Sunday, January 27, 2008

Snowflakes/Random Facts About Me

 I've about given up hope (although, I am still praying) that we will ever see any real snowflakes again here in our little hollow in East Tennessee.  Not any that stick and accumulate at any rate.  But, one day I came in from shopping and my creative, industrious husband of patience had helped Marissa and Daniella make this-

 Isn't that so cool?  It's made out of computer paper.  It's really pretty (and big), and I still have it hanging. 
Ashley tagged me forever ago, and like the great mommy I am, I'm finally remembering to do it!  Also, my new friend, Julie, tagged me to list 6 unimportant things about me, and I think this tag definitely has that covered!! 
8 Things I am passionate about...
1. God and growing in Him
2.  my family
3. adoption
4  sponsoring poor children through Compassion International and Orbit Ministries
5  helping people through Samaritan's Purse or Orbit Ministries
6. going to the gulf coast
7. U.S. traveling
8. Chocolate

8 Things I say often...
1.  Marissa!
2.  Daniella!
3. Smoky!  (hold out the "o" sound, and say it in a sweet mushie voice in order to make him hush (He's an AFrican grey parrot)
4.  "clean up this junk; up where it goes, not piled somewhere, or stuck in a corner"
5.  Have you brushed your teeth?
6.  Somebody let the dog in.
7.  I love you.
8.  Please be kind to each other, and act like you like each other.

8 Things I've read recently...
1. Echo in the Darkness (current read)
2. A Voice in the Wind (#1 in this series)
3. a chapter in Isaiah
4.  2 chapters in 1 Timothy
5.  blogs
6.  WORLD magazine
7.  Bible story books nightly to Daniella
8. Because of Winn Dixie to Marissa and Daniella

8 Things I want to do before I die...
1. Have a much deeper relationship with my Lord
2. See my children grown and married
3.  Be a grandma
4. cultivate *close* friendships
5. be a better hostess
6. travel all over the country
7. be more motivated and organized
8. scrapbook 

8 Things I can listen to over & over again & probably have...
1. Not much, and I don't listen to music too awful much
2.  I like praise songs
3.  some classical
4.  a couple of old timey gospel cd's I have

8 Things that attract me to my friends...
I'm just keeping Ashley's list.  It about covers it.
1. Someone who is real
2. Someone I can be real with
3. Similar beliefs / convictions
4. Godliness
5. Encouraging
6. Fun - can be silly together
7. Someone I can talk to easily about whatever
8. A few similar interests

8 Things I learned this year...
1. I really CAN keep my mouth shut, AND stay in the same room if I put my mind to it. 
2. some history about the fall of Jerusalem and about Rome
3. that it's really awesome when God is speaking so clearly to you and your husband on the same issues
4. I could list a lot of things I "learned" from the Lord, but they would be mostly "reminders"
5. That children can learn to spell really great if you give them time and don't force spelling lists on them-they learn because that's what children do if they are reading and engaged in life
6. That I can cook 7 nights in a row without breaking out in hives
7. To be less fretfull, and wait in peace
8. some information about my grandfathers and what they did in WWII

8 Random facts about me....
1. I get spooked at night by myself, especially if I have to spend the night without James here
2. I love raw brocolli and spinach, but will not eat it cooked.
3. Chocolate is my greatest downfall
4. I like to dance with my children
5. I am a terrible housekeeper
6. but, at the same time I am a perfectionist-just not with my dust
7. I have one sister, and no aunts or uncles
8. I was terrified God was going to give us a boy, and now I wish we had one
Another thing that happened long ago that I neglected was to thank Heidi for this award-not that I could ever keep up with blogging on a daily basis.  But's it's nice to know someone would care enough to come by daily! 

 Hugs to all,

Monday, January 21, 2008

On a New Journey With God

  With all the busyness of trips and holidays, I really haven't shared some major things going on in our lives.   Yep, all those swirly things I've been sharing the last couple of entries aren't even the major things!  We don't know yet what God is up to, but we know something is coming.  We don't know how big or small it may be, we just know He's working; some changes have come, and more are to come. 
    The biggest change so far is that James has been out of work for almost 4 months.  I know~that's something pretty big to have not shared.  James has an accounting degree, but hated working in it, so he left that after just a few years.  He went into real estate, which eventually led into us owning a chalet rental business.  After a few years of him literally working 15-18 hours a day, we decided to sell it.  (Immediately afterward is when the Lord called us to homeschool.)  He had always wanted to build, so he set out to learn building from the ground up.  He worked for other people and did just that for a year or 2, then went out on his own.  He started as a self employed trim carpenter, specializing in fancy, tricky staircases, and later got his contractor's license and began building homes.  This is what he has done for the last 10 years.  He is very meticulous about his houses, and builds very high quality homes, but at middle income prices.  Our county is very blessed to have had a booming building business and economy even though other areas have struggled for a while.  It finally caught up to us this fall.  Everyone in the building and real estate businesses has been hit hard.  Thankfully, we only have one house left to sell.  And, though it didn't seem like a blessing at the time, we are now thankful that suddenly the bank would not give him any more loans to build as long as he had a house on the market. 
    After a couple of days, and the initial shock of being stuck wore off, we really have been at great peace about this.  (I'll keep you updated as the money runs out!!!)  Interestingly, one day back in Oct., James was walking across a parking lot, not thinking at all about work, or the lack thereof, when he felt very strongly impressed that God was telling him that he was finished building.  He prayed and asked God if that was Him speaking.  He submitted to God that if that was what He wanted that he was willing to give it up, but he needed to know what he was supposed to do to support his family.  Every time he prayed over the next couple of weeks, his "answer" always seemed to be "Work on 'the business'".  "The business", which I won't explain unless it happens, is a business idea that James has had for quite a long time, but never had the time for.  So, as James works on this, his prayer is that God will continue to lead him, directing him, stopping this if it's not the right direction for us, and that if He wants James to build or do any projects for some income that He would bring those to us.  God knows our limited amount of resources~how long they will last~ and we fully trust Him to provide what we need.  Two different possible building opportunities have come along in the last four months, but neither have worked out. 
   During this same time, the Lord has spoken to both of us in amazing ways.  On several occasions, I would come to James after my Bible and prayer time, and say, "Listen to what I read today.  This really stood out to me, and I think......"   James would stand, almost with his mouth hanging open, and would say, "That's the same thing the Lord said to me during my study time."  It got to where it happened so often, we'd get goose bumps.  It was a very exciting time!
    James has been working hard on his project, and I've been helping him out, testing ideas and giving input.  He's been able to spend wonderful time with Marissa and Daniella.   I've mentioned how much more science he's been doing with them lately, among other things.  He's been able to spend at least once a month going on hikes in the mountains photographing, which is a passion that he has had but not had time to pursue.  He's even done a little work on our house~anything that can be done without spending money.  : )  As we've tried to be obedient and wait on the Lord, He has continued to draw us to scriptures and plant them in our hearts.  There are a couple in particular that I feel so drawn to and know that the Lord has plans, but I have no idea what they will look like.  (Well, okay, I've made guesses, but knowing God, it won't be anything I've thought of!)    We don't know if this new project is something long term (it has some possibility) or if it's just a one time deal.  If it's short term, we don't know what's next.   Will the building pick back up then, or has God really ended that for Him?  We even know that this project may not work out at all.  Perhaps God just wants obedience like the story of the man who pushed on the boulder for 10 years without it ever budging.  God wanted to strengthen his muscles, not really have him move the stone.  Maybe He's strengthening our spiritual muscles.   Our church has been praying for revival.  Real revival.  God may be preparing us for something in that.    We really just don't know.  We do know that it's all exciting and scary.  We can't wait to see what will happen, but, yes, sometimes there are those fears of "Lord, what's going to happen next?" 
    James made the comment to me a couple of weeks ago that building seems like another life time ago.  As much as he's always loved it, it seems like someone else's life now.  How we would love it if the Lord brought him something more home based where he could continue spending more time with the children.  We'll see.  Maybe it's something more ministry based.  Lots of maybes that all just require waiting on the Lord.
   Other changes and possible changes going on around us are~ the possibility of moving my grandmother here as I talked about last post, Ashley's best friend and someone dear to all of our family having to move out of the country this Thursday, and we don't know when we'll be able to see her again (We are all grieving, most especially Ashley~please pray for her), Briana getting ready to leave for college this fall and hassling with scholarships and forms, one or more mission trips to Guatemala this year,  needing to fulfill the need in Marissa to be around more people of her nationality, and some things that have been on my heart for our family that I just don't know yet if they are what the Lord is calling us to.
   Please pray for us as we go through this waiting and transition.  We only want to do the will of the Lord in all things.  We trust Him to reveal that to us at the right time.  We trust Him to sustain us and protect us.  Pray for James to have wisdom as he leads our family, and that he won't fret about providing for us.  God knows his heart and that he's ready to work at whatever He calls him to.  God is the one who provides.  "It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep." (Psalm 127:2) 
I thought to close with a scripture that speaks to our situation or that encourages, but honestly, I just couldn't figure out which one~there are so many.  So, this one just sums it up:
"For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised"   Psalm 96:4

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Life is Really Swirly, and I Think I'm Getting Dizzy

How's that for a title?  Fortunately, I have Steady Hands to keep me from falling, but boy sometimes life is just swirly (like that word?) isn't it?
Thank you to everyone who prayed for me last week.  I don't want to talk bad about anyone, but let's just say that I spent the week with a person who is critical with almost everything you say, uncompassionate for the most part, and who KNOWS that everything they do or think is right, and everyone else is an idiot.  And, for the handfull of you that I quickly dashed out a message to last Thursday morning, we literally watched the Lord roll away the storm clouds all the way home!!  Thank you for praying!!  There was a line of severe thunderstorms, and we had at least a 60% chance of storms all the way home.  We got out ahead of the main line of storms, but little cells were popping up ahead of it, too.  About an hour or so after we left, there were 2 tornados there.  We got a moderate rain in Birmingham, and shortly after we left there, they had a severe storm.  The *entire* way home the side of the roads were standing in water where it had been raining, but other than B-Ham, it only sprinkled on us twice.  James has a radar on his cell phone.  For about the last 2 hours of the trip, the rain was right up to the interstate on the radar, but we didn't have any. As we unloaded the car, it started to rain lightly, and just as we got the last bags in, the heavens opened, and it poured for hours!  Don't you just love it when God does that?!
While we were visiting my grandmother, James and I felt very strongly impressed that it was time to move her closer to family.  She is in a nursing home in the county she has always lived.  This is where she wanted to be originally (home), but she is so far away from her only child and 2 grandchildren.  The relatives there are hardly visiting her.  Also, she has rehabbed (is that a word?) a lot in the last 2 years, and really doesn't need nursing home care right now.  She does need assisted living, though.  She has some dementia, along with a few other problems, but is still able to visit and participate in things.  Right now she spends most of her time alone.  Turns out that the Lord has also been impressing this upon my mom and sister's heart, too.  So, James and I are looking into an assisted living facility about 5 min. from our house.  That puts my mom and dad just 2 hours away from her instead of 6.  We feel like she would be better here, because they're close enough to visit much more often (and can stay with us instead of having to pay for a hotel), but she would be here with the kids.  We can pick her up sometimes to come spend time with us, she will be able to spend holidays with everyone again, and she can go to their performances and things.  Of course, she could at my sister's, too, but my sister is 5 hours from my parents.  I won't go into all of it, but let's just say that those of you who have done adoption paperwork can sympathize with what we are embarking upon!~~Paperwork and dealing with the govt.!  We are trying to get veteran's benefits for her to help with the assisted living, she's currently on medicaid, so we're trying to decipher them to see what they may still pay, etc.  It's mind boggling and thought consuming.  We feel an urgency that they do not.  : )
Will you hang in there if I tell you one more story?  : o    
Our neighbors got a puppy last spring~a black lab.  There are a very few woods between our houses, but that didn't help when they built a dog pen on our end of their house under our bedroom window.  We spent the whole spring and summer listening to him bark his little puppy head off because he didn't want to be locked up or alone.  We kept thinking he'd out grow it.  Not.  We spent the fall listening to his big puppy head bark at every move we made.  They finally took him out of the pen, but put an electric fence in.  He'd come right to the edge of the yard and bark non-stop at us as soon as we walked out the door.  On 2 occassions, he barked at James for over an hour and a half while he worked in the yard.  James asked our vet, and he said that being a black lab, he wouldn't ever outgrow it.  We asked our pastor if it was wrong to think about saying something to them, and he encouraged us that it was fine, and told us some stories.  Still we stalled.  Well, for the past month or more, either the fence is not shocking, or he doesn't care anymore.  He has been racing into our front yard barking, growling, and snarling (curling that lip and showing awful looking teeth).  Twice he has chased Ashley or Briana into their cars.  They were scared to death.  He's come after James several times, and me twice.  I have been scared to let the little girls out into the front yard to play.  Finally, Sunday, James and I decided to write them a letter.  They are both at work most of the time, so we knew they probably didn't  even know how bad it was.  I wrote as sweet and friendly of a letter as I could, but still conveying the problems.  I told them we weren't angry, and that I prayed they wouldn't get angry with us.  James took it over yesterday morning.  Last night she called.  They weren't angry.  In fact, she was very apologetic and mortified.  The "problem" is that she said they are taking the dog to the pound today.  In my wildest dreams, I never imagined they would get rid of the dog.  A part of me is relieved.  I don't have to worry about my girls being attacked, and hopefully, some of the peace of our quiet neighborhood can return.  But, my goodness, I feel so guilty.  I cried quite a few times last night.  Perhaps they weren't that attached to the dog, or maybe his barking was driving them crazy, too.  I don't know.  All I know is that because of my words, a family is losing their pet.  James tried and tried to talk to her when she called, making suggestions about fences, bark collars, etc.  She wouldn't hear of it~said they'd made up their mind.  She had had a dog try to attack her at some point, and she knew how terrifying it was, and she did not want that happening to anyone else.  Sigh!  I hope it's right. 
In order not to leave on a sad note~~Sunday night, James was ordained as a deacon.  WOW!  Our church is so great~~so many truely spiritual people, deeply searching for the Lord and a pouring of God's spirit on our church.  I thought James would be the center of the ordination, and to a point he was, but I didn't realize I was going to be in that circle, too!!  : O   At one point James and I both had to go sit in chairs facing the congregation while the deacons laid hands on us and prayed over us.  That was awesome, and wouldn't have been a problem if the pastor hadn't called us up, sat us down, then started talking and talking and talking!     Even though they are almost all people I know, sitting there in front of the congregation with them all looking at us was......I suppose humorous in hindsight?  This is extra special, because the Lord has really been working in James' and my lives, especially the last several months.  There have been so many things going on.....but that's another post.
Your Swirly Blog Friend,

Monday, January 7, 2008

I'm Here!

Technically, I'm not HERE, at least in my normal here.  I'm somewhere else here~~~and I don't think I've had enough sleep!  LOL!  But, let me back up, since I haven't posted in a while.
We had a very nice, quiet Christmas.  It was just us this year.  Since we had all of the Christmas Post practices and productions, we didn't do our regular advent.  In stead the week before Christmas we did What God Wants For Christmas.  Each night you pull out a different piece of the nativity and read related scriptures, then read scriptures related to a "character" lesson.  On the last night you discover what God wants for Christmas~~YOU!  We also did our tradition of praying each night for the people we received Christmas cards from.  On Christmas Eve, after dinner, we let the girls open one gift, then went out looking at Christmas lights, which was fun.  Christmas Day we just enjoyed opening gifts and playing games and spending time together.  In fact that's how we spent most of the next few days!  On New Year's Eve Marissa and I went shopping.  We had not exchanged gifts from my parents yet, and I had a couple of things to pick up for them still, and Marissa needed some nicer tops to wear with skirts to church.  We found her a couple of great ones 1/2 price.  My parents came that day, and we had "Christmas" with them on New Year's Day.  They stayed until Thursday, and before they left my mom and I spent about 2 hours at the Scrapbook Superstore~~spent all of BOTH gift cards I had gotten for Christmas, PLUS the one I got for Mother's Day!!  : )   Dare I tell you that in addition to the $25 worth of gift cards, I also spent $25 cash that I had gotten too?   (sheepish grin)  In my defense, I haven't been scrapbook shopping in a lonnnng time!  Anyway, we all had a really great time last week. 
On Friday, I went with Ashley and Marissa to a wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.  Ashley was a bridesmaid, and Marissa was the flower girl.  That was 5:30-8:30.  Ashley went with the bride, bridesmaids, and a few other of the bride's friends to spend the night in a cabin.  I took Marissa by Claire's and got a sparkly barrette for her to wear at the wedding, ran home and tucked her and Daniella in, then Briana and I went back to the church to help finish decorating the reception.  We got home at midnight.  That place was spectacular, though.  They transformed a low-ceiling, dark, old fellowship hall into a winter wonderland.  Saturday we had to be back at the church at 11:00 to dress for pictures.  The wedding was at 2:00, and we stayed a little while to help undecorate some of the reception area.  We got home at about 6:30.  As exhausted as I was, guess what!........We were leaving town the next morning, and I had not packed a thing!  Thankfully all the clothes were washed, at least. 
So, Sunday morning we got up and headed for Mississippi.  We're here visiting James' mother and will go and visit my grandmother in a nursing home about 20-30 min. from here.  Please pray for me.  I'm very, very tired, and.....well, let's just say that I need prayers for patience and love.  It's been a trying day today. 
The house is really quiet right now.  James is reading to Marissa.  I'm about to go read to Daniella, and Ashley and Briana are gone with my mother-in-law.......get this.....line dancing at the Senior Citizen Center!  We just found out today that she's been line dancing for about a year. 
I don't have very many photos to be able to share from here, but here are a couple from the wedding.

These are the centerpieces for the reception tables.  The daisies were glittered to look like frost. There were more diasies on the table, along with some glittery snowflakes.

The bride (Ashley's friend since they were ten), Lindsey and Jeremy.

We'll be homeThursday night.  I guess I'll go peek in on my little girls now, who are in bed, but don't seem to want to stop giggling.  I kind of hate to break it up.  Seems like good memories being made.  : )