Category Archives: This and That

“Bring him good not harm”

This morning Hunter had to leave for work early. I was up way earlier than I like to get up.  Usually when I get up with him (I am ashamed to say)  I usually go back to bed. But not today! Today is a new day. Instead of slithering back into bed as normal, I decided to get a head start on my day.  While making lunches, I was also making a mental note of all the things I wanted to accomplish for the day. My mind reeling with thoughts of laundry, organizing closets and getting meat out of the freezer for dinner.  But first…quiet time.

This morning, I was awakened with a strong hunger for my daily bread, stronger than I’ve had in quite some time.  My heart was heavy in certain areas, so I knew exactly where I was headed.  Strongly convicted in the area of being a good wife, I turned directly to Proverbs 31. I love this chapter. There are so many amazing things here!   But for today, just three verses.  “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” (Proverbs 31:10-11) And the one that sticks out to me…“She brings him good not harm, all the days of her life.” (v.12)   Now, I don’t “bring harm” to my husband.  Not in the way that we typically think of when we think of bringing harm to someone. But I do, at times, harm his “manliness”.

I like to think of myself as a submissive wife.  I firmly believe in Ephesians 5:22-24 “Wives submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”  But sometimes it’s all I can do to keep my mouth shout…and a lot of times…I can’t…as much as I would like to. My fleshly desires take over. I find myself opening my mouth and sticking my ginormous foot directly in it, inadvertently causing great detriment to the male ego of the man whom I love with all my heart. I don’t mean to hurt him or to “harm” his manhood, but sometimes I just know that I am right and he is, of course, wrong. And it would not be right to let him go on thinking that it’s the other way around. As much as my heart desires to be the Proverbs 31 woman who brings her husband no harm, I find myself (more often than I’d like to admit)   tearing him down.  I don’t do this intentionally. I would never intentionally say things that cause him to feel like less of a man. I never want to be controlling, or nagging or any of the other umpteen things that us wives tend to be without realizing it. The desire of my heart is to build him up.  The problem is that I’m a woman and he’s a man. I don’t know what it’s like to be a man. I don’t know how his mind works. I simply can’t comprehend the fact that sometimes his mind doesn’t work at all. (How is that possible?!? How can he not be thinking anything?? How can he turn his mind off completely??? I just can’t even begin to wrap my mind around that.  My mind is going non stop. I can’t shut it off, it just keeps going all the time.)  Okay, back on track here. Men and women are so  different. God made us that way. He doesn’t make mistakes. He very well intended for it to be that way.  I sometimes think about how weird my love is.  He thinks so “out of the box” and  has strange habits.  I remember back to when we first got married. I thought he was the only man who left his clothes directly in front of the hamper, or left the toilet paper roll empty or the seat up. How dare him! But then, I found out he’s not the only one!  Are you serious?!? There are actually other men out there that do this? Who in there right mind would want to sit on the couch in their underwear or drink milk straight from the carton? The answer is simple…a man.  Not only my man, but there are apparently  a lot of men who do these things! Over the years, I have realized the vast differences between men and women.  Our minds and bodies  tick in different ways. I see this in my husband and I, the differences in raising my sons versus my daughter, and even the way my 15 year old (oh my word, I have a 15 year old!) son and I interact.  I ask “How was your day?” and he wants to know what my attitude is about. Are you kidding me?!?  To get to the point…no matter how different our minds and bodies work, no matter how ridiculous I think his train of thought (or non thought) is, it is my God-given responsibility to be submissive…not to lash out at him for saying the wrong thing, or “nag” him about fixing my bathroom sink, or complain about why he didn’t call and let me know he would be late. Regardless of what it makes me feel like, it is my duty to still be respectful and loving to him. That doesn’t mean that I just keep my mouth shut and never say anything, it simply means that when I do choose to speak up, I need to  do so in a loving, respectful way that doesn’t belittle him as man. Proverbs 12:4 says “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.”  I don’t want to be decay in his bones…eating him up from inside.  Proverbs 19:13b “and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.”  How my heart longs to be a wife of good character! I don’t want to be a “constant dripping”, nagging at his heels.

“Father God, I confess to You – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – that I have not been a wife of noble character! Take the selfishness from me and fill me with love, tenderness and compassion for my husband. Teach me to bring him good and not harm – to lift him up instead of tear him down. It is not my desire to belittle or disrespect him, but I find myself doing this often. God, I confess to you my shortcomings in being a Godly wife – I give this to you- cleanse my heart of my wickedness and fill me with your love.

There are so many times that I could choose to respond to a situation in a loving manner and my sinful heart chooses to respond in a way that tears down the man I love and is displeasing to the God I serve. But no matter how many times I fail in this area, my God is faithful and just to forgive me when I turn to Him.

Dear God, thank you for opening my eyes to You. Thank you for Your unfailing love – for opening Your arms to me every time I turn to You. Thank you for cleansing me from all unrighteousness. Dear Jesus, Hear my cry today! Give me the desires of my heart! I cry out to You from the depths of my soul! Take this wretchedness in me and replace it with fullness of joy. God, teach me to be the wife You have called me to be. Sensitize my heart to the the amazing man You have given me. Teach me to humble myself and not be prideful. Allow me to have a listening ear and discerning heart. You have blessed me with an incredible man – give me the strength to be the woman he deserves. Let me not be idle – but raise me up as a testament for You. Let my life reflect Your love, first at home and then to the world. Thank you for the incredible family You have entrusted to me. Let my handling of our affairs be pleasing to You. Take me from this day – grab hold of my heart – strengthen and let me not turn away from You, Oh God!

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Aside

Many days have passed since I last posted. Life has been a roller coaster for me, as it has been for many. I’ve found it extremely hard and painful to sit down and put my heart out there. Today, I … Continue reading

Give Me Words to Speak: Part 2

Five years ago, we moved our family almost 400 miles away from the place we called home. We left our friends, our family, life as we knew it, behind. It was a completely fresh start. We knew no one, and no one knew us.

It was like having a completely clean slate. No one defined us by our past mistakes. I thought it was great! No judgement! But as time passed and continues to pass, I realize that if people don’t know your past, they don’t truly know you. Can you have a meaningful relationship with someone, without revealing those life circumstances that have defined you and made you who you are?

I’m not sure you can. I have shared bits and pieces with a select few people, but even then I find my temperature rising, my heart racing and those feelings of “what are they going to think of me” creep in.

I learned some time ago, that I am much better at putting my thoughts down on paper than speaking them. That’s why I started blogging. It’s my outlet to release all of those thoughts that I can’t get out verbally.

So, I have decided that sometime in the near future, I will share my testimony here. The holidays are coming, so it might take some time, but it’s coming.

Give Me Words to Speak : Part 1

Was there ever a time in your life when you had a strong sense that one day God would call you to a do a certain thing for Him? You didn’t know how He would work it all out, but you were confident that in His time you would do this great thing for Him?

I did. I was 18 years old, and I was sure that God would use my life to touch other young girls who found themselves in my situation or to help prevent them from finding themselves there. I knew, or so I thought, that God would use me to further His kingdom in this way.

I find myself, at nearly 32 years of age, wondering if I missed it. Did I miss my chance to do great things for Him. Was He calling me, but I wasn’t listening? A flood of thoughts and reasons run through my mind as to why I never heard this calling.

And then I think I was never called to do this because I am not capable. It’s not my area of strength. My thoughts are turned toward Moses. Moses thought himself incapable of the task that God had for him, but he did it, not by his own will, but by the will of God working through him.

I was so sure that one day I would stand before a crowd of teenage girls and give my testimony and share my trials and struggles, and the triumph that I found when I placed my life fully in God’s hands, withholding nothing.

In reality, I have a hard time having a one-on-one conversation and getting my words out. I have been made more aware of this recently. I have known, pretty much forever, that I get nervous speaking in front of people. But it’s become more clear to me that I even have a difficult time
speaking with a close friend or family member, and clearly expressing my thoughts verbally. It’s in my head, it sounds good up there, but when I open my mouth, it comes out wrong. I don’t say at all what I’m trying to say and I end up feeling like a fool. When there is confrontation about an issue, it gets really bad. I know what I believe and why, but for me to get that out seems nearly impossible.

In October, I started leading a Moms in Prayer group. I had no idea how stretching this would be for me. I have been very humbled by this experience thus far. Even in a small group of 6-8 women, I cannot verbalize my prayers. The words just don’t come out the way they should. I find myself stumbling through the prayer time. I’m so thankful for this non-judgmental group of ladies.

If I can’t pray in a small group setting, how on earth did I think that God would call me to minister to large groups of girls? What was I thinking? Have I been fooling myself all this time?

I have recently been reminded of one event when I did share my story and talk with a group of girls. I never thought of that as being the “calling” I had been waiting for. I was probably about 22 or 23 years old and I shared with a small group of girls at a summer youth camp our church had started. I suppose I never thought of that as counting, because I didn’t feel like it reached anyone. I thought I said all the wrong things and left out the most important points that I had really wanted to get across. But honestly, I have no idea. That talk, with that small group of 10-12 girls, may have touched someones life that night. Maybe I did fulfill the calling that God had for me…one of the callings.

At this point in my life, I believe that my calling is to be a wife and mother. Some people are judgmental of stay-at-home moms, especially “in this economy”. But I believe there is no greater calling. Hearing your child sing along with a song like “ God’s not dead He’s surely alive, living on the inside roaring like a lion” is an awesome thing. Hearing your child pray for a child in their class that can’t speak or that has an anger issue is such a blessing! To know that I have raised my children to serve the Almighty God, gives me such a sense of “Yeah, I can do this. I’m right where I need to be.”

My prayer as of lately has been “Give me words to speak”; to my children, my husband, family members, friends, acquaintances. I find myself searching for the right words to say, but my words alone will never amount to anything. My words mean nothing without Christ in me.

Thankful Hearts

I can’t believe it’s already the beginning of November!  My mind is spinning toward Thanksgiving and thoughts of  how to make this holiday season particularly special. This year has been so crazy, that I really want to slow down and take it all in.

Here are some things I have chosen to create a memorable Thanksgiving season for our family this year.

Countdown to Thanksgiving 

To get the kids excited about Thanksgiving and to help them focus on others instead of themselves, I have decided to do a countdown to Thanksgiving.  I had the kids give me a list of things they are thankful for. I took the list and compiled activities to go along with each “thankful”.  Then, I made paper baskets and put some string on them so they can be hung. I made little pumpkins to go inside of each basket. On the pumpkins, I wrote the “thankful” and the activity to go along with it. I put them in order and strung them up in a large doorway.  We will begin on November 7 and have a 15 day countdown to Thanksgiving.

Here is what are “thankfuls” and activities look like.

We are thankful for….

Nov. 7     Freedom to worship God

–Pray together as a family and take turns thanking God  for His blessings.

Nov. 8     Jesus‘ Birth

–Come up with a new Christmas tradition. Make a decoration.

Nov. 9   Our family

–Family Game Night

Nov. 10   The things God has given us

–Donate to those who aren’t as blessed.  (OCC)

Nov. 11 Our church leaders and teachers

–Make a special treat or gift for Sunday school teachers.

Nov. 12   Our mom and dad

–DATE NIGHT!!!

Nov. 13   Our friends

–Make a special treat for friends. Acorns and pilgrim hats

Nov.14 Our clothes

–Donate extra clothing to those in need.

Nov. 15  Our food

–Donate to the church food pantry.

Nov.16 Our school and teachers

–Make a special card or treat for our teachers.

Nov. 17 Our home

–Decorate for the season.

Nov. 18 God’s creation

–Take a walk or drive and admire God’s creation.

Nov. 19 Our grandparents

–Call or send a special note.

Nov. 20 Our extended family

–Call or send a special note.

Nov. 21   Family memories

–Make a Thankful Journal. Family Game Night.

Nov. 22 THANKSGIVING

–Read  “Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving”

Our Thankful Journawill be a simple journal where each member of the family will record what they are thankful for this year. It will be kept and brought out each Thanksgiving to record what we are thankful for that year.  It will become a family tradition and a great keepsake for years to come.

We will also be doing a Thankful Wall.

For the Thankful Wall, we will use post-it notes and every day, each of us will write one thing we are thankful for. We will stick the post-it to the wall. Viola! Thankful Wall.

Make Great-Full Jars for each member of the family

For the Great-Full Jars, we will get a jar or cute decorated box for each member of the family. Grab some cute paper and cut it into slips. Write down things we are grateful for about the recipient. We will write each memory, reason, gift, on individual slips of paper. Fill the jar with the great notes of memories and joys and love, noting why we are so grateful for that person. They can go to the jar anytime and pull out a note of encouragement.

For our Family Devotions, we will intentionally focus our prayer time on praise and thanksgiving.

Another thing we are going to do is throw in some “fun” days.

No Complaining Day: Dare to go all day with no complaining. Slip a rubber band on your wrist and every time you complain, move it to the other wrist. Dare everyone in the whole family to go the whole day without moving their wrist reminder. We will celebrate with a special treat when the whole family can go the whole day with no complaining!

Random Acts of Kindness Day: This is a character trait I have already tried to instill in the kids, but how fun to have a day when we intentionally do random acts of kindness. At devotion time, we will share what we have done!

I am excited to really take time this year to intentionally Thank God for all his blessings to us. Sometimes in the busyness of life, and the trials and struggles  that we face, we forget about all the amazing gifts we have.  I encourage you to spend some time today to look beyond the pile of laundry, the fussing kids, the stack of bills, the long hours at work, or whatever those things are in your life that wear you down, and open your eyes to the many gifts that God has given you.

Back Again, Humble As Ever

I started blogging as a personal outlet and  as a sort of accountability.  It’s been 9 months since I have posted anything, due to some major life changes this past year.  I would like to believe that someone has missed my blogging, but in reality, I am probably the only one that really cares.  =) 
Hopefully I will be able to get back to a regular schedule.
 
2012 has been a difficult year. Unforeseen circumstances led me to a place of worry and fear. I found myself asking, “why”. Why would God allow us to go through these things? Why does life have to be so hard? Why are people so hurtful? Why do they do such awful things? Why is the world so unGodly? Why can’t we all get along?
 
I don’t understand all of the answers to all the why’s.  But I do know that I serve an awesome God who is in complete control of every little, intimate detail of my life. I know that all things work together for the good of those who love God and that with God all things are possible.
 
The week before Christmas, 2011, Hunter was unexpectedly laid off. We were both in a state of shock and disbelief.  We had been  pretty confident in his job security. We were apparently overconfident.  Life as I knew it was over.
 
I was used to being my own boss. I could send the kids off to school and the day was mine to do as I pleased. Of  course I had daily chores and obligations, but I could do it at my pace, and in my time, without interruption.  This was all over. In my heart, I knew that things were going to be hard.  I was certain that our marriage would suffer. I believe with all my heart, that God did NOT intend for husband and wife to spend every waking moment together! 
I was prepared for intense conflict…but God had something else in mind.
 
Instead of conflict and turmoil, He allowed our relationship to be strengthened.  Over the next months, our love for each other grew.  We spent an incredible amount of time together…and it was good!  He was home to help with homework and bedtime. He was able to help with the toting of kids to and from their activities.  We talked! Not the normal way, where I talk and he pretends to listen. Or where he talks and I don’t hear a word. It was  more than talking, it was communication.  It was a new revelation! How amazing it is when a husband and wife actual communicate with each other and are on the same page.  There are times when it feels as if we are in different chapters of different books, but God gave us a gift. Not only were we in the same book, but the same chapter and page.
We learned to love and appreciate each other in a new way.
 
I am always amazed by the unique ways that God has of getting our attention and working in our lives!   We were blessed to have had some money from our fall harvest to be able to supplement unemployment for those months.
God was there!
 
In April, Hunter started a new job. He couldn’t get many hours and the pay turned out to be worse than being on unemployment.  Our money had run out and financially, we started heading downhill.  To top it off, he hated the job. He was coming home every night physically drained, and as the bills started piling up he became emotionally drained, also.  He held on, hoping and waiting for things to change, but after several months, there was no change and we were getting farther behind.
 
He began to look for other work, but nothing seemed to be working out. We were both becoming discouraged. It’s so easy to trust God when things are manageable, but when things get completely out of your control, it’s so much harder.
We prayed so fervently and it seemed as if
God was just holding things in His hand to prove that He could.
 
During the unemployment, we were still getting by, we had the extra funds and everything seemed to be working out. We were getting along wonderfully and had a lot more family time.  We knew God was with us, but we still felt like we were “in control” of things. But now, with the new, awful job and the depleted funds, things were hard. We realized that we had NO control over our lives. God was controlling everything.
 
Through much prayer and  perseverance,  and a time of truly giving everything over to Him, God blessed us with another job.  In September, Hunter started a new job that he enjoys and (after we get caught up) it should be able to sustain us.
 
God is always working, whether we see it or not. He is in control of everything. There is nothing too big or too small for Him to handle. He has our best interest in mind…always. He will never leave us nor forsake us.  He is the One True God, Awesome in Power, Mighty in Love and Worthy of all our Honor and Praise!
 
It’s so easy to praise God when life is going good, but it can be a real challenge to praise Him in the hard times.  Praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. Give it all to God, no matter what. Let everything else go and hold on to Him as tight as you can. He covers a multitude of sin. There is nothing too big that His mighty power cannot overcome.
 
Feeling very unworthy of his love and forgiveness today.  And so very aware of His never-ending mercy and grace that He gave us on the cross. Thank you, God, for loving me through all my faults and failures. I’m so grateful that Your mercies ARE new EVERY morning.
 
I love this song as a reminder to praise Him in everything.
 

Family…

It’s the middle of January and I have yet to update on my December resolutions or post my January resolutions. The truth is, I sat down many times to quickly jot a note on how things went for December, but for one reason or another, I never actually posted.

My December resolution was focused on my family. On paper, it looked like an easy feat, but in reality it’s much more complicated. The task was/is to not let little things cause tension in relationships, and to intentionally touch base with immediate family members once a week. Since I didn’t visit with any of my family in December, keeping away from tension was easy. The part I’m having difficulty with is keeping in touch with everyone. There are only six people on my list to touch base with. All in all, I feel as though I have been doing good. However, there are a couple of family members who I haven’t done so well with.

How do you communicate with someone who is seemingly unreachable? In today’s culture, there are many ways to contact people. How is it that even with all of our resources, I am still unable to get in touch with someone? I call…no answer. I text…no response. I leave a message on facebook…nothing. Does it count as touching base if they never respond? How do I know they received the message? I’m making an effort, but does it count if they aren’t aware of it? I’ve processed all of these things. I’ve considered mailing a note…you know, snail mail. After thinking things through, I decided that I will continue sending small notes just to let them know I am thinking of them. It’s the thought that counts, right?? People are so busy running here and there and trying to fit everything in and trying to please everyone, that they some times miss the little things. Like a simple note from their big sister, just saying “Hey, I’m thinking of you. Love you. Hope all is well.” So I will continue to hunt down my little brother.

Aside from my brother, who is apparently MIA, I have neglected one other family member. Not because I haven’t been able to get in touch with her. There actually is no reason, outside of a nearly twenty year age gap, but I have never found the right time to call her nor could I figure out what I would say exactly. This does not excuse the fact that I have left her out, so I will be making an effort to jot short notes and let her know that she is loved.

Friends will come and go, but your family is yours for a life time. I don’t want to lose those family ties.

Here is a song in honor of my brother…

Our Christmas Card

Each year as Christmas cards with letters attached come in from friends and family, updating us on what has happened in their lives in the past year, we think maybe we should send a letter out ourselves. And each year, we decide that no one would really be interested anyway. The people that care already know.

This year, I decided maybe people do care and are interested, but instead of mailing them, I would post it here and people will be free to read as they wish, but don’t need to feel obligated.

So, here it goes..

2011, sped by at record high pace. As the children get older, we get busier and life seems to whirl around us…but I wouldn’t want to miss a second of it.

Hunter started the beginning of the year as Farm Manager for an onion farm, Bland Farms, NY. The company is based out of Georgia, but has a farm here in Cato. It has been great to have his job so close to home. He has worked hard this year to continue providing for our family, so that I am able to stay home and tend to the kids and the house. His heart’s desire is to have his own farming operation. This year he was able to rent some land and plant soy beans. The crop wasn’t looking good to start with, but by harvest time we had a good yield. This coming year he is hoping to expand it some more and the goal is that in the next two years he will not need to have a traditional job at all. Last week, he was very unexpectedly laid off from work until April. Please pray that God will continue to guide us and give us wisdom and direction in the next several months and that Hunter will have a special kind of peace with these new circumstances.

I continue to stay busy at home. Whether it be laundry, dishes, or vacuuming, there is always something to do. I volunteer several days a week at school. I enjoy being able to help out in the classrooms. And of course, what mom doesn’t have her own taxi service. Carting the kids here and there is a full time job in itself. Most days I love my job, but you will find the occasional day when I feel overwhelmed with it all.

Justin will be turning 14 in February. He is in 8th grade, his last year in middle school. He is growing into an amazing young man. He loves sports and seems to have natural talent. In the spring he ran track, and he enjoyed his last year of modified football in the fall. He just ended a basketball season and wrestling starts soon, along with another basketball league. He is quite the athlete! He started taking guitar lessons in the spring. He is really enjoying it and is learning quickly. He is hoping to play in the worship band at church after the new year. I think his favorite thing by far though, is helping his dad with the farming. He is really enjoying the time that they have gotten to spend together on this new endeavor. Over the summer, he was lucky enough to be able to spend some time in Virginia at Grandpa and Grandma Cook’s home. He had a good time helping out on the farm and spending time with his grandparents, whom he doesn’t get to see often. Justin has a big heart for others, I am so proud of the young man he is becoming!

Darren is 12 and in 7th grade. He has awesome leadership skills and is very strong academically. He maintains high honor roll status every marking period, with little effort. He also enjoys sports, though for him it’s more a mind game than a physical strength. He does well at anything he sets his mind to. In the spring he played Little League, which he loves. He played football in the fall also. He was able to play as quarterback, which he was very excited about. He played on the 7th grade modified basketball team and played really well for his first year. He too, will be wrestling and playing in another basketball league. Art is one of his favorite past times. He is neat and tidy and a great organizer. I have no idea where he gets that from! Darren has been blessed the past two summers to spend some time in Baltimore with his great-uncle and aunt, Mark and Linda Cook. They were kind enough to host him and take him to camp. That has been a great experience for him!

Garrett is 9 and in 4th grade. This is his last year before moving up to middle school. Garrett continues to surprise me with his witty humor. He is very strong academically. He enjoys history and science and also enjoys reading. He is on an Odyssey of the Minds team for the second year now. He is great at abstract thinking, which I’m pretty sure he gets from his dad, because I’m definitely stuck in a box. He is a sweet and sensitive guy, who has a big heart for others. He tries hard to keep up with his brothers. Physically, he doesn’t stand a chance, but mentally he can give them a run for their money. Garrett isn’t as fond of sports, but he did play Little League in the spring and is improving each year. He was also able to spend some time in Virginia with Grandpa and Grandma over the summer. He was excited to help Grandpa milk.

Taylor is 8 and in 3rd grade. She loves anything girly, yet isn’t afraid to catch frogs and dig for worms with her brothers. She does her best to keep the boys in line. She played softball for Little League in the spring and did very well. She really enjoyed it! This year she is also part of an Odyssey of the Minds team. She is shy and quiet, but has some good ideas if we can get her to open up a little bit. She is very strong-willed at home, yet quite reserved everywhere else. She is my special girl!

Ryan is 7 and in 2nd grade. He is full of energy and life. He chose to play soccer in the spring, but was one of the oldest kids in the league and tended to run circles around the other kids. I can see that he will be quite the athlete when he gets older. He was able to go spend part of the summer in Baltimore with Darren this year also. He was a little homesick to start, but that soon wore off and he had a great time at camp. He enjoys playing games and building legos. He also collects baseball cards, which is one of his favorite things. He would love to play many more sports, but we will not allow him to until he is a little older. I’m trying to hard to slow down the growing process, but it hasn’t worked so far.

As we head forward to 2012, with the new circumstances with Hunter’s job, we are forced to have a new dependence on God. In areas of our lives that we try to control ourselves, we will undoubtedly have to lean on Him. I often say that Hunter is the sole provider for our family, but in reality God is the provider of all. Pray that we learn to depend on Him for all of our needs and that we find new strength in Him. Please, pray God’s peace and wisdom in our lives and for continuing growth and knowledge in His Word.

May the new year bring you a new-found peace and hope in Him.

The following video is our year in photos…

Update on our Giving

We were able to buy gifts for Golisano’s Children’s Hospital in Syracuse. The kids had a great time choosing gifts. We allotted them a certain amount of money and let them choose the gifts. They really enjoyed it! It was great to see the thought that they put into their choices. We delivered the gifts to the hospital a week before Christmas. We weren’t able to give them directly to the kids, which we understood before we began. All in all, it was a great experience for the family to be able to give to others in that way.

The Heart of a Child

It never fails, every year at Christmastime, I am humbled by my children. I know some people get tired of hearing mothers “brag” about their kids, but there are definitely times when we are entitled to bragging rights, and I feel this is one of them.

Each year, when I request Christmas lists from my kids, I am blessed by their precious little hearts.

Here are the lists I received this year – word for word.

    Taylor’s Christmas List

0 CDs Kids Worship
1 Radio that works with CDs
2 Sneakers (hers are worn out)
3 Stroller for my baby dolls
4 To Obey

And to
be
nice, kind and most important one is number 4 to obey. Please help me with that. Love,Tay

    Ryan’s Christmas List

Lego City things
Bey Blades
Baseball Cards

    Garrett’s List

pillow
sleeping bag
blanket
alarm clock

When I received Garrett’s list, I said ” Hey bud, you have pillows, a sleeping bag and lots of blankets, why are they on your list?” His reply was “Yeah, I don’t really need anything, but an alarm clock.”

    Darren’s List

1 Capo
2 music stand
3 mp3 player ( note he didn’t ask for an iPod)
4 Hunter’s safety course with Dad

    Justin’s list

new drawstring backpack
paint ball/air soft stuff

As the kids get older, their lists tend to get more complicated and pricey. I am so proud of my two older boys. Justin and Darren are highly deprived compared to today’s “normal” middle schoolers, or so the world would say. They don’t have cell phones, iPods, laptops or any of the things most kids have today. They don’t have an xbox, a Playstation and a ds. We don’t have TV. They don’t spend hours playing video games or texting friends. Although they would like to have some of these things, they are respectful of our decisions and appreciate and understand the reasons we don’t allow them to have everything their little hearts desire.

If you read my blog “Giving and Thanksgiving”, you know that we received an unexpected check in the mail last week and are planning to give it away. With everything that was in me, I did NOT want to let go of it. When we talked to the kids about this money, I told them how difficult it was for me to accept that God wanted us to give this money away. It is a great learning moment when kids see that their parents are imperfect and they can confess their shortcomings and struggles. We asked them if they had some ideas of what we should do with the money, and they did. They came up with two ideas. One was take gifts to a nursing home, the other was a children’s hospital. We didn’t mention either of these, they came up with them on their own. What big hearts they have!! In the end, they decided that they would like to buy gifts for the kids at the hospital. I have called twice, but haven’t gotten any response. I’m hoping this will work out. I know it will bless their hearts. I’m so proud of my amazing children and their desire to help others!

We as parents are supposed to be teaching our children, but so often, I learn from them. We have set guidelines for our children and expect them to abide by them, however many times, we don’t live up to these expectations ourselves. Example: I don’t like the kids to listen to secular music. I believe it fills their heads with garbage, yet there are times when the kids aren’t around and I turn the radio to a secular station. Do I think that I am somehow above the negative influence of secular music? Of course not! Why then, do I do this? Why would I watch a movie that I don’t want my 13-year-old to watch? Do I feel I am above being influenced by secular culture? Do I put others before myself, others outside of my family?

Let’s humble ourselves before our children and before God. Mark 10:15 says “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

God, soften my heart and open eyes. I long to have a child-like faith. Thank you so much for blessing me with five wonderful children. I give them all to you. Continue to fill their hearts with a strong love and compassion for others and a desire to be kingdom builders. I know You have great things in store for them. Give me strength and wisdom as I raise them for You!! Each day is a new challenge. Give me courage to rise above the day-to-day battles and overcome the challenges you have set before me. Give me a contented heart so that I may have true joy in this life You have given me.