Monday, December 31, 2012

Have a 'Holy' New Year!

Recently, I heard a Pastor teach on, "How to be a Happy and Holy Family." He said that we usually don't hear happy and holy together. Holiness is usually connected to legalism, shame, and  a list of rules that drain people-such would be a religious holiness. But a holiness that comes through the Holy Spirit is light and breathes life and joy. A home with true holiness does not have legalism. It's a holiness that is about grace, love and faithfulness. A truly holy family gives birth to happiness.

He also said that when we pursue a 'happy' life we will find ourselves doing things that lead us into sin, but when we pursue a 'Holy' life lead by the Spirit we find happiness will follow. So, for example when I am sad and want to be happy I think that a 'sweet treat' or 'comfort foods' will make me happy, but five pounds later I am more sad than when I started the eating binge and the original sadness, well, it's still there. Now, for the other times that I have been sad and  have searched for God's touch on my life, He reveals to me the truth of my wounds, heals me, shows me a new plan and amazingly, before I even notice it, happiness and peace fill my heart. I am sure many of you can name your own vice when searching for happiness: shopping, drinking, etc. but as we all know these things do not lead to happiness. True holiness leads to a happy life.

So, I declare a Holy New Year, not a Happy New year. My desire is to search after God as I never have before. I want to read the Word of God more, be in prayer more, minister to the lost and brothers and sisters in Christ more. I want a deeper holiness to enter my wife-hood and motherhood. A deeper holiness in regards to my family and friendships.  I want a holiness like I have never known. I want to touch lives and be touched. I want more of Jesus in every area of my life. I want to continue to link arms with my husband and follow God's calling on our lives. I want to walk the path that He has for us and see our children following us. I want more of Him and less of me.

I pray you too will have a holy new year. A year where you will see God touching your life. A year where you will hear God's voice, see the plan He has for you, and be so completely filled with His love that His love will break all chains of fear and set you free to love others. I pray that you will have the courage to live in the faith that God calls you to be holy and happy. Many blessings of a holy life to you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Gathering

Each year at Christmas time I watch a 1977 made for television movie called, The Gathering. To most people, my husband included, it is depressing and sad, but for me there is something so real about it, something so actually hopeful that makes me watch it again and again.

The story is about a dying father (played by Ed Asner) who pulls his family back together at Christmas time, after many years of being broken and hurting. The movie shows each grown child in their adult life explaining how much they basically hate their dad and why they should not go to the Christmas Eve 'gathering' at the 'old house.' But of course each of the four grown children do attend and when they walked through the door and saw their father coming to hug them, all their bitterness and hatred seemed to just melt away. For most of them, there was no huge confrontation. No yelling match. No debating who hurt who more. No questions asked. Just a hug and that was enough.

I've thought many times, 'Is it too far fetched? Can years of hurt be wiped away by a simple, honest, bear hug?' And I will tell you, for me, that time and time again the answer to that question has always come back as, 'Yes'.

To share openly, I have a sensitive heart and my feelings get hurt easily. So, when my husband jokes around at my expense I usually don't get the joke-I get hurt. His response when he sees me a hug just for me. It is a hug that is genuine and reassures me that he loves me. The hug not only tells me he loves me, but that he is sorry and I am safe. Magically, the hurt is gone.

Another time I remember having an argument with a dear friend. We forgave each other, but it wasn't until we hugged that I could feel just how much she loved me and the pain disappeared. I tell my children, (every day) "Say you're sorry, ...and now hug." Why? Because there is something about hugging each other that brings on the forgiveness and the healing.

I cherish the way my grandmother used to say it, "LOVE YOU, LOVE YOU, LOVE YOU!" and then she'd  squish me. She loved me and I knew it, not only because she said it in triplicate, but because of the tight hug I received.

So, what's the power in a hug? How can a hug bring healing and forgiveness? Well, I've concluded that we only hug those we love. A hug is the outward sign of the love we have for one another. I know for me I only hug those I love. I mean it. If I feel uncomfortable or shy with someone, as affectionate as a person I am, I'll just shake their hand hello, but if I love you- I give a hug. I think that hugs = love. We can say we love someone, but when we hug them I believe it's communicated much more clearly.

And what do the Scriptures say?

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (1Peter 4:7-9)

We get hurt when we think we are unloved or rejected. When we know we are loved or reminded that we are loved there is healing.  There is a safety that comes from knowing we are loved and forgiveness follows. Again, a hug communicates love and love brings forgiveness.

We know that Jesus, out of His great love, died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. When there is love there is forgiveness and there is healing.

I think one of the greatest Scriptures that speaks to this idea of hugging someone to show love and forgiveness is in, "The Parable of the Lost Son."  Here is a son who disrespectfully and unlovingly demands his inheritance from his living father. The father gives it to him and off the son goes. The son leaves his home, his town and his country. He squandered all the money on sinful living. When the money is gone and he is poor 'he comes to his senses' and decides to go home. The following is what is said about the father's response to his son coming home:

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." (Luke 15:21)

The son never had a chance to ask for forgiveness. His father ran to him, hugged and kissed him. The son tried to tell his father, "I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son." (Luke 15:21) But the father would hear none of it- his son had returned-he hugged him and forgiveness was waiting for him.

To encourage all of you who are 'gathering' together to celebrate Christmas, hug one another in love. And I don't mean a skimpy hug, I mean a hug-hug. A hug that lets the person know that your heart is bursting with love for them. A hug that says, "No matter what has come between us I love you dearly." A hug that says, "I'm so glad you came. I couldn't imagine Christmas without you." We are called or commissioned to love: "As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:35)  Love as the father did- run up to your son, daughter, sister, brother, friend, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, in-law etc. and hug them-love them as Jesus would and allow forgiveness and healing to enter your heart and theirs.

Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Is it Okay to Have Ambition?

I have heard it said, over the course of several years now, a statement that quite frankly had confused me. The statement has been, 'So-in-So has no ambition.' And what was even more confusing is that it was touted as if that was a good thing. The first time I heard it I thought, "Gosh, it's so sad that, that person has no ambition," but after hearing it several times since I have started to understand what was trying to be communicated. Simply stated to have no ambition was meant to say that the person is humble.  A person with no ambition didn't break down any doors or trick his way to the top. His notoriety came to him while he wasn't looking. He merely was doing a servant's job and was recognized. Personally, I never thought of the word 'ambition' as having anything to do with pride or trickery. My understanding of the word was merely to have a goal placed before you, something you looked forward to and possibly achieving. So, I went ahead and looked up ambition's true meaning. Webster's tells us that ambition means:
  1. an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power.
  2. the desire to achieve a particular end. 
  3. a desire for activity or exertion
Using Webster's definition, I say, ambition is an okay thing to have. The dictionary says that ambition is a "desire to achieve a particular end" and I ask you, what's wrong with that? Shouldn't we have a vision before we put our hands to something and shouldn't we have the desire to achieve it to it's end? Shouldn't we want to see the vision come into fruition? To simply say, "______ has no ambition" is really not a very clear or good message.

Now the Bible talks of  'selfish' ambition. In Philippians 2:3 it says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of others." If a person has selfish ambition that's not good. Selfish ambition is the attitude of doing all you have to do, to get all you want no matter the cost it brings to others so you yourself can have fame or glory or wealth. Clearly, that is not good. To work hard for a rank or fame is not a bad thing, but it is turned bad when it is for a selfish gain only.

I guess it has bothered me to hear that phrase because honestly, I have ambition-(the good kind). I am a visionary. I see something not working right and immediately my minds finds ten different ways to fix the problem, then I want to put my hands to the task and correct it. My heart is to help, to use my God-given talents to bless others. I also thrive on work and love being challenged by it. I love to work whether it be cleaning, organizing, making lesson plans, planning a gathering, putting together a huge event or small- I just love being active. I love using my mind, my giftings, and talents to produce something. I have no desire for 'rank, fame, or power,' just a desire to capture a vision from God and help create it.

Now, I know most women do not like when Proverbs 31 is read because in it is described the most amazing wife and mother. Most of us feel like we can never achieve her greatness. And although it is a daunting list I have actually been encouraged by it. I did not grow up with a Godly, female, role-model and I believe the Proverbs 31 woman is my role-model. She is diligent. She is a planner. She is industrious. She cooks, bakes, and sews. She helps provide for her family, she has wisdom, and is not idle. AND because of all her hard work she is respected and her husband is honored. This is a woman who wants the best for her husband and children and works endlessly to achieve it. Her heart is a heart for her family. She is a woman of ambition, she works hard to achieve her goals and there is a reward for it all.

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. (Proverbs 31:31)

It is not wrong to have dreams. It is not wrong to work hard after them. It is not wrong to be rewarded for all your hard work either. But all of that can be wrong or corrupted if our heart is in the wrong place. If we are working to please others and gain approval. If we think that working is going to fill certain needs and insecurities. If we are basically working for -again- our own needs to be met.

So, I say, with a pure heart have ambition and be blessed.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." (Colossians 3:23)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Have a Hope and a Future

A few months ago I wrote an article entitled, "A Blank Horizon." During that time, I have to say, I was really sad. It was hard not knowing the future, not knowing where I was headed, where I was going, not even knowing what my goals were anymore. I guess I had thought that I generally knew my future- you know, the basics, but at that time everything seemed to be changing. I wasn't anxious about the future just sad over seeing all the things I thought I was walking toward slowly disappearing. The road I had been walking on was gone before I knew it and I was just standing there wondering where I was to go to next. It's been almost a year of waiting, and wondering, but now I'm beginning to have hope and I can see a future.

I have read, heard and seen in every Christian book store the Scripture- "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you  hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11) It is a wonderful Scripture and I believe it fully, but had never had that Scripture tested in my life. Before this year I have always had a little glimpse of my future. A little idea of where I was headed-even if it was as small as the very next step I was taking, but this past year I have been standing still. Not one step. I had no path, no road, no where to place my foot next. A complete 'Blank Horizon.' I have had to lay down my dreams, my passions, my hopes for my future and wait. The Scripture says God has a plan --not 'Ellen' has a plan. The Scripture says that  it's a plan with a hope and a future--not put your hope in your plan and in the future you have for yourself. That's been a big lesson. I thought my plan and my ideas for my future were God's plan. Nope. I was terribly wrong. So, I've waited and waited. I have not hoped. I have not dreamed. I actually had to lay it all down and not even think of my future in order to have peace. (And if you know me, that was a hard thing to do).

So, what have I been doing this past year? Well, I have learned to live in the day. Just the day. I wake up, I shower, get dressed, take care of my children, homeschool and do the daily mommy and wife-y things that I've always done. It's funny just how busy I've been. I've put all my energy into my family and I have been busy. It takes alot of energy, time, and prayer to raise my children, keep a beautiful home and be attentive to my loving husband. It's been good, it's been tough, it's been sad and I've learned alot. One lesson has been to not despise the ordinary.  And like every season, I think this season is coming to a close. I'm beginning to see a future again. It's not what I thought it was going to look like, but as my daughter put it, "It's like we're on a treasure hunt! It's exciting to see what God will have for us around the next corner."

"The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave you country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." (Genesis 12:1) I don't know how Abraham did it. How did he literally just go? He got his stuff, his family and started walking without even knowing where he was walking to. Amazing! Tremendous faith! Deep trust in God! He knew GOD had a plan. He knew God's  plan was a plan of prosperity and safety. A plan with hope and a future and so with faith Abram ventured out.

So, I say to the Lord, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8) I'm ready to follow you where ever you lead. Whatever my future is I have hope because it's your plan, not mine.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Sister is Moving.

It was a Wednesday night when my husband called me and gave me the news that we had been anxiously waiting for- "He got the job." I honestly couldn't believe it. I got off the phone and cried. I just sat there and cried and cried. Every time I thought I could get up and move on, a memory would flash in my mind and the tears would come streaming down again. My sister's husband got a job out of state and they will be moving far away. I have eight years of memories...when will I stop crying?

She wasn't always a sister-we started out as just friends. I'll never forget the day we met. It had been a few weeks since I delivered my twins, the doorbell rang, and in she walked with her hubby, son, and a meal. She had recently started going to my church, heard that some lady just had twins and immediately knew she wanted to meet me. They came in and were as sweet as ever. I remember when I learned that not only were they going to my church, but they lived just a few blocks from me and a little bud of hope began to form-the hope of a dear friend. That hope has become a reality.

She has five children and I have six. Our children, even though they don't match up exactly in their ages, love each other, and my sister and I, well, we love each other too. It has been amazing to watch our friendship grow. I would never have guessed that we could have been friends. I think some times that we are more different than we are the same. For example: she is tall, I am short. She works out A-lot and thus she is thin. I do not like to work out, am not consistent and thus I am chubby. She LOVES to cook (she has a cooking blog-Family, Food and Fun), I have been afraid of cooking for most of my married life (I do not have a cooking blog). She is originally from Arkansas and I am originally from New York.  She enjoys being indoors for days on end, I love to get out and go.  Golly, she can read, and read, and read, and well, shamefully I like to stay busy and don't read as much as I should.  She is quiet and takes her time to say the right words, I am not quiet and have regretted many times the words that have flown out of my mouth. What else....what else...she has this bravery with delivering her babies, I, although I have gone through five deliveries, have been a complete chicken. She also has this bravery with cooking a meal for any new mom in the church and bringing it to their home. I am not confident that anyone will enjoy my cooking (except my Italian cooking) and am too shy to go over to some one's house to even drop off the meal. Do I really need to go on? We are clearly not two peas in a pod.

So, you ask, how have we become sisters if we are so different. Well, I'll tell you. We liked each other enough to battle through the things where we differ to find the things that are more important that we share in common. For example: We love the Lord with all our hearts, soul, mind and strength. He is everything to us. We have been able to share openly about the Lord and His leading in our lives. We love our children and believe God has given them to us to bless us. We both believe we have been called to home school our children. We love our husbands dearly and are so proud of them. We do enjoy sharing our lives with each other and talking (!) Our husbands have become best friends too. Our husbands are quite different from each other also, but somehow they have managed to become close friends. They help each other work on their cars, building projects, and so much more.

Don't get me wrong, no relationship goes along perfectly and if it's real, it won't. We have misunderstood each other, been so hurt that our friendship was on the brink of ending, but we talked it through, didn't give up, forgave each other, and grew even closer.

I really can't believe it's sister is moving away! She's going back home to Arkansas. I can hardly type..the tears have so blurred my vision. I have given all I am with no fear or thought of ever loosing her. I can't imagine and don't want to imagine my life, our lives without her or her precious family. I have been challenged to grow up so much in the last few years by her gentle prodding and even by simply watching her life.  It feels like a death has entered my life. Everyone says, "you'll talk and keep up through facebook," but I won't be able to hug her, or see her car pull into my driveway, and watch our children with excited squeals hug each other. I won't be able to watch her children grow up. I won't be able to hug them, and kiss them, and have them over for play dates. Simply put- life is going to feel very empty without my sister.

I truly hate that this is happening and I mean that in the most selfish way.  I want my life to go on as it has been. I want my sister near me. I want our children to grow up together. I want to get even closer and closer. I don't want this ache in my heart. I want her nearby to call at any time, to drop by and hang out on her front porch while the children play wildly. I want the security of knowing she is right there if I should need her.

I don't know how my heart has a joy for her, but it does. I am truly happy for her to be near her mom and for the kids to have their grandparents around all the time and for her husband to be finally happy in a job where he'll be appreciated. I am glad for them. I guess that's the mark of a true frinedship- even thought I am just so miserable for me, I am happy for her. I really want the best for her.

 So, my dear, sweet Rebekah, I will miss you with all my heart. I will miss our talks, and our time together, but I pray that you will find what you have been looking for back home.  That you will find a new church and even a new best friend. I'll say goodbye, but know that I'll never let you go.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Not Worth Fighting For

I wrote an article, "The Lost Lamb" and talked about how God's love for us is such that He will abandon everything to fight for us, find us and bring us home. Well, I've been feeling like I'm not worth fighting for. Not by God mind you, but by man. I am totally secure in the love the Father has for me and would not doubt it for a moment, but man's love, man's commitment, man's willingness to fight for me-eehhhh, not so much. To man I am not worth fighting for.

This is not a pity party-I hate those, but have you ever just come upon a truth that strikes you so hard and say, "Yeah, that's why I've been sad" and then get over the issue that much faster? Well, that's what's happened to me. I thought I was worth fighting for. I thought I was really loved. I realize I'm not to some and so now I can move on. I was honestly hurt by it all, but now I see it's really not me-I AM worth fighting for. The Great Shepherd would lovingly search for me and gently bring me home. I am loved by Him. I am accepted by Him-what else could really matter?  (I'll share a little secret with you... I've learned something else too- it's okay for others not to see it or know it).

I am secure in my Father's love for me. I am His sheep and I hear His voice. I'm at peace. I'll move on. I'll seek God's plan for my life and move into it. I'm not here to please man-I'm here to please God. I live to bring glory to Him- that's my heart.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Monkeying Around Birthday!

My youngest son turned 4 years old!
He has been planning it and talking about his 'monkey' party since the spring!
So, when November hit, I knew I had to get planning.

First I knew I needed vines going across the area
where the party was going to be.

Of course we needed monkeys hanging about the vines!

Next, I had to think about the desserts.

I had to make a monkey- of course!

I also made jungle animal cupcakes for the kids! 
This was A-lot of fun! I knew my son would just go 'ape' over it!
and he did =D

A zebra!
(I used black licorice for the ears, black dye with the icing and green mini m&m's for the eyes).

A monkey!
(I used chocolate icing for his face, and chocolate jimmies for his fur. 
For the white of his eyes I used mini marshmallows (cut in half). 
Large marshmallow (cut in half) for his mouth,
 cookie crisp cereal for his ears, and fruit roll ups for his mouth). 

A lion!
(I wasn't crazy about how he came out- 
my grandmother-in-law said it looked like a sea creature!)

I couldn't find a goody-bag big enough for all the goodies
 so we found a picture of a monkey he liked, copied them,
 had the kids color them in and glued them to white lunch bags.

My daughter and I collaborated on making 'pin the tail on the monkey."

We also made a monkey that he could stick his head through for pictures!

When he saw the one we made he asked if we could make another monkey
 so he could take pictures with his favorite uncle, Uncle Mike,
 and his best friend Annika.

My littlest had to have a picture with her best friend too!

Uncle Mike had to sit next to him during the party!
Uncle Mike also gave him the best present-
a UVA football uniform! He loves it!

My husband and I made him his own toy zoo!

Here's my birthday boy!

We ended the night with giant sparklers!

Monday, November 12, 2012


Sisterhood. I can write much on the subject. I am the youngest of seven children and of the seven, five of us are girls. That means, in my home there were FIVE sisters. And although we were sisters, not one of us was like the other. Many people said that we all looked like each other, but we didn't. Okay, so we were all around five feet tall, had the typical, thick, dark Italian hair, and petite, but other than that, we were not the same. I will say too, we not only did not resemble the other, but each sister was different in their personality, giftings, and nature.

~My eldest sister is ten years older than me and like a mother to me. When I was young, she said, she cared for me as if I were her baby. She did everything except change my diapers. She told me how she cried each morning on her way to school because she just wanted to be with me and I was the first one she ran to see upon coming through our front door after school. We shared a room together from the time I was one years old until I was five. After the age of five I don't recall seeing her around too much.

~My second eldest sister was to me like a babysitter. She played with me now and again that is when she had the time. She didn't come around much, but when she did, we would have a cherished time together. As I grew older, I saw her less and less, and so she became more like a coach to me. She'd advise me which way to go and cheered me on. (This is the one I wrote a children's book about: "My Sister and Me").

~My third oldest sister, who is five years older than me, was like a boss. She told me what to do, when to do it and always threatened to 'fire' me if I didn't get it right. If I got it right occasionally there would be a reward. A raise  if you will, a walk for ice cream or arts and crafts time.   

~My fourth eldest sister, two years my senior, and I were absolutely and completely the most opposite people in the world. The hatred this girl had and has for me is beyond anything that I can understand or desire to share today. But being sisters and having to share a bedroom, live in the same house for about twenty years -well you get to know each other and one thing she figured out about me is that I am trustworthy. As much as she hated me, and honestly I got to not liking her either, oddly enough I was the only one in the family she came to when she was depressed, angry, or sad and needed to talk. I was the first one to know when she started dating, why and what she was doing until two am. The first one to know when she became bulimic, started smoking, doing cocaine, etc. I was there for the really big stuff in her life and she knew that I would never use it against her in any way.

But other than being trustworthy she didn't know a thing about me. Our relationship was totally one sided. Our relationship was like a swinging door only for her to walk through when she need me and I was there for her. But when she didn't need me, she detested me and would not be around. I will say that I felt sorry for her most of my life and the older I got I was very glad that I could be there for her, if only to allow her to vent.

So, that is a picture of my real- life, biological sisterhood. We didn't all get along and we weren't always there for each other. I had four sisters who I would not have even considered to be my friends.

"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there IS a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24

Isn't that Scripture so great? God knows that we may not find a best friend in our own family. He knows that and He is prepared to send you a friend who will be closer than a brother/sister.

Now, I had, I believe, a best friend hand picked by God himself, given to me when I was going through the roughest times of my life. I met Marla at age three, but didn't become the bestest of friends until eighth grade. (I wrote about her in 'Let My Love Open the Door'). What made Marla a sister to me? She loved me. No doubt about it she loved me. I think the thing that communicated that the best is that she just wanted to be with me. It didn't matter what we were doing, if I was there, she wanted to be there and vice verse. For example: I'd babysit with her and her with me, she'd walk to where I was working just to be there when I got off from work and we'd walk home together and the sleepovers, well, they were endless.

We talked about everything- dreams, fears, worries, life. She wasn't a biological sister, but I considered a true sister. I remember when I was a freshman in High school, my mother had left us, and times couldn't have been more difficult. My father, who was a man of rage, was at his very worst. Not only was my mother not there to calm him down, but she was the very one who was causing his heartache. When the summer came my father decided to still go on the 'family' vacation that he had planned. He was now planning on going with me, my sister, and my eldest brother (who is mentally handicapped). In the past we had gone every year to the Jersey Shore for a week together as a family -since I was three years old, but this particular year we were a broken family-physically and emotionally.

Are you picturing this yet? My father (angry man) my sister (the one who hates me) and me. Something told me that this was going to be the most dreadful week of my life.  I was truly frightened. I called my best friend, Marla, the morning we were to leave and told her just how terrified I was of being alone for a week with these people. I begged her to come with me on my 'family' vacation. (I had believed my father would try and have some self-control if she was there). She was frightened too, but after getting permission from her dad to go with me, she packed her bags, walked down the two blocks to my home and made the horrible journey with me. She knew all the stories of how bad my father was and how much worse he had become since my mother left us, but now she was going to see it all for herself. Never was there a truer sister.

So as a young girl that was what sisterhood was to me. A friend who accepted me for who I was, hoped for the best for me and was there for me sacrificially. Now I am a grown Christian woman -what does sisterhood mean to me today?

This may seem really crazy, but I used to think that whoever God placed in my life-especially if she was a Christian-would be a new and dear friend. And why not? We're Christians, we share the same values, goals for marriage and have children and so why can't this new person be my bestest friend? After trying that with every new Christian friend that came into my life, I not only got hurt, but learned a few things.

Now, I have been hurt and honestly it is hard for me at times to trust again, but I have found that God keeps putting women in my life and I believe He wants me to keep moving on, and making new friendships. I've learned that God desires us to have dear friends or sisters in our lives. I've learned that, as was my relationship with each of my biological sisters relationships were so different from each other, that is how it is in the real world too.

Yes, God may have put a woman in my life, but maybe not all of them to be my best friend. So, like with my relationship with my biological sisters God may be calling me to:

1.Be a "mother" type of a friend to someone.

2. Be a "coach" type of a friend to someone-one who brings good times or encouragement.

3. Be a "boss" type of a friend to someone -one who motivates and gives direction.

4. Be a listener-someone who only listens.

5. And then finally He brings someone in your life to be that dear friend that will see you through the tough times, be an encourager, pray with you and for you, not gossip, love you, even the 'crazies' in you, love you so much that they just want to be with you.

You see, I think I've gotten hurt by friends in the past because I had an expectation for a friend or sister to fill a need that they weren't there to fill. In those times I look back and see that I was suppose to just be a friend to them and be there for them and not the other way around.  The friendship can last for years with me serving my friend and not really getting anything out of it. And sometimes, I've learned, that God just wants to use me in a friend's life  for a season. I'm to be there for them through a tough time and that's it. No friendship buds out of the time together. The person moves on with life and me in mine. It's not hurtful, it's not that the person didn't care about me, it was just that God wanted me there for them for that moment and nothing else. I think when I don't expect anything or when I've taken the time to ask God, "Why is this new person in my life?" I have a peace about the friendship and am not diving in head first and getting hurt.

Something else I've learned-if you really consider someone a sister, than you treat her like one. If you really believe that this person in your life is from God to be there for you and struggle through life with you then take her in as you would a real sister. Those of who I consider a true sister to me (all of whom are not actually blood related) are adored by me. Them, their children, their family. I pray for them, think about them, will do anything for them. I risk my whole heart in loving them. I become transparent.

I think one (because there truly are many) of the greatest blessings I've gotten from being transparent with my sisters is how much God has changed me through their presence in my life. Little things that I hated about myself, they saw as different and loved it. They've helped me learn to love myself. With my sisters loving me, no matter what I do, what I look  like or what my house looks like - really being me-God has healed many insecurities in me. They have helped me to face fears. They challenged me to grow and see things differently. They challenged me to love the Lord more and seek Him with my whole heart. Healing and growth has come because I have allowed myself to open my heart to the few women God has placed in my life. And what more do I want? I want to be healed so God can use me more and more. I'm on this earth for a reason- I want God to use me. I want to share His love with others openly and freely and with the help of my dear friends that is becoming more of a reality than ever!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The 4th of July!

The 4th of July or Independence Day 
should be a special day for all Americans to celebrate,
but to us it means even more.
My grandfather-in-law was born on July 1st and he 
is a Veteran. I have never met anyone who loves America more.
So, we celebrate his birthday each year on Independence day.

This year I made:
the traditional apple pie,

his favorite birthday cake,

cupcakes for the children- (I found the idea on Pinterest),

and red, white and blue chocolate dipped strawberries,
also found on Pinterest. 

For decorations-
(and I love decorations)
I had flags, balloons, twinkle lights, and banners! 

This year Pop-Pop got the chance to celebrate his birthday
with my new little niece!
Her birthday is July 1st too!

Pop- Pop played Southern tunes and American favorites,
on the guitar and lead all of us in song!

I believe he felt special.
I love him so dearly!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Has it All Been for Nothing?

The very one thing that I cannot stand has fallen right into my lap...regret- the feeling that it has all been for nothing. I think regret is horrible, but the thing that brings me to tears is the fact that I don't know how big this regret is yet. Is it a regret of one year's worth of hopes dashed, or more? Have I missed the Lord and for how long? Have I foolishly trusted the untrustworthy again? Have I given my heart whole-heartily for it to only be stomped on? I look back over the last few years and I simply don't know. Was I just too tired or busy to realize that I should not have gone head first and hoped?

It's been a long time since I have felt regret of this magnitude. The last time was in 2005 when I realized that all that I had tried to accomplish with my own biological family, over a period of fifteen years, was for naught. I had been cut-off from my family without so much as a goodbye. My husband and I many times had wanted to move away from my family, but didn't because we believed we were called to stay and love them. After so many years of praying for them to truly know the Lord and see no change for the better, I walked away from it all saying, "What was it all for?"

The truth is and this is not to be mean or harsh, my biological family are pretty much the most horrid people I know and with every year they grew worse instead of better. What were all those years for? I could have moved out of NY at least five years earlier, settled somewhere sweet and not have had to have such heart ache, but we endured and the result? WE were cut off. I remember crying for weeks thinking (in this one area of my life) that the last fifteen years had been a complete waste. I could see no good, and I still have a hard time finding any. I'm not completely sure why the Lord had us stay-I can't imagine my family being any worse than they already were so what difference would it have really made had we left at the ten year mark? I know that God knows, but at the same time the regret has been very hard to deal with and now it's back again.

So, what do you do when you look back on wasted time, energy, even wasted hopes? I can tell you- you cry, and cry. Regret for me has to be one of the saddest emotions. I don't strive to be perfect by any means, but to possibly miss the boat with God really, really, really stinks.  I look back and say to myself, "Why? Why didn't you say something then? Why did you just shrug your shoulders and hope for things to change? Why didn't you take a stand?"  But nope, like a dope, I stayed, sat around, got hurt, continued to hope, continued to pray, waited some more, and eventually got so burned that all I'm left with is-well, quite frankly, regret.

I don't know that I have any real answers to this painful season of my life-I'm still in the midst of it all. Funny thing though, it really is confined to this one area, I'm still quite happy with everything else going on in my life- my husband, children, homeschooling, teaching, friends. If I get my mind off of my regret I'm actually okay.

So, after the tears are shed, I find, all I can do is pray.
Lord, I give you this huge package of regret. Take it from me and turn it into something wonderful. Turn this regret around and help me to see that these last few years or so have not been a complete waste. Show me how you have used me for your service. Show me how to hope again. I leave it in your trustworthy hands and await to see your glorious plan. And Lord, if I have missed your calling, not obeyed your heeding, forgive me and set my feet on the path you have for me. Lead me Lord and I will follow.

" God turns my darkness into light." (Psalm 18:28) 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Super Daddy

Every Father's Day
I try and think of a theme for his day
or special presents that my hubby would like.
This year I saw a banner that read: "Super Dad" on Pinterest.
I LOVED it and began the planning.
First I made the banner and showed the children.

Next we began thinking of gifts that would somehow match our theme.
My older daughter wanted to make her daddy a present made out of duct tape(!)
So, I googled "duct tape projects for kids."
We came across a trophy.

While my other children were beginning to plan their part for Father's Day,
I got to work planning the breakfast.
I made his favorite:
Eggs over easy, bacon, fruit salad, Italian bread, and a sweet treat from Pinterest.
(The chubby hubby!)
 I wanted more decorations on the table so I found the Superman icon on-line printed it out, 
tapped them to toothpicks and pressed them into the dessert). 

We worked hard to pull it altogether for the one day of the year that we have to bless 'Daddy.'
He was completely surprised. We decorated the morning of Father's Day while we allowed him to sleep in.

My daughter made a special card for her daddy.

Here they are presenting their presents to the best daddy in the world.

Superman Daddy and Esther together.

She made a measuring tape, like the one from the movie Mary Poppins.
As he pulled out the measuring tape (strips of construction paper tapped together) 
she had labeled everyone in the family- leaving Daddy at the very end.

We found a Superman Pez dispenser and gave it the little ones to give him.

 We actually found a Superman T-shirt!
That was from the boys.

Our husbands need to be honored, appreciated and recognized for all that they do for us.
(Whether or not he did something special for you on Mother's Day). 
I encourage all of you mommies to make the day special for him.
Allow your children to see how much you love their daddy and 
encourage them to take time to make something too. 
I believe my husband felt very special and very loved and that's exactly what I had hoped for.