Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Joy in the Journey

Yes, joy in the journey
My cup runneth over; of this I am fully aware. In looking back, we can see the hand of God in our lives and it gives us hope to move forward. . .

January

  • God provided two jobs that allowed me to work from home: In addition to keeping sweet little Colby each day, I started working for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine again as a company researcher.

  • Michael and I started a Facebook page for his woodworking & remodeling business and were overwhelmed at the positive response and the amount of work generated from it.

February

  • After misdiagnosing Abbey with a bad virus, we decided almost too late that it was her appendix. She was rushed to surgery but her appendix had already ruptured.  The seven days of recovery in the hospital afterwards were one of the biggest challenges we have faced with her and I felt God's hand holding me up that week.  She still talks about it and she, too, recognizes His strength and healing in her own life

March

  • Our fourth foster baby, "Christopher" came to live with us.  At 10 days old, his fever spiked to 104 and we rushed him to the ER. Poor little baby had to endure a spinal tap, poking and pushing and prodding. The doctors discovered he had a very serious condition of sepsis in his kidneys.  The next seven weeks were dedicated to getting him well. A five-day hospital stay, daily antibiotic shots in his tiny little thighs, horrible tests on his private parts, oh my.  We bonded so much.  He went to live with his perfect, forever family in early May and is happy and thriving. I still grieve for him, but I am so thankful to have been chosen by God to be that sweet baby's comforter during his first few weeks of life. 

  • I was asked to be TOS Publisher Gena Suarez' sales assistant, increasing my hours and my income. Blessed to be working for such a strong woman who insists on God getting all the glory through the magazine.  

April 


  • Michael and I decided to take the job of Youth Directors at our church.  We were trepidatious  at best, but after spending just one night with these young souls we knew we were right where we are supposed to be for this season.  We are still enjoying them each Sunday night.  I love our church family.  Such sweet souls.

May

  • Connor graduated from Reid State Technical College with his degree in Welding.  I am really, really blessed to be his mama. 

  •  My TOS responsibilities increased even more as I was allowed to start selling ads and earning a commission on top of my sales assistant duties.  I love, love, love meeting these new curriculum companies and introducing them to the homeschooling world.  I love finding new ways to teach the tough subjects. 

  • After much prayer and consideration, I decided to start another blog--the one you are reading now--after shutting down my other one.  If you want to know that back story, click here

June

  • Our precious grandson Cooper Thomas turned one I've always heard it said that time goes faster the older you get.  I now fully believe that to be true.  I can't believe how enriched our lives are with him and I certainly can't remember life without him.  I love him beyond measure.

  • We bought a new mattress. Okay, material things are not that important to me, I promise, but I can't tell you how happy we both were when we got to finally get this new bed. God cares about the tiny details in our life.  Funny (and true) story: Michael decided we would be fine by downsizing to a queen from a king size bed, so we had the queen delivered.  Who knew six inches of space would make such a HUGE difference?  I mean, every time one of us turned over, it woke the other person.  After a week of sleepless nights, I went back to the furniture store with bleary eyes and begged for an exchange.  Aaaaahhhhh!  I will never complain about my bed again.  Ever. 

July


  • My son-in-law Adam got hired at Monroe Academy as a history teacher and coach!  They got to move to Monroeville and be near us again!  Since Cooper's birth, they have lived at least five hours away from us.  I love being around Adam and his dry wit and I have loved, loved having my daughter back closer because she is one of my best friends, and I have, of course, loved having my sweet Cooper near me.  Hearing him say "Granna" just melts my heart and makes all the tension in my body go away.    Thank you, Lord!!! 

August

  • Michael's woodworking business has boomed and he has had at least one order per week since we launched the webpage.  We look at each other every time we get an order and just say, "Wow! Thank you, Lord!"  God really loves to bless his children, doesn't He?  I need y'all to hear me: we have lived in a 'feast or famine' lifestyle for years.  We have cried out to God and we have learned to listen to what He wants us to do.  It has been so rewarding to hear His voice and to know deep down that the trials are something for which to be thankful for as well.  
  •  I started a new homeschooling year with Abbey! I am so thankful to live in a state and a community that allows me to homeschool my child.  As our civil liberties are being threatened by so many hidden political agendas more and more each year, I don't take this right to choose my child's education lightly.  

September
  • Michael got a REAL job! Like 8 to 5, benefits, polos, khakis, a desk, and a regular paycheck! It took six (!) interviews and a year of waiting, but he finally landed it and he loves it!  He is working now full time at the Housing Office at Poarch Creek Indian Reservation.  He is a Building Construction Manager and instead of swinging a hammer all day, he gets to tell others how to swing theirs!  While we have always had a monthly budget, we have rarely had enough money to carry it out each month.  It is so nice to know exactly how much will be coming in each month and be able to plan.  Blessed, I tell ya! We are blessed. 

October


  • I went to what I thought was traffic court in Evergreen, Alabama, only to discover I was in the middle of city court and was sitting next to handcuffed and shackled inmates who had to stand before the judge as well.  What an experience! You can read more about how I ended up in court here, but let me just say,  I learned a lot that day about small towns and lenient judges.  I was so grateful for the final decision. 

  • Abbey made it through October without bronchitis. This was the first time in nine years I can say that! 

November

  • Abbey got bronchitis (at least we made it to November) and then Michael contracted it. Abbey is better and Michael is finally getting over his as well.  I hurt my back lifting Cooper over a baby gate and have been living on Ben-Gay and heating pads for a week, but even those physical challenges allow us to see God's hand of mercy strongly over our lives.  


  • I am so excited about the upcoming holidays and the chance to enjoy our sweet family.  I still pray that one day our prodigal child will come home and will finally realize how much we love her.  We will never, ever give up praying for her.  

The Christian life is a roller coaster, but it is such a beautiful thing to be able to find joy in the midst of pain.  Thankful. I am so thankful for such a blessed year (so far).  

What are YOU thankful for? 

And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the LORD. If he offers it for a thanksgiving."  Leviticus 7:11
 

  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Things That Make Me Smile

Abbey says, "What is the largest number called? Is it 'Beyond'?"  I looked and her said, "Huh?"  She said, "I thought it was something Buzz Lightyear says."  (Too Infinity and Beyond)
 ~~~~~~~~~~~
In the shower this morning, Abbey got water (not soap) in her eyes and screams, "I need a washcloth for my eyes!! I am PANICKING!!!!!"  
 ~~~~~~~~~~
My job as a sales support manager for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine keeps me very busy and today I realized that maybe I need to learn to balance my work life with my home life just a little better.  I get an email in my work inbox from Abbey, who had gone to the other computer in the house to type it.  The email said, "Mama, are we going to finish schoolwork or am I done?"  

~~~~~~



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Growing Up Wild (Review)



Do you worry about how self-indulgent your children are becoming? No? Maybe it’s just me. I struggle to find ways to help my children have a missionary's heart, to look outside themselves and see the whole world that Jesus wants us to reach. To that end, I am constantly on the lookout for tools to help me teach them.  I was so pleasantly surprised with the videos and curriculum produced by The Wild Family called Growing Up Wild.  


The Wild Family are missionaries in Papau, in the remote jungles of Indonesia.  The Mom and Dad Wild were the narrators of the videos and that immediately personalized them.  But then we got introduced to their four beautiful boys Morgan, Hudson, Kian and Asher, and we were drawn in even more.  


We were chosen to review Volume 1 and Volume 4 of the Growing Up Wild series. 

Growing Up Wild Volume 1 includes a DVD with three episodes of videos: 1. Home Sweet Hut, 2. Supply Trip, 3. Sun & Water.  Each episode is 15 minutes long.  The accompanying DVD is the learning guide for those three episodes.   


These lesson guides provide some wonderful lesson plans and suggested activities covering many different subjects! 
  • We did the Venn diagram from Home Sweet Hut, where we compared what is the same and different about our homes and the hut in which the Wild Brothers live. 
  • We talked about solar panels and how they worked and we searched the internet to see if we could actually afford to have solar panels on our house! (Sadly, we could not.)
  • We went online to Google Earth and tried to find the Wild's hut and see the boys playing in the jungle. (Okay, I know it was a long shot, but you know how detailed that Google Earth is!)


In Volume 4, we learned about the following: 1. Amazing World Around Us, 2. Adventures in Culture, 3. Tribal Calling. 
  

Abbey loved how the missionaries taught the Wano tribal members to accept Jesus.  She loved the testimony of precious Wano man and how Jesus has changed his life.  She and I talked about how awesome that would be to experience---to teach a tribe that couldn't read at all prior to the missionaries coming into their villages, to read the Bible! 

 

On the accompanying DVD for Vol. 4, we printed out the iceberg and filled out the chart, as suggested in the activities.   


It was so good for Abbey to realize how much goes into a successful missions program.  It is so much more than just the actual missionaries having that one-on-one contact with the people to which they are called to preach; it is secretaries, the churches back home, the pilots, and it's me and it's YOU. We are all the salt and light of the earth.

We also printed off the Culture Worksheet provided on the Activity Guide and compared our culture with the Wano culture.  The fun thing about this was realizing how much alike we all are--especially in our need for Christ. It was four pages long, but here is what the front page looked like:


There are five volumes of DVDs in all, and Abbey is begging me to order the three that we don't have; it is my plan to do so!  She has fallen in love with the boys and their dog and their cat and all their wonderful stories and adventures.   
 
Abbey’s Favorite Part: Watching the boys get their septums/noses pierced. “It was hilarious!”  Haha! That, for the record, was not my favorite part, but I LOVE that the boys were not afraid to do it!

Mom's Favorite Part:  Watching my child engrossed in a video that is so meaningful.  I could tell she was listening to every second because she would repeat details of so many of the video's scenes to her dad at night. 

My only complaint is that the videos are not long enough! Having worked in television for six years, I do know producing a video is expensive, so I totally get it, but selfishly, we wanted to see more of the Wild Brothers! For now, we are satisfied to keep up to date with them over on their blog: http://thewildbrothers.com/blog.

Order Yours Today: The videos/curriculum can be purchased individually by volume for $18.99, or purchased as a group of all five volumes for $80.99 (a 15% discount).  

Best Ages: The website recommends these videos for ages 5 - 12, but I think almost all ages could glean fun and useful information from them, especially in learning about a missionary's heart.

Best Uses of DVDs: They would be wonderful in a youth group setting, a Sunday school setting, an Anthropology class, or just one-on-one, as Abbey and I experienced them.  

These DVDs were one of the most unique curriculum products we have gotten to review all year, and we feel so honored to have been chosen! 

See what other Schoolhouse Crew Review Members are saying about the Wild Brothers and Growing Up Wild by clicking the banner below!
 

 
Disclaimer: I received Growing Up Wild Volumes 1 and 4 in exchange for writing an honest review on my blog. No other compensation was given.

My First Guest Post--Journey to Josie

My fostering story is being featured over at Journey to Josie today!  Thank you, Nicole! 

Please check out her beautiful blog over at: 

http://www.journeytojosie.com/

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Photography 101



Flipping through Facebook last Saturday night, I saw where a friend of mine had “tagged” me in a picture.  There, for all the Facebook world to see, was a very unflattering, side-profile picture of me. It was such an unattractive angle. (Note to self: go "un-tag" yourself).   And I really don't want to post that photo, but for the sake of emphasis, here goes:


Ugh! I was immediately drawn to all the things about which I cringe when I see pictures of myself--my overbite, my weak lack of a chin, the gray hairs around my temple, and my are-you-sure-this-isn’t-a-man neck and shoulders.   We are all our own worst critic, aren’t we?   

And let me just say here--I really do realize that no one on Facebook is studying me very much, if at all.

But in looking at that picture and realizing how ridiculously hard on myself I am, I also realized that if God could take a snapshot at my heart right this second, the self-inflicted criticisms when I saw that photo would be even worse.  I mean, if a 'soul' photograph revealed all my hidden faults---yuck! I would have to look away! The judgmental-ism, the what-about-me attitude, the lack of sympathy for those in different places than me--the list could sadly go on and on.


I don't think any of us would want to see what would come out that dark room.
 
I am so grateful that when God looks on my heart and soul He sees me for who I CAN be, not just for who I am today.  And I am so thankful that He can and has, with two nail-scarred hands, wiped clean this sinful heart of mine.  

It means that no matter what angle He's holding His camera, I will always end up looking good.



"God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mute Mondays - November 5, 2012











Cold Toast



I wrote this post two years ago, but I admit I still struggle with patience.  The Lord is still working on me, thank goodness. . .
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Mama?!! Can you come here?

Abbey's words echoed down the hallway to the kitchen where I was making my breakfast of buttered toast and coffee. I had just taken my first bite of toast when she called me from her bedroom.



Knowing full well she just wanted to tell me something that absolutely could wait until I finished, I took another bite and sat down at the table. I needed more time to wake up and LOTS more coffee before being a mom. 

"Mamaaaaaaaa!? Are you coming?!" Higher-pitched and more urgent this time.

Aggravated, I left my food on the table and headed down the hall. I stopped in her doorway, thinking it would only take a second. 

"Whatcha need?" I asked.  [I know. I know. Such a kind and loving way to greet my youngest child first thing in the morning. Not.]

Her little voice started, "I wanted to come find you in the middle of the night because I had a bad dream. It was about Bai..."  She paused and looked up at my impatient expression.  Her face dropped.  And then, penetrating my heart like a knife, she said, "You can leave. I will just tell you later."  

A hard kick to the gut by a UFC fighter would have felt better. I felt guilty and embarrassed. I took my two-inch tall, mother-of-the-year self straight to her bed and lay down beside her, wrapped my arms around her and kissed her soft cheek. 

"Sweetie, please forgive me.  I want to hear about your bad dream."  She chose to stay quiet for a few minutes and just kept her head on my chest. She finally told me the scary dream she had about her beloved pet dachshund Bailey.  The details were mild, but to a seven-year-old mind, they were huge and scary and sleep-interrupting.  

Ten minutes later and satisfied she was going to be okay, I left her to catch a few more winks and returned to my breakfast. My coffee was lukewarm and my toast was cold.  I ate it anyway.  It felt like appropriate consequences for my initial reaction to my child's call for attention. 

I am very thankful that I can't see God's expression when I need His attention.  Do you think He gets aggravated when I call Him away from the really important, daily miracles He is performing? Regardless, He faithfully listens to my nightmares, too. 

Thank goodness He is capable and powerful enough to do both.  

Thank goodness He doesn't tell me to wait in line or come back tomorrow.  

And thank goodness He doesn't mind cold toast.  


"But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears." Psalms 18:6

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