Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Has it been a year? A year in review...of sorts.

Wow! Has it truly been a year since I last posted on this blog?  Crazy!

 Actually, "crazy" is a fitting word and one that describes the past year pretty well, but in a crazy "good" way.  :)  This past year has been one of renewal.  I might even say that would be this year's word over our lives.  With the previous year being quite emotionally difficult, this year is just another piece of solid evidence of God's great care and grace upon our lives.  He has been so faithful to be with us and we are so grateful. 

As the time went by, I (Janice) took each day as it came trusting God to take care of the hurt.  Each day that went by more and more healing came and slowly, I rose out of the ashes.  I know I have a ways yet to go in being fully "recovered" from our unexpected return but I have made great head way and for that I am thankful.   In this year, God reminded me of what I already knew about myself but had started doubting through our trials.

I am faithful. I am loyal. I am a doer.  I highly value honesty, and that is a good thing.  I love people well. I am well loved.  I am committed to the end.  I don't like quitting. I am trustworthy.  I am able. 

A lot of those qualities are what made our return from Portugal so painful but they are who I am and I am so thankful for God's reassurance of my high value.  Might sound very pompous but it is truth, God highly values us all!  We are all His favorites!  :) 

This year saw God's great favor over our lives.  Luke has continued to grow in favor in his job at CGC Medical Billing, becoming everyone's new best friend and helping them out of their IT troubles.  ;)
One of the most exciting things for me, was being offered a spot on the Spellbinder's Design Team!  Spellbinders is an amazing company led by an amazing lady and team of talented staff.  They produce paper cutting dies and I have had the privilege of creating projects for them to use on their website or for advertising as needed.  Back in August, all of the designers were flown to Phoenix Arizona for a week long retreat and a tour of their facilities; an amazing time was had by all!  With some help from family members, Luke was able to hold down the fort more than satisfactorily!  ;)

We felt like movie stars!

Outside Spellbinder's HQ.  :)

Third Grade Teacher

Right after I returned from our retreat, I started preparing for my new job!  I was hired on at the boys' elementary school, teaching third grade.  This was a great answer to prayer for us financially.  Where as we didn't need another income to get by, we have been able to live much more comfortably with two paychecks coming in!

 It is tiring and I am not much good for anything after I come home but we are all pressing forward, knowing that a little bit of sacrifice now will produce fruit later.
The boys doing push ups on the desks in my classroom.  Super safe.  Uh huh.
My beautiful girl.  :)

A house in the trees!

In October, we bought a house!  :)  As we prayed and sought God for direction on our lives, we felt he said that we would be in Waco for five years before he called us out on the mission field again.  That set well within our souls.  We bought a house. :)  Here are a few pics that were on the listing, the furnishings are not ours except for the picture of my studio which I took recently.

Our house in the trees.  On a cul-de-sac.  :)

 Little bit closer view.
We are using this as our dining room. It is right off the kitchen.
This pic shows a bit of the dining and full kitchen.  Again, not our furnishings.  We need bar stools!  Lol!  All in good time!
One of the things that sold me this house, this spacious living room with BIG windows looking out at beautiful trees.
Now a few pics of my little "Studio".
View from laundry room.

Printer station on left.

View from top of stairs from kitchen.

My sewing "station". 
Cabinet holding fabric and sewing supplies.  Shelves holding all sorts of things.  ;)

My main work space!

So this space pretty much sold me!  :) We have been in since November and with all we have had going on it is a complete wreck but I smile regardless of that fact because I love the space so much!  :)
If you need a house in Waco, get Jason Rankin to be your realtor.  He is the best.  Shameless plug for our dear friend! ;)  He really is exceptional, just sayin'. 

We are blessed!
Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) Tradeshow

Semi-recently, I was chosen to be amongst a small group of designers to be apart of the CHA crew for Spellbinders.  Every year there is a huge tradeshow in California for the crafting industry and this year Spellbinders is kicking things up a notch (or ten!) and making their booth at the show be spectacular!  They flew us in for a week long booth-creating boot camp!  LOL!  We painted, distressed, created, die cut, upholstered, painted, created and then some!  The even more fun part is when the fly us out to Anaheim to set up the booth in January!  LOL!  Again, Luke was the hero while I was gone, and did a grand job of holding down the fort.  I am one blessed woman! 

In Phoenix.  CHA booth crew.
He had everything under control.  He even managed to take a selfie of himself and all three kids.  Lol!
The kids have been loving school and Bella has just fallen in love with our dear friend, Jenni Carlisle who watches her while I am at school.  I knew that there would be no way of me working full time without some one trustworthy watching my little one.  Isabella is well cared for and well loved!  God takes care of it all!
10 Year Wedding Anniversary
This past weekend Luke and I threw a party for our 10 year wedding anniversary.  It was pretty special.  We felt it fitting to honor the friends, family and supporters who have walked with us through these past 10 years of marriage and most recently, through our time as missionaries and our difficult return from Portugal.  We just felt so supported and loved through it all,  that we felt throwing a huge party and giving our heartfelt thanks in person was the only way to go!  Here are a few snippets my friend Tiffany Bonow was able to take, more photos will come later.  :)
The GORGESOUS cake my sister made.
We set it on this awesome tree trunk stool!
Candles center piece.
Vase center piece.  I brought in branches from outside to tie in with the nature/woodsy theme.  :)
I made these little tags/ornaments as favors for our guests.  Proverbs 11:25 was a meaningful verse for our ministry at The Haven in Portugal.  We thought it very fitting to gift these to our guests since they have been so generous and a great source of refreshment to us in this past season of our lives.
Loved seeing our guests enjoy their time.
We gave thanks, honored our friends and family, and honored each other.  "God knew what he was doing, didn't he?  We didn't, but he did?"--Janice
I wanted to keep our mason jar décor simple.  :)
Tea anyone?
Right side of reception hall with dance floor area in the background.  We had a photo booth--pics from that later.  :)
                                                                    Photo booth fun!
We ended our testimony/share time with Luke's parents praying a blessing over our marriage.
What a great end to this year. 
To those of you who weren't able to make it, here is our thanks to you, may you be continually be refreshed in the Lord!
Proverbs 11:25
"A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."
Much love and blessings to you all,
Luke, Janice, Elijah, Judah, Isabella!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our latest update: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Latest Whiting update.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Faithful Friends and Family,

Merry Christmas!  We wanted to take a moment and update you on where we're at now as our time on Antioch staff comes to an end, for now.  In the midst of this challenging time, God has been gracious to us. We were able to find a great house to rent and moved in mid-Nov. It has been a huge blessing!  God has also provided a good job for Luke in the form of an IT support position for a medical billing company.  He is really enjoying it!

Many people have asked us what our plans are for future missionary service and we are simply not sure.  You know, we have been forever marked and our hearts are for the nations.  With that said, we are still processing our return from Portugal and are going to be taking this next year to simply breathe and heal.  We want to get fresh vision from God for our lives and see where he leads.  In a way, we feel a little bit like fish out of water here.  Despite our efforts, life still feels quite transitional but we are sure "settled-ness" will come as we continue to live life here, diving into our church community, and going to God with our hearts' needs.  We would appreciate your continued prayers as we seek God's will for our lives this year and beyond.

We are abundantly blessed to have had these last 3 1/2 years walking with you all. As this season comes to a close, we are once again amazed (though not surprised) at how good our God is. We could never have made it without all your prayers, your encouragements, your support, and your friendship. Words will never be able to express our gratitude, just know that you have eternal rewards for the ways you have given.  We would love to keep in touch with each one of you, so please, don't be strangers!  If you live in Waco, we would love to share a meal with you! Below is our new address and phone numbers.  It would be our joy to get to say, THANK YOU, to you in person for holding us up--we have been forever marked by your faithfulness and love toward us, thank you.

Our new address is:

301 N 40th St
Waco, TX 76710

Luke's cell: 254-214-5746
Janice's cell: 254-214-5439

Prayer Requests:
PRAY for God to give us fresh vision for our lives.
PRAY for us as we continue to process our return from Portugal.
PRAY for Janice as she is considering going back to teaching full-time for the spring.  (Luke's job provides plenty for our everyday needs but not enough to furnish a home and pay off some debt we've incurred due to our unexpected return).

If Janice does go back to work, we need God to provide grace to Elijah and Judah as they would be put in public school for the first time PLUS, we would need to find childcare for Bella.  Ideally, we could have someone come to our house to watch her here but we are willing to have another mommy watch her in their home.  Please PRAY for wisdom and guidance in this possible new turn of events for us and that God would provide all we need.

We love you all,

In Him,
Luke, Janice, Elijah, Judah, and Bella Wren Whiting
It was almost miraculous how quickly Luke got this job, and it feels like it was made just for him. He gets to work with technology, while serving customers and co-workers, and he gets to help create new systems and new opportunities for the company, definitely a win-win!
Janice and Bella Wren at the Vera family Christmas. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Change Ahead

Change Ahead

Dear Faithful Friends and Family,

Thank you for your prayers and support during these past five months of "home time."  As we've mentioned in previous updates, our time here was for work on marriage and raising some much needed one-time financial support.   God has been faithful to bring healing and strengthening in our marriage and we are thankful to be in such a strong place now.   We also wanted to say thank you to all that we've met with to share about what God is doing through The Haven ministry and to those who have recently joined our financial support team.   Words cannot express our thankfulness for you!

On September the 18th we had a check point meeting in which we found out that our team leaders, Scott and Jenni Robinson, determined that it would be best if we'd not return to the team at the Haven.  This was very unexpected news as we were led to believe we were returning, even meeting with possible supporters just a few days prior.   We've now had a couple of weeks to process this decision made and while our hearts are heavy with sadness over not returning to The Haven ministry and the shock of it all still there, we willingly submit to our leaders' decision, and we can understand the reason they made it.  They simply felt our journey of growth and healing is not over yet.
Our organization has a grace period of three months for those transitioning off the field to continue receiving financial support and we would be blessed if you would stick with us during this time while we get back on our feet.  The grace period would end on January 4th.

What now?
Well, we plan on slowly integrating ourselves back into life here in Waco, Tx.  Much will have to be done to get us fully settled here including finding a full-time job for Luke (most likely a teaching position).   We plan on returning to Portugal and packing up our belongings sometime in the next couple of weeks, bringing back with us what we can and selling the rest.  In the mean time, our current missionary house reservation is good through the end of December as well as the missionary car that we are using.

We'd appreciate your prayers
As you can imagine, this has been quite difficult for us to wrap our heads around.  Please pray for us!  We need prayers for:
Healing: that God would heal and work forgiveness in our hearts.

Provision: since we sold everything before we went to Portugal and do not have the funds nor the desire to bring the furniture we had in Portugal back,we will be starting from scratch in every way.  Also, pray that God would open up a teaching position for Luke.

Direction: our hearts are still for the nations and for missionary care, that God would lead us to the right avenues for continuing to work out that calling in us here in Waco or wherever he might lead.

The Haven ministry: the Haven Association was recently included in a lawsuit filed by the bank against the builders of the homes on their street, Alpivillas, for 1.8 million Euros. After consulting several lawyers they now understand that they have to defend themselves or the courts will find the Haven Association guilty.  Pray for God to grant The Haven ministry favor and protection during this time.

It is hard to share such a situation over an email so we would love to share with you in person, by phone or answer questions over email if you'd like.

Thank you for standing by us during this time.  We are overwhelmed with gratitude for all of you who have prayed for us, given to us, and believed with us on this journey. We know that God is good and works for the good of those who love him and we lean on that.

Grateful for you,
Luke, Janice, Elijah, Judah and Isabella
P.S. We plan on sending one last update in a few months with our permanent address change and job update.  We will be at this address through the end of the year: 2025 Fort Ave. Waco, Tx 76707 

Clarification Note
Hi everyone,

We wanted to say thank you so much for your encouraging and supportive emails and calls in response to our latest update.  We feel so loved by you.  Thank you!
Having received some great feedback on our update, we want to clarify a few things thatseemed to communicate a message that we did not intend.  First of all, we want you to know that despite the difficulty of our situation, we bless the Robinsons. We arecertainly grateful for their loving investment in our lives as we served together. Theyhave been supportive friends to us and are well gifted in serving the missionaries that come to The Haven.  

Also, we want to be clear about the current lawsuit against The Haven.  Our intentions in mentioning it was solely to solicit your prayers towards it because our hearts are with and for this ministry (whether we are serving there or not) and we want to see it flourish.   Below is the full details of the situation, please pray with us for God's favor and protection.

Again, we can not say thank you enough, we are blessed by you.

So grateful,
Luke and Janice

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Has it really been that long???

Has it really been since FEBRUARY that I've posted here last?  Crazy!  And sorry!  Goodness, I last posted at my little girly's third week of life and that little girly is already 7 months!

Here is my little beauty at 6 months.  :)  We'll be doing her 7month photo shoot soon (nothing professional of course, just me and my camera taking pics of a pretty girl :) ).

Well, we have been back in the states since mid-May and have been loving it!  There really is no place like home.  We attended out organizations missionary conference in July and had a wonderful time.  The beautiful mountains and refreshing weather made it hard to leave!

Since returning from Colorado (end of July) we've been busy raising the funds for our return to Portugal.  We have quite a large amount of money to raise (about $47,000 now) so we plan on being stateside for at least a few more months.  Please pray with us for God to provide all of our funds in his time.

In the mean time, I have started homeschooling my Kindergartner (crazy!).  It has been a great success!  Elijah loves his school time and so does his brother who has his own little Pre-K school curriculum (serious stuff here ;) ).  We are using The Phonics Road to Reading and Singapore Math.  So far (granted, it has only been one week!), both seem great! I am super excited to experience the magic of seeing a little one learn to read.  I know it won't be long before it happens.  :)

We moved into a missionary house this past week and will be in this house until we head back to Portugal.  Moving around from place to place is so unsettling that I am so grateful to be able to stay put for awhile.  Thank you, Jesus!  This means my homebody loving self can let her guard down a wee bit and just relax for a minute.  It is good to be able to relax, even if just for a bit.

I must admit, I am ready for a less mobile life.

You know, all of Psalm 27 is good but these verses really encourage me:

13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Blessings to you all!  May your hearts be full of His peace, grace and love as you lead out your lives where ever it is he has placed you.  :)  I leave with with a few pics from these past few months.  Enjoy!

 Whiting Family Vacation

 Our "School" :)

 Elijah practicing his letters.

 Hiking with our good friends in Colorado.

 My beautiful friend, Marina.

 Wild Strawberries found on our hike.


 Daddy and son.

 My two PRECIOUS boys.

 One of my favorite photos of this little guy.  Melts my heart.

 My girlie and me.

Hamming it up.  :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Three Weeks Three Days in (update on my last post)

Hi, there!  Here I am, three weeks three days into the newborn phase now.  I wanted to say a big "THANK YOU" to all who have prayed for us during this time.  Your prayers have been felt and your encouragements have been SO uplifting.  THANK YOU!!! I wanted to give a little update on my last post since I wrote about a few things that are now much better--praise the Lord!!!

Well, I can now say that we have been breastfeeding pain-free since my last post.  :) I am so thankful for that!  Also, I mentioned Isabella's tendency to leak breast milk during our feedings and many of you mentioned that it was most likely a latching problem--yes, yes, you were right on!  I focused more on getting her to have a proper latch and I have had very little leaking episodes since then!  

Currently, I am hoping and praying this girlie gets herself into some sort of a nursing schedule!  And I'm not talking about some hard and fast, concrete thing, just a nice natural rhythm that I can mostly count on! Hoping and praying!  ;) 

Some good news though, Isabella has given me two nights in a row of five consecutive hours of sleep!  That is progress!  After that it goes back down to 2-3 hours but those first five are wonderful.  Let's keep it up baby girl!

On other news, I am washing my first load of cloth diapers today.  :)  It was a bit frustrating at first since the washing machines here are SO different and I had NO clue as to how to do a "pre-wash" (and our washing machine is a little schizo) but I just guessed at a setting which I think was a rinse and spin cycle (which kinda works as a pre-wash).  Now they are on the actual wash cycle and I am hoping and praying that they are clean.  Some say to do an extra rinse/spin cycle after the regular wash cycle but I'm hoping I don't have to because that means it wouldn't be done until close to three in the afternoon (I started washing around 9:30 this morning!!!!  The washers/dryers here take two to three times as long to wash/dry--yes, frustrating ).  That means that I won't be able to count on the covers line drying because it is later in the day and the sun will start going down shortly after that time.  And, over here, when the sun goes done it gets cold!  Translated to mean "no dry diaper covers."   Boo.  Anyway, we'll see how it goes!  Depending on how things go today, I might have to start the diaper wash much earlier in my day.  We'll see.   I will say though that I have really enjoyed using our cloth diapers.  The are super soft and I love the idea of not having to buy diapers again.  Very nice indeed.  Well, they are super cute, too.  ;)

***UPDATE on the diapers****
Well, I started this post yesterday and wasn't able to finish due to baby girl's aforementioned erratic nursing/sleeping schedule!  ;)  SO, the diapers "pre-washed" ok but not good enough.  Some of the diapers still had "stuff" on them.  :(  I decided to just put them to wash they wa they were though because I was pretty frustrated AND we are just talking about breastfed baby poo at this point.  I am happy to report that all but two or three covers came out completely clean and stain free.  Yea! Those that had a few stains were taken care of by the sun, which I should say is staying up longer now and I was able to dry my diapers with no problems later in the day.  YEA!

During my frustration as to what cycle I should have put my diapers on, Luke found a helpful guide for our washer (after the fact but for next time it will be helpful) and discovered that three cycles offer a pre-wash.  Yea!  Now I just need to know if the pre-wash will be COLD or HOT.  Ha!  I'm assuming that if I put it on the hot cycle the pre-wash will be hot???  This is a concern because cloth diapers are supposed to be pre-washed on a cold setting so that stains don't set in the inserts or covers.  Anyway, my other option I thought about was to start a cold cycle and stop it at some point into it (I did some research online and apparently some people do this successfully).  Well, there you have it, my cloth diaper update.  :)  I must say, even though I was frustrated with the washer yesterday, I thoroughly enjoyed having a fresh set of diapers for my baby girl and can say that even after just one wash, I am a cloth diaper convert.  Gasp!  Yup, there, I said it.  Genny Cornell, if you are reading this, can you believe it?  ;)  Hee hee.

I need to say thank you again to all of you who have been praying for me and my transition here.  I have really been feeling more joy and have walked around with a much lighter spirit after writing my last post and receiving all of your encouragement.  Of course, I know that transitioning into a new place takes time and feelings come and go. I'm praying that I am able to find peace and contentment in this new place.  God has called us here and as they say, where he calls he provide.

Blessings to you all,
Janice  :)