Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!




Christmas blessings from the Cantrell Clan!



Sunday, November 14, 2010

~to my brother~

My little brother married the love of his life yesterday!  I couldn't happier for them!


The following was my toast to them at the rehearsal dinner:

Blake (or Greg as you're called now),
When I was seven years old, my “only child” status was ripped away! I didn't want a little sister and God saw fit to give me a brother.  I was thrilled! From the time you were born, I made it my mission to protect you. Nothing or no one would hurt you – I made sure. As long as you were in earshot, I was paying attention. When you were a little boy, at the first sign of a loose dog, I could hear you scream, “SISSYYYYYY!!!!!!”, and I was off and running! Thankfully I was much quicker back then:)

You have taken many laps around the block on my handlebars – and many trips down Broadway, ducking down in my backseat so no one could see you (at my request!). You endured many forms of torture – most in fun and most involving a curling iron and hairspray. (I need to take this opportunity to publicly apologize for that!) You have always made friends easily and had many of them. You were never a follower, but stood out among them as a leader. From early on, however, it was clear that you would NOT be taking the first girl that came along! At twelve years old, girls began calling to see what the “math assignment” was, only to be hung up on for not listening in class:) You simply would not be bothered by such immaturity!

I can't begin to tell you how proud I am to be your sister. You are no longer a “pesty” little brother, but a close friend. The life you live is a reflection of the quality of your character. You are focused, you know what you want, you work hard and enjoy life – the only thing that was missing was someone to enjoy life with.



Jessie,

Glen and I knew from the moment we met you that you were the perfect fit for Greg – and we loved you! You are positive and fun and easy to talk to and comfortable to laugh with. I am thrilled to be gaining a sister! I'm looking forward to many shopping trips, telephone calls and holidays around the table!  I can see that you love my brother – and I know he'll be safe with you.

Though marriage is wonderful, God uses us to help refine one another and draw us closer to each other and ultimately to Him. Know that refinement isn't always easy, but always worth the hard work!
Congratulations! We love you both and are praying God's best blessings for you! No one is cheering you on more than us!
If you didn't grow up with us, this probably didn't make much sense to you, but if you did, you know that when we were little, we were never apart.  Until I left home, I was definitely his caretaker:)

It's wonderful to see them so happy!  The wedding was beautiful and fun - just like the bride and groom!  Still in Chicago, but headed home this week.  I'll try to post more about the wedding later.

Blessings,




Wednesday, November 10, 2010

~book review~

On This Day in Christian History, by Robert J. Morgan.

I knew when I ordered this book that it was divided into 365 daily devotions, but was pleasantly surprised with the content.  I'm not much of a history buff, but am finding that the longer I'm a Christian, the more interested I become in Christian history.  Not only are there daily devotions, there is a topical index in the back to point to a specific devotion.  I can look for devotions that talk specifically about peace or perseverance, and many other topics.  I am considering incorporating these facts in my kids' homeschool lessons - possibly as topic starters for writing assignments.  It's definitely not a replacement for in-depth Bible study, but I don't believe it was written for that purpose.  For a quick time of reflection, or neat, new information about Christian history, I definitely recommend this book.



I received this book for free from Booksneeze.com, with an agreement that I would give an honest review. If you're willing to blog your review of Christian books, go to http://www.booksneeze.com/ and register!

Blessings,



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

~trusting and praying~

Glen and I try to "pray without ceasing" concerning our kids.  Since before we began to homeschool, we have prayed about their education and which route to take.  God had laid homeschool on our hearts long before He led us to it.  They went to Christian school for several years before God called us to homeschool.  Every year, we have tried to make sure we're listening for God's voice where their education is concerned.  Are we homeschooling because we're called to it, or because it's the habit we're in now and we don't want to change what we're doing?  Each year we have heard God say, "Yes!  Homeschool!".  Without a doubt, it has been His plan.  This year however, we have had questions since the beginning of the year.  Not for both kids, but for our daughter.  She'll be in ninth grade next year and we have felt it would be a good time for her to go back - if it's God's plan.  Everything I have read says your high schooler must be in agreement to continue homeschooling through high school.  That makes sense.  School is not an option, but they should start getting some input about how they are schooled.  I just knew, given the choice, she'd pick school.  She's SO social!  She would also have the option of competing in sports and music competitions - which are important to her.  My immediate response was "NO!".  I cherish the time we spend together.  I love that I am her biggest influence (some days, admittedly not the best influence, however!)  My second reaction was to keep my feelings to myself.  If I told Glen, I was afraid he would jump on the opportunity before I could give my input (in case you didn't know, I'm a recovering control-freak!), and if I told Grayson, she would definitely jump on the opportunity to spend more time with friends and less time with me!

After several days of feeling like I needed to talk to Glen (funny how God does this), I was relieved to know he was having the same feelings.  Relieved and stressed out all at the same time.  Relieved that I wasn't crazy, stressed that I may have to send her.  We agreed to pray about it the rest of the year, then see where we are at the end of the school year.  Neither one would ask Grayson's opinion for now - after all, we're the parents (and I already knew her answer!).  Within a few weeks, we had both broken the agreement.  While talking with her, I felt there was an opening in the conversation where I could ask without it being a major ordeal.  I simply said, "Daddy and I are praying about whether we'll keep homeschooling you next year.  What d'ya think?"  She said, "I don't know".  I don't know?  She didn't jump at the chance to bust out of this joint?  I dropped it, but talked to Glen the next day.  Apparently the same kind of opening had come up in a conversation he had with her!  She gave him more information, though (yes, I'm totally jealous!).  She told him she was afraid that if she went to school, she'd lose her homeschooled friends.  Wow.  That's when it hit me.

I have grown very close to the moms in our homeschool co-op.  They are some of the best women I know - committed to Christ and to homeschooling.  I can call any of them or shoot them an email asking for prayer, and I know without a doubt they've got my back.  They are encouragers and a support system that I've so needed and drawn from as I've homeschooled my kids these last four years.  I began to realize that part of the reason I don't want her to go to school is because it may eventually lead to Riley going to school.....which would end our homeschool co-op days with other homeschool families.  These are times I treasure.  I know these ladies will always be friends, but I wouldn't spend as much time with them.  I definitely have to take "me" out of the equation.  "I" want more time with her, "I" want us to spend time with these families - but what does God want for our family?  There was definitely something to what Grayson said.  Will she lose her friends?  Probably not.  But will she spend alot less time with them?  Definitely!

I'm realizing that even at thirteen, she gives this decision more thought than I originally gave her credit for.  I still won't let her make the decision - that will be ours to make - by God's leading, but I'm considering her input to be much more valuable than I thought it would.  God will definitely use her to help reveal His will to us!

For now I'll just be faithful to pray....and trust that He will work all things for His good and for ours.
Blessings,

Sunday, October 31, 2010

~hallow-weenies~

Halloween is over!  Our family hasn't celebrated Halloween in 8 years.  When Grayson was in kindergarten, she told us she thought we shouldn't do it because it was mean.  As parents, we wanted to respect her convictions and truthfully, we couldn't find any good in it, so we stopped.  We began what I would now call "hiding out" on Halloween.  Although it was Grayson's conviction, we had a younger child that didn't have the same feelings!  He was not happy about our decision!  Sometimes we played games with friends at the church, sometimes we went to a movie and out to eat, one year we even went to the Missouri Baptist Convention, but we never stayed at home.  I didn't want them to see all of the kids coming to the door and think they were missing out on something. 

This year is different.  I'm not sure why - just feeling like we shouldn't be "hiding".  A friend put it best when she said, "How often do strangers knock on your door?  It's a perfect opportunity to witness!"  Our kids are now 11 and 13.  They both have convictions about Halloween, and are old enough to pass out candy without thinking they're missing out.  We made copies of Halloween coloring pages that we found online and printed a tract along with an invitation to our church on the back.  I just folded them in half like a brochure when I was done.  We bought mini boxes of crayons and passed them out along with our candy.  The kids had so much fun!  Both of our kids like young children.  I'm not sure why, but they always play with the little ones.  This was so much fun for them!  We ordered pizza and watched movies after the trick-or-treaters left.  What a stress-free evening - the perfect family night!

Blessings,

Friday, October 29, 2010

~larry hadley~

Today was a busy day.  Not that different from most days, but a day I'll always remember.  A few days ago I sent a Facebook message to a friend from high school.  Today while I was checking my Facebook account, George popped up with a chat message.  He's a songwriter in Nashville, so we discussed writing and high school English with our favorite teacher, Mr. Smith and eventually he asked who I kept in touch with.  Besides Facebook, unfortunately there's only one person from high school I've kept in touch with, and she was and is my best friend, Paula.  He gave me names of people he still talks to and we shared stories. Then it happened.  There it was in black and white:  

larry.hadley.died.

You're probably saying, "Who in the world is Larry Hadley?"  Larry lived across the street from me.  When I was the new girl in the neighborhood, Larry went out of his way to be my friend.  Larry was my first boyfriend, but only if you count 4th grade boyfriends.   He asked me if I would be his girlfriend by sending me a note that said, "check this box for yes".  I got to stay out late playing basketball with Larry and his dad because my mom could see me from the living room window.  We shot free throws for hours every night all summer - and most other seasons, too.  He gave me gifts.  Mostly cheap costume jewelry that I later found out he stole from his mom, but it still made me feel special.  Larry was a nice guy and he got along with everyone.  Everyone except his parents. 

When we were in high school, Larry's family moved.  He still went to our school for a while, but didn't live across the street anymore.  Later in high school, Larry's parents kicked him out.  I'm not sure why, but he never went back home.  While we were carefree and cruising Broadway as high school seniors, Larry was going to a nearby school during the day and working long hours at McDonald's at night to support himself.  I don't know how he did it, but he finished high school.  He also went into management at McDonald's.  From there, he managed a local Radio Shack, then I heard he became a regional manager.  That's the last I heard about Larry.  Until today.

Life is hard.  Harder for some.  I'm shocked that he's gone, but I'm saddened at the fact that I've never looked back and thought about him or his circumstances.  Did he have a wife and a family?  I don't know.  Was he sick or was his death sudden and unexpected?  I don't know.  Did he reconcile with his father before he died?  I don't know.  Did he ever confess Jesus as his personal Savior?  I.  don't.  know.

Life is hard......and busy.  I'm ashamed.  I have spent a great deal of time building new relationships with people so that I can witness to them about the mercy God has shown me through his son, Jesus Christ, but what about the relationships of my past?  Why don't we look up people from our past - who knew what we were really like - and re-invest in them?  Could it be that we're embarassed to tell people who know what we've done in the past that we were wrong?  I don't know.

Tonight I'm grieving the loss of a friend.  Not the death of a friend, but the loss of a friend.  Not the day he died......the day I quit caring about his circumstances.

Blessings,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

~father's wisdom - passing on a post~

Just want to pass along a link to my husband's latest blogpost.  I've done this before, but if you remember that, you'll also remember that it's been quite a while:)  He doesn't blog often, so I wanted to pass it along!

Here it is:     http://pastorglenc.blogspot.com/2010/10/fathers-wisdom.html

Blessings,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

~do not disturb~

God is doing big things.  I don't mean to say He's beginning big things, but that I'm beginning to recognize big things.  As Christians, we can jump in and allow God to use us in His big plans, or we can sit idly by and watch God use others to accomplish what He wants.  What a tragedy that we sit too often!

Friday, Glen took half the day off of work so he could run errands for Soleful Saturday, an event our church organized to collect old shoes for The Shoeman Water Project.  He needed to pick up the Jump 'n Space and pick some things up at Sam's Club - both about 30 minutes away.  The kids and I spent the afternoon at homeschool co-op and by the time we were done, Glen was almost back to town so we met him at the church to help him unload. 

After all the food was unloaded, Glen and the kids began pulling the Jump 'n Space out of his truck (which was comical).  He saw a man walking up the street and came inside to ask me for cash.  The man had come by earlier and talked with him.  He told him his name was David and that he was homeless and out of money.  He has a job, but it's 20 minutes away and he doesn't have a car or a place to stay.  Someone he's been riding with was letting him stay with him, but they aren't letting him stay there anymore - he didn't go into the details of that.  Glen didn't have any cash (as usual), but told him to come by between 5 and 6.  It was 4:15.  Let me just say....the fact that this man caught anyone at our church is a miracle in and of itself.  Our church is a small church with a small congregation.  My husband is a bi-vocational pastor, so he isn't there during business hours, and he's the only paid employee (besides the people who clean the church once a week).  While there are people who come and go occasionally to make copies for their class or practice their songs, no one's there on a regular basis.

I had ten dollars on me, so I gave it to Glen.  Glen met the man outside and they talked for a long time.  I called a local motel for prices and Glen drove him there.  We invited him back for Soleful Saturday so we could at least feed him again.  The rest of the evening was busy with last minute things to do.  The next morning was my BSF leader's meeting, so I was up bright and early.  After my meeting, I picked up face paint and headed home to change.  Glen and the kids were already at the church moving tables outside, setting up the Jump 'n Space and setting the stage (or front porch as it's been called for many years!).  Once I got there, I began making tea and lemonade.  People from our church (and even a few friends) filtered in and jumped right in to help! 

As the music started and the hot dogs cooked, I wondered if David would come.  Later, about halfway through the event, he showed up.  As I saw him walking up the street, I was so relieved to see him!  As a church, it's our job to help those in need, but so often the church is taken advantage of.  Many get a little help then never come back.  It's for this reason that our town has a mission that most of the churches donate to.  This way, they can just refer people to the mission when they're asked for help.  A good thought, but here's the problem.....when David needed a place to stay, the mission was full.  All of the places we referred him to were full.  He had exhausted his resources!   It's our job to help.  Period.  Yes, let's be discerning and not give God's money to people we know for sure are taking advantage, but if we don't give because we're "afraid" of what they may spend it on, some will most definitely fall through the cracks.  What about them?  Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."- Matthew 25:40



  I think He is shaking His head at the ones that think they have it figured out.  It's as if they're saying, "Just jump through all of these hoops and if you can pass the test, you've earned the money."  That's how it seems at times.  The early church took care of each other.  They sold all of their possessions and lived together.  They shared their earnings.  There weren't some in the church driving Hummers while some drove Kias.  They shared their wealth - or lack of it. 

Please don't misunderstand!  I know that this is a different time.  Followers of Christ were shunned from their families.  They were left without an inheritance or land.  They weren't allowed to sell in the marketplace.  I know it's a different time, but shouldn't we still bring them into the fold and take care of one another?  Too often we stand at a distance and judge the choices they've made.  We're all just a few choices away from where David is....and some end up homeless by no choice of their own at all.  Many have lost jobs and homes over ailing health or corporate down-sizing. 

David was one of the last ones to leave last night.  He stayed and carried in tables and lugged tea pitchers up the stairs.  He worked hard.  When Glen left, he drove David back to the motel.  This morning, David did not come to church.  We prayed for him, but I thought we had seen him for the last time.  We took up a special offering just in case, though.  When the service was over and people began to leave, David came in.  He had been waiting outside so he didn't "disturb" us!  Are you kidding me?  Is this the message the church is sending?  Do Not Disturb?  Wow!  We assured him he most definitely would not have disturbed us - that we would've LOVED to have him worship with us!  He then began to comment on what he was wearing.  That he wasn't dressed for church. This is why I love God!  He totally uses us when we don't know we're being used.  Riley was laying down in a pew waiting on us to get done talking.  We couldn't see him from where we were, but he raises his leg straight up in the air and says, "It doesn't matter what you wear.  Look, I'm just wearing jeans!"  Too funny!

After Glen talked with him privately, David came out of his office crying.  He couldn't believe our church had helped him.  He made the comment that people of "his own race" hadn't helped.  We gave him a bottle of water and offered a few more to take with him.  He took one but said no to the others.  People would think he was a "hobo".  I thought that was interesting.  Still a man with pride.  It's true that people judge based on appearance.  It also seems as if the more you have, the more we're willing to give you.  Helping someone that actually needs help doesn't happen too often.

David explained that he's going to be trying to stay in the town where he works - which is sensible so he won't need a ride to work, but that probably means we won't see him again.  Glen gave him his business card to call us if he has any problems, and he promised to take up for Glen if he heard anyone bad-mouthing him or our church (not sure why he said that, but I LOVE it!).  On his way out the door, Grayson handed him a Bible to take with him.  He promised her he'd read it. 

Our family and our church family will continue to pray for David.  As soon as David left, the kids remembered they had two donuts left from this morning.  They grabbed them in a hurry and ran them outside to him but he was gone.  Nowhere to be found.  Coincidence?

Please know that I share this, not to lift us up in any way, but as a reminder that we are surrounded by people who need practical help, if we'll only see them with Jesus' eyes.

Yes, God is definitely doing big things.  Not because of us, but through us if we'll allow Him to.

Blessings,

Friday, October 15, 2010

~shoes, water and elvis~

What in the world do shoes have to do with clean water?  Well, last year, my brother told me of an organization near him that collects old shoes, sells them by the pound to retailers in developing countries, then uses the money made to purchase drills for digging wells.  My brother manages a gym and they were working with this ministry, The Shoeman Water Project, and collecting shoes from their members.

I thought this would make an awesome service project for our homeschool group, but Glen said we should get the church involved.  It's been a year, but we've finally gotten it together!  Saturday, October 23 will be "Soleful Saturday" at Community Baptist Church.  If you live in the area, please join us!  Everything starts at 2pm.  We'll have a bounce house for the kids, hot dogs and at 3pm, The Pullen Family will take the stage (or the porch, actually).  After the Pullen's, The praise band, "1-4-G" will lead us in a time of worship.  If you don't want to stay, but just want to drop off your shoes, that's also possible.  We'll have many eager hands waiting to take your shoes as you drive up. 

Today is Blog Action Day and the topic is clean water.  If you'd like to blog about this subject, just link up here.

I must confess, God is working on me.  I think I've been oblivious for far too long.  It's easy to ignore problems of others and focus on my daily struggles (which are NOTHING in comparison).   God has been dealing with me in this area for a little while.  I blogged a little about it here and here.  A few weeks ago, Grayson and I went to a Christian concert.  The Make a Difference Tour, with Max Lucado, Third Day, Michael W. Smith, and Toby Mac.  I knew there would be an opportunity to adopt a child, so Glen and I discussed it and felt it was worthwhile.  We have thought about it before, but wondered where the money would come from - the last thing we wanted to do was leave a kid with no help.  This time, we thought the same thing, but God seems to be telling us to take the step so He can show us how He can provide.  World Vision helps families in developing countries with clean water and food - specifically families effected by AIDS.  I prayed throughout the night for God to point me to the child He had for us.  To make sure I walk up to the right worker and that the first child's folder she took out, would be ours.  When I walked up to her, there was a man flipping through all of the folders and then handed them back and said he would look at more at the table.  What was he looking for?  When it was my turn, she asked if we wanted a boy or a girl.  I knew it had to be a boy.  Riley has been asking for a brother since he was 4!  The first folder she handed me had the meanest little face on it!  Scowling like he definitely did not want his picture made.  When I looked at his name, I could feel God's sense of humor - Elvis.  Elvis!  How sweet!  He's from Kenya and has 3 siblings and a single mom.  No dad.  Such a familiar story.  When I broght the folder home and showed Riley, the first thing he said was, "He looks really mean!".  Well, we'll tell him all about Jesus. 

I have to say, every time I hear about "Elvis" - you know...Presley, I think about our Elvis.  Elvis from Kenya - and I'm reminded to pray for him.  Every time I pray for him, I can't help but smile.

If you would like to learn more about sponsoring a child, visit World Vision on the web.

For too many years I thought I didn't have enough time or money to help.  God is showing ways that don't require "too much", but do require me.

Blessings,

~giveaway~

Today is the last day for a giveaway at "Starkey Family Three".  Hop on over here and register for the book "Adopted for Life"!

Blessings,

Monday, October 11, 2010

~tough decisions~

Let me start this post exactly like I started the last one:  This week has been a tough week.  I don't know what else to say.  I've been dealing with a "situation" for quite a while that reared it's head again this week.

Three years ago this month, my favorite lady in the entire world died.  My grandma was the only person I really ever wanted to grow up to be like when I was a kid.  She was sweet and kind and always had a smile on her face, plus her fried chicken and mashed potatoes were out of this world! 

After her funeral, we received a rather hateful letter from a mentally ill relative attacking Glen, and though some of what he said can be attributed to the fact that he was grieving, most was just an outlet to spew hate.  He said very hurtful things to Glen regarding his ministry, saying he was hypocritical because he hadn't consoled him at the funeral.  Umm - he was consoling me and our kids (who were 8 and 10 years old).  My gut reaction was to fire a letter back defending my husband, but Glen asked me not to - it would only fuel the fire.  A few weeks later, we received another one.  This one was worse and he even threw in a few curse words for flavor.  Again, I didn't reply.  Over time, with much prayer, I forgave him, though he never asked for it or gave an apology.  Though I forgave him, I knew we couldn't open ourselves up to that kind of abuse again.  Even if he has a mental illness.  Somehow for three years I have avoided being around him, but this weekend was my cousin's wedding. 

A few days before the wedding I received a private message from him on Facebook that simply said, "hi".  When I realized he was on Facebook, I was immediately overcome with anxiety.  He would definitely ask to be my friend.  What do I do?  This would open me up to his comments anytime he had a whim to leave one - no matter how angry or depressed he may feel at the time.  I simply replied, "hi!".

I tried to be cordial at the wedding.  I waved and said hello.  I smiled from afar, but I didn't speak privately to him.  Immediately after the wedding I stood outside of the church talking to family I hadn't seen in years, while he waited in a car to be driven home.   In my head I went back and forth between wanting to reconcile and wanting to make sure I protect my husband.  I had pretty much decided I would try to be Facebook friends and see how it works out.  After all, he had behaved at the wedding and I could always delete him later.

When I came home after the wedding, I had two messages from him - and a friend request.  The first message simply said that the wedding was beautiful, it was good to see me and he wished we had gotten a chance to talk.  The second message was sent exactly one minute after the first and it said, "Have you ever heard of reconciliation?  Or forgiveness?".  That's all.  Nothing else.  No apology.  Not asking for reconciliation or forgiveness, but have I ever heard of it?....

Immediately I knew this "friendship" could not work out.  Though I love him and only want the best for him, I must decline for now.  I don't make this decision lightly, and I've prayed diligently over this matter.  He is a Christian and has many Christian friends.  Hopefully he'll find what he needs in those relationships.
I have always been a defender of this relative and his many "moods" - even before I knew it was mental illness. After working at a mental health center, I grew to understand a little more about his illness, but I must confess, it's still a mystery to me. 

In the ministry, you become a target.  People hold you up on a pedestal and expect you to be perfect and accomplish things no one else can, then they say and do hurtful things when you can't.  I was reminded last week that my confidence is in Christ alone, but also how important it is to place yourself around people who believe that very thing. When you start doubting your call or where God has you, Christian friends will encourage you and lift you up, reminding you where your strength comes from.  "Enemies" will remind you just how incapable you are to complete any task, much less those of Christ, until you doubt you were ever called in the first place.   I only have Christ to model my life after and it's clear that while He ministered to many people from many walks of life, His friends that He surrounded Himself with were like-minded with the same focus.

I'm sure this isn't goodbye forever.  I've realized that though Facebook is wonderful for connecting with people and keeping in touch, I don't think it's the way to go in this situation.  Eventually I'll be open to other forms of communication like letter writing,  but just not eager to get knocked down again so quickly.

Tough decision?  Yes.  The right decision?  Only God knows for sure.

Blessings,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

~growing pains~

This week has been a tough week.  Not like you would think.  Not much different than usual, except unusually spiritually and emotionally tough. 

Last week was our first week at Bible Study Fellowship and it was wonderful.  It's always good to come back after summer break and grow in God's Word with other women.  This year we're studying Isaiah, a new study that they haven't done before.  I was so excited to get my first lesson last Saturday morning at leader's meeting.  Usually I come straight home and read the notes, but it was a busy day so I waited until Sunday evening.  One of the first things the notes mentioned was that tradition says that Isaiah was "sawn in two in a tree he had taken refuge in."  Really?  That's when the weight of the book hit me.  Not that I haven't respected God's Word before, but I've heard of the deaths of the New Testament writers.  I honestly hadn't heard this one before, and if this is a man who is willing to hide in a tree and be sawn in two to pass on God's Word.....well, I'd better listen to him! 

That night I dreamed of being chased through a forest and taking refuge in a tree.  I wasn't sawn in two in my dream (thank goodness), but I woke up with a real sense of fear.  I laid awake for a very long time honestly pondering whether or not to continue in the study of Isaiah.  It seems silly, but I really wanted to just meet with God everyday, meet with women every week - no drama.  After sleeping on it, I came to my senses and realized that simply meeting with God without "drama" probably equals no growth, as well.

I began to pray that God use this study of Isaiah to grow me (which should have been my prayer all along), but really had, and still have no idea what that means.  All week I've thought of that dream and what it might mean.  After reading Isaiah chapter 1 and reading about the corrupt leaders and national sin, I began to ask myself if I would be willing to speak Truth so boldly that I would have reason to fear for my life.  Would I?  I probably won't be put in that position, but what if God called me like He called Isaiah?  No matter what the cost.  It's a matter of life and death - either mine or the nation's. 

Last night as I finished up my lesson and homiletics, God grabbed me this time and wouldn't let go.  I had saved a question from a previous day.  Not recommended, but it seemed like a heavy question for the day it was given.  God knew when I would need it.  The question was, "List specific situations of oppression and injustice and ways you can help."  Easy enough, right?  I began making the list, but God kept bringing other ministry ideas to mind.  I realized quickly that this list is endless!  As I read over the list, I realized that even though everything listed was dear to my heart (AIDS orphans, domestic violence, human trafficking, world hunger, providing clean water to areas of the world without it, helping with financial hardships for single or widowed parents....), I knew anything I've ever done hasn't even put a dent in the need.  And I hadn't even finished the list, I just ran out of room.  This list could go on and on.  I wept.  Not just a little.  As Glen was studying at the church and the kids were in bed, I sat by myself on my bed and wept over the list God had given me.  I texted Glen, "I quit.  This is too hard!"  He replied, "WOW, must be a tough study!"  Yes, but after much pleading with God, He spoke to my heart..."Isn't growth tough?"

I don't know if God was testing me to make sure I'm ready for the ride, or if Satan was wrestling with me so I would quit.  Whichever isn't important, only that I'm not quitting. 

I spoke with Glen today about how burdened I am and we agree that our family has to do more.  How much more is yet to be revealed by God.  I don't know what He has planned for our family through the study of Isaiah, but I know I can't quit now.  I'm so pumped!

Blessings,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

~bad habits and busyness~

I've developed a new bad habit.  Actually, I'm not even sure I can call it that.  You decide....

We homeschool our kids, so life has gotten busier in the last few weeks since school began.  Gone are the lazy days of summer (Ha! As if....).  We're back to business (or should I say busyness?).  While I would like to tell you how organized and efficient I am as a wife and mom, I'd be lying.  I am the type of person that works better from a list - but most days I can't even find it!  Lately I've been known to have 3 or 4 partial lists, because I've misplaced the previous ones!  This is so frustrating!  I'm not really sure how it happens.....it just does.  (That sounded so much like my ten year old son!)  My husband thinks I'm crazy.  Oh, he doesn't say it, but the look on his face says it all.  It's not uncommon for him to be going through the mail or a book and find one of my lists - from weeks or even months prior!  No kidding!

Recently I've added a new bad habit, though.  My laundry room is all the way in the back of my house.  Out of the way, which is good.....and bad.  My laundry routine lately is to:

1. Take the clothes out of the dryer and put them in a basket. 

2. Put the clothes from the washer into the dryer and start the dryer. 

3. Start the water in the washer along with a capful of liquid detergent (so that the detergent is dilluted by the time I get the clothes into the washer.)

4. Leave laundry room with intentions of collecting dirty clothes from our bedrooms.

5. Bring basket of clothes from the dryer into the living room to fold, then put away. 

6. Forget all about the fact that the washing machine is filling up and proceed with other duties. 

7.  Go to sleep and wake up.  Begin again at #1 - only to realize the soapy water has been sitting in my washing machine overnight! 

Ewww!  There is no way I am washing clothes in that water!  I am wasting so much water......and soap!  I'm trying to remember to take a basket of clothes with me when I first go to the laundry room - but I'm finding it hard to change my ways!  Am I going crazy?  Please tell me I'm not the only one that's this forgetful!

Blessings,

Monday, September 6, 2010

~passing on a post~

Just wanted to share my husband's latest blogpost.  It's not often that he blogs, so I like to pass it on when he does:)  Enjoy!

http://pastorglenc.blogspot.com/2010/09/barlow-girl-is-all-woman-christian-rock.html

Blessings,

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

~don't cry over broken.....glass?~

We have a neighbor who's a young mom of two.  She's in the process of a divorce and she's recently gone back to school.  I know she must be exhausted, but I usually can't think of many ways to help.  Since we homeschool, I don't have much free time to give.

Last week, she was mowing her lawn and her mower broke mid-lawn.  There was just this giant square of tall grass in the middle of her front yard.  I felt so bad for her, but thought her dad would help her out.  A few days later, Glen offered to mow it for her on Friday when he mowed ours.  What an opportunity to teach our kids to reach out.  I was so proud of Riley!  While Glen used the weed-eater, Riley mowed her lawn.  Everything was going just as Glen had planned, until a stick or rock flew up and busted out the back windshield of my car. 

Uggh!  What are you gonna do?  Right after our discussion about the money we need to put back for our trip to Chicago in November (for my brother's wedding), and the shower I'm giving his fiance in October, and well, let's not forget Christmas......BAM!

The hardest part was the initial conversation.  I heard Glen tell Riley to wait on the porch and "whatever you do, don't come in."  As he began to tell me the story of what happened, I jumped to conclusions and thought Riley was hurt.  I began to tear up, only to find out it was only the window.  I think that may have been his plan:)


Glen cleaned up the glass and covered the opening as neatly as he could with a trash bag (until we bought a drop cloth, which was much better) and bright green tape (Hey!  It's what we had!).  I wasn't embarrassed (okay, maybe a little),  but it was so annoying.  It was really noisy and every time I picked up speed, it inflated like a parachute!





Monday morning, I was taking Grayson to orchestra class at the junior high and we couldn't hear each other over the racket in the back!  I said, "I'm really sorry about this Grayson.  I know it's embarrassing to be dropped off with a trash bag on the window."  Words cannot begin to describe my feelings regarding her reaction.  She said, "Why would I be embarrassed?  This is just life, Mom.  No biggee".  What did she say?  Are you kidding me?

Glen and I talked about her reaction and he said, "Would you have been embarrassed at her age?"  I don't know.  I hope not, but I see so much shallowness on television, that I guess I made the assumption that she would be.  Shame on me! 

The neighbor bought our family pizza for helping her!  What a blessing!  The window was fixed yesterday, and even though I would rather have not spent the money on a new window, we got a good deal on it (Thanks, God) and I learned a little something about my daughter - and me.  Lessons don't come cheap around our house:) 

Blessings,

Monday, August 23, 2010

~slipping away~

 I know, I know!  It's been FOREVER since I've posted a blog!  My summer was packed with activity!  Grayson and Riley both played ball, which led into all-stars.  Never have they both made an all-star team at the same time.  I'm thankful they did, but I'm also thankful it doesn't happen often:)


In the last few weeks I have searched my heart and searched God's Word for answers for fears I've been having.  I have felt inadequate in several areas.  As a mom, I'm sometimes pulled in several directions, headed in every direction- except the direction I feel I should be. We started school today and I don't have everything planned out like I want it.  This will inevitably lead to being unorganized.  I have unfinished projects, the laundry's not caught up, the dog needs a bath, etc.

As I searched for what was bothering me, I realized I had been feeling anxious for a while.  Probably months.  I love homeschooling my kids, but can I really do as good as the school?  (God quickly gave me a situation to relate to with a definite answer - YES!)  I think my fears are coming from the fact that Grayson is turning 13 in a few weeks.  Why am I stressing over a number?  It seems like only yesterday I was singing to her in my belly, but 13 years?  Wow!  I started to feel as if I've lost control and time is slipping away. 

There is a verse I use with a friend who has a son with chronic health problems.  Philippians 4:6. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.."  So I did.  Another verse God led me to was Matthew 6:34.  "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."   Why am I finding this so hard?  The more stressed I became, the worse it got.  Suddenly I was convinced that my sweet little girl would be caught up in all kinds of trouble - just like you see in the movies...or worse!  As I sought an answer from God, he quieted me with the reality that nothing will go as I have planned, but He is faithful and He has a plan for her.  Thank goodness I'm not in control!  As long as I'm resolved to teach her and continue to lead her to Him, I should have no worries.  Not that she will have a perfect life with no problems, but that she will learn to lean into Him when she struggles, just as He has taught me to do.

I'm looking forward to her teenage years!  There.  I said it.   She is beautiful and smart and compassionate and loving.  She's loud and fun and spontaneous!  I'm excited for the years that await!  How tall will she be?  Who will she marry?  Will she have children?  How many?  Will she work outside the home or stay home with them?  Will she homeschool them?

She has kept me on my knees all of her life, and I'll continue to pray for her....that's what mom's do:) But I will take every day as God gives it...one at a time.



Blessings,

Friday, June 25, 2010

~is it okay for mom to go to work?~

Just saw this shared on Facebook and I thought it was a good description of my beliefs as well. Please don't take offense if you're employed full-time -I used to be also. I think Proverbs 31 describes a woman who is willing to do whatever it takes to help her family, but her family is her PRIORITY. I simply couldn't keep my family as my priority when I worked full time.

Blessings,




Thursday, June 17, 2010

~saucy dreams~

Hot weather is here and the long, leisurely summer I was dreaming of seems out of reach.  Since finishing school, our days have been filled with welding classes, family reunions, baseball, softball, cleaning the house....and laundry :-P

I had dreams of a garden big enough to feed the neighborhood.  This was the year I would finally take the time to do it!  Nothing was getting in my way.  Nothing!  My plans also included growing everything I need to can my own spaghetti sauce - tomatoes, onions, peppers, basil, oregano.  My secret sauce would be available with the twist of a lid!  I can think of nothing better than putting in extra hours up front to make dinner prep quick and easy.  I've been formulating shortcuts for years, but this would be the ultimate!  (I should probably mention I've never canned, either unless you count the summers helping my Aunt Bev stir her sauce and tighten the lids!)  In my mind, this would help me become more like the Proverbs 31 woman.  "She gets up while it's still dark, provides food for her family....she plants a vineyard....she sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks."

Instead, we've had baseball and softball games to prepare for and play.  Glen coaches Grayson's team, so he's particular about summer activities on game days.  Outdoor activities are inevitable, but not for too long.  No sunburns for us whitey's - and no swimming on game day for sure!  The regular ball season just wrapped up, but Grayson is on the allstar team, so we're not done yet.  (Uggh - I mean, YEAH!)

The past few months have been full of good intentions.  After several weeks of rain, my in-laws bought a tiller after hearing of my plans, but all for not - it never started!  Finally last week, I walked into Lowe's and priced raised garden beds.  They're marked down, but still a little pricey - this is an experiment, after all!  I looked for tomato plants and guess what was on clearance?!!  They were marked down from $9 to $1 so I decided to buy five or six.  When the lady at the register rang me up, she said she'd give them to me for 50 cents if I'd buy them all!  SOLD!  Sixteen tomato plants for $8!  Surely owning sixteen plants makes me a gardener;-)

Once again, I had big plans.  Saturday I would "work the ground" in my backyard and begin my journey.  As I'm cleaning house Saturday morning, Glen was mowing and trimming the yard.  I hear him stop and I begin to hear a noise.  A rhythmic sound - with intention.  I step out back to see my husband with a post-hole digger!  NOOOOOOO!!!!!  That's my job!  I've been planning this for years in my head.  It never included Glen doing the work - or using a post-hole digger for that matter.  Though it will help you to get the plant in the ground, I don't think it's the ideal way to plant them.  Where I imagined hours of time spent tending, nurturing and contemplating, he saw a task to check off of a list.

After calling Dig-Rite to mark the utility lines in our yard, the only suitable place to plant was smack-dab in the middle of the back yard.  The final straw was that somewhere along the way, one of the many owners of our 75 year old home decided to get rid of their concrete patio by covering it with 6" of dirt!  Guess where the patio was?  Yep - smack-dab in the middle of the back yard!  The only place left to plant them is in the front yard!  Since I don't think our neighbors would appreciate this, and there are probably codes restricting it, we'll look for other options.  The raised garden is looking like a better idea everyday - especially since for now, the plants are in rows on my driveway!


I'm convinced there's a conspiracy to keep me from gardening, but I'll diligently tend to my potted plants for now.

Oh, and while reading Proverbs 31 again, I think I found a loophole.  Proverbs 31:14 says, "She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar."  Could this mean a trip to Sam's and Aldi's?  Or possibly Mexican take-out?  I think it could......

Blessings,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

~flapjack attack~

Tickets are now available for the Lancaster's adoption fundraiser!  $5.00 for all-you-can-eat pancakes at Applebee's in Sikeston on Saturday, July 10th from 8-10am.  We'd like to get 20 people to sell 20 tickets, if possible.  If you'd like to buy tickets, you can contact me or go to the Lancaster's blog here.  They have a "donate" button.  If you'd like to donate to their cause to bring Lori home, you can donate online there also.

Blessings,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

~i'll take it any way i can get it~

Yesterday was Memorial Day, and although I have many veterans in my life and I am thankful for my freedom, lately any day that Glen has off has become a day to "catch up" on cleaning and organizing.  I know Glen must LOVE this!

We started the day by having breakfast in bed, made by our sweet 12 year old, Grayson.  She's learning the finer points of cooking, and we're letting her practice on us;-)  Last time she made omelets, Glen informed her that he likes "the works" on his!  She made sure I got everything she needed from the store - and she loaded his omelet down with ham, cheese, onion and God only knows what else...  I'm a simple girl - cheese only, please.

So that was pretty much the end of our holiday.  From the time we got up, we got busy.  Glen did yard work (and Riley helped), then showered, then started organizing the bedroom.  Closets, drawers, you name it.....even my jewelry box!  That thing hasn't been organized in a decade!

I cleaned in the rest of the house, while the kids cleaned in their rooms.  They weeded out clothes that don't fit and even cleaned under their beds (I don't even want to know what lurks under there!) - and yes, that took all day.  I am ashamed to say that as much as I love a clean house, with everything neatly in it's place and the smell of (insert your favorite scented cleaner here - mine is Pine Sol), I cannot keep it that way for the life of me!  I don't know if it's because we're so busy and we're in and out of our house so often, or if it's because we homeschool - so the kids are always there (the down-side to the up-side), or if we're just slobs!  Whatever the reason, I hate the fact that I can't keep it together.  One elderly lady from church always says, "One day you'll have all the time you need to keep a clean house.  Just enjoy those kids!"  I don't want to wish my time away with my kids, I'd just like to enjoy them in a clean house;-)  The easy answer here is to hire someone to help, but I can't justify spending the money when I'm home!  Also, at this point, I feel I need to clean up for the cleaning lady;-)

As a side-note, after I walked into the bedroom last night, exhausted from the day, I looked up at my pretty wrought iron candle holder hanging on the wall to find that Glen had conveniently turned it into a hat rack.  I was too tired to fight about it.  I'll sneak them into the closet at some point.  Right now I'm just grateful for his help - and I'll take it any way I can get it!

Blessings,

Monday, May 24, 2010

~fundraising~

 I really haven't had much to say lately, thankfully because I wouldn't have had time to blog anyway:)  Busy winding up the school year, baseball and softball, ministry, and now....a break-in at our church.  Not much was stolen, a few of our personal things, computer monitor and some money, but just a huge mess to clean up!  Praying people in our church don't become fearful or hold onto anger.  It is only stuff, after all.

The real reason I wanted to post is because some friends of ours are adopting from China and I'm looking for ways to help them raise money.  We're planning a pancake breakfast at our local Applebee's on July 10, but are also considering making a cookbook to sell.  If you have an adoption story we can add to it, or recipes - local or from foreign countries, please email them to me at legacyofloveblog@gmail.com.  Anything you can offer is appreciated.  If you'd like to keep up with the Lancaster's adoption process, you can follow them here.

Well, summer is here!  Enjoy yourself!

Blessings,

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

~frustration~

Apparently after my husband came to bed last night, he asked me to read a certain passage of scripture and give my opinion on it today....I don't recall that conversation at all!  Anyway, after he came home from work tonight, he mowed the lawn and we ate dinner.  After dinner we were talking and the subject came up - to which I had no response because I had no idea I was supposed to:) 

Glen had formed an opinion long ago regarding the idea this passage eluded to and I did too.  I won't go into what he believes or what I believe because I don't want to stir up controversy - we'll save that for Sunday morning:)  The interesting thing is that I didn't come to the same conclusion that he did this time.  I'm not quick to say one way or the other, but leaning toward the other:)  After almost seventeen years of marriage, we are disagreeing on a pretty big biblical concept.  Nothing that has to do with salvation - that's clear.  This is a gray area that really shouldn't even be argued over (not that we argued - it was just discussion I promise- the kind you can have in front of the kids). 

After what seemed like FOREVER, we agreed to disagree.  The crazy thing is, I'm now the source of his frustration!  Am I not supposed to be his "helper"?  It used to be unknown people or unimportant people that he could easily dismiss.  Uh-oh....we may have to avoid this for awhile!  Neither of us are avoiders so this may be tricky;-)  Pray for him.....with a wife like me, he deals with more than you know:)

Blessings,

Saturday, May 8, 2010

~mother's day~

Today, like every Saturday morning I woke up around 4:30 to get to bible study leader's meeting, but hadn't gotten to sleep until after 1:00. I'm not sure what's been going on with me - a lot on my mind, I suppose.

Leader's meeting was wonderful as usual. Bitter-sweet because this was our last discussion until September. I'm finding that, though I'll miss BSF this summer, I'm in need of a break. It will be nice to have a few months of Saturday mornings to sleep a little longer and Monday evenings with Glen and the kids. I'm praying we are intentional regarding how we spend our new found time this summer. The last thing I want to happen is for the enemy to throw new activities our way! He's made a habit of that already.

When I got home from leader's meeting this morning, Glen wasn't awake yet. He had a late night of studying last night, so I let him sleep. My plan was to accomplish a lot today - but we mostly just spent some time together. I can't complain - it was good. My brother came in town and we met for dinner with Mom. It was nice to relax and laugh with family - not rushing on to other activities. We even went into the mall and wondered around for about an hour when we were done (after much pleading from the kids!).

It's after midnight, the kids are in bed, Glen is still studying and I'm sitting here with hair color on:)  As I was thinking back on what a good time we had and how we didn't have to rush, it hit me that Glen is still working! Putting last minute touches on his sermon and looking up Scripture for tomorrow night's service. Why did I not think to hurry home so he could get started earlier? I was just so glad to sit for a while and not have anything robbing family time, I didn't think of what I was robbing Glen of.

He is a bi-vocational pastor, so he spends his days working at a job he enjoys and that supports our family. His evenings are spent with us - having dinner together, bouncing from ball practice to ball game or watching a movie together or playing games. When the kids go to bed at 9 or 10, he heads up to the church for quiet time and in-depth Bible study - his passion. Yes - he begins after the kids are tucked in.  Many hours are poured over his Bible, usually depriving him of much needed sleep that we take for granted.

As I've thought about this tonight, I think of what life would be like if he didn't sacrifice so much.  We'd make it, by God's grace, but I would probably spend many hours away from the family to make ends meet.   Thinking about Mother's Day makes me realize that I am nowhere near the kind of mom I'd hoped to be, but without the sacrifices of my husband, I wouldn't be the mom I am. 

Tonight I'm praying for God to show me specific ways I can help Glen this week.  Though he will still need to study, my goal is to take care of things that hold up the process.  I'm not sure what this will look like.  Maybe I can research a few things and have them printed out or I can help him prepare a power point (probably not, he's way better at that than me!).  Tonight I started by ironing his shirt for tomorrow morning.  As a stay-at-home mom, you would think that would already be done.  Not with our crazy schedule!

Feel free to leave suggestions letting me know how you help your husband maximize his time - or how you would if you were me. I'm always open to new ideas - especially those who've walked this path before me.

Thanks Glen for all you do that enables me to "train up" our kids in the way we believe to be right.  You're the best and I'm thankful for you!

Blessings,

Thursday, May 6, 2010

~community~

I have to confess, when I first started blogging, I did it solely for myself.  To put down thoughts that were scattered, on something besides a notebook that would eventually be misplaced, forever unable to locate.  Recently however, I've realized the effect other blogs are having on me.  As I browsed for like-minded women's blogs, I became encouraged by the fact that most of them don't have it as together as they would like either:)  Thanks for encouraging me!

I have great friends.  I have always been blessed with good friends - even from a young age.  When I started homeschooling my kids, the group of friends I had a lot in common with shrunk.  Though I am still friends with many, I get encouragement and have the opportunity to share my joy and frustration with those who also homeschool.  Without the homeschool moms in my town, I'd be lost!  Thanks for encouraging me.

Since beginning to blog, God has started to fill a huge void in my life through the blogging community.  I have many friends, but few are pastor's wives.  As a pastor's wife it's so hard to find anyone who completely understands where God has me.  There's nothing special about me because my husband's in the ministry (in fact, there's nothing special about him either! JUST KIDDING! He's special to me!), but I am viewed differently because of it.  As easy as it is to say you think your pastor's wife is "just like you" (and she is), the second she slips up, many are ready to condemn her for her mistakes.  This doesn't happen so much within our church (that I know of), but around town - friends of friends of friends, you know.  I've even heard someone say, "but you're a pastor's wife"!  Yes I am, but so imperfect.  Those of you who've been my friend, even before the ministry know this all too well:) You're saying, "is this really an issue?  I know you and I know you fail!".  Thanks for keeping it real!

I have been so encouraged by blogs of other wives in the ministry, and am realizing that though my blog was initially for me, my everyday ramblings and goof-ups could encourage a wife that's new to the ministry.  I'll continue to write for me - for my own sanity, but know that you are writing for me and I'm grateful!

God is once again proving Himself faithful to supply all of my needs.  If you are a ministry wife and you're reading this, chances are you've encouraged me - thank you!  If you're not, please pray for your pastor's wife and don't put her on a pedestal, she'll let you down.  Remember, she's just like you and she needs encouragement, too!

Blessings,

Thursday, April 29, 2010

~bottomless~

If the last few months are any indication of what the next chapter of our lives will look like, we're in serious trouble!

My ten year old son, Riley has become a bottomless pit. He is constantly eating, but never full. He was blessed with good metabolism from birth, unlike me;-) He wakes up hungry every morning, and always has - even to the extent of doubling over in pain as soon as his feet hit the floor. No kidding!

Grayson, my twelve year old daughter, has been cooking breakfast lately (and let me say, I am loving this). But he decided this morning he would eat cereal. Three bowls later he is still hungry. Really?!!!  I made him wait after the second bowl so his belly could rest. Still hungry. He ate the third bowl. Still hungry. I made him wait and he complained pretty much non-stop for the next 45 minutes. I let him have a small, fifty-cent package of chocolate donuts we bought at the convenience store last night. Still hungry. By now I'm thinking he's putting on, so I say, "No way are you still hungry! Forget about it! You're not eating any more!" An hour later, still complaining so I let him have an apple. He walks to the sink, puts his bowl down, looks at the clock and says, "Oh, it's 11:30, lunch time." For real?!!!

This must be why people brought a tenth of their crops to the high priest in the Old Testament. Besides the fact that they wanted to honor God, the priests couldn't afford to feed their sons, I'm sure! I can totally see how making your kids work in the fields helps everyone. No crops, no food. If hunger were Riley's motivation, he'd do anything! God will have to grant special graces during Riley's teenage years, and I know He will. I may need to find a way to work from home, as well though;-)

Needless to say, school has been a wash this morning. We'll start again after lunch and I'll just let him nibble while he works. Thankful for him, but realizing life is so unfair. My measly little biscuit with egg whites will add 2 pounds to me this week but after eating like he did this morning and every other morning this week, he'll still be tall and slim. WOW!

Blessings,

Monday, April 26, 2010

~widows, orphans, or......both?~

I've been dealing with a particular subject lately in my quiet time - widows and orphans.  It is clear in Scripture that we are to take care of the widows and the orphans, but to what extent are we called?   And are we called to help the orphan, but not the widow?  Some would say they are only called to help one or the other.  Others would say neither.  Where one is mentioned, they are usually both mentioned.  Personally I think it's a heart thing.  If you are willing to follow Christ wherever He leads, He will lead you to who you can help.

I have felt for some time that our church is "church to the widows".  Some may think I'm making light of the situation when I say that, but it's true - and I'm not.  Approximately twenty percent of the ladies we've ministered to at our church are widows (some have already gone Home).  That's a lot!  And though it's true, a widow living in this country in this century doesn't deal with all of the hardships that a widow dealt with in Jesus' day, they still deal with loneliness, failing health and losing their independence.  Our government has made arrangements to provide food and shelter and a little money, but it doesn't go far. 

My grandmother was a widow until she died at age 80.  Her husband died of cancer when he was 42 and she was 33.  He had two children from a previous marriage she raised with him and they had eight children together - for a total of ten!  When he passed away, my mom was eight, the oldest was twenty years old - the youngest was six weeks.  Yes, I know the widow.  She scraped by for many years, working when she could, but always taking care of her family. Staying up all hours of the night to sew clothes for her girls and sew patches on blue jeans for her boys, mostly living on social security.  Not all widows are feeble old women - though they need us, too.  Some are young with all of their dreams shattered and a house full of kids that no one will help.  I can hear the chatter from the women in the church, "She should've known better than to have all those kids - now look at her",  "I can't afford to feed one meal to that family, those boys would eat me out of house and home" or "If I take one meal, they'll just start expecting it".  My grandmother quit going to church after my grandpa died.  She never spoke of why, but I have a feeling I know why.  Besides the work it would take to get that many kids to church, the church wasn't knocking on her door to help out.

As I look upon our church and the sweet people in it, I know why God has placed us here.  Yes, we are church to the widows.  We may not be growing in numbers as fast as most say we should, but God is using us to provide friendship, protection and love to them, and He is using them to teach and train us more than I could have dreamed!  What wisdom and knowledge I'm gleaning!  I have grown so close to them, it's like having my grandma with me again.  This time in our lives is a sweet time that I wouldn't trade.  I love these people with my whole heart!

God will give you His eyes if you are seeking opportunities to help.  If He leads you to help an orphan, don't turn Him down.  But please don't forget the widow(er).  A kind word or deed may be all that's needed.

Blessings,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

~socialization or adaptability?~

As a homeschool mom, I've grown quite used to being told people don't think homeschoolers get enough socialization.  Every time I've been told this by people who know my kids, they are sure to tell me that my kids are the exception.  Usually my kids are the only homeschoolers they know.  I love my kids and they are wonderfully unique, but they are not the exception.  We know many homeschool families and have met very few that need more socialization.  It's the only subject that people feel open to give their negative opinions on without first being asked.  Most people wouldn't dream of seeing me wear a particular brand of clothing, then proceed to put down my choice of clothes (at least to my face!).  They wouldn't bash my denomination or religion to my face, but homeschool seems to force people to take one side or the other!  If they didn't choose homeschool, they usually haven't researched it - it's just different than what they did so it must be bad.  Let's face it, some people are socially awkward - whether they were homeschooled or not!  Some people have a harder time adapting to new people, new places or new circumstances than others. I like to think that my kids are adaptable

To answer your question:  yes, they are socialized.  Even though they are not in a classroom with 30 other kids their same age, they are socialized.  If you ask me, they are over-socialized!  They play baseball, basketball and soccer.  They go to church and to the grocery store.  They are active in 4H and participate in classes like physics, public speaking and crochet.  They take piano lessons and Grayson even plays cello in the public school orchestra (Gasp!  Yes, they let her!  That's another question people ask).  Since their dad is a pastor, they make ministry visits to shut-ins, hospitals and nursing homes - even playing the piano at a local nursing home to uplift the elderly.  They knock on neighborhood doors to invite strangers to church (with an adult).  They are mannerly and considerate of others (not all the time), not easily angered (except by one another), they are confident - they can walk into a room and speak to anyone, of any age, any background or any race, and be real and speak from the heart (mostly that's a good thing, sometimes - not so much).

No, they are not perfect kids, neither are their parents:)  They will make mistakes - but they are grounded and headed in the right direction. 

If you have a negative opinion about homeschool, please save it - I've heard it all before.  I know you comment because you think you are in the right, but you don't answer to God for these kids - Glen and I do.  We're not trying to push homeschool on anyone so please don't take offense.  We're just doing what we know is right for our kids.

Blessings,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

~family ties part 2~

Yesterday I promised part 2 of my husband's new adventure into finding his ancestry. Here it is!

http://pastorglenc.blogspot.com/2010/04/lesson-in-family-history-chapter-2.html

Enjoy!!!

Blessings,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

~family ties~

For those of you who are interested, my husband has a new post on his blog.  He doesn't spend much time blogging, so this is a special treat:)

http://www.pastorglenc.blogspot.com/

Check it out to learn all about his latest adventure!

Blessings,

Saturday, April 10, 2010

~flashback~

I ran across an old blog from a few years ago that could have been written today.  I began to think I've come so far, but I'm back in the same place!  Is there a lesson I didn't learn?  Did God make me do a u-turn and take that loop again?  Why the deja vu?

October 17, 2007 I wrote my first and only blog entry until I started again last year.  The entry was titled ungratefulness.  I had just started homeschooling and was working mornings in a local church office.  Glen was just a little over two years into the ministry and was working a  full-time job in another town at the time.  I  was in a place where I felt I didn't appreciate where I was or all I'd been given by God.  Low and behold.....here I am again!  I've pasted the entry below.....



Category: Life
Okay, this is my first blog.  Hopefully not the last, but who knows…
I have problems with "the blog" because it's like journaling – which is private – only it's not private.  So what would be the point?  Admittedly, my thoughts are not always "reader-ready" as soon as I think them!  I actually wrote this out last night so I could think on my thoughts first…….huh?
Lately God's been dealing with me on a few levels.  I'm not ready to share everything (remember, I'm a newbie), but I'll share on one thing.

Nothing ticks me off quite like people who are ungrateful.  When I take 2 minutes out of my day to come to your drive-thru window, at least have the decency to say "thank you"!  I know you don't mean it when you say it – but I feel better about the world and where it's headed! 

If my kids were to open a gift and not act like it's the best gift they've ever received (even if it's clothes...again), I would be mortified – and they would know it!

When I spend every day going to work, then rushing home to get lunch and schooling the kids, then getting dinner on and rushing to practices and piano lessons, then someone complains that their favorite jeans aren't clean?  C'mon!  Be glad you have jeans!  Kids in 3rd world countries don't even have jeans – or do they?

Why, if I have issues with everyone else's ungratefulness, am I so ungrateful for where God has me right now?  Not just now – but always!

Am I grateful?  Does having a family mean having more dirty laundry?  Of course!  But thank you, God for my family.  Does it mean I don't get to see my husband very much because he's working his tail off to support our family?  Definitely!  But thank you for the ministry – and the job to sustain our family.

God's showing me that the things that mean the most are the hardest work.  I don't want to look back with regret and see that I didn't enjoy the times when we had soccer practice and Peter Pan play practice and birthday parties to run to.   If I am just grateful for where I am right now, then I can recognize all the wonderful gifts God has given me.  I'm trying to soak it all up – take time to breathe it in.  Thank you, God for my family – and their dirty laundry.  And thank you for putting up with my ungratefulness.


Five days  after  that post, my grandmother, the most stable person in my life, fell in her kitchen floor and broke several bones.  Seven days after her fall, she died....I couldn't think about blogging for a long time.  Ungrateful?  You betcha!   

The job I had at the church only lasted a few months, thank goodness.  Church  people are the hardest to please;-) God blessed Glen with another job.  More pay and in our  town.  Our life slowed down a little for a while.  It seems like busyness is creeping in again.  As I've said before, we're trying to pray over each activity and let the Holy Spirit guide - after all, no one can guide quite like Him, right?

I have come to terms with the death of my grandma and am so thankful she didn't suffer long on this earth. Most days I try not to think  about the fact that she's gone, but when I have a problem with the kids and I need answers, I miss being able to drop in on her for her "kitchen table" advice.  When the kids do something quirky or say something funny, I miss her sweet, gentle laugh. Yes, I  still miss her dearly and long to talk to her again and share a glass of iced tea with her at heaven's kitchen table.

We are busy, there's no question.  But God, please help me to slow down long enough to learn the lessons  You have for me the first time around!

Blessings,

Friday, April 2, 2010

~redeemed~

I woke up this morning unable to sleep, heavy-hearted and nauseous but not knowing why. (And before you ask, I'm not pregant!)

For some reason Good Friday is not really acknowledged too much in our denomination, so it's been easy to put the thought away in years past.  Just keep busy and the day disappears.  Before you know it, it's Sunday and it's celebration time! 

Some celebrate with baskets of candy and eggs delivered by the Easter Bunny (I haven't figured this one out yet!  Did they miss science class?), others celebrate by going to church then having a  family dinner (which is how we'll celebrate), and still others don't celebrate anything. But in all of the celebrations, will we remember the suffering?

This morning after waking and studying the Book of John, as I have been since September, when I thought of what today represents, I felt sick.  Sick at the thought that 2010 years ago, My sin nailed Christ to the cross.  Sins I hadn't committed yet, but sins that He knew I would. When I think of the soldiers and officials yelling at Him and spitting in His face, I see me doing the same to Him.  When I think of the person who actually drove the nails in, I cringe because I know it could have been me.  Not literally, but with my actions, doubts and denial at times.

I'm thankful today that I am a believer in Jesus Christ and my sins are forgiven.  Thankful that Christ suffered for me, and thankful that, as I heard someone say once, "Sunday's comin'"!  Three days after He gave up His spirit, He conquered death and rose from the grave.


As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "                                                                                                                     Mark 16:5-7


Are you so sorry for the sins of the past that you purpose to not get sucked in by them again?  Or do you say, "It's not that bad!" or "I'll do better later" without true repentance?


Think on what Christ did more than 2000 years ago for YOU  but don't let it get you down, because Sunday's comin'!
Blessings,

Thursday, March 25, 2010

~wake up call~

I've been pondering lately on something that happened last week.  I have been struggling with busyness and how to prune activities from our lives without throwing them all out and starting new - which, personally is my favorite option ;-)  A life in the ministry is not a quiet, peaceful life.  It's very busy, but I love our ministry!

Glen was in Washington D.C. last week on a business trip and it seemed like everything had to be done while he was away.  Grayson's best friend was moving to Arkansas and she wanted to give her a party, so I let her (and I'm very glad I did - at 12 years old, it's a BIG DEAL when your best friend moves), a woman from church was having surgery and I wanted to - and needed to be there, basketball practice, filling in for Glen during bible study, my week to teach at homeschool co-op....I began to feel overwhelmed - quickly.

Thursday afternoon, Grayson and Riley wanted to take their friends, who were moving, to the YMCA with them.  I dropped them off at the Y, headed over to help their mom do a little packing (not much, really), then went to the Y and picked them up, dropped Grayson off at home to get ready for her basketball practice and took their friends home.  After I dropped them off, Riley and I were headed home to get Grayson and off to practice.  We had 15 minutes to get there!  We rounded the corner after leaving their street and a very small, bent over elderly lady was rolling her very large garbage can down her driveway.  Riley said, "Mom, pull over so I can help her!" and before I knew it, words were out of my mouth that I couldn't take back.  "Don't you know we're in a hurry?    W  e    d  o  n  '  t    h  a  v  e    t  i  m  e    t  o    h  e  l  p    h  e  r  !  !  !"  As soon as I said it, I pulled the car over to the side of the road.  What kind of mom am I?  Isn't this why we homeschool, to spend time teaching the ways of Christ?  Too busy to help?  Really?

While Riley got out and helped the lady with her garbage, I prayed for forgiveness.  "Oh God, what am I doing?  Thank you for grabbing a hold of me with the words of my son."

By the way, we were only 2 minutes late for basketball practice.  We've been later than that with no excuse before!  Riley isn't just the "baby" anymore.  I'm going to purpose to really listen to him from now on.  Apparently he's learning how to do the right thing from someone ;-)

This week has once again been a busy one, but with purpose.  I'm trying to prioritize and pray over activities.

Thank you Lord for my busy life, and for kids who will speak up to even me about doing the right thing.

Blessings,