Sunday, June 10, 2012

On Our Way

Well, the countdown is on.  Just two more days and we are on our way to Guatemala.  After months of thinking about it the time is finally here!

Josiah and Courtney will be helping with the children while the adults are in the med clinic...and me, well, that is still a mystery.  Once we get there I'll find out where I am needed most, but it is possible I'll have the opportunity to work in the lab.  I told my parents about that possibility today and they laughed.  Well, you see there is a history with me and labs...

When I was a little girl I was anemic and had to get several iron shots that I didn't respond well to...and then there was the pre-kindergarten incident.  When it was time for shots before going to school I was very upset (maybe because of all my previous iron shots) and I threw a crying fit in the doctor's office.  After awhile the nurse said, "Fine, you don't have to get a shot" and she walked out of the room.  I was so relieved and I stopped crying.  However, the next thing that happened scarred me for nurse grabbed me from behind and the other nurse came at me with that fearful needle and I responded by fainting.  After that whenever I even saw I needle I would faint.  I even fainted when my younger sister got her ears pierced because it looked like a needle too! 

Over the years God has worked on me and my fears.  I think of all the time I spent at Children's Hospital with Whitney and all the pokes and procedures done to her during her time there.  God gave me the strength to be there by her side, witnessing it all, and never faining.  He gave me the strength to stand beside her and trust Him even though I didn't understand everything that was going on inside her precious little body. 

I think of all the verses I've reciting over and over again in my head when I've had to have procedures done on me..."For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100:5  Over time I discovered that if I kept talking it was virtually impossible to faint as see, you can't hold your breath when you keep talking! 

This will be an adventure and I can't wait to see how God uses the next 10 days to draw my children closer to Him as they are able to share His love with children in Guatemala.  I am also excited to know that God may choose to use me during this time to sit in a lab, a place I would never have anticipated many years ago,  and work for His glory!   

Monday, April 16, 2012


The phone call jarred me out of my peace.  As I answered the phone and listened to the voice on the other end, stone upon stone was hurled upon my heart.  "You are a failure!"  "You will never be good enough."  The taunts continued.  How I wanted to take the phone and in anger thrust it back upon the receiver.

Words.  Words flowing like a flood.  A torrent of emotion overflowing the banks.  Trying to grasp on to truth I am swept downstream in the murk, trying to keep my head above the water.  Struggling against the current I try to reach solid ground.  In desperation I reach out to a tree that has remained anchored on the bank.   Clinging to the branch I will myself to hold on, to survive. 

When the flood finally recedes, I am left to witness the damage.  Where beauty once resided, ugliness has taken its place.  Things uprooted and unearthed in the flood lay gnarled and withered in its wake.  Things have changed, never to return to their same beauty.  Trees downed in the flood will never be re-rooted.  New things will grow, but the landscape has changed. 

Tears flow freely now, it's natural with loss.  But the challenge before me is how to weather this storm?  Flinging stones and becoming my own flood will only cause more destruction and heartache.  Innocents would also be affected.  For a flood always does more damage than can be anticipated. 

The key isn't found in forging the river and forcing it to return to its normal banks.  It is found in forgiveness.  The one throwing the stones may never seek forgiveness.  But I know that in me deciding to forgive the offense will bring healing to my own heart and allow me to follow the steps of the Savior back to a place of peace and wholeness.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Parenting in Pain

Sitting on the edge of the bed I reach for the Kleenex box.  Once again I am in tears.  Tears from pain and the inability to handle it on my own.  Parenting isn't for the weak at heart, and parenting with an incurable illness takes the hand of God.

For years I have struggled with a disease that no one can see.  "No cause, no cure" is what the doctors say.  Prescriptions have been tried with horrible consequences...crushing chest pain, the inability to break down the medication so it becomes toxic in my system and many others. 

When a body, designed by God, turns against itself, life gets complicated.  And parenting in the midst of it all takes on challenges of its own.  Some days are spent with me cocooned on the couch, trying my best to still be mom and invest in the lives of my children.  Some days things appear fine and we go about as usual.  However, the fear is always there, "When will it strike again?" 

Questions of, "How are you today?" are often met with half-truths.  On the outside I appear fine but inside my body can be wracked with pain.  There are a few who have learned to read the cues and can tell when all is not right, but I don't want to be someone constantly complaining about hurting. 

If you have ever experienced the contractions that go along with labor, you can begin to identify with my almost daily struggle.  The pain comes in waves of intensity, sometimes easily overlooked, other times causing me to double over in trying to deal with it. 

Stress can cause this disease to flare up, so one challenge in parenting with this illness is to parent in a healthy way, avoiding added stress.  (Hmmm, with teenagers?)

I confess I have questioned God many times, "I know you can heal, why haven't you healed me?"  It plagued me for years and infected my relationship with Him.  Knowing that He can heal, but hasn't kept me at a distance.  Thankfully, God hasn't given up and me and He has taught me His faithfulness in the midst of my pain. 

One passage of Scripture that ministered to my heart this year was from 2 Corinthians chapter 12.  In this passage Paul spoke of getting a "thorn in his flesh" and "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"  The thing that hit me was that Paul was such a powerful servant of God and had an incredible ministry.  He was close to God and yet, God in His goodness allowed the thorn to remain.  That encouraged my heart.  You see for years I have wondered, "What am I doing wrong?"  and "Maybe there is something still in my life that God wants to prune first."  I kept thinking that if only I could do something better, then maybe I could be healed.  This verse changed my perspective completely.  Paul was not perfect, none of us are, but I believe He had such an intimate relationship with God and yet God allowed his thorn to remain.  So it's not just that I need to "get it right" but that I need to trust Him through it.

Today I believe was a break through.  As I was sitting on the edge of the bed crying, I was also praying and surrendering...with all my will to choose His joy in the midst, knowing that He suffered and died to give me life.  Yes, the trial remains, but I do have His grace and mercy to see me through. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Josiah's Calling

Josiah believes that God is calling him to be a missionary.  Recently he attended the World Vision 30 hour famine at our church and this is his story...

During the 30 hour famine I learned how God can use just a little to do a lot, and how very little people in different parts of Africa and other countries have.  Often time in American we get caught up in all our own stuff and never take time to listen to God.  However, when we take time to listen we can hear God and listen to what He's calling us to do and to be obedient to follow.

So, as I was saying, when I did the famine at church I felt God touch my heart and felt him opening up my heart to listen to what He had to say.  I heard Him calling me to be a missionary and to open the Word of God to other countries. 

When I got home and then went to church on Sunday I saw the Guatemala mission trip in the bulletin and I thought, "This must not be a coincidence."  So later I asked my mom if I could go to the meeting.  She told me to ask her later so I did.

On Tuesday I asked and we both went and learned more about the mission trip.  We learned that we needed to raise $1800.  So now I would kindly ask if you would like to donate to help us be able to help those in Guatemala who need spiritual and physical help?  We would be grateful.



The mission trip to Guatemala is one led by The Webers from our church.  We will be going as part of a team.  The focus is medical, building, and going to the Palencia school.  Josiah's focus would be working with the children during the time that the adults are in the medical clinics.  The trip is in June

If you are interested in joining Josiah as a partner in the mission trip, you can write a check to First Presbyterian Church and send it to our home address.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On The Way to Africa


31 January 2012

Happy New Year! I can hardly believe that Christmas has already past and I’ve already started my second quarter at college. Last quarter, I became involved with Campus Christian Fellowship and joined a few clubs. I also felt the Lord’s calling to apply for a Jesus Film mission trip to Burundi, Africa. Ever since the Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) US Staff Conference, I’ve had this incomprehensible urge to go to Africa, so I took one of Jesus Film trip brochures. Although finances were tight and I was uncertain of my future, I was convinced that God wanted me to apply.

About a month later, during Thanksgiving break, I received my acceptance email. I am going to Africa. Every time I say those words, this giant rush of joy and excitement runs through me. I have no doubt that God has wanted me to go all along, and I am exited to see him working through me and the rest of my team in Burundi.

Burundi is a small African country surrounded by Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. My team and I will travel to several rural villages there and put on showings of the Jesus Film in the native languages. Burundi has three official languages—French, Rundi, and Swahili—plus countless other dialects. I’m currently learning a bit of French, but we will have translators to help us communicate with the people. Some of the people we will reach will never have heard the gospel before, and I get to share that with them!

As excited as I am about Burundi, I cannot go alone. This trip will cost about $4000, more than I have in my bank account. I hope that you will pray about supporting me both spiritually and financially. A gift of $50, $100, $300—or however much you feel led to give—would help tremendously on my journey. Although you might not be able to go to Burundi personally, helping to send me there will transform lives.

If you choose to send a check, please make it out to Cru and send it to my dorm address.

Thanks so much!

Monday, January 23, 2012

In His Image

Designed to Create...

I remember from my earliest school days writing.  Not sitting down at the school desk and completing assignments but WRITING.  I would create my own books.  I would take two pieces of construction paper and cut out a shape and then cut lined papers to match the shape and write within the pages of that book.  They were adventure stories, with me of course, being the main character of my book.   My heart's desire was to create...and maybe someday, to have my name on the outside binding of a book.  Published. 

Heading off to college that dream died quickly.  No, I didn't head into my college years with the vision of becoming an author.  I shot for an attainable goal, to become a teacher. I achieved that goal and went on to teach for several years (and loved it).   But somehow, that love of writing, and the ability to communicate with written words didn't disappear.  For you see, it wasn't just a crazy notion, it was how I was designed. 

In His Image.  In Genesis 1:26 God said, "Let us make man in our image..."

What does that mean?  Does it mean I look just like him?  No, but I was made to be like him, his nature, his character. Of course, that was all damaged in the fall, and man forever since has been trying to be god himself, rather than to reflect his Creator. 

However we all have this innate desire to create, to build, to bring beauty...all because we are made to be like Him, our Creator

I see it in the hands of my boys and their creations...Lego's, first built to look like the picture on the box, and then taking on a new design to fit their dreams on that day.  I see it in my little girls that love to draw and color.  I see it in the fingers of my oldest, who has spent untold hours clicking away at the keyboard, on her way to be an author.  (She has written several books and is hopefully on the way to get this one published!) 

Over the years my writing has been mostly in journals and prayer letters.  Occasionally I'll come up with a new idea and run with it, but at this season motherhood is in full swing.  I have no doubt that God has given me a love to write for His purpose and glory.  Someday maybe I'll write that book and be published...or maybe my love of writing will carried on into the next generation and I'll see my dream fulfilled in the lives of my children. 

Of course I do have works in progress...and maybe once Courtney gets published, I'll be on the way too!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

An Unsettled Heart

A quiet morning at home...the oldest 4 are out of the house, the youngest 3 are playing quietly together, and hubby is on his way home from a trip.  The peace is wonderful, so why is my heart unsettled?

I've spoken with my mom and sister on the phone, tried calling a friend, but that longing in my heart to connect, to really connect with another has been unmet.  I pick up the phone and try again, only to be greeted with another automated message. 

Perhaps in my longing to connect this morning I've neglected to connect with the One who made my heart, the One alone who can fulfill all my desires.      

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? 
 Why so disturbed within me? 
 Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God."
  Psalm 42:5

I think it is time to put down the phone, pick up the Word and prepare to meet with God .

Sunday, January 15, 2012

One Thousand Gifts

Some time last year someone mentioned the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  The title intrigued me and I picked it up thinking it would be a great read.  Although it was a great book to read, it was much more than was a challenge to "live life fully right where I am".  It is a challenge to look at life differently, to see the little things in life that are often missed and to give thanks in them. 

In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 we are instructed to:

"Be joyful always;
pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

In giving thanks it changes the focus off of me and puts my focus back on God.  In giving thanks it causes my heart to grow in contentment rather than in discouragement or complaining.  My list of gratitude has not been just words scrawled across a page in a journal, but in a transformation of heart.  Thankfulness is transformational.  Looking at all of life as a gift is a gift in itself. 

My list of One Thousand began with...

  1. Blue sky peeking through the clouds
  2. Hugs from children
  3. Laughter
  4. Flowers waiting to be born
  5. Trees waiting for spring to burst into bloom
  6. Eyes with which to see (and read)
  7. Children learning to read
  8. Sharpened pencils
  9. My husband
  10. God who has blessed us with His Gift

At the beginning of 2012, when I decided to do things a little differently with my children, I got them journals too and together we are recording the things that we are choosing to be thankful for.  What a treasure it is to begin our school day with 5-10 minutes of us taking time to reflect on and record the gifts in our lives.  To me, it has been an incredible gift to treasure these moments with my children and to encourage them in giving of thanks.  To see my children growing in thankfulness is a GIFT! 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

An Innocent Spill

"QUICK!  GRAB THE B-B-Q SAUCE!" I said to Caleb who had accidentally let it slip from his hands.  Unfortunately it had landed on the floor vent with the cap off and b-b-q sauce was quickly spilling from the opened container. 

The vent on the floor is perfectly situated for keeping us cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  Many times little feet can be found standing on it to warm up during the cold, winter months. 

It does however, have a major drawback.  Being so close to the kitchen table the vent also collects a lot of crumbs.  Tiny pieces of scraps that fall during a meal, or that are inadvertently swept in the wrong direction by a careless child are quickly gathered into its depths. 

After Caleb grabbed the bottle off the vent I took off the cover to wash it.  What I found underneath the vent cover was disgusting! Crumbs, dust, debris had been slowly building up over time unnoticed.  (Yes, it has been cleaned out several times before!)  But then I began to much of my life is like that vent?

Daily I go about my tasks letting little things slip in angry thought, a disappointment, a frustration with a situation.  Rather than taking it to the Lord, the crumbs fall into the hidden places of my heart and are forgotten.

Over time, my life may appear fine on the outside, but the inside is another story.  The crumbs don't just sit there innocently.  They cause the diseases of the heart to grow, to multiply.  And those little crumbs don't just stay put.  They come out in other ways...a harsh word, a lack of peace, discontentment, a critical spirit.

Just like the vent cover needed to be removed and the insides vacuumed out, so my heart also needs to be cleansed through confession of my sin and the work of the Holy Spirit. 

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."
Psalm 139:23-24

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins and purify us from
any unrighteousness."
1 John 1:9

How thankful I am for God's forgiveness and grace.  Now, if I'd only remember to have Him check the "vent cover" of my heart a little more frequently!

Friday, January 6, 2012

An Encouragement for Moms

As a mom, it is so easy to get discouraged by the daily challenges of life and motherhood.  But how would you like a chance to get away and be encouraged by other women? 

In March, why not attend MomLife's Bootcamp at Pine Cove in Tyler, Texas?  Check out the video on the right sidebar to find out more about what MomLife Bootcamp is all about.

And, better yet, how about if you could win free registration for the event?  Check it out today.  Go to MomLife Boot Camp Giveaway and leave a comment to be entered to win!  I hope you do! 

Monday, January 2, 2012


Yesterday I shared about prayer and my commitment to pray daily for my children using the book  
While They Are Sleeping: 12 Character Traits to Pray for Your Child.  Today, I had an inspiration of how to help develop the character qualities in my children using the poster and certificate set that corresponds with the book.   Each poster has one of the character qualities, what it means, and also a verse that goes along with it.

I covered the posters with contact paper and hung them near the table where we do school.  The character quality will not only be the focus of my prayers for my children, but it will also be the focus of the teaching for the same amount of time. 

FamilyLife also has some beautiful certificates to go along with each of the character qualities.  But, with seven children, the organization of award certificates is more than I realistically wanted to deal I decided to cover the certificate with contact paper as well and place it on the wall next to the poster.  When I see a child consistently exhibiting a particular character quality, I will write their name on the certificate with a dry erase marker.  That way I can reuse the certificates and give incentives for my children to actively participate in the quality we are studying. 

I also thought I would allow my older children to look for ways other siblings are showing the character quality and let them write a name on the certificate as well.  Not only would it help them learn to look for kindness (for example) but it would help them to continue to cultivate kindness in their hearts as they look for it in the lives of their brothers and sisters. 

How do you help your children grow in kindness? 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Confession

Okay, I'll admit it.  One area I am weak in is prayer.  I love to spend time reading and studying the Bible.  I love to write and contemplate, but when it comes to prayer I get so easily distracted. 

Perhaps it is the little ones that seem to get up just when I should be praying.  Maybe it is the older ones that are preparing for school. Or maybe it is because prayer is a battle.  It isn't just a battle to pray, but when we pray when enter the battle for the hearts and minds of our children. 

When our oldest ones were little and went to bed early, Tom and I would go into their rooms after they were asleep and pray over them.  We were united and our children were covered in prayer.  As life got busy, somehow this important event got put on the back burner.  It wasn't that we weren't praying, but it was no longer consistent and intentional.  Prayer became more of a 911 emergency call, rather than consistently planting and weeding a garden. 

One book that I have decided to use this year to help in my prayers for my children is While They are Sleeping: 12 Character Traits to Pray for Your Child.  It is a beautiful book focused on consistent prayer and application.  There are 12 chapters, each focused on one character trait with five days of prayer per trait.  There is also you and me time, live it out, and a journal area to record answers that you see to your prayers. 

I like the idea of focusing on kindness, humility, teachability, forgiveness, obedience, discernment, purity, responsibility, courage, servanthood, contentment, and endurance.  I know that at the end of this year I will see a difference in my children, but I will be different as well.  Prayer does that.  It changes the situation, but more importantly it changes the one praying.  Spending time at the feet of Jesus does that. 

I am excited for this adventure.  Anyone else want to join me this year as we consistently lift our children before the Lord?


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