Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve

Happy New Year, Friends! 
December 2013 

This is my family with my parents just a few days after Christmas. This was our first ever attempt at a picture like this. I think it turned out well. I think I have a good "eye" for poses (or whatever the proper name would be. Although I wish I had a flash from above for the glasses glare as well as the darkness at the top of the photo.) If only my family picture had worked out as well... but, no, we had one child crying in EVERY shot and another kid looking angry in every picture. It's too bad too, because I had such a cute pose. What's that? You want to see it anyway? OK. Here's the real deal -
Well... it's real anyway... Maybe not our best face forward, but we are still a good looking family, if I do say so myself. (winks)

Y'all have a great year!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mopping - An Analogy

Rebecca mopped the floor for me a few days ago. It needed it. Six kids age 11 and under. 'Nuff said.

When Rebecca started mopping I had my usual thoughts. "How did the floor get this bad in just a week?" "Why didn't I mop sooner?" And the like.

The job was finished. It looked great...except for a few sticky gum-like spots that I actually got down on my hands and knees to scrape with a razor blade. "Strange that these spots didn't bother me before."

Then it hit me.

Mopping is like repentance. After we thank God for cleansing our heart through the blood of Jesus Christ the slate is clean. For a few minutes. Then, someone comes along and spills the milk. Or, you step on one blood red pomegranate seed. Those first few spots seem such a stark contrast compared to the fresh mop job. And, our first sins after confessing seem so offensive.

But, if I take a nap and Rebecca bakes brownies...and the little ones help. Well, there will be flour, sugar, chocolate chips (no, on second thought, the baby eats those off the floor), and egg yoke plastered to the floor. Most of this gets wiped up, but some will remain for a few days until the next mopping. Little by little, one day at a time, it seems like the messes blur together on the floor...and you start training yourself not to see them. "It isn't mop day yet." Or, "I'm too tired."

Likewise, our hearts become hardened to our own sin so quickly. We get lazy with our holiness. A little spill of poor speech here... a little dab of poor conduct there... a big pile of nasty thoughts marring the center of my heart.

In the case of my kitchen, it was not until I knew the landlord was stopping by that I saw the mess through someone else's eyes. The floor was appalling. I had gotten used to the mess. But, what would the landlord think?

In the case of my sinful heart, it is by reading the Word of God and seeing ourselves through God's eyes that we see the mess and the caked on sins that we have allowed to pile up and crust over our hearts of flesh. The solution is simple.

The cleaner I keep the kitchen floor, the cleaner I want to keep the floor.

The more I read the Word, the more I want to read the Word. But, a few sins spilt on that clean heart begins a hardening process that starts to quench my desire to meet with the Lord. We've all been there.

This little analogy is not meant to be a thorough treatise on sin and repentance. Far from it. Just an illustration of what the Lord showed me in the clean kitchen floor.

We need to keep our hearts clean before the Lord.

Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

update 12-7-2013


We are surviving the winter okay. Paul is working all the hours that the Dept of Transportation will allow. And, I am pressing on in my career as full time wife and mother/homeschooler.

I've been too busy to do any creative writing.

One of these days I will emerge from the dark, cold winter and write a real post.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Chronically Sick Homeschool Mama (reposted)

Reposted 07-22-2014 (Originally written November 9, 2013, during a health trial that got much worse...)

After getting a decent amount of sleep I feel a little more equal to the task of writing about what is going on in our home these days.

I am a sick mama. I’ve been trying to fight it. I’ve been trying to disguise it. I’ve been trying to outright deny it (to myself). But, the truth is, I am one sick mama.

The symptoms for which we recently expected a pituitary gland tumor were these: both ears ringing. Loudly. Since October 8th. Lactating, though it has been more than half a year since I nursed the baby. Drastic change in appetite. Terrible weight gain. Forgetfulness. Headaches. And more.

As I noted yesterday, the MRI showed absolutely no problems with my brain. This is good news, but not necessarily easy news. Hear me out… I do NOT want to have a tumor! I do not want cancer, or MS. I am NOT saying that it would be easier to be sick from any of those awful causes! But, for a few days I felt like (for the first time in eight or so years) I was justified in my sickness. You cannot possibly understand unless you too have an invisible illness like chronic fatigue, or fibromyalgia, or hypothyroid, or some other undiagnosed sickness.

For years I have battled in my own mind how to be a mama of all these kiddoes and homeschool while I am so very sick. And, yet, no one really knows how sick I am. I do not necessarily “hide it.” I flatter myself to think that I am one of the most authentic people you will ever meet. (Let that sentence in and of itself tell you of my authenticity *winks*)

Yet… I am a recovering SuperMom. I am one of that class of homeschool mamas that wants to represent the homeschool movement (and the Lord!) so well that I push myself beyond my breaking point each and every day. My body would say “sleep, rest,” and my mind would say “but the dishes aren’t done!” As though the dishes are more important than my health. To be honest, it has been as though for the last eight or so years of homeschooling, I carry a host of condemning voices with me throughout my day.

These voices (or rather ideas/notions) enslaved me as only the most brutal task master could ever do. I was/am driven to have a perfectly clean house. Driven to have the perfect diet. Driven to be the perfect mom and have the perfect kids. And, usually these condemning voices/notions came at me in the form of believers… not unbelievers. Comparing myself to the blogger mom with ten kids who appears perfect. Comparing myself to the books I read that locked me into this cage in the first place. Seeing myself (I supposed) through the eyes of Christians who choose not to homeschool and (I supposed) were always pointing fingers at me. On and on goes the list.

So, yes, I am unwell… But, I don’t think the biggest problem I am currently facing is my thyroid scores being the worst my doctor has ever seen… or my chronic vitamin D deficiency… or anemia… or adrenal fatigue.

Honestly, the biggest sickness is the one in my heart/spirit. Yes, I am a very sick woman – physically. But, there is an even bigger issue that I need to be healed from… the disease of comparison and condemnation.

Because, you see, I would feel justified being sick if I had a diagnosis of a brain tumor. I would have finally – after all these years – given myself permission to slow down. To be sick. To take time to heal. But, there is a place in my mind that is still wanting to be SuperMom. “What?!,” it says, “And admit you aren’t the perfect mom?! That you are sick?”

This will not make sense to you unless you have been there. I am writing this post to those of you who have been there… who are there.

I am done. I am done trying to be SuperMom. I REPENT of the sin of PRIDE!

I awoke from a dream this morning that I was writing for a newspaper. I was a featured writer on page two. I was brainstorming ideas what I would write about. My list was all ideas of what it really looks like to be a homeschool family… and to be a sick homeschool mama, at that. The Lord, I believe, was showing me that I have to be a herald for the truth. (Of course I am a herald for THE Truth, Jesus Christ, first and foremost!) But, I need to be a voice that is NOT adding further condemnation to mamas who are already burdened.

Lord willing, I will be a voice of one who tells you how to un-strap those burdens off your backs as I learn how to cast aside my own.

Lord willing, this blog will be better used than ever before (by me, the primary author) to exalt the Lord and help us Christian families to see ourselves as the Lord sees us.

The Father loves us. He sent Jesus to die for us. He wants to strengthen us for the journey one day at a time. We are His flock of chicks, He is the Mama Hen who gathers us under His wings. We are all brothers and sisters, as well as fellow soldiers, who need to link arms and hold each other up through the battles of this life.

There is something seriously wrong with a Christian culture that leads to mamas who feel like they can’t even be sick! And, it is not all “in my head.” I have had real life people tell me that I can keep going and do all the things that [she] thinks I was supposed to be. (You know, homeschool mama - teach three languages, teach three musical instruments, and so forth…) I have had others who told me that I am not sick at all… I just need to “overcome” and press on.

Sick Mamas, we WILL overcome! But, overcoming might mean that in your sickness you learn to tame your tongue, you learn to let yourself be sick, you learn to be patient and content in all circumstances while the Lord is at work to conform you into the image of His Son while you participate in a small sampling of His sufferings. You WILL overcome. We WILL be more than conquerors. But, that might mean that you will remain in your sickness a bit longer while the Lord does His Perfect Work in your life.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (NKJV)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Brain Update

Regarding the MRI that I mentioned in my last post.

My MRI was unremarkable. There was no brain tumor. No cancer. No MS. Nothing.

This is a good report. But we still don't really know what is wrong with me.

I'll try to write more on a day when I'm not so tired and overwhelmed.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Health Update - Bethany's Brain

Last week I went to a new doctor to see if I might get a new perspective on some of my health issues. My hypothyroid condition has been particularly out of control lately, and we are trying to put all the pieces of my health puzzle together. Also, we recently found out through blood work that not only was my thyroid score literally off-the-charts hypothyroid, but I am still terribly vitamin D deficient as well. (My end of Summer vitamin D score was far worse than my January mid-winter score last year!). So, I had some concerns about my health. Also, I am no longer taking NatureThroid as it turns out I am "sensitive" to pork and I felt better after discontinuing the medicine than I felt the nine months I was on it.

Meanwhile, I was seeing many of my health symptoms spiraling out of control. Paul said that I am in the worst health he has ever seen in me... this includes my bouts of disability... so, that says a lot... I am  NOT currently disabled. But, I see some patterns that, if not nipped in the bud, could potentially go that direction. My hands are not able to hold a pen most days. (I am able to type easily.) But, it hurts to play piano. I cannot comfortably lift up my arms to comb or arrange my hair... etc.

So, I went to a new doctor. And, she picked up on a number of symptoms that she thought correlated and took a blood test (among others) to check my prolactin level. I asked her what she was checking for and she said "pituitary gland tumor." I did not freak out. I actually thought, "yeah... that would certainly explain some things..."

Then, Monday we got the results of the blood work. My prolactin is quite elevated and I need to have an MRI done tomorrow to check for a tumor in my pituitary gland. I spoke to my naturopath today as well. And, he also now suspects to see a prolactinoma on the imagining tomorrow. My naturopath was very encouraging, telling me that he has treated this condition successfully before. In fact, he said that he has seen great results simply from eliminating gluten from the diet. (Yes, I was gluten free for a while, but we recently reintroduced grains in abundance as an attempt to cut back grocery expenses.) My doctor did not say that prolactinoma is caused by gluten sensitivity, but he did strongly state that gluten can/does exacerbate the condition. So, it looks like I will be going GF again. (At the very least)

Neither of my doctors expects that this tumor (which we expect to find) will be malignant. Pituitary gland tumors are generally benign. Neither does either doctor expect this health concern to be at all life threatening. And, to be honest, I never feared that. My anxieties were always more along the line of, "IF I have to ... THEN who would watch the kids/homeschool the kids/cook/clean/etc..." Rebecca is amazing! She is the momentum that keeps this family in motion right now (humanly speaking). She is stepping up as little mama in a big way! And, she is feeling the physical strain. She is quite tired.

I will let you know the results of the MRI as soon as I am able. I think at this point we would all be surprised if it is NOT a tumor... but you just never know. Last week a brain tumor was not even in my foggiest ideas for my future. Now, I am talking about it like it is a certainty. But, we do not know anything for sure yet, except that my prolactin score was high.

Now, knowing that these types of posts (on my blog) get more hits than anything else, I feel obligated to say that I HAVE PEACE, Friends! And, you can too! I can trust in the Lord no matter what is going on with my thyroid health, my vitamin D level, my pituitary gland tumor etc. I am clinging to several verses of Scripture throughout this ordeal and all the others of this past year. With my health and Paul's health. With Paul's job loss and everything else we have faced - we CAN and we DO have peace. We have moments of weakness, but we CAN have peace!

Here is a small sampling:

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:29 
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Psalms 57:1-2 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
    till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
    to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.

God is fulfilling his purposes for my life. And one of His ultimate purposes is to conform me to the image of His Son. Whether you believe that God "allows" bad things to happen or whether He has "ordained" bad things to happen-- God WILL use all circumstances in my life for my good and for His glory. We can have peace.   

To God be the Glory. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Regarding Employment

A quick update about Paul's job before I write the post I got online to write...

Paul is still employed with UPS, but we see this as being temporary (whether "temporary" is 2 months or two decades we cannot say...). There are those in management who are not pleased that Paul was rehired. Besides this, Paul's body is weary and worn from the work of the job. He has just finished his second week of full-time hours and he is sore in many places. His herniated discs as well as his hernias bother him. So, we do not assume that UPS is a forever job. We have peace with that.

MANY people have asked if Paul is looking for other work. Yes, he is, so much as a man working 50+ hours per week is able to do AND as much as a man with 6 children is able to do. We have a need for a greater income than a man can make simply working at Dollar General distribution center (which is a few miles away) or working for the state hospital or prison (neither of which jobs appeal to Paul in the least bit anyway). So, he daily checks the internet listings for jobs, but nothing eligible for our needs seems to be available at this time. We are content to stay at UPS until the Lord makes another way plain. Right now it pays the bills and puts food on the table. This is of chief importance for a family coming out of nearly a year of zero to little income.

We are learning to be content in all things. What more can I say? For now, Paul has a job that pays for rent and food. To God be the glory!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

We can trust HIM

I wrote in my most recent post that Paul was fired from UPS for a car accident that was not his fault...then re-hired to a job that he could not do. The circumstances were bleak -- and that's putting it mildly. Paul followed through on turning in his resignation with the company, because he had no other alternative (that we could see with human eyes). Still, the situation was an absolute roller coaster.

The weekend was heavy. Tense.

Monday morning, Paul received a call from UPS offering him a different position within UPS that would allow him to work without doing the preload position that destroys his herniated discs. It is hard to describe all that has happened in the past week since the accident. I won't try. But, I will say briefly that Paul has employment with UPS for the time being.

Paul will begin working temporary/seasonal full-time as a driver on October 3rd. That position will carry through until after the busy Christmas season. Then, there is supposed to be another temporary position for Paul that will take him through the end of February. After that??? Not so sure.

His first full week at UPS as a seasonal driver will be Oct 7-11. So, we still have some mountains to climb. Though, at this point, we have grasped that it is not us who climbs these mountains...rather, the Lord carries us. We can do nothing in our own strength. Paul can work. He can work hard. I can serve my family. But, there comes a point where you know, "God, I cannot do this without you." That is the point that God wants all of us to live in. All the time.

We still need some miraculous provision. This has been one of the hardest years of our lives. These financial and health trials are like nothing we have ever been through together. The emotional upheaval is rough. Though, I think we are dealing with it better than we could have any previous year. I think.

It is still the cry of our hearts that "God is good. He means all these things for our good. His loving kindness endures forever. We can trust Him." The words may change, but the themes remain the same.

The Loving Father is continuing to teach us day by day that He is Good and we can trust Him.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Life Altering Decision (AKA-Kangaroo Court)

As I wrote y-day, Paul's job has been in limbo...

UPS determined that (though Paul was not at fault in the accident) the accident was "avoidable." It would hurt your brain for me to explain the exact way they determined that. Just take my word for it, it makes no sense. So, Paul lost his driving job. He will not be going full time this month as we were anticipating. Two weeks ago, Paul was told that he would start this month. Today he was fired.

BUT, thanks to (or maybe, no thanks to) the union, Paul is still allowed to work part time on the preload. Unfortunately, Paul's back is still unable to physically handle that job (because of the herniated discs).

SO...long story short, since Paul cannot do the work that he is allowed to do with UPS, he intends to quit Monday.

We are at peace with this decision. Truly. We are angry about the injustice of firing him on the grounds that the accident was "avoidable," when it was not...but God is at work. God is in this. God is all over this. We are going to move forward trusting that God will show us what to do next.

Please pray. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Wrecked Plan?

We all make plans. Sometimes these plans come into being...sometimes they don't. That is part of the reason  that the Bible tells us:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

For the last four or so years, our family has been saying "Lord willing, Paul will be a full-time driver at UPS soon...."

But, this whole year has been one problem with the UPS job after another. And, this week there has been a new challenge. Paul got into a wreck with his UPS truck (technically called a package car) on Monday afternoon. HE WAS NOT INJURED! The wreck was NOT his fault, someone ran a stop sign and hit him. No one is disputing that the wreck is not his fault. But, UPS has a higher standard. They ask, "Was this wreck 'avoidable'?" And, if they find out that the wreck was avoidable then Paul will be fired or disqualified from driving.

Tomorrow morning at 9:30AM, Paul will be in a meeting that will determine (humanly speaking) his future with UPS.

The Lord knows all. The Lord is VERY good to us. He means this for our good. And, we are continually giving thanks throughout this situation. All week we have been saying, "Thank you, Lord, that you mean this for our good." I even wrote a song along those lines.Yet, it has been a very hard year... we would appreciate your prayers!

I will try to update tomorrow with the verdict.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Family Photo - Aug 2013

Our most recent family photo! Nelson (9) and Rebecca (11) are behind the bench. Josiah (3) is in my lap, then Lydia (8, as of Aug 18th), Joshua (6), and Jeremiah (1 1/2) in the stroller.

Now check out this photo, on the same exact bench from September 2010!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A tough week

Paul returned to work on Monday and it is has been a hard week for everyone, but especially for him!

Poor Paul is limping and walking around like a man twice his age. His hernia sites seem to be okay and his back where his herniated discs were seem to be okay... he's just out of shape and sore!

please keep all of us in your prayers during this time of transition!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to Work!

Paul passed his physical on Friday and returned to work this morning! Thank you, Lord!!! He will be driving full-time until Labor Day.

Please keep Paul in your prayers...he is out of shape and he might have a difficult transition ahead. The route he is driving today will not be complete before 8pm. That's a long day for a guy who just had 9 weeks off!

THANK YOU ALL so much for your prayers!!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Still Here and Paul's health update

I'm still around... I just don't blog much. I don't feel creative enough to write blog posts right now. I think I'm kind of in survival mode.

Life has been overwhelming. Paul has been out of work for hernia surgery for 8 weeks. He will return on August 12th. Friends and family have been awesome with helping pay the bills... but This. Has. Been. Hard.

Paul's surgery went very well. (Three hernias repaired and a fatty tumor removed.) The healing process took longer than anticipated. And, since this injury was not workman's comp, Paul has to be at 100% before he can return to work.

I've been trying really hard to have faith through all this. So, if I sound pessimistic, please don't kick me while I'm down. This has been VERY hard. Paul has only worked 10 weeks in 2013. Fortunately, he averaged 50 hours/week during those weeks. I'm really trying to look for all the blessings in these circumstances. Some days I do better than others. Today we have full tummies and a roof over our heads. So, compared to most of the world, that really isn't so bad.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dirty Diaper Analogy

A two-fold analogy - What would happen if I smelled that my toddler pooped in his diaper, but I did not change it? What if I left the diaper alone for days? It would get messier, stinkier, and -at some point - the poop would get on everyone else and on furniture too. Let's say I then decide to take care of the diaper. Well, it's bigger than that now. His whole body needs bathed. The furniture needs washed. Clothing needs to be burnt. And so on. It would have been a whole lot easier to change the stinky diaper days ago. Right?

First interpretation - to parents - when you see sin in your children, correct it (in a godly manner) right away. Don't let the stink spill over and get on everyone and everything else till the whole household reeks.

Second interpretation - to believers - God is a loving Father. He knows when we have soiled ourselves. Sometimes we try to run away, because we don't want to be wiped clean. But, in the end, God will clean us up. He will dunk us in the bath tub of heaven and we will come out white as snow. He loves us and He will not let us remain in sin long term. There will be a reckoning. If you choose to run around in your dirty diaper (sin) constantly trying to avoid the Hand that would clean you...well, you will end up soiling other people and all the circumstances you touch. Sin hurts more people than just you. Let God wash you clean. Then, when you are clean, go lead others to the Great Father who would wash them clean. Be a living testimony to the grace and goodness of God.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Copied from my Facebook Timeline (date as shown) -

Analogy for your Wednesday afternoon - Imagine that a tornado or a strong storm knocked over a large tree in your yard. And you weren't able to clear this tree out. You didn't have the tools or the know-how. Perhaps you took away some small sticks and left the rest behind. This event represents trauma in your life. Now, let's say you want to start clearing away this debris years later. You are more equipped now. But, here is a serious consideration. (In the natural) When timber is left on the ground it becomes a home to many critters. There's a good chance that when you pick through the pile you will run into snakes. Spiritually speaking, as you deal with past trauma little trials will arise. You might find a bee hive or hornet's nest. This should not scare you away from completing the job. This tree needs to be removed to enjoy your yard to the fullest. Likewise, your trauma needs to be dealt with so you can have the abundant life God has given you. Each varmint you tackle in clearing away the dead mass will make your yard (your life) better. It may take years to clear up the whole mess. But, remember, you are not doing this alone! God sent you a Helper, the Holy Spirit, to give you the strength and knowledge to restore your life. Let Him help you! And, keep working at those pesky old tree roots. In time, you will be whole again.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A diligent search

From my Facebook Timeline (date as shown) -

I just read Psalm 77 because of a suggestion by my mother. And I love verse 6 that preceded the change from agony to rejoicing. The English Standard Version says that the writer made a diligent search of God's goodness (to get back his nighttime song of praise). A diligent search. Wow. Have you done a diligent search back over your life to see how God has blessed you and even your forefathers? God is good. If you want your song back - make a diligent search of His goodness in your life!

Pruning Analogy

From my Facebook Timeline (date as shown) -

I know enough about flowers and trees to recognize their growing cycles. Tonight I walked past a rose bush nearly falling over under the weight of its blooms. I immediately knew that that bush was cut way back last year, so that it would produce more blooms in the future. I thank God for speaking to my heart through that rose bush. But, even more than that, I thank God for His goodness in pruning me to produce more fruit later. The cry of my heart is to see the kingdom of heaven advance and grow. God knows my cries to be one who bears much fruit. God is good! This trial - in many more ways than I know right now- is an answer to my heart's cries. Praise You, Jesus! Thank you Father for finding me worthy of gentle pruning. I trust you, Master Gardener, to cut well...for my good and for your glory. Thank you, God.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Fog analogy

From my Facebook Timeline (date as shown) -

Friends, a spiritual analogy for your weekend - Is the fog obstructing your vision? Are you lost and you can't see where to turn? Look to the Lord, look to Jesus. As the SON gets higher, as He becomes greater and shines brighter, the fog will begin to dissipate. And, until you can see clearly, tread slowly through the murk and mire. You would not drive 70 miles per hour through fog (in the natural). Similarly, go slowly and wait upon the Lord to be the Lamp to your feet and the Light to your path.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Captured Moments

This is just the sweetest pictures I have of my husband. Such a precious moment, and I am glad that I was able to capture it.

A note about Jeremiah: when he sees Daddy getting his things together to leave, or when Paul comes in the door at the end of the night - Jeremiah starts making kissing sounds, and generally demands several kisses. He is a sweetie!

Paul's job - and update

Just a quick update to tell y'all that Paul has started a temporary seasonal job at UPS delivering packages full-time. This is a summer job while the regular drivers take their vacations. He will be working 9-7ish daily. Weekends off! We are grateful for the additional income to get us out of the hole (caused by three months without pay)! We are now praying for a second car, since our little van that Paul was driving blew a head gasket. Someone bought that off of us, because we did not have the means to fix it. And, now Paul is driving the big 12 passenger van to work daily. Once or twice a week I will be taking him to work and picking him up so that I can get out of the house.

we appreciate your prayers for Paul's back and my sanity. Paul is hurting. His back is not in good shape. But, Paul feels like he must keep working. As for me, being alone with the children all day has been an adjustment. By the time Paul comes home, I am ready to pull my hair out.

Still, amidst these new adjustments, I continue to work on my fiction novel. I have nearly 60,000 words and I am probably 3/4 of the way finished. Paul and the children are totally supportive, and I could not do this "job" without them. I have been so blessed in writing this book. I can't wait for you all to read it someday...

That's all for now. Gotta go check on kiddoes.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Paul Washer on the Gospel

Paul and I appreciated this 12 minute presentation about the Gospel. Very concise, yet very well explained.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Do not Compare yourself to men, Rather be conformed to Christ

Copied from Facebook, written this morning -

Homeschool Mamas, Have you ever read other peoples' blogs or FB posts and put yourself down for not being as "good" as someone else? I used to daily read a blog by a seemingly perfect mother of many, many children. But, this week I realized again that we just cannot compare ourselves to others. That mama of ten or so kids was a second-generation homeschooler who grew up with a huge family. For others of us, having several little ones and trying to homeschool is like finding our way through an underground cave with only a small match. Please do not (as I have done) compare yourself to anyone. Rather, endeavor to read the Bible and pray that God would conform you into the image of His Son. Jesus was sinless, but his yoke is easy, His burden is light! Trying to model yourself after some super mama hero might add to your burden and make your yoke heavy. I know this all too well. Keep pressing on, homeschool teaching mamas! Let God be your guide!

By the way, I do not read as many blogs as I used to. In fact, I only check two or three regularly.  Fill your life with whatever is positive and matches up with this admonition.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely , whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Phil 4:8-9 (NASB)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Taking on the yoke of Christ and removing my heavy load

I have so many heavy, heavy burdens on my heart today. I feel strongly that I need to share some of the thoughts I am processing.

For the past several years Paul and I have (unfortunately) gone from one extreme to the other in many areas of our theology. This happens to most of us from time to time. I acknowledge that we have been double-minded and that we are always seeking to find more middle ground. More balance. Paul and I have a heart for being authentic even when it hurts. We want to lay ourselves before others so that we might save them from making some of our mistakes. Or, if you have already made the same mistakes, we want to pull you out of the mire. BUT, one of the problems with this earnest sharing is... you, my dear followers. My heart aches for those of you who have followed us in to legalism.

What do I mean by legalism? Heaping burdens upon mens' backs that God has not required. I have written so much through the years that I later removed, for fear that it might lead someone away from God Himself and into a set of rules.

You see, I am a person who needs to feel gratification. I am performance driven. I am performance oriented. Grade me. Evaluate me. Give me a stiff set of rules to keep. But, whatever you do, don't be vague and "grey."

Christianity has many black and white areas. There are other areas that are more grey. And, instead of learning charity (with myself), I thought that I needed to know everything. Right now.

Over the past five years we have run straight into the camp of others who were heaping loads upon mens' backs that Jesus does not require.

I need to clarify - I am not calling anyone of you a legalist. I do not know your heart. I only know mine... and that only in part. Sometimes my own heart deceives me. Paul and I thought at every turn that our pursuit for holiness was pleasing the Lord. And, the part of me that yells "Grade me!" felt gratified. I felt like I could check off every possible item on the list of holiness that God was setting on my desk.

But, there was something missing on that list. Faith. We were missing the faith that believed that God's work was sufficient for our salvation. Jesus' blood was all we needed. Jesus makes us holy. We need to try to live in a way that pleases the Lord and honors Him - of course! Grace is never an excuse for sin! But, we do not have to have all the answers in one day, one year, or one decade. Growth takes a lifetime.

So, why am I dredging all of this up again? Now? Well, new patches of dead, barren ground (my heart) keep being exposed when rocks are flipped over. Forgive my metaphor. Other issues keep coming up and exposing the areas where I am still struggling.

But, where did this all begin? What are the roots of my own legalistic journey? That's easy. In 2006, Paul stumbled upon a forum on the internet that disputed all kinds of issues. This forum was not open to public comments. I think (unfortunately) that Paul and I thought we were special that we could get "in." That forum did not encourage us to love and good works. At all. It encouraged us to wrangle with each other with words. It propelled us into searching out ideas that are not on the radar of the "average" Christian. It did not fan a flame to share the Gospel with the lost. It made us feel stupid and unintelligent that we were not as learned as these other men and women.
In all honesty, there are some good posts on that forum. Some. I did not dwell on those. I was caught up in every little topic that would make me feel like I could measure and evaluate my growth and feel gratified. I was focused on the posts that made me feel like I had "arrived."
In case you know of what forum I am speaking, even though I intentionally left off the name: We know the owner of the forum. We went to his church in real life. Paul worked for him in real life. We moved across the nation to be with this man in real life. He loves the Lord. This is not an attack on that forum owner's character. We love him. We pray for him. I know that the intent of his heart is not to lead people into legalism. His heart is to teach. His heart is to see others sharpen one another. But, the forum can start people down an ugly path, if they - like me - are performance driven.

Also in 2006, we were introduced to the writings of certain prominent conservative Christian authors (I erased their names, because I am not meaning to "attack" any one person, couple, church, etc.) I read as many of these books as I could as quickly as I could. This marks a turning point in my life. I do not have the books now to re-read them and see if they are "legalistic," or if it was just the way I read and received them. Do you see the difference? I am not saying that these authors are "bad." Because I just can't be sure.
BUT, when I read their books I got wrapped up in being the perfect wife and mother. I wanted to be the perfect Christian. I wanted to be the perfect pastor's wife. Load upon load upon load piling up on my back.

Another thought - and I truly do not mean to offend, but this is what I see - Legalism will not work if you live away from others that share your belief system. Legalism only works in a group setting. (Of course, I admit, all belief systems work best in a group setting!)

But for me, personally, I was feeling pressured to keep my children in the worship service and be family integrated when no one else was practicing this idea. No one understood me. Paul was preaching. I had three children under the age of four, then four children under the age of five. I was alone. And exhausted.
Homeschooling - same situation.
Having as many children as the Lord gave us - same situation.
Modest dress - same situation.
What I saw as healthy lifestyle changes - same situation.
We were alone and without aid.
(Again, I am NOT saying that all of these ideas are "legalistic." Paul and I still practice many of these ideals, but NOT because we think it will save us, or give us more brownie points on a cosmic scale. God is not grading me. My report card is covered by the blood of Jesus. My mistakes. My insufficiencies. Covered by the blood of Jesus.)

So, here I was reading these books that made me enter into years of bondage of placing myself under UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS and without the aid of anyone "like-minded." I fell apart. I was depressed. I was miserable. I wanted to die. I hated life. I hated my family. Yet, all the while I thought that these intellectuals in the books I read and the forum I was on, were the ones who had it all figured out. They were trying to help me have a more holy life.

Friends - do not let someone else pressure you in to how to live. Not me. Not Facebook. No one. The Holy Spirit will teach you through the Word of God how you should act. Other books might help make sense of the meaning of texts of the Bible. Then again, maybe they won't.

I am NOT angry as I type this. I am NOT bitter. I am sad. I am earnestly trying to save others from losing God in the midst of chasing rabbits. I am trying to lower the bar of what you think God expects, so that you don't kill yourself (and the little ones running behind you) as you jump impossible hurdles and fling yourself (with little ones behind you) through imaginary hoops. I am trying to prevent other legalistic families from suffering, falling apart, or experiencing the tragedy of divorce, abandonment, death, murder, or suicide. (The Lord brought me out before I hurt anyone else or my own self. Others are not so fortunate. My heart aches for the families with mommies or daddies who "snapped" under pressure and made a life-changing mistake. Oh, my dears. If my vulnerability can prevent any such incident, I would gladly bear my whole heart. If you are weary to the point of leaving your family or killing yourself - get help, dear one. You are precious to me and precious to the Father. If you have no one else to talk to, you may email me. flutefelicity@aol.com God loves you, Friend! He has plans for your future! What Satan means for evil, God means for good! You have friends. I am your friend. You can trust me with your pain. I understand. I write this post from my own former agony. There is hope, Friend. Grab hold of it and hang on for dear life!)

Ladies, I am not trying to add to confusion. I do not want to be another voice adding to the chaos around you. I want to be one who comes along and begins to unstrap the unnecessary burdens off your back. I am not saying "drop everything," because that too would be folly.

Mothers, God does require us to try our best to raise God-honoring, God-fearing children. But, it is not all black and white. God does require women to be modest, but it is not all black and white. God does say to be holy, and live in a manner worthy of our calling. Some areas are clearer than others.

Let's give each other grace. We may read different Bible translations. We may dress differently. We may go to different types of worship gatherings. We may choose to educate our children differently. We are all on a journey and NONE of us is perfect. But, if we are believers, we ARE all holy. Jesus Himself has become our holiness. He took our sin. We took His righteousness. Let's be careful of what we try to talk others into doing (or not doing!) in the name of the Lord. Teach in love. Teach with mercy. Teach and lead by example. And, mothers, be ever attentive to the fact that there are little ones chasing after you. Do you want them to do what you are doing? Or, knowing that children often take what we do (or don't do) and blow it WAY out of proportion, do you want them taking your behavior and blowing it up?

Let's be loving, our kids can mimic that. Let's show mercy, we want our kids to catch that. Let's show moderation, forgiveness, understanding, patience, etc.

Pray and ask the Lord to show you if you have un-intentionally heaped burdens on your back (and your childrens'). You can unload them now at the feet of Jesus... and then try not to pick more up along the way... and so on. God will give you wisdom when you ask for it. God wants to heal your heart. He wants you to learn to see yourself as He sees you - through the blood of Jesus. He wants you to keep moving forward and press on to the goal. He wants you to be Christ-like. He wants you to be conformed to Christ. Ask the Lord to show you what He wants from you. Your best answers will be found on the pages of Scripture. Not on a blog. Not in a book. Those may help, but only if they point back to the Lord.

Pray hard and press on.

Sarcasm and Bitter Roots

Copied from Facebook, date as shown here.

Was not planning to post more today, but God is laying this heavily on my heart for a few of my FB friends (and myself): It has been my observation that sarcasm usually reveals bitter roots in a person. Whatever subject you find brings forth your sarcasm, it is probably an area in need of God's healing touch. Ask God to show you where your hurt places are, so you can move forward as a more effective soldier... Wearing scars of battle, not open festering wounds.

Seeds of Faith

Copied from Facebook, written the date that is shown here

There are moments when you have far-fetched ideas of what you could do with your life. What if some of these thoughts are seeds of great faith sown by a loving God who gives more than you can ask or imagine? What if, instead of shutting the valve of hope and creativity, you pray, "Lord, if this is from You bring it about in your timing." Then wait. God will bring it about in His way and His time. Or, He might lead you another direction. But, just because an idea seems impossible is not a reason to ignore it. Our God does the impossible!
It may be a broken relationship. It may be a new career. It may be a desire to reach the world for Jesus or save as many orphans that you can. If your idea is not against anything written in His Word, then keep praying. He hears you. The answer might not be what you expected. But God is better than our expectation. We see through a glass dimly. Keep hoping. Keep praying. Keep seeking. Keep listening. Don't give up on the seemingly outrageous ideas in your head.
One word of caution- Neither let these hopes become an idol. God does not generally operate in the box we try to place Him in. He is God. He is good. We worship Him for who He is and what He has done for us through Jesus. Withdrawing your intimacy from the Lord when He does not provide as you expected Him to could be a sign that you are seeking the gift over the giver. That would be idolatry.
Keep that seed of faith alive. Water it by reading the Bible and by praying. Do not underestimate the possible fruit that could come from one little seed of faith sown in well-prepared ground.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Disorder and Confusion VS. Peace and Mercy

*Re-published without making any changes on November 19, 2014. I have no idea why I took this down in the first place. Or, did I never even publish it? Who knows?*

Last night I gave up a few minutes of my precious book-writing time to write an update about my health. I mentioned (in detail) that I was writing a book. I even mentioned that I was okay with writing fiction instead of Christian living non-fiction.

SO, WHY am I questioning everything today?!

Actually, it began about half a minute after I pushed "publish" on my blog update last night. But, around 2 am I woke up and thought, "C.S. Lewis wrote both fiction and non-fiction. So can I." You can see this battle in my mind is going on even in my sleep.

I am asking myself-
1) Am I a literary snob? That I would only write and publish non-fiction?
2) Is it God asking me/leading me/guiding me to write my fiction book?
3) Is Satan trying to throw me off course because my fiction book will reach and help so many people?
4) Will publishing fiction first hurt my "credibility" for non-fiction as much as I think?
5) Where are my decisions being led by fear?
6) Where are my decisions being led by pride?
7) What does God want from me?
8) How much of this worry over writing fiction is because of what people will think of me?

Yep, number 8 is the key, and it ties in with 6, 5, and 3. What kind of author will I be if I cannot even finish writing the book because of worrying about what people will think. Of course there will be some people who think less of me for writing entertaining books. Of course there will be people who make fun of or and criticize my book. Of course my theology will make some people mad. But, are these reasons to stop writing the book? Of course not. Not if God is the reason I am writing it. And, I KNOW that this book will bring glory to God.
(Becca told me three days ago that I was not able to write as fast as I could before because I started worrying about what everyone else would think. She's right. I am barely writing an hour a day now, and that one hour is not very productive. I am over-thinking everything! Becca is disappointed because she is my first pre-reader and she has read everything I have written and wants more! A good sign, I think!)

My only other concern is that fiction might make some women abandon their jobs as mothers for a day while they turn pages in my masterpiece. ((winks)) But, I have two thoughts on this - 1) Is it my fault if a woman chooses to use her time poorly? And, 2) This book would be a far better option than watching television or reading a worldly romance novel. But, what if my Christian romance (and it will be light on the romance) novel makes women daydream and pine away for missed opportunities? 1) it's not my fault; and 2) they could do a lot worse....

I am writing honestly here, because so many of my friends are also aspiring authors. Maybe I am just helping to cut the trail to make it easier for you to come along behind me and write your own masterpiece!

Another thought - Obviously I want to keep my mind saturated with the Word of God. Obviously I need to read the Bible daily. But, how do I balance writing a book and reading my Bible? I feel guilty about writing so much compared to the amount I read my Bible. But, I had a thought about this tonight - My husband works 4-8 hours a day. And, he reads his Bible much less than he works. Because, unless you are a pastor, you probably cannot read the Bible while you are working, right? And, writing is my job right now. (Yes, wife and mother career comes first, but stick with me) So, I need to see my time in the writing room as I view Paul's time in his UPS truck. Does this make sense? Or does it sound like I am making excuses? Because I feel a little bit like I am making excuses...

I am so confused. Which brings me to a verse that I have been meditating on for a week and a half.

16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. James 3:14-17 (NASB)
It seems plain to me that where there is "disorder" (verse 16 - which can be translated as "confusion," "tumult," "disorder," or "disturbances"), it is caused by my own selfish ambitions and/or jealousies. Well... I guess that settles it.

I need to pray more. I need to read my Bible more. I need to listen to God more.

I will get through this. Thanks for letting me talk it out. You Blogger friends are good to me. I hope my authenticity in this journey helps you in your own struggles. Let's strive together towards "wisdom from above!"

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Why I don't blog as often as I mean to... and a health update too

I may have mentioned that Paul bought me a smartphone in February, because we decided that the internet service would cost less than my trips to the library to play on work on the internet. It is a mixed blessing to have internet access in my home again.

I felt led by the Lord to reactivate my facebook account. I wanted to be able to encourage my friends throughout the week. Unfortunately, FB can be extremely addictive... I am working hard on moderation. But, to be honest, it is good to have another connection to the outside world.
So, FB gets my attention and the blog takes the back seat.

Also, I am working diligently on writing a fiction novel (part of a series, actually). Back in January I was working on non-fiction. That work requires a great amount of in-depth Bible study time. But, just within the last ten days or so, the urge came upon me to start working on this fiction novel. All I can say is that God is guiding me to write it. I am thoroughly enjoying myself and I covet my time alone to write. In fact, I am so jealous for my writing time that the blog seems very uninteresting at present. The novel is coming along very well. God amazes me.

The thing is... I was born to write. God made me to write. It is a consuming passion... I must write. BUT, for years and years I have been too "sick" with hypothyroid issues (and/or disability) to even consider writing anything more than my blog. A novel or non-fiction book would have taken too much staying power. (I know, because I tried.) In January, I stopped taking my Synthroid medication and switched to Nature-Throid. I'll be honest, at first the switch was HORRIBLE!!! I gained at least 15 pounds in two months. I slept 16-18 hours a day. I could not hardly walk across the room. Each time I raised my medication, I had terrible palpitations that were extremely frightening. There was one occasion when I almost went to ER. Each time I increased my dosage I felt worse, and worse, and worse. I was beside myself with frustration!
I truly believed that Nature-Throid would be a great help to me, so I pressed on. I was working with two doctors and each doctor had a different view of how to "fix" me. Finally, I decided that my naturopath knew more about me (as a whole) than the doctor who actually prescribed the new meds. At this same time I was also reading every book I could about hypothyroid disease and hormone replacement therapy. I was fully convinced that I had many issues going on at the same time.
My naturopath re-checked my thyroid levels and discovered that I was taking WAY too much medicine AND that I had adrenal fatigue. These medication changes led to more fatigue and frustration. Less thyroid meds, more adrenal support and female hormone support. FINALLY we have gotten to a place where I am functioning very well... or at least better than I have in years.

Dreams have re-awakened in me (as in daydreams, hopes, etc). I am able to write. I am FAR more rational and reasonable. Paul has mentioned often than I am much more rational in our conversations. I don't lose my temper as easily. I am far less irritable and agitated. My whole outlook is improved. Also, my hair is getting much thicker. I have never had thick hair, but now it looks fuller! I believe that this is all an answer to many years of prayers. And, I think this change is almost entirely because of hormone treatments. Please, ladies, do not underestimate your hormones! I HIGHLY recommend the book by Richard Shames Feeling Fat, Fuzzy, and Frazzled?, it is eye-opening!!! (I can't remember if the book mentions evolution and all that. If the book does mention evolving from monkeys or that type of thing, I do NOT endorse evolution.) 

My desire to see women get physically well is secondary only to my desire to seeing them get SPIRITUALLY well! I want to be part of the healing process in your life! I want to encourage you to get right with God! I want to help you in your journey to physical healing as well. This is why I am willing to write posts that make me sound not-so-very-nice. It's all right. I admit it... I'm not perfect. Oh, goodness, the cat's out of the bag now. I am sharing my journey so that you might identify to parts and find healing too. So, you might see other posts about hormone replacement... if/when I have time. And, you might see posts about spiritual healing.... when I have time. right now my focus is on helping women through my books. My fiction novel is chalk full of Bible-based teaching. God has been so good to show me how to weave these teachable moments into fiction. And, honestly, I am excited to see how everything works out. I had originally planned to publish primarily non-fiction books and articles. My passion, my heart, is to teach and encourage women. God has been showing me what a vast audience is available to me in the fiction world. And, I think we all know how easily values can be taught through a good story line, right? (Prime time shows and secular novels are very influential!)

I want to write more, but like I said - I am jealous for my time to write my book. Thank you to my friends who are encouraging me as I write! Thank you for those of you who have been praying for my health for years! It is SO good to be able to get up and work!!! To walk around the house picking up toys and not become overly tired. It is so good to sleep til 6:30 and WAKE UP!!! And, to wake up refreshed, at that! Thank you to all of my friends in Columbia who are committed to praying with me and sharing words of encouragement with me when I see you.

I hope to have further updates soon.

Oh, by the way, I am up to 31,000 words on my book. That is probably about 1/3 to 1/2 finished! Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Poems by Rebecca and Lydia

Rebecca and Lydia wrote these poems for the local library contest. Neither girl won an award, but I know our heavenly Father is very proud of His little witnesses.

Every line in the poem had to begin with "I am from..."

By Rebecca, age 11

I am from God who loves me.
I am from Jesus Christ who died for me.

I am from peach pie and ice cream, chili and cornbread.
I am from home made bread and tacos.

I am from gardening, bird watching, fishing, horses, and kittens.
I am from climbing trees, swinging, sledding, and running.

I am from artwork, photography, reading, and music.
I am from writing letters.

I am from a family that loves.
I am from a thrilling, exciting, hugging, homeschooling, busy family.

I am from cowgirl boots, denim skirts, jewelry, and home made hair pretties.

I am from all of these things and more.           

Where I am from
By Lydia, age 7

I am from God. And God loves me.

I am from a God who provides for me, and Jesus who died on the cross for me.

I am from a family that loves me.

I am from a family that homeschools.

I am from brothers and sisters who love me.

I am from teddy bears, toys, baby dolls, and remote controlled cars too.

I am from apples, bread, and ice cream.

I am from blue jeans and hair pretties.

I am from everything that makes me Lydia.
  I am proud of my evangelistic girls!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Look at Your Map - an anaolgy

Copied from Facebook, date as shown.

We were driving down an unfamiliar road today and ran into a dead end. WE all do this in our Christian lives. We don't take time to look at The Map (Bible) and just go down whatever road looks good or feels right. Then, before you know it, you are on a dead end road that turns into a driveway with a forbidden house and a terrible dog (Satan). God will take you back the right way. Just look at The Map. Ask for directions (prayer). God will get you back on track.

For Fathers

Copied from my Facebook Timeline, written the date shown:

Dads, you are making a difference. Your unrelenting love for your wife and children will pay off! Some days you may feel hopeless, but God has a plan. Yours can sometimes be a "thankless job," but Jesus can relate to that. He died for some who still have not yet accepted his love. You are making sacrifices too that some of your children can't understand right now. One day those same children will appreciate you and thank you. You are making a difference!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


We have been doing food allergy testing on me and the children. We found out that Lydia has sensitivities to eggs and peanuts. Nelson has been tested too, but we have not gotten the results yet.

Also, the day we found out Lydia's food sensitivities, we also learned that she has an autoimmune hypothyroid condition - like I have.

Then, we have leaks coming into several rooms in our home (which is a rental).

My thyroid condition and adrenal issues are a little crazy right now.

But, good things are happening too.
- God is taking us every step of the way
- God has prepared help for us every step of the way
- someone bought us gas for the big van on Sunday
- we got a care package from friends with healthy food and clothes for Nelson
- during our three months without income our rent was paid and our van was paid
- we KNOW the food issues, so we can get well
- we have good doctors to help us get treatment for health issues
- we have one car that works
- school is going pretty well
- I have luxuries like internet
- I stay in touch with friends with my handy dandy phone

And so on... so, it's all in how you look at it. Maybe things aren't so bad after all.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cleaning the yard - analogy

Copied from my Facebook timeline, date as shown:

We were cleaning our yard today and MUCH grieved by all the garbage that is now visible after the spring rains. Similarly, when we submit ourselves to God, His refreshing rains fall on us. Sometimes it reveals a lot of garbage that was formerly hiding beneath the surface. The good news us that when the garbage is visible we can throw it away once and for all. Friend, Jesus died so that you can be saved (first of all) and cleaned up. For the glory of God!

Sunshine - an analogy

Copied from my Facebook Timeline, date as shown:

I was going to write, "the sunshine is back," when I realized the sun never left. Likewise, we cannot say God is good only when we are well and wealthy. God is good every moment of every day, whether we acknowledge it or not. It's just that sometimes we let clouds of sin and unbelief block the radiance of His Goodness.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Copied from my Facebook Timeline, date as shown:

God says - Stop obsessing over what you don't have and be grateful for what you do have. I have given you so much! I gave you my son. I gave you freedom from death, sin, and bondage. I gave you my Holy Spirit to comfort you, lead you, and guide you. I give you more than you can see with your eyes. I spare you from more than you will know this side of Heaven. Stop grumbling and complaining. Be grateful. Praise me at all times. Rejoice always. Sing. Bring me a sacrifice of praise. Keep moving forward. Don't get tangled up in these worries. I give you all you need. Be grateful.

Faith VS. Fear

Copied from my Facebook Timeline, date as shown:

Hard question- Are you operating out of fear or faith? Fear will hold you back, but faith will send you forward.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Using your gifts

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Using the gifts God has given you blesses others and builds them up and brings you joy! That's what I call a win-win situation!

A Good Father

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While Paul was cutting up potatoes for breakfast, Jeremiah stood reaching up crying. Jeremiah could not understood why Daddy did not share. How many times are we like that with the Lord. Holding our hands out towards what it is that we want, it looks so good to us. But, The Father is saying, "No, Dear One, it is not the time yet." Paul did not scold Jeremiah for asking for food or for crying about it. Likewise, your father knows you have needs too. You may keep asking, and when the time is right, He will hand you what you need.

Friday, April 5, 2013

My advice to Young singles and newlyweds (finances)

It is that time of year again... wedding planning around every corner. It got me to thinking about how it is more important to plan for a marriage than for a wedding. This, of course, takes years of preparations.

This post is not written as an accusation to anyone that I know! Not in the least! It is just what I wish someone would have told me. This is not the sum of my knowledge, just the first dozen or so things that came to mind.

Today's post is limited to one topic - Finances.

I don't know a whole lot about money. I am not a financial guru. But, I can help you learn from my mistakes, and that is my chief aim. Sure, it is a little embarrassing for us to talk about our past, but if it keeps just one person from following our path it is worth it!

- Do whatever you can to stay out of debt as long as you can! So often young adults enter into marriage with the idea of living to the standard they grew up with - it just rarely works this way. I would bet that your own parents as newlyweds rarely ate "out." Most new married couples (20+ years ago) scraped by without the luxuries of fast food and $4 coffee from a drive through. Trying to live like your parents without their income is a recipe for disaster.
- You can live with less furniture, or used furniture. You really don't need to go buy a new bedroom group, dining room group, and living room group (each with a $2500+ price tag). Craigslist and second hand stores always have cheap tables and chairs that you could clean up, or even refurbish, for very little. Auctions would be a good place to look for furniture too.
- You don't "need" cable and home internet. Cable IS a luxury and you can get by without it. And, you probably already have internet on your phone. You can always use the library for more extensive projects. As for cable, we have been married 13 years and have had cable a total of maybe 2 months that entire time. Take walks, go to a park, read a book, make a picnic, go fishing, learn to garden or hunt, learn to cook, do crafts, there is a lot to keep you busy without cable tv.
- If you are still single - SAVE your money! Don't buy bigger better cars now. Don't waste your hard-earned money on soda and coffee. SAVE it! You will thank me later.
- As much as you can, use shop towels and such to clean spills, and save money on paper towels.
- Before you go enter college or grad school, make sure that is what you really want to do. Ask yourself if you really need a degree to do what you see yourself doing in the future. College loans are a headache that hangs over you for years to come! (I am not discouraging college, I just want you to know that you know that you need to go)
- When setting up housekeeping - Buy used appliances. Washers, dryers, 'fridge, etc. You will be glad you did.
- Buy used cars. With cash.
- Consider doing some things "the old fashioned way" - hang out laundry on a line, cook from "scratch," drink water, use wood heat, if you live in town - walk to work.
- Save credit cards for emergencies, do not use them on consumable stuff like fast food (except in a real bind or when traveling.)
- Buy clothes at name brand stores only at the end of the season, or shop at second hand stores. You can look nice without spending a fortune, or signing up for a Macy's credit card account. (Yeah... ask me how I know... only back then it was called Famous-Barr.)
- Do NOT feel obligated to buy nice gifts for friends at weddings, birthdays, etc. A simple inexpensive gift will do just fine. Consider making a gift, like an apron, or cloth napkins or something. Or, just give a card, and when they are in your shoes (married, just trying to make it week to week), they will thank you.
- After you are married - SAVE as much as you can for emergencies, household items (furnace/roof/etc), a baby, etc.
- Write a budget and stick to it as much as possible. Read books by Christian financial gurus.

Above all - Be realistic. You have the rest of your lives to live out your dreams! It does not have to happen this year, or even in this decade!

A few verses to meditate on: The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender's slave.        Prov 22:7 (NASB)

'You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.'
Deut 5:21 (NASB)
    For we brought nothing into the world,              and we can take nothing out.   But if we have food and clothing,  we will be content with these.
        1 Tim 6:7-8 (HCSB)

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls, 
Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord GOD is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds' feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.

       Hab 3:17-19 (NASB)

What are your suggestions for newlyweds and young singles?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Summer With the Moodys - Book Review

Image Credit - Amazon.com
Last summer, I ordered Managers of Their Homes from the Maxwell family. In the back cover, there was an advertisement for a set of books written by daughter, Sarah Maxwell, The Moody Family Series. We recently got our hands on book on, Summer with the Moodys, through Inter-library Loan.

I read the book out loud to the children. Eleven year old Rebecca also read aloud parts of the book to the younger children. Overall, the book is very wholesome and entertaining. The Moody family is a Christian, home educating family with 4 children. This first book chronicles the children's adventures during their summer break from school.

What the kids liked:
- The book was very funny.
- It was a page turner, they wanted several chapters at a time

What we parents like:
(- Time spent reading to kids - invaluable!)
- No unwholesome speech or crude humor... Far from any unwholesome speech
- Teaches the children good manners
- No talk of divisive theology (at least in book 1). Nothing about any of those topics that we conservative homeschool families often heatedly dialogue about. (Though the family would appear to be what some label "quiver full," it is never taught or pushed.)

 The family is kind to one another. They love and forgive each other. We could all learn a thing or two from the Moodys. The book is very idealistic, but I guess that's not so bad. Anything that I would say against the book is not really in opposition to the book at all, but only out of frustration from my own (perceived) shortcomings. I decided not to embellish that I-am-a-failure-complex here. I'll save that for another post. {{winks}} 

We will get the other books through the library. Someday we hope to buy them. I think your family will be blessed by them too.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Walking in the Dark

Copied from my Facebook Timeline, date as shown:

Last night when I went to bed I couldn't see in my room. It was just black. Without thinking, I closed my eyes and walked where I needed to go without bumping anything. I even plugged in my phone to charge. The spiritual analogy is this- when you are paralyzed with fear, because your next steps are so dark, stop trying to see it with your eyes. Just like my feet and hands knew the way in the dark, the Spirit within us can keep moving forward. You can walk in faith. Your hands can do the jobs God has for them. When it is dark, stop trying to make sense of the future, just let God lead you forward in the right path.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Progress, Not Perfection

Cpoied from my Facebook Timeline, date as shown:

Let's say that you have a friend who spent her whole life in the suburbs, but when she grew up she decided to be a farmer and grow all her own food. Do you expect her to move to a farm that year and fill her freezer and root cellar with goodies that first year? Of course not. Well, how many of us expect to do this very thing in our Christian lives? The analogy is far from perfect, but I wanted to get your attention. We can no more become sinless creatures overnight than we can become farmers. There are bitter roots that need removed from our fields, we need to plow the soil and remove weeds. We have much to learn and it can't be accomplished in one day, one year, or one decade. Sanctification is a process. It takes a lifetime. Don't expect perfection from yourself or your friends. The work in you will be completed, just not in one day.

"And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Phil 1:6

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Drought - Analogy

Copied from my Facebook Timeline, date as shown:

One of the blessings of these past years of drought is that farmers were able to enlarge their ponds to hold water and prepare for future trouble. There is a spiritual analogy in that.

Talking to a Brick Wall - Analogy

Copied from my Facebook Timeline, date as shown:

If I was to repeatedly talk to my father or my husband without getting a reply, I would feel like I was talking to a brick wall. Yet how many times have I poured out my heart to the Lord and not expected an answer. God is good. Better than any of the human counterparts who, in a blurry way, represent Him to us on Earth. We need to expect that He listens and that He will answer with compassion and tenderness.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Meditate on God

Copied from my Facebook Timeline, date as shown:

I love learning about health and nutrition, but when a book starts talking about healing hypothyroidism by picturing blue and meditating on the universe I put it down and grab my Bible. I will meditate on The Authority (for salvation, godliness, and yes, diet and healing).

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellent, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. PHIL 4:8 ESV

Moms, You are World Changers

Copied from Facebook, date as shown

Moms, you are changing the world. Your primary ministry is to love and serve your family. There are days it feels like this season will never end, but the truth is by God's Timeline it is only a breath, only a moment. God wants you to push on and persevere, He will uphold you and give you strength. Your children will rise up and call you blessed if you make it a priority to love them and bless them. You have the potential to change the world!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Morning Prayer

A morning prayer, copied from facebook, date shown.

Lord, give me the strength to do the jobs you have for me. Give me the grace to require of myself only that which You require. Let me judge my life through Your eyes only - not my own, not my friends, not media - Yours. Help me to find pleasure in the journey as You have promised (Ps 16:11), as I abide in You, in Your presence. Help me to bear much fruit as I draw life, strength, and healing waters from Your viney arms of love which are holding me and sustaining me. Help me to continue to stand upon the promises that I find in Your Word. Thank you that I can do all things through Your Son, Jesus, who is my strength and my song.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Paul Went Back to Work

Today was Paul's first day back on the preload at UPS since his herniated discs were diagnosed. He has finished his course of physical therapy to satisfy the doctor who then released him to go back to work. Paul is SO happy to be back at work. Even though we won't actually see a paycheck until Friday of next week, he feels like the bread winner again. He is singing in the kitchen right now! Such a difference from last week! Oh - and he may be delivering the air packages often again, which is wonderful!

We humans are made to work. Paul works outside of the home, so being without that work made him a little despondent for a time. Similarly, my work is in the home. And, when I cannot do my work I am more than a little discouraged. And, I have been really "sick" lately with my overall health. I am not sick to my stomach, I don't have the flu. What I have is a few debilitating chronic issues that get me down from time to time.

My hypothyroid condition has been really awful lately. I think that I mentioned that I switched to from synthetic thyroid medicine to desiccated thyroid called Naturethroid. While my doctor and I have great hopes for this medicine change-  it came with a warning. The doc told me in no uncertain terms that the first month I would feel really terrible. I had hoped that he would be wrong. I had hoped that I could defeat the norm through prayer, but he was right. My strength, energy, and vitality plummeted when I switched. It has been slowly improving as I keep raising my Naturethroid dose to try to find the optimum amount. But, in the meantime, I feel awful.

I am not able to do much school. I get tired and irritable too quickly. I nap a lot. I am not "depressed," but I am discouraged that my abilities are so limited at this time. I know that it is temporary. I think that better health will come soon.

Meanwhile, I keep thinking that we should have moved South years ago. Every year we talk about moving for my health, and every year we put it off. Here it is mid-March and I am coming out of the winter fog again. We are still searching for the root causes of my autoimmune issues, my chronic vitamin d deficiency, etc., but in the mean time I wish I could be somewhere soaking in sunshine year round. It sure couldn't hurt, right?

So, long story short - Paul is much, much better! With his last evaluation at the Physical Therapist his strength had improved 165% from his first visit. But, I am worse. I am so, so sick of this up and down based on the weather and the seasons.