It’s Been a While….

Over a month to be exact!  Life has just gotten away from us.   In some ways that is an amazing thing because we are neck deep in ministry and loving almost all of it.   I wish I could put into words the emotions I have experienced over the last few months but that is for another time.

and I wish I could tell you al that is whirling around in my head but that is also for another time.    But in the midst of all that I treasure up in my heart- there are some things I can fill you in on…..

Our family grew by one.

Say hello to Nugget

It’s our first puppy in 9 years!  All of our other dogs have been rescues or other circumstances.   She is a Corgi and Cavelier King Charles Spaniel Mix.  And she has a VERY happy ending!   It has taken us a while to venture back into the land of another dog ( we do have one already) but after losing two dogs in a year 2 years ago we decided that we were going to wait a while.  Nugget has been a part of our family for about a month now and she has such a sweet temperament  AND she and Rosie are now best friends- it took a little while!

I’m in the Middle of my largest writing project-EVER!

Yep, you read that right.   I have taken on writing our church’s Christmas play.  My goal is 5 to 6 scenes and I am about halfway there.   I’m really excited about it as is my stage manager, my music director, and hubby.  I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be in that place, but God has brought me there.   and now I am over the moon excited as the words just seem to flow out the end of my pen…LOL yes, I am handwriting it first! That is just how I roll people.  Yes, I will type it. BU, I need to first get the main ideas on paper.   Stay tuned for more details!

Creating Art

One of the things as a child that I had a real desire to do was learn to paint.  That has become a reality for me.  I have been binge watching  YouTube videos and soaking it all up like a sponge!   As of right now, watercolor is my medium of choice including watercolor pencils both regular and woodless) though in the fall I did my first acrylic painting and am gaining some confidence in that area as well.  U have also added Guoache, real brush pens (Arteza) and alcohol Markers (Ohuhu) to the mix and I am loving the learning and creative process)

I had a Birthday

and I turned (cough cough) years old…HAHAHAHA well, let’s just say it the end of a decade! BUT I got to spend my last night being  38  checking off my top bucket list concert!  Yeah, I got to see TOBY MAC!   But that’s not all- Jordan Feliz, Jeremy Camp, We Are Messengers, Ryan Stevenson and  I can’t remember his name, He started singing as we were coming in and trying to find our seats.

Witnessed God change someone’s life!

I call her one of my kids- and watching her choose Jesus was one of the highlights of my year!  And I am watching her take off!  I love being a bystander getting a front row seat to see God work.  BUT with that front row seat comes great responsibility and burden.  Not a bad burden BUt a burden to do more, see more, grow more. To make a bigger difference, to love deeper, to care more, and I’m not just talking about stuff- because stuff does not matte- People matter!  If there was one thing I could communicate to people was to set aside their preferences, their ways, and their desires and place all of their energy serving others -God moves in great and mighty ways.  When we take ourselves OUT of the picture and put people in those places of preference, security. and ideals LOOK OUT! God’s gonna do big things!  Beyond what we can ever imagine!

I’ve learned:

  • A deeper meaning for patience.   When I first got pregnant a little over 14 years ago, I experienced a whole new sense of anticipation and it was hard to wait.  But at the end of 9 months, I was fairly certain that I would have a baby.    Well over the last 6 months  I have learned new levels of patience and trust that God, no matter the outcome has a plan and a purpose.  Now I know all of this already but as we mature in our faith God takes us through deeper levels of these concepts.  He requires deeper trust than we have ever experienced before.
  • to take notice of the Joy God sends into our lives.  Joy is  my word for the year and the verse in  Romans 12:12  is my verse for the year12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
  • to count in ALL Joy- boy is this hard- especially saying goodbye to something that seems like God was moving in.
  • It’s hard not to get your hopes up when God is doing exciting things!
  • I heard a speaker explain the life of a youth leader as being one of the hardest jobs there is ( Ain’t it the truth).  He explained how it can be so discouraging and so amazing all wrapped into one and it just so happened to meet me where I was struggling AND THEN the very next session the young lady I mentioned above Chose to follow Jesus! Amazed does not even begin to describe what happened.  All I can say is yours truly was in full ugly cry mode and couldn’t get a grip for like 20 minutes! It was beautiful!

I have a new playlist- and it’s not my normal!

I’m usually a peppy music girl, the faster and louder the better but, my heart has been in a different place lately. so here is the list on my phone simply titled  “where I’m At”.

  1. Courageous (Casting Crowns)
  2. 10,000 Reasons (Matt Redman)
  3. The Hurt and The Healer (MercyMe)
  4. Live Like That (Sidewalk Prophets)
  5. My Hope is in YouAaron Shust)
  6. I lift my Hands (Chris Tomlin)
  7. Forgiveness (Matthew West)
  8. Whom Shall I Fear (Chris Tomlin)
  9. Only a Mountain (Jason Castro)
  10. Steady My Heart (Kari Jobe)
  11. We Won’t Be Shaken (Building 429)
  12. Need You Now (Plumb)
  13. Overcomer (Mandisa)
  14. You Are (Colton Dixon)
  15. Live With Abandon (Newsboys)
  16. Even If (Kutless)
  17. The Only Name  (Big Daddy Weave)
  18. Waterfall (Chris Tomlin)
  19. You Won’t Let Go (Micheal W. Smith)
  20. Speak Life (Toby Mac)
  21. My Heart is Yours (Passion)
  22. This is Amazing Grace (Phil Wickam)
  23. Fix My Eyes (For King and Country)
  24. More of You (Colton Dixon)
  25. He Knows my name (Francesca Battistelli)
  26. He Knows (Jeremy Camp)
  27. Overwhelmed (Big Daddy Weave)
  28. Save my Life (Sidewalk Prophets)
  29. Shoulders (for King and Country)
  30. Just Be Held (Casting Crowns)
  31. My Story (Big Daddy Weave)
  32. Same Power (Jeremy Camp) *my song for the year
  33. Trust in You  (Lauren Daigle)
  34. Chain Breaker (Zach Williams)
  35. Limitless (Colton Dixon)
  36. Grace Wins (Matthew West)
  37. Far is a Liar (Zach Williams)
  38. The Breakup Song (Francesca Battistelli)
  39. Joy (for King and country) Also a theme for the year
  40. Control (Tenth Avenue North)
  41. Point to You (We are Messengers)
  42. Good Good Father (Zealand Worship)
  43. Thy Will (Hilary Scott and the Scott Family)
  44. Broken Things  (Matthew West)
  45. You Love Defends Me (Matt Maher)
  46. Eye Of the Storm (Ryan Stevenson)
  47. Greatness of our God (Newsboys United)
  48. Something Greater (Mathew West)
  49. Even If (MercyMe)

Forty-nine songs that speak truth (LIFE :)) into my heart even when I can’t be in God’s word- there are constant reminders in the background of my life reminding me where my focus needs to be.

So That’s it for now!  I know it’s a big update with some crazy vagueness! (Sorry about that but stay tuned.  Later this week we have a fun book review from our two youngest sons (Yes me too) and a blog post focused on what it means to “Pay LipService & What it means for your testimony)

Happy Homemaker Monday- Exhausted

Exhausted

Have You ever hit what feels like a rock wall?   I’m not sick. Just Tired.  Mentally tired and spiritually broken.  And it is not because I’m” not in God’s word”.    I know that’s what everyone’s answer is, but that’s not the reason, nor the fix.   I can tell you what the issue is- PEOPLE! But not in a bad way.   It’s called being burdened.   And it is rough because I can’t do anything about any of it.  Moment by moment I have to give it back to God.  I CANNOT and SHOULD NOT  hold on to it, but if I am honest, it’s hard not to, because I love them.

The greatest burden of all? Watching believers (or those who say they are) reject God’s word and choose their own way over the way that they claim to hold so dear.  You know the one that was most devastating to me, was someone I looked up to.  And that person fell flat on their face off the pedestal we all put them on.  Now you can try to play guessing games but the reality is That person didn’t belong in that place, to begin with, JESUS DID!  Humans are sinners.  we make the wrong choices. We let people down.  I am sure I will let a bunch down this week.  BUT it’s hard watching people fall, especially those who are closest to us and those we care about- and even harder is when they don’t want help back up. And that creates a whole different version of exhausted.

NOW ONTO SOME HAPPY

The weather outside is::::

COLD though we did have some glorious moments of sunshine!  A glimpse of hope that spring is right around the corner

On the breakfast plate this morning::::

everything bagel with garden veggie cream cheese

As I look outside my window:::

Snow on the ground, bare trees gray skies- WELCOME TO NY

Right now I am::::

trying to write a letter to our youngest son who is Student of the Week in his class

As I look around the house::::

It’s getting a lot better.  There are still glimpses of crazy schedules and me being sick two weeks ago!

  On today’s to-do list::::

OHHHHH I’m so excited I have a project almost ready for a friend.

Dishes and Laundry

I have to sort boys clothes  x3

Phone calls

general tidying up

Take a nap

Currently reading::::

Hopes and Dreams -my first fiction book in about 6 years (Outside of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle which I read with the boys before school each morning)

Enough

Purpose Driven Life

On the TV today::::

whatever hubby has been listening to as he works

On the menu this week::::

I must confess I haven’t gotten this far yet this week-tomorrow it’s top on my list!

Monday – Tater tot casserole

Tuesday – 

Wednesday –

Thursday –

Friday – 

Saturday – 

Sunday –

What I am creating at the moment::::

I have some super secret Cricut projects and a super secret sewing project and I am working on my sketching abilities. I have some upcoming painting ideas but I want to nail down some sketching things first

Favorite photo from the camera::::

I had this printed off for our youngest today for the Student of the week. Next month he turns 9  How time flies

 

Prayers, Inspirational Quotes or Devotionals::::

Joshua 1:8

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

(In all seriousness I am not making this up!  My struggles listed up above and I just opened my devotional for today and THAT is the verse.  It is just a reminder for me to keep moving forward!  To keep my focus on God’s word to teach what it says NOT what I think it says or what it means to me.   It doesn’t matter what it means to me It matters What God meant when he had the writers write it!  I think as I get in deeper in ministry-and trust me I’m in deep the burdens get heavier but I grow closer to God through them.

For more Happy Homemaker posts check out Diary of a Stay at Home  Mom.

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Adventures in Full Time Ministry -Happy 10 Year Anniversary!

10

If I could define the last ten years in one word It would be ADVENTURE!

An adventure usually has highs and lows.  And we have had both.

It’s been a whirlwind of an adventure.  Ten years ago we were sitting in our new home eating pizza with all our new friends who had just helped us move across the state of New York. There were people in other rooms putting our beds together so we had a place to lay our weary heads.

Words cannot express the ride we have been on and there is no sign of that ride ending anytime soon.   And we are so thankful.

This year holds some things coming down the road. Amazing things.  Hard things.  New Things.   In these 1en years, we have added a fourth child-He’s almost 9.    We have had 5 dogs, 6 indoor cats, and 4 outdoor barn cats.  (Most of whom we have tragically lost to illness)  We have changed houses only once.  We have made many new friends, built on old friendships and said goodbye for now to some who have made their home journey to heaven.

We have laughed hysterically.

We have cried and wept with a deep sense of loss on many levels.

We have lost 2 grandparents, Numerous aunts and uncles, and many friends.

We had to hike one of the scariest, hardest paths one could come upon in life But God took that situation and gave us hearts for others on similar paths and made us hiking buddies to others as they move amongst the treacherous terrain!

There have been deep conversations, salvations, and choices made to follow God wherever He leads.  Ministries have been started and grown, while others have been set on a back burner as God has said Not now.  Great opportunities to serve outside of our church and in the community. And we have also experienced the heartbreak of watching people turn their backs on God and go their own way.

WIn this church all four of our children have been saved and baptized.    In this church we received a diagnosis of Autism AND Central Auditory Processing Disorder And two years ago on this very date I thought it was a great idea to celebrate this anniversary by having emergency Gallbladder surgery! (Note heavy sarcasm).

We have had the blessing of meeting and hosting many missionaries, most of whom we call friends now.

We are even in the finishing stages of a church building project.

If you sit in at a group of our church, you will hear little digs about unicorns, late-night Wal-mart trips and prank call to a sleeping pastor.   You might also hear about a little boy escaping Jr. Church just so he can give his pastor daddy a hug.   You will hear stories about a pastor with a black eye, cut and sewn up fingers and a Knee and a chainsaw.   You will also hear about a welcoming police officer wanting to know why the not yet voted in pastor was staying in the parsonage- Yes it was a joke and yes we still came.  You will also hear about that same pastor driving multiple hours in a given week to span 3 hospitals in three cities. Hours he has spent working alongside men serving with them.   What you won’t hear is him complain.  Or of the burdens he carries silently sometimes not even telling me.   You won’t hear of his fears but you will hear him share from God’s word.   He once said he would never be a worship leader HA! Look at him now! And he said he would never sing a solo!   Every ounce of him is poured out.  From sun up to sun down and even into the wee hours of the morning he pours himself into full service.   Not to please people but to bring Glory to the One who called him!

And if you look even deeper you will catch meaningful glances hugs in corners and tears as people connect on a far deeper level.  You will hear a mixed worship service where all will find a variety of worship to fill their souls….. if they let it.    You won’t find a museum of dusty old relics you will find a hospital of both hurting and healing souls searching for answers in hopefully the only place they can be found.

I’m not gonna lie.  It’s been a lot of hard work and the burden is great to see many people either grow closer to God or to meet Him as Saviour for the first time. But what’s even harder to watch those who were once so faithful turn away- for whatever reason.  Some days there are prayers of joy and some days there are prayers of great sadness and brokenness. But on most days it is a mixture of both.  There are days when we have said Lord ” why did you pick us for this?”  And there have been days when we have said: “Lord I’m so glad you have picked us for this” (Usually after we have asked the first).

As I write this I am sitting with my phone next to me waiting for a text or a call to learn some news about a BIG prayer request that has consumed much of my last 3 years as we have journeyed a difficult path with a friend.   Most of the last 10 years I can definitely say has been spent in a constant state of learning to trust, wait and be patient.   It seems as though that has been a theme for sure.  I would like to think I have made progress but on days like today, I feel more impatient than ever before.

When we moved here 10 years ago I joked that they better like us because we weren’t leaving for another 30 years.  A third of that has passed and we aren’t anywhere close to considering a move.   And I am glad because I love watching our people grow.  Through the good or the bad we have watched God work miracles and I know he is not done yet. We have counted it a blessing and still do to serve God with all our hearts, souls and minds and strength right along with you!

Happy 10-year anniversary!  WE LOVE YOU! And so glad God has brought us together.

Cricut You Made My Day- My Rewards Points Story

Cricut

Do you know what a Cricut  is?

I remember the first time I saw a Cricut..  It was 2009 and I was sitting on a hotel bed in Nashville Tennessee flipping through the channels when my inner scrapbooker landed on the Home shopping network or QVC or something.  And I was drooling!  NO JOKE.  See I have this problem.  I cannot cut things out with scissors!  they look HORRID! Well Cricut is a paper cutting machine, except since that day nearly 10 years agao it is SOOOOOO much more than that!  Fast forward about 7 years I had what is called a Cuttlebug made by the same company and it was a compact die cutting machine and I used that baby all the time (still do) and I was hunting for some dies for it . (they were getting harder and harder to find in stores so I took to Craigslist.

A sweet older woman I called said she was getting rid of all of her scrapbooking supplies and she was willing to sell them for all one price or individually.   So we took a drive.   When we arrived to this woman small suburban home I was in awe when I walked in her front door to a room filled with everything imaginable  papercrfating wise.  there were about 20 scrapbooks, paper to last a lifetime a HUGE friskers case, stamps, punches ink, .  You name it it was there, EXCEPT all the cuttlebug dies had been sold.  I have to admit I was kinda frustrated.   she looked at me and said I bought all of this brand new hoping to start a new hobby but I just never had time.  I will give it all to you for $200. My jaw hit the floor.  Hubby walked in as I am stammering like a fool.

What’s wrong? he said.

I explained

we talked about it it was too good to be true.

we decided to go for it as she said “don’t forget the Cricut. I nearly died. Never in my wildest dreams.  I got home and lugged everything upstairs.  I began to calculate and realized there was well over $1000+  in product I was floored and severely overwhelmed.  I quickly realized though that I couldn’t keep everything so I sorted and shared the blessing with others.

The downside with the Cricut was that I needed cartridges.  So I started collecting the ones I wanted that were on sale.   and the cool thing was that these image holding cartridges came with rewards points.  So I set up the account and started collecting them. 90 points here, 50 points there.  Yesterday I found a rogue  coupon from a cartridge soI hopped online to enter the code and collect yet another 50 points.

A few years ago I outgrew my Cricut I had ad hubby surprised me with one for Christmas…no cartridges needed.   you just upload your images you already had to design space and viola !

Well when I tried to get on the webpage it said there was an error, no sweat this has happened before! So I just called in.  Only to be told that Cricut rewards was no more.  I had not seen the email of this impeding shutdown.  I must admit I was kinda bummed because I felt like I had waster all those points (I estimated to the lady on the phone that I thought I had between 500-800 Points). She told me that they were honoring points on a case by case basis so she sent out a help ticket for me and that I would hear from her in the next 24-48 hours.

This evening I checked email and sure enough there was an email from the very mice lady who had helped me on the phone.  It said that I actually had 1,350 points which was enough points to give me Premium access for a YEAR!   That’s huge deal!  That is all the images on design space.  I have complete access to them for an entire year!

They didn’t have to do that.  I was late to figure out that they were closing the rewards program and yet they still  did.  I have loved working with this company on so many levels!  they fix their problems and they call or email prompt.

Last year I was working on a project and I bought a digital cartridge.  It was supposed to have 38 images but I could only access 12 of them.   I called them and I’m pretty sure the same very mice lady listened to my problem and then fixed it! and she called me back late the next day just to tell me it was all better!

What customer service!

Compromised Immune System-An Autistic Life

immune

It’s not often anymore that I write about what it means to have a kid with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). It’s been our normal for the last 5 years (it’s actually been our normal Since the boy’s birth- but we have only known for about 5 years – he’s 10 1/2).  For the last four or so years he’s been on a regimen of supplements, not medications. And they have been awesome.  they have worked wonders for the boy. We work closely with his pediatrician and we monitor everything closely.  Now I’m sharing all of this not to get into debates or anything and I will not be sharing the supplements because I am not a doctor.  That’s not really the point of this blog post.

Immune System Attacked

The last six weeks however have been nothing short of a crazy roller coaster ride.  He has been to see medical professionals 6 times in 6 weeks.  That is not normal.   Six weeks ago he came down with a stomach bug, which is rare.  But when he gets a stomach bug he has to go off his supplements which are used to build up his gut health.  The supplements can be irritating on an empty stomach SOOOOO as you might imagine it does not help with the stomach bug.  Well 5 days came and went.  He was getting better and resumed his normal diet over that weekend, but by Monday night he was back to complaining about severe stomach pain, and before bed he tossed his cookies again.  He had  a doctor’s appointment where the doctor determined he had basically stripped the good bacteria from his digestive tract so he was put on a strict diet and had to take probiotics for about a week.  We slowly eased him back onto dairyBut he still could not handle the daily supplements. He went back to school that week there were conversations over the phone with his doctor.

That weekend James was away at his weekend respite.  We picked him up Sunday before church.  He was fine but he had a cough.  By Monday night I had 3 (yes three ) men  in my house who came down with Strep , by Wednesday that would become 4 men.  Bring on 4 rounds of antibiotics.  he finished his antibiotic and all of a sudden we are back to a stomach ache, and a cough that sounds like he has been a chain smoker for 50 years.   Monday morning he went back to the doctor.  Is it still the strep?  Why does he have extreme stomach Pain? (and other tummy issues).   The doctor examines him.  no strep. Post nasal drip. and the stomach thing- she believes it is a bad  yeast overgrowth in his GI tract. And yet a different probiotic was suggested with very strict rules about what to look for if issues should arise.  And a decongestant.

After just one dose of the decongestant I could see a difference.  He had three doses before school the next day and he left feeling better.  However when he walked in from school it was a different story.  He had blood pouring fro his nose AND his mouth.  I had never seen so much blood and I must confess I was freaking out. Because pinching his nose was not working.  I called the doctor.  The gave us instructions about what to look for in a GI Bleed and  said if it happened again to cal the after hours emergency number.  Well at 7 pm on the dot he was standing next to me while I plated their dinner.  He looked at me and said Oh no it’s happening again. I grabbed the phone and called after hours FOUR times and couldn’t get through so I finally called my hubby home and he took him to the ER.  Finally when he was almost home I got through . I explained the situation and they said theat someone would call me in 15-20 minutes. Hubby got home and took the boy.  45 minutes after I made the call a nurse called me back.  I was a train wreck.  I know that nosebleeds that don’t stop ad bleeding out the mouth are horrible things.  Through all of this emails went out to our church family.  People were praying and he gave us quite the scare.

Laughter and Blessings

In the midst of all of this I got a text message from a young mom in our church who was shaken by the whole thin. g She kept me company (via text messages ) for hours.  Her little one was sick too but her momma heart ached for us and our boy.  You see this boy has a very special relationship with many people in our church.  He was just a little over a year old when we moved here and our church has walked with through some pretty tough stuff since then.  Through all of this she made me laugh.  Which was much needed. Let’s just say that we discussed the finer parts of being sweaty…LOL.

Well finally the boy and his papa came home.  Upper nosebleeds with some ulcers.  I decided no decongestant for bedtime.  His nose did not bleed at all at night.  GI bleeds were ruled out though we still were instructed to watch for them due to the other issues.  In the end we discovered that the decongestant suggested by the doctor is what made  these nosebleeds so bad.  We went back to his normal dose.  he still has a cough..not as bad but it is still there and he is doing so much better.  AND he has been on his regular  supplements for 4 days!

We knew the boy has a compromised immune system, but we have never experienced anything like the last 6 weeks. We have dealt with other strange things like a crazy case of athlete’s foot and psoriasis.  Yeah I know !!!! His little body is just susceptible to anything and everything.  We have tried our best to keep him healthy. So when He was finally feeling better by mid-week we knew that he was going to be able to attend the concert we had planned on going to .  You see the boy is a huge fan of the NEWSBOYS.  and I must confess it was great to see him do his crazy dancing, singing and smiling throughout the whole thing!  It was even great to see him dance with Phil Joel after the concert

But that smile says it all. He was in his element because singing and dancing I am sure is his love language.   When he was first diagnosed a lot of wonderful people said “oh he will grow out of it”  Well he hasn’t grown out of it. And to be completely honest it keeps us on our toes (and our knees). God keeps working some very amazing things through this kiddo.  His heart to serve the Lord is a blessing to those who know and love him.  We hope and pray he will always embrace who he is and love people so unconditionally!

I know our journey isn’t over and I have no idea what lies ahead but I refuse to think about it.  I cannot spend my life and his thinking about the what-ifs.  I need to trust that God has his best interest in mind.  And in the midst of it all we will enjoy each and  every moment (MOSTLY LOL). Those who know about the  6 foot high fence and the window and door alarms know what I’m talking about!

So yes one of the many aspects of  an autistic life is a compromised immune system.