Monday, November 7, 2011

Why I am home, and not in El Salvador

It's been awhile since I've posted, and I've mostly decided to put blogging on hold.  BUT...today is the day that I was supposed to leave for El Salvador.  And for those of you who have heard I stayed home, and for those of you who are finding out right now, I feel like I should at least say something.

But...I don't know what to say.  I'm very, very sad.  And hurt.  And confused.  And trying to stay focused on God's plans and desires, and not spend too much time crying about the things I wanted that obviously weren't a part of His plan.

I did pay for my trip in full.  The Lord provided, even going above and beyond and allowing me to help a couple other people from my church.  But at almost the last minute, a situation arose and I had to make the very hard decision to stay home.  I cannot say more than that, and I am very grateful to those that have prayed and not questioned me.   I hope and pray that I will be able to accompany my church the next time they travel to El Salvador.  And I would appreciate prayers for myself and my kiddos right now.

I do know that sometimes we don't understand the "why" behind God's plans.  And that things make a lot more sense when we look back on them, compared to how they look as we're walking through them.  I thank and praise the Lord for the faith I've gained and the relationship I have with Him.  Even though I am sad, I'm not discouraged.  Nor have I lost my joy.  And although there is a lot of confusion and a need for wisdom and discernment coming, I am not afraid.  I pray all things in my life, good and bad,  are used for His Glory and I believe wholeheartedly that they will be.  I know He holds all things in His hands, and He knows my heart and my mind and He walks with me.  So no matter what, I will not deny Him or turn from His plans.  Am I weary at times?  Yes.  Stressed?  Absolutely.  Do I wish that life was easy??  Of course I do!  Those feelings are so very, very normal and He is gracious and loving and He understands.  That's when His peace and love are the most comforting.

So, that is all I can say.  I really wish I was arriving in El Salvador along with the other 16 or so people from my church.  But I am here, in Michigan, and I am okay.  I'm sad, but it's okay to be sad.  I don't know the future, but He does.  And it's such a wonderful feeling to know that I just have to obey and He will take care of the rest, even when I don't understand what the plan is.  

So thank you for your prayers.  Thank you for all the support.  I have been blessed with some amazing people in my life and I love you dearly.

And I pray the Lord blesses each of your lives, as you have each blessed mine.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Amerie's New Haircut




Someone got a new haircut!!!  We're loving it.  :)  She's had hair past her waist for a couple of years, but we were both tired of the battle every morning to brush it.  The only way to prevent tangles was to braid it, but I was getting tired of that every day, too.  


I like this length better.  :)  It's long enough to braid, but short enough to not look scraggly.  It's perfect!!!

A night out with Aimee.

It's 8:04 on Monday morning.  I'm still in pajama pants, sipping my coffee.  3 kids are watching Jake & the Neverland Pirates, 2 are sleeping and will be woken soon, and 1 more will be here in a couple hours.  It's raining, and the weekend was long.  It's slow-moving so far, but soon we'll be really busy.  :-P 

While I sip my french vanilla yumminess, I want to share my Friday evening.  The whole weekend went differently than I had planned, but I'll just share my Friday night.  :)

On Friday, Aimee and I went to a Secret Keeper Girl conference at a local church.  It was a pig pajama party for moms and their daughters, to talk about modesty in today's culture. 

The conference was good.  I don't feel like it got really deep, but it definitely opened the door to future talks between Aimee and I.  

The evening, however...UGH.  I've mentioned before that Aimee's love language is quality time, so I took the evening and tried to make it really special.  She's been under a lot of stress lately, and really needed some mommy+Aimee time.  Unfortunately, everything fell apart.  :(

Since the conference was a pajama party, and pajamas were on sale at Target, I asked Aimee if she wanted to get matching pajamas (unfortunately, I didn't think of the idea until the day of).  I knew it would be a really special idea to her, and she immediately jumped on it.  After, on the way to the conference, we planned on having chicken nuggets and chocolate shakes at McD's (her favorite meal).  Simple plans, but very special.  :)

We ran off to Target around 5:00, the earliest we could get there (the conference started at 6:30).  It took us some serious searching, but we found matching pajama bottoms and matching clearance tops that made a cute little outfit.  Just to be sure everything fit and "looked good" (Aimee's BIG concern), we headed to the fitting room.  I could tell by all her giggling and smiling that she was having a great time.  :)  And the pajamas fit perfect and passed her "cute" inspection.  Lol.  So we ran to the check-out, entering a time crunch, and rushed out of Target.  On the way home, we stopped to get pizza for Papa and the other kids, who would all be at home for the evening.  By this time, it was just before 6:00.  My original intent for the day had been to get to the conference at 5:30, when doors opened, so save a seat for our friends Gretchen and Megan, but it didn't work out in the course of my day.  So in my mind, we were already late...

When we got home, we flew upstairs to my room to change into our new pajamas.  Aimee was so excited.  I wanted to wrap her up in a big, tight hug.  It made me so happy to see my girl so happy. 

And then we discovered that Aimee's shirt wasn't in the Target bag.  I searched all over, thinking I had dropped it or overlooked it or SOMETHING, anything but the shirt still being at Target. 

In desperation, I grabbed the reciept...

I had never paid for the shirt.   :(

At this point, Aimee started to cry.  I told her she had a few options.  We could just wear matching pajama pants, and different sweatshirts.  We could wear regular clothes.  Or we could run back to Target and buy her top, but that would most likely make us a little late.  She opted to run back to Target, so we ran out the door in regular clothes, hoping we could find a matching top and find a place to change before the conference.

We got to Target at 6:20.  I ran back to the rack, that an hour before had several of the shirts we were looking for.  Aimee ran to the food court to buy us pretzels and Dr. Pepper's, since we were both starving and at this point McD's would have to wait until after the conference. 

I couldn't find the shirt.  Not one, in any size (of course).  I ran back to the fitting room, thinking we had dropped it somewhere and it was there.  Nothing.  I checked every rack they had, and couldn't find a single shirt like mine.  In 45 minutes, Target had sold each of the 6 or 7 gray screen-print tees.

I walked back to the front of the store wanting to cry.  I knew how excited Aimee had been, and now we were late and we didn't even have a shirt to make up for our tardiness.  When she saw me empty handed, she started to cry.  

"Nothing ever works out!!" she said.  "I always get excited about something and then it never works out!!"

The feeling I had in my chest was a horrible one.  I had wanted this evening to be so special and it was blowing up in my face.  She's been through so much, more than a girl her age should go through, and this evening was supposed to be special.  I knew it wouldn't fix anything, or make up for the stress in her life, but I had so badly wanted to give her a special evening with her mama.

As we walked back to the car, I tried to think of something comforting and wise to say.  I think that's the hardest part in parenting.  It's not the continuous use of patience, the sleepless nights, or the busyness they bring to your life.  It's trying to think of the right things to say when their little hearts are breaking, even though you're just as hurt and confused as they are.  I had prayed and prayed that the Lord would bless the evening and it would be something she would remember for ever.  This was so not what I had in mind.

We headed to the conference, Aimee crying during the drive.  I told her that the evening could still be special and to not give up hope.  We talked about choices we have (choosing to persevere and not let the circumstances bring us down), we talked about how Satan can try to screw things up for us, but God can make good come out of everything.  We had a really, really good talk and I could see her calming down and finding comfort.  She told me that she wasn't going to let it get her down, and she was still really excited about the conference.  I told her we'd get our chocolate shakes on the way home, and she said she was at least grateful that Target pretzels are super yummy.  :)

The conference was good.  She had fun with Megan, and also Charity, another friend from church.  The girls giggled and danced and clapped.  It was a fun time.

We said our goodbyes 2 1/2 hours later, jumped in the van, and headed to McDonald's for chocolate shakes.  The drive-thru line was slowwwww, so slow that the car in front of us drove off before he could even place his order.  It was after 9:00, and I knew my dad was expecting us home any second.  Papa loves his grandbabies, but 3 hours with them can wear anyone out.  :)

And then Papa called.

"Where are you?"

"We just got out, and we'll be home in a minute.  Is everything okay?"

"Well," he said.  "Amerie was playing and waited too long to go potty.  She peed all over the floor and I can't see it to clean it up."

For those who don't know, my father is visually impaired.  He can build decks and redo bathrooms and make really good omelets for the kids.  But this situation was a little out of his comfort zone.  I knew I needed to head home.

I looked at Aimee and asked if she'd take a rain check.  There was no way we'd make it through this drive thru in less than 20 minutes.  I told her that one night during the next week, I would put her siblings in bed and head out to get chocolate shakes just for me and her.  She said that was okay, since the evening was so messed up anyway (and when I picked her up from her dad's last night, she told me that she had thought about it and liked that idea better, because it gave us another evening with something special to do).  But it really bothered us both that so much had gone wrong in one evening.  :(

On Saturday, after i dropped the kids off at their dad's house, i went back to Target.  Hanging on the clearance rack, right on the end, was one little shirt in an XS.  It had to have been the shirt.  Her shirt.  The one that should have been in our hands Friday night.  I bought it anyway, knowing that it didn't fix what happened the night before, but at least we'd still have matching pajamas.  

We're going to try for another fun evening in October, after El Salvador is paid off.  She's worried that the evening will somehow screw up, too, but we 're going to see a movie and have dinner, on a Saturday.  It's hard for something like that to get messed up.  Plus, when we look back on Friday, it was still a really good evening in spite of what happened.  We grew a little closer, in choosing to persevere together.  She enjoyed the time with her mom and her friends and the conference. 

I don't know why Friday played out like it did.  I had prayed and prayed that it would be special, and yet it seemed like everything fell apart.  One thing Aimee and I talked about, in the ride between Target and the conference, is that we have to trust that God is in control and has good in mind no matter what happens.  I had prayed about the evening, given it to Him, and we live within His will.  Which means that nothing in our lives happens without Him overseeing it and keeping His eye on the big picture.  We'll probably never understand the "why" behind some events in our life, but it's a huge comfort to know that God is still in control.  Bad things (big or small) don't happen because God "forgets about us" for a moment.  He's always watching, always in control.

Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."  We love Him, and we live for His purpose.  So we have to trust Him when things seem to "fall apart." It's not an easy thing to do, but there's a comfort in it.  My girl learned that firsthand on Friday. 

And in October, we'll have another evening together.  Aimee and I are both looking forward to it.  Maybe it will seem "perfect," or maybe it will fall apart again.  But no matter what, God already has it in His hands and He's working all things out for our good.  It's such a comforting thing to know.  :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lexi's Favorite Song








Here's your daily dose of cuteness!!!!  I love this girly more than words can describe.  :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An update on life and the El Salvador trip :)

A month.  It's been a whole MONTH since I last blogged.  And it's been a crazy busy month.  :)

First, we started school.  :D  I took lots of pictures on my mom's camera, but I'm so technologically challenged, it might be awhile before I get them on here...

So...here's the only pic I took on my phone!  ;-)
 
Isn't she a cutie?? 

The kids like school.  I'm still working on getting them to do schoolwork without complaining when they don't feel like it.  We're getting better about finding a routine, and the kids learned firsthand that when emergencies pop up, schoolwork still has to be completed.  Monday, Lex ended up with double ear infections and we made a trip to the doctor's office.  Even when we were home,  she was crying and clingy and we didn't get much work done. So yesterday's load was a little heavier than normal.

We also got Andrew his first pair of glasses!!  I think he looks SO handsome!
He's needed them for awhile, much longer than I thought.  For those familiar with prescription numbers, Andrew has one eye that's a -2, and his other eye is -5.  Since his eyes are so different, he's probably been using the stronger eye almost exclusively.  Hopefully the corrected vision will help strengthen his weaker eye, but he may need a patch over his good one to force his "blurry eye" to see on it's own.  Poor buddy.  :(  But he likes his new glasses, that are styled like a race car.  :)  We had to special order them, and thankfully they were still covered under our insurance.  He was not happy about glasses, but race car glasses??  He made an exception.  :)

Another thing I've been busy with is preparing the house for winter.  I pulled out all of our winter clothes, assesed what we have and have been adding what we don't have.  It's a task I have a lot of fun with.  :)  Aimee likes to help, too.  Yesterday she asked me repeatedly if she could be done with school so she could "clean her room."  She wants my copy of Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook, and reads it for pleasure.  Lol.  Crazy girl.  :)

In searching through clothes for this winter, I pulled out all of my 3T clothing for Lexi.  She'll be 3 in December, so she should be growing into it soon.  Somehow, I came up a little short in outfits for her, so I took advantage of a Target sale.  Lexi LOVES kitties, polka dots, and the color purple.  They had outfits in all 3!!  And even though I say it too much, I'll say it again...my baby is a peanut.  I'm very thankful for this, but it's kind of funny.

This is Lexi in 3T pants...
 They hardly stay up, 'cuz she's so thin.  I don't know what we'll do when she's finally potty trained and no longer has a diaper to hold her pants up!!

This is a pair of 2T pants I purchased by mistake...
I ended up keeping them.  :)  I'm sure they won't fit for long, but I can't believe how long the 3T's are!!

My El Salvador trip is coming up fast, too.  I just realized this morning that it's less than 2 months away.  I am SO NERVOUS.  I think the hardest part by far will be leaving my kiddos at home for that long.  Aimee's already cried buckets of tears over it.  I've never been away from them for more than a few days, and the trip is 9 days long.  I've been preparing them that they will kiss me goodnight on Sunday, and they probably won't see me until the next Wednesday.  Of course, the younger ones don't understand time like that.  But they understand it's long.  :(  I love me babies so much.  It will be hard to be gone for so long.

And as for the funding of the trip...THANK YOU to those wonderful people out there who have donated!!  I've received about $600 in donations towards the trip, some anonymous (so know that I am grateful to your generosity, even if I can't mail you a thank you!!!!) and some from people I'm blessed to call "friend."  I have 2 1/2 weeks left before the final payment is due, and I still owe $485.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sweating a little bit (lol), but I'm trusting in God to provide.  He ALWAYS provides, and I know He called me on this trip and assured me He would provide.  It might make me a little nervous, but He's still got it in His hands!!  :D  I will definitely be posting a blog once my trip is paid off, and when I return I will post all about it.  If I can, I'll post while I'm there, but again...technologically challenged.  ;-) 

As I end this post, I just want to say one little thing...I don't know how things come out in my posts to those who read them.  I always assume things come out exactly like I meant it.  :)  But I just want to say, in case it hasn't come across in full, that this El Salvador trip has been a HUGE act of faith, in so many ways. 

First and foremost, I can't afford to go.  At all.  Only by the intervention of the Lord has this trip been funded.  I love any opportunity to bring the Lord Glory and to be used by Him, but this is definitely one of those times when my faith was tested and stretched.  I actually panicked at one point and said I wasn't going and that it had "become impossible."  I'm not proud of it, but I did it, when I had lost my income.  And then I put my faith in Him and His promises and His reassurance that He would provide.  Nothing is impossible for God, even if it seems impossible to us.  :) And He has been providing!!  The $485 in the next 17 days seems like a lot, but I know it will be provided.  God is amazing.  And I love being a part of the Lord at work.  :)

I also need to have faith in leaving my children.  Not only will it be incredibly hard (I don't even know if I'll get to call home...), but my plan for their care taking has fallen through a little bit.  I had planned on the kids staying with Nana and Papa, but Nana is now working part time.  We're happy for Nana's new job.  :)  But I'm leaving in less than two months and my "have to have a plan" personality is a little uncomfortable with this plan being up in the air a little bit.  :)  But again, God had this all in His hands from the beginning and I need to trust in Him...

So...that's most of our life right now.  I'm hoping to get back to blogging, because I've come to enjoy it.  :)  I have several trips planned for the kids, too, and I want to start posting about those.  I really need to figure out the camera.  :-P

Have a blessed day!  :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Julie's "5 Things"

I called my friend Julie last night.  She's the friend from church who loans us our Sonlight materials, and I had to share my really cool Monday morning surprise with her.  If you missed it on facebook, I'll share it here...

In this post from Sunday night, I talked about our box from Sonlight arriving and how excited the kids and I are to start school.  In my moment of amazement at how the Lord works and extreme gratitude at His provision and everything that He has done in mine and the kids lives, I sent an email off to Luke Holzmann (and everyone at Sonlight), thanking them for their incredible curriculum and their part in how far we have come.  I figured Sonlight, like every other incredible company, gets bombarded with emails every day.  The best I was hoping for was simply that my email would get read, by someone who cared about what I wrote.  On Monday morning, I received an email back informing me that my email had been posted as one of the blog posts on the Sonlight blog for Monday!!  I couldn't believe how cool that was.  :)  You can read my email/post on the Sonlight blog here.

The other reason I called Julie was that she had a "tip," from one mother to another, that she wanted to share with me.  It was so good, I had to share it here.  :)

I mentioned to Julie, in a brief conversation we had at church on Sunday, that I have really been working with my kids to teach them Love and Respect.  I want them to know that the way you treat others should always be with love and respect (we're focusing mostly on our siblings right now ;-), and I've been working with them to show them what that really means.  When they act out in anger and frustration, we discuss examples of loving and respectful responses instead of hitting or yelling or taking an object from their sibling.  It's been about a month of focusing on this lesson and they're starting to "get it."  More than once I've had one of them run to me and tell me how they acted or reacted with one of the behaviors we discussed, pride showing on their beautiful little face.  :)

Julie's tip, that she used with her own children when they were little, was to discuss 5 specific things every morning before they start their day.  By discussing them every morning, it put those 5 things fresh in their minds to refer to throughout the day.  She said they were also a good thing to go over before leaving the house, to remind them to behave with the same goals while out in public.

This list varies slightly from what Julie told me last night, but the beauty of it is that you can adjust it to fit your own family.

The 5 Things:

1.  We love God and respect God.  We obey Him and His Word, and we keep Him above all else in our lives.  We remember to start our day with prayer and bible time, and we pray (talk) to Him throughout the day.

2.  We love and respect our parents.

3.  We love and respect our siblings.

4.  We love and respect our family and our friends.

5.  We remember our manners all day.

You can expand on each item, especially in the beginning.  I expanded on the first one in my list.  You could discuss a few "manners" for them to remember, such as not interrupting adults, keeping "inside voices," etc.  Explain, more than once, what "love" and "respect" mean.  Give examples.  After time, they will remember what you've discussed.  But in the beginning, it's good to remind them.

I went over this list for the first time with my kids this morning.  We counted each item on our fingers, as a visual reference to help them remember over time.  Julie said that in moments when they needed a "reminder" she would put her hand up, fingers open, and ask, "who remembers the 5 things?"  Now that her children are older (aged 7+), she doesn't need to pull out the list of 5 things as much.  They are beyond familiar with it, and it has made a huge impact on how they treat each other.  She also said to remind them that their siblings are their best friends.  Some friends will come and go, but your siblings are your best friends.  Remember that in how you treat them.

After we went over the 5 things this morning, Andrew asked, "Can someone get me a piece of paper please?"  Amerie jumped up and said, "I will!"  When she handed it to him, he told her "thank you."

And then their faces lit up.  "Mommy!!!  I remembered the 5 things!!  I remembered my manners and love and respect!"

I'm sure it's not that easy, but it was so rewarding to see them "get it" right from the start.  And f we continue to discuss the 5 things every morning, they will start remembering throughout the day, as Julie's kids do.  The simple discussion of love and respect has already made an impact on their behavior.  I'm really excited about the 5 things.

And really, really grateful the Lord blessed my life with people like Julie.  :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A lesson in patience

I lost my patience with my little girl this morning.

I was cuddling in my bed with Amerie and Lexi, watching the Disney Channel.  Amerie decided to jump out of my bed to grab something, and in so doing, she knocked the cable adapter plug out of the wall, filling my room with the very loud sound of "tv snow."

It was an accident.  She's 4.  She saw the object she was after and nothing else, in the moment she hopped off my bed.  I should have just plugged the cord back in and we could have gone back to Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

But instead, I snapped at her to be more careful.  And then I plugged the cord back in like it was a huge effort for me to do.

I'm not proud of myself.  I don't even want to admit it here.  But even though I pray daily that I can have an abundance of patience with my kids, especially during times of "childish immaturity,"  sometimes I'm really glad there's no one in the room to see me drop the ball.

After my lovely display, she started to cry.

"Mommy!!" she said, "I'm just a kid!!  I don't know what I'm doing."

Wisdom from a 4 year old.  And words that convicted me quicker than anything else could have.  I've been losing my patience with her a lot lately.  She's my "accident prone" child.  And (one of) my "I hear you, but I'm choosing to ignore you" children.  As much as I'd like to be SuperMom, sometimes I lose my cool.  Even when she's not acting in defiance, just childish immaturity.

As soon as she said those words, my heart broke a little.  I immediately scooped her up onto my lap and told her I was sorry for losing my patience.  I told her I knew that she didn't do it on purpose, and I asked her to forgive me.  She gave forgiveness freely, along with a hug and a kiss.  And then she jumped off my lap like the incident never happened.

I pray every day for the Lord to help me be the best mother I can be for my children.  I pray for patience in all circumstances, wisdom and insight into every situation.  He has provided it more than I had ever hoped for.  I still have moments like this morning, when I behave differently than who I want to be.  But thankfully, I see it for what it is...just a momentary screw up on the road to Christ-likeness.   And an opportunity for me to learn a new lesson. 

And I'm even more thankful that the Lord is a lot more patient with me than I sometimes am with my own children.  He's an awesome example for me to follow.  :)





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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Box Day

I should be in bed.  :)  My babies are asleep, and I'm exhausted after a long week.  But I've been wanting and wanting to get this post out and it's so hard to do when all of my kiddos are awake and "needy."  ;-)

Our school supplies arrived this weekend.  :)  God is ever faithful and true, and He has been so good to the kids and I.  Last year was so hard, but He assured me that this year, and the years to come, would be so much better because I clung to Him through it all. 

One of the blessings, in addition to being able to use free Sonlight books, was the ability to put some money aside and order everything that I needed to have a "complete" curriculum.  Last year was great for what we could handle at the time, but this year I really want to dig deep and challenge the kids and their ability to learn.  I ordered workbooks in areas they struggle, consumable items (those don't get loaned to me), and a few missing items from my shelves.  I even ordered a few books for Lexi that are part of Sonlight's nursery school program. 

Today, after hearing me talk and talk about how much better this year will be and how excited I am about our curriculum for this year, Aimee finally said, "Mom...you've got me wanting to start school.  I'm excited now.  I want to start now."  She has to wait one more week.  :)  I want to have my To-Do list empty before we start, so I have no tasks hanging over my head when we're busy learning.  I've already pulled out and washed all of our winter clothes, and this week I will find room for them in our closets.

But...

Andrew came across one of Aimee's schoolbooks for this year.  It's a chapter book for 4th grade and up, about the Wright brothers and how they came to invent the airplane.  It has a bi-plane on the cover.  If you know Andrew, you know he loves bi-planes.  And jets.  And bombers.  :)  So he asked me to read it to him.  I honestly thought he would be bored after the first few pages.  It's a chapter book, with no pictures.  Just words.  And he's 6.  And a boy.  And easily distracted. 

I ended up stopping after two chapters so he would go to sleep.  He begged me, "One more page!  Just one!  One more page!!"  He learned about wind resistance and the importance of aerodynamics.  And that if you draw your design out on paper, and work from that, your model will be significantly better.  He's already planning on drawing the "perfect bomber" tomorrow on paper, and we'll work with measurements and build it from scrap wood. 

I loved seeing his brain work as he listened to the story.  He asks such well-thought questions.  He truly amazes me.  I thought he would be bored, but instead sparks were lit.  I'm so excited to dive into our books this year and watch my kids learn.  Aimee is studying American History this year, and Andrew and Amerie are studying different world cultures.  I love our curriculum.  :)  I love Sonlight.  I love my kids.

And above all, I love the Lord.   I know I let Him down every day, even though I try my best.  But He loves me anyway.  And He has been so faithful and so good to us.  I'm amazed at how perfect life can feel in the middle of so many "imperfections."

We serve an awesome God.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A story...

I tucked Amerie into bed, being careful to lay the blankets "just right."

I leaned in, kissed her forehead, and then her cheeks.  As I sat back, I smiled.

"I love you. baby girl."

"I love you, too, mommy," she said with a sweet smile.

I smiled again.  "Amerie...you're beautiful."

She tucked her hair behind her ears, rolled over, and replied, "I know I am."


Maybe I've gone overboard in telling my kids how beautiful and awesome I think they are.  ;-)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

An impromptu drive

I took my babies for a drive last night.  My car battery had died in my van Tuesday morning (after I packed up all 4 kids to head to the beach.  Be glad you weren't in my van when I had to tell them we weren't going!!)  My mama called a towtruck last night to gimme a jump, and I was told to drive it around for a bit to recharge the battery.

I suppose I could have driven for 20 minutes like I was told and headed back home.  But I loooove a liesurely drive, and since I'm so careful with my gas (aren't we all?), I rarely ever allow myself to take one.  I had a little over a quarter tank of gas and about 2 hours of daylight left.  Just this once, I decided to take my kids for a drive "just for fun."

I knew where I would go.  I always head to one of two places when I'm "aimlessly" out for a drive.  If I need to pray and be alone, I head to Jeffereson and drive along the water.  It calms me.

If I'm happy, and just want to enjoy a beautiful drive, I head to Romeo. 

My mom and sis and I were recently asked the question, "If you could live anywhere in the entire world, where would you live?"  Emma, of course, said "New Bern, NC."  Our hearts are all thanking the Lord for blessing her with the move back to New Bern this week.

My mom and I?  We both gave the same answer. 

"Romeo, MI."

When I was in early elementary school, we lived in Washington Twp., just outside of Romeo.  For those familiar with the area, our old house sits right on the corner of 30 mile & Campground.
This is what it looks like now...
I loved that house.  And the 2-acre lot, that held a barn, chicken coops, and a milkhouse.  I'm a country girl (hence the blog address) and these things make me happy.  I was angry for years when we moved away.

So when I allow myself to, I head up there, drive around, and ask the Lord that if it is within His Will for mine and the kids lives, could we someday end up in a house with a big 'ole yard North of 28 Mile?  I don't care so much about the house.  I just want my kids to be able to run and play and climb trees and pick apples and thoroughly enjoy thier childhood outdoors.  :)  I loved heading outside and "discovering" when we lived in that house.

I also love these...


Dirt roads.  :)  To me, they're a sign that I'm where I want to be. 

Two things repeatedly ran through my mind last night, as I drove along the gravel covered dirt...Jason Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem" (of course) and "I want to live up here.  Spend my life up here.  Raise my kids and grow old up here."

I don't know what it is about that end of the county.  Maybe it's because deep down, I'm not a city/suburb girl.  I'm a barefoot country girl, and as a child I had a taste of that life.  I've wanted to go back ever since.

Emma is back in New Bern.  I hope someday I can end up near Romeo.  :)  But again, at the risk of sounding like all I do is say the same things, I know the Lord has a plan for the kids and I and I want that plan more than anything.  His plans are always so much better than ours.  :)  And when I am spending eternity in Heaven praising Him, it's not going to matter so much where I raised my family.  What will matter is that I raised them every day to love and serve Him, and that we gave everything (even our simplest desires) to Him.  If He leads us to Romeo, as He led Emma and Greg back to New Bern, I will be more excited than I could even begin to tell you.  But even living in Sterling Heights, in my parents home, I've learned to be content and happy and at peace.  I don't know where we'll be in the future or what our lives will be like.  But He's already working it out for our good, and it's better than anything I could dream up on my own.  :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Photo Shoot

About a month ago, my mom hired a photographer to take pics of our family while my brother and sister were both in town.  Adam lives in Knoxville, TN, and Emma was in Virginia Beach, VA up until this weekend, when she returned to where her heart was and moved even farther away from us to New Bern, NC.  It had been over 2 years since both my siblings had been in Michigan at the same time.  Emma makes it home only once a year, and it was killing my mom that it's was never at the same time as Adam.  So when she realized she was going to have all 3 of her children and their families in the same state AT THE SAME TIME, she hired a photographer to capture this amazing event.  :D

So...I was looking through the pics yesterday, and I thought, "What fun is a blog if you don't upload a million photos of your  family?!!" 

Enjoy!!! They make my heart happy. :)

















Just a little something. :)

I have to say that I am feeling incredibly blessed.  My kids are such a joy, and we have been having a really good summer.  God is providing for our needs, and He daily sends little blessings our way.  We're happy, joyful, and at peace.  I may have been dwelling on my "unrest" the other day, but for the past few days I have been incredibly aware of how sweet my life is.

God is so good.  All the time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A "well-rested unrest"

I feel weird today.  Have you ever had days when you just felt weird?  I think most of it is boredom, but I'm not really sure.

The kids and I have been enjoying a lazy summer for the past couple of weeks.  I've become very protective of my "restful/productive" days (when the kids are with thier dad).  I get my cleaning and errands done and then I relax, without guilt.  My life has the potential to be very stresful and overwhelming.  I learned, the hard way, to not make it any more difficult than it's already going to be.

So...the past few nights I've had 10 hours of rest.  Granted, several hours each night were spent in prayer and thinking about my life, but I was still resting.  This morning, for the first time since I became a mother almost 10 years ago, I woke up feeling completely rested.  It was wonderful.  And the only thing on my agenda for today is to put away some laundry, possibly go to Target, and feed my family.

Not much to do. 

Which leaves me feeling weird.  And thoughtful.  Contemplative.  A little unsure.

Sometimes overthinking can be a bad thing.  :-/

My brain is one of those over-thinking, figure it all out types.  Everything has a box and I have to figure out which box things fit into so I can understand them.  But I can't figure out which box I fit into.

When I go to bed at night, I feel like a tired housewife.  But I'm not a wife.  So can I call myself a homemaker??  I'm home all day, taking care of children and caring for my home and family.  But "homemaker" and "single mom" don't really fit in the same category.  So what am I?  And then that leads me to my next overthought topic...do I want to get married again someday?  Or just raise my kiddos and call it a well-served life?  If I do want to eventually date and get remarried, what kind of guy would want a tired homemaker?? 

This all confuses me and even overwhelms me sometimes.  I love my life and I hate parts of it.  That's the truth.  And yes, when I'm honest with myself, I want to be married again someday, even if the idea of it all makes me uneasy.  I'm busy.  I have 4 kids, that I homeschool.  I'm tired and I don't exactly get out much.  And I don't want to.  I like being home with my babies.  They're such a joy to me.

These are personal thoughts I have, that I'm choosing to share.  Because most days, when I think about my life, I feel a weird mix of peace and sadness.  I love my life, and I feel joy every night that I climb into bed, even through my exhaustion.   But sometimes I feel sadness, because my day-to-day is not what I want forever.  I feel like pieces are missing, even if I couldn't tell you what they are.  And I feel sad over it.  Unrest.  And every day, my unrest grows just a little bit more.

Today, in my rested, contemplative mood, I thought and prayed over all of these things.  I have read more of my bible this week, seeking the Lord and His voice, than I have in the last 6 months.  And what I feel Him whispering to me, through my unrest and frustration and stress and joy and peace, is this,

"This too shall pass."

Life is full of stages.  Even if we're not ready, we're constantly entering new ones.  This is only a stage.  It doesn't mean that the rest of my life will be exactly as today.  Or tomorrow.  But right now, this is my life.  And I need to feel joy and peace and completeness in it.  There are parts of it that I wish I could change, but for now, it is what it is.  If I spend this stage constantly longing for more/different, I will never feel satisfied with the next stage.  Or the one after that.  I'm learning contentment in all circumstances.  Even in stages that leave me feeling bored and ready for change.

But you know what?  "Boredom" is so much better than some other stages I've lived through.  And I really am very, very happy each and every day.  I can't count the number of times I whisper "thank you," because of the blessings in my life.  I have amazing, beautiful kids (4 of them!!!), a wonderful family and just as wonderful friends.  I love my church.  I love homeschooling.  I love babysitting.  I love my home and taking care of it.  I'm happy.

I have a feeling that my "unrest" is because I'm about to, and ready to, enter a new stage.  This is, after all, my "buffer year."  Which means that just around the corner, everything will be shaken up a little bit.  I have no idea what the changes will be, but I have complete confidence that the Lord is curently preparing it all.   It's in His hands.  And I love that I don't have to worry about it.  I just have to take one day at a time, living in obedience, and I'll end up where He wants me to go.  :)

God is so very, very good.  No matter what happens in life, He'll lead you through it. 

A year ago, two years ago, I never would have believed that right now I could be feeling so much peace and contentment, that at times I feel a little bored.  :)  I thought my life was forever going to be hard and scary.  But I threw my hands in the air and let Him have complete control, and  I am so grateful I did.  I would probably be forever stuck in "hard and scary" if I hadn't. 

Instead, I'm surrounded by His Spirit, which contnually giudes me and comforts me.  And right now, He is giving me quietness and rest. 

I'm going to embrace it and be grateful.  And be ready for the next step, whatever and whenever it may be.  :) 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A (deeper than I intended) update on my life :)

Well...

:::deep sigh:::

Where do I even start??  I keep saying my life is changing and I don't like putting things in here that might change later.  And...let me admit it and get it over with...I'm just a regular girl who gets scared and wants to run from God's plans, or from life, when things seem to get too darn big and scary.  And if I blog about it, I'm afraid you'll see my faults and failures.  ;-)

I'm tired.

I'm tired of being tired.

I don't want to play this game anymore.

Why have I not yet learned to never utter the words to God "I'm bored"???????  When will I learn that lesson?  And why does my boredom have to be replaced with strife and struggles and exercising that Big Faith I claim to have?

I wrote in this post about my church's upcoming mission trip to El Salvador and how I prayed and prayed and laid out a fleece about going and God responded with, "Yes.  You're going.  And I will provide."

It didn't make any sense to me why I would go on that trip.  It doesn't make any sense now.

I have been on hiatus from facebook for a few weeks now (in all honesty, I don't miss it AT ALL).  So unless you're my mom, my sister, Bethany, or Aimee, you probably have no idea what's going on in my life.

I don't have any idea either.  ;-)

I feel a call to go on the November 2011 El Salvador trip with my church.  I don't know why, but I know it also has to be that specific trip.  I thought, before today, that it was just my own desires that were leading me to go.  And that when things fell apart on Friday, it would be okay to just wait and go on a later trip.  And then I spent Saturday in a state of discord or discouragement or something.  I don't know what.  I didn't feel the Spirit of God sitting next to me and surrounding me (not that He left me) and I didn't feel peace.  Mostly, I didn't feel anything.  And then in church this morning, as the worship and service progressed, I found myself crying crocodile tears over this trip.  I'm supposed to go.

For the sake of your understanding, let me explain further.  :)  I cannot afford to go on this trip.  The total cost is $1900.  By the grace and provision of the Lord, I am currently up to date on payments towards the trip.  I have paid $800 so far.  On August 7, a payment of $400 is due.  I currently have half of it.  On September 4, I owe another $400.  On October 5. my final payment of $300 is due.  My fleece, which I mentioned in my previous post, was for a child to babysit.  I cannot pay for a mission trip out of my budget.  I live with my parents, and keep my expenses minimal, to make ends meet.  I have just enough, if I'm careful, to take care of my kids.  And I am totally okay with that.  I actually enjoy living a life that allows God to be glorified through prayer and faith in meeting our needs, but that's a whole new post.  ;-)

So...the idea of going on a $2000 mission trip, for me, is CRAZY.  I cannot afford it on my own.  And sitting here, typing these words, is bringing back the tears and emotions all over again.

I live my life every day for our God.  I love Him, I love serving Him, I trust Him completely in every way.  I spend most of my day in random prayer, just talking to Him.  I know when we are close, and I know the moment I am out of line (whether it's out of disobedience or stepping out of His will).  I can feel the distance between Him and I in an overwhelming way.  I don't like losing that peace and the feel of His Presence.  But when we are close, when I am in almost constant prayer, He tells me things.  He guides me.  He shows me the path He wants me to take, and sometimes He's even gracious enough to show me visions of the future.  They're like little snapshots, and they don't always make sense until later.  But He has made it very, very clear to me that He knows the level to which I have surrendered my life and the lives of my children and He has a specific plan for us.  If I remain in obedience, trusting Him in every way, He will lead us down that path.  And even though I cannot, in my humanness, see any reason why He would ask a single mother to go on a trip like this, I know He is asking me.  And not only is He asking me, but the part that brings my tears to the surface is that i feel so sure that this trip is a very key part of the path He is leading me down.

He told me last December, that 2011 was to be my buffer year.  It's the year that I will transition from one phase of my life into a new one.  All the things that He told me would happen so far this year have happened, so I know I heard Him correctly.  I've seen more of the future and I want that life.  I want to serve Him and live for Him and bring Him glory and do His work.  I feel such joy and peace over it!!!

My fleece that I had laid out before, a child for me to babysit and the money would go directly to the trip, was answered.  I started babysitting an adorable little girl from our church.  But Friday, I found out that at least until September, she will be at home with her sisters.  When her sisters return to school in the Fall, I hope I will get her back.

I panicked on Friday.  How am I going to pay for my trip?  The little bit of extra money I have is being saved to purchase a few needed homeschooling materials for this year.   I simply cannot pay for this trip if I don't babysit.  That's why I asked for that specific prayer.  What do I do now??  I felt so very defeated and discouraged.

But today, I know that He wants me to go.  I do not know why.  I will never understand God and His ways, and I'm not even going to try.  :)  I am going to believe that He will provide the money.  I'm a number cruncher, and after crunching numbers in my head, I think I can do it.  It's not going to be easy, but I believe the blessings will be great.  I'm asking for donations, and I'm confident the Lord will speak to hearts about helping to sponsor my trip.  I know the Lord will bless each and every person who chooses to give, who helps me on my journey.  Maybe this was one way God planned to provide all along, but I was trying to figure it all out myself??  I'll probably never know.

I said it before, but I will say it one more time...I do not know why God is calling me to El Salvador in November.  But I know He watches over me and my kids and He is taking us somewhere intentional.  Somehow, this trip fits into all of it.  Maybe one day I will see the pieces of the puzzle and how they fit together.  But even if I don't, I trust Him.  :)  And I've learned that His ways are so much better than anything we could ever come up with on our own.

I will continue to blog about the journey we are on, and about the mission trip.  God is at work in every life that surrenders to Him, and I'm inviting you to watch mine if you want  :)  I pray He is speaking in each of your lives, and that you have surrendered control to Him.  The blessings are so great and so worth it.  I'm also reactivating my facebook account.  I know that I will no longer allow it to waste my time, and I miss having it as a tool for connecting with people in my life.  It's also a way to keep those who are interested up to date on the events in our lives.  :) 

If God is asking your heart to give a gift towards my trip, I would first like to say "thank you more than you know."  I pray He pours blessings on those who help, and that you understand my deep gratitude.  You can send donations to:

Warren Woods Church of the Nazarene
14300 13 mile road
Warren, MI 48088

Please enclose a note that you are donating on behalf of Liz Wehrman for the El Salvador mission trip.  If you have any questions, you can email me at LizWehrman@aol.com.

I'm stepping out in faith right now and in blogging about all of this, I'm allowing everyone to see God work.  We serve an awesome, mighty God, who answers prayer and always provides.  He also provides direction and helps us through every struggle.  I trust Him and I'm believing in Him.  And through my blog, which I will regularly update, I'm providing the opportunity for those interested to watch God work through a simple little single mother and her life.  I hope it blesses you in some way.  :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Today...

I hit what I thought was "snooze" on my alarm, and woke up an hour later than I should have for church.

On the way to church (actually on time!), I remembered that I forgot my next payment for the El Salvador trip that was due today.  I had to turn around and go all the way back to my house.

So...

I was late for church.  :(

I was late for church and had to step over several women to get to my family, who decided to sit in the middle of the row, instead of on the end,  for the first time ever.

:::sigh:::

Yes, I was the crazy, "Excuse me...pardon me...excuse me...I'm so sorry!!" lady today. 

While taking communion, I choked.  Yep...I choked on the one little swallow of cranberry juice from the tiny plastic cup.  Classy.

After service, while talking with a friend, I spilled the last little bit of what I thought was my empty (and closed) cup of coffee down the front of my mom's dress.  The dress I borrowed this morning, and promised "I won't get dirty.  I'll come right home after church and hang it right back in your closet on this exact little hanger," as I slowly pulled it out of her closet...

On the way out of church, while carrying several boxes, I tripped on a rug.  That Bethany had just said not to trip on.  But she tripped on it, too.

It's really nice to have a best friend who's exactly like you.  I love you, Bethany!!  :)

I think I'm safe now.  I'm finally home, relaxing on my couch.  In a minute, I'll tackle some laundry.  Not much can happen when you're folding laundry.

At least, I hope...  :)

Have a blessed day!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

My new favorite hobby.


Hairbows.  :) 

I have an entire collection of hairbows I purchased at Target for Lexi.  She LOVES them.  But thanks to Keri's tutorial on how to make your own, I find myself sitting up too late on a Friday night, making pretty little hair clips for all the little girls in my life.  :) 

Lexi is very, very excited about all the pretty bows.  She sat next to me this evening, handing me ribbon in the order she wanted them done. 

It's fun having girls.  :)

But, for the sake of my only boy, here's a pic my mama took today.  He "looks thrilled" to be taking a photo, but it was really just the sun in his eyes.  He loves his mommy.  :)

Why I deactivated my facebook ;)

This is kind of an interesting post for me to write.  Typically, I write a blog post and then post a link to my facebook wall.  90% of the people who make their way to my blog, come by way of my posted link.  Yet, if you read the title, this is not an option for me right now.  :)

I "deactivated" my facebook 2 days ago, for a variety of reasons.  I will admit...I am a facebook addict.  I had the facebook app on my phone, and would check my notifications when I woke up in the morning.  I would spend a considerable amount of time catching up on the latest "news" while I drank my morning coffee.  Throughout the day, if i was bored, I would sit down and fool around on facebook.  Check this, comment there.  Look through someone's recently posted photos.  And every night before bed, I would check my notifications one last time before going to sleep for the night.

I would fear that I am alone in my pathetic addiction to Facebook, but I know for a fact that there are others, mostly women, who do the same thing that I do.  :)  And some women I know would be just as bad if they were home all day instead of at work.

So, when I clicked the reason I was deactivatiing my account (and Facebook requires you to give them a reason), "I spend to much time on Facebook" was number one on my list.  My days are super busy, my to-do list is typically longer than it should be.  I'm working on time management (I'm terrible at it...), so eliminating my number one distraction is something that I have wanted to do for a long time, but I just couldn't get myself to click the little button. Until now.  And I have felt very free.  :)

My second biggest reason I deactivated my account is gossip.  I'm a woman, and let's be honest...most women have a strong temptation to gossip.  I love a good story, and I love sharing it with fresh ears even more.  But I feel extremely convicted over it.

I prayed and prayed for an entire week about whether to let my account go, or just work my discipline regarding my time and my interest in knowing what my peeps are up to.  These verses came to mind again and again...

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

My other reason for wanting to let go of Facebook was in that first verse, too...I have been craving privacy, and a handful of people use facebook and my blog to keep an eye on my "business."  NO ONE has a right to the details of my private life, except occasionally my parents because I live in their home.  And they're my parents.  :)  I'm not even married anymore, so I don't have a husband to be accountable to.  I have the Lord, and I'm pretty good at keeping Him in the loop.  ;-)  But what is facebook, other than the worlds biggest peephole into your daily activities??  People tell you everything from their plans for the weekend, to the random thoughts running through their head.  There is no privacy in the land of social media.  And if I'm putting bits and pieces of my life out there for everyone to see, it will be used for good and for bad, depending on the heart who reads it.

So...I read verse 11 over and over again.

'Lead a quiet life" said to me that I don't need to tell my 367 Facebook friends what I'm doing today.  I get up, I lay my day at the Lord's feet and ask Him to bless it and walk me through it, and we go on to accomplish it all together.  Quietly.  Just me and the Lord (and 4-7 kids, but you get my point...)

"to mind your own business"  Do I need to know what everyone else is doing??  My day is super busy.  If I lose focus, I don't get it all done.  Why should I interested be in the affairs of others, when my own affairs are enough to keep my attention all day long?

"and to work with your hands"  I'm lazy.  I said it.  I think I've even said it before.  I hate that I'm lazy, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't.  I also get distracted very easily, and I waste my time on pointless activities.  It's another weakness I'm learning to gain control over.  If I am on facebook, I am not doing anything productiive.  Occasionally I will read a prayer request, and send up a prayer.  But that is less than a minute of my day.  The rest is a clear waste of my time.  I could be folding laundry, preparing dinner, reading the kids some books, and so on.  Until I am good at "working with my hands" instead of floating through my day, I am choosing to eliminate my big distractions.  I have cut TV and fiction novels out of my life.  It's Facebooks turn.  :)

And lastly..."so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."  I said that there are hearts that judge me by things I put on facebook.  They watch what I do, form opinions, and then talk about me amongst themselves.  ANYONE who is following the Lord with their entire heart and soul is going to have people in their life who do this.  It's pretty much inevitable.  But if you are the person God wants you to be, if you acknowledge your weaknesses and form the discipline and determination to overcome them, and if you mature daily in Christ, what bad does anyone have to say about you??  If I waste my time and merely "get through each day alive," then I have nothing to stand on in the face of criticism.  But if I pray each morning, read my bible to get my mind focused, and then maintain that focus all day long, I can go to bed each night knowing that each day was blessed and I brought the Lord Glory with the the "work I did with my hands."

I have 4 children of my own.  I babysit regularly.  I'm a single mother, and I live with my parents.  I homeschool.  I like to have a social life, and I like to be involved and serve at my church.

I'm B-U-S-Y.  I cannot do all of the things I desire to do if I give in to my weaknesses.  And if I am slacking, I face criticism.  If I gossip or maintain interest in the affairs of those around me, I suffer from disobedience.  In the light of all those things, I deactivated my Facebook account.  And you know what??  After I got throught the 15 minutes of panic ( a sign that I truly was addicted), I felt a huge wave of relief.  Each day that has gone by, I have felt more and more free.

I prayed about my blog.   Should I let it go, too?  But God has very clearly said the same thing He always says..."the blog is Mine and it's one more thing I ask of you, for my Glory."  I can't argue with that, even if I don't understand it.  :)  And I get such a joyful feeling knowing that God asks me to do things and I do them.  I see the direction He's taking me, and I am so very, very excited.

We serve an awesome God.  And in seeking to be the Liz that He wants me to be, I let Facebook go.  Maybe one day I will activate it again, but right now I am looking forward to being and doing everything that He wants.  It requires all kinds of discipline, and the blessing are worth the discomfort.  :)

God's good.  Have I said that before??  :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Social Media and My Personality :)

I have put off this post and put of this post (and put off this post) for a long time.  :)  Every time I want to post a blog or write something personal on facebook, I get incredibly uneasy...

We live in such a different world now, thanks to social media.  And the internet.  And cell phones.  Privacy is something you have to fight like crazy for.

I am a weird mix of an open book and a hermit.  I am who I am, I love who I am, and I don't feel that I have anything to hide from anyone.  So in that aspect, facebook and blogger are two things I love and I have no problem sharing things on them. 

But on the other hand, I hate when people feel that because I share things, they have a right to share their opinions about my life.  Sometimes, I'd go so far as to call those opinions "a very strong suggestion that you should take my advice."  And even, "a very strong suggestion, that I will mention to you multiple times until you listen to me." 

I know that if I put personal stuff out there, I have no control over what is done with that information.  I have released it. And people are people.  Things will be misunderstood.  Opinionated people will open their mouths.  This is reality.  But should I quit two hobbies that I love just because I have a hard time with stronger personalities than my own??

I love blogging.  It's a release for me and it's kinda fun and I really feel that if I'm learning something from the Lord, sharing it allows the possibility for it to bless someone else.  But lately, I have had a handful of people misconstrue things that I, or other people, have done or said.  And it has caused a lot of heartache.  And frustration.  And I'll be honest...anger on my part.  And I don't get angry very easy!!

So I questioned what to do with facebook and my blog.  I almost deleted my facebook, until my daughter informed me that it's a great means of communication when I am gone and she needs to contact me.  When I'm in El Salvador, this will be very valuable.  And my blog...I LOVE my blog.  Lol.  I don't journal, I will never be a scrapbooker.  But I love my life, and my kids, and my Lord, and for me...this is a place that I can record my thoughts and my feelings and pics of my babies.  Especially when everything is changing so much.  :)  And to all of my friends who make their way here and read it, I hope it blesses you in some way.  And if you have a blog, I would love to read all about your quirks and thoughts and daily musings.  :)  Leave me a link!!!

My sister and her family are on their way to Michigan, from Virginia, as I type to spend the next week with all of us, and my brother is on his way from Tennessee. He'll be here until Monday.  On Sunday, we're having a big family gathering and family pictures taken.  I am so excited!!!  I will be taking my own pics, now that my mom has kindly shared her camera with me.  A little thing I discovered about myself...I love taking pictures.  I love it.  But I don't own a camera, so I don't take them nearly as often as I would like.  But now I will be experimenting with my mom's camera and taking lots of pics of my babies.  :) 

After family goes home, I will be making some changes in our house.  Again, I would love right now to just throw them out there.  But for privacy's sake, it has to wait.  :)  My blog, however, is going to become a place for me to record our lives.  Kind of like an online scrapbook.  :)  I love my life and my kids and all the work the Lord is doing, and I love the idea of having it on here as a record.  When my sister goes home, I will be ready to face the opinions and suggestions and tell the bearers (kindly and respectfully!!) that I do my best to live every day within the Lord's will and way, and if they have a problem with anything I do, they can take it up with Him.  Because that is the truth.  :)

Have a wonderful 4th!!! 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Andrew Phillip

My boy is 6 years old today.  I know every parent says it, but I can't believe it's been 6 years!! 




He came after two miscarriages, and an incredibly rough pregnancy.  By the time I was 6 months along, I had gone into labor and been put on bedrest and crazy medication.  I stayed in bed for 2 months, continually contracting, until my doctor finally allowed me to deliver on May 26. 

After 2 months of bedrest and cramping and medicine that made my heart race and everything that I experienced in that pregnancy, I was so happy to finally have it over with and be able to hold my baby.

And then he caught Group B Strep during delivery.  By the time the nurses realized he was struggling to breathe, and got him to the nursery, he was purple and having a heart attack.

It was the scariest day of my life. 

He spent 10 days at the hospital, on antibiotics.  On June 4, I finally brought my baby boy home.

Now, he's 6 years old.  He's my crazy boy.  The only one of my children to visit the emergency room as a result of a stunt.
The only one to kiss a skateboard with his face and get right back on.

The one who stood on the top of his crib as a toddler, to wrap the chains of the ceiling fan around the blades.  Who would wake up at 3:00 am when he was 4 years old, because he was smart enought to know everyone in the house was asleep and he could climb up on daddy's desk and get his beloved remote control helicoptor.  The one who struggles with a speech delay and just this week started to cal Amerie by her name, instead of "Mamway."  The one who's "painfully shy." 

He's also the only of my kids who thinks of the most carefully thought out question about the world, who wants to know the "how" and "why" behind everything that is and does.  The one who can't sit still or fall alseep or be serious for 30 seconds.  :) 

He's my boy.

I joke all the time that God gave me 3 girls and only 1 boy for a reason.  He wears me out every single day. He fights with his sisters and refuses to obey, simply because he's stubborn.  ;-)  He's hyper and he's always hungry and he hates green beans like no other.  

But that little boy loves his mommy, and his mommy loves him.  I know that at least once a day, he still needs to climb in my lap for a few minutes and just "Be."  I treasure those moments every day, because I know that all too soon he will be too big for my lap.  And when the moment is quiet, and him and I are alone, we have the best conversations.  I love his heart and his mind.  I know God has big plans for him.  
I took this picture last night.  I told him to smile.  I was lucky he let me take his picture.  :)




I had to promise this one to get the other one.  :)  He's teaching himself to move his eyes and his eyebrows independantly.  I have yet to get it on film.  ;-)




I love my bubba.  I love him so much. 

Today is Phil's day, so I won't get to spend it with the birthday boy.  But tomorrow, he wants to "buy stuff." That's all he has said to me.  "Mom...can we buy stuff??"  I don't know where he got the idea that "buying stuff" is what you do on your birthday, but I promised to take him to the train and hobby store.  :) 

I'm hoping he can stay reasonable.  ;-)








Monday, May 23, 2011

El Salvador

Well...

I've said repeatedly that I've had a lot going on in my heart and my life that I would love to share, but I just can't right now.  It's the main reason I've been such an inconsistant blogger. :)  I have so much to figure out, and as much as I'm an open book and would love to blog about all of it, I just can't at a time where nothing is certain and I might have to go back and change something i wrote.  ;-)  I'll wait until I've prayed and prayed something through, and I am very certain of God's voice.  Then I will share it. 

So...

I'M GOING TO EL SALVADOR!!!!!!!!!!

This is something that has been a long time in the making, but God's timing is perfect and the time for me to go is now.  Well, technically November...but you get it.  ;-)

I have always felt the call to missions.  From the time I was old enough to know what a missionary was and what they did, I felt the call.  I also carried a huge fear with me.  I said to God, "I will do anything you want and go anywhere you send me, as long as it's in the USA."  ;-)  I held back.  I was terrified of the dangerous possibilities in some areas of the world that the Lord could send me.  What if He called me to a place that was hostile towards Christians?  What if I was attacked?  Or even worse, what if I was martyred???  I couldn't take the chance.  And I didn't even know if He was going to send me on missions!!  And if He did, how did I know where He would send me?

It was within the past few years that I finally got to a place spiritually where I could release my fear to Him and know that no matter where God sent me, I would go.  I think going through the darkest parts of my divorce grew me the most.  I developed a deep love for our Lord like I had never known was possible, and I knew that no matter what happened in my life, His presence would surround me and He would walk with me through it.

The other thing holding me back on missions was my babies.  :)  For most of the past 10 years, I have either been expecting a child, or nursing one.  I said to Phil many times that I wanted to go on one of our church's mission trips, but I didn't know when I would take a break from having babies.  ;-)  I think it's safe to say now that I'm on a break.  :)

So...this is where El Salvador comes into the picture.  Our church (along with many churches in the US) has teamed with Compassion International to sponsor a church in a struggling community.  We are now working with Iglesia Sion church, in El Congo, El Salvador.  :)

From the time Pastor Gocha stood in front of the congregation and told us of the partnership, I felt the pull.  But I tucked it away.  This past March, some members of our church went back to El Salvador.  When they returned, I felt God say, "it's time."  I became filled with an excitement and passion and love for the people of El Congo.  I had NO IDEA how I was going to get myself there.  :)  But I knew I was going. 

I have been praying and praying ever since.  I had made the desecion in my heart to go, but I was afraid to act out in faith.  Every time I laid out a fleece, God responded with "yes."  I heard His voice clearly..."Liz...I'm sending you.  I will provide the money.  And you will not struggle financially to put the money together.  It will be clear that it is from Me."  I've even had a strong desire to learn Spanish, and have been teaching myself.  I'm hoping to purchase some material for learning more than the basics within the next few weeks.  And thanks to the awesomeness of Facebook, I have created a couple friendships with some people my age from El Congo.  :)  This was God, too, i am sure.  I do not accept friend requests from strangers, but I received one from someone from Sion church, and because I wanted to get to know the people, I accepted it. That particular friendship has been a huge blessing in my life.  I've learned so much about El Salvador from someone who's lived there their entire life.  My heart is already in El Congo.  I cannot wait to meet the people and pour out the love that the Lord has put in me for them.  I am so EXCITED.

Back to the acting out in faith part...this week my sister and I have been struggling with faith.  We know for certain that our God is BIG and that He can do anything.  We have no question over this.  But we struggle with doubt over His desire to act because of our prayers.

"What if He doesn't want to?"

Or "I knew at the time God told me _______.  But what if I heard Him wrong?"

Or "What if He changed His mind?"

The conclusion we came to this week, after discussing it like crazy, is that if you know you heard God's voice, you have to act according to that.  Even if you doubt it later.  When you doubt, pray for your faith to be restored.

Yesterday, our Pastor preached an answer to the question, "Why doesn't God answer my prayers?"  I won't go into the entire sermon, (I highly recommend the entire "Why?" series that is avaliable here.  Click on "podcasts.") but Pastor talked about "faith."  God hit me hard when he said that faith is not believing that God can, it's believing that God will.  I KNOW that God can provide for me to go to El Salvador.  I KNOW God called me there.  But why am I afraid?  During the service, I talked to God and released my fears.  When I left the sanctuary, I turned in my application and $200 deposit.  I trusted God.  I always knew He could, but I now believe He will.  He has already put so many "impossible" things in order so that I am able to go.  And while I was working in the nursery for the last service, an opportunity arose for me to expand my monthly income.  That was one of my specific prayers.  That God would add to my income, and I could put the extra money away for El Salvador without scraping together what I currently live on. 

God is good.  I say it all the time.  But He is so GOOD.  My heart feels like it will burst with the love and joy I have for Him and from Him.  And I am very excited about spending time in El Congo, getting to know the people and pour out God's love.  :) 

We serve such an awesome God!!

 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day

It's almost Mother's Day.  :) 

I would expect a mother of four to look forward to Mother's Day.  I've earned it, right?  Four times over??  Breakfast in bed, handmade cards, a day off.  :)

Lol. Not exactly.  Mother's Day is one more example of the changes God has done in me.  For most of the years that Phil and I were married, he tried to make Mother's Day special for me.  And I soaked it up, looking forward to "a day off" for weeks beforehand.  Quite often, he had drill the weekend of Mother's Day and I ended up pulling through a fast food drive-thru so I wouldn't have to cook dinner on my "day off."  I didn't even care that we couldn't afford fast food.  I wasn't about to cook.

:::sigh:::

In two days, it will be Mother's Day again.  This time, I am officially a single mother.  There's no breakfast in bed.  :)  No handmade cards, unless I ask the kids to make them for me (this is part of being a homeschooling single mother), although i did get a special one from the boy I babysit. :)  And I'm confident that I will be making dinner for everyone and not getting a "day off."

I am totally okay with this!!!

I feel like this will be the most special Mother's Day that I have ever had.  :)  Now that I've finally gotten over myself and allowed the Lord to actually mature me, I can see what this special day is all about.  It's about moms.  About being a mom.  And having a mom.  It's about this...






And this..





This...





This...





And this...







I have been blessed with an amazing mother.  I mean it.  I couldn't ask for a better one.  She is super special and I thank the Lord for blessing me with her as my mom (my dad's pretty awesome, too!!).  She's an incredible example of a Godly woman.  She showed me, by example, how to love my children and know that they feel loved.  We have a great relationship, and always have.  She selflessly gives and loves each of her kids, and adores her grandbabies.  I wouldn't trade her for anything.  :)

And my kids?  All I have ever wanted to be was a mom.  Somewhere, tucked away in my heart, I hope I can have a couple more children someday.  But in the meantime, I spend every. single. day. thanking the Lord for blessing me with four children.  I'm 29.  I have a 9 year old, almost 6 year old, 4 year, and 2 year old.  I look at them and can't believe I have them!!  I wake up every morning with them crowded in bed around me, I kiss them and tell them I love them and I think they're super special all day long, and at bedtime, I kiss their forheads and praise and thank the Lord for creating such beautiful, special children and allowing me to spend my days with them!!  I can't believe how blessed I am.

Mother's Day isn't about me anymore.  :)  It's about them. 

It's about the woman who felt the same way about me that I feel about my babies (sometimes I can't grasp that!!)  And it's about the four precious children that gave me the title of "Mom."

I will wake up on Sunday and kiss each of them.  I'll tell my mom, again, that I love her.  And I will have a very special day. 

Because God is so good.  And He has blessed me abundantly.  :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My WIC rebellion...

Yesterday morning, the (5) kids and I headed off to a WIC appointment.

I have been in the WIC program for awhile now.  A couple years ago, they completely changed their program and nutritional guidelines.  In most ways, this was a good thing.  More fruits and veges, farmer's market coupons (whoo-hoo!!!!) and whole-grains. 

BUT...

I now find myself getting in a little argument with the nutritionist every time I go.  :)

I suppose I could just slide under the radar and not tell them I feed my kids whole dairy.  I don't have to mention that I would never knowingly buy low-fat anything.  Phil was firm on whole dairy, and since the man is a darn good personal trainer and very knowledgeable in nutrition, I think his opinions hold some weight.  In all the research I've done on my own, I've drawn the same conclusions...fat is good for you.  Your body needs it to function.  Especially children, whose bodies are growing at an exceptional rate.

So, it always comes to this...

:::ahem:::  "It says here that you feed your children whole milk.  Is this true?"

"Yes.  Yes, it is." 

"You do know that here in the WIC program, we only recommend low-fat dairy for children over the age of two?"

"Yes.  I am aware.  But I'm firm in my belief that their developing bodies need the saturated fat found in dairy products."

Now let me tell you here that this conversation is always AFTER I am told that my children are beautiful and healthy and perfect on the height/growth charts.  They're proportionate and completely within healthy weight ranges.

It goes on...

"Yes, but here in the US we're seeing an epidemic of obesity and heart disease.  By switching to skim milk, we belive we are making a positive change."

"Yes, ma'am.  I understand this.  But my kids don't eat like normal American children.  They live on fruits and veges, whole-grains, and meats.  The only fat they get is from their dairy, and you're not going to convince me that a fat-free diet is healthy for anyone, especially children."

At this point, my rebellious, defiant side is flaring up.  I don't like being told how to feed my children.  I may not have a degree in nutrition, but you'd better believe I've done my research.  I know what's healthy, and why.  I know what's good, and what's bad.  I tend to get a little overly emotional when I'm told that I'm harming my children through their food.  Do I feed them fast food on a regular basis?  Nope.  Do they eat prepackaged foods the majority of the time?  Not at all.  I can hardly get myself to buy Goldfish crackers.  I finally relented and started buying Triscuits and Wheat Thins, because I'm just too lazy to make my own crackers.  But seriously, whole milk?!  Come on...

So this is what the nutritionaist said to me, in her final attempt to sway me from whole dairy...

(Said very sweetly, but a bit arrogantly)  "Let me just put it this way...do you realize that in one glass of whole milk, there is the saturated fat equivalent of 6 slices of bacon??  Just think about that for awhile."

Bacon, you say?








As much fat as a 6 pieces of bacon?

I was thinking, alright...





"Should I tell her that up until recently, I fed them raw milk, too??"