Wednesday, November 30, 2016

One Night of Beatings and I Never Felt a Thing.

It was a horrible night.
A night that I have only talked about when asked.
A night that I have spoken about at women's breakfasts or at a few local churches, but nothing that I have openly divulged on my own. I haven't talked about it since the last time I shared at a church, which was three years ago. And I only ever think of it when the Lord touches my heart in my quiet times with Him.

It's not something one would chat about, or at least not me. It's not something I even rest on or ponder about when I'm alone. I don't talk about it or think on it because I haven't found a reason to. The thought may pop up in my mind, but as quickly as it arises, I shut it down. It's not because it still scares me or that I struggle with forgiveness, it's just one of those things that happened and there really isn't any point on dwelling on it, that is until recently.

One day, while I was getting my Bible and journal out I felt the Lord prodding me to think about that dreadful night. The night when my mother and sisters fell head long into a cult. The night I didn't. The night when I wouldn't conform. The night I felt their rage. The night I was beaten, almost to death. I was thrown to the ground. I was forced over on my stomach with my face to the ground. My hands were tied behind my back. My feet were tied together. A pillow case was tied around my head. Then the beatings began.

I hate to think about it, I do, but there it was. God was asking me to think about it- to remember. I tried to fight it. I told Him, "I don't need to remember this anymore. I forgive my mother. I forgive my sisters." But there was that night. Right before me. Bigger than life.

I watched it over in my mind. It was like I was in the first row of a movie theater. What else can you do, but stare at the huge screen before you? I watched how I struggled. I watched how I gasped for breath. I watched without putting my hands over my eyes or squinting. I watched as my brother-in-law repeatedly kicked me in my side and how I tried to protect myself, but couldn't. I watched and remembered how my sister pulled my hair so hard that I was raised off the ground. I remembered them screaming curses over me. I remember thinking, "They won't give up until they have killed me."

Then, all at once, they stopped.
They whispered.
They all left the room.
I waited for their return.
I dreamt about what would come next. A new plot to bring me to my death. Something worse.

This is where the Lord slowed down the film.
This is where a twenty-two year old memory becomes alive with truth.
A horror film turns to redemption.
This is where God is glorified.

He showed me, myself, lying on the floor in my sister's house, alone, waiting for the cult members to come back. He slowed the memory down so I could focus on one essential part.

There I was.
I felt no fear.
I felt no pain.
My head should have been throbbing.
My mouth should have have bleeding.
My lungs should have been giving out.
But I was fine.

The memory sped up again.
They came racing in. Grabbed me and threw me in the back of their car.
I was dumped off.
They were gone.
The End.

God stopped the memory. I went back. I allowed Him to show me again. All these years of wincing at my own memory. My own life story, I just couldn't talk about it. With all their blows, punches, kicks, and hair pulling, I didn't feel a thing. Not a thing. I remembered it, but never talked about it. I asked the Lord, "Why? Why haven't I ever told anyone that I never felt, what should have caused me unimaginable pain, -I never felt a thing? Why?"
The Lord said, "You were afraid that no one would believe you."

Yes. His words resonated in my soul. I've been afraid to tell the whole story. Yes. Why would anyone believe that I didn't feel a thing? I could hear myself saying it. No one would believe me.

I started to cry.
I asked for forgiveness.

The Lord saved my life that night.
I was alive.
I was rescued.

But I'm here today to say, my God fought evil for me. The enemy brought down blow after blow onto my physical body, but my God protected me not only from death, but from broken ribs, bleeding lungs, and a disfigured face. My God stood between me and my own family who decided to follow evil. Oh, how I would love God to show me, HIM, in my movie memory. How I would love to see Him standing over rme, protecting me.
How I would love to see My God protecting me.
But for now, I do not have to have to see it, because I know it is true.
And for all you who know my full testimony of amazing grace, redemption, and miracles, I want to tell you more. My God was there that evil night and He protected me.

Jesus, you deserve all of my praise!

If you would like to read more about my testimony, go to the Page entitled "Mommy Life," on the blog or click these related stories:
Hope Eternal: My Journey from Brokenness to Blessing
On the Bus

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I'm Not Eating Bon-Bons

On a beautifully sunny day at Water Country, USA I was sitting on a bench waiting for my children to come down from their ride when I met a New Yorker =)
(I smile because our conversation was wonderful and I realize that there really is something very special about New Yorkers).

We fell easily into conversation. She shared how she was raised in Queens, then moved out to Long Island and has lived there ever since. I shared my simple story of being raised in Queens and moved to Virginia, but oh how we laughed at our childhood similarities by being raised in Queens.

We realized, as adults we had something else in common, and it wasn't something that living in Queens taught us- It  is that we are both stay-at-home moms. We differed in how many children we have, she has one child, and I have six, but we found our niche, our common love, and passion and we focused our chat on that-motherhood. She shared how she was convicted to be home for her child. She wanted to be home when he was sick, to help out in his school, to simply be there for him throughout his whole childhood. She shared how difficult it was to combat her friend's and family's expectation of going back to work once her son was in school, but she never wavered. She even gave me a bit of advice, "Don't get a job just because they enter high school cause that's when they need you most." She continued to tell me that she has no regrets because it was the best decision. Her son had just graduated from high school and was going off to college in September. Her job of being a stay-at-home mom was officially over and so she had a job all lined up and ready for her once her son went was off. It was a truly amazing testimony of a woman who knew her God-given role as a mother.

She had talked so much and shared so many gems that she hadn't gotten around to asking me, "How many children do you have?" So, as my children came running up to me after their ride, I could see her eyes counting each one. The inevitable question came: "Are these ALL yours!?" I proudly said, "Yes!" and introduced them to her.

She was silent for a moment, probably thinking back over our twenty minute conversation and putting the pieces together. Her next question was: "And you home school ALL of them?!" This time I laughed and answered her with a confident, "Yes!"

I have seen people surprised by the fact that I have six children and home school, but this woman was completely thrown for a loop! She flooded me with questions. I giggled with each response. It's so funny how people see my life, but I loved how much she wanted to understand and how she was completely uninhibited to probe me.

I could see how she was thinking back over her life- remembering the difficult times in raising one child, keeping after him, driving him to his sporting events, staying up late completing school projects, trying to keep the house clean and of course, having a hot meal on the table each night so the family can sit around together to talk. I could see her thinking about how tough, but rewarding motherhood had been and trying in her mind's eye to see herself with six children.

Her conclusion was classic: "Well, you certainly aren't sitting around the house eating Bon-Bons. You're lucky if you get a few skittles from your kids as they drop to the floor."

The two of us cracked up and laughed together. It wasn't a judgment or a rejection of how I live my life, just a candid fact of how busy I must be. It was a perfect summation. I'm not living the high life with carefree days and expensive Bon-Bons, but what I do have is life- running and chasing kids with a few perks of floor gotten skittles!

Our conversation was actually refreshing. To sit with a fellow mom and simply share how we are called to be stay-at-home moms. We were just two moms loving our calling and humbly proud to walk down a road that many would not understand. We understood each other and were proud of other for doing what was in our heart to do. We never talked about what other moms do nor did we speak words of judgment. It was truly a discussion about us and our lives as moms.

I will never forget this whimsical conversation. It sprung up out of no where, completely unexpected, but so validating. I am called to motherhood and in it's definition for me it means to be home. I am busy and sometimes I don't think I am, but I see how I crash in my bed each night and sleep soundly. But most importantly, I am not panting for the day when I get to laze around and eat Bon-Bons, I found that I am content with my few skittles that fell on the floor as I watch my kids freely run and play. I am a stay-at-home mom and so blessed to be one.  

Friday, November 18, 2016

Toy Story Birthday Party

My little guy recently watched Toy Story 2 for the first time
and fell in love!
Afterwards I began searching thrift stores for any
Toy Story toy I could find-
we yielded these 3 costumes!!!



And I found this shirt for hubby!


After that we found,
the actual Andy doll with his hat,
and the Buzz Lightyear doll! 
My boy had days and days of fun!
As the weeks went on he naturally concluded that
his birthday party theme HAD to be Toy Story.
My daughter and I got busy!


I made the pinata-
"Mr Potato Head!"


My daughter began making the 'Happy Birthday' sign!
She individually cut out each piece! 
I'm so impressed!





(I made the "alien" balloons you see in the background!
I got the idea off of Pinterest). 

The day of the party was upon us
and they were ready!




We played,
"Capture Woody's Hat!"



(This little guy came dressed as one of the aliens!)

(The prizes were in the 'machine' with the 'CLAW!'
Another idea from Pinterest!)

They were ready for the pinata!





It was a wonderful day with wonderful friends!

Countdown to Jesus' Birthday

Every year I try and make some kind of  'countdown'
to Christmas board for the kids, 
and every year, after the season is over, I think,
"What in the world was I thinking! I'll never make that again!"
But this year I have a winner!!!


I  bought a black board from a local craft store,
and painted the wooden frame with a golden glitter acrylic paint.

Then I bought wooden stars and painted them white. 
(I glued gold ornament stars on top of the white stars).


The nativity scene is actually three dimensional stickers!
I could not find a wooden baby Jesus in His manger anywhere!
(I bought a small chalk board, painted it to look like the stable and placed the stickers on top of it).

The lettering is NOT chalk!
I used my silver paint pen to write out the words!
(The kids cannot erase them =)

Now we are ready for the Christmas season to begin!
Let the count down begin!!!

I will also be using my
"Biblical, Homemade Advent Calendar"
again this year.
Each night after dinner we will read the Scripture for the day.
(Each day the Scripture we read will tell the account of the coming of Jesus).
and of course, one child each night will receive a small present that connects to the Scripture!
I LOVE Christmas time and can hardly wait for December first!
Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Spelling List & Marshmallow Thursdays!


Each Monday the spelling list for the week is handed out.
We study the spelling list each day together, but the best day in our spelling week is 
Marshmallow Thursdays!

Here they are! ready and waiting!


On Thursday, I have the spelling list ready...
marshmallows ready...


So, what do we do?
I announce the spelling word,
my child tries to spell it-
if they spell it correctly
they get a mini-marshmallow!
It's so simple!


LOOK at these HAPPY faces!
They received one marshmallow for every word!


Success!
Spelling doesn't have to be scary or difficult-it can be fun! 
They love studying their spelling list and practicing
because they know on Thursday they will be rewarded
for their hard work and they will be prepared for their Friday test.

I love homeschooling my children
and making it an environment that is not just a place of learning,
but free from fear and stress.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I was Once a New Yorker

It was the first day of our home school co-op and I had the sign-in sheet ready for when all my kindergarten students arrived. The first day of classes is the best! There is so much excitement buzzing through the air. I love meeting my students and welcoming them and I love meeting the families that are strangers to me now, but by the end of the year we will be close sisters in Christ.

One woman walked in with her grandson and quickly leaned down to write her signature on the form, but before she left I asked her if she could write down her phone number as well. She began writing, '516-' as the area code, I stopped her and asked her if she was from Long Island, New York. She jumped up with a smile and inquired, "How did you know?" I told her that I was once a, "718- area code!' We hit it off and began talking and talking!

Throughout the day I bumped into my new found, New Yorker, friend and we would stop and share our life stories and encourage each other. Of course the first thing I asked her was, "What brought you down here?" Immediately she told me that her daughter was just diagnosed with cancer. She told me that she prayed and believed God was calling her to come down and help her daughter and take care of her grandchildren. So, in obedience to God, she sold her house, packed everything up and moved.
I was shocked.
I was breathless.
After hearing this story my mind filled with hundreds of questions for her and so I asked every one!

"Did you just leave your job?"
Her calm and confident response was, "Oh, no, I am an independent Avon consultant. I have a whole network in New York and now I'll just start one here!"

"So, is this daughter that has cancer your only child?"
Again she responded with a calm, no worries answer..."I have four children-two are still home with me. One is 14 years old, the other 12. " She continued, "I felt like God was asking me to home school my children, so when we moved here we didn't need to look for a new school."

"So, your grandchildren AND your children are signed up at the co-op?"
"Yes."

"So, are you volunteering to help teach, be an assistant, in one of the classrooms?"
"No. I will be teaching the kindergarten class in the afternoons."

Each time I walked away from her, the more I was filled with awe. She left everything for her daughter and grandchildren. She believes and is confident that she can build up group of clients here in Hampton. She is also confident that she can teach not only her children, but the kindergarten class.

My head was swirling. "Wow!" I thought to myself, "I was once like her." I was once a New Yorker. I had dreams. I had visions. I had strength. I had hope. I had courage. I had an, "I can do it!" attitude. It had me thinking...I'm not sure if I have it any more. Being in the south has changed me, and, after mulling it over, I can't say that I like what it has done to me.

 When I came down here it didn't take me long to see that I didn't fit in. I talked fast, walked fast, and said my opinion openly and freely. (For those of you who do not know, that is not how they do it down in the south). They talk slower than I did, walk slower (no one is in a rush), and well, opinions are not spoken- they keep that to themselves, (except when it's time to gossip).

I have been hushed, kicked under the table, given the evil-eye to the point that I now just hold my tongue even if I have something inspired from the Lord.

I feel like all my dreams have been kicked out of me too. I actually listened to a pastor give a sermon on how we should not have ambition! He said that ambition is self-centered and ultimately it can hurt people. I sat there burning inside. Anything we do can be turned into a selfish act, so yes, while ambition can be motivated by impure or for selfish gain, there is good ambition too. Ambition to use our gifts to bless others is not a bad thing.

 I've also noticed that no one seems to chase after their dreams down here. It's like they talk about what they'd like to do and be and 'wouldn't it be nice to' and so on, but I don't see people putting their hand to the pump, as they say, to get it done. I don't feel the 'chutzpah' down here.

I don't know, maybe it's not the south, maybe it's the crowd I'm hanging around with. Maybe they have all been depressed for so long and have given up on life that it's rubbed off on me. I have to be honest here. Here comes my opinion. Don't kick me or hush me... I hate this 'no dreams', 'no goals', 'no fire in the belly' lifestyle. And to be further honest, I hate the fear too. I hate it. The fear of living. The fear of failing. The fear of rejection. "Well, my grandmother never did it, so I guess I won't either." God has put us here with gifts and talents to share with this world and we should be using them.

I was once a New Yorker, or am I in there somewhere? I still have dreams, but I don't talk about them anymore. Honestly, for the last five or more years I have felt like a horse behind the starting gate, pawing the ground, grunting for the gun to go off, just ready for the release of the race. I want to run. I want to be free to dream and go after it.

Maybe one day I can feel free to be me, a New Yorker, and still live in the south. Here's hoping!

Father,

Help me forgive others for stiffing me. Help me to forgive myself for allowing others to control me and change me. Help me to forgive myself. I have much regret over letting my dreams die. Forgive me for being afraid and not trusting you.

Lord, I want to do and be all that you have created in me to do. Change me Lord, for your Glory!
Love you always,
Ellie

I was Once a New Yorker

It was the first day of our home school co-op and I had the sign-in sheet ready for when all my kindergarten students arrived. The first day of classes is the best! There is so much excitement buzzing through the air. I love meeting my students and welcoming them and I love meeting the families that are strangers to me now, but by the end of the year we will be close sisters in Christ.

One woman walked in with her grandson and quickly leaned down to write her signature on the form, but before she left I asked her if she could write down her phone number as well. She began writing, '516-' as the area code, I stopped her and asked her if she was from Long Island, New York. She jumped up with a smile and inquired, "How did you know?" I told her that I was once a, "718- area code!' We hit it off and began talking and talking!

Throughout the day I bumped into my new found, New Yorker, friend and we would stop and share our life stories and encourage each other. Of course the first thing I asked her was, "What brought you down here?" Immediately she told me that her daughter was just diagnosed with cancer. She told me that she prayed and believed God was calling her to come down and help her daughter and take care of her grandchildren. So, in obedience to God, she sold her house, packed everything up and moved.
I was shocked.
I was breathless.
After hearing this story my mind filled with hundreds of questions for her and so I asked every one!

"Did you just leave your job?"
Her calm and confident response was, "Oh, no, I am an independent Avon consultant. I have a whole network in New York and now I'll just start one here!"

"So, is this daughter that has cancer your only child?"
Again she responded with a calm, no worries answer..."I have four children-two are still home with me. One is 14 years old, the other 12. " She continued, "I felt like God was asking me to home school my children, so when we moved here we didn't need to look for a new school."

"So, your grandchildren AND your children are signed up at the co-op?"
"Yes."

"So, are you volunteering to help teach, be an assistant, in one of the classrooms?"
"Yes. I will be teaching the kindergarten class in the afternoons."

Each time I walked away from her, the more I was filled with awe. She left everything for her daughter and grandchildren. She believes and is confident that she can build up group of clients here in Hampton. She is also confident that she can teach not only her children, but the kindergarten class.

My head was swirling. "Wow!" I thought to myself, "I was once like her." I was once a New Yorker. I had dreams. I had visions. I had strength. I had hope. I had courage. I had an, "I can do it!" attitude. It had me thinking...I'm not sure if I have it any more. Being in the south has changed me, and, after mulling it over, I can't say that I like what it has done to me.

 When I came down here it didn't take me long to see that I didn't fit in. I talked fast, walked fast, and said my opinion openly and freely. (For those of you who do not know, that is not how they do it down in the south). They talk slower than I did, walk slower (no one is in a rush), and well, opinions are not spoken- they keep that to themselves, (except when it's time to gossip).

I have been hushed. Kicked under the table. Given the evil-eye to the point that I now just hold my tongue even if I have something inspired from the Lord.

I feel like all my dreams have been kicked out of me too. I actually listened to a pastor give a sermon on how we should not have ambition! He said that ambition is self-centered and ultimately it can hurt people. I sat there burning inside. Anything we do can be turned into a selfish act, so yes, while ambition can be motivated by impure or for selfish gain, there is good ambition too. Ambition to use our gifts to bless others is not a bad thing.

 I've also noticed that no one seems to go after their dreams down here. It's like they talk about what they'd like to do and be and 'wouldn't it be nice to' and so on, but I don't see people putting their hand to the pump, as they say, to get it done. I don't feel the 'chutzpah' down here.

I don't know, maybe it's not the south, maybe it's the crowd I'm hanging around in. Maybe they have all been depressed for so long and have given up on life that it's rubbed off on me. I have to be honest here. Here comes my opinion. Don't kick me or hush me... I hate this 'no dreams', 'no goals', 'no fire in the belly' lifestyle. And to be further honest, I hate the fear too. I hate it. The fear of living. The fear of failing. The fear of rejection. "Well, my grandmother never did it, so I guess I won't either." God has put us here with gifts and talents to share with this world and we should be using them.

I was once a New Yorker, or am I in there somewhere? I still have dreams, but I don't talk about them anymore. Honestly, for the last five or more years I have felt like a horse behind the starting gate, pawing the ground, grunting for the gun to go off, just ready for the release of the race. I want to run. I want to be free to dream and go after it.

Maybe one day I can feel free to be me, a New Yorker, and still live in the south. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

First Day of Home School!

Here we are about to take on another year of home schooling!
My oldest is dual enrolled in college, my next is a freshman in high school,
two are in middle school, one is entering the third grade, and my baby is in first grade!


We are READY
and 
EXCITED to be 
TOGETHER
each day, 
every day
 for the whole school year!


This blog was inspired by the many pictures I've seen floating around the internet of moms jumping for joy for the new school year to begin, while their children are looking sullen in the background. I think it's quite heartbreaking that we are a nation rejoicing that we hand off our kids each day to someone else, a stranger, to raise and teach them. Truly, there are pictures of moms celebrating that they will not see their children eight to ten hours a day. Don't misunderstand me, I totally understand those that feel lead to put their children in school and I believe that in doing so they are answering the call God has for their lives, but to jump for joy on the first day of school that their children are leaving them, is disheartening. 

I get it, I do. Motherhood is hard and no one, especially me, will argue that, but to rejoice in not being a part of their day, well, to me that is just sad. And it wasn't just upsetting to me, I showed my two oldest children the scores of pictures that moms had taken of themselves jumping for joy that the first day of school had arrived and my daughter commented, "They don't know what they are missing."

So, when I told my children that I would like to take a "First Day of School" picture of ALL of us jumping for joy, they quickly joined me-even my sixteen year old! 

I'm not sitting in judgment of anyone who isn't homeschooling their child/children, or those who took the pictures I spoke of, but rather, taking a moment to say, 'Children are a blessing' (Psalm 127:3-5) and I think we should really keep that in the foremost of our minds and pray that we see them as a blessing and treat them as if we really believed it! 

So, for all of us moms who are homeschooling, putting our children in private or public school, I pray blessings on your first day back to school and on the year that lies ahead! May you be anointed by God to complete the tasks He has put before you. May you be comforted and filled with wisdom by Holy Spirit when the homework gets hard, projects are due, grades are lower than you hoped. May you be at peace that He will give you the wisdom you need to train and lead your children through the tough times that school can bring. May you rest in knowing that you can trust the Lord to bring you through and rest in knowing that you are not alone in your parenting. May you see each one of your children as a blessing from the Lord, forgiving and forgetting past hurts or disappointments and begin this new year with a new hope for a better year and a deeper relationship with your children. Blessings! Blessings! Blessings! on a new and wonderful school year!



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Monday, May 2, 2016

On the Banks of Plum Creek

We are reading the next book in the Wilder series,
"On the Banks of Plum Creek" and loving it!
Today we read how Laura and Mary used Ma's buttons
to make a "Button String" for Carrie. 
Well, I retrieved my old button box, 
that was given to me by my grandmother, 
and allowed my children to 
make a button string.
We wanted to see how much fun a button string
 was or wasn't ;) 

 First, we chose just the most beautiful buttons...
 it was tough work!
 Then, the 'stringing" began.


We learned that you can swish the buttons back and forth
to make a lovely sound...or
twirl it round and round.
It was a small craft idea taken straight out of the book.
The kids had a good time creating and even experimenting
 ways that would fascinate a baby! 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Bouquet of CUPCAKE Flowers!

My daughter and I watched this amazing video on a 
Immediately we knew who to make it for, my sister-in-law or to my daughter-her aunt.
My daughter asked me, "Can I make it for her?" 
I thought, "Wow! she wants to make this by herself for someone else!"
"Okay!" I said and we began creating the plan to accomplish such a task!

My daughter, who is eleven years old, baked all the cupcakes,
and assembled them with some of my help.

She made the icing and carefully
considered the four different colors of icing she wanted for the cake.
Then the piping began!


 She is an amazing perfectionist!
She had four different bags of icing going at the same time!
Some were in the refrigerator, while she used others, and
at other times she would put the bouquet in the fridge to make sure
the original flowers wouldn't "wilt."
This was a two hour process!
 I stayed by her side the whole time, coaching, encouraging,
taking pictures and being so proud!

DONE!
 The part that she couldn't wait for-
presenting her cake to her special auntie!
 And for my daughter, whose love language is physical touch,
no thank you could have made her happier!