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Friday, August 5, 2016

God Gets Your Question Marks


School Teacher (Happy Birthday Miss Jones, Teacher's Surprise) Canvas Giclee:
Photo Source: Pinterest


I have a funny way of thinking a lot of times, I guess. Since I am a teacher, I will read something and will think about it from a teacher point of view.

This morning, I was thinking about ideas for practicing punctuation for a 10 year old. As I sat and thought about it, I felt  God suddenly and quite unexpectedly speak to my heart. Who would've thought? It didn't exactly seem like a God moment.

I felt like God said, "I'm interested in punctuation." It certainly wasn't what I was expecting God to say. I barely care about punctuation. Well, I do really. But why would God? It wouldn't seem to make the cut in the book Things God Cares About. 

But God definitely does have an interest in punctuation when it comes to our lives, if you think about it.

A lot of times I feel like there is a big question mark over my head in regards to my daughter's health and our little boy. (Our daughter has cerebral palsy and our son has a rare genetic disorder.)

There's always been a, "Why God?" in regards to Elisa and now, Nathaniel. I think I will always have the question, "Why? Just why?" 

I don't know. I may never know. I know that God sees that giant question mark in my heart. He isn't uncaring or distant. He sees and knows. He just hasn't answered in the way I would like. But I always (at least I try) to counteract that "Why" with the words, "I trust You. I know You. You are kind and good. I don't understand at all. But I know this about You. I can trust You." 

I think I can say that God and I are close friends.  I've said before that walking this dark and uncertain road with Him has caused me to draw close to Him. I'm afraid a lot of the times, but He walks very close with me always. Sometimes I've plopped down on the side of the road and said,"I'm stopping here. You go on without me." But He always waits until I sigh and get back up again. Where else would I go? And who else could I possibly walk with?

Sometimes we put a period where there shouldn't be one at all. We may think a chapter in our lives is done and finished. But God may not want a period there. 

period is a full stop. It marks the end of a sentence. It marks the end of an idea or a thought. It marks the end of an action.
Maybe it isn't time to place a period. God may have other ideas for you. You just don't know it yet. 


Instead of a period, perhaps there should just be a comma. A comma indicates a pause.  Maybe some time just needs to pass - time brings clarity and healing. I'd like to tell you that the pause won't be for long, but I couldn't promise you that. But I can say that where there is a pause, there is hope.

But when God thinks about you, whoever you are reading this right now, He definitely thinks of you with an exclamation mark. An exclamation mark signifies intensity of emotion. God doesn't think of you and think nothing. He takes great delight in you. The way you think, the way you look, the way you laugh...you are an infinite joy and delight to Him, whether you think so or not. Maybe you think that God could never love you. Ask Him to show you the truth of how much He cares. The Bible says that God demonstrated His love for us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. But I think you can also ask God to show you how He feels about YOU. You are definitely an exclamation mark.

This was a strange train of thought, I guess.  If you think about it, God is interested in all kinds of things that we may not even think about. He loves science. He created our bodies, the planets, He hung the stars in the sky and calls them by name. The winds and the seas obey Him. Why wouldn't He have an interest in punctuation? :)

Punctuation in writing shows the intent of the author. In writing, you are not privy to the inflection of the speaker's voice or their body language. You have to use the punctuation as the guideline as to what the meaning of the words are.


 If someone forgets punctuation in their writing, it can change the entire meaning of what is being said.


Importance of a comma

We can look at our situations, but easily misinterpret the Divine intent behind it. We can look at circumstances and misunderstand what God is doing. Without punctuation, our writing is merely words that can be interpreted numerous ways. When you trust the heart of the Writer,  you can trust that His intent towards you is only good (and we know He doesn't mean to eat grandpa!)


Class, let's review:)

1. Don't put a period in too hastily. It may not be the end just yet. Allow God the final say in the matter.
2. A comma means a pause. Maybe God has you on the pause mode right now, but it won't last forever.
3. God can handle your question marks. He may answer your, "Why?" either directly or indirectly. But He also may remain silent on the matter. It's very possible.
4. You are definitely an exclamation mark to the One who loves you the most.

Hopefully, you will never look at an exclamation mark in the same way again!
Have a beautiful August, friend!

Linking up to:  www.impartinggrace.com  www.astrollthrulife.net  www.stonegableblog.com

Thursday, July 7, 2016

20 Simple Joys

I read a blog post about 40 Simple Pleasures in Life recently. That got me to thinking about the things that give me so much joy in my daily life. I didn't tackle 40, but chose to do 20 instead. So, here they are in no particular order.

1. Reading blogs/vlogs.  I have about 10 that I read daily and they just make me smile. Most of the blogs I read are written by thirtysomething moms with young children. A couple of examples are www.kellyskornerblog.com and www.mixandmatchmama.com .
I have a couple of vlogs that I really like, too.

2. Clean sheets at night

3. Rainy days

4. Sunsets. Occasionally, we've driven to a lake near our home and watched the sun setting over the water. I love that!

5. A Starbucks frappuccino - non fat white chocolate, hold the whipped cream.

6. Reading - It seems I don't always have time to read a book anymore, but when I do, I'm so happy. I read The Blue Castle by Lucy Maude Montgomery a few months back. It was such a sweet, old fashioned story.






I've also read Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist a couple of times. Some books just speak to your soul.


7. Sunday dinner. Everyone is home to eat together and I really like that:)

8. Mexican food.

9. Sephora (I could wander around in there for a long time.)

10. Pottery Barn (I could wander around an even longer time in here. If you need me during the fall months, I'm most likely in there.)

11. Home Goods (Any place that specializes in things for the home is a favorite for me.)

12.I love watching my little boy describe great sport moments to me. He's so into it. I have heard all about Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, and also every NFL player you can think of.

13. Going to TJ Maxx with my daughter, Caitlin.

14. Watching a good movie. I watched Guarding Tess (Nicholas Cage and Shirley Maclaine) recently. I had never seen it before and really loved the story. I happened to see a version that blocked the curse words, so just beware that there is some language.)

15. Taking walks with my husband or one of the kids

16. Cooking a southern meal - fried okra, corn on the cob, and ham, for example.

17. Cleaning house. I just love a clean house. If you do a little at a time, it can stay clean.

18. Snapchat. I like it so much better than Facebook.

19. Re-watching a movie or television show that makes me laugh out loud. On some days, you need a little pick me up. Two that come to mind are I Love Lucy and the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Even if I've seen it before, I'll still laugh like it's the first time I've ever seen it.

20. Costco. I don't know why exactly, but I love walking around Costco or Sam's Club!

That's my 20 things for July 2016. What are your favorite, simple things that you enjoy?



Linking up to:  www.momfessionals.com

Friday, June 17, 2016

Our Dining Room




Happy Friday! I'm linking up with www.kellyskornerblog.com for her Every Day Real Life Home Tours.

We don't use our dining room daily. We do use it when we have guests over, but it is especially on display at the holidays.

When we built this home, I remember walking through the dining room while it was still in the bare bones stage. As I walked through, I could "hear" the voices of my kids and their cousins running through the room and saying, "Hi, Aunt Kathy! or Mom!" It made me smile thinking of all the family holiday dinners we would have in that room. We've now lived in this beautiful house for nine years, so we have had many Thanksgiving and Christmas meals there.

This is our dining room from last Christmas.




Youth Progressive Dinner December 2015




Thanksgiving 2015





Our daughter's graduation party



From my instagram November 2014






December 2012




I love this room and look forward to having family over each year. It means a lot to me that I'm helping to create wonderful memories for my children and their cousins each holiday season.


Linking to:  www.kellyskornerblog.com

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What's Up This Week


I hope you're having a great week! We finished up our school year today and I"m feeling pretty happy about that. This fall, I will have an 11th grader and a 5th grader! I started this homeschool journey about 20 years ago and although I have had four graduate, I still have a ways to go. What in the world will I do with my time when my 10 year old graduates? I have no idea.

I'm joining Mel, Shay, and Sheaffer for What's Up Wednesday (although mine is on Thursday!) . I read these girls every day and just love them.

Here's a few things that are happening right now in our household:)

1. What We're Eating - I've been trying to eat more healthy foods this month. As long as I have vegetables on hand, it hasn't really been a problem. I especially love stir frying some zucchini in olive oil with a little Parmesan cheese. It's so good!
T

Photo from www.food.com


2. What I've Been Reminiscing About.  My youngest son, Nathaniel, and I have been talking about our love of holidays today. He told me his favorite time is Thanksgiving and watching Grandma set out her pies. He also likes to see his cousins come over that day.
3. What I've Been Loving  My daughter and I have been taking walks around the block each evening. It's so nice to finally have nice weather to enjoy that time together.
4. What We've Been Up To  Basically, we've just been busy finishing up school.
5.  What I've Been Dreading Our oldest daughter has cerebral palsy. She had hip surgery five years ago and hasn't had to have a surgery since. But now it looks as if she will have to have jaw surgery and it will be quite a recovery process. I've woken up at night dreading this procedure.
6. What I'm Excited About  I'm excited to not have to do school for the summer! Besides that, we don't have any trips planned at this time. I would love to go to New York, but I would always like to go to New York:) We'll have to save for a couple of years before we can go back.

Okay...I did think of a small thing I'm excited about.  I've just discovered Sephora! I've only ever bought drugstore makeup, but hey, that place is amazing! What do you like to buy there?
7. What I'm Watching/Reading I've been watching reruns of Fixer Upper and Downton Abbey. I love those two shows, but do wish I had another choice. Any suggestions? 
I've been reading this...
T

Amazon
If you are interested in writing, I highly recommend this book.

I also saw this movie.
Image result for the man who knew infinity image
The Man Who Knew Infinity

It was an interesting, true story. Dev Patel is one of my favorite actors, so I would pretty much like anything he was in. It also stars Jeremy Irons.

8. What I'm Listening To  My little boy and I listen to the radio on our way to appointments.  Have you heard that song that (I think) is called 7 Years? Goodness, it makes me choke up. The other song that I've been loving (and crying over) is from For King and Country called Priceless. I think I've cried puddles over that song.

For King and Country


9. What I'm Wearing  I need to go shopping because I honestly can't figure out what I wore last summer! I did buy these pretty shoes, though.
www.solesociety.com

T
10. What I'm Looking Forward To/ What I'm Doing on the Weekend  Memorial Day is coming up on Monday. I think we will be grilling and making ice cream. 


11. What's New? My niece's wedding is tomorrow night. It's hard to believe that time has passed so quickly! I remember when she was just a little thing running through our house. That will be a special time of celebration with her.
I hope your week has been a good one. It's hard to believe that June is so near. Of course, when June arrives, I always think the same thing....Christmas is only 6 months away! ha

Sending lots of love to each one of you!!

Linking up to:  shullfamily.blogspot.com



Sunday, April 17, 2016

Have You Ever Tried Striking a Bargain with God?





Photo Courtesy Pinterest
Have you ever been faced with such insurmountable problems that you don't know exactly what to do?

It's easy for others to give us advice. It may even be great advice. But unless they have been through some hard times themselves, words can often seem hollow, can't they? I like to listen to people who have passed through  deep waters.

I've mentioned before that we had twins born with cerebral palsy. One of our twins, Alex, passed away at the age of four. His twin sister, Elisa, is now 24 years old. She is having a crisis with her faith. She appreciates sincere people and their prayers, but essentially she has told us, "Enough is enough. I have to accept this condition that I have and not have people pray for me anymore." I do understand what she is saying. I don't fault her at all. It would be easy for me to say something like, "Oh, you shouldn't feel that way." But I don't live in her body and don't have to deal with the realities of her daily condition. At least, not in the way she has to.

It's hard for me as her mom. I've prayed for her countless times and will continue to do so. I know that God is bigger than cerebral palsy. I know also that sometimes people aren't healed, for whatever the reason. I don't want to live in an agitated state with God. I know how kind He is. I have to leave my questions with Him. I can trust Him, even in my darkest moments.

We also have a ten year old son who was diagnosed at the age of two with a rare, genetic disorder. At the time of this writing, he is the only one in the state of Iowa with this condition. There are a whole host of issues that are present with this diagnosis. There is also the possibility that his condition could worsen.

So, I've found myself at times bargaining with God. I'll say things like, "I'd like You to heal both of my children,but if I had to choose one, I would have to say Nathaniel. Elisa's condition won't worsen as much as his could, so please heal Nathaniel."


It's funny how I would think that God would require me to choose. I guess after all these years of not seeing Elisa get better, I feel the need to strike a bargain.  I can imagine God saying back to me, "Do you really think I would force you to make a choice? Do you think I'm like that?"

No, I don't really believe God is forcing me to make a choice, but it can seem that way sometimes.

I've went round and round with this situation in my mind. Oftentimes, I am busy with school or things at home.  I will just have fleeting thoughts about the whole situation. At other times, I'm filled with such sadness.

Sometimes, when I'm walking down the stairs in our home, I'll say, regarding Elisa, as my foot touches step one, "If for some reason healing is not in her future, for whatever the reason, could You just heal her hip?" When my foot touches step two.... "Could You heal her feet?", then on step three..."Could You maybe heal her hands?" God must often wonder about how stingy I seem to think He could be.

His love and compassion are limitless. I'm bound by what I see or don't see so much of the time. If I don't see it, then it must not be happening. If I do see something, then, "Whew, what a relief. I thought You might have forgotten me." Sometimes the pathway is so smooth and beautiful. I can rest and take in all the sights around me. But other times, the road is so rocky. I have to carefully watch my steps. I fall down and cry and wonder if God is near.

 My walk with God reminds me so much of one of my favorite books, Hinds Feet on High Places. The main character, Much Afraid, has told the Chief Shepherd (Jesus) that she will follow Him anywhere, no matter the cost. But she is disheartened at His choice of Guides to accompany her on the journey - Sorrow and Suffering. She shrinks away from them at first, but the path is so hard that she ends up reaching for their hands. As time goes on, she finds that not only has she changed, but her name has changed as well. Her two Guides have also been transformed and at last, she has reached the High Places.

No one ever said our journey would be without a cost.

As moms, we begin a journey with our children. At first we are their provider and protector. We kiss and hug away all the hurts. We wipe noses, read books together, take walks, and watch countless episodes of Sponge Bob.

But then, it begins to change.

Now, I'm not sure what my job is anymore. Sometimes I don't know what to do either.  I can't make these situations, like Elisa's, better at all.

I can only speak the truth of who God is to them and to myself.

Even when I look up at the sky and wonder, too, if God is really there, if He really hears me, if He is aware of me and my children.

Yes, He is there. Yes, He really cares. Even when I am unaware of Him, He is beside me. Everyday He gives me strength to accomplish all the tasks I have to do in regards to their care. Sometimes at the end of the day, I'm even a little surprised at all I have done that day. But it isn't me at all. I know that all the credit goes to God and His loving care over me.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8)




All the tears I have are remembered by and will continue to be remembered by God. The things that cause us to cry are noted by God and collected by God. My tears and your tears are precious to Him. Maybe He pulls out the bottle one day and remembers those tished mes with us. Maybe He shows us how He was present when we cried. I don't know. But I know that everything He does has a purpose for our good.

Whatever you may be facing today, you aren't alone. I pray today that God will show you how He is there with you. Maybe this is the darkest and loneliest time you have ever faced. Maybe you are wondering if God is even there and if He is there, does He really care about me?  He really is there and He really does care about you and everything that has to do with you.

Part of the reason that I am writing down these thoughts is for the sake of remembrance. One day, if Elisa were healed, I will reread these lines and remember. 

Whether Elisa is healed or isn't doesn't lessen the importance of who she is in our home. It's not that I won't be happy unless she is healed. It's just that I believe that God is a God of healing. It is part of His name and part of His character. The Bible is full of instances where Jesus had compassion on people who could not walk and healed them. I don't hold a magic ball or have some inside track of God's plan. But I do believe in and won't change my mind about His kindness.

And so, maybe, one day I will read these words again, but the circumstances will have changed in an incredible way.

Until then, I believe God is who He says He is. I believe He is aware of me and my tears. I believe He knows what He's doing. I believe He is walking with me and daily giving me strength and grace. I believe He loves me far beyond what I am aware of at this moment in time.

He isn't bound by time and circumstance. He calls things that are not as though they are.



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fixer Upper Inspiration - Touches of Red


Two of my favorite decor colors are red and black. I have black chairs in my kitchen and antique white cabinets.  I love that combination. I have black lampshades in our living room with a few touches of red here and there.

I was watching Fixer Upper, one of my favorite shows on HGTV, a few weeks ago. Jo had found some beautiful red pendant lights while antiquing. I loved the finished look!



Joanna Gaines finds the pendant lights at Round Top, Texas
4bp.blogspot.com




magnoliamarket.com  Fixer Upper HGTV
This room is from Season 2 entitled, "The Tire Swing House"


Different angle from Season 2, "The Tire Swing House".


Fixer Upper HGTV - Season 2 "The Tire Swing House"


Red doors are my favorite, too!



potterybarn.com

potterybarn.com

houzz.com






pbkids.com  $99





lampsplus.com  $199


magnoliamarket.com  Fixer Upper HGTV from Season 2, "The Tire Swing House".

lightingdirect.com  $79.90




nellhills.com


Red and black complement each other so well. Do you like using certain colors in your home?
============================================================================
P.S.

On the blog, www.theinspiredroom.net, she offers the following advice on decorating.  (/theinspiredroom.net/2009/06/09/the-best-decorating-advice-ever/)

“Every room could use a touch of black.”
“Avoid hanging pictures too high, keep them at eye level (unless you are going to cover a large expanse of wall top to bottom).”
“Start with one inspiration piece (maybe a rug or a pillow) and build your room and color scheme around it.”
“Choose your paint color last to complement everything else in the room.”
“It doesn’t have to MATCH, it just has to “go”…”
“Add a touch of whimsy and the unexpected.”
“Pull the furniture out from all the walls.”
“Mix things up.


http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/25113835/list/every-room-needs-a-little-bit-of-black  
This article also has some great advice.


 Joanna Gaines tips for your home: https://magnoliamarket.com/simple-and-clean-in-2015/


Linking up to:
savvysouthernstyle.net
impartinggrace.com
stonegableblog.com
astrollthrulife.net





Friday, March 11, 2016

An Introduction





Hi! My name is Kathy and I'm a wife and mom to six kids. I'm linking up with one of my favorite blogs, Kelly's Korner, today with my introduction. As it says on my sidebar, I'm a pastor's wife, but I don't have a perfect life. Not by a long shot:) But it is a joy filled, grace filled life. Life doesn't have to be perfect in order to be happy.

Our six kids range in ages from 25 all the way down to age 10! I wrote about our last little surprise here.  He was born when I was 42 years old and oh, the joy he has brought to our home! Don't worry if you find yourself in your forties and you are unexpectedly pregnant. It will be okay and it will be wonderful!





Our youngest a few years ago:)

I met my husband at a Bible college in Louisiana. He was a Teen Challenge graduate and later, we lived and worked at a Teen Challenge ministry in Iowa for fourteen years, where he was the director of the men's program.  In 2002, he became the lead pastor at a church in a nearby city. He has been the pastor for the last fourteen years and loves his job so much.



Back to our family, our oldest daughter has CP. Her twin brother passed away at the age of four. I wrote about that day recently here.   

A little about me...I love reading blogs, and most of my favorites are from young moms. I remember the days when all my kids were young. Believe me when I say that some of your best memories are being made today, even though you are so tired and you wonder if you are doing a good job. You are! I write a little about those days here with a post called "Advice to Young Moms". You are doing a phenomenal job!

I love all things to do with New York City.








I remember reading an article where a mom wrote that she had begun being interested in NYC while watching Sesame Street with her little ones. I remember thinking that my interest had been piqued then, too. I really don't know for sure when my love for that great city began. But I've been blessed to have gone twice now. Our first visit was two years ago for our 25th wedding anniversary. I wrote about that magical visit here. If you love the movie "You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan too, then you will want to read that post:) I hope I get to visit NYC again soon.

I love the season of fall. To me, it's the most magical and special time of year! You can read a little about my love of fall here.




I love lipsticks. Isn't that funny? But a lipstick in my shopping cart makes me happy. Maybe because I'm so pale and you can hardly see me until I have lipstick on?



I do fashion posts now and then, which is funny really, because for years I owned about one shirt. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but not much. Thank goodness I found blogs like Kelly's and also this one. www.pinteresttoldmeto.blogspot.com. Shaeffer's blog is about the most fun blog you'll ever read. Here she is below.

www.sheaffertoldmeto.com


 One of my fashion posts is here.





I love holidays, too! My favorite of all is Thanksgiving with Christmas right behind that.



Photo Courtesy - Nell Hill

Two years ago at Christmas (our home)


Our living room this past Christmas:)



I love movies. My favorite movie is Father of the Bride with Steve Martin. My favorite drama is the movie Slumdog Millionaire. I'm going to write about that movie soon. It really changed my life. Can a movie really do that? It can when God is involved:)





That's a little bit about me. I would have to say that I'm only an occasional blogger. But I would love to hear from you, especially all the young moms out there. I have a soft spot in my heart for all of you. Much love to each one of you!

Linking up with
www.kellyskornerblog.com