Monthly Archives: June 2019


The sunrise out my window on our last day in Gardendale.

We handed over the keys to our home last week. It was all disassembled piece by piece over the past month or so. First, the furniture, TV and second fridge, then the books, clothes and odds/ends that didn’t make the cut into a suitcase or shipping crate. Piles became boxes, boxes went into car, truck or van, until all that remained was to repaint and sweep.

Hours of manual labor lends itself easily to contemplation, which helps with grief. As I painted over the kids penciled-in heights on the laundry room wall, I felt the pangs of ‘erasing’ milestones. James grew 13.5″ at Gardendale. Joel grew 17″ and gleefully passed his big brother. Anna grew 16″ at Gardendale. While the marks are no longer visible, I will remember they are there. We let go of things of this world in order to hold more firmly to things of heaven.

As I painted, my sadness flipped into gratitude for these 6 years of stability in one house. That breaks our record in 20 years. Gratitude for these tall, healthy kids. Gratitude for all the invisible ways they are growing up. Gratitude for the family who will move here soon, whoever they are.

Letting go. As we sorted room after room, the verse that kept running through my head was from Hebrews “pressing onward, casting aside every obstacle that hinders in order to run the race marked out for us.” In this season, our race to run is in Central Africa among the poorest, most marginalized peoples of the world, serving the Bibleless.

The song “Jesus, You are Enough” runs on repeat in the back of my head. It says, “When I have nothing, I still have everything.” I am reminded that Jesus himself never had a house of his own this side of heaven.

I paint over our walls, covering the traces of our living here, and I’m reminded of the sick, weary family who moved in. We had been through intensive therapy coming back to the US from our Congolese home; we had a list of emotional and physical health issues to tend to. Psalm 23 says “He leads me by the still waters. He restores my soul.” Gardendale was a place He restored us.

Now we’re ready for the next chapter, and we press onward so so grateful for Gardendale and all God did there.

Last Call

This is Joel and I sitting on the couch that helped throwing out back out a couple weeks ago, now on the curb. We tried selling it but couldn’t. We tried giving it away but couldn’t do that either. So now it sits ready for bulk trash pickup. I seriously wanted some kind of vengeance on this couch but I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied with this.

Now that our shipment to North Carolina (going on to Cameron by sea freight) has left, I’m feeling exhausted and ready to crash. So I thought a few selfies with Joel and various “soon to be trash” items was appropriate. Yes, this is a large TV (or sewing, dishes, etc, as we used it) cabinet:

And on the other side of Joel, you can see the animal chair (used to be Abby’s favorite spot, but it looks ripe for a cat roost, as well (or a roost for several cats, or anyone else that doesn’t mind dog hair embedded in their furniture –which excludes most people, apparently):

Anyway. This isn’t supposed to be depressing, that’s just how I feel being this exhausted. And having these reminders that I seem to be willing to put up with furniture that must other people consider junk. But maybe someone will beat the garbageman to one of these items and it will find a new home before taking up space in a landfill.

Anyway, on more fun tasks like to taxes (yes, I know it’s June…), files (that didn’t make the NC shipment, for some reason), and prepping other stuff for local storage. 😉

Joel’s Drums

Joel has always been a drummer. I noticed it first in his high chair as a toddler. This past three years he has had his own drum kit in his bedroom (sorry, neighbors!) and he loves to jam out to his favorite songs. He was first chair in Symphonic band percussion all year, and enjoys playing every kind of drum.

We realized in packing up our house to move to Cameroon that he wouldn’t be able to bring his drum kit. It costs something like $14/square foot to ship sea freight across the ocean. And it certainly wasn’t going to fit in a carry-on! I had seen others travel with more compact digital drum kits, so we hatched a plan to sell his real kit & save for a digital kit. The problem came when he only got $100 for his on resale and used digital kits were $400-600.

We went to the music store in May to see if he liked the feel of the digital kit. He started with the highest caliber and played his way down to the cheaper sets. His favorite sound was on a mid-range set – the Yamaha DTX. The used one was priced around $550, so we left empty-handed.

The store had refused to return unopened replacement drum heads, so I posted them for sale on Facebook Marketplace during our garage sale to keep saving up. After a couple days not one person had responded to inquire about the drum heads. Halfway through our garage sale I got a message on them.

A worship band pastor nearby in Hurst needed them for the church drums and asked if I would consider donating them to his church for a tax deduction. My heart sank. Our whole life felt like a tax deduction. I responded with the background – “I’m actually trying to sell them for my son who is raising money to purchase a digital kit to move back to Africa…”

Carl responded, “This is a God thing! We have a digital kit that needs an easy repair that we are looking to get rid of, and I think I’m supposed to pay it forward and give it to your son!” Hope rose in my throat.

I asked for pictures. Sunday morning he sent me pictures of the dusty digital kit sitting in their storage closet. I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was a Yamaha DTX kit! Of course it was! Oh me of little faith…

Joel traded his $80 of new drum heads for a used $500 digital kit. He brought it home, spent 10 minutes fixing the missing piece, and drummed away in the garage (his room was newly painted). God not only saw us and provided for us, but He saw Joel. He saw Joel’s willingness to give up things he loves to move back to the mission field. He sees. And He cares.

Joel’s “Drum Kit from God” is all packed away now to be shipped via sea freight from North Carolina. Pray blessings for Carl and his worship ministry in Hurst. Pray it all arrives safely and quickly on the other side! Praise the God who provides! He is awesome!

Selling All

Over Memorial Day weekend we held the biggest garage sale of our lives, and I confess – I am not a garage sale person. We have never lived in one home as long as we have in Texas, so every closet was full. We have never lived in such a big house as we have in Texas, so each kid had their own room full of stuff too. As we sorted and sorted and sorted, a verse kept running through my head:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”
Hebrews 12:1

Kent prayed that our garage sale would be a ministry opportunity. I was doubtful. My hopes aimed much lower. I hoped someone would show. I had never conceived of a garage sale that ministered to anyone.

But God had good plans. He not only sent us buyers for hundreds of dollars, but so much more! We had so many neighbors we had never met come by to shop and wish us well. We had a passerby named Samaria stop to shop the first day. She had never seen homeschool books, and asked if she could interview our kids about their homeschool experience.

We answered her questions and talked while others milled around. Suddenly, Samaria felt convicted that she had condemned her sister in Georgia for homeschooling her nephew. She stopped there in our driveway with tears in her eyes to apologize and reconcile over the phone. They hadn’t spoken in weeks and the rift began to heal!

The next day a retired Army chaplain and his lovely family gave us extra cash after buying books & baskets. They stopped in the middle of the driveway to circle our family up and pray over us and our work. It was beautiful. And not like any garage sale I have ever been to!

I had posted some extra drum heads from Joel’s drum set online for sale and had another miraculous conversation I describe here. God provided all the buyers we needed!

Our calling involves moving internationally, and moving internationally requires traveling as light as we can. In order to run the race marked out for us (in Africa), we will cast aside all that hinders. All this stuff will slow us down. We need to run with perseverance.

It can be painful and difficult to let of meaningful belongings. Following Christ in obedience is worth the price, trading temporary comforts for eternal ones. Pray we can wrap up the sorting and selling well, ready to run our race!