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