were there, so we enjoyed getting to cheer him on!
 Cousin time!
 The hotel had a little water park inside.  The big slide was a hit!  Actually, the whole thing was a hit!  We couldn't get our kids out of the pool.  :)

Our dear friends, The Rietemas, came to spend a couple nights with us and helped us welcome in the New Year!  We had so much fun with them, and the kids just played and played and played!  We are blessed to call them friends!


Happy Birthday Kassidy!

Kassidy is FOUR!

On December 3, Kassidy celebrated her 4th birthday.  She chose Dora for her theme!

Every year, my mom makes her a birthday cake.  This year Kassidy was very specific in asking for not just a Dora cake, but a Dora cake with Dora's whole family.  I assured my mom that Kassidy would be happy with any Dora cake she created, but she went above and beyond to make Kassidy's wishes come true.  :)

My parents came for Thanksgiving and stayed for the weekend.  We had a fun celebration while they were here.

Then Chad's parents came Monday night.  We are so glad they are able to make these quick little trips now that we are closer!
 Kassidy was thrilled with her "Doc McStuffins" outfit and twirly skirts from her grandparents.  She LOVES to dress up and changes clothes several times each day.

On her actual birthday morning, she got to open presents from us.

At night on her birthday we had church, so she brought cupcakes to her class.  She loved helping me make them!
 And decorate them!

At four years old, Kassidy...
- loves to help in the kitchen
- enjoys coloring, painting, drawing, and art projects in general
- loves to read books
- is beginning to learn how to spell basic words
- is learning how to write her letters
- is a great big sister (although often helps Cameron get into trouble)
- loves to laugh and be funny
- loves being outside and helping with outdoor projects around the house
- sings lots of different songs
- loves to dress up
- loves watching "shows" and is especially fond of Dora, Doc McStuffins, Clifford, and Peppa Pig
- is extremely strong-willed and wants things to be just so
- is a non-stop bundle of energy
- enjoys her baby dolls and imaginative play
- loves playing with other kids, especially girls who are a little older than her
- enjoys storytime at the library and BSF
- is 42.5 inches tall (95th percentile) and 41.3 lbs. (88th percentile)

Kassidy Joy, you are such a JOY to our lives!  We praise God for you and are so grateful that we get to be your parents.  We pray that you will continue to grow and develop into the person God has created you to be.  We're excited to see what this new year brings.  WE LOVE YOU!


18 Months Old

Ok, so I'm a little late on this one, but as of October 27, Cameron is 18 months old!

At 18 months, Cameron...
- Is full of laughter and tries to be funny all the time
- Climbs on everything!
- Thinks his big sister is the best and constantly follows her around
- Will jump on top of anyone who is laying on the floor
- Loves balls, trucks, and animals
- Wears 2T pants and 2/3T tops
- Would read books all day, every day
- Doesn't say much of anything.  His regular words are: go, no, mama, and uh-oh.  He will once in awhile throw in dada, grandma/pa, dog but really doesn't feel much of a need to say anything.  He can point and shake his head yes/no to communicate almost anything!
- Naps 3 hours in the afternoon and sleeps 8pm-7am at night
- Enjoys the playground, especially going down slides head first
- Has 14 teeth with 2 more trying to break through
- Loves the outdoors
- Is very opinionated and wants to do things his own way
- Is a complete joy to our family!

Cameron Allen, we love you so much!  How can you be 18 months old already?!  We are so thankful that God chose you to be in our family and cannot imagine life without you.  We cannot wait to see how God continues to shape and mold you as you grow.