What’s up down on Fraggle Rock?

Sorry for the absence … again.

Things got crazy around here. Our fourth high school graduate was taking up our time when she wasn’t working. Her sister was dating and getting engaged. The last kid in the batch was presenting his own challenges.

And then a young lady called and told us, “I can’t take care of my kid right now. I need your help.” That was six months ago and the young man in question has become an even bigger part of our family than he already was. We had been there for his birth. Our house was his first home after the hospital. He’s been on vacation with us. He goes to church with us. He evaded Hurricane Irma when the rest of the family skeedaddled to North Carolina in September.

Things have settled back down, now, and we are used to the idea that our oldest daughter will soon move out and get married. Our oldest son, in the Navy, continues to excel as a sailor and is coming to visit soon with his wife. The second oldest, is doing well in Nashville, but looking for something more. Of the two youngest, one prepares for nursing school and the other is preparing to graduate high school with his associates degree. Next step? USF Bulls and a commission in the United States Marine Corps.

And where does that leave the adults of this little tribe? The missus has found herself in a challenging position that she enjoys. As for me, I’m finally able to get some writing done on a regular basis and making headway on the follow-up to “A Taste for Something New.” It is tentatively titled “Wolves in the Storm.” I hope to have the first draft completed soon and in the hands of an editor by November, with an eventual publish date in mid-February. I plan to share a sneak peak of this new work by the end of the week.

Hope is out of her cone. Small dogs may still bark, but the moment her head turns to glare, they run away. The squirrel in the back? He runs past and doesn’t stop to chatter at her anymore. Brandi relies on Hope as her muscle and Cowgirl is back to being Hope’s punching bag. Koda/Dakota and Hope are sorta friends for real now. Midnight, my future son-in-law’s cat, is not as accepted. We still volunteer with Peace River Search and Rescue and love it.

One final note — Savage 4×4, Inc., in Fort Myers chose my Jeep and I for their 2017 Heroes Build. If you visit their website and social media platforms you can learn more about this project and ways you can support it. I was nominated because of my status as a veteran and for the work I have been doing with PRSAR. Around Nov. 1, Savage will get my Jeep and I won’t see it again until Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11. They did this last year for a truly deserving guy and it was incredible. I’m truly blessed to be a recipient of this honor and the work and so forth that goes into it.

And that, dear readers, is a snapshot of life down on Fraggle Rock.

24

My son is out walking the dog, so it is pretty quiet in here right now. Tomorrow at this time, though, will be a different story. We’re packed. Our passports are ready. I’m counting on God for great things when we go to Ecuador.

And yet.

When the time comes to go somewhere, I’m on everyone’s back about getting out the door “on time.”

What constitutes “on time?” I was raised, and later had this confirmed by the United States Marine Corps, to believe that on time was five (at least) minutes early and arriving on time was being late. In order to achieve this, I build in buffers for expected travel time, usually 20-30% more time is allowed for a trip than what I know it can be done in at speed limit (also known as Google Map’s estimated travel time). Needless to say, I get some places ridiculously early.

What does that have to do with tomorrow? We’re meeting at the church at 8:30. Taking the back way it takes about 12 minutes to get there. This early on a Saturday morning? I can get there in seven. You just know I’m going to want to be early (for no good reason, I might add — we’re stowing our luggage in the church bus tonight).  *Side  note — Chick-fil-a isn’t far from the church; maybe I’ll do breakfast there before we go.* We’re leaving the church at 9 to go to Miami International Airport. It’s a three hour trip (per Google maps). The last I saw, TSA recommends international travelers arrive two hours prior to their flight. This only leaves an hour for lunch and getting luggage checked in and stuff like that.

This is God’s trip. Not Jay’s. I need to pray about the time anxiety today. God has proven again and again in my life, especially as we prepared for this journey, that he can be trusted. It will work out.

At the beginning of this adventure neither my son nor I had a passport. Not only that, his birth certificate was missing and I had to order a new one so we could get his passport. The same day I realized this and looked up the cost ($50), someone sent us $50. A few days later it arrived and off we went to the Clerk of Court’s office, having received enough in the two days prior to pay for the passports. Well, more, as it turned out, because I over-budgeted for them, not understanding I didn’t need the card, just the book. But that was okay, too. A few weeks later I had raised — from my own pocket, through fund raisers and with donations from family and friends — about half the cost. That little extra from the passports came in handy. This past summer my ex-wife and I had reached an agreement about custody and child support that erased my back support debt, but I found out that her state didn’t close the case. This needed to happen if I was going to get my passport. I could pay the fee they demanded with the leftover from the passports. A few more donations came in after that and several folks told me they would send certain amounts. Great, that got us closer, but still left a pretty hefty sum to figure out.

That gets us to November 4th. A friend asked how close we were. I named a figure and he said that was how much he planned on giving us. Awesome.

Fast-forward to the seventh. None of the promised donations I was expecting had arrived, which meant there was a big gap again. One of my wife’s friends had told her she was going to donate to our trip and I saw her at church that evening. I had not discussed an amount with her and figured on maybe $40 or $50. I was way off. She paid the difference.

So, you see, I have all the reason in the world to trust God about this trip. I even knew it was going to work out this way. I said so to my wife, repeatedly, trying to ease her stress about it.

Which brings me back to time anxiety. I didn’t write all that just to share how awesome God is (though that was one of the reasons I wrote), but also to remind me I can trust him in all things.

Please pray for our team. There are 23 of us going. We’ll be working with Inca Link, visiting orphans in Quito and teaching children in the Amazon, as well as helping to build a school for preachers and missionaries in the jungle. Please pray for the children and families we will be in contact with. The orphans are orphans, in most cases, because their parents are in jail and won’t be back before the kids are grown, and they have no other family.

First Alliance will be focused on orphans this year for our Advent Conspiracy. With that in mind, I still have those bracelets available for $10 each. The proceeds of any I sell after today are going towards our project for Advent Conspiracy.

Twenty-four hours and we’ll be getting ready to go. I think I’ll be calmer now, too. Thank you to each of you who has donated, prayed, and shared this with your friends. Our God is an awesome God who has given me awesome friends, indeed. Thank you, Jehovah Jireh.

Did I say 23 were going? Make that 24. God will be there. Count on it.