Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Seasons Of Friendship

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My My sister Miki and IDad explained the doctrine of the trinity to me by telling me about the many relationships he juggled. He told me God is one God, but three persons, and then he’d say: “You know, I’m your Dad, and I’m my Mom’s son, and I’m your Uncle’s brother. See? I’m three people, but I’m still one person. Each person is different.” He wasn’t eloquent, but he taught a good lesson. Each person was a different way of relating. As a Father, he related to us in authority. In teaching and guidance, and in placing rules and boundaries. As a son, he related in obedience and respect. He loved his Mother, respected her, obeyed her, when it was his role to do so. As a brother he related in friendship, companionship, and a sense of understanding, compassion. This gave me such a deep understanding of the trinity, and how God operates in three persons. I really appreciate my Dad’s wisdom in this particular teaching.

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My twin and I, at our very best

His wisdom extended to other things too, in this case. As a Mom of 4, I am also juggling a variety of relationships, and at this season in my life, it feels as if some of those balls are going to drop. I’ve gone through periods of anxiety and frustration, feeling as if my friendships are suffering, my family is suffering, and I am suffering, all because I just can’t figure out how to spread myself thin enough to cover everyone. I’ve learned though, through one of my truest friends, that I don’t HAVE to cover everyone. Friendship has its seasons.

First, lets define a friend in the Biblical sense. According to Proverbs “there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” I always assumed as a child that that must automatically mean you spend more time with them. As an adult, my perspective has changed drastically. I’ve learned that friendship is a relationship that puts others before self, that to find good friends, one ought to seek wisdom in their friends.

That our companions influence us, and that there are Biblical examples of friendship that does stick closer than a Brother (David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi… etc.)

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My little sister and I engaging in the normal silliness.

A friend is someone who loves you more than they love themselves. They understand you, and cherish you.

In my life I have lived in fear of losing friendships. But in losing friends, I learned that a friend I lost was one I never really had. There are some friendships that can survive the seasons we all go through, and those are the ones worth cultivating, sticking with. They are few and far between. I am blessed that in these types of friends, I am not truly short.

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My husband, the best friend I’ve ever had. ❤

Friendship does have its seasons though. Marriage is the only friendship in which each season is always experienced (or ought to be) side by side and arm in arm with that friend. My husband has been through everything that I have been through. And I have joined him in his triumphs and tragedies as well. We have a friendship that transcends all others.

Family is similar to marriage, in that you are linked for life. It is a rare and tragic thing for living family members to be so separated, that they do not share in the general hills and valleys of life’. As for my other friends, I have learned that sometimes friendship is like the tide, it ebbs and flows. At one point I feared this cycle, thinking I would lose my friend. I have since found that what maintains our friendship in this ebb and flow is an understanding of permanence, and commitment. No matter what season I have been in with certain friends, the friendship itself remains strong, and is something I can always count on.
Friendship can go from the warm summer of everything going just as it ought, with plenty of things in common, and time to spend together, to a winter where time and opportunity just seem scarce. Do not think you have lost your friendship just because you and your friend have little in common at the moment, just love each other, and you will have that summer again.

Right now, as a Mom, I am in a season where friendship, of all kinds, takes a backseat to marriage and family. I can’t always drop all four of my children to go on a bike ride with a friend. Or take all of them along on a shopping trip. It requires careful planning, and a miracle of sorts for me to have special time alone with my adult friends. I have friends who despite the strong bond of friendship, we have little in common as far as life goes. I want to encourage other Moms, just because your friend of YEARS has no children yet, does not mean you cannot maintain your deep connection with her. Persevere. This is a season. It will ebb and flow with each one. I still go to my friend, Brooke, to cry, talk, ask advice, and whether or not she and I are in the same place right now, I always find her to be a good friend with plenty to think on, because she is that friend who always points me right back to scripture. She is wise, because her wisdom comes from fearing God, and that is what will make her a good friend no matter what season of life either of us are in. She reminds me of that verse in Proverbs: “As iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens a friend’s character.” Proverbs 27:17

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I have many types of friends, with whom I can socialize while our children get together and have fun. I have a few friends going through the same season of life as I, and I find that comforting, challenging even.  We call and write one another to keep each other honest, to encourage each other. One such friend and I have thousands of emails under our belts with subjects such as “How do you handle an earache with your baby?” or “What do you feel God’s Word has to say about what media we expose our kids to?” or “How much chocolate did you eat today? I’ve had 3 bars already. It is a 3 chocolate bar kind of day…”  All I have to do is tell her I’m starting potty training this week, and I know she will be praying right on target, and maybe have some practical hands on advice. This is a woman who introduced me to the feared cloth diapers. And she was totally right! They aren’t nearly that bad. They are actually kind of easy if you know what you are doing, and baby is much more comfortable! Well worth the money saved! Jenny knows just what I need to hear because she has been there. She knows when I need some encouragement, some prayer, or someone to understand just what I am going through. She reminds me of another proverb: “Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda” (Prov. 25:20)

Friendship is not something we can control, or try to. It is a gift. And while we have it, we ought to cherish it by being a good friend. The most important thing I have learned is to have good friends you must BE a good friend. And that starts with thinking about how God has treated you. Loved you. He has forgiven you, loved you when you were unlovable. I know that as a friend, I have caused pain to my friends, whether I set out to, or not. Be the kind of friend you want to have, and be understanding with your friends when you are both in a season where it is hard to keep up with each other.
“A man who has friends must show himself to be friendly, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

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How to: Plan An Inexpensive Vacation and Day Trip

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My husband isn’t big onimages vacation. So not big that he has racked up days and days and days and DAYS of vacation and sick time. It is amazing how much time he has. But, being the man he is, and the man I love,we end up doing a lot of “staycations” with a day trip or two thrown in. We try to keep them as expense free as possible, but every now and then we splurge on a really awesome opportunity for learning, like a day in Philly, or, eventually, a day trip to NYC.  Our day trip this year is *fanfare please* 4th of July in Gettysburg! This will be our *entire* summer vacation budget all for this one day trip, because it is so special!
When I was a teenager, I used to think I lived in the most boring state ever.  (Why couldn’t we live in say… South Dakota? Where Laura Ingalls lived? HER life was exciting!) As a homeschooling Mom, I am glad we live in a history rich state that has MANY ways and places that my children can touch history for relatively little expense. Gettysburg is one of them. I am thrilled to pieces to go see the biggest re-enactment yet for the 150th anniversary of this turning point battle.

But, we have a budget. And a tight one at that. For the entire day, for our family of 6, we have to spend less than $150. Now I know that sounds like a lot on first blush, but we’ve reduced the costs by:

  1. Avoiding an overnight stay (Could easily cost us over $100-200 per night during this high traffic week.)
  2. Making our own food. (Could cost us more than $15-$30 per family meal eaten at a restaurant, or on the grounds. That is a total of $60-$90 or more for food in one day alone. Not counting drinks or snacks.)
  3. Driving our own van (we considered going with Vision Forum, but it would cost $65 per adult, including Gettysburg tickets, but we would still have to meet the bus in Harrisburg, which would cost us roughly $40 in fuel round trip. The total for that is roughly $190.)

This is a day trip that will *be* the highlight of a “staycation.” When you consider the costs of a vacation for a family of 6 for a whole week, or even a not so DIY version of just this day trip, this is a steal! We also “reduce” costs by NOT using our family budget to pay for this. How do we do that? I have a few jobs on the side (Lilla Rose, House Cleaning, and Rental Property Management.) While we plan for a trip like this, we stow away a little bit of money with each earning, and save it up until we meet our budget goals. Not all of it though, some of it gets saved or used for other needs, and 10% must go to tithe.

Here is a break down of how we will meet our budget:

Fuel: The trip to and from Gettysburg is roughly 232 miles. Our minivan gets a respectable 18-20 highway. So we’re looking at roughly $45-$50 in fuel.
Tickets: Tickets to Gettysburg re-enactments cost $35 per person, per day. Children 6 and under are free. So tickets will cost $70.

Food: This leaves us with $30 for food  and drinks for 6 for an entire day. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack/dessert.
How can we get that much food for that little money? Impossible on the grounds, but they do allow you to keep things in your car. Food, drinks, etc. So we’re planning on packing!

Drinks: We are packing a cooler full of home made gatorade. For 5 gallons, that is roughly $3. ($1.50 for the sugar, and a little over a $1.00 for flavor packets. The rest pays for the salt and filtered water.) Also packing full water bottles.
Total: $3.00
Snacks: I am baking a boatload of things. Baking bread costs me roughly $2.0o a batch. This yields 3 large loaves.  I will be using $3.00 worth of flour and sugar, free frozen organic apples, and $1.00 worth of blueberries to bake muffins, scones, and possibly an apple crisp type deal. Add in $2.00 for butter, eggs, and milk.
Total: $6.00
Main meals: I will probably bring along a jar of jelly, and a jar of Peanut Butter. That will be roughly $3. Combined with one loaf of the bread, that’ll be lunch.  Supper might be a loaf of the bread with $5 in lunchmeat and cheese. Breakfast will be a portion of the snacks.
Total: $8.00
Incidentals: Fresh organic veggies to munch on, green beans, peas, cherry tomatoes, all free and fresh from our backyard garden! Same goes for some strawberries. Apples, and some other munchies, like bananas and other fruits to munch on, will probably come to $3.
Total: $3.00faq3

Unless we feel the need to do anything else for food, which I can always bake or harvest more, it will cost us a total of $20.00 for food. That leaves us with $10.00 in our pocket in case of minor emergencies, or for price fluctuation. Not bad for a daytrip for a family of 6. It would cost us so much more to go on vacation for a week. This is the perfect “staycation” finale!

Happy 4th of July!

10 Secrets of Being a Homeschooling SAHM

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It is easy to become discouraged by outside influences, as someone who has chosen to stay home, and raise my children. Like when I bump into people from high school who say things like “And what do you… ahem… DO?” Then being faced with an incredulous look when you cheerfully reply with: “I’m a Stay At Home Mom. I homeschool my 4 kids.”
The funny thing is, that given the same question even a year ago,and the response answer then:
“I teach Kindergarten at a local Christian school. They even allow me to bring all of my children along!”
Their response was somehow more positive: “Oh! That’s so great! I always knew you’d be a teacher!” As if teaching Kindergarten was any different than teaching my own children. (Hint: It isn’t, really, just one is more challenging, and fulfilling. Guess which one.)
Yes, I am a Stay At Home Mom, with all of the privileges and challenges that engenders, but I am also a teacher, and, as the cliche goes, a personal assistant, nurse, vet, head gardener, home manager, financial adviser, personal chauffeur, chef,art teacher, maid, stylist, manicurist, janitor, home handy-woman, guidance counselor, music teacher, nutritionist etc.  What I do IS my occupation. I AM a Stay At Home Mom. And I get promoted every time one of my children moves up a grade, achieves something new, or when I have a new baby. Each promotion is precious and unique, and with it brings a bevy of new responsibilities and tasks. I am paid in far more than kisses and hugs. I am paid in unique blessings that come every day in the form of surprises and newly met expectations. Each day has its own secrets, but some carry over from day to day, month to month, and hopefully, I will find, from year to year. Here are the ten I could whittle myself down to:

  1. Money isn’t everything. Yes, people have often said “It is impossible to have a one income home these days! Families simply MUST have both parents working!” No, no they don’t. And before someone speaks of my privilege and luxury, I have news for you, our family of 6 all live on my husband’s low paying day labor job at a local warehouse that carries an hourly wage.  He isn’t a manager, or even a supervisor. Yes, we have enough to eat, a home to live in, and a car to drive, one for me and one for him.  The key to this delicate financial balancing act? Nothing more than a can do attitude and a bit of elbow grease, oh yeah, and we’re kind of allergic to debt. We don’t do student loans, car payments, cell phones, or cable. We aren’t bored either. We save on food by gardening in the summer, freezing for the winter, and a LOT of from scratch home cookin’. Keeps us busy AND well fed! We also maintain a second home which we rent out for a little income. This was the product of yet MORE hard work, and it is my job to do the “property” management on this little gem.
  2. Being a Stay At Home Mom IS a full time job, a career path. Just like any other career, I am “promoted” (My latest promotion, Isaiah, was 3 months ago, and he is just learning to sit up!) And just like any other career, I am constantly honing my skills. It takes a lot of ingenuity and hard work to manage laundry for 6 people, in 3 bedrooms, with no closets. It also takes some more ingenuity to work within our limited budget, yet maintain a comfortable standard of living, and furthermore, to contribute what we should to others in need. What requires the most learning and skill development though, is school. I am constantly brushing up on my history, math, teaching phonics, etc. My oldest is going into second grade this year, and it challenges me daily to keep up with her reading progress. No, I am not required by law to take Act 38 credits, but I am required by me, to constantly learn more to better serve my students.
  3. I am paid. As per the Proverbs 31 model, I am a woman of many pursuits. Yes my children pay me in kisses, hugs, compliments, and unique drawings, and my husband pays me in praise and encouragement. Yet, I am also paid a monetary sum. I have my fingers and toes in a variety of money earning ventures. All that I can do while caring for my children, and putting the priority of my “day job” first. My home is my most important job, and part of maintaining that is earning a little here and there to pay for our trips to the museum, our forays into semi gourmet cooking experiments, and other fun activities and surprise needs.
  4. I am fulfilled. This is my dream job, and the only assault on my contentment and fulfillment are people who assume I should be doing something more, and tell me so with all of the smug condescension of royalty. Please, educate yourselves. I am doing what any teacher does in their classroom, what any daycare worker does in theirs. Add to that an intensity that comes with proximity to your students, and then I do what other professions cover as well. This IS my job. I am happy doing it, and I can’t imagine anything else. There was a point in my life where I pursued this exact same career path outside my home (worked in daycare, then a school.) but I found that no matter how hard I worked, how passionate I was, I just couldn’t compete with parents for the impact they had on their child’s life. So I realized my true calling was to become a “career” Mom.
  5. I have impact outside of my home. I know, the majority of my work is physically inside my home. The most inane argument against becoming a Stay At Home Mom I’ve ever heard is “But you won’t impact SOCIETY.” Really? Yes I will. I’m raising children to become a powerful force for good IN our society. I’m teaching them concepts that include civic duties, how worldviews affect our actions, how to care for the poor, the importance of volunteerism, loving others as yourself, and the beauty in our revolutionary founding Father’s ideas for government and society. I’m teaching them to help others, teach others, guide them, and educate them. I’m teaching them how to properly care for and manage resources, and how to avoid the rampant consumerism that impacts later generations. I’m teaching them to live in such a way that considers their neighbor, and treats others as they would wish to be treated, to honor God, and to love their neighbor.
  6. My kids aren’t weird misfits. At least, not any more than yours are. All children are awkward at this age, socially or not. Why? They are all still learning. Also, my kids, by having a strong home and family life, avoid the culture of bullying, exclusion, and peer pressure that other children encounter in a peer charged school environment. Our culture may accept, tolerate, or even glorify these habits in teenagers, thinking it makes them stronger, but since when have you heard the bullied child say: “I’m glad those kids in my school tormented me daily, it made me that much stronger.” Rarely does this kind of social dysfunction end well. My kids interact with people in a variety of age ranges, they know how to introduce themselves, converse intelligently, learn from someone older than them, and how to put the ipad away and focus on the people in the room. That doesn’t make them perfect, or even experts at socializing. It just means they now value the same things I do, and are socialized by a broader spectrum. Socialization isn’t by definition a peer led process, it is simply a process where a person learns their cultural expectations. Well, my kids know them just as well as other kids do, just my expectations differ a little.
  7. Being a Stay At Home Mom takes guts. Be prepared to receive a variety of challenges and statements regarding your choice to be a Stay At Home Mom. Anything from you are ruining your kids lives by confining them to home, to ruining yours. It takes guts to stand up to the social bullies at the grocery store.
  8. Being a Stay At Home Mom has supporters. From the lady at the post office, to the kind woman we met in the library, be prepared to have people encourage you too. Take those nuggets of gold, and tuck them away, you’ll need them later, like when Junior makes a mess with the baby powder and vaseline in the bathroom. It is then you’ll be saying “Thank God for Mrs. Weiss. She said I’m doing a good job. A good job, yes a good job…”
  9. Being Creative is your secret weapon. One time I saw a really cool recipe for making your own soda. Knowing I wanted a healthy option for my children, but unwilling, and unable, to shell out the big bucks for a storebought version. I went ahead and made the recipe. 10 days of fermenting later, we tried it… 
  10. A sense of humor is invaluable. And that home made soda was terrible. We were able to laugh over this misstep and swear off of it forevermore. Not every day is easy, not every day is hard, but every single day has SOMETHING we can laugh at, enjoy, and be thankful for.

Self Esteem- The Empty Promise

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humilitypostavabandwSometimes we struggle because we have this inability to lift ourselves out of the pit we fall into. Specific situations, relationships, issues, they drag us down, and there is no way out. And I can read scripture all I want, seek a solution all I want to whatever ails me, but in the end, nothing is of value when I do it by myself.
In this age of personal empowerment, that sounds like a terrible statement.
To say I suffer from low self esteem is an understatement. I have no self esteem, nor should I. Scripture says we ought to “Esteem others more than self.”  I can try all I want to affirm, achieve, encourage myself, and it all means nothing. We get back to an emptiness. And I realize, am I relying on myself to trigger the regenerate man? I have spoken so often of allowing the Holy Spirit to work in others because I can not do in them what he would, and can do. And here I forget, he has to work in me. Trying to get ahead of him by being what I ought to be, so that a regenerate heart can follow is doing no good. Works do not precede faith.

Time to get on my knees. Say I’m sorry. Confess my failures, my shortcomings, and rather than working all the harder to overcome them on my own, to turn them over to him and let him do the work in my heart. Even the most disciplined crack sometimes, because when we try to do these things ourselves, we are still only human.
And I am NOT the most disciplined. Ha. Rather, I look around and evidence of my failures looms large and mocking.
The crux of the matter. Who will I listen to? My incomplete ambition (Be like Christ.) which has all of the go, but none of the ‘get up.’ Or shall I listen to the opposite of my ambition? My defeating disappointment, (You aren’t like Christ, you can’t ever be like Christ, no matter how hard you work at it…) which has all of the knowledge of depravity, and what that means.

But there is a third option. To listen to God’s plan for man. Read Hebrews 11. God is able to work DESPITE our shortcomings, and to shatter our pride. “Not I, but Christ IN ME.”

Eternal Perspective- The Impact of One

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Disclaimer: Although I have strong convictions about what God wants for my life, and my husband and I are in agreement as to how that looks in our home, in our family, I have no authority to tell you how to live your life. I do encourage you to look in scripture with your spouse, and seek God’s will in your life.  But that does not mean I think you need to do things EXACTLY as I do, or that I am some awesome amazing lady who does everything right. I am just a blogger who needs God’s grace desperately, and his peace. Please take my words as just that, words.  This article is meant as an encouragement, not a condemnation of you. Only God knows your life, your heart, your intentions. I’m just expressing how he is working in this area of my own life.

If you have any questions about the article, or disagree with what I’ve written here, I welcome your comments.

I have been feeling a bit discouraged lately. Feeling that, although I know what scripture says about my role as a woman, a wife, a mother,and that I agree wholeheartedly with it.  I just have the nagging feeling, a feeling of frustration and disappointment that there are people in my life who find my calling as wife and mother to be of little value.  I feel as if in choosing to make my role in our home my first priority, in my case, being a full time stay at home, homeschool teacher/Mom, some may think I  waste my own human potential. Like there is something better that other folks think I could/should be doing.
As if, not only strangers, but people whose disappointment I feel palpably, are offended by my rejection of modern womanhood, and the principles it stands for. My life speaks loudly for an ideal that many people view as narrow, old fashioned, a prison for women. Or as Betty Friedan put it: “A comfortable concentration camp” of family life, where my purpose is to be a “parasite.”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss my career, or my schooling, I don’t want to go back to that world of leaving my family behind for personal fulfillment, and selfish ambition. I know that I can still be creative, aspire learn more, do more, and all while making my own home my number one priority. My occupation is to keep my home, love my husband, love my children, be the driving force in our family life. The hub of our home. The Proverbs 31 woman who is a wife, a mom, a business woman, an artist, a compassionate philanthropist, a source of strength and wisdom. A woman whose worth is far more than rubies.

But I do sometimes regret and feel sad that I have lost the respect of people in my life whose opinion I once valued highly. People who value an ideal of womanhood that I have ultimately rejected, in my words and actions.  I wish they could be happy for me, or approve of me. I’d even settle for a healthy sense of respect.
No matter what they say about how feel, actions seem to speak louder than words. I know the ignominy of going to a gathering and having nothing “interesting” or “worthwhile” to say.  Of sitting alone in the corner with my lineup of kids, cutting hotdogs and tossing out little reminders like:
“Keep your skirt down, nobody wants to see your underpants.”
“Sisters don’t like it when you pick your nose and wipe it on them.”
“Please don’t fling your ketchup. It is for eating.”
I have nothing of urgency or excitement to report. No bigwig meetings, no career accomplishments, no amazing trips, no promotion to brag about. My only accomplishment in the public eye is wiping noses and popping out babies. The most exciting promotion I receive is another baby, or a new grade level accomplished, or even more exciting, a lightbulb moment where a child *sees* the truth in scripture, and matures visibly as a result. And while I DO see these as promotions, and I cherish each one, I feel a sense of disappointment that no one else seems to see these triumphs as much more than ordinary life, as if the sheer number of these happenstances make them less precious, or meaningful. They are the stuff of eternal investment. There is nothing more lasting I can do, than to shepherd and guide little souls to a saving faith in Christ, and a life devoted to God’s glory.

So how do I handle this? I write a blog post mostly. Haha!
Well, really, I look in scripture, and my most recent disappointing moments, and subsequent scripture digging led me to writing this post. I wanted to encourage other moms who KNOW the emptiness of “something more” but feel the absence of “something more” if not in themselves, but in their family and friends.
I wanted to encourage you not to give up on Biblical Womanhood because of discouraging outside pressure. Scripture has a lot to say on what our roles as men and women should look like, and it is complete, it is sufficient. Ladies, there is nothing more important than the charge God has given us in our families. Proverbs 31 alone details the value in what we do, the creativity, ingenuity, and patience it takes to be what he expects of us, and God does provide for encouragement, and support, in Titus 2, when he talks about mentorship. So how do we deal with those moments when we feel the red hot gazes of someone who disapproves, or hear the disappointment in another woman’s voice when she hears “where we are now.” Or worse, a casual dismissal of our task.

Firstly, our worth isn’t in impressing other people, no matter how we love them, or crave their approval. The only approval that matters, is God’s.
Here, watch this:

So there you have it. God values us, loves us, sanctifies us, and refines us. It isn’t what people say that matters. What matters is our eternal perspective. Who do we want to emulate, be like? Where is our worth, our value? Is it in “human potential”? As I’ve heard often, humans have potential only to sin. Paul reminds us in Romans: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Our human potential means nothing without the work of the holy spirit to regenerate our hearts to conform to what is “that good and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-4) Our human potential, our own selfish pursuits will help no one. But laying down our life, sacrificing our own purpose to fulfill God’s will to love and teach our children, to serve our husband as laid out in Duet 6, Titus 2, Genesis 2, etc. That is something worthwhile, an eternal investment.
We don’t know what God will bring about from that act of submission, not only to our husbands, but to God most of all. We need to stand firm in our conviction, and run right back to what matters. We need to act in the interest of God’s glory, not personal gratification. Who knows how a commitment to God’s purpose will play out eventually?

With God, ALL Things Are Possible

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Isaiahpost4I considered a long time ago whether or not to write this story on the blog, but there were a few impediments. Mostly my pride. I thought if this story was public, folks might think less of our decision to allow God to determine our family size. They might think we were foolish, and that in choosing to leave our future up to God, we’d asked for trouble. But after speaking to a friend today, that last vestige of pride was strongly assaulted. If we are to give glory to God, sometimes that means allowing others to see that despite our own shortcomings, he works, incredibly, and as Paul says in Ephesians 3:20, he works abundantly more than we ask, or think, and the glory is his.

This story begins long before it begins, after Ava was born, my husband and I felt that we should take God’s Word seriously in raising our children. We felt that the practical side of that was quitting my job, and staying home to homeschool them. But we didn’t know that we could financially swing that. My husband doesn’t have a job that is impressive, or earns a lot of money. He is a “laborer” of sorts, doing hard work in a warehouse. He isn’t a manager, or even a supervisor. He just works, and works hard. We were well off with both of us working, and had saved up some money. We weren’t rich, but we weren’t poor either. We were comfortable. But we knew, that we were living life on our own power, and that despite our convictions about how we felt God was leading our family, we just couldn’t see God providing for us so radically. But, with the encouragement of a friend, and constant reminders of how we were ignoring our convictions, we took the plunge. We had no clue God would provide, but we knew he would. Our mantra was: If we were in obedience to him, he would take care of meeting our needs. Little did we know how very much he would test our faith in that regard.

First day of school

First day of school.

Once I had quit my job, I went to my daughter’s school, where we had enrolled her for her kindergarten year, to pull her from enrollment. There was no way we could afford private school, even a Christian one. But amazingly, God had provided for us to transition to homeschooling as gently as possible. I walked in that office to pull her, and walked out with a ministry position. The Principal of the school needed a teacher, and I needed to be able to pay tuition. That year was wonderful. I ended up in the perfect job for our family, in the kindergarten room, teaching little ones. I could bring all three of my little girls, and earn enough money to keep our finances even. During that year God provided an opportunity for us to use our modest savings to purchase a house to rent, and earn income from, thinking it would help us to maintain our finances once I became a homeschooling Mom.

At the end of our wonderful year at the school, we choose to move forward with homeschooling. We had been further provided for, by a series of little jobs for me, helping out ladies who needed housecleaning.  Then, by the end of that summer, we found out I was pregnant! We were excited about this new chapter of our lives, and the excitement was doubled in finding out our newest family member, Isaiah, was a boy. This pregnancy, however, was a bit harder than the previous three. I was exhausted, and my body couldn’t keep up with all that I needed to accomplish. Going from three children to 4 was daunting, and the home we had bought to rent, ended up being a loss for the first 8 months. Between that, and my eventual inability to keep up with the house and cleaning jobs, it was a tough time financially. We had no clue how we would be able to get all of the things for our new baby, and our first boy. God provided the little stuff, a new car seat, many Moms who passed on boy’s clothing, and a few faithful friends who threw me a “sprinkle” (instead of a full blown baby shower) to help prep us for Isaiah’s needs. The one big purchase  that had us worried was a minivan.

Jetta

Ye Olde Jetta in the background. Ye olde stick and popped tire in the front!

For the past 5 years we had been carting our little family around in my ’87 Volkswagon Jetta. A faithful car that serves its purpose well, we had grown from 1, to 2, then 3 children! All squeezed into that backseat! But 4 really wouldn’t work, and with our rental property being a loss, and our baby due in March, we planned to use any tax refunds to pay for the van. But when we went van shopping we found that everything was out of our price range, and that prices were due to shoot up in January. A grim prospect knowing how tight our budget was, and how much loss we had suffered over the winter with the rental property. We prayed for months. We cried over it, and eventually we found a cheap minivan at a local used car dealership. We prayed for the price to drop within our price range. But it never did. We honestly were at a loss. How could God provide for such a big need, when everything looked impossible?

Allenoverwhelmed

God is Good.

When I was (6 months) pregnant, we went to my a party for my Father In Law (Our rescuer when the tire popped on the Jetta after a particularly wild storm left some nasty branches in the road. The intrepid explorers and subsequent rescue pictured here–>) During this time my husband reconnected with some old friends. He had a wonderful time talking with them, and I spent most of the party taking care of our three children who were having a blast eating, socializing, coloring, and whatever else little girls do! I was present for some of the conversation, but not all of it. During a part of the conversation where Allen was explaining to them some of our recent preparations for Baby Isaiah, the subject of a van came up. Allen spoke about our wish to buy a minivan, and some of our struggles to do so. Somewhere during this conversation it came up that they had a minivan they currently had no use for. Then, later in the conversation, they indicated a leading from the Lord to GIVE the van to us! I was in shock, and assumed I heard them wrong. We parted with them with many typical goodbyes, and on the way home as we discussed what they had said, I was still in denial. I told my husband there was NO way anyone would just GIVE us a van! We dropped the subject, and went about our business. Church the next day, and on  Monday, business as usual.

Sarahdress

Sarah’s Dress

But on Monday, my Mother In Law called. She told me they really, REALLY wanted to GIVE us the van! I couldn’t believe it. I just burst into tears. Here we had been praying and praying, and I just couldn’t believe God would provide so completely, so amazingly. Over the next few weeks we sorted out the details, and before long, the beautiful minivan was ours.

Emmadress

Emma’s Dress

And This family had selflessly given this van to us, and to make things even more amazing, when we went to pick it up, inside of the van were beautiful new shoes and Christmas dresses, one for each of our daughters! We cried for joy at God’s amazing provision, and the girls happily wore those dresses at Christmas. I still can’t believe how God met our needs, and am thankful for this family, and their generous spirit, and willingness to be a part of that.
To make things even more amazing, not 2 weeks after we had been given this new van, Allen totalled his car, our Volkswagen Rabbit. Because we had the van, and we still had the Jetta, he did not even have to miss a day of work, and our tight finances did not have to stretch to buy him a new car. Now the Jetta is his car, and the van is for family outings.

Avadress

Ava’s Dress

This past winter was hard for many many reasons, but the bright spot, the moment that reminded us how much God can provide for ANY need was that Van. When we were in the bleakest moments, finding a new tenant, repairing the rental property, wondering how God would provide for our needs, financial and physical, that van was a HUGE reminder that God does provide.There were times when I wondered if we had done right, and if this season of want would last forever (it didn’t!) or if we had made the wrong choice to take a leap of faith (we know now, we hadn’t) There were times when I felt hopeless, and incapable of doing what we needed. Each of those times of weakness, and failure, God stepped in. There were families bringing meals, folks (in some cases, we don’t even know who) who dropped boxes of food at our door. When things seemed the darkest, and hope seemed impossible, God provided again. From food, to clothing, to a VAN, this past winter, he provided. Isaiah is born now, and I am back to finding ways to supplement our income, and there too, God has provided. Our new tenants are wonderful, and we are finally earning money from the rental property to help our family.

Without getting too heavy handed, I want to encourage other families like us, it may be scary, and at some times you may lie in bed at night, next to your spouse, not only wondering if you’ve done something crazy, and stupid, and even cried together about it, and yet, humilitypostmomandemmasnuggling humilitypostsarahemmaGod doesn’t allow his children to go hungry. He will provide. This testimony, as embarrassing as it seemed at the time. As much as to me, it screamed: I am a FAILURE!  It really doesn’t say that. What it says is, God will provide for his children. He will make a way. Don’t be discouraged if you see that it is impossible to do God’s will. It isn’t. It is never impossible for God, though it may seem impossible to us.

Our new Van!

Our new Van!

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

 

Proverbs 10:3

The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

 

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

In Response- A Baby Story

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I thought longBABYFEET ISAIAH and hard about this particular post, and was quite inspired by Life In A Shoe’s Q & A post today, and the digging I did through her linked posts, particularly her Quiverfull, and Quiverfull follow up posts. I thought she handled a controversial subject with class, and honesty. And since I have a similar subject on my heart and mind, I shall forge on, and attempt to write with a sensitive heart, to the thoughts and feelings of others, while expressing my own.

So, Yesterday I posted the following on Facebook:
empowerment

There is a story behind why this photo is so important to me, and why I felt the need to share it on my facebook page.

I have felt a renewed passion for the Pro Life Cause since the Gosnell Trial.  In this high stakes case, I was reminded of my past, and what it very easily could have been.
I was a teen pregnancy. My husband and I got pregnant, after our engagement. I will never forget the anxiety of anticipating the responses of my family and friends. I was 18 at the time. I was staring at a future with no job, no health insurance (My Dad’s had discontinued me, and I had the choice to buy a VERY expensive COBRA plan.) and single motherhood.I did go to a pregnancy center, because I was scared. What made things more difficult was the fact that I knew the woman who was counseling there, and she knew my Mother. I was terrified she would tell her. But, I had a negative pregnancy test, and after a stern talking to, and a reassurance that she would stick with their confidentiality rules, I left.
A week later, I had a positive home test at a friend’s house. We prepared to tell my parents the news. I was terrified. I will never forget their faces. My Dad’s jaw dropped. My Mother’s face went white. They couldn’t speak. I could see the anger brewing in my Dad, bubbling silently. We left as quickly as we could, knowing that my Dad had to leave for a weekend camping trip. Unbeknownst to all of us, God had a pretty awesome plan for all of us in this timing. My Father ended up meeting a friend of a friend who came along. And when he shared what had happened prior to leaving, this man shared about his past as an unexpected and inconvenient baby. He encouraged my Father to support me, and my then boyfriend, to do the right thing. He reminded my Dad of the blessing that was already present in the life of this child. He told my Dad that good CAN come of such a situation.
All of us knew at this point, from the very beginning, that abortion just wasn’t an option. All of the anxiety, the fear, the uncertainty, it didn’t matter, this baby had a right to life.

And thus began the journey of 2 years, where my husband and I fought for a blessing. My parents, my friends, my family, all fought for one too. People in my Parent’s church barred my Dad from leadership because of my sin.

Wedding

Sarah, Allen, and I at our wedding.

I will never forget the hurt in my best friend’s voice when I called her. But she stood beside me through it all, despite the loss of a future we’d dreamed of. All of the normal dreams of college age girls with their lives before them. She lost that to the reality of my early Motherhood. I lost that normal young adult beginning, and jumped right into tough adulthood. So did my husband.

Initially I fought for a job that could provide something more than the COBRA I managed to get initially, and at a lower cost. My husband was in college, and to finish his degree we delayed our wedding, and lived with our parents for 2 more years. I will be ever grateful for their sacrifice on our behalf, and for our daughter. Without their support, we would have been homeless. It wasn’t easy for anyone.
2 years after we told our parents we were pregnant, we were able to get married, and to secure an apartment. Then we dealt with the baggage of having began our relationship as husband and wife with all of this past trailing behind.

The point I’m making is that in no way was it ever easy. But we knew that because of the choices we made, we had to give this precious little girl a chance at life. However hard the beginning was. And yes, we STILL have baggage from all of this. This kind of sin DOES cause lifelong changes. Even for our daughter. I still don’t know how we will handle the day when she asks us, as a teenager, why we didn’t wait.

Was it hard? Yep. Do I regret one moment of our journey onward? Absolutely not. I know that we made the right choice, difficult as it was. Does it define me?weddingbandw To a point. What defines me more is the fact that we chose what we did because of Christ’s influence on our lives, however faint it was then, in our estimation. He was working in ways we did not know. But I do know this. I COULD have had an abortion. There, but for the Grace of God, go I. The only reason I didn’t? God’s divine mercy and grace. The only thing that kept me from that was him. Not me. God. By his sovereign will, it did not occur. I do know women who have had abortions, and I do know that they have told me of the forgiveness and mercy they receive despite their choices. God hasn’t rejected them entirely. After all, didn’t he use Moses after he murdered the Egyptian? Or Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul, the biggest apologist of the New Testament, and missionary who spread the gospel to Europe? Paul knew that it wasn’t him, but Christ in him, who accomplished those things. God can redeem us from our past, and use us for his Glory, and he can forgive us in the process. His Word speaks so awesomely of how he forgives, and I know he has forgiven me of my past.

Ava and Mommy

Ava and Mommy, roughly 2 years ago.

So why all of this? And why the title: In Response? Because after I posted that picture, I think that a relative of mine was hurt, and angry, by what I had said. To her I say, I love you, and I am sorry if I hurt you.
This story is why I posted that photo. And do not think I think less of you for disagreeing with what I put on my facebook wall. I love you anyway.
I post what I do on there, and on here, because it is part of who I am. It is part of my journey of sanctification. God has done amazing things in my life, and how CAN I stand silent? I just can’t. I don’t wish to hurt people, but sometimes, when we speak out loud about what we feel most passionate about, it can strike a chord in someone’s heart, and yes, it can hurt.

I post what I do to encourage, not to hurt. To say, No matter what your choices past, God has a future. I resisted that future for years. I ran away from it. Told him to buzz off. And the more I ran away from it, the more discontent, angry, hurt, and awful I felt.

Saraheemaawards

Sarah and Emma with their AWANA awards

Especially when someone told me God’s Word. Boy did it rub me the wrong way! I can’t convince anyone of his power, his grace, his mercy, and for all I know, this will anger some folks even further. But it isn’t my job to change the transparency of what God is doing here in my heart, my home. It is my job to keep living, aligning every area of life with his Word. The rest is up to him. How he uses it. As a result of our past, my husband and I felt convicted by God’s Word. EVERY child is a blessing, and we will take each one given to us, and we will love them, and nurture them, and teach them his word. And we know this will, and has, offended some. Pictures on facebook notwithstanding. Our lives have, by their very nature, become a declaration of God’s work in them.

twodudesISAIAH

The two Dudes, Allen and Isaiah.

Now, that does NOT mean we are perfect, or that we speak for God in any way. We still sin, we still make wrong choices, and have not arrived in any way. Not until we go to Heaven will we have “arrived” And even then, that will be by God’s Grace. I am sorry if my sin has hurt you.

I also have come to realize that the more God works, the more others will respond to what he does. Some with wonder, with anger, with hate, with love, or with a searching heart. I can’t control their response. I can point them one way. To God. Read his word, see what he says, and discuss your heart with him, anger, searching, whatever is on it.

With Love,
Liz