Saturday, December 21, 2013

Waiting to hold my Babies

The past year or so has stretched me beyond anything I could have imagined.  Sometimes, I just want to be done with the stretching, pruning, refining and rest.  Being a full-time caregiver to my grandparents while trying to care for my own family has been challenging.  Continuing that care beyond our household has been different but not without its own challenges.  Watching Grandma's husband be diagnosed with lung cancer and telling him that his body was failing was quite difficult.  One day shy of 2 months.  That's how long Chuck was with us after his diagnosis.  It felt much, much longer.  In and out of the hospital and then at a Hospice House for 5 weeks and finally under Hospice care at the Nursing Home for 1 week.  Watching him go up and down for weeks...   Watching him breathe...  Watching for signs that he was ready to seek God's salvation...  Hearing of Chuck's thumbs-up, praying to ask Jesus into his heart...  Watching my Grandma begin to grieve, still wanting no talk of her own need for a Savior...  Being there when Chuck took his last breath...with my children...pondering God's perfect timing...  Rejoicing that Chuck's body is healed and his suffering has truly ended instead of just beginning...

Wondering what it's really like in Heaven.  This is not something I fret over but I do occasionally wonder.  I trust that God has it all under control.

Chuck's death was on the anniversary of Grandma falling and breaking her arm at our house.  Grandma fell on 12-12-12 and Chuck passed away on 12-12-13...  had me thinking about 12's.

In this twelfth month of 2013, I once thought I would be caring for and loving on a 12 week old.  Instead, I am planning to care for and love another in the next 12 weeks.   Again, I am pondering God's perfect timing.  My heart aches to know that God's handi-work on the life in my womb began after His knitting together of another life stopped.  He is Sovereign.  He is trustworthy.  Even if there's no "baby's first Christmas" this year.  Even if I hurt.  Even if I question.  Even as I wait to hold my 2 babies.

Yet, as I wait I rejoice.  I rejoice that He does have everything under control.  I rejoice that His timing is perfect.  I rejoice that He has allowed me the privilege of carrying life.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Double Minded

"I've been thinking"...  In my family, when that is said, it usually means the one listening should run away.  ;-)  In this case, feel free to run or maybe do some of your own thinking after reading!

I struggle with many things wanting so many answers to be black and white.  And, yet, so often the answers are far from black or white.  Whether black, white, or gray, I pray I am careful not to bring judgement on myself while holding a judgmental measuring stick up to other people.  Many believe the Bible tells Christians not to judge one another at all, citing Matthew 7:2-4ish.  The problem with that thinking is that if you continue reading in verses 4 and 5 and throughout the New Testament, you will see that there is a time to hold a fellow Christian accountable.  The instruction in verse 5 continues with "...first, take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."  There is a place for the removing of specks as long as you're in line with the Holy Spirit to do so.  Our own sin in a certain area must be removed (often painfully) in order to help someone else in that same area.  Galatians 6:1 says, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."   In the Bible we are told, as Christians, to be discerning, to look out for bad fruit, to look out for sheep in wolf's clothing and also to be humble, allowing love to cover a multitude of sins. 

Somewhere between running around thumping our Bibles over the heads of fellow Christians and ignoring or even being influenced by the complacency of sinfulness within our hearts is where we're supposed to live...

All of that is to preface the examples of worldly influence I want to share.  Please know this is not me holding anyone personally accountable...it's more like pondering over sad mentality that has invaded our Christian homes and churches...

Let me add that I am a sinful mess and I need to be covered in God's grace daily.  Not because I have some "freedom in Christ" that lets me sin because I know I'll be forgiven but because I am humbled by a HOLY God who is willing to look on me with love and bring me back into fellowship with Him when I first confess my sin and allow Him to work within the depths of my evil heart.  I have freedom in Christ because I am set free from the bondage of sin which only happens when sin is acknowledged and repented of.  Complacency about sin and ignoring sin are definitely not living the abundant life of freedom from sin Christ intends for us to live.  Recently I have witnessed a breaking down of values and morals. 

I see the hearts, sins and struggles of children being ignored.  It. takes. time. to invest in and tend to the heart of a child.  It takes time to encourage them to wrestle out and take a hold of their own faith.  It is a caring parent that addresses sin rather than ignoring it. It takes tears, patience and lots of time.  This is an area in particular that I am weak in...  I have "lots of time" with my kiddos but it takes a concerted, focused effort to shepherd the heart of a child. 

I see people at church dressed like they are heading to a night club for lunch...  I do expect this at Walmart or in public in general but since many that attend church claim to be Christians, that is the environment where it bothers me the most.  I mean, really, leggins are NOT pants!  Tight, short, skimpy, low-cut...all in the name of fashion...  while I am not one to care about what particular colors or patterns are in for a season I do know that you can look cute, nice and modest all at the same time!

I see the evidence of families so focused on good money, good grades, good jobs, good appearances, etc. that the American dream and the comforts we've learned to expect have turned into entitlement and there seems to be an understanding that Christian families should fit right in.  I mean, what's wrong with good money, good grades, good jobs, etc...?   Well, nothing individually.  But as an idol...as something chased and pursued not for the sake of the Kingdom but because that's what we "should" do as Americans...now there's where we can run into trouble...

I see affairs flaunted.

I see families so busy.  Not good busy.  The I-feel-complete-when-my-plate-is-too-full busy.

Here's the soap box that might get me into trouble...I see Christian families encouraging their children to believe in something or someone that is not real.  Santa is not coming to town.  He's not making a list.  And he doesn't know anything about our children's good or bad deeds because...wait for it...he's not real!  Believe me when I tell you that I love and encourage imagination.  We read and enjoy fiction books.  We play "pretend" all the time.  But...that is where the pretend stays...  Most people wouldn't let their children believe that Narnia really exists any more than they would let them believe that ponies can fly or flowers can sing.  Why, then, is it okay to tell children that Santa (or tooth fairy or easter bunny) is real?  For fun?  Really?  There is only One who is omnipotent.  Only One who is omniscient.  Only One who is omnipresent.  There is no one other than the One True God that can know everything about anyone.  And I, for one, am thankful that God doesn't keep a naughty and nice list and treat me accordingly.    Do I believe that most Christian parents are intending on putting Santa up on the level of God?  No, of course not.  That's not how the deceptiveness of worldly inflence works...it isn't obvious.  Sin can always appear as fun, cute, innocent or pleasurable...that's how the father of lies masquerades.   The other day we enjoyed being at Grandma's assisted living home when a group of students visited to carol for the residents.  It was fun and most of the students enjoyed being there.  The leader of the carolers mentioned his church and his faith which I thought was wonderful.  He also mentioned the privilege of passing down an interest in music to our children which I also thought was wonderful.   What saddened me was that every single song with the exception of "We wish you a Merry Christmas" sung by the children was about this season and its trappings.  We, as Christians, claim that this time of year is really about Jesus...doesn't seem that way in our churches, in our checkbooks or credit card statements, or in our running around. And it certainly doesn't seem that way while having faith in a red suit and reindeer to make all our children's dreams come true.  Blessings and gifts should foster gratefulness...I believe the source of that gratefulness should pass through the givers and on up to the Ultimate Giver.  Glory is not given to God otherwise.

I did the Santa thing growing up.  I do not believe that my parents were sinning against me.  And, no Mom, I'm not scarred for life for thinking there was a Santa for a few years.  I know that my parents were enjoying themselves and that Christmas was about family and fun at our house.  It is, in fact, my parents that encouraged my independence, leading me to think about and question everything.  I have family and dear friends that do Santa.  I'm not about picketing lines for pictures with Santa...I have no problem with the legend or the stories or the songs.  But they are just that.  Stories and songs.

My words are not to personally call anyone out as doing something wrong...they are to inspire thinking.  Do you know why you do the things you do?  Do you know why you have the traditions you have?  Are you blindly following the culture or do you truly believe in the way you think and act?

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17      (definitely something I need to work on myself!!!)








Thursday, November 28, 2013

All alone

Well...it's Thanksgiving and I'm all alone and loving it!  Alone for a few hours at least.

This is the first Thanksgiving in about 14 years that I'm not hundreds of miles from home.  While I'm thankful for the travel and the reasons for it, I'm relieved to be home.  My home sure has seen a lot in the last year.  I'm sure it will see a lot more.  Anyway, my husband and two oldest are at our future homestead and my parents are eating lunch with my Grandmother and they took my 2 year old with them.  I have orders to "sit" while everyone is gone because I've been having some majorly painful back problems this week.  I'm 90% better but I'm still being ordered to "sit" so here I am....pondering away...

Pondering over 

enjoying a meal with both my parents and Bruce's parents tonight for their first Thanksgiving dinner all together. 

Turkey Days of old...words cannot express how much I miss my Pop and Granny.  Grateful for my Aunt Vivian sending me a beautiful gift just because she loves me "a bushel and a peck".

how absolutely crazy our lives have been recently...not because I choose to be too busy but because this season just requires A LOT from us

living in a tractor trailer turned apartment for a year or two while we build a house (hopefully with little or no loan!!!)

how little time I seem to have had for my precious friends lately...I've barely said hello to my family in the last 6 weeks and I'm a stay-at-home-homeschooling-mama!

how little time I have spent at my Savior's feet during this season of life...it seems as though my heart has only cried out to Him in small moments...how I long to even have an uninterrupted hour for prayer...

what in the world is going to take place over the next few months for my Grandma and her husband Chuck, currently at the Hospice House

the absurdity that is consumerism, especially this time of year, and the massive amounts of debt that people are choosing to be in...for stuff...

truly giving thanks in all things and being content in all situations and understanding that if God is not calming this long-lasting storm, then He really does have a purpose for it...oh, may I not miss it and may I be thankful for the growth that can come...especially as I look back over what He has done in my heart in the last year.

the lost...it is absolutely heart-wrenching to watch the lost suffer, and worse, die...to see that everything without Christ is in vain...it is all for nothing...

the beauty that God brings out of His children's suffering

this precious baby boy growing in my womb, kicking me...I.  love.  it. 

how pretty the lights are on my Christmas tree even though I'm still struggling with what pleasing the Lord during this time of year looks like...

how amazed I am at how different homeschooling looks while my family has been full-time caregivers to my grandparents involving oxygen, medicine, broken windows, dentures, doctor appointments, paperwork, bills, lawyers, more paperwork, sacrifices all around, more appointments, so much time, more paperwork, heartache, prayers for salvation finally come to fruition for Grandma's husband but still continuing for Grandma.

homeschooling revolving around our lives, not the other way around...I'm not into this so that my children can pass a bunch of standardized tests (after all, I'm sure scores matter in eternity somehow).  My kids are getting some serious life experience and rising to the occasion of serving and sacrificing...they are learning how to deal with deep questions wrestling out their own faith.   They are watching me wrestle out my faith...hey, I'm real with my kids.  I don't know why God does or doesn't do certain things. 

taking cookies and cards to Hospice recently leaving the workers with the encouragement to not grow weary in doing good...wondering how in the world I can tell someone else not to grow weary in doing good when I feel weary and heavy laden myself. 


how much my Jesus loves me and this world and the people He created...that the reason He tarries in coming for us and ending all of this pain, death and suffering is because He is patient, not wanting any to perish...now, that is worth pondering...I think it's time to refresh myself in His Living Word while I still have a little time all alone with orders to "sit"...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Drum roll please...

Is the next Hewett Baby a boy or a girl???






Drum roll...





































That's right.  The cake is blue!! 
We're having a BOY!!




Marcus Harrison Hewett is due to be born on March 10th!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Year-End Review

I know, I know.  It's not actually the end of the calendar year but I've been thinking over all that has taken place in the last year for our family.  It has been a significant year to say the least.  The last few months my blog has been rather silent.  I've been doing life and not writing about it.  Such are seasons.  The season that this blog began (about a year ago) was a time when God knew I would need an outlet.  An outlet in my home because I would be there A LOT! 

A year ago my family was discussing what it would mean to bring my grandmother and her husband into our home and be their full time care-givers.  We did.  I'm glad we did.  It was one of the most difficult seasons of our lives as a family.  It was also a time to serve, grow and learn.  It was a time to rely on God.  There were moments filled with dentures, broken windows, oxygen, broken arms, ambulances and let's not forget Grandma's poodle named Buffy.  During this time I saw my children grow.  I saw them serve without being asked.  I saw them have patience and strength when mine was gone.  I saw my husband reflect the light of Christ in our home.

In the last year:

I have seen my children begin to wrestle out their own faith in the Lord.  This is both painful and beautiful for me to watch.

My world was rocked when my Daddy had a mini-stroke (which he's fully recovered from now!!).

We have seen plenty and we have seen little.  We have always seen the Lord!

I have come unglued and undone.  I have been tested and refined.  I just hope I look a little more like Him because of it.

We have gutted our moldy bathroom and now have a real shower for the first time!!  And when I say, "we", I mean my husband did all the work and I just picked out colors!

We have lost 2 family members and traveled to Ohio twice to be with family. 

I have watched my children desire for their friends and family to know the Lord and heard them share their love of Jesus with family.  I have watched their broken hearts, in confusion, walk away not understanding rejecting such a wonderful gift we have in Jesus.

We have celebrated my nephew, Kasen's, 1st year of life!!  :)

I have been helped and comforted by friends and families. 

I have prayed more with friends and am excited about the power and intimacy that brings.

We celebrated my Mom's 60th birthday!  She has been a great ear and help in times of need!

We have celebrated life in the womb only to mourn the loss of the that life.  I cannot begin to describe the pain and heartbreak.  And while I do not understand,  I can tell you that I felt the presence of Jesus, His Spirit, the Spirit of the Living God with me...keeping me breathing...keeping me going...

Bruce and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary!!!  And although our anniversary was during the miscarriage, we were able to spend time away, just the 2 of us, a few weeks later thanks to my parents and some dear friends with a house on the lake.

I have gained around 10 pounds and then lost 38.  I really wasn't "trying" to lose weight.  I just cut out junk...doesn't mean I'm not willing to have a cookie or a sausage ball every now and then, though.  It just means I'm aware of what I'm putting into my body and try to keep my food as closest to the way God made it as I can or want to.

We got chickens!!!!  We have enjoyed learning.  And we have enjoyed watching the chickens.  They are definitely entertaining.   And we sure do enjoy the eggs!

We have, of course, homeschooled and somehow managed to get our lessons done in the midst of the school of life.

We have had our house to just the 5 of us for a little bit and have now welcomed 2 family members into our home during their transition of moving from one place and searching for their next.

We're back to a household of 7 with 2 dogs but this time is much easier!!  

Through the waxing and waning of friendships I have been comforted and felt lonely.  The lonely times are when God reminds me that He is all I need.  I am truly blessed with some awesome and godly friends!   Our family is blessed to have some of those friends visiting now.  (So, technically, we're a household of 12 people, 3 dogs, and 21 chickens this week!  But I love it.)

I have had heartache and disappointment.   I have grown.  I have changed.  I have had joy!  I have rejoiced through good times and I have rejoiced through suffering

We are currently celebrating the life growing within my womb!  I am almost half way through this pregnancy and have had many, many mixed emotions throughout but I've always been thankful for the blessing of carrying life.  What an awesome opportunity.  I'm thankful to be a part of God bringing someone I love into this world.  We plan to welcome this little one in March!  (We're actually finding out tomorrow during my ultrasound whether we're having a boy or a girl!!).

I have learned to appreciate so many of the little things...after getting Grandma and her husband safely moved out, especially.   We could once again run through the house playing hide & seek.  I could dance to music.  We could eat lunch at a friend's house!!  and not have to be at home all the time afraid of broken windows and arms.  I would never have appreciated such things had I not spent a season without them!

What a year!  I wonder what's next!  :)  But I'm gonna just enjoy today.  Tomorrow has enough worries of its own...

Happy New Year!



Saturday, August 10, 2013

The 2 year old takes the stage!

Check out Madelynn's announcement, Take 1 and Take 5!  I'll spare you the outtakes but know they were quite humorous!





Madelynn throws in a little VBS singin' just for fun!


It's true!  March 10th!  The whole family is super excited!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fending Spreeze

Our family is on a fending spreeze.  Now before you go thinking I need a spelling tutor, let me explain.  My dad, who is quite funny (don't worry, I'm not gossiping; he, himself, will tell you he's funny) often mixes up words and phrases when he's frustrated or a little too quick-tongued.  We enjoy repeating his mix-ups to remind him of his funniness.   Last year when my husband needed emergency surgery we were on a spending freeze until we knew the outcome of many bills.  My dad, lending his humor, coined it the "fending spreeze".

We have reentered the fending spreeze zone.  And I'm rejoicing.  I do often occasionally ask God what's up or why, but He always brings me back to His perfect peace.  He is my provider and there is much rejoicing when I focus on the One who has provided me my very salvation and so much more.  With our family's variable income, we keep a close eye on the budget.  Exact budgeting is simply not possible for us and we're okay with that.  There are those that would say that my husband should get a 9-5.  There are those that think because our income doesn't always allow for x, y, & z that it's not enough.  How could we be happy without x, y, & z??  While there may be some fun to be had in the x, y, & z, if it's not what we can do (without debt), I can be content without it.  Let me say that I have no problems with steady jobs or paychecks or the enjoyment or purpose in having such.  But something about predictable money takes the reliance on God out of the equation for me.  I cherish what the unpredictability of our income does to our stewardship and purposeful spending/saving.  I cherish how God has moved mountains and hearts to blow our minds with His provision.

I wonder, in this nation, if incomes, job statuses, and the "security" they bring has become an idol.  Security certainly has the potential to be idolized.  During my husband's emergency surgery and recovery I realized that I idolized security in the form of my husband.  See, he's my rock.  He's my man.  He works hard!  He fixes all things.  He builds.  He gardens.  He cherishes me.  And he loves his girls.  I was not prepared to lose my security, my Bruce.  I'm still not!!!  But God clearly showed me that what I need is Him and that He will be my all, my rock and my strength no matter who is or isn't in my life. 

God gave my sweet husband skillful hands and an amazing ingenuity and understanding for fixing and building.  Bruce has a drive to be outdoors, to solve problems (logical ones, not womanly ones!), to fix and to build.  That talent has given him the platform to help many in need and even keep my Dad's halogen lamp working or build my Mom's raised gardening tubs.  Bruce will gladly share what he knows and he will joyfully teach you and will willingly use his hands to bless others.  Naturally, his "job" should involve his skillful hands.  It does.  How awesome is that?  My husband gets to do what he loves, what he was made to do every day.  Even if he never leaves our house to "work", he's at home working.  Do we want more business?  Sure!   Do we pray for more business?  Definitely!  Do I frequently ask God to affirm and lead our choices?  Yes!  Are we supposed to be obsessively coming up with ways to make more money?  No!  God is our provider!  Money just pays the bills.  I wouldn't trade our occasional fending spreezes for all the 9-5's and x, y, z's in the world!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Strawberries & Chickens

You know those days that just go smoothly and you feel productive and satisfied??  One day this week, I had the pleasure of a productive day.  And it was great!

Breakfast was a yummy, healthy smoothie.


We met friends at a pick-your-own farm and picked strawberries!  Fun!  We brought home 16 pounds.



Madelynn enjoyed eating the strawberries rather than putting them in the basket!!


I actually got all 16 pounds cleaned, cut and put up to freeze!


We love kids!  And we love helping friends!  So we enjoyed having 5 extra kiddos for the afternoon!  Everybody got fed lunch!  Attitudes were good and cooperative.  Madelynn and Ethan took fabulous naps! Everybody played well together.  

Isabelle loves helping and loves feeding Ethan!


Then...wait for it...you might want to sit down for this...





We began our chicken raising adventure.  Yes, chickens.  23 of them.  Yes, we live in town.  And, no, it's not illegal.  We checked.  Back to the chickens...

Bruce picked them up at their previous owners' home and brought them to ours in his make-shift "chicken truck". 

Bruce had our mobile coop all ready to go and the chickens seemed excited.


Charlotte was definitely in heaven...

Isabelle loves anything fun!
We were able to feed the chickens some of the tops of the strawberries.  I really like finding a good use for something we would normally have to throw away.


Madelynn began her chicken jumping training session.



Then...  Just before bedtime, our first egg!!!  Side note:  chickens can take weeks to lay after a move or anything traumatic so that fact that we've had 6 eggs already is exciting!


After we checked on the chickens an absurd amount of times, we finally settled into our own roost (our couch) and I felt totally satisfied.   It's not unusual for us to accomplish a lot in one day but most days have snags, interruptions, attitude issues or other complications but...

I love smooth and productive days! 

I may learn a lot during crazy, difficult, or painful days.  And I know I need the refining and growth they bring but I sure am glad when a smooth and productive day comes my way!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Struggling

I'm feeling particularly selfish and whiny...

This is our first full weekend at home, just the 5 of us, in about 7 months!!!! 

It's not going according to my plan. 

I don't want to be interrupted.  I don't want to break up our family of 5 to serve (unexpectedly).  Planning to serve is much different.  Service that fits into my plans doesn't cost me too much.  What about when serving doesn't fit into my plans?  What about when I feel like I've put in enough serving lately and I'm ready for a break?

Now, this...  This is where the rubber meets the road.  This is where the ugliness in my heart overflows.  God needs me to see it so we can deal with it.

If I do not allow God to shine light in the deep, dark places of my heart any reflection of Him I can give will be dim at best.

My flesh would prefer to pout.  This is not, however, glorifying to the King that died for me.  He served.  He served for real.  He is still serving.  And I am supposed to be His hand and feet, when it's in my plans and when it's not.  I cannot be His hands and feet if mine are folded inward and pouting!

Oh, God, don't leave me as I am!!   And thank you for my husband...bless his willingness to serve.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

lost for words

In my head I've written tons of posts in the last month.  It seems there is so much to write about but I can't bring a particular blog to fruition right now.  Only this hodge-podge of thoughts, joys and struggles.  God is helping me weed through so much...

There is so much swirling around in my heart and soul right now. 

My Gma and her husband, Chuck no longer live in our home.  They are safely moved into their assisted living facility.  My family is slowly claiming our house back. We've even chased each other through the house and played hide-n-seek because there are no elderly to bump or oxygen tubing to trip over or broken windows to fix or dentures to retrieve!  :)  There is dancing and laughter in my home and I love that! 

I've been able to leave my house during meal times and visit with friends and family which I had not done in 6 months.   I love my friend Mandy who was always willing to bring herself and 5 boys over to our house because they wanted to visit with us and she knew I couldn't leave.  We couldn't have made it without our Lambs!

Budgeting has been weird for the last 6 months with extra people here and I'm trying to figure out what is reasonable for us to spend on groceries as I'm buying more whole foods and crazy things like organic brown jasmine rice in a 25 lb bag (purchased online).  I have to figure out how long bulk items will last and how many organic fruit & spinach smoothies we can afford (my kids devour them) each week.

My maternity clothes are in the attic because I don't need them...Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Life can be hard.  In fact, Jesus told us to expect trials and difficulties.  So I know there are seasons of life where simply putting one foot in front of the other is only from God's strength.  Being in survival mode keeps you going but there's not much "be still and know" time.  With recent changes, I feel like a fog has been lifted from my life and I'm learning what I have to process and even how to process these things. 

I pray God will quiet my restless heart.  I pray He will heal my broken heart.  I pray He will guide my foolish heart.   He can provide the direction and discernment I need and, oh, so much more. 
 I am thankful for the joy in my heart, for the song of praise on my lips.  My life is truly abundant!  Oh, how I love Jesus because He first loved me.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

There's just something about that name

I got to sing my favorite song today!  And I know I can do that anytime on my own and I often do but I do love to hear the sound of others singing along with me.  I serve a risen Savior.  His name is Jesus.  And there's just something about that name!  Gives me chills!

I also sang Because He Lives today.  Naturally fitting for an Easter service but dear to me...When it was time for the lyrics, "How sweet to hold a newborn baby..." I was reminded that Jesus holds all my children in His hands and has the privilege of holding one that I have yet to hold.

And one day, on that Glorious day, when my faith shall be my sight I will know as I have been known.  Myself and all those who have called on Jesus as their Savior will stand before a Holy God and be seen as a spotless bride.  The Bride of Christ. 

Only He can make it so.

Casting Crowns says it beautifully in their song, Wedding Day!

Songwriters: HERMS, BERNIE / HALL, JOHN MARK / WEST, MATTHEW JOSEPH

[VERSE 1:]
There's a stirring in the throne room
And all creation holds it's breath
Waiting now to see the bride groom
Wondering how the bride will dress
And she wears white
And she knows that she's undeserving
She bears the shame of history
With this worn and weary maiden
Is not the bride that he sees
And she wears white, head to toe
But only he could make it so

[CHORUS:]

When someone dries your tears
When someone wins your heart
And says your beautiful
When you don't know you are
And all you've longed to see
Is written on his face
When love has come and finally set you free
On that wedding day
On that wedding day

[VERSE 2:]
She has danced in golden castles
And she has crawled through beggar's dust
But today she stands before him
And she wears his righteousness
And she will be who he adores
And this is what he made her for

[BRIDGE:]
When the hand that bears the only scars
And heaven touch her face
And the last tears she'll ever cry
Are finally wiped away
And the clouds roll back as he takes her hand
And walks her through the gates
Forever we will reign
 
On that wedding day


Monday, March 18, 2013

Typical

Word for the day:  oxymoron

Examples:  jumbo shrimp
                 fairly obvious
                 typical homeschool

Wide range of homeschooling curriculum and methods aside, we don't even have one homeschooling day that is typical!  The only thing I would dare say is typical in a homeschool day for us is that we all eat something, we all wear something, we all sin, we love each other, we all do chores, and we all take care of my grandma and her husband.  Hopefully, we all learn something but I'm okay if it's not always our multiplication tables...

Here's today so far:

Breakfast

Chores

Bible & Prayer

Today's "school" started late for us because there was a heart issue, a character flaw to be dealt with.  Not ignored.  Not swept under the rug.  Not rushed because teaching my children to compose a grammatically correct sentence takes precedence over my calling as a Christian mother.

Piano for one while others' hearts are corrected, mended and connected

Math

Writing  (during which I was constantly trying to distract my toddler who seems to want to stand on Isabelle's school desk)
 
Break from "work" because my 7yr old asked if she could comfort my cranky 19 month old, suffering from the 4 painfully stubborn molars she's cutting.  Charlotte gathered blankets, baby dolls and her baby sister up into the chair and rocked and sang.  I didn't think of getting the camera out until Madelynn was doing much better and Charlotte had a sense of satisfaction that she had cheered Madelynn up.

Nothing better than sisters snuggling and comforting one another!!



Deciding what book to read is a challenge for my Isabelle!
Yes, she's wearing completely different striped pants & shirt...fashion is not part of our daily curriculum!


Lunch for the 6 of us here (I managed to eat today with minimal interruption which is anything but typical!)

Art and creative play in the clubhouse

Ahhh, imagination and the great outdoors (a.k.a. Narnia around here)

Hopefully, Madelynn's nap time is next and I'll read some history as well as a biography to the big girls!

I don't know what the rest of this day holds, much less tomorrow.  Lord willing, we'll start tomorrow together...as I'm learning that words like typical don't apply to us.  You know what?  That's okay!  I'm not a homeschooling mama to make sure that my children can pass tests and recite facts (although there is a place for such).  I'm at home trying to train my children up in the love and admonition of the Lord and spur them on towards the individual bent God has given them.  If they happen to learn what the quadratic formula is or how to do a proper scientific experiment along the way, great!






Friday, March 15, 2013

Significance

Today is March 15th.  Do you have one of those dates that always sticks in your mind as significant?  15th's seem to big for some reason.  My husband had emergency surgery on the 15th of a month.  My Gma and her husband moved into our house on a 15th.  But March 15th, in particular, is quite significant! 

8 yrs ago my phone rang and I had one of those gut-feelings that something was wrong.  See, my Pop had passed away.  I was 8 months pregnant with Charlotte.  I could tell you exactly what I was wearing and where I was and how I reacted.  It's been 8 years but it feels like yesterday.  Pop was, well, a rock for me.  He would get on the floor with his grandchildren.  He would swing them in his arms.  He loved my Granny fiercely.  He loved his family fiercely.  He was kind.  He was gentle.  And I know he prayed for me when I was wandering from God's best for me.  He would light up when family was around.  He would always give a proper send-off when family departed.  He always walked outside to wave goodbye when anyone was leaving.  He would stand in the driveway and wave until we were gone.  It was his thing.  I. miss. it. like. crazy.  So on March 15th, 2005 I "waved" goodbye to Pop as he departed this world and entered eternity with Jesus.  Grief and joy at the same time.

2 years ago I had the opportunity to stand in my driveway and wave goodbye to some dear friends in Pop-like fashion as they ended their journey in Georgia to start a new one in Panama City, Panama.  Tony, Lisa and the Amstutz C crew have a very significant place in my heart.  We were enriched by their presence and blessed by their brotherly love.  Grief and joy at the same time.

I rejoice that Pop is with his Savior.  I rejoice that my friends are where God would have them be, growing together in the Lord.

I also waved my sister out of my driveway today while pondering all of these things.  And any day I see my sister is significant.  ;-)

My Pop


I hope you will praise the Lord for His significant involvement in your life.  Whether you're in a time of grief or joy or even both at the same time, God is worthy of all our praise!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

More Please!

My husband started a game of hangman with our almost 8 yr old, Charlotte.  He used a Bible verse from Mark.  After filling in all the blanks and revealing Dad's verse, it was Charlotte's turn.  She carefully drew her blank lines and let her Daddy know it was time for him to start guessing letters.  Since this game of hangman was going to last on into the church service I wanted to stop it...I'm glad I didn't (think of me what you will).  I, myself, like to doodle and draw while listening.  It occupies my brain so that I can listen.  Anyway, I don't ever know what will come out of my sweet Charlotte's heart and I do know that a game like hangman might be her outlet to share something...

"I want more relationship with God."  "Please!"

Precious.  Honest.  Charlotte is hungry.  She recognizes that she needs more.  

Oh, what the Lord has reveled to me through these cherished children I have. Parenting brings me to my knees for many reasons.  Both my husband's and my Charlotte's knees shared a space together at the altar today as the fragrance of their plea filled the Throne room.  

All I want for my children is that they love the Lord with all they are.  The rest will fall into place.

God, please draw near to Charlotte and show her more of You.  Keep us all desperate for more.  Please! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Crazy budgeting

Several months ago I took over handling affairs for my grandmother and her husband.  This meant I got to make a budget complete with color-coded spreadsheet!!  Fun!  No, really.  Fun!  Making their budget seemed like a breeze because they have a fixed income.  They receive the same amount every month.  Now, this may be the norm for a lot of people but not for my family.  Owning our own business means a variable income (which I'm not complaining about, it just has its challenges).  By variable for us I don't mean a base amount with occasional lows and highs.  I mean that during any given week there could be barely enough income to fill up a gas tank or enough to pay our mortgage+.  We have experienced feast or famine many times (again, not complaining, just sharing some history).  Now, let me explain famine in the sense that we haven't always been sure everything could get paid or that we could buy food but we have never gone hungry or without most of what we want for that matter.

Before you go thinking that I'm longing for the "greener pastures" of a steady paycheck I will tell you that I have seen my God move mountains to give us our daily bread.   There is a pure beauty in being brought humbly to your knees before God Almighty because you recognize your need for Him and that you can do nothing without Him.  Knowing things are out of your control is very different from saying they are but yet acting as though they aren't.   I'm a bit of a control freak so I need God to remind me that I need Him.

Anyway, our budget is not what I would consider a typical budget.  I don't know what's coming in.  I know what is going out and that means we need our "coming in" to be equal to or greater than our "going out".  We keep our bills to a minimum (this means we don't have texting as part of our cell phone plan, much to my sister's dismay!) And we avoid debt like the plague, having no current debt except our mortgage.  In the last 7 years or so all our bills have been paid and we've had food to eat and vehicles to drive (which is totally a God-thing itself) but no regular means of savings.  I know, I know, savings is important.  And I know that we could eat rice and beans every night and live in the dark and sweat to death in the summer and never eat at Chick-fil-A but doing all of that just to save $1000 a year wouldn't be worth it to me.  There has to be a balance between raemen noodles and providing fresh, healthy food for my family and also between sweating to save on the utility bill and keeping the air conditioner set on 65 (which is what I would love to do!).  Some nights are grilled cheese and raemen noodles and our summer thermostat is set on 75 during the day.   Balance and sanity are important!

We have 4 set bills and a utility bill that fluctuates.  Everything else including groceries, gas, fun, books, etc gets squeezed out of what is left.  As I'm typing this, I'm just smiling, thinking of how faithful and wonderful God has always been to me!!  It makes me want to be obedient to Him.  I want to please Him in my family's financial stewardship.  He has blown my mind with His provision for us!  He likes to surprise me!  :)  And never ceases to amaze me!

Recently, we payed our 4 set bills and our utility bill and groceries, etc but something rare happened.  There was still money in the checkbook after I payed the mortgage.  This must be a math error, I thought.  Nope.  This is weird!  It got me to pondering...in our feast or famine income, I tend to want to hang on to anything left for the next famine.  This phenomenon may never occur again but I felt like it was time to have a money discussion with my husband.  We had the perfect time to do such on a weekend away.  "What if this happens month after month?", I asked Bruce.  "We have to come up with a plan!"  (see the control freak, planner in me coming out?)   We have often discussed the sadness of simply making more just to spend more.  But it's an easy place to end up.  I don't want to spend it just cause we're making it.  We want to have purpose in what we're spending on or saving for.  We are on the same page with what that looks like.  We have a plan!!  God may change it according to His plan but that's okay.  His plans are always better!    If the Lord needs to change our plans to get me closer to Him, I don't care what our income is.  I'm actually scared that too much income would cause me to forget who actually provides our daily bread.  It's not us.  We don't deserve it.  I don't care how many hours, classes, licenses, hard work or the like are to our names.   It's all by His hand, not ours.  We are to be good stewards of our time, talents, skills, time and money. We are here to bring Him glory and make His name known. 

Purpose in what is spent.  Purpose in what is saved.  My heart's desire is to please my Lord in both!

P.S. - and sometimes God provides ahead of time for broken washing machines, new car batteries, and gas to drive 1600 miles.  No coincidence that my Bible study this week is on Jehovah Jireh!!  I love my Provider!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Finally!!


My husband and I recently celebrated our 10th anniversary!!  We finally were able to plan our first  getaway since our honeymoon.  A long time coming!  I wasn't sure it was going to happen.  Given that my grandmother and her husband live with us, we have 3 girls to care for, and an almost non-existent budget for fun, odds were against us.  But we came up with a plan:  My parents could come and stay with the young and the old (and the dog).  Dear friends agreed to let us use their lake house.  I used coupons for our gourmet pizza rolls and Voila meals!  Plans came together.  Plans were threatened.  After suffering a miscarriage on January 31st, the day before our anniversary, I wondered if my heart could truly celebrate.  And days before our getaway a stomach bug hit our house hard.  The stomach bug won 5:2.  I gave up and didn't think we were going to be able to go and then...God!  (and my wonderful parents who are now, unfortunately, sick)

3 nights.
3 wonderful mornings with no alarm clocks.
Quiet.
Rest.
 A retreat for my soul.  For my marriage.

A serene view but too cold to sit on the porch!

Boiled Peanuts!  (home grown peanuts)

How I kept my coffee nice and warm!  ;-)

We played Upwords.  I won!!  I'm not bragging, just stating the facts!  ;-)
More food.  Gift card = yummy dinner at Outback

We splurged for the onion!


Time to study and read and think!!!



We weren't far from my sister's so we went to see Kasen!  (oh, my sister was there too)

Pizza rolls by candlelight is kind of our momentous occasion meal.



All cleaned up and ready to go home!
Bye lake!  Until we meet again...
Ready to head home!
The welcoming committee!!!

Anybody with young children knows that an uninterrupted conversation is a rare event so to be able to share a complete thought with my hubby was fabulous.  We talked a lot about our future, our goals, our dream of having a farm and our budget.  We also enjoyed our silence.  I love the sounds of reality that welcomed us home and I cherish the time I had to be still and quiet. 

I cannot say enough about how amazing our weekend was.  Thank you, Mom and Dad!!  for taking care of everyone and braving the germs.  ;-)
















Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mustard Seed

Today was my first Sunday going to church since suffering a miscarriage.  Sitting on the pew during the service, I was bodily present but that was all I could bring.  Just a warm body.  A warm body grateful to be there but having nothing of depth to offer.  Emotionally detached to avoid weeping.  Present to avoid isolation.  And then...

I noticed Isabelle writing on a piece of paper which is not unusual.  When I realized she had been writing for quite some time I glanced at her paper and the moment I read her words I was catapulted into emotional reality.  She was writing prayer requests on the form that can be placed into the offering plate to then be prayed over by church staff.  

She, with childlike faith, listed petitions close to her heart.

Names of family that don't know Jesus
Aunt Tiffany's migraines
Her desire to find her lost Bible
She also declared that she was a Christian

Precious.  Just precious.

I often feel silly when sending petitions of my own to others.  I have over analyzed my neediness and allowed that to play into what I've asked others to pray for.  For a moment, today, I wondered if allowing Isabelle to place her requests in the offering plate was silly.  Not Isabelle.  Without abandon, she sought to ask if anyone would join her in placing her petitions before the Throne of Grace.  That moment passed, and so did the offering plate carrying my girl's requests on to any prayer warrior willing to bend a knee.  

"...if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you."  Matthew 17:20
"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me."  Matthew 18:5
Jesus

I wish I had a copy of it.  In her words.  In her handwriting (which is atrocious; I blame her teacher...LOL).  But she humbly wanted to share her prayer needs with people offering to pray over them, so my mental picture and memory is what I have to remind me to have the faith of a child, a child of the Living God.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I'm complicated

I'm complicated.  Just ask my husband.  Not high-maintenance (I don't like that term), just complicated.  When I take the Love Language test to determine my love language, I have 3 that tie...see, complicated.

I heard a sermon this morning.  It was how to deal with loss.  The pastor described the 5 stages of grief. 
  1. Shock & denial
  2. Sadness
  3. Anger
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance & hope
Interesting that I would hear this sermon while grieving.  What is complicated is that I feel that I can be at any or all of these stages at once.   But I'm clinging to the hope when the other stages threaten to go beyond what is helpful.  These stages.  My feelings.  They are natural.  They are biblical.  As long as the first 4 do not reign in my heart forever.

Scientists have studied tears.  Emotional tears release toxins from the body.  So, I'm getting rid of lots of toxins. 
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night

I will yet praise him
Psalm 42:2,3,5

When reality does not interest me at all, I will call on the Lord and feed on His word.

By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me-
a prayer to the God of my life.
Psalm 42:8

My Jesus is walking me through this.  He has sent me many hugs, helping hands, and encouraging words.

The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
 Psalm 118:14

My emotions are raw.  My heart is broken.  I'm a complicated mess. 

But, I know the One who has come to bind the brokenhearted!  I know the One who will comfort all who mourn.  He holds the oil of gladness and He is the best at making beauty from ashes.  How very dear to me that my Savior quoted these promises about Himself to those in the synagogue and told those listening that they were seeing scripture fulfilled before their very eyes.  (See Isaiah 61 and Luke 4:14-21)  How awesome!  The very Word of God made flesh reading the Word of God.  That gives me chills, comfort and joy!  

Hope.  I'm clinging to Him.



Friday, February 1, 2013

Loved & Redeemed

The story of my life's redemption was written before the foundation of the world.  My Redeemer chose this time and place for my life to be part of His story. 

Growing up the daughter of a minister I was, naturally, in church and around Christians all the time.  Oh how I loved going to work with my Daddy.  I knew the nooks and crannies of various church buildings.  I heard the Bible preached every week.  At the age of 7 I went forward with several other kids during children's church to be "saved".  Now, what I do know is that the Lord called on me at the age of 13 and I answered His call and I called on Him as my Savior.  My excitement for Jesus and mission work was palpable.  I can recall His Spirit speaking to me so often.  And then, slowly, I turned away.  Life happened.  Deep wounds.  Doubt.  Confusion.  Anger.  I was not prepared for anything difficult.  My foundation was Christ but everything I placed on top of that foundation was shifting sand.

Hurt and pouting, I did what I wanted to with my life from 18 to my mid twenties.  Please understand this.  I knowingly and willingly sinned, all the while knowing I was grieving the Holy Spirit who had sealed me until the day of redemption.  I am the chief of sinners.  I don't have a testimony of what God delivered me out of before I knew Him.  I am the testimony of what God can redeem when His child becomes the prodigal.  I have cheapened the cost of His love for me.  If you have ever experienced the Lord watching and waiting and then running to you when you return from a sinful journey then you know how faithful He is.

At the age of 22, living in Kentucky, I met Bruce.  He was a good man.  He loved me.  I loved him.  He wanted to marry me.  I wanted to marry him.  We met in June, started dating in July, engaged in November and married the 1st of February!!  Wow!  Bought a house in April and during the move discovered we were expecting our first child.  Isabelle made her entrance into this world in December.  16 months later, we welcomed our second daughter, Charlotte into our home.  When we married, Bruce was not a Christian.  Good man?  Yes.  Christian?  No.  Was I knowingly unequally yoked?  Yes.  Did God have a plan for redeeming my life and the life of the man I love?  Oh, yes!

Because God blessed us with children very early in our marriage, I started thinking...I know that this faith that I have, this faith that is weak, but real, is something I want to pass down to my children.  I was just hoping Bruce would be on board.  I began desiring to be around Christians again (see, when you're not walking with the Lord you usually don't want to hang out with those that are) and Bruce was interested in going to church.  My stubborn and wounded heart began to seek the Lord.  My Jesus.  My sweet Jesus called on Bruce's heart while Charlotte was in my womb.  Bruce accepted and was baptized when Charlotte was 3 weeks old.  Talk about a time of rejoicing.  Bruce began reading God's word.   His appetite for God's word grew and Bruce had a childlike wonder and faith at the things he was reading.  Bruce's fresh hunger for God brought to life all those Sunday school and children's sermons I had heard as a child.  I was looking at God's word through new eyes and with a renewed heart.  Wow, God is awesome!  What I messed up, He redeemed.

Slowly, forgiveness came and my faith grew even while being tested.  Oh, God, why did I ever turn away from You?  How foolish of me.  How faithful of You!

Not only did God rejoice over me returning to Him, He didn't stop there.  He blessed me.  He blessed my husband.  You should know that I could be on my face before the Lord every day thanking and praising Him for the marriage He has blessed Bruce and I with.  God designed marriage to be a picture of Christ's love for the church.  This picture is beautifully painted, flaws and all, in my life.  My husband loves me no matter what I have done.  He has a servant's heart.  He has willingly sacrificed for his family and continues to do so.  I remember a time when I asked Bruce to forgive me for something I had said and Bruce looked at me and said, "I already have.  I forgave you before you said it."   He meant it.  He just loves me.  I love him.  What I adore most is Christ in and through him.  Bruce will tell you that if any good comes from him, it's got to be God. I'm thankful that I get to, undeservingly, experience that love every day.  I'm also thankful that I get to see my husband grow in the Lord and display Christ to his family, friends and community.

I am loved and redeemed.  Thank you, Jesus!

Happy 10th anniversary Bruce!  I'm glad God brought us together.  I love you!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Seasons and Timing

This is a picture of a tree in our yard...in January!


My body feels a little like this tree.  Confused and out of season.

This tree is preparing for new life before its time.



My body, my heart and my family were preparing to welcome new life into our family.  Sadly, winter is not over.  The knitting together in my womb will not continue long enough for me to labor to hold.  My Creator knows what is best for His creation and His created and their seasons.

It is not the season for new growth for the tree.  It is not the season for our family to grow.



In this time of loss, there is much pain.  Pain reminds me that this world is not my home.  One day I will be with my Jesus and with this precious life gone on before me.

Until then, I find comfort in knowing that I am not on this journey alone.  I am thankful for my family and friends.  I am thankful for the prayers and actions of others showing love and support.  I am thankful that in there being a time for everything, there is a time to mourn.  My soul is mourning but I know there will come a time to dance...
in another season...
in God's perfect timing.




Sunday, January 27, 2013

The cost

I'm in a place of deep thought with the Lord.  You know those times when something that God is working on in your heart seems to come up everywhere?  I am currently taking a discipleship Bible study at church while simultaneously reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship.  So many words from Bonhoeffer's book are resonating in my soul.  I have much to ponder.  The cost of grace.  Christians love to talk of God's love and grace and how God loves to lavish us in His grace.  Now, I believe that He does.  But...that grace that God gives us cost Him everything.  Bonhoeffer says:

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.  Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.  Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has...Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow...Jesus Christ.  What has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.  Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.  Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.

Am I really willing to pay any price to follow Christ?  I don't know for sure...  Does God's lavish grace mean that I should be comfortable all the time?  Certainly not.  Through difficulties I can have abundance and I can have joy.  I can have peace that passes understanding.  If my peace must be beyond comprehension, then it seems that the peace within my soul will not always make sense to others. For it is just for my soul from His Spirit.  More from Bonhoeffer:

The cross is laid on every Christian.  The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world.  The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ.  
When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

The sermon this morning talked of cheapening God's grace.  The special music was about becoming stronger in our weakness.  Asking for God to show up in our suffering...even asking Him to bring us to a place of weakness and suffering so that we can be stronger in Him.  When my life feels stormy and painful what I need more than calmer water is, simply, Jesus.  What I need when following Christ seems too costly is to remember the cost my Savior paid for me. I have been looking for the Stronger for It song lyrics but cannot find them online.    Please listen to this song.