Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Live by faith...

 22 years ago today a baby was born who would grow into a beautiful young woman. This woman is my daughter Abigail (Abby). Her name means source of joy and she has been just that in our lives. She has had quite the amazing year; click here, here, here and here to read about some of the events in her life. I have asked Abby to write the rest of the entry for her birthday. I wanted you to hear from her just how she is doing and how God is working. Happy 22nd Birthday Abby!!

    Last year for my birthday my fiancé (who is now my husband) got me a necklace that is a cross made of sterling silver, with the outline of a gold heart with a small diamond in the middle. I immediately fell in love with it because it was beautiful and simple and because it came from the man I love. After I took off the necklace that night I noticed there were words inscribed on the back. It was the simple phrase “Live by faith, one day at at time.” This made me love the necklace even more but at the time I had no idea how much that simple phrase would come into play over the next year.
      As I sit here and write this I think back on the 21st year of my life. This past year of my life was quite eventful. There were so many changes, some wonderful, others more challenging but in the midst of the changes God has brought me back to the simple phrase that is on the back of my cross necklace. In the midst of a stressful year of school, during wedding planning, while spending time in Haiti this summer, working through the challenges of being newly weds, in all of it God has brought be back to the phrase, “Live by faith, one day at a time.” This has become increasingly more difficult but essential the past few months.
      On October 16th we found out that after 11 weeks and 5 days of pregnancy, our baby was not alive anymore. We would not be meeting our child on this side of heaven. To be honest, this was devastating to me. My husband and I decided to name our child Faith which fits perfectly because losing Faith has truly tested me trust and faith in God. I hate that as I write this she is not still growing inside me. I hate that I will never get to meet her on earth. I hate that her Dad never got to see her or know her. But I rest in knowing that she is spending this Christmas in heaven with Jesus. And although it hurts more than I can say in words, I still choose to live by faith, one day at a time.
      I never thought that on my 22nd birthday I would be where I am at. I never would have imagined this past year unfolding how it did. To be honest I haven't always felt like trusting God. And there have been times that I have been quite angry with Him. But something my husband said really encouraged me. He said that we don't always feel like loving God but we still choose to because we have made a commitment to him. He then compared it to marriage. We don't always feel the most loving towards our spouse but we still choose to love them because of the commitment we have made to them. That pretty much explains how my relationship with God has been. I have not felt the most loving feelings towards Him, but I know that regardless of how I feel, I will still choose to love Him and choose to trust Him because He is God and I know He is good. There have been many moments filled with tears and heartache but God has been there in the midst of it all. I know that he is slowly healing my heart. I'm not there yet, but I just continue to live by faith, one day at a time.

This a song that has meant a lot to Abby and Josh this year.

On The Things I Ponder Facebook page is the song Abby wrote for Faith. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Five Minute Friday...Reflect

Lisa Jo takes most of December off of Five Minute Friday, so I figured I better participate one more time in 2013! Today's word is REFLECT.

2013 is coming to a rapid conclusion. I have been spending time trying to figure out what to put in our annual Christmas letter. It is a good time to look back on the year and reflect. Its amazing how life can seem uneventful day after day, but when you look back at an entire year there is so much that happened.

We have had our share of joys and sorrows, good days and bad, there has been laughter and tears, good news and bad news. In the midst of it all, God was and is at work in our lives. He was orchestrating blessings all around and He has been holding us tightly through grief and heart ache. He was with us in each season.

The past year has been a year of growth and testing. God continues to mold and shape me into the woman of God he longs for me to be. Sometimes that molding can be painful, but I trust Him. I trust that He is doing a good work in me!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How not to act like a smartphone...

The smartphone is a both a blessing and a curse in my life! There is one little feature that loves to wreak havoc...the auto correct feature. I am sure we have all been made to look foolish by the random auto-correct incident. Most often they are funny and give my children great amusement. My husband's phone seems to enjoy changing his intended words quite often. Poor guy, it just seems like his phone likes to interpret what he is saying. One such example was in a recent prayer request for our son. What he meant to say was please pray from my son...what his phone thought he said was please pry for my sin. Sometimes I wonder how in the world our phones come up with the words they do. There is a town we go through quite often, the town is Grygla but whenever we try to text it, our phones change it to Frugal..not even close!

I have really been pondering this today, this tendency to auto-correct. We all have it, not just our phones. We feel like we have the ability to fix other people, just like our phones, we see someone who is grieving and we try to fix them.

We don't like to see someone struggling, it makes us uncomfortable, so we offer advice on how to make the pain go away. Most times our attempts are as helpful as my phone telling my husband I am in Frugal. It doesn't help and can even frustrate.

More often than not our intentions are good, we only want to help. May I suggest a simple solution to approaching someone who is struggling. Before speaking, stop and pray, ask God what should I say? Usually the less you say the better. Most people who are going through a valley, just want to know someone cares. They don't want solutions, they want support. If you have been through the same struggle, let them know and offer help if they need it. Once you make the offer, wait and let them approach you.

My Play and Pray mom's group is reading through a great book, Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas. This week as I was preparing for our time together I ran across a paragraph that addressed this very issue.
 For good reason Paul tells the Romans to "mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15). He's saying, "don't offer easy answers; don't try to rid yourself of the burden of being around a grieving person by trying to make them forget it or to 'get over it.' All of that is self-centered religion. Instead, mourn with them. Take time to cry, to hurt, even to be angry-but don't lose faith. (page 112, Sacred Parenting).

Auto-correcting is a feature that should only be used on a smartphone. We do not need to be "helping" people get it right. When you see someone who is grieving, don't feel the need to fix them. We need to accept them where they are, we need to be available and we need to pray for them!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Five Minute Friday....My favorite place...

Today is Five Minute Friday. Five minutes...one word...no editing...lots of fun. The word for today is TOGETHER.


It hangs on my family room wall. I don't have to look at it to know what it says, because what it says is the song of my heart for this man. Together is our favorite place to be. Of anywhere I could choose to be at any given moment, together with my man is where I would chose.

As the years have clipped by and as our relationship has matured, beside him remains my favorite place. It is ironic that as I write this he is out of town. I look over beside me and his spot is empty. We are not physically together, but yet we are together. God does an amazing thing in marriage, two become one. This man and I are together, we are one. We don't need to be in the same room to enjoy that oneness. So for now, I will look at my wall hanging (which he bought for me) and smile because we are walking this life side by side and that is my favorite place to be...next to Brian walking the path God is leading us down.

you can't avoid the trench...

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds...
James 1:2

Notice what this verse says about trials, it does not say IF you meet trials, it says WHEN. Trials are a part of life, they are not a fun part of life, but they are a part of it.

I have been thinking about trials quite a bit. I spent several hours alone in my car this past weekend and as a result I had lots of thinking time. As I was pondering trials, God gave me a word picture from an unlikely source...Finding Nemo. The majority of the movie deals with the trial of Nemo's dad trying to find Nemo (hence the name). Just as Nemo's dad and his new found friend Dory set out to swim to Sydney, Dori is given some advice about how to navigate the way. She is told NOT to swim above the trench, but rather to swim through it. 

The easy way appears to be avoiding the trench completely and swimming closer to the surface. Marlin and Dory soon find out that there are some major obstacles in the "easy way". There is not just one baby jellyfish waiting to sting them, there are thousands of them. They discover that there not an easy way out and it would have been best for them to keep swimming through the trench. 

As life throws trials at us, we need to remember this scene. We are tempted to look for the "easy way" out of trials, we want to skip some of the steps of grief, we ignore the pain, or we try to fill our emptiness with something else. Avoiding the trench will only cause pain of a different kind, that trench could very well be the only way to find growth. 

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
 I Peter 5:10

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
 John 16:33

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12 

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 
James 1:12

Trials are tough, they are something we will all face in our lives. God knows it is hard, that is why He has promised to walk with us. He will give us the strength to walk through them and He has given us assurance that we will get through them! The Bible is full of God's promises to us. 

If you are in the midst of a trial right now, cry out to Jesus. Tell Him its hard, ask Him to help you, rest in His arms. Don't look for the easy way out, look to Jesus to carry you through. I don't promise it will be easy; but He will be there every step of the way!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some random things I learned at Women of Faith this year....

Last weekend I was able to attend Women of Faith. It was an awesome time connecting with God. It was an awesome time connecting with 10,000 of my closest female friends! After two days, I managed to pick up some things that I believe will be of value to you.

*When you get there early, you have plenty of room to shop and relax in your seat, because once everyone shows up your personal space is limited.  
If you are a late person, this is what it looks like when you arrive as the gates open.

*Patsy Clairmont was speaking and casually mentioned something she had shared in an interview on marriage. Basically if you and your husband are fighting, the best way to neutralize it is to get naked. (Let me know if it works!)

*Anita Renfroe is hilarious and says it like it is. Ladies as you get older and have a hard time losing weight, she says if you can't lose it decorate it. So go out and buy some tops with bling on them!

*If you buy a smoothie as a way of avoiding the mini donuts, be sure and get the smoothie size with a lid. If you don't and you put it in your cup holder chances are high that the girl with super long hair in front of you is going to get her hair in that $10 smoothie!

Smoothie before the whole hair incident!

*If you aren't touchy feely this is not the place for you. Before the first speaker even hit the stage we had held hands, hugged, and massaged the ladies next to us, whether we knew them or not!

*When leaving and you tuck your phone in your sweater pocket...be careful. Sometimes those sweaters like to hang down and get shut in your car door...taking your phone out of commission at the same time. This is important to remember if your phone is your GPS and only source of finding your hotel in the dark!

*It is possible to attend this event and not text, facebook, instagram, or check the time every five minutes. In fact believe it or not, it makes it easier to actually pay attention!

*Odds are great that you will lock yourself out of your hotel room...in a swimming suit and a wedding party will arrive just as you reach the front desk in this swimming suit! Good thing I got a cute suit...one that decorates what I can't lose!!

*If you go to Women of Faith or any conference with the right attitude, God can and will work on your heart through the worship, the speakers, the ladies you sit by, random people you meet from Canada, you name it and God can use it! He will comfort a hurting heart, He will give you the gift of laughter, you will get hugs when you need them most, tears will fall and nobody will stare at you, He will challenge you to grow and to step outside your comfort zone.

*If you are unable to attend Women of Faith, God can and will still show up in your daily life! He's just that awesome! So let Him in!!!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sweet Faith


Mat Kearney has a song called Closer to Love. It's a great song, one of those that I turn up and sing along to in the car. However, I don't know how much I really thought about the lyrics until last Wednesday. There is a line in the song that says I guess, we're all one phone call from our knees. On that Wednesday my sweet Abby texted me that she was going to the doctor, something wasn't quite right with the pregnancy. In that moment, I truly dropped to my knees.

When our children are little, it is so much easier to help them with their problems. Sometimes all they need is for their boo boo to be kissed and all is well. This was not one of those times, I couldn't fix this problem with a kiss or a hug. All I could do in that moment was pray and be thankful for the strong faith my daughter and son-in-law possess.

This is what Abby posted on Facebook a few days later. Her words best describe all that happened last week.

Throughout the past year “live by faith, one day at a time” is a phrase that God has continually brought me back to in the midst of all the changes. This was true for Josh and I this past week. On Wednesday we found out that we aren’t going to be meeting our baby on this side of heaven. It hurts more than words can say but Josh and I continue to live by faith and trust God in the midst of this loss. While we didn’t find out the gender of our baby we both felt as though it was a girl. We decided to name her Faith to remind us of the truth that we don’t understand this at all but we will continue to “live by faith, one day at a time.” We ask you to pray for us as we grieve the loss of our baby Faith. Our hearts are hurting but we rest in knowing that she is safe in the arms of her Heavenly Father and look forward to meeting her in heaven.

Please keep these two in your prayers as they both work through their grief
 and live faith one day at a time.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Scripture and a Snapshot

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.  
 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Saturday, October 12, 2013

39,484,800 seconds...but who's counting??

39,484,800 seconds
658,080 minutes
10,968 hours
457 days  
1 year, 3 months

Time flies when you are having fun! It is so hard to believe that Brian and I have lived in Minnesota for 15 months. In the past week I have been reflecting a lot on our time here in Roseau. I love how God works, and it is so fun pausing to reflect on how He is in fact working. 

July of 2012 was such a month of ups and downs. We knew without a doubt that we were moving exactly where God wanted us. This knowledge might have helped take some of the sting out of the goodbyes we face, but they were still hard. Iowa was our home, we had deep roots there and pulling them up hurt. 

I looked ahead to our move with some excitement and some anticipation. What did God have in store for me? My life was changing in so many ways, I felt at times my identity was being attacked. No longer would I have the exact same ministry, no longer would the same faces greet me at church, no longer would I be homeschooling a child (empty nest came at the same time as the move), no longer would I be wearing red and black and cheering on the Bulldogs, and no longer would any of my children be on the court for me to cheer on. It was just a lot of change. 

Thankfully God and I had spent lots of time together before the move. He and I talked through some of this change. I knew going in that there would be some tough times, I knew that there would be tears. That did help some as I plunged ahead into a tough year. 

 Before I continue, you need to know that the year also had many, many highlights. We had a wedding, two announcements of grandbabies, our son transferred up north to go to school, Brian and I celebrated 25 years of marriage, our new church family has truly become our family and there are  more things than I can even mention. 

The tough part was more internal, more heart issues that God and I had to work through. I needed time to grieve what I left behind. I intentional said to no to opportunities that I would have jumped on before. I saw this move as God's way of changing my ministry focus. I saw this new town and new church as a way to discover if God wanted something different from me. I did however say yes to a few ministry opportunities, but only after much prayer. I am so glad I did! It turns out those two little yes answers are changing my world and my focus and my heart. 

When our children were home I saw them as my main ministry. I invested in them with gusto. We only have our kids for a such short time that I wanted them to be prepared for life after high school. During that time my ministry focus outside the home was techy type stuff, I LOVED what I did. Being an introvert, I found it easy to be a behind the scenes girl. 

Now my children are grown. My ministry to them still exists, but it is not hands on. It is more prayer support, which I count as such a privilege. However, God is showing me that He still wants me to have a hands on ministry with actual people. (not just with a computer!). Enter in those two times I said yes last year, and you have my new ministry focus. The fact that this ministry leaves me refreshed and energized is how I know that God is in it, and much to my surprise some of the things that energized me in the past now drain me. (Isn't it fun how God works.)

What is this ministry that has me so excited? It is simply called Play and Pray. Young moms come to my house to pray and fellowship, their kids go to our church to play. I love the discussion times with these women, they are so authentic. God has given me a love for these young moms, and I am so excited to see how God works! I love praying with and for these woman. I count it an honor to come beside them and encourage them as they focus on their ministry of motherhood!

For 39,484,800 seconds I have been looking for my next behind the scenes ministry and God was tricky. He pulled out from behind a computer to my own living room filled with moms(and a few babies) and said here, this is what I want from you. Invest in them!! Now to pray I can do just that!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five Minute Friday...just a mom????

Today is Five Minute Friday.  One word, five minutes, no editing. Today's word is Ordinary.


There she stands in a room full of new people. She is making polite conversation and then that one question she dreads comes up. What do you do? She shifts her eyes downward and simply states, "I'm just a mom." Inside she feels inadequate, like she has nothing exciting to offer as an answer. She feels ordinary, frumpy, alone and yes even judged.

Oh mom, if that is how you feel then you are selling yourself way too short. You are not just a mom. You are the original superhero!You amaze your kids with your knowledge, to them you are 10 feet tall. The task of childbirth alone is a Herculean feat...and that is just the beginning. You are in charge of the next generation. God has entrusted you with these precious little faces. He doesn't see you as ordinary, He sees you as special! I could list all the chores and activities you do in a day, but I only have 5 minutes! You are more than all those chores anyway, you are on the front-lines, so much of what you do for your kids can't be measured anyway. No you are not just a mom...you are blessed, you are extraordinary!!!!

"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."  
Proverbs 31:29

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Let us be more diligent...

I feel like by now I have gotten to know my readers pretty well. I would say the majority of you own a Bible, or two or ten. In fact, I would imagine the idea of not having a Bible is hard to conceive. I mean they are in most every hotel, every bookstore, every church, and most of our bookcases. A few years ago I published a picture of some of the Bibles that reside in my home, this picture doesn't even represent all of them, at last count we had at least 30 Bibles! And in the past year both my husband and I have purchased at least 3 or 4 more. Amazing isn't it!

This past weekend our church had a mission's conference. One of our speakers was a young woman getting ready to out with Wycliffe Bible Translators. She presented some facts that blew my mind. There are around 7000 different languages spoken in the world today. Of those 7000, there are approximately 2000 languages that have no scripture at all...not even one verse. Imagine, all those people who have never heard the amazing truth contained in the Bible.

This list represents all the languages that do not have the Bible. Went the whole length of our church.

This is why we need to be diligent. We need to pray. We need to first of all ask God to send more workers to translate the Bible for these people; perhaps God will reveal to you that you are called to go! Perhaps God isn't calling you to go, but instead to give of your resources to help those that are called to go, if so then give! We need to pray that God's word will get into the hands of all people, all nations and all languages. If not us...then who???

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
Revelation 7:9

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pastor Appreciation Month

I love getting to see how things work behind the scenes. That kind of thing just intrigues me. I love going on factory tours, we just visited Mt Rushmore yet again and I'm still fascinated with how that thing was built; I just can't get enough of understanding how things work. So, its kind of fun that I get to see behind the scenes in the life of a pastor everyday! Seeing how my husband operates is an endeavor that leaves me baffled, fascinated, amused, appreciative, and most importantly in prayer for him.

Brian has gotten all sorts of questions related to what does a pastor really do. There are lots of people who think Sunday morning is the only hour he works. There are people who see that his hands are not calloused and think he doesn't really work. There are people who think his life must be perfect because he is a pastor. I can assure that he does in fact work more than one hour a week, he isn't afraid of hard work, and as much as I love him I will admit that he is not perfect.

Over the years he has had many side jobs to help support his family. He has worked the midnight shift at UPS and Walmart, he's delivered papers, he's cleaned toilets, he has shoveled snow, and the list could go on. He is not afraid of hard work and getting dirty. Not everyone knew he had these extra jobs, but I did and they made it possible for me to stay home and love on our children! 

My husband has been gifted with a heart for people, he loves being around them, he loves serving them, and he loves talking with them. He is a very gifted man who I am sure could have excelled in any profession he pursued, but I honestly can't imagine him in any other role. He did not pursue the pastorate, God pursued him and he simply answered the call!

So, behind the scenes Brian is an ordinary man. He goes to the office everyday not knowing just what God is going to put before him. There are days he spends much of his time just being with people, there are days he spends much of him time planning and dreaming, there days he spends much of his time studying the Bible and seeking God's direction, and just like all of us there are days that don't go so well. Basically he's an ordinary man who is available and what a joy it has been to watch God use him in extraordinary ways.

Brian, in case I don't say this enough(and I know I don't)...I APPRECIATE YOU!!!!

My man in action...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five Minute Friday....How does she do it??

Today is Five Minute Friday. One word...five minutes...no editing! Today's word is SHE...


Sometime she really bugs me. I mean I read about her and feel as though I fall short. How could I ever be like her? I am talking about the Proverbs 31 woman of course. She seems to have it all together. She wakes up early, she sews, she cooks, she's wise, her children adore her and she is always nice to her husband. I just feel like I fall short of being her.

Then I realize I don't have to be her; I have to be me. To me the most important part of this Proverbs 31 woman is found in verse 30...but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. This woman does all she does for the Lord; that is the key. When I try to be just like this woman, I fail. When I seek the Lord and am close to Him, He will direct my steps and He will turn me into my own version of the Proverbs 31 woman. 

 I do not rise up while it is dark to provide food for my family...the sun is well in the sky most every day when I wake up. I have never considered a field nor have I bought one. I thought I was going to make all my kid's clothes at one point...until one of kids turned out to be terrified of the sewing machine!

My children are older and I can say that at times they have called me blessed and my husband has praised me as well. What a gift that is!! I am far from perfect, but as I raised my children I was very aware that I was not doing it alone. So don't be discouraged by that Proverbs 31 woman or any other woman...look to Lord...trust Him...lean on Him..and you will be a Proverbs 31 woman!!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Life is full of surprises...

 My daughter Abby always said when she found the right guy things would move fast. She was right about that! Josh called  my husband within 10 days of their first date wondering how soon he could propose. Brian suggested that 90 days would be a good amount of time. We spent that time in prayer and God confirmed that he was the one for her. They were engaged three months after their first date.

This past Sunday these newlyweds celebrated 90 days of marriage and also made a fun announcement on Facebook:

 That's right, another one of our babies is going to have a baby! We just got used to the idea of being grandparents and by next May we will have two grand-babies!!! Needless to say we are thrilled. 

God is good...all the time!!!!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Five Minute Friday...Red is the color...

Today is Five Minute Friday. One word, five minutes, no editing. Today's word is RED....


When my girls were little they had a song they loved to sing...it went like this...

Red is the color of my favorite rose.
Green is the color of the grass that grows.
Yellow is the color of the sun that shines.
Way up high in the blue blue sky.
Jesus, you sure know how to color.
Jesus, you sure know how to color.
Color my life with love.

They loved this song, they loved expressing their child-like faith with much enthusiasm.

Today I find myself thinking back to those precious days. Twenty years ago, our oldest daughter became a Christian. She was young and in the back our minds we wondered if she was old enough to understand exactly what being a Christian meant. At her age, she knew she loved Jesus and so the decision was easy for her. She began her life as a Christian praying for her little sister to become a Christian. Just over one year later, our Ashley led her sister Abby to the Lord! That just amazes me. To both of them it seemed so easy, they loved Jesus, so of course they wanted to serve Him and please Him.

Today both of these girls are now young women who still love Jesus. What a joy it is to watch these young women grow in their faith. Jesus has certainly colored their life with love!!!!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

No matter how small...

After a bit of a blogging break, I am back today with Five Minute Friday. The rules are easy; one word...five minutes...no editing. Today's word is Small.


It was a simple text really, only four words long."Here is your grandbaby!" Along with those words my daughter included a picture of her 20 week ultrasound. I have honestly never seen a more beautiful picture in my life. That picture turned my heart to mush and my eyes began to leak. I fell in love with that little face instantly.

This reminds me of my favorite Dr. Seuss quote. A person's a person not matter how small. This little one waving at us in his/her ultrasound picture is a person, a person that I already love so much.

How could a baby I haven't even met yet, cause such profound feelings of love? This little one is truly a little one right now, yet my love for him/her is huge. I have been thinking a lot about Psalm 139,(my favorite Psalm) how God sees us when we are hidden. He doesn't need an ultrasound to see that little baby. He has seen it since it was conceived, He loved it before any of us even knew there was a baby growing there. My prayer for this little one is that he/she will one day understand just how much God loves him/her!

Can't wait to meet you little one...I have so much to tell you...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

19 already?

Happy Birthday Caleb!!!

Happy 19th birthday Caleb! It is hard to believe that 19 years ago, you entered this world at a whopping 10 1/2 pounds. You have been growing ever since then, both physically and spiritually. You now stand close to 6'4" and tower over your dad and I! This past year has been a huge year of growth for you. You started college thinking you were going to be a Forensic Chemist and God gave you a change of course. In a month you will be at a new college following God's call to ministry. I am so excited to have a front row seat to your life to see all that God has in store for you! As long as you keep your eyes on Him, He will direct your path!! I love you son!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

25 years!!!!

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; 
I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Genesis 2:18

I am so glad God created marriage!! I am also so glad God put Brian and I together to be husband and wife. I seriously can't imagine life without him. God allowed me to marry my best friend and our life has been a pretty amazing adventure. Today marks 25 years of marriage, those years have truly flown by. It still feels like yesterday that I walked down that aisle towards him; I can still remember the butterflies I had that day. 

So much has happened in the past 25 years; we now have three grown children, two amazing sons-in-law, and  a grandchild on the way. We have had our share of tears, heartache, and disappointments; but those have only made us stronger. All of our experiences, both good and bad, have shaped us into the couple we are today. We are not perfect by any means, but God knew we were perfect for each other. As we begin our next 25 years, I find my self still experiencing those same butterflies. My love for this man is stronger than it has ever been and I am excited to see all that God has in store for us! The adventure continues....

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Scripture and A Snapsot...rejoice...

May we always feel the joy of the Lord...like that of a couple on their wedding day! 
As I go to worship this morning, I go with a heart ready to rejoice in the Lord!!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Two down...one to go...

One week ago today, our daughter Abby married Josh. It was a very special day, filled with so much joy, lots of smiles and some tears mixed in as well. Abby glowed the whole day...it was a day she had prayed for...the day she became Josh's wife.

My heart is full as I think of the day and how special it was. The wedding was outside on a lake in Wisconsin. Thankfully the rain held off until after the wedding, we of course were a bit nervous as we could hear thunder during the wedding! (We had an emergency umbrella up front for the bride and groom...just in case!). 

My husband performed the ceremony, I have no idea how he was able to that for a second daughter! He did a great job and made the day even more special. His object lesson for them was a violin. He told Josh how valuable a Stradivarius violin is; he then told him that Abby is far more valuable than that. He gave them a bow from a violin keep in their home as a reminder of that and he attached his four main points to the bow as well. The four points all start with the letter L which is the first letter of Josh and Abby's last name.

Lord...God is to be number one 
Love...next is their love to each other
 Legacy...as they raise their children they would leave a Godly legacy
Labor...that they would work for the Lord and follow His calling

The day began with prayer, the bride and groom were prayer over individually before the wedding, they were prayed over during the wedding and for us the day ended with prayer. I know Brian and I will continue to pray for them; as will Josh's family. God has big plans for these two and I feel privileged to get to uphold them in prayer!

In just a short time Abby and Josh will be having their first big adventure as husband and wife. They will be spending five weeks this summer in Haiti at an orphanage called The Ruuska Village. What an amazing opportunity for a married couple to get to spend the first summer of marriage serving God! I am excited to watch all the plans God has for these two unfold!

Following is a slide show of pictures from that day. The song playing is the song Abby walked down the aisle to; it is Beloved by Tenth Avenue North.

This video is the surprise dance that Josh and Abby did at the reception.

This is the back or our car...it got decorated at the wedding as well! Watch out Caleb!!!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lenny made me cry...

I knew it was bound to happen. I didn't know for sure when or what would trigger it; but I knew tears were inevitable today. I wondered if it would be when she carried her last suitcase out of her room or when the number of the countdown changed from 7 to 6. The thing that triggered them was not anything I expected. Lenny made me cry!

Who is Lenny you might ask? Lenny has been Abby's companion for more than 10 years, he came to her one year for Valentine's Day. Lenny has been almost everywhere Abby has traveled, he is looking well loved from years of attention. Abby left today to prepare for her wedding and this is one event Lenny will be missing. He is sitting on her bed...alone.

Both Brian and I realized the significance of this event. Seeing this simple stuffed animal left behind put tears in both of our eyes. We know how much she has loved Lenny, this seemingly small event is truly big, it is our little girl's way of showing she is grown up. She is ready for this new adventure...marriage!

She may be leaving some of the things of her childhood behind, but thankfully the one thing we prayed the most for her is going with her. Abby's faith is rock solid, Jesus is truly her number one love!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Letter to Newly Engaged Women...

In just 11 days my daughter Abby and her fiance' will be getting married. Lots of exciting things going on in my world. Today I am sharing a letter Abby wrote to any woman who is seriously thinking about marriage.

Engagement is an interesting thing, especially for the Christian woman. In my own experience I have found that everyone is eager to ask you a million and one questions about wedding plans, flowers, dresses, décor, and honeymoon location, but rarely does anyone ask how about anything deeper. People typically don’t ask about how you are doing with sticking to physical boundaries, if you are maintaining a healthy spiritual life in the midst of all the stress, or how to be praying for you as a couple. As I have ventured through my own engagement I figured it was time for someone to actually be honest about it all. Being engaged is a unique time of life and it truly is wonderful, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that it is also an extremely challenging time of life. Engagement is a season that you never fully understand until you are in the midst of it. I feel like there are some things dating and newly engaged couples would benefit from knowing as they are things that I wish I would have known that I would like to share with you.

1)    The spiritual battle intensifies. Satan’s goal is to steal kill and destroy. He will do what he can to attack Christian couples at their weakest points. This is not to scare anyone or make things over-spiritualized but we are in a battle and marriage is a high calling in life. When God brings together two people that desire to have a Christ-centered marriage and family, Satan is not going to sit idly by and let that just happen. Throughout my engagement my fiancé reminded me that the spiritual opposition that we faced was somewhat of a confirmation that we were doing things right. Although that might sound strange it is true.

2)      Prayer! The only way to deal with the spiritual opposition and the stress that you face in engagement is by bringing everything to the Lord in prayer.  My fiancé and I prayed about a lot of things because it was a very stressful time for us especially for me. We would pray on the phone together when we were apart, times when we were stressed and overwhelmed by wedding planning, and even before we went to create our wedding registry. Prayer got us through. Dedicate your fiancé, your relationship, and all the wedding planning details to the Lord and trust Him with everything, big and small.
3)      Wedding planning isn’t as important as marriage preparation. There will be so many wedding details and it is exciting and fun to plan, but don’t get so caught up in the wedding planning that you forget to prepare for your marriage. It is important to have balance. Wedding planning is important but be sure to set aside time to just be together and have fun and not talk only about wedding plans. Depending on your personality it can be very stressful to plan such a big event. However, watching wedding shows, while they are fun and entertaining, aren’t actually helpful or practical for the average bride. I found that if you’re not careful wedding shows and such actually can create discontentment. Make the day ultimately about praising God for what He has done in bringing two lives together. The centerpieces and bouquets will be forgotten quickly but the vows made that day will last for the rest of your life! Enjoy the planning and decorating but don’t get so caught up in decorating that you forget the purpose of the whole wedding day. Let it be a day of worship and praise to God. Marriage is made to glorify God! Keep Him as the focus of all the planning.

4)      Physical temptations increase. Accountability is essential. But God’s grace is sufficient.
 For Christian couples the engagement is difficult because the physical desires grow stronger as the wedding day draws closer. People told me that but I didn’t fully understand that until my wedding day got closer. It can be easier to compromise in little ways and push the boundaries. Establishing clear physical boundaries is very important and then sticking to them is even more important. This is not easy by any means, but God’s grace is sufficient. You may mess up but don’t beat yourself up. This is another big area where Satan desires to make you fall but don’t let him have that satisfaction. If you push the boundaries a bit too far communicate and talk about things with your significant other, pray about this part of your relationship and find people to keep you accountable. I wanted to be able to walk down the aisle in a white dress, proud of what I had done and knowing I had made my Heavenly Father proud. Keep eternal focus in this and remember that love truly is patient and waiting until your wedding night will definitely be worth it! 

5)      ENJOY!! The thing to remember is that you will only be engaged once (hopefully!). Make the most of this time. Enjoy being engaged. Enjoy the last few months before you are married and use it as time to prepare your heart for marriage. Continue investing in people. Continue daily spending time in God’s presence. Remember that it is only by His grace that you two were brought together to this point. The same God who brought you together in His perfect timing will sustain you through your engagement. Trust Him. Believe it to be true. As a woman, so many new emotions come up in the engagement time. There will be tears of frustration, joy, and stress but that’s ok. God is more than enough for these times. Don’t let all the stress that comes with engagement rob you of the joy that God desires for you. Yes, there will be stressful days but keep the end goal in mind. You are getting married. God has called you and your fiancé to be part of the closest picture that there is on earth to the relationship between Christ and the Church. That is a high calling and let the engagement be a time that you enjoy to the fullest as God intended.

“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that they may have life and have it to the full!” John 10:10

Monday, June 3, 2013

Thankful for the little things...

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well. 
 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:13-16 
 This is one of my favorite portions of scripture. It speaks so beautifully about life and who the creator of life is. With God there are no accidents, before our mothers even know we are there, God is knitting us together beautifully.
Today I am praising God for the work He is doing knitting together my first grandchild! This little one is just a little bit bigger than a kumquat and growing every day. What an amazing thing for my first born to be expecting her first born. Words can't even begin to describe the emotions Brian and I have been having for the past month! 
Had to look up what a kumquat looked like.
People have told us there is nothing like being a grandparent and we are excited to find out that joy come December. It is hard to imagine anything more wonderful than becoming a parent, so it is with great anticipation that we await the arrival our little kumquat!
There is no doubt in my mind about the kind of parents Ashley and Larry will be. This little baby is going to be so loved! Ashley has been ready to be a mom since kindergarten, God wired her with this desire and we are so excited that He has answered the cry of her heart. 
Stay tuned as I am sure I will be flooding my blog and facebook page with pictures soon enough! First ultrasound should be within the next month!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five Minute Friday...The Song of my Heart...

My favorite time of the week...Five Minute Friday! Since my internet has been working in five minute spurts today, I should have just enough time to complete this post! Today's word is....

This week there has been a sweet song playing over and over again...
The sounds of laughter....the sounds of joy...the sounds of togetherness...
There is the married couple...newly graduated from college...planning their future...
There is the engaged daughter talking on the phone with her fiance...
And there is the son planning for his summer job and next semester at a new school.
My empty nest is full for a short time and my heart is soaking it all in.
My dishwasher is run at least once a day...my washing machine is getting a work out...
All music to my ears...those are the sounds of family!
I know in a  month our home will once again be an empty nest...
But this song in my heart will play on...
My heart is content...my heart is in love with my Savior...
My heart is crazy about my husband...my heart is proud of my children...

This pretty much sums us all up!