Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Week in Pictures

On our way home tonight from cousin's birthday party in Pittsburgh, I started lamenting/ crying about how often I forget the cute things the kids do and the great memories we make.  So, here is my attempt to chronicle the memories of our sweet, chaotic, messy, beautiful life in Ohio.    

Here are some pictures from this side of heaven...

Thankful for a cancelled field trip and a rainy day....every bin of clothes organized and able to shut!  Whew!

Look how nice the basement guest area looks now minus the piles of clothes

Still waiting on the butterflies to emerge

Pizza, Sherbet, and Oreos=happy eaters

My attempt to read more of the Word

My garage sale find...a great fort building aid

Creative messiness

Ury is our quiet adventurer...never bored

Yet another fort

I finally made picture labels for all of Moriah's toy drawers

We enjoyed seeing Tarzan at Boardman High School....Broadway here we come?

Elijah is still quite the superstar around here

After all of the sunshine, warmth, and outdoor play this week, bath time came on more than just on Saturday 

Moriah loves visiting Daddy's office in the basement 

Moriah got stung by an irritated Honey Bee who left his stinger

Our baby slept six hours one night this week....he hasn't done it since :)

Praise God from whom all bessings grateful that tomorrow we begin again!  

His mercies are new every morning...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

In the Desert

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.  John 4:14

After reading this passage with the kids, Isaiah said, "Mom, I want some of that water!"

I admittedly have been in a bit of a drought these last two months, three months, maybe more. A spiritual drought, that is...

Focusing on: kids, temper tantrums, a gassy baby, being the perfect mom, losing these last 20 pounds, Facebook, babysitting other children, homeschooling, my failure as a teacher, how to be the perfect wife, physical therapy, packing for a long trip, failures, being patient, looking for a new haircut, the perfect make-up, organizing/ simplifying our house, teaching Moriah to read & Zeke to talk, reading others' blogs & how to do everything like them! Ahhh....I would say drought is a nice word for it. How about completely insane?

Then, I got this e-mail from a dear friend:

Dear Heather,
Here are the verses I told you about in my text that God has impressed upon my heart to share with you and pray over you. I don’t know what your translation of choice is, but interestingly I was drawn to these verses in the NLT. Sometimes using a translation that may not be as familiar to me helps to give me new insight and perspective. I hope these bless you and encourage you as much as they blessed me when the Lord brought them to my mind for you!

But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit. –Jeremiah 17:7,8 NLT

(This is what I see the Lord doing in and for and through you, Heather!)

The LORD will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. –Isaiah 58:11 NLT

For I will give you abundant water to quench your thirst and to moisten your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit and my blessing on your children. –Isaiah 44:3 NLT

(Isn’t this encouraging?! I know how much you pray for and desire the blessings of God on your children!)

The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths bringing honor to his name. –Psalm 23:1-3 NLT

BONUS  FEATURE:  One of my favorite quotes of all-time is something I read by Ruth Bell Graham years ago, and here is a portion of it:

I found a good part of my time taken up simply in keeping the family fed and the house run. The result? Spiritual drought. For me, spiritual dryness usually follows an extremely busy period. Air must be still for dew to fall, and I was anything but still.
The LORD bless you and keep you, Heather, and grant you times of refreshing in His presence as you come aside to a quiet place and rest a while!!!

 Wow! This was so eye-opening for me! I knew I had been dry spiritually, but I was rationalizing it by saying it was just my life right now.  "I don't have time for focused prayer,  Journalling, Bible reading." All of the things that help focus the day and bring me closer to Jesus. I have been tring to simplify things in our home, in our school day, clean out clutter, but I didn't realize how cluttered I had been in my thought life & the things I had been trying to change.

I am not sure yet where this time of refreshing will take me, but I am super excited about it! For now, I just admit that I have been in a drought & I long to be like the tree in Psalm 1, "which yields its fruit in season, whose leaves do not wither,  whatever he does prospers!" I surrender & admit that He is the answer...for me, my kids, our family, homeschooling, losing weight, raising Jesus followers, even the perfect haircut, because ultimately, I have to just be thankful for the hair He's given me. I will never have the perfect haircut until I reach satisfaction in how He made me!

Today, with His help, I am taking the first step out of the wilderness...surrendering to Jesus, letting go of the grip I have had on life.

Thank you, Lord, for showing me how dry I've been!

"Jesus is enough! No pluses or minuses. ..Just Jesus!" -Linda Boyette

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Promise for Another Year

"I will certainly be with you." Exodus 3:12

      It was 2 weeks before we were to start homeschooling again and dread overwhelmed me. Why? Because Isaiah didn't want to homeschool. It was painful to think of another year of trying to convince him that this is what we were called to right now, the best thing for our family.  I met with a friend and she told me about a new grant that enables low income families to go to private school. Perfect! Perhaps this was my answer...Isaiah could go to Heartland Christian School. I was sad that this may be God's answer because I would miss the time with him, but wanted the best for the kids. So, I began the application process. I had an unsettling feeling the entire time. When I stopped to hear from the Lord on the issue, I could hear Him saying, "Heather, I've told you to homeschool, given you the curriculum, answered your fears, and you're still not obeying." Ouch! "Okay, Lord, I'll listen, but could you do one more thing for more fleece? (Gideon did it and he was called a mighty warrior) Could you convince Isaiah? I really don't want another year of stressing over his unenjoyment." At that moment, I just decided to rest in the decision to homeschool. After all, He kept giving me the promise that He would teach my children. So, rest I did. God would guide.
      Saturday night on the drive home from camp I got a text from Kathryn, a friend who has a son Isaiah's age.  The two of them are best buds.  The text read, "I want to talk to you about homeschooling." I said jokingly to Nate, "Haha, she's going to ask me to homeschool Jonah." I knew this was the farthest thing from her mind because I had four kids and I was pregnant with #5. But sure enough Sunday morning while I was explaining about the different curriculums she said, "no, I thought maybe you could homeschool Jonah while I watch the babies." Haha! I felt a peace immediately....a crazy, chaotic peace if thats's possible, but peace. I knew it was a little crazy, but I also knew Isaiah would be so excited to homeschool with Jonah.  I would pray about it, but I knew immediately that this was from God.  This was His answer.
   We are currently in week three of homeschooling and there have not been two days that have looked the same, but our kids are happy and they're learning!  School is going better than ever. We have the best of both worlds...flexibility, freedom, and family and friends.

Thank you, God, for always coming through for our family, calming my fears, taking us on unimaginable ventures, and giving Your sweet rest and peace.  You are so amazing!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Praying the Psalms

As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower 
and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  Isaiah 55:10-11

Last week with our kids was brutal.  I babysat various numbers of kids everyday, had missionaries in from out of town, took the kids to Bible school, had play dates at the park, and had 4 different nights where we had dinner with families from our church.

By the end of the week I was ready to lock our children in their rooms.  They were being mean, not wanting to play together, constantly hurting the other one's feelings, saying things I have never heard come out of their mouths. Who were these two little beasts?  As I was reflecting with Nate about the week, I realized that our kids needed to be locked in a room together.  They were having too much friend time and not enough time on the same team working together.  

Sunday night it all reached a head.  At the baseball game Isaiah was acting like a brat and saying things I never wanted my child to say.  Completely out of line.  I sent everyone to bed and spent some time in prayer & then went to sleep with a peace that God was going to give me the answer for Isaiah.

In the morning I awakened way too early with a desire to pray the Psalms for our kids.  

A year ago after experiencing some great bouts of fear and anxiety for the kiddos I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to begin finding promises for my kids in the Psalms.  I discovered that every Psalm I read had a promise for my kids.  It comforted me to know that I was praying the words which God said (through the prophet Isaiah), "...will not return to Me empty..will accomplish what I desire!"  I knew that as I prayed the Word for my kids I was asking God for the things which align right up with His desires, not my own desires for our kids.  And, I can rest assured that He will do whatever it takes (hardships, bringing others into their lives, etc.) to see it brought about in our kids' lives for His glory!  

This particular morning I prayed Psalm 35:1-3:
Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with I, M, E, & U;
fight against those who fight against _______.
Take up shield and buckler;
arise and come to his/her aid.
Brandish spear and javelin
against those who pursue ________.
Say to _________'s soul, 
"I am your salvation."

These words brought such comfort to my heart.  I was at peace knowing that God is actively fighting for my (His) children.  He is contending with the spiritual forces trying to bring my children down and tear them apart.  He is not sitting back watching what will happen, but is taking up His shield and buckler, spear and javelin to come to our aid.  And, He is speaking deep to the souls of my kiddos, "I am your salvation."

After reading this, I wanted to cry.  God spoke so tenderly to my Mother's heart, my heart that cares so deeply that my children be little lights for Him.  

I can rest.  I am not the one fighting, He is.  He will show me as we need to reign things in, draw our kids back to home base, remind them that we're all on the same team.  

We had a great day together because I remembered that God was fighting for my kiddos.

When I came back from my doctor's appointment the kids were in the backyard building forts together, playing like best friends again.  What a confirmation that the Psalm I prayed in the morning was taking affect in their lives!  

Thank you, God, for your living and active Word!  You are so good to me, to our family!  Keep up your work in our lives...I will get out of the way!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The B-I-B-L-E Yes That's the Book For Me!

Yesterday, after much bickering and breaking up fights I said to the kids, "We really need to sit down and read our Bible together.  We need to hear from the Lord!"  The sounds that followed ripped me to the core..."Awww!" "Do we have to?" "I don't like reading the Bible!"  I wanted to scream in anger about how they never seem to make those sounds when we sit down to watch a movie, but I didn't, I just started reading.  Zeke was the only one scrambling to get to my lap and hear the story.

Afterwards, I let the kids go play and I just sat in the Popasan chair feeling dejected, like a terrible mother.

"Lord, you promised to pour out your Spirit on my children!  What is happening?  I am failing you...failing them!  You have to do something"

I brought them all back into the sun room for a light lecture.  Haha...yeah, if that's possible!

"Guys, I have one main job as a mother and that is to teach you the Word of God.  See this Bible?  This is God's Word to you, what He wants you to know!  How will you know what He's saying to you unless you know what His Word says?  How will you be able to recognize the Holy Spirit's voice in your life unless you know the Word of God?  Mommy and Daddy are not always going to be here to boss you and tell you what to do, tell you right from wrong.  You will need to recognize the voice of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to be able to allow them to guide you!  The Bible says, 'How can a young person keep his/her way pure? By obeying His Word.'  How will you know what His Word says unless we read it together?  So, from now on, when I say everyday that we are going to read the Bible together, I don't want to hear any complaining! Got it? Okay!  I love you, now go play!"

It all didn't come out as eloquent as I would have liked, but I made a decision right then and there to not falter in having family devotions...ever!  They brush their teeth everyday, why not read their Bibles?  We have to get into a family habit, for the salvation of our children.  And, for my own sake, we can't wait until the last part of the day!  We have to do it first!

Later that night, I said to Isaiah, "I am going to read a fairy tale to Moriah, would you like to come in and listen or would you like me to read you your own book?"  "Mom, I really want you to read me the Bible!"  Haha "Is that because of our talk today?"  "No, it's just because I really love reading the Bible!"

After fairy tales, I read a couple of Bible stories to the kids...Moriah made me smile:

"Mom, do you know why I am listening so well to the Bible story?  Because I really love the Bible!"  Haha...

Somehow, purely by the Grace of God, the Holy Spirit reminded us all today of the importance of the Word of God in our lives.  It IS the way our kids (and us) will stay pure, it is life, peace, joy, salvation to our kids, to our family!!!

Thank you, God, for the realization today of the importance of Your Word.  Thank you that it is so easy to grab a Bible laying around the house in our own language!  Please give us all a passion to take Your Word out to others, too!        

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Bike From Heaven

Last week my beautiful 4-year-old, Moriah, started riding a 2-wheel bike. She has been determined for a while to learn to ride this summer and last week after many bumps and bruises, she took off.  She also started pumping her own swing, too! is zooming by!

But, back to the was a warm & sunny spring day in 2013.  The kids were outside riding their bikes.  Moriah had more than outgrown her princess bike with training wheels.  I remember breathing these words to Jesus, "It would sure be wonderful for Moriah to learn to ride a bike this summer, but she needs a new bike.  We don't have the money for one.  A princess bike would be nice, too."  It was just a thought sent up to heaven to my Daddy who provides for all of our needs!  It wasn't an "official" prayer, but just a thought, believing in His time He would provide what Moriah needed.  It wasn't 5 minutes after that breath I heard Isaiah calling, "Mom! Mom!  There's a bike over here on the side of the shed.  It's a girl bike. A princess bike."  Sure enough, someone in our church family left a bike for Moriah.  Isaiah found it at exactly the moment that I asked for one.

I don't know what category this falls into in my theology, but this I know for sure..."God will provide all of my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus" Philippians 4:19.  He is a good, loving, fair, generous Father who longs to pour out on His children.  There are times I wait for answers that never seem to come and there are times I hear no, but I can rest in the truth that He knows best.  And He will always provide what I NEED.  And, if I'm walking in Him and listening to His gentle whispers, He'll even provide what I want...He'll grant me the desires of my heart as I delight myself in Him (Psalm 37:4)!

Thank you, Father, once again for your provision...and the way you prove yourself to our kids!