A Praise Report!

In the midst of our heartache, God has brought us a great blessing!  A couple of Sundays ago, during Awana, God worked in our son’s heart, drawing him unto Himself, and our son heeded His calling!  Praise God, our son gave his life to Christ!

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Even though this picture is from almost a year ago (and he has changed so much in that time – Michael is now 13), I still wanted to give you a face to go with this praise report!  Rejoice with us in this answered prayer, and pray for him as he begins his journey following God’s path for his life.

The Day My Life Changed Forever (otherwise known as, The Most Difficult Post I’ve Ever Had to Write)

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started to submit this post only to decide that I wasn’t ready just before clicking the “publish” button. But, I feel that it’s now time.

I vaguely mentioned that my family had recently gone through a dramatic change recently.  I wasn’t sure about sharing it here, but I feel that God is directing me that direction.  While I will not be giving every detail, I will share my story and how God is working in my life.

On the afternoon of January 19th, our lives were thrown a HUGE blow that we are still reeling from!  While I wish that I could say that we had no idea that it was coming, we had been praying and praying that God would not allow it to come to this.  On this day, our oldest daughter decided that she was moving out and moving in with her boyfriend, his mother, his mother’s boyfriend, his sister, and his young twin brothers.  She came home early from work and had already packed her bags the night before.  She had been planning this for a long time.

Over the last several months, he has convinced her that our beliefs are not for her, that there is no God, and that he means more to her than anything else.  Our hearts are just breaking.  We had put rules in place to help protect her, yet give them the space to get to know each other in a safe setting here at home.  We wanted them to get to know each other, as well as allow us to get to know him.  They both chose to ignore this rule and take matters into their own hands, and continually deceive us about everything.  While we definitely were not happy about this and both said some things that we know we shouldn’t have out of hurt and anger, we would always ask her for forgiveness.  We were/are hurting, scared parents who cannot save our 19-year-old daughter from the very bad choices that she is making.

 We had told her months ago what the consequences of moving out and going down a path that we could not/would not sanction would be, but she still chose to follow whatever bad advice that she was receiving from him.  He and his family are a godless family with no desire to have Christ in their lives.  She sees this as an acceptable way of life.

We took back her car, which was part of the lease program through my husband’s work, and she had to buy her own car.  We also found out that the day she moved out, she was fired from the job that she has loved.  She would not tell us the reason.

Our hearts are so heavy right now.  I’ve cried harder and sobbed louder than I ever thought possible.  My husband and our other two children are just as heartbroken and confused about things as I am.  Please don’t think that I’m saying that we are perfect and have made all the right decisions.  I’m sure that we have made mistakes, and will make many more before it’s all said and done.   The decisions we’ve had to make since this has happened have not been easy.  Some have caused my heart to break even more, even though I didn’t think that was possible.  We are having to let her go physically, but we have the promise that He has never left her, regardless of what she thinks.  Our prayer is that God will use her poor choices to draw her to him, and that He will soften her heart toward Him.  We are also praying that He will give us the peace & comfort that we need right now during this difficult time so that we can be the parents that we need to be not only to her, but to our other two children, as well.  While we can’t answer the “why’s”, we are here to show them what God says in His Word.  I could list dozens of verses that He has shown me since this all happened about peace, comfort, how we battle sin on a daily basis, how he gives us the strength to get through each minute, each heartache, each spiritual battle, etc.

While we don’t understand why this is happening to our family, we do know that God knew that it was going to happen, and that He will walk with us through this battle.  He will bring us through it.  She is His, as is the rest of my family.  Just because she chooses not to acknowledge Him right now, doesn’t mean that He doesn’t love her.

I don’t know what the future holds for my oldest daughter, but I do know that I still love her, and I will always love her.  She knows that she is welcome to come home, but our rules will still apply.  Please, if you feel led, lift my family up in prayer as we go through this difficult time.  I’m not looking for sympathy or criticism, but just asking for prayers.

God is using this time to draw my family (especially me), closer to Himself.  My biggest prayer is that He uses this situation to draw her to Himself.  I pray that my family and I will allow God to take this situation and use it for His Glory.  Will you pray with me?

My CHRISTmas Crochet Creations for 2011!

I know you’ve all probably been wondering what’s been keeping me the last few months since I really haven’t been updating my blog very much.  Well, it’s been that kind of year, let me tell you.  It seems that every time I’ve turned around, I’ve been neck-deep into one thing or another, and from October on, I’ve done good to keep my head above water!  But, it’s all finally slowing down & I feel like I can finally breathe easy once again.  Since it would take forever to try to list all the boring things that have gone on in my family’s lives lately, I thought I would show you a few of the things that have kept me busy for the last few months that I made for CHRISTmas gifts this year:

I made these hats for Brian & Michael: 

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I made these totes for Melia (orange) & Katie (green):

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And I created this checkers set for Michael (it’s his favorite game!):

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(pattern coming soon)

I wish I had had time to make something for everyone, but I got started too late this year.  But I did manage to get afghans made for 2 out of 3 of my brothers.  I’ve not forgotten him, though.  I’m going to make it up to him.  Don’t worry, I didn’t leave him out.  I did get him a GC for Starbucks to tide him over!  Here are pics of the boys with the blankets that I did get made:

Remember the Log Cabin Afghan I made a few months back?  Well, this is where it wound up.  My parents loved it & asked that I make them one for Christmas. Well, I didn’t have time to make another one, so they received the one that I had already done.  I guess it won’t be going in the fair next year after all.  Smile 

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I also managed to get a few coaster sets made in various colors (some were green/red & red/green) to go with the gift cards to the grandparents. Here’s what the coasters looked like:

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I also made a few of these little 3-inch stockings for an ornament swap that I participated in over at Frugal Families:

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(I did make a few minor changes to them, though.)

It’s been a busy few months for me.  Now that CHRISTmas is behind us again & it’s a time to slow down & breathe, we will NOT be forgetting the true reason that we celebrate CHRISTmas to begin with, which is to celebrate that our Savior, Jesus Christ, chose to come to earth & be born as a baby, grow, live & walk among us, teaching us, & then paying highest price for our sins by becoming the ultimate sacrifice & conquering death.  My family & I are so very thankful & humbled by this gift.  May we truly remember what gift He gave us as each time we see our gifts this coming year

 

Now, it’s onto my list of gifts for CHRISTmas 2012!!

School Days Are Here Again!

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For those of us that homeschool (or even those who are in public schools) it’s time to really start gearing up for the new school year.  Whether you school year round or take the summer off, getting ready for the next school year is always full of decisions.  For homeschoolers, it’s a time to go through the curriculum that you already have and see what you do have on hand, what you need, what worked, what didn’t, if there are any supplements that you would like to purchase, etc.  For all of us (public school & homeschoolers) we have to go through and see what basic supplies we have & what we NEED, such as pencils, paper, rulers, crayons, pens, etc.

It never ceases to amaze me how much work goes into both types of schooling just to get ready for the start of a new year.  For us, homeschooling is the way that we feel God has lead us to go, and we love it!  However, it is still a lot of work.  Brian & I chose to go ahead & use some of our income tax return to start buying curriculum for the upcoming year, so we already have most of that on hand.  But, having the curriculum on hand doesn’t mean that it’s already preplanned out to fit our family’s needs.  I did get a head start on that at the end of the year, but that was also with us planning to continue a subject per child over the summer.  But, since our planned semi-calm summer has turned into a hectic one, well, let’s just say that we’ll now be fitting most of the summer plans into the upcoming school year.  But, that’s the beauty of homeschooling.  Flexibility.  I love the fact that we don’t have to force our children to complete the exact same work that everyone else in the classroom does.  They do not have to be forced to try to squeeze into the same mold as everyone else.  They get to be who God made them to bed.  They can whiz through science while they need to take a slower pace in math.  They take a faced paced approach with Bible while maybe taking a slightly slower speed in English, etc.  They can use their strengths to help them with their weaknesses, all the while turning those weaknesses into strengths. 

Hmm.  That sounds really familiar.  Doesn’t God do the same thing for us?  Teach us so that are weaknesses are made strong? Romans 8:36a says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. “  That verse also talks about how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in prayer when we, ourselves, don’t know what to pray for.  In teaching our children to grow in their weaknesses in school, we are teaching them to be better students and, eventually, employees/employers in the working world.  In the same way, God uses our weaknesses to grow us for His glory so that we can better serve Him in the mission field, at home or abroad. 

For us, our choice to homeschool is based on where we felt (and still feel) God leading us.  We want our children’s education to be biblically based, with Christ at the heart of our learning.  We try to make sure that –He is the one that helps us to make the decisions in what curriculum to use, what co-op to be a part of, etc.  We strive to make him Headmaster/Principal of our school just as we strive to make Him the head of our household. 

We’re really excited about this upcoming school year.  Brian & I believe that God has a lot of blessings in store for our family this year, and that seems to be confirmed lately since we’ve met up with a lot of mountains in our homeschool trail these last couple of weeks.  With a lot of help from our Lord, we are slowly climbing each one & tackling all the obstacles that have been laid in front of us and finding our way through.  I, myself, truly believe that God is using each of these to grow us and lead us down the path that He has planned for our family.   So, how are your plans for the new homeschool year coming?  Do you have any mountains you’re having to climb or bumps in the road that have sent you down a different path than you originally thought you would be going down?  I would love to hear how God is growing you and your family through these. 

Oh, what a tangled mess we weave……

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When we let out tongues speak in anger.  Sometimes, I don’t think we realize what a powerful weapon we all have with us at all times – our tongue.  Did you know that the tongue is mentioned 129 times in 126 verses?  For our heavenly Father to mention it that many times must mean that is extremely important to Him that we listen.  The tongue is an amazing creation. Think about it.  Your tongue can tell the difference between sweet, spicy, sour, salty, hot & cold.  AND, you use it to form words.  The very same words that we use to lift each other up, or cut each other down. The very same words that can bring comfort and pain.  The very same words that are spoken in joy and in anger. 

As I had mentioned a few days ago, I am caught in the middle of friends who are hurt and angry – over words spoken in assumption and anger.  My heart is grieving heavily in this situation.  At first, I was angry, but it quickly changed to sadness and heartache, especially seeing my friends who are angry and hurting having a hard time dealing with everything and some not willing to listen.  While others are hurt by words that were said in anger and assumption that should never have been said, and they were not ready to listen because of all the hurt that was unnecessarily inflicted. 

The childhood saying “Sticks & stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is soooooo wrong.  Words do hurt.  They hurt more than a physical injury because we can’t touch it, nurture it, put a band-aid on it, and allow it to heal.  It’s a wound on our heart that has trouble healing because people, directly or indirectly, pour salt in the wound which causes us more pain and agony. 

God pointed out to me several passages this morning in my guidebook for my life, the Bible, that relate to the tongue.  James 1:26 says, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself…” (NIV)

The passage in James 3:1 – 12 is titled “Taming the Tongue”.  Wow!  It most be really important for us to guard our tongues if God goes to the trouble to speak about it for 12 verses straight!  Verse 6 talks about how the tongue is “a world of evil among the parts of the body” and how it “corrupts the whole person”.  In verse 9, God even tells us that with our tongue, we “praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men”.  A two-edged sword – one side singing praises & praying to our Abba Father, the other  cutting down our fellow brothers & sisters in Christ.  What pain we must cause our Abba Father.  He even goes as far as to tell us this in James 4:11-12, “Brothers, do not slander one another.  Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it.  When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.  There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy.  But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?”  (NIV) OUCH!

But, I love James 4:10 – “Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will lift you up!”  (NIV) How awesome is the God we serve that He would say, even before we sinned, that He will forgive us, if we will truly humble ourselves and repent of our sins!  No matter what mistakes we make, if we are truly sorry and truly repent, He will forgive us and throw our sins as far as the east is from the west. 

I will say that I have already seen God working in this situation.  Bridges are slowly being mended, and I pray that they will continue to be mended and, in the end, be even stronger than what they were before.  God does not want conflict amongst His children any more than we want conflict amongst our own.  I would like to ask you all to continue praying.  Abba is listening and He is working in all the lives involved.  I pray that even though we’ve had to walk through this very heated fire, we will all come out more refined & ready to do His will! In fact, he says just that in Jeremiah 9:7-8a:

“See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people? Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks with deceit.”(NIV)

Zechariah 13:9b says, “I will refine them like silver and test them like gold.”  (NIV) Do you know why silver & gold (and other precious metals) are refined?  To remove impurities from them.  So, why does our Heavenly Father refine His children like silver & gold?  To remove sin (impurities) from our lives.  Yes, it is painful.  Yes, you may lose something in the process.  But, in the end, will be closer to being pure, sinless, and more like Christ.  That is our ultimate goal, isn’t it?    

When it rains…….

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I know that I’ve been through some tough situations in life, but sometimes it’s hard to believe how quickly things that can get blown way out of proportion, especially when assumptions are made and conclusions are jumped to.  I would like to ask all of my fellow friends (in real life & in the blogging world) to please pray for a situation for me.  I will not give all the details but I am caught in the middle of a situation between friends & I don’t know how it’s going to turn out.  My prayer is that God will shine His light down on all involved & help guide us in the way we need to go.  Unfortunately, not only are adult friendships on the line, but children’s friendships, as well.  Satan has been working on this for quite some time & I’m sure he’s dancing for joy at all the heartache & turmoil that he has caused so far and will continue to cause until this situation is resolved, if it is resolved at all. 
James 1:5 says:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (NIV)
I’m praying that God will give us all His wisdom in this & that we will be forgiving, loving, & nurturing towards one another, not harboring anger or hurt.  I know it’s not easy to forgive someone who has badly hurt you, intentionally or unintentionally, but I pray that forgiveness will be granted & healing will begin.  We are all God’s children. If His Son is willing to lay down His life for ours to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, I believe that the least we can do is be willing to listen to one another with an open heart & mind, ask forgiveness for our sin against each other, & freely & willingly give forgiveness to those that have hurt us.