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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Helping Haiti

We're here again. It's January 2012!

It will mark 2 years since the major earthquake that devastated Haiti & wrecked our family's heart- in a good way. God used that to wake us up to the reality of so many who are hurting around the world. In response to that, we felt a huge burden to DO SOMETHING. But what? What can a family who has limited resources (or so we think- us Americans are way spoiled & need a redefining of that...that's like a whole new post...or 10...) But really, what CAN a family do? It's not like we can fly to Haiti & literally help. We're just not a place to do that. What can we as parents of young children do to help our kids see people in need & respond? We felt burdened that our kids care...that they don't get used to seeing others hurting & just walk away, but that they would feel for them & do what they can, make some sacrifices, & help relieve the pain, be a part of the healing. In the name of Jesus.
So, we asked God. What can we do, Lord? And this is what He gave us:
For one week, as a family, we will eat oatmeal for dinner. This will help our family get a very small taste (literally) of what it is like to have the same thing for a meal repeatedly- much like many refugees. It will help to build a gratefulness for the reality of how fortunate we really are- that we even have a choice of something to eat for dinner is more than what most of the world today has. The money we would have spent on the groceries for the week of dinners, instead, will be given to Samaritan's Purse's Haiti Project, to help in relief projects. The time that would have normally been spent on prepping dinner, will be spent on looking together online at pictures, articles & video of Haiti, the people, the needs, & how they are being helped, & then time spent praying together for them.
We did this in 2010 after the earthquake, & have felt compelled to continue it every January, to help us remember, as well as to help in the rebuilding of Haiti.
We invite you to join us! We'll be doing our oatmeal dinners for the week of January 15th-21st, but do it whenever you can. Maybe you'll do a different meal like pb&j, or rice, or whatever- the point is not in what you decide to eat, but that it will be a minimal sacrifice for your family to enable you to give to those who truly are suffering.
Let's make a difference- in our own family, & in the lives of the suffering in Haiti & beyond- for the glory of His name!

Looking back on 2011

It has been such a long time in posting! This is our Christmas letter, a look back on 2011 & what God did in our hearts as a family. It is good to see God do the impossible & mold our hearts to His.


Luke 1:37-38 “For nothing will be impossible with God.

And Mary said, ‘ Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word…”

The year 2011 in the Hirsch home has been full of testimony of the truth that “nothing will be impossible with God”.

As Mary received this word from the angel, we ourselves have heard this truth from the Lord and sought to respond as Mary, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word…” With His strength, we have fought hard to keep our hearts in a place of surrender & willingness to go through whatever He wills. Though at times the pressure of His forming has seemed too much to bear, He has been faithful to keep us, grow us, & always do as He promises. Our hearts are full as we reflect on His goodness to us this past year, preparing to celebrate Christmas & looking forward to the New Year.

As the year began, we knew that the business, Kosh Wholesale, was no longer in God’s plan as provision for our family. Though we’d worked hard for many months to make adjustments & keep it open, it was time to close down. Of course, it is a scary thing as a business owner, losing your business, your means of income. It was so sad to have to let our employees go, as they have been much like an extended family to us. The entire situation was heart wrenching, & confusing, as we questioned what God was doing.

In February we were faced with the reality of no income for our family of 7 – how would the bills get paid, our basic needs met? So many things involved losing the business, including the very real possibility of losing our house, vehicles, & possessions as well. The season of the “unknown” was a time of intense pruning & surrender to whatever He willed. Would we be willing to go through whatever He wanted us to, at whatever cost to us, in order for us to see Christ as most treasured? Impossible on our own, we are thankful for His work in our hearts to lay it down at His feet. God proved His faithfulness to us through many of you, our family & friends, to be there for us in encouragement, prayer, & continued support.

Just as we needed it, friends of ours who have a ministry to provide “retreats” to families sent us away, expenses paid, to Branson, for a Focus on the Family Couples getaway called “A Weekend to Remember”. It was a rich time for us to be alone, be refreshed, & strengthen our marriage. Just a month later, we were invited to an all expenses paid young leader’s retreat where we were able to spend time with dear friends, including some we hadn’t seen in years. Talk about God providing the impossible! Both of those weekends were cherished times for us in such a stressful season.

In May, we celebrated our 10-year anniversary weekend with a family trip to Houston, TX, surprising Lynette’s sister Tiffany on her engagement. What we thought would be an impossible trip, God again provided for us, to be able to be there to celebrate Ryan & Tiffany’s engagement, & our anniversary. It was so fun to be in the very place that we met, got engaged, married, & spent our newlywed days. We even had a full day in Houston to ourselves to go to our “special” places, including time praying at the altar in the worship center of Houston’s First Baptist church where we said our vows.

In June we traveled to Kansas City, MO for Lynette’s brother Jonathan & Christina’s wedding. God again made the impossible, possible, by providing for every last detail. It was such a fun wedding & we experienced such a sense of community & love from their friends.

We again traveled to Kansas City in July to take our first family mission trip as a part of Global Encounter’s Project.

It was such a meaningful time for us, as Gary had been part of their first mission trip to Houston, TX, 20 years ago- it was that trip that kept him coming back year after year & eventually led to his move & youth ministry position. Both Gary & Lynette served at the Houston Projects while single, so it was especially meaningful to be the co-site coordinators with our friends, bringing our entire families! While there, God crossed our path with a group of youth from Thayer!

It was such a rich time connecting with them. We saw God at work & committed to be praying for them all- we still are! In that time, we thought perhaps God was leading us to serve in a ministry position there; however, God providentially closed that door as well.

We experienced much heartache in situations where our name had been misrepresented & things not handled correctly. In an already hard season, it was more than we could emotionally bear, & we struggled through, feeling it impossible to forgive those who wronged us so deeply. Again, God does the impossible & our hearts are grateful for the opportunity to grow through the hurt.

We traveled back to Houston, TX for Lynette’s sister Tiffany & Ryan’s wedding in November. The week was full of wedding parties, preparations & such- a blessed time! While there, all 7 of us experienced some sort of food poisoning sickness & throughout the week struggled through. It was so bittersweet, as it was a joyous time for our family but heartbreaking to think that we may miss the wedding! Our strength completely gone, we knew it was impossible for us to keep going. Cleaning up after everyone, staying in someone else’s home, an intense schedule- it was over the top! God again proved His faithfulness to us in providing strength, & restoring us just enough to join in on the celebrations.

We were so thankful!

This entire year has been one testimony after another of God’s faithfulness to provide for us. Many- too many to mention- family, friends, church body, have given to us in numerous ways. Many have blessed us financially to help pay for bills, offered help with childcare, brought us groceries…it has been amazing to watch. We have watched God provide as we have sought to start our new business, “His Heritage Merchant Supply”, the flower route that we had established a few years ago in conjunction with Kosh Wholesale. The hope is for it to grow enough to be able to support us fully. Gary has also been blessed to work with a friend who works construction on occasion, where he is also learning many new skills. Lynette’s handmade business, “The Work of Her Hand” has started to grow as well.

While we are still members of First Baptist Church in West Plains, Gary was asked in August to preach regularly at Chapel Hill Baptist Church here in Thayer. It has been a blessing for Gary to use his gifts, and refreshing for Lynette to hear him preaching again. Many of our West Plains friends have joined us for the service at times- the support is so appreciated. We are praying on what God’s will is for the future concerning our serving there more fully. We have stayed connected to our Tuesday night men’s & women’s Bible study (switching each week) & that group has become our small group of sorts, “doing life” with each other, true friends who speak truth in love & challenge us, pray with us, & cry with us as well.

At times we have been so exhausted & just spent. While the trials continue, we are trusting God to use them to serve their purpose in us. We pray that means we will treasure Him more than anything else & love others deeply as a result.

We remind ourselves that while it has been hard, we have so much to be thankful for! While we may have financial instability, our marriage is stronger than ever- we continue to fight together to keep growing as one in Christ.

Our family is full of love & laughter as each of the children grows & makes life sweet.

Bekah is now 9 ½, in 4th grade, home school, & such a thoughtful, helpful young lady. She loves to make things, & now enjoys selling them too. J She is so very helpful with all her siblings & loves on them like a little mommy. Belle is our sweet social butterfly, now 5 years old & in kindergarten. She is a girly girl & loves all things princess & pink. She looks up to her big sister so much that often she just says- I want what Bekah wants. Bethany (Nini) is our little 4 yr old monkey, enjoying preschool at home. She still loves all things monkey & is just a carefree, her own little self. Brie turned 3 in October, & is our expressive, dynamic personality. She emphasizes everything & has so much expression, it’s too cute. Kaleb turns 2 on January 1st & just tries to keep up! He loves his big sisters & is quickly learning how to survive in a household full of girls. He can spot a ball a mile away & loves to wrestle with Daddy.

So whatever impossibility you are facing, we pray that you will know the truth that “nothing is impossible with God” & respond accordingly with a heart that trusts Him & treasures Him- “let it be to me according to your word.” Whatever He wills, may we be surrendered to for His name’s sake. He truly is worthy. We love you all and pray for you!

Only by His Grace-

Gary, Lynette, Bekah, Belle, Bethany, Brie, & Kaleb

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Holding on

The Lord continues to be good, reminding us that He is good and His plans for us are for His glory and our good in Him. In the midst of this season of hard things, I am grateful for the grace of God evidenced in simple things, like:

  • Our marriage that is real. That we've learned the truth that we're not wrestling flesh and blood- we're not each other's enemies. If we didn't truly KNOW that truth, we'd not be holding through this season of our life. In fact, the bitterness of the trial has sweetened our love for each other.
  • Clean, running water; food; clothing; health. Having read What is the What by Dave Eggers earlier this year, Radical by David Platt not that long ago, and almost finished with The Hole in the Gospel by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, we are getting perspective. While our trial is very real, hard, and pressing on our hearts, I am overwhelmed with the reality of intense human suffering across the globe. No matter what happens with us here, if we are living in America, we are blessed just to have access to the simple essentials of life that we take for granted. And it's also put a burning in our hearts to sacrifice more. Do we really need the things we'd call "essential"?- if giving up Netflix will help us feed a family...I just can't really justify my "need" for movies on the spot when so many are dying every day of hunger. This is just an example. We so want to just hold loosely to all things, ready to give whatever up as the Spirit leads us for the sake of others who are desperately hurting.
  • Family & friends who are praying, coming alongside, & just being there for us. We are blessed to have so many who are lifting us up, anxiously awaiting the Lord's answer to our prayers, some direction from Him, with us. It's so awesome, and humbling, to have the church body who is truly loving us through this season.
  • Our children who are growing so! We just celebrated our little Brie's 2nd birthday! She's such a sweetheart, growing into quite her own person. She's definitely independent, our little climber who is just trying to keep up with her big sisters. How we pray she is one who is faithful to Christ.
In the midst of the waiting, as we are holding on to Christ as our hope, we are getting to see much of Him. Our hearts are full of joy. He is so good.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pruning

This season of our lives is best described with the word "pruning." While we know that pruning is good, necessary, and ultimately, done in order for things to be better- it still hurts. Denying the pain does not make us godly. Pretending like we like it does not make it better. We are learning to surrender in the midst of the pain. We are being pruned of the many things we treasure more than Christ Himself. In the process, He becomes more and more glorious to us. Along with treasuring Him most, we are infused with a deeper desire of truly loving His body, of walking together through the hard things to get to the other side of unity.

We are thankful to the Lord that HE is our steady, unchanging Rock. Despite all around us, He never changes. He is always stable. He is good. He is worthy of our heart's affection.
Here are some things we are processing, really learning, and living out during this season:

  • God is good. His purpose is always for His glory and our good. Romans 8:28
  • We are desperate for Him. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. John 15:5
  • As a couple, we have seen God bring us to the place of a very solid marriage in seeing that we are NOT each other's enemies- we do not fight flesh & blood. We fight a very real enemy, and want to use our energies to fight together against him by fighting together for and toward Christ. This applies to the church body as well. Ephesians 6:10-20
  • Our joy is in Christ's presence, not things going "well" for us. Psalm 16
  • God gives, God takes away, and His name is still to be praised! Job 1:21
There's more, but these are some of the main truths that are being fleshed out in and through us these days. They are hard. They are intense.
But we trust that in the end, they will be worth every moment. Not because God fixes it all for us. Not because the hard things we're enduring may come to an end in "good" as we think it. But because in the end, HE IS good regardless of if He chooses to fix it all or not.
We so desire God treasured in our hearts so that no matter what, He is glorified in and through us. And we are so thankful for the grace of His church body who has come alongside us in walking through these hard things, praying, and encouraging us with His word and reminders of who He is. Seems like many times, He brings someone along with refreshing just in time.
Please pray with us as we wait. We still don't know how this trial will turn out. But none the less, we are resolved to praise Him. Because He is worthy! Blessings.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Helping Haiti: Growing Empathy & Teaching our Children

With the whole earthquake that shook Haiti weeks ago, it also shook up our family in a much needed way. Living in America, we are pretty sheltered from the realities of life and the hurting around the world. Add to that, we don't have any cable or satellite tv, so we're not as aware of the news without purposing to find out. While we're not going to sign up for satellite now, we ARE praying for a purposeful awareness of the hurting around the world. These are human beings, with husbands and wives, babies, brothers and sisters, just like us, experiencing awful circumstances like extreme poverty, starvation, & death, while we are here literally stuffing our faces, & complaining about the weather. God, help us.

Not that we think we should ban ourselves from enjoying the pleasures God's given us. He's created these things for us to enjoy. But not to hoard. We're given much. Much is expected from us. God's given us so that we can give to others in Jesus' name. None of this is meant as a guilt trip or looking down at anyone. Just want to share our heart- what God's burdened us with, ideas He's given us to help, and maybe even for others to join with us in asking God to grow our empathy & teach our children to love much.

So, here are a few things we're doing that we'd love for you to take part in. Right now, directly to help Haiti, but we hope to keep doing things to help many others who are hurting. Please share your ideas, things you're doing, etc. that we may want to join in too!

1. "Chain of Love"- Bekah's crocheted chain necklaces & bracelets, & my mom crocheted hearts that we attached to hair clips, and we're selling them for $1 at Home Matters. All the money will go to Samaritan's Purse. Bekah's goal was $250 by the end of February. Right now, she's raised $205. This project came out of spending time during school learning about Haiti, asking questions to get her to think about if that happened here, and how we can help. She just learned how to crochet a chain & wanted to make them to sell in our store. How could Daddy say no? :)

2. Help for Haiti raffle tickets- buy a raffle ticket at Home Matters for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Home Matters. They're $1 per ticket, or 6 for $5. Wanting to use the business as a "platform" to help. All the money will go to Samaritan's Purse designated to Haiti.

3. After talking a lot about how little we can actually "DO" to help Haiti, we do not want to become discouraged in helping how we can. Praying about how to teach our kids the realities of the world in hunger issues and the realization that we have way more than most people in the world. That we even have an option of what food we might want for dinner is more than they have. Also aware of the very real financial pressures of lots of us, many do not have much "extra" to give. This is one way we can sacrifice in another area to help provide money to give towards helping Haiti. So, for the WEEK of March 1st-March 8th, our family will be eating oatmeal (or maybe you'll do cereal or pb&j) for dinner, to help us remember how many eat the same things over & over and are grateful just to have something to eat. Then, with the money we would usually have spent on our groceries for dinner, we will be giving to Samaritan's Purse to help Haiti. The time we save in not having to prep & make dinner, we'll use to look up more on Haiti and pray.

4. There is little we can physically do to help....but every little bit counts! If you can sew, you can help sew cloth diapers, dresses, & aprons for an orphanage in Haiti. So, get to sewing! Check out this link for more info on what they need & where to send it. We may even try to do a ladies night to get together to do this.
http://haitirescuecenter.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/sewing-projects/

These are a few things God's given our family to be a small part of helping the hurting in Haiti, growing our empathy for those who are hurting, and teaching our children to be a part of relieving the hurting-in HIS name. Please join us- and share with us!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Blind Side-Seeing More Clearly

So, about a week or so ago, Gary and I finally got to go see The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock, about a true story of a wealthy christian couple that take in and eventually adopt a black teen. We'd been wanting to see that ever since we'd heard about the story line, but hadn't been able to til now- you know, new baby and all. We HIGHLY recommend the movie. We'll be buying it for our movie collection- definitely a keeper.
Of course, we love the whole idea of adoption, having a heart for that ourselves. Lord willing, one day we will adopt a child or two of our own. And we really related to the inner city stuff portrayed in the movie too, having had worked with the youth at the Mission in Houston. As we watched it, we were both flooded with memories and lots of emotions- and a very real longing to get back into ministry. We LOVE working with youth. When we got home from the movie, we talked for close to 3 hours, reminiscing, talking about different youth, camps, mission trips, events. It was a great time for us together.
More than it just being a big emotional time of being able to relate and all that, the movie portrayed the family in a way that really opened our eyes to some things more clearly. Got us thinking. Praying. Desiring to be more like that family- well, really, more like Christ.
1. Love that the family was rich. Not just cause we like rich. HA. No, but to see that there is a family that is well off and actually using their wealth to help others instead of hoarding and "getting" more for themselves. There's just a lot of preconceived ideas about people with money in christian circles, which I admit I once had, that are just wrong. I love seeing a family that is actually doing what God intended with what He gave them.
2. The family is white....oops...Caucasian...whatever! Not just upper class, but white too. They didn't use excuses like "we can't relate" or all the typical things we've heard in the list of reasons why people can't give of themselves to people different than themselves. They were able to just BE themselves and live life with Christ's love living through them.
3.The family is by no means perfect, but they are a family. Love the realness. And the unity. When wanting to make it all "official", they sat down as a family. Kids included. Their two natural children were just as much a part and just as eager for the official adoption and making Mike a part of the family. Because they had watched their parents give as a part of their life, this was not something strange, to give to a stranger. They wanted to take part too. And the parents were careful to be sensitive to and help their natural children through the process. Love that.
4. The wife was...what's a good word...fiesty. Her personality is strong. But she was still under her husband. He's the strong gentle type. She asked him and would check with him. It wasn't that it was all her. He was most definitely the leader. I love that she was free to be herself, have her more outward personality. I need to see that displayed- I am like that, and often struggle with the perception of me taking the lead just cause I am more outward and Gary's quieter, even though he's most definitely the leader. Leading doesn't mean always being seen or heard, and following doesn't mean always being in the dark.
5. The wife's "society friends" were so clueless. Very sincere. Wanting to be helpful. Be very, very ignorant. Not bad to just "not know"- it's reality. I am that way in a lot of areas. But hope to be teachable, and ready to change. They still supported her.
6. The HUGE one for me- they did not seek out to adopt. They were not "PURPOSING" to go out and help this boy. They were just living life- and I believe, a Spirit filled one, that allowed them to see and be aware of needs. Then, when they saw a need, they were a part of filling it. They saw that he needed a place to stay and offered him their place, which lead to the next need of realizing he had no other clothes and they got him clothes, which lead to him staying for the holiday, which lead to him living there, which lead to him being adopted. This family was not seeking out a poor, minority kid to try and help out...they weren't doing a good deed. They weren't trying hard to live a christian life. They just lived. As they went about life, they saw needs, and filled them, which led to more needs that they filled, etc, etc. We SO want to be that way. We don't want to just live every moment purposing to do this and do that, patting ourselves on the back for the good deed we did, the christian thing...who is that for, anyway? That's for me. We want to live a life well lived- one by the Spirit, being a part of the answer to the needs, to the prayers. It's not that we don't need to purpose to do things at times, as the Spirit leads. That's the whole point- purposing as HE leads, not just to go out and do so we can check it off the list or feel good about ourselves. We want to have love flowing out of us from the source of true love, God Himself. Not just purposed acts of love. Pure love.
God used this movie to help us see more clearly. Think a bit. Pray a LOT. Definitely not try harder. Just rely heavier. God, help us! Open our eyes, soften our hearts, and help us to be a part of life. Love through us.

Friday, January 29, 2010

January

Well, 2010 started out with a bang...or rather, a push and a cry?! HA. We rang in the New year birthing Kaleb, the first baby of the New year at OMC. Fun. We were in the paper and everything. That's fun for his baby book, and we were glad that Kaleb won't have to share New year's eve parties for his birthday and everyone has off for his birthday too!


Happy New Year 2010- Daddy, Mommy, & Kaleb

We also celebrated Mom's 5oth on the 14th of the month, with many family and friends sending her cards to be included in her "50th birthday box"- so cool, we got over 50 cards collected for her. So many people have been influenced by my momma, getting to see God in and through her during her 50 years. As her daughter, I am SO grateful God chose her to be my mom. She's my hero. I have learned much of God and what it means to follow him as a woman just by watching her life. So many things...treasuring Christ as my greatest joy, knowing God is worthy of all praise in the midst of suffering and pain, loving others unconditionally, hurting with those who are hurting, rejoicing with others who are rejoicing, sharing all of life- home, food, money, heart and soul, everything- with everyone and anyone that God puts in your path, loving your family well, especially your husband, praying ferverently, living by the Spirit...oh my, so much! All these things are things that she didn't just formally teach me in words, but I have watched her live consistently and faithfully in her life. I grew to know Christ and continue in Him, because of watching her love of Him. I am grateful for the work of God in her life, the manifestation of His Spirit through her, that points me to Him. I so hope to be as faithful a woman in Christ as she.
I love my momma so!

My beautiful Mom on her 50th, about to open her "50th birthday box"
(I hope I look that good when I turn 50! She's so gorgeous!)

One of the things my mom has shown me is to be aware of others pain and to do whatever I can to help alleviate that. Around Mom's birthday, the earthquake in Haiti happened, devestating an already hurting country. For her 50th, she and Dad went and got their passports and started the process of being prepared to be able to go wherever to help when disaster strikes. That was an awesome way for her to celebrate. As we prayed about how we as a family could help the suffering in Haiti, we wanted to make our kids aware of their hurt and that they are not too young to help. Of course, in things like this, we have to be age appropriate too. During school time, Bekah and I talked about Haiti, took out the globe, looked things up on the internet, and talked about what had happened. We looked at pictures and talked through what it would be like if that happened here- how would she feel? what kind of things would we need? what were the consequences of something that huge? And then finally, how can we help? We read a lot of Samaritan's Purse information on how they are helping, since we're connected with that organization through the OCC boxes every Christmas time. Bekah then said she'd like to go to work with Daddy and give money to them. She then got all excited and said she could make necklaces. She just learned to crochet a chain and then made it into a necklace when JaJa and Tina came through in early January. She said she wanted to make them and then ask Daddy if she could put them in the store to sell them and give the money to Haiti. Of course, Daddy said yes and we made a poster with info on it to put with the necklaces. As of today, about 2 weeks of starting, she's raised $144 and has other orders to fill yet. It is so exciting for us as her parents to see her beginning to get excited over being able to do something herself to help. It's also been so great in teaching her perseverance and follow through when she's getting tired. Her initial goal was to make 10 necklaces a day for the first week, which she reached. We're calling it the "Chain of Love" and now it's expanding in a sense- she's now making necklaces, bracelets, and Gammy and I joined in to make crochet heart hair clips. All of these are selling for $1 and the money will go to Samaritan's Purse for Haiti. Let us know if you'd like some!


Bekah with her poster & "Chain of Love" necklaces at Home Matters

We've enjoyed most of this month at home, being that we have a newborn and it's super, super cold. We're adjusting to having a family of SEVEN, with us and all five of our children. I know that it is ONLY by God's grace that we can do this well. The demands of raising them well is too much for us- and is a grace of God to push us to Him. I am thankful that these precious children point us to our need for Him. We are figuring out the day to day things, how we need to plan our day in order to get everything done and enjoy it to the fullest. I am sure we'll have lots and lots of stories to tell!

Since we've been home avoiding the crowds with new baby, we've also skipped out on church on Sundays. Instead we've had worship at home, singing along with some worship dvds- Shout Kids praise and Hillsong kids- and then watching a sermon dvd from the PassionTalk series, with Louie Giglio preaching. It's been so encouraging to us, refreshing. We are so grateful for the faithful in Christ who love God and love people for His glory. We so desire to be a family that loves others as our overflow of love for God. Make us faithful, Lord. We want to be one of those "fruitcakes" that makes a difference! :) Until next time...