Friday, May 31, 2013

This Moment

This Moment, the beginning of summer evenings ~

Stroller, scooter, running feet ~ the ways each chose to travel
linking with Amanda

Reading in May

Listed below are the titles of books and stories that made richer the spring days of May.  A wonderful realization has come to me that an idea that was presented to me a couple of years ago is true.  Good books are mentors.  This has been a tremendous discovery!

The Books;

Jessica's First Prayer by Hesba Stretton  ~ My 12 year old daughter told me that this is one of her favorite books, that she has read it more times than she can remember.  Then she invited me to read it, so I did.  Truly a wonderful story.

The Cat that God Sent by Jim Kraus

Cleaning House, A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma, my response here

The BARE NAKED TRUTH, Dating, Waiting, and God's Purity Plan by Bekah Hamrick Martin, review coming in June

Audio ~ Books, Sermons, Letters, etc

Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.

For the Children's Sake ~ I am part way through this one.  This is a book that may end up in my basket of gifts to give to new mothers.

What are you reading?  Who are your literary mentors?


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Counting Down until Compassion Bloggers Head to Nicaragua

Looking forward to "seeing" the hope in Nicaragua next month!

Meaningful Work

Just about when I recently finished a lengthy reading "assignment" (a couple of books I agreed to read and found that I had to really push to finish) a book that was requested from our library arrived.

Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Will Wyma arrived from the library at exactly the right time!  We've had a out of the ordinary spring this year, with snow and freezing temperatures pretty late, so our garden is several weeks "behind."  Builder is away and I don't enough hours in my days to get it all done, inside the house and out.

First off I need to tell you something.  Throughout the book the author discussed several areas where youth entitlement had unintentionally taken residency in her home.  As I read these, I was very blessed to think about my own children and realize, those particular areas are not ones where we struggle. It brings a great deal of joy to me when I think about how ready to give and serve our daughters are.

 (before it sounds as if I don't think we have any struggles, it wasn't long before different areas of "entitlement" came into view)

In any case, there were some great ideas that came from Cleaning House.  The first was the idea of meaningful work.

 Over the last year each of our youngest three daughters have sponsored a child through Compassion International.

These sponsorships came about through different circumstances and while our daughters are not old enough to "work" they found ways to try and cover the sponsorship.  We have been happy to make up the difference.

Janeth, Tanzania
This arrangement is fine, but we realized that they are very capable of working and caring for our yard this summer as a way of earning funds for the sponsorships.  And a meaningful work plan took shape.

Sreeshma, India
So, a master plan has been approved by all parties and the jobs have begun.  The girls are responsible for all of the gardens, mowing, sweeping, animal care and clean up.  They scheduled the days they work and have plenty of time for finishing school and other "summer" stuff.  We will pay them an hourly amount once per month that they will be able to use to purchase a cashier's check to send for their Compassion sponsorships.

It is my hope that actually working for the funds to support these precious kids will reap a bountiful harvest for each of our daughters.
Welcome Home Wednesdays

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sustained, Another Gift


Last month I read the book In the Presence of my Enemies by Gracia Burnham and Dean Merrill.  This book spoke so deeply to some of my unspoken fears, and answered an unspoken question about my childhood.

Gracia and Martin Burnham were hostages of the Abu Sayyaf. 

I was held hostage to the effects of long term abuse (physical, emotional and sexual) throughout my childhood. 

The following quote from In the Presence of My Enemies holds an answer to one of my questions;

He (GOD) had neither inspired the Abu Sayyaf to abduct us nor would he force them against their will to release us. Instead, he would sustain us day by day, night by night, mile by mile, for as long as it took
The further along the road of life that I get, the more that I can see this is true, God sustains day by day, night by night, for as long as it takes.  Looking back on those years of abuse I am amazed that God has not let me be consumed by the evil, but in the midst of the evil He sustained me until the day of my healing and release from the chains of that bondage.

The following verse from Deuteronomy doesn't speak specifically to this subject matter, yet it does.  Despite the circumstances, as I look back, He has been with me.

“For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.”’ Deuteronomy 2:7

and on my 2013 gratitude list this word

142.  Sustained


Sunday, May 26, 2013

What Do I Know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life "its" name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

 What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Little This and That

Around the house… Simple clutter from a week of extended family fellowship and end of co-op materials not yet stored away

Outside the window . . . grey sky and new green foliage on the trees and bushes

I am thinking . . . how interesting it is that it has taken us 2 days to recover from a week out of routine.

With gratitude . . . for the Lord's smoothing my rough spots in relationships, and teaching me a bit more about myself as I come to understand another person better.  That person is "connected" to all in the family.  I tend to be disconnected.  Another character product from childhood.

In the kitchen . . . chicken in the crockpot to make bbq chicken later today.

I am creating . . . space to do as much as possible on my "big jobs" list this summer.

I am going . . . to be home most of the next few days.  Glory be, loving that thought!

I am reading . . .  Bekah Hamrick Martin's book, The Bare Naked Truth, a book sent to me for review.

I am looking forward to . . . shopping for strawberry plants and flowers this weekend!

I am praying . . . for the child development center in India that our "Samatha" attends.  There are problems that Compassion India is seeking resolution and I am praying for the Gospel's spirit of redemption to be seen by all watching.

One of my favorite things . . .quiet days at home to work through the mountains of "to do" 

Here is a picture taken from the recent busy days. . .

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Promise Box, A Review

Despite my dislike of Christian romance fiction (or any romance fiction) over the past year I have read and reviewed several.  This spring I have been pleased to find two books of this genre that will go on the bookcase for my girls to enjoy in a few years time.

Like Sweet Sanctuary, The Promise Box delves deeply into the spiritual lives of the characters.  This is the part of every "story" that is told to me that I look for, "where is God's hand, grace?  Where is His deliverance."  It is refreshing read stories where the characters are doing the very thing I hope to be doing, what I encourage my children to do ~ to search their hearts, to seek God's grace and direction for their lives.

The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer is book 2 of the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series.  An advance reader's copy was provided to me by Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my opinion.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

On This Mother's Day ~ Hopes and Dreams

My dreams for my children ~ For each to know the hope of the calling of the Lord.  For each to know the value of serving others and hard work.  For each to know she is loved beyond measure.

What are your dreams for your children?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

This Week ~ May 5-11, 2013

  • In my life this week…Lots of mixed emotions.  Missing Beloved as he has headed to work for 5 straight weeks in the far North, dealing with anger issues at home, enjoying all the rain that has fallen, and the relief of Co-op being completed for this school year.  Group Impove & Piano performances.

  • In our homeschool this week…We wrapped up our Co-op classes and took a look at what we have left to finish overall.  Each daughter has a time line and  a list of items to finish.

  • Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…My sister and her family are planning on visiting us later this week.  We're looking forward to lots of cousin time!

  • My favorite things this week were…the opportunities where I found myself alone with different children.  The piano recital and the group improve performance.

    And the pink package that arrived on Thursday!

  • My kiddos favorite thing this week was…probably knowing just what they have to finish for this academic year and watching Wreck It Ralph ~ a surprise I blessed them with.

  • Things I’m working on…some deep cleaning and summer schedule planning.

  • I’m cooking…actually I'm planning how to bring my kids into the meal planning, preparing and clean up this summer.

  • I’m grateful for…grace and the hope of the Lord.

  • I’m praying for…my children and granddaughter to know the hope of God's calling on their life.

  • I rewarded my kids this week by…picking up Wreck It Ralph from the library, and with popcorn & apples for dinner.

  • A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

    To Lesbia's Mother

    Dear Lesbia's Mom,

    It has been my hope for two years to be able to get on a plane and travel to Guatemala, to meet you, to tell you that you are not in this parenting thing alone.  I wanted to tell you that even though I am roughly 2500 miles away and we've never met, that I pray that God will hold you up.

    And then the call came, your precious daughter, my sponsored child, left the Compassion program despite the encouragement of the staff.  I had noticed over the last few letters how Lesbia's tone had changed from young and cheerful to sad and bordering on hopeless. 

    Oh how I hope that you have not given up.

    What is it like, trying to raise a daughter, alone without the support of a husband, in poverty, without enough?

    I can only imagine the hopelessness that might try to settle in.  The loneliness that produces fear.  The simple reality of hunger and sickness that stamps out dreams.

    Please don't give up.

    I will keep praying because I know One who spans distance, fills gaps and loves you.  He loves you and your children with a forever love.  I will pray that the seeds of truth which have been sown in your daughter will germinate and bring life to both of you. 

    And while I probably won't be able to get on that plane to Guatemala I'll quietly remember you and pray that God will uphold you, supply you with enough.

    Please don't give up.


    The Cat that God Sent and The Dog that Talked to God, Review

    "The Cat that God Sent" by Jim Kraus

    Jake Wilkerson, a disillusioned young pastor who is an expert at hiding his fears, takes on a new assignment at a small rural church in Coudersport, Pennsylvania--which is a far piece from anywhere and full of curiously odd and eccentric people. His first day on the job, he is adopted by Petey--a cat of unknown origins and breed--but a very sentient cat who believes that he is on a mission from God to redeem Jake and bring him back to the truth. Jake must confront his doubts early on when he meets Emma Grainger, a single woman and a veterinarian who dismisses all Christians as "those people." Then, Tassy, a young runaway with a secret, arrives at the door of the church looking for a place of refuge. How does Jake deal with this runaway and his interest in Dr. Grainger? More importantly, can Jake rekindle his faith? Petey does his best to lead all people to the truth, in a most subtle and feline way.

    Recently widowed Mary Fassler buys a Miniature Schnauzer, Rufus, and her world is turned sideways in the midst of her grief.  It seems that Rufus speaks. And not just to her. He also talks to God. When Rufus begins sharing advice that could result in major changes, Mary gets the feeling the pooch might not be steering her in the right direction. Or, is she just afraid to take the leap and discover something she desperately needs? Only Rufus...and God...knows.

    The author has written stories that explore the surface of unbelief, doubt and pain, with well placed humor and likeable characters.  The stories were rather long in developing and it was challenging to hang in there with Rufus, "The Dog That Talked to God."  On the other hand Petey's comments sprinkled throughout "The Cat that God Sent" injected enough compassionate humor to keep the story moving along. 

    About the Author:
    Jim Kraus grew up in Western Pennsylvania and has spent the last twenty years as a vice president of a major Christian publishing house. He has written more than twenty books and novels, including the best-selling The Dog That Talked to God. He and his family live outside of Chicago with a sweet miniature Schnauzer and an ill-tempered Siberian cat named (of course) Petey.

    I received these books from Litfuse in exchange for my personal thoughts.

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    This Moment

    This Moment, This Man~

    This photo captures a moment yes, but also a relationship, a hope, a celebration and a goodbye.  But also more.
    This man, with whom I have shared life for many years, celebrated a birthday with us the Saturday and the Sunday before his actual day, because he was heading NORTH.
    This man who asked me to be his nearly 20 years ago, and despite all the narrow misses, hard times, good times, full to over flowing times where we were stretched way too thin,
    has held tight to me, never letting me spiral off.
    We've walked together through the valley of the shadow of death.
    Together we've welcomed life through adoption and birth.
    We've shared amazement at the gifts God has given us. 
    That HE would bestow such reward upon us.
    I've heard that wine gets better with age
    And women more beautiful as well.
    But this I know very well,
    This I have seen,
    A man who fears the Lord grows deeper
     and more handsome
    The eyes deeper
     as the years pass.
    Love and trust grow stronger.
    The joy of being his grows sweeter and sweeter.

    I love you Beloved.
    Happy Birthday. 

    Thursday, May 9, 2013

    Supporting Life

    In January 1988, as a very young unwed adult, I was very surprised to discover I was pregnant

    During a visit to a clinic for BC pills, a routine pregnancy test was run.   In the same breath the clinic work told me that the test was positive, she asked me when I would like to be scheduled to "take care of it".

    The news of the new life within me took me completely by surprise, and I couldn't think to respond to the clinic worker.   Stunned but unwilling to schedule "the procedure" until I talked with my boyfriend.  I walked out of the clinic that day.  By God's grace I didn't return, even though the relationship ended and I didn't have a clue what I was going to do.

     Eight months later a beautiful baby girl was born and I became a very young mother.  Now that baby girl is grown, and is the mother of my precious granddaughter.  Life has brought forth life.

    As I look back on that January day I wonder how many young women like me are quickly presented with a solution to the "surprise" of an unplanned pregnancy, and how many are ushered into ending the life of the little surprise.

    The work of LifeNetwork pushes back the darkness, protects the unborn and ministers to the young women who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy. Each woman who walks into a LifeNetwork office is presented with life and hope. That is worth supporting. 

    Saturday June 1 my daughters and I will be participating in the Walk/Run for Life in our city.  One of my daughters will be running in the 5K, the rest of us will walk and push JoyNess in the NanaMobile.  Will you sponsor us as we walk/run to raise money to keep the doors of LifeNetwork open in our community?

    As a child advocate, most of what I write about is child sponsorship and ministry to children & families.  Occasionally I write about the healing I have been given from years of intense abuse as a child, and the hope I long to offer others seeking healing from that atrocity. 

    But there are other ways in which I desire to offer hope and help.  Most stem from my own experiences, but I do believe that the hope and deliverance we have been given provides us direction on how to live and offer ourselves to God's service

    Monday, May 6, 2013

    Simple Goals in a Complex Time

    Last Week's Goals
    One on one time with Mae, Petal Rose, Chica
    Family Movie or Game Night (although several of us fell asleep, and one of us had to tend to a very upset baby)
    Read aloud ~ Tales of the Forgotten Ones,

    Finish Photo Book for Petal Rose

    Recite Psalm 91 each day ~ life changed course when Builder arrived home, I fell out of one rhythm into another and only recited Psalm 91 3 times, practiced love and attentiveness to what we had right there, right then.  He has headed back to work and we'll see him again in 5 weeks.  That's one week out of each of these coming summer months.  And each time I'll work to remember to fall out of one rhythm to be present in those.
    Exercise 4 Days ~ 3 times!

    Read  The Lordship of Christ.  I am setting this one aside, and choosing another title that interests me during this changing season.

    Begin to Organize the Garage Sale piles ~ big progress on this one.  I dug the tubs out of the shed and sorted most of the items. 
    Morning Freezer Cooking Session Whole Wheat Quick Mix is in the freezer!
    Tie Cousin Quilt, Mail!

    Lesson plan for SS & HCEC
    Write 2 letters of gratitude/encouragement
    Ministry Post
    Edit "The Armor"

    This Week's Goals
    One on one time with Mae, Petal Rose, Chica
    Family Movie or Game Night
    Read aloud ~ Tales of the Forgotten Ones,

    Finish Photo Book for Petal Rose


    Recite Psalm 91 each day
    Exercise 4 Days
    Read  "The Cat that God Sent"

    Finish Sorting Garage Sale piles
    Morning Freezer Cooking Session ~ Pancake Mix
    Tie Cousin Quilt, Mail!

    Lesson plan for SS
    Write 2 letters of gratitude/encouragement
    Ministry Post
    Edit "The Armor"

    FHG ~ 1000 More Gifts

    A common phrase passed between Builder and me is FHG.
    Full, Hard and Good.

    The days are sometimes pretty hard in our home, I imagine it is so in most all homes.  Attitudes and words get twisted, chores get neglected, appliances break down.  And always the days are just plain full.

    But at the end of the day, as I think back over the day that seemed so long, yet has evaporated in an instant I know this.  Life is Good.  It is a good gift.

    And this knowledge inspires me to pursue a continued change in my focus and activity, to look for the grace laden gifts, the evidence of God's amazing love for me in all the twisted tangle of full, hard and good each day.

    counting the gifts in 2013  #120-141

    •       Testimony of the one who feels small, words flowing from one who says she has no speaking ability testifying of the joy seen in the eyes of new believers
    •     baby girl chatting with me during diaper changes

    •      stories of God’s faithfulness that reveal my less than a mustard seed faith
    •       the snow on the skylight, how it sparkles and looks like a kaleidoscope
    •       new work, short frequent hours that allow JoyNess to continue nursing
    •     a presentation that results in grace youth sponsorship

    •       soaking wet snow, gentle moisture for this dry land

    •    the young man from youth group who asks if he can scrape my van windows at the end of the fellowship
    •  that class of kids, such fantastic people
    •   tadpole name suggestions that have me rolling in laughter
    •    young men jumping up to help stack the chairs
    •  a friend to share my deeper burdens with
    •  the freedom that has come from sharing uglier parts of my life, story
    •   a washing machine and hot water heater that are running again

    •  a kind generous plumber friend


    Saturday, May 4, 2013

    This Week April 29 - May 3

  • In my life this week…There seems be a controlled chaos this week.  It started late last week with appliance failures, but those things are just the "stuff" of life.  Other things, mostly good things, filled my time and thoughts to overfull. 

  • Washing Machine filter ~ 2 hours to get it all open, apart and cleaned, but that didn't fix the problem

  • In our homeschool this week…Finally, we seem to be getting back into the groove.  This semester has been challenging, disjointed.  I think we have 6-8 weeks left before we can break for summer.  If we continue as we have done this week, we should be great.

  • Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…Slow down for the life lessons.  There are many things that we just can't plan or script, that catch us by surprise.  Try to slow down for them and make them count.

  • Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…Builder is home for the weekend, before heading off for the far North.  We are taking care of business and family, preparing for the new routine that will be.

  • My favorite thing this week was…the hard thing, the time to talk through heart issues.  Even though the hard thing and heart issues remain, having the time and space to be available is joy in the midst of the hard grace.

  • My kiddos favorite thing this week was…Having Daddy home.  Finding out the youth at our church have decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International!

  • Things I’m working on…The cousin quilt will be finished soon and I have another couple of quilts to put together.  One for my granddaughter and another for a new baby boy in our congregation.  I've picked up my knitting and my crocheting again.  Just a few stitches here and there, but little by little things will be finished.

  • I’m cooking…We have more eggs than we can use!  And since there are a couple of us that simply do not like eggs, I've whipped up a couple of quiches for breakfast this week.  Makes eggs a lot more palatable.

  • I’m grateful for…the opportunity to be home with my kids, day and night ~the "walk" I get to take each Wednesday morning that includes a visit to the World Prayer Center, the youth of our church, getting out there to minister to those close and those in far away lands

  • I’m praying for…the hearts of my children, this nation, for Lesbia

    • Something I am hoping for…this

  • A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

  • Coppelia

    the sweet gift of friendship

    Friday, May 3, 2013

    Ants Be Gone

    Last summer we were sent Combat Source Kill MAX and just the presence of the product seemed to drive the ants away.
    This spring we received Ant Killing Bait Strips by Combat.
    The bait strips don't appear to be as effective, or maybe more time is needed.
    The Killing Strips have been placed in strategic places in the kitchen and mudroom/pantry, but we are still finding ants.
    I had been very hopeful that the little critters would take the bait to the nest,
    but they still show up in  specific areas.  Dropped dog food, crumbs that missed the trash can are usually found by the ants before I find the mess.

    This product was sent to me by Purex in exchange for my review.

    This Moment

    This Moment
    Our Girl, sharing why she is involved, why she thinks the Grace Youth can be as well.
    Grace Youth Presentation

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

    Prevent Exploitation, One Child at a Time

    One of my prayers for my children has been that they will never experience terrible things, that they will grow protected, whole.  That prayer has increasingly expanded to a prayer that these horrors will simply end.  That the wicked will be stopped and all children can grow in safe and loving places.

     But this hasn't happened yet. Terrible things are still done to children all over the world. 

    Did you know that Thailand and Brazil are considered to have the worst child sex trafficking records in the world?  And that this situation is expected to grow worse as Brazil prepares to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016? 

    Does it break your heart to know that this is happening?  It is even happening right here in our country? 

    There are organizations and people fighting to restore freedom, to bring healing.  Organizations like the International Justice Mission, A21 Campaign and Love 146 are voices speaking on behalf of the oppressed and rebuking the oppressor.  They speak out, they rescue, they seek justice and they work to bring restoration and healing. 

    I know healing, there are those God used to lead me to healing. 

    But what if it never had to happen again?  This is something I beg the Father for.

    Despite the heaviness I experience knowing that abuse and exploitation continue, I have found hope.  Last month I posted a video that I found on you tube .  One child at a time we can prevent these terrible things from happening.  One small child at a time.  And each small child is worth it.

    Compassion International is not a rescue or relief organization, but the Child Sponsorship Program supplies a solid line of defense against the oppression that often accompanies poverty.  So I guess we can say that Compassion International is a prevention organization in the area of child exploitation. 

    If your heart is angered and heavy by the enormous atrocity  of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking, and you,  just like I didn’t, don’t know what you can do to make a difference, maybe think SMALL. 

    Just one child, sponsored from countries like India, Indonesia, Uganda, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Kenya, Colombia and Bolivia, brings protection to that child.  The children are taught how to identify abuse and to tell someone trustworthy.  Parents are given tools, education, help to avoid the desperate choices they may feel they have to make.

    Sponsoring a child like either of these

    offers a child, a family, a community tangible hope and help to prevent the evils of poverty.

    Will you?

    Maybe join a few of us in Group Sponsoring little Gloria.  As a community we can encourage and be a shield around this precious one, offering her the hope of growing up whole.
    Join us?