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  :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Two Weeks and Two Days in (Warning:Breastfeeding is discussed in this post)

Hey, there!  Here I am, two weeks and two days into "newborndom"!  I use that exclamation point to express the happiness that I am still alive!  Lol!  Well, that might be a little exaggerated.  Hee, hee.  

I am thankful that these past couple of weeks have "seemingly" flown by.  I think sleep deprivation has helped it to fly by in the sense that my memory of it is just about as faint as my past two newborn phases!  We have had some challenges though.  I was able to nurse my boys with hardly any issues but this little girlie has proven that she does not like to follow the crowd.  ;)  We were nursing ok for the first couple of days but my milk didn't come in until the fourth day so Bella Wren was pretty fussy most of the time.  Then, I got a sore on my left side and the pain that I was having while she nursed there was excruciating!  And I mean excruciating--I shook, tensed up, cried and totally stressed out.  I finally broke down one day and gave her a bottle of formula.  It was a hard day.  I was feeling guilty for giving her formula (my boys never tasted the stuff until much, much later.  And, NO, I don't think those of you who formula feed your babes are doing something wrong, I just wasn't prepared to have a hard time with Bella and I was producing plenty of milk so I felt a bit guilty.  I know, I shouldn't have felt that way but I did.  I guess I just wanted to give her the best that I could and for me that meant breastfeeding) but just didn't know what to do.  After thinking and praying about it a bit I decided to trying pumping and bottle feeding for a few days to give my sore some healing time.  Well, after one day of pumping I tried again and had minimal pain BUT the pain increased as the day progressed and I had to go back to pumping by the early evening feeding.  I gave my sore two more days (or so--sleep deprivation has truly zapped my memory of just a few days ago!)and lots and lots of applications of this all natural salve that a friend let me have and it healed up completely!  I have now been nursing pain-free (apart from what I consider the "normal" initial minor pain which should end soon I hope!) and nursing Bella for the past couple of days.  Yea!  And praise God!  I was really stressing about it those first few days and I am just so thankful that I don't have to continue my pumping regimen.  I know some women solely pump and bottle feed but I just don't like that. I feel like it takes twice the amount of time and during the day it is just me the the girl, so it does since there is no one here to feed her a bottle while I pump.  Anyway, I hope and pray I don't get any more sores and that we can continue breastfeeding until we both feel its time to move on.

Now, another thing that has been happening, mostly during our late night/early morning feedings, is Bella will nurse but will let most of it (it seems) leak out so that when we're "done" and I put her down to sleep she wakes up immediately and is hungry.  I realized this was happening when I noticed her outfits would be soaked on the side the I laid her on.  I started putting a burp cloth by her mouth and at the end of a nursing session it would be soaked!  Now, how do you explain that?  I know that she does take in some of it as I hear her swallow but it seems she is mostly letting it leak out.  Frustration.  Last night she did it just once (thankfully just one time!).  It is frustrating because the milk is being expressed but she ends up still being hungry and I end up being exhausted!  We just end up giving her a bottle of stored milk (from my pumping days) and she doesn't leak any of that out!!!  Gobbles it right up.  Now, I know, bottles are more efficient and my warm breastmilk adds to her sleepiness but goodness, really?!  

Anyway, if you have any thoughts on that problem I'd love to hear them!  I consider this a minor issue compared to my not being able to nurse at all so I press on.  :)

Now, I will be so very thankful when Bella starts having some sort of a schedule.  She has some terrible gas sometimes which, I think , messes up any schedule that might start naturally happening since she'll wake up early from a nap crying out in obvious pain and then will want to comfort nurse.  Oh, the joys of newborndom!  

We are hanging in there though!  I have been able to get back to crafting during the afternoons while she sleeps.  For those of you who know my, this is something that I really enjoy doing and brings me a bit of life.  Now, what I should be doing during those afternoon times is filing insurance claims and getting some administrative type things done!  Feel free to ask me if I've got started on that.  I am setting a goal to  at least have them started THIS week.  Maybe I'll get on that today!  Not quite as fun as card making but something that has to be done.  Too bad life doesn't just go on pause during these early days with newborns!  ;)

Well, the boys are getting along great with their little sister.  They don't seem to phased by her at all as she really doesn't do much right now but they do like to look at her and ooh and aah at her adorableness.  :)  They try to be very gentle with her and even try to make her happy when she starts getting fussy by being silly or singing to her.  So, so sweet!  I just love me boys so much!  After having Isabella, the boys look and feel so much bigger now.  I feel they are just so grown up (at the ripe ages of 3 and 5!).  They continue to go to Portuguese school.  Elijah now says he likes going but Judah is still fighting it.  :(  I can't blame him though, he is only THREE!  Not too many three year olds are put in school for a good part of the day and on top of that a school where they speak a different language! My heart hurts for him but I know that with time he will learn the language and things will be easier.  I pray for their little hearts and minds every day, giving them to the Father to watch and care for them when I can't.  I'd love for you to pray for them, too! I always pray for God to give them supernatural ability to understand and speak the Portuguese language quickly and for him to guard their hearts and minds.  I also pray for their innocence and purity to be protected (you just have to pray for it all when you are in a new culture--well, anywhere really!).
 Comparing Judah's size to that huge fish behind him.  @Oceanarium in Lisbon

 At his 5th birthday party at McDonald's.  Face-painting is really popular here.

 Meeting Isabella for the first time.
Meeting Isabella for the first time.

It has been four and a half months now since we've moved here and I still don't feel like this is "home."  I miss "home" big time!  I miss my church, friends, the Texas sun, really anything to do with Texas, family.  I miss Waco, Cameron park, all the different parks we would take our boys to, HEB.  Oh, there are lots of things.  I have to be careful where my thoughts go though because if I dwell on those things too much it doesn't make for a happy heart.  I look at our team leaders and this is truly their home.  They have a beautiful homey house and their lives are tied to this place.  It boggles my mind how they became like that but I know that it is just something that God has done and that it took time.  They have been here for two years now.  I often wonder how long it will be for us to feel like that.  Someone told me that it takes six months or so for a new place to start feeling like "home" so again, I press on.  I also wonder, too, if God will place us somewhere else soon.  If he will call us back "home."  I must confess that I think of that with such hope.  We have lived such transitional lives that it wouldn't surprise me at all if he did.  But maybe, because of my past experience my thinking is clouded a bit.  Steve Backlund talks a lot about not basing your faith on your past experience but on the word of God.  I think I struggle with that quite a bit.  It is just so hard to let past experience go.  It is what you know.  What has been fact and true for you.  But, we are not called to live out of our past experience.  We are called to live by faith.  God is an omnipotent God and that means he can do all things.  SO, I land on that.  On his goodness.  On the knowledge that he has us where he wants us and if we're here for years and years, it will be because of his good plan.  And if he moves us to wherever tomorrow, it will be because of his good plan.  I have to have faith and rely on the knowledge that he has the best planned for me.  

Well, that was quite a bit more than I had planned on sharing but it is a well-rounded update on our lives.  :)  Thank you for letting me share!

Blessings to you,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Isabella Wren's Wardrobe

So, here I am 38wks 2 days along in my pregnancy and what do you find me doing (when I'm not completely exhausted and lying down somewhere anyway!)?  Getting Bella's room ready, of course!  :)

Just a week or so ago I didn't think there would be much of a room for her as we did not have the funds to get her some of the bare essentials (like a crib!) but thanks to a wonderful church body we were able to purchase little miss Bella a crib, changing table, chair and rug! Praise God!  With all that activity I got inspired and started putting things together!  

Today I finished her "wardrobe" or closet/shelving thing.  ;)   Jenni and Scott (our team leaders) gave us this ladder shelving unit deal that they didn't need and I figured I could turn it into a wardrobe of sorts to store Isabella Wren's clothes in.  I hate that I didn't take a pic of the before shot but  you can see a bit of what it looked like before in some of the shots since I left the inside unpainted.

Here is the finished product:

 I had these sheer curtains that I had stored in our shipped boxes thinking I could use them for something here in Portugal, so when this shelving unit became available I figured I could use them to "hide" the shelves and clothes inside.  The only problem is that they were about a foot too short.  Well, when I first got here and started going to the weekly flea markets that happen here in our little town (and surrounding little towns) I came across two panels of curtains that had some fun trim on them and were sheer. The were just a few Euros each and just perfect for some window covering in our house.  Well, even though they are not the exact same cream color as the ones I brought with me I used part of them to make up for the lacking length.  And to cover the seam I sewed two stripes of ric rac found at our local sewing store.  Isn't that trim on the bottom fun?  :) 

I tied bows to the hooks to add some color and "girly-ness" to the top. 

A peek of the inside. 

I wanted to show you all of the inside in one shot and was thinking about how to do it when I remembered that along with those sheers I brought from the states, came the tassels I had used to tie the sheers back!  In red!  Hee hee!
This is also a good shot of how the shelves are put together and why its called a ladder shelving unit.  

 I painted the edges in brown (same brown I used to paint the trees on a couple of walls--more on that in another post!) and covered them in this fabulous contact paper I found at our local grocery store!  Sweet!  I was thinking I would get some generic white or woodgrain paper but when I saw this red with pink polka dots I was floored--just perfect!!!

Here is a closer look at what it all used to look like and where I painted brown on the outside edges.  (I wasn't going for a professionally done job, just one that worked!  I mean, come on, time and energy aren't really on my side these days!)  ;)

So, there ya have it.  Would I have preferred a nice store bought wardrobe?  Definitely. But, this adds some fun girly flair to her room that I wasn't thinking I'd have, so I'm happy with it.  :)

Thanks for stopping by!  I'll be posting soon on the trees I painted and then hopefully after that a post with pics of the room all put together.  Yea!  

Janice :)