Archive for the 'Miracles' Category

MawMaw is home!

MawMaw, my grandmother on my mother’s side, the woman I wrote  about in my post entitled Our Missionary… Maw-Maw, has been home for almost 12hrs now. These first 12 hours I’m sure have been filled with many tears of joy, lots of laughter, and many embraces. She is just now settling in for what will be a long (eternal) life and celebration with her Savior. She has been reunited with loved ones she’d been waiting decades to see again… her parents, 2 of her 3 brothers, grandparents probably, and 4 of her own dear children.

The last move she went through was quite stressful on her, despite the fact that it was a move she’d longed for for over 20 years, and was quite looking forward to it. The stress from getting everything ready for that move landed her in the hospital for a couple of weeks immediately after getting moved into their new apartment. She rallied though. The Lord saw fit to raise her up again to a level of health she hadn’t had in many years, and was able to spend the next two weeks in her new apartment. Enjoying sitting on the patio, enjoying her brand new cherrywood bedroom suite, and most delightful and exciting… enjoying being able to eat basically anything she wanted (she’d had diabetes for many years, but these 2wks, her blood sugar was remarkably GOOD no matter what she ate) and being back PAIN-FREE. Her back had given her intense, severe, chronic pain for years, but for whatever reason these 2wks in her new apartment she had NO back pain.

This final move that she made today, didn’t take nearly as long to make as the one a month ago. It  did, however, take much, MUCH more time to prepare for. She’d been preparing for this final move for somewhere close to 70 years. She would’ve turned 78 this month, and I don’t know for sure at what age she accepted Christ as her Savior, but I know she was raised in a Christian home and so was being taught how to prepare for the move from earth to Heaven even as a young girl. This final move was different from the one a month ago in another way, as well. There was NO stress associated with this move. Only grace, comfort, contentment, and true peace.

I praise God for being such a gracious and loving God. I praise Him for His goodness, and thank Him for helping my MawMaw get home. I am so glad she’s home! I will miss her here on earth every day, but I take great comfort in the truth that one day… in the sweet by and by… we will meet on that beautiful shore. I’m very grateful that I have someone in Heaven whom I can have a reunion with one day.

I love you and miss you dearly already, but I’ll see ya soon, MawMaw!

Back-To-School (and other stuff)

It’s Back to School time here. At least, for the females in the house! Meagan’s school (through the church) starts tomorrow. Matthew (homeschooled) won’t start until after Labor Day.

Something new this year, though. *I’m* going back to school, too! Not just as a teacher, which wouldn’t be anything new, but as a student!  I’ve enrolled in a 3yr bible college, taking 1.5 credit hours a semester. It’s called Faith Baptist Institute, and you can learn all about it here. It’s administered via DVD through our church. There are 12 students in our class. =) *We* went back to school last Monday, the 16th! 

There’s something really cool about that date… I remember when I first started high school, as a freshman, school started on the 16th. I remember because that was the year my brother, James, was born and he was exactly 4 days old when we snapped a polaroid of his chunky little cheeks for me to take to school to show him off to my friends. So I started high school on Aug 16, 1992 as a 13yo and now here I am FINALLY starting college on Aug 16, 2010 as a 31yo. How cool is that?

I’ve actually been preparing for ‘back-to-school’ for lots of girls this summer. First I made a bunch of new culottes for Autumn and Ashlin (my adopted nieces) before we left for Arkansas. Then I bought school supplies and got my registration taken care of. Last week, of course, I went back to school, and then the rest of the week I spent making and mending culottes for Kylie (another adopted niece) and letting out uniforms for both her and Meagan.

You’d think that would’ve been the end of it, but nooooo…. Our bible class (actually 3 classes, but we only meet 1x week, and do all 3 in one night) met again tonight and then AFTER that (and we don’t get out till 9:30pm) I had to mess with MORE uniforms. Not for any nieces or nephews or even Meagan, but for Meagan’s DOLL – Samantha! LOL

Ok, so I didn’t HAVE to, but I had promised Meagan I would make her a uniform skirt back several months ago, and she really wanted it for the first day of school. I just finished it before I sat down to type this post up, and when I snipped the last threads and looked at it, I realized I messed up the pleating HORRIBLY!! =*(

Not in the pressing of them. That I could’ve fixed. In the sewing. I don’t know how I managed to do it, but the front pleats are not quite centered correctly (well, neither are the back ones…they are actually worse), and then on top of that the front and back pleats don’t even come close to matching!

The design of the skirt is such that it has a center solid ‘flap’ with 2 pleats on either side. Well, in the front the center piece is the correct size, and the pleats are just fine, except the whole thing is off-center. In the back, though….!!! The center section is at LEAST half again as wide as it is supposed to be, if not double! I don’t have a clue how I managed that, since I marked the pleats on both the front and back at the exact same time and in the exact same places (I marked one off the other, so I know they matched).

I feel like such a dunce and am so totally NOT happy at ALL with the final product, obviously, BUT it is going to remain the way it is. I can’t stand even thinking that, but it’s got to. For one thing, to undo all the stitching it would require to get back to the point at which I could rearrange the pleating, would take a couple of hours at least (which I don’t have). It would actually be much simpler and quicker to just start over from scratch. Problem with that is I have no more fabric! Last year she switched to wearing just skirts for her school uniform, so I just took the top of the jumpers off instead of buying new skirts. That’s how I had the fabric. She only had two jumpers, and it took almost every bit of both pieces to make the skirt for the doll. All that’s left is the skinny bits that came down from the shoulders and met in the front at the waist to make a V.

So, Samantha will just have to live with a VERY asymmetrical (and not in a fashionable way, either) school uniform skirt. Somebody doesn’t like it, they’ll just have to learn to deal, ’cause I’m not spending any more time or effort on a skirt for a DOLL! lol

I’m still not even done with the back-to-school sewing, though, believe it or not. Tomorrow I need to make said doll a blue uniform shirt! Plus, I think all but *maybe* one pair of Meagan’s 458 pairs of culottes need mending. *sigh* If I’m feeling real frisky or insane, I’ll probably end up making Meagan and her doll hair scrunchies out of the scraps I have left.

In other news… =)   Mike went to church with us last Sunday am. He came to Sunday School with me, and left towards the end to come home and get the Strong’s Concordance. He tried to start/have a conversation/question with my SS teacher between SS and worship service. It didn’t work out so well, though, since my SS teacher is also the music director and he was already running late getting up to the podium! LOL

So, instead, he agreed to let him come by Thurs eve (before he had to leave for work) and answer his questions and talk then. Marcy, my best friend (and adopted sis!), came by and picked the kids and I up and we went to her place while her hubby came over and talked with Mike! This was so totally a work of God. Not even 6mo ago when Marcy and I brought up the idea of David coming over and talking with him, Mike had said there was no point, it wouldn’t do any good, he wouldn’t do it.

Then, THIS week, Mike came to Sun pm service with us! =) He’d actually told me last week (before the first time he came) that he would attend with us on Sun am for 2-3mo to see if it would make any kind of difference or help at all with Matthew’s attitude/respectfulness/discipline. So this week was sorta kinda a cheat. lol In the morning when it was time to leave he bailed saying he was just too tired and not up to it, but that he would go with us that night (which, of course, he did).

When he told me he’d start coming to church with us, I almost fainted! When he said he’d KEEP coming, I thought for sure I would have a heart attack! I didn’t get my hopes up, though, because… well… this was MIKE coming to a BAPTIST church we were talking about.  I wasn’t going to hold my breath, ya know. Nor was I going to truly believe it until I saw it… which, praise the Lord, I did!

I thank the Lord that Mike is giving this a go! It’s a HUGE blessing and borders on being miraculous, really. I’m so proud of him for following through thus far! =)

Speaking of being proud of him… I’m also one proud puppy over the way (and the length of time it took) he got our busted hot water heater replaced with a brand new one. Especially since it required running a new electric line (it’s direct wired to a breaker, not plugged into an outlet). We were only without hot water for about a week and a half. MAJOR improvement over the 2 years it took to fix the ginormous holes in the floors so the bathtub could be put back in the bathroom! LOL

In other, other news… I am officially without a Lyme doctor again. Mine retired the end of last month. =(  I’ve already started running out of different meds, which is not cool. It is totally not cool, because running out of them, is leading to symptoms flaring back up. =(  First I ran out of Mepron, right about a month ago. Within a week, I was having bad headaches again, as well as night sweats and muscle cramps and bone and joint pain. Prior to running out I had NONE of those except some mild joint aches in the morning when I first woke up. After he added the Plaquenil to my mix, I was feeling almost human again. Well, really MOSTLY human. I did great on vacation and was doing just as well until the Mepron ran out.

We took a weekend trip down to Austin a couple of weeks back (after I ran out of the Mepron) to see my very talented cousin, Scott, perform in the Zilker Musical. This year’s presentation was Annie, and Scott got to shave his head bald and play Daddy Warbucks! LOL The play was GREAT, but *I* was not.

We left Friday and were supposed to camp. We didn’t, though. When we got to the campsite (around 12am) it was soooo covered in brush that Mike decided it would be far too dangerous. So off we went to find another campsite. We drove around Lake Travis on back roads that went UP and DOWN and curved around so much they literally had switchbacks in several places for like 3hr! Then we drove around some more for another several hours. All the campsites were either full or locked, so we ended up parking at a WalMart at about 5am to try and catch a couple of hours of sleep before the campgrounds opened back up.

The driving seriously MESSED ME UP! It wreaked absolute havoc on my central nervous system. I was sooo dizzy and off balance and edgy and I don’t even know what all. My CNS was just so irritated!! When we got to the campground, I could barely walk. I was soooo sick and weak! Then after we pitched the tent, we attempted to sleep until time for the play. I couldn’t. The heat was unbearable.

My muscles in my leg and back were cramped up so bad by the time we got home that I couldn’t straighten my leg at all. I was stuck in bed for 3 days! This after a 2 night trip. We were gone for 10 nights when we went to Arkansas and I didn’t have any problems at all and didn’t need any recovery time!

Then last week, after church on Sun and class on Monday night, I was stuck in bed all day Tues. Too sick to move. I’m backsliding, or relapsing, or whatever you want to call it so quick it’s not even funny. =(

I don’t know what I’m going to do. Hopefully I won’t get too much worse before we can figure out what to do about a doctor.

YIKES! It’s almost 3am now. I guess I’d better go take my meds and climb in the bed!

The Gifts of Christmas 2009

Well Christmas is over. Even New Years is over, actually. I’m so lax about getting this blog updated it’s not even funny.

We here at the Casey residence all had a very blessed Christmas. I do believe we were ALL more than pleased with our ‘booty’, and except for Mike gettin a cold and missin one of the get-togethers, we all had great visits with family. =)

As much as I love seeing extended family and spending time talking and laughing with them (and we did plenty of that) while enjoying num-nums (I had WAY too much of that!), I’ll be honest and say it’s not my favorite part of Christmas. My favorite part is giving those I love good gifts. I absolutely LOVE to give and end up going way overboard most years. Ah well. I love it! =)

I love thinking about a person, thinking about their likes and dislikes, their personality, their habits, hobbies, and tendencies, as well as their strengths (and weaknesses… like chocolate, for instance! hehe) and desires, hopes and dreams… basically every thing I know about them, have deduced about them, or picked up on from conversations with them or their loved ones… and then putting all that personalized information into the search for the *right* gift. Of course, there are times when I can’t seem to find just the *right* thing and so I have to ‘make-do’. Too, there are some instances when picking out and making a very personal gift like that is just not an option.

I have most definitely been known to multi-gift, especially to family friends. Last year it was fudge. This year I was going to do fudge and/or banana bread, but ended up sick just before Christmas and running out of time for the other projects I had going, so I didn’t give to any of the friends this year. =*(  Maybe I’ll turn it into A “love” project and hand out goodies at Valentines. =)

As I was saying, we all had a blessed Christmas. I felt good about most of the gifts I was giving (only a few ‘make-dos’), and I did get most things finished. Then, to make it even better, most of the gifts I gave seemed to be well appreciated and admired. YES! =) I love puttin a smile on someone’s face that way! =)

To recap my projects so I can give an update, here is my list from the 18th of Dec…

  • sew Coast Guard patch onto knit hat for Mike
  • make Christmas candies (candy melts/molds… painted details) for Meg to hand out at school
  • display case of Coast Guard memorabilia for Mike
  • stain/seal display shelf for Coast Guard hat
  • sew ‘sleep sack’ out of queen and throw sized blankets
  • sew matching dresses for Meagan* and the 18″ doll she is getting for Christmas (I have the doll’s dress finished)
  • sew blue snowflake dress* for the doll
  • crochet quitar for the doll
  • crochet poncho* to match one I made Meagan a couple of years ago…for the doll
  • crochet Santa hat*, scarf*, and mittens* for the doll
  • dye and embroider 2 sets of 5 tea towels (red w/ whitework snowmen)
  • change name on Mike’s childhood stocking to Matthew*
  • sew jingle bells on the stockings Meme made the kids*
  • make fudge for giving away and taking to get-togethers*
  • coat choc. sandwich cookies in white almond bark and sprinkle red/green berries/leaves on top*
  • crochet backpack for doll*
  • hang garlands*, window clings*, wreaths*, and lights*
  • finish getting ornaments on the tree and setting out decorations
  • wrap a bunch of Christmas gifts*
  • clean house
  • do about 5 billion loads of laundry (ok, not quite that many, but close!)

Of those, I got almost everything done, believe it or not! I didn’t get the house as clean as I wanted nor as much of the laundry done as I’d hoped, but the living room was ready for Christmas morning festivities, and the rest of the house wasn’t TOO horrid. Of the projects themselves, the only ones I did NOT get done were:

  • make fudge for giving away and taking to get-togethers*
  • coat choc. sandwich cookies in white almond bark and sprinkle red/green berries/leaves on top*
  • crochet backpack for doll*
  • sew matching dresses for Meagan* and the 18″ doll she is getting for Christmas (I have the doll’s dress finished)
  • crochet Santa hat*, scarf*, and mittens* for the doll
  • I also only got 4 of the 10 tea towels finished in time for the gift exchanges. Luckily they were for generic gift exchanges at church and my grandmother’s. I took the set of 4 to one, and Mom had an extra gift for the other, so it was all good.

    The kids both had a great Christmas! Meagan absolutely adores her new doll, whom she has named Samantha, and she got a lot of other neat things that thrilled her no end, too… a scooter, black boots, lots of gift cards and $, a bunch of clip-on earrings, some pjs, a couple of video games, and a case for her guitar to name a few. Matthew was squealing over his collection of costumes (Transformers, Batman, Spiderman, and a ninja outfit) and had a good pile of other goodies… he also got a scooter, a pair of black boots, and a bunch of gift cards and $. Then there were the 3 video games, a cordless drill, a cowboy hat, a fuzzy blanket, some jeans, a couple of puzzles, a bunch of sodas and snacks, 16mi walkie-talkies, and a Bionicle. They carefully tithed off all their $$ and then had fun going shopping.

    Mike ad I had equally good bootys, but perhaps the neatest gifts we received were from God Himself. On the Wednesday before Christmas, our church had a gift exchange, and in the middle of it, someone handed me an envelope from an anonymous giver that contained a crisp $100 bill! That gift was straight from God, through this kind, big-hearted, generous, anonymous soul. I thank them both from the bottom of my heart. That cash was much needed! God didn’t stop there, though. A few days after Christmas we received a card in the mail from a family member that held a check for another $100! Again, I thank both God, from whom all blessings flow, and that special family member from the bottom of this grateful heart. With those two gifts, I’ll be able to keep my doctor’s appointment this week instead of having to put it off till another paycheck comes in.

    Well that about sums things up, I guess. I have a lot of clean-up to do, of course, and a few more projects  (ALWAYS! lol) I want to get done, but things have settled down some. School started back yesterday, so things are as back to ‘normal’ as they get around here.

    Impeccable Timing

    I can’t recall where, but somewhere and sometime in the last 2 days I read a little note that said that while our physical bodies grow slowly and at a relatively steady rate, our spiritual ‘body’ grows in spurts and leaps and bounds.

    Oh how true that is! Even my reading that (and then tonight recalling it again) is an illustration of impeccable timing, and the impeccable timing… let’s call it the ‘lesson in impeccable timing’… is a glorious example of my own spiritual self going through another growth spurt.

    I wrote the above two paragraphs about an hour ago. More of that timing. =) Matthew woke up needing a neb treatment and wanted me to sit with him while he did it. Despite the fact that just before I got up out of bed to plug the puter back in and get on here and type up these praises to God for His greatness and impeccable timing I had prayed silently in my head something like…

    “…and now that I know the devil can’t hear what we are saying to You when we talk to You like this, I know that if I ask You to please prevent the devil from interfering with me doing this, if I ask You to please make it smooth-sailing sotospeak so that I can be sure that yes this is what you would have me do (get up in the middle of the night to go type for awhile even though I do need sleep because I have to get up at 7am with the kids and I’m still needing LOTS of hours of sleep)… now that I know I am truly asking You this such that the devil has no idea… I can know that if I have no interferences, then I can be sure of Your will in this…”

    …despite the fact that I had JUST prayed that, I did not immediately go “oh well that’s it, that’s an interference, I should go back to bed and not type my thoughts up tonight. (And, as an aside yes, I am well aware that the above was nowhere NEAR being grammatically correct. Since I am typing how I THINK and I do not necessarily THINK grammatically correct, I think the technical errors are perfectly acceptable in this instance.) (How’s that for parenthetical thoughts imbedded in more parenthetical thoughts!!)

    I didn’t immediately write it off as not God’s will after all, I must have been mistaken, because (well partially because I am learning patience and learning to wait on His timing…see even more impeccable timing) I remembered something else about God… and life. There is a reason for EVERYTHING. Everything that happens, everything that doesn’t happen, every situation, every interruption, everything that happens in a different way than you expected, or at a different time than you expected, etc.

    So… I thought… “ok, there is a reason for this. It could be the reason is He is telling me ‘no, go back to bed and sleep’… OR the reason could be something else entirely. I’ll go sit with my little boy who is not feeling well and wants his mom and just see how things go.”

    Into the living room I went. Matt set up his neb treatment and sat down on the couch and I followed. At first I started to pick up the book I’ve been reading (Rilla of Ingleside), thinking I’d do what I did last night when this happened…I’d get another chapter or two in. Then I had a much better idea… God’s idea. I told Matt I’d be right back and I went back into the bedroom and picked up my bible (well, actually Mike’s bible, but the one I do my daily reading from). See, I still hadn’t done my daily reading.

    I normally do my bible reading after I’ve gotten the kids off to school. By then I’ll have eaten and taken my morning meds, and even though I’m generally exhausted and need more sleep, I have to stay upright for at least 30min or else my meds will burn my esophagus. Sooo… I’ll prop the pillows up, climb back in bed (but sitting!), snuggle under the covers, and read until I just cannot stay awake long enough to comprehend a sentence anymore. By then there has been enough time that I can lay down and not get burned. I generally get 2-4 chapters in.

    Today, though, the kids were off, I was getting something to eat and the phone rang. I almost didn’t answer it, but something told me to answer this call. I did and it was a very good friend of mine asking if I could come over and play. No, I’m just kidding. =) She wanted some help with a project. It always seems like play when I’m with her though, because she is just so good for me! We talk and I don’t know about her, but I have a wonderful time talking. We laugh, occasionally we’ll cry (or maybe just come near it), we do occasionally get something accomplished, and I always, always find myself coming away stronger, encouraged, and refreshed. I guess she’s kinda my own little F5 button or something. I just seem to have a spiritual growth spurt of some sort nearly every time we have one of our ‘playdates’. I can’t count the number of times that has happened. Sometimes it’s just one little thing I’ve learned, other times (like today) it’s a whole lotta goodies all in a big bundle.

    Anyway. There were a couple of reasons I could see that the interruption was so I could get my bible reading done. One is the most obvious… so I could get it done without forgetting it. Then, too, I’d be doing that before doing all this typing. First things first sotospeak. Also, one of the things I had learned (or realized or realized anew or whatever…) today was that the kids need to see (or hear) me doing the godly things that I normally consider to be very private, just me and Jesus kind-of-things, at least every once in awhile. So there was that, too.

    So I read. I was in 2 Samuel towards the end of the book, and as I often do when I’m reading, I made a comment out loud. Tonight’s was “Ok, I so do not understand this story. I have no idea what is going on or what this means.” I mean seriously, even the little footnote dealys weren’t helping me out this time! (Definitely not a first-time occurence, mind you.) It occured to me that even though I’ve told Matthew (and Meagan, too) that no one understands all of the bible, and certainly not the first time they read it, and no one is expected to… certainly not the first time they read it… and I’ve told them that there are lots of parts I do not understand when I read it… I’d never given them a specific example of a bit I didn’t understand. That might not seem like such a big deal, but to kids especially, it might be a huge deal. Even though they hear us ‘talking the talk’, they might not truly believe we are ‘walking the walk’ if they don’t see any specific evidence of that.

    Well, after Matt’s treatment was over and he went back to bed, I came in and sat back down to the computer only to find that our anti-virus program was doing its nightly scan. ‘Aha!’ I thought! Another reason for the interruption. Better I walk back in on it already running than it take off on its own all of a sudden when I’m right in the middle of writing a tricky grammatically incorrect sentence!

    It only took a second or two for me to figure out what I should do while I waited for it to finish. I’d only gotten one chapter read… so I brought the bible back in here and… I kid you not… the anti-virus scan ended within about 5sec of me finishing the book of 2 Samuel! Talk about impeccable timing!!

    Now… all that (or nearly all anyway) was/were (whatever!) thoughts that came to me after I decided to get up and come and type some thoughts out. Now I can get to the thoughts that were begging to be put down on paper (figuratively since my handwriting is horrible, but my typing is pretty good) and that were the intended subject of this very long post.

    I’ve actually touched a bit upon it above. It’s the awesome way God times literally everything and in particular the many, many illustrations or instances if you will, of Him doing so in my life in the last week. I don’t think it would be possible for me to write them all out and I’m not even going to try. There are some that deal with private family matters that really don’t need to be made public. I am going to give some specific examples, and then others I’ll talk about a little, but only in vague terms, no specifics. Really though, the specific details aren’t the point anyway, it’s the fact that the Lord has been timing everything just so.

    The Lord has really been working through impeccable timing this last week. Little things, big things, and everything in between. For a start I’ve had a lot of instant prayers answered instantly. Things like “Lord please help me find the ____” and within seconds, sometimes even before I complete the sentence, there it is. Shoes, CDs, remotes, and lots of other stuff that I’m not even remembering. These are some of the little things.

    One of the bigger things needs a teensy expansion thought. The expansion/background/whatever is this: very often these ‘playdates’ with my friend have been immediately followed (when I get home, of course) with a really good talk with Mike about something spiritual. Something that probably I had been wanting to talk to him about for a long time, but just somehow hadn’t worked up the courage to do so. This friend of mine, I don’t have a clue how she does it, but she somehow inspires and encourages me, and I can’t say enables because that part comes from Christ (although… I suppose it could be that He is doing so through her… there’s a thought), so maybe not enables, but maybe something close to it… strengthens me or gives me more confidence or something! What it boils down to is when I get home, I’m just suddenly courageous (or whatever) enough to start the conversation. And the times (more than once or twice) this has happened… the talk has gone far better than I ever anticipated, and ever-so-much easier.

    One thing I want to make perfectly clear, these talks are not confrontations in any form. Sometimes it’s something as silly-simple as asking him a spiritual question, like “Can I tithe off the grocery money each week?”. I won’t say I never confront Mike in a manner that I should not, because chances are I probably have at some point and will probably do so again at some point. I’m far from perfect. I just want to be clear that these talks that she has helped me (somehow) to be able to have with Mike are just that… talks. Often they are attempts to encourage him, to show him I intend to be (and am) submissive to the decisions he makes for the family, to share with him or to point out to him different things God has done or is doing, etc.

    So basically… no foul play involved. =) At least, not that I know of!

    The tithing on the grocery money thing is one of the bigger ones I want to share, but the question itself was actually asked last week. Here’s where the timing comes in…

    For whatever reason, Mike just does not have the trust or belief that God really, truly will take care of us financially if we tithe that I do. I certainly do not mean that to say I am better than him or anything of the like… do not think that. I just mean that it’s become evident to me that while I have no doubt that God can and will take care of our needs…including those financial ones… he does have doubts. Or at least hesitations. Or something.

    To me the single most important thing we can/should do to help/improve our financial situation is to tithe. I know that beyond any shadow of a doubt. Even if it seems like there is no way we can afford to lose that 10%, the truth is we can’t afford to keep it! Mike, though, he just can’t see that.

    So, as I talked about before (which ‘coincidentally’ also contained references to God’s impeccable timing), he told me to quite putting the tithe check in at church because the bills were getting such that he felt we couldn’t afford to tithe anymore. I knew that while not tithing is not the right thing to do, tithing against his say-so was not the right thing either. However, I still wanted to help our financial picture somehow. Right now there are only a few ways I can do that. The biggest impact/influence I have on the finances is through the grocery shopping. I cut my ‘budget’ back from “whatever it ends up being” to $80/wk when I do the grocery shopping. I’ve been clipping coupons and matching them with sales. I’ve been planning menus and trying to cut back on food wastes, etc.

    Then I had another thought… I know that God can make the 90% you keep go far further the the 100% you keep. That’s true on the big scale… like with paychecks… and on the small scale too. Even though Mike didn’t think we could afford to tithe off his income maybe he would be agreeable to me tithing off the grocery money. After all, that would only be $8 a week. Maybe a smaller amount wouldn’t be so scary to him. Also, that would fit in perfectly with another thing I’ve been trying to do for a long time now… that is finding (and then executing) ways to help Mike see that the Lord really does care and really will provide… that He can do anything, even miracles… even for us. If he would agree to letting me tithe off the grocery money, not only would it make the grocery money go further (thus improving the finances), I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would have the opportunity to point out just how God was doing so!

    Love never fails! God is love! God never fails!

    I asked Mike that question last week. He said yes. (excited squeal!) Today, after our ‘playdate’ I took the kids grocery shopping. They helped me comparison shop and keep track of what we were spending and when we got to the checkout our total was well under the $72. Score 1! Then when we got home, I initiated a conversation with Mike about finances and the subject of tithing did, of course, come up.

    As most conversations do, this one rambled around and we talked about a lot of different things. At one point he brought up the fact that his schedule change meant he would be traveling a little further to work each day, and then mentioned something like “well at least I’ll be getting partial shift differential for the 2 afternoon shifts”. His schedule was changed last week. He told me his new hours last week. I did not know until today (right then) that there was going to be a change in pay. It turns out that the new schedule change is going to mean about $12 more a week.

    I grinned and said, “See! Last week you told me I could tithe on the groceries and already (before I’d even had a chance to give the tithe and go shopping for the first time after getting permission) He’s given it back… PLUS! You can’t outgive God. You just can’t!” Score 2!

    So that’s an example of the little and the big. Now for one of the in-betweens… just one, though there have been many… because this is already very long, and it is getting very late, and also I do believe these few are all that’s really necessary to make my point and that is that God’s timing is impeccable!

    Matthew has been leaving the house without permission this last week. He’s done it 3 or 4 times and each time I’ve left the discipline up to Mike, and I have just kinda ‘given him a talkin’ to’. Besides the standard you have got to obey for your own safety and simply because God says to… I also explained to him that the kids he has been playing with this past week (when he’s left without permission) are watching him and his sister and really our whole family very closely right now and he needs to set a good example. Of course, as an ambassador of Christ we/he should do that all the time anyway… set a good example to the world in general… but right now with these kids it’s even more personal.

    Two sisters and a brother, they are. The younger girl and the boy both attended church with us one Wed night about 3wks ago. Before we left they both spoke with the husband of my ‘playdate’ friend, my Sunday School teacher, and the children’s church preacher. (Same guy, not 3 different ones, I mean.) They both accepted Christ as their Saviour and got saved that night. Last weekend (so a week ago), Meagan had a slumber party (which I have intended to post about but have not yet…I’ll get to that sometime…). Both of these sisters were invited and since they live in the neighborhood were the last to leave. Before they left, I was able to talk with the older girl about Jesus and showed her how she could be saved. I led her to the Lord and the smile on that girl’s face when I told her all of Heaven was singing and shouting and just so happy that she had gotten saved! =)

    Meagan and the girl’s sister were both in the room and the sister would sometimes say something or ask a question that would lead to more discussion. One of the things she asked about was ‘what if you were trying to be good and change and not sin anymore’. This, along with Meagan’s retelling of an incident just a few days after she (the younger sister) had been saved where the older girl had told the younger to go in our house and take some gum and the younger told her ‘no, that’s stealing and that’s a sin’ because Meagan had told her the 10 commandments a day or so before, was plenty of evidence to me that she was absolutely watching our family (in particular the kids) to see how she should act now that she was a Christian.

    It’s this younger girl (more so than the older who is closer to Meagan’s age) who Matthew has been playing with mostly this week, and so that’s what I would explain to him each time- that he was setting a bad example for this girl.

    Well, tonight he left the house again without permission (it’s been a case of I turn my back and he’s gone each time! so frustrating!!) and when he came back (he hadn’t been gone long enough that Mike had left to go hunt him down like he’s done a couple of times), I went through the whole rigamarole again with the setting a good example for the younger (spiritually anyway) kids. We told the kids it was time to stay in and their friends needed to go home for the day, so they said bye and the friends left.

    Not ten minutes later there was a knock on the door. The older girl and the brother had come looking for the younger girl. “She left without permission and we don’t know where she went”, the older sister said. They started to leave to go look elsewhere, we shut the door and I seized the opportunity to show Matt (thanks to God’s impeccable timing!!!) that what I had been saying about her watching him was true. Both my kids wanted to go help look, but Daddy had already said it was time to stay home, so they asked if they could at least give the kids ideas of where to look.

    I agreed and they went out, called the kids back to the property and the four of them stood there discussing and eliminating places where she might have gone. By this point the concern was beginning to really set in, I think. They came up with a couple of places to look, the siblings set out, and my two headed back in. Before he’d gone very far, Matt turned back and hollered, “Call us if you find her!”

    When he came in I pointed out to him that the concern and/or fear that they all were beginning to feel was only a little taste of what it does to us old parents. Not to mention the fact that there always is the real possibility that the wayward kiddo is hurt or in danger somewhere… and you have no idea where or even that they need help and so besides you being scared there’s the threat of the kiddo not getting help at all and so maybe things could get worse.

    Timing. It’s all about the timing.

    Oh, I did want to share (vaguely because there’s too many specifics) some other ‘in-between’ examples real quick.

    During the course of our ‘playdate’ today, there were numerous occasions that the conversation stumbled upon a very specific thing or thought that I had just in the last 24hr been praying about. Coincidence? Certainly! As long as you use the true meaning of the word (a meeting of events in time). If, however, you are using the currently accepted meaning… no way! God’s impeccable timing.

    Even the fact that she called today of all days, today right on the heels of all these other things that were being timed out so perfectly and on the very heels of my meditating on different things and praying about all these things, was evidence of the Lord’s meticulously timed plan.

    So it seems that once again a ‘playdate’ has ended with a spiritual growth spurt. I can’t even really put my finger on just exactly how or what has grown in what way, but I can tell I have… somehow. And I am so very thankful for all these wonderful timing lessons this last week. I love watching it all come to fruition like it seemed to tonight when I laid down and started to pray. It just seemed like looking back over the last week there were so many, many beautifully timed events that were opportunities for someone, whether it was me (as in the case of the little instant prayers), my loved ones (as in the case of the tithing and the behavior modeling), or someone else – a virtual stranger – (as in the case of the two sisters whom I really only met at the slumber party) to learn more about Jesus and His love for us.

    That’s really what this post was about. I wanted to write about this growth spurt and share it with whomever is interested in reading it… whenever. ;-)

    He will make all things beautiful in His time. Even dumpy old mommies like me. (Says the 30yo who is finally getting interested in caring for her skin and in dressing/looking nice and feminine and is on the verge of purchasing products to attend to this…but that’s another post entirely!)

    And now, about 3.5hr and a little over 4,ooo words (so WordPress is telling me!) later I will go snuggle up to my hubby and nap till time to get up with the kids.

    I think I have about an hour before time to wake the kids. But that’s ok, the Lord’s got the timing all planned out already so I don’t have to worry. I may be tired, but I know he’ll help me do the many things I need to do tomorrow (err… today…) regardless of tired and weak I am. I am weak, but HE is strong.

    Christmas Gift Ideas

    Last night’s message at church was really good. The pastor had lots of examples and illustrations and anecdotes, but the message was really quite simple…

    What are you willing to give Jesus this CHRISTmas?

    Jesus is the reason for the season. We are supposed to keep Christ in CHRISTmas.  I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t recognize and do that more than I do. I’ve been praying and thinking about how I can do a better job at that.

    This is what I’m starting with…

    I’m going back to (back to because I have done it in the past) baking a birthday cake for Jesus for one. It IS a celebration of His birth, after all.

    When we celebrate our children’s births we generally throw them a party complete with balloons, games, cake, and gifts. Our children are very special and dear and their births really are something to celebrate…

    Jesus is special and dear and His birth is really something to celebrate, too. And we do. That’s what Christmas is, of course.

    We sure do celebrate His birth weird, though. Think about it. When we celebrate our children’s births we have good foods and presents. When we celebrate Jesus’ birth we have the same, but different. For our kids’ birthday celebration, we give gifts to the birthday boy or girl… the one whose birth we are celebrating. Jesus’ birthday celebration?? We give gifts to all the guests, sometimes we give gifts to OURSELVES even, but do we give gifts to the One whose birth we’re celebrating? Nope.

    The kids get a cake and presents. What will Jesus get?

    Ok, so chances are pretty good Jesus doesn’t really want a Tickle Me Elmo or a Bratz doll. He probably doesn’t need a new cell phone or back massager. While I’m sure He would be polite about receiving a green sweater with a reindeer on it, I don’t think that’s the kind of gift He REALLY wants.

    I’m not sure any of the things you can find at the local WalMart or ‘in’ the many online stores are really fit to give the King.

    The three wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Those gifts are fit for a king, but I’m sure many, many kings have received gifts like that.

    Jesus is not just a king, He is THE King of Kings. He doesn’t need any more gold. (Really, it all belongs to Him already anyway.)

    So what kinds of gifts are fit for The King? Here are a few suggestions…

    • Give Him your bad habits. No I don’t mean give him a bottle of booze, a pack of smokes, a pile of garbage that you tossed out the car window, or a copy of that TV show you really shouldn’t be watching. I mean GIVE UP (REPENT OF) YOUR SIN! This could really be anything. Just because none of the above habits fit you, doesn’t mean you have none. There’s something you could give up. Ask Him what He’d like you to give up if you can’t think of something. (Don’t we ask our kids what they want for their birthday?)
    • Give Him your time. Just like our kids like spending time with us (going shopping maybe or reading them bedtime stories), so too does Jesus (going soul-winning or reading your bible). Maybe you could spend more time in prayer, bible reading/studying, soul-winning, Sunday School teaching, working on a bus route or VBS…
    • Give Him your service. This could actually be a dual gift with your time. Jesus spent a lot of time here on earth helping others. Caring for them and helping them with whatever they needed help with. Whether it was medical help (healing), physical help (food), emotional help (comforting), or spiritual help. We can do the same thing. We can reach out to our neighbors and give them aid when they’re hurt, we can share our resources (food, clothing, money, shelter, whatever) with those in need, we can certainly be kind (kindness costs nothing), and we can pray for others.
    • Give Him your life. This is all an-encompassing gift. This is the creme-de-le-creme sotospeak. With this gift you will be giving Jesus your repentance of sin, your time, and your service. Considering the gift He has given you**, it’s really not too over-the-top at all.

    I think this year I’m going to start a new tradition of being sure to include the One whose birthday we’re celebrating on my gift list. I’m hoping to get the kids to include Him on theirs, too.

    And yes, truth be told the cake is more for us than for Jesus. It’s just a little token to REMIND us whose celebration it really is and who should really be getting the gifts and the glory! Plus it’s tasty! =)

    ** If you’ve never received a gift from Jesus (or you’re not sure if you have), but would like to, or you’re wondering who this Jesus is and why anyone would want to give Him these gifts click here to read about The Gift of God.  Unlike the gifts we give each other, the gift Jesus has for you is not kept under wraps until a specific day. It’s not a secret. It’s guaranteed to not be the wrong size, color, or brand. It’s not cheap or last-minute. It will never break, wear out, or fade. It’s precious, priceless, and perfect. It’s eternal life in Heaven.

    Depression… it runs in the family.

    I had no idea. No truly. NO idea.

    I was doing a little research today, on a couple of my medicines, and I stumbled upon references to a depression questionnaire that medical professionals use to grade the severity of clinical depression. I don’t mean the down-in-the-dumps blues. I mean the bigtime stuff. The stuff that warrants, no necessitates, medical intervention in order to shake.

    Yeah that kind of depression.

    I say I stumbled onto a questionnaire… actually I found several different ones. Just for kicks, I decided to screen myself. Grade myself, if you will.

    Mind you, this is after being on 2 different anti-depressants for about 3wks. Meds that, in all honesty, I was taking only because my doc told me to. NOT because I thought I needed them, but simply because I wanted to be a good patient and do what I was told. I looked up the usage of these two and found that when used in combination at the right dosage they were helping fibromyalgia patients with pain. That coupled with the fact that the doc had prescribed one of them to help me get to sleep… not for depression… made me feel so much better about taking them, if you know what I mean.

    Anyway. I almost maxed out every single screening and questionnaire there was. No kidding. Severe depression was the result on every single one.

    Do WHAT?!

    Were they wrong? Did I somehow mess up and answer something wonky and skew the results? Are they flawed? What in the world?!?!

    Nope.

    Thing is, despite the fact that I have felt -emotionally and mentally- better in the last 2-3 wks than I have in I-don’t-know-how-long, apparently I truly AM still “severely clinically depressed”.

    Talk about an eye-opener. I honestly, truly had NO idea that I was not ‘normal’. Ok, scratch that. I’ve known for years and years I’m not ‘normal’. What I mean is I had no idea that the way I feel about myself and the way I live day-to-day emotionally/mentally speaking was depression of any kind, let alone “severe depression”. That’s what I mean.

    Turns out, I’ve been living with severe depression for a little over 20 years… probably 23 or 24. I’m not quite 30. You do the math.

    So basically? I don’t have a clue how the majority of folks have been feeling/living. I don’t have a clue what is normal. I’m not “getting back to normal” so much as I am just plain ol’ “getting normal”.

    Now, you might think “well gosh! Didn’t her mom think something was amiss when she was depressed at 7 or 8, or even by her teens? SURELY her doctor at least would’ve noticed something was up…”

    Yeah, not so much. For a start, I didn’t see doctors much growing up. Major illness or something requiring a cast or stitches warranted a dr visit and well… none of those happened very often. Then there’s my mom.

    See, my mom and I are a lot alike. A lot. It’s more likely than not that SHE would also come up depressed on a screening. I won’t say with 100% certainty because she might take offense to that, but knowing what I know of her… if she answered honestly… yeah it’s likely.

    And here’s the kicker… Mom doesn’t “feel depressed” or see herself as depressed either. Know why? Cause she is “normal for her”. That is, she feels no different now than she ever has.

    Catch that?

    Yup. It’s a strange world we’ve been living in, though it does not seem the least bit strange to us. This, (that we know as “just life”), being the strange world is what is strange. Just the idea that the way I feel could actually be different, be BETTER is strange.

    Matthew being depressed doesn’t come as a surprise per se, and I’m not even kicking myself in the rear too much for not catching it and doing something about it sooner. THAT is, in and of itself, a new experience for me. I’ve recognized that I really couldn’t have realized he truly needed medical treatment any sooner because I didn’t know better, and so I’m not beating myself up with guilt over not doing anything sooner. That’s simply amazing to me.

    Always, ALWAYS, before even if I knew rationally that there was no way I could have been “at fault” or “guilty” about something with the kids (like not getting medicine sooner, for instance), I would still -despite totally and fully realizing it was not rational- feel tremendous guilt. I’m talking bone-crushing guilt. The kind of guilt that leaves you chewing yourself out in your mind for days, sometimes weeks, on end.

    I feel like a brand new babe, learning feelings and experiencing things for the very first time. I’ve never seen life like this before. That probably sounds cliche, but think about it for a minute. Your earliest clear memory, I mean really clear memory, probably isn’t much further back than your sixth or seventh year. I remember a few snapshot-like moments from the time I was 3-5, but the memories don’t really become clear, fully defined, complete with emotions, until I was closer to 7.

    Second grade. I remember fleeting moments of first grade, but not enough to hold onto and evaluate in terms of emotions and thought-processes at the time. That doesn’t come till second grade.

    It was second grade that I talked about killing myself and of wishing I was dead. It was second grade when Mom took me to a counselor to make sure I didn’t really mean it. The counselor assured her I was just “throwing a fit” and offered the suggestion of encouraging the tantrums when I had them. The ol’ “reverse pyschology” ploy at work… if Mom wanted me to throw a really good fit, then I wouldn’t want to anymore and so the tantrums would stop.

    They did… mostly. My behavior just morphed. I have been told that at times I appeared to be possessed because of the “pure hate” pouring out of my eyes. Mom did not know then, what I did not know with Matthew… that depression in children often manifests as anger, frustration, aggression, etc.

    She also did not know (nor did I with Matthew) that depression in children can also cause the child to “be a loner”. I did not play with many other children. One or two at a time, at most, and frequently I played alone. Well, mostly I read, but that’s beside the point.

    The point is, I can remember feeling and thinking in second grade pretty much the same as I do now. Or maybe I should say, have up till now. It’s like… I’m almost thirty, but I feel the same as I did at 17 or 18. I’m sure most people are that way. They don’t feel thirty, they just feel like themselves… they way they have for years and years, since high school is generally what people say. I can take that back further. To second grade.

    Oh sure, as a kid I felt younger in that I was well aware I wasn’t an adult. I mean it’s not like I felt or thought in a mature manner as a 7 year old, not at all. What I mean is I have felt the same emotionally in terms of feelings overall since at least second grade. I’ve felt the same way about myself since at least second grade. I’ve felt the same way about other people since at least second grade. I don’t remember feeling any other way. I can remember how I felt and how I thought in second grade and it was no different than the way I answered those questionnaires and screening tests earlier today.

    That’s what I mean.

    So when I say I’m learning feelings and experiencing things for the very first time… I mean it. At least for the first time in my memorable history anyway.

    The good news? The meds are definitely working. I know because if you’ll recall I said way up there that I “almost” maxed out the screenings. “Almost” being the operative word, here. Being honest I can say that a few weeks ago (or at any point in the last 20+ years) I would have maxed out the screenings. A few points lower today and I would’ve pegged out for “moderate depression”. So while I’m still falling in the “severe” range, it’s headed towards “moderate”.

    It’s going to take some getting used to, for sure. I think I’m kinda scared of it, in a way. I’m hesitant to “let myself” feel different, if you will. Almost like… I’m afraid it might all be a dream. It’s like I’m being offered a butter rum lollipop…  and I’ve gotten a tiny taste, but I’m afraid to close my mouth around it lest the lollipop will be jerked back out of my reach, knocking teeth loose, leaving me battered, bleeding, and aching for that delicious buttery sweetness.

    This is so weird. But then, weird is normal. Weird is what I know. It runs in the family.

    I’m just sayin’.  =)

    Sense and Protection in a Storm, a Story of God in a Texas Tornado

    I got a phone call from a longtime friend of mine on Monday. The first thing she said was, “Marie, we were in a tornado.” (I went by Marie in high school, so that’s what she is used to calling me.) Of course the first thing *I* said was “Oh no! Are you all ok?” After she assured me that her mom, all 4 kids, and herself were ok, so proceeded to tell me a story about God working miracles. I want to share.First a little background. My friend is a single, working mom to 4 kids. Her mom lives with her to help watch the little ones while she works…nights. She works as an aide in a nursing home while she’s waiting for the nursing school session to start in Sept, at which point she will be going to school to get her R.N. The town they live in is small, so the nursing home is not fully staffed overnight.

    Sunday night she, one other aide, and an R.N. were on duty. Just about the time every one else left for the day, the sky turned dark and things went still. While some of the others at the home thought the stillness meant the predicted rainstorm was going to pass around them, my friend knew otherwise. She sprang into action, telling people there was a tornado coming. They started hustling getting the patients moved (most still in their beds, and many on oxygen) into the hallways.

    Very early on, the R.N. was hit by glass and could no longer help, leaving the two aides to get the whole population to safety. My friend said she took one wing and the other aide took the other. She grabbed a pair of sunglasses and duct-taped them on. She grabbed a mask and put it on over her nose and mouth. Then she rushed around switching oxygen feeds to portable units, moving beds into the hallway and trying to direct the mobile patients into the halls.

    There were a few in the lobby of the home, and the pressure and wind was such that my friend feared people getting blown or sucked away, so she sat down in front of the GLASS front door and braced herself to keep it from blowing open while the residents moved into the hall. When they were all out of the lobby, she too ran for the hall.

    As soon as she got in the corridor, she says, the glass doors and windows all blew in. She said she could see huge pieces of glass flying into the corridor from either direction and knew she would be hit.

    Just before the glass got to her, though… it turned to powder! I’ll say that again… it smashed up into glass DUST. So instead of being hit with giant shards of plate glass, she was hit with far, FAR less disastrous glass powder.

    She was thanking the Lord, and praising God for being with her and helping her to know what to do and helping her to get it done and in protecting everyone.

    The Lord held back the glass door blowing in until she was no longer sitting right in front of it. Because God gave her the sense to put on sunglasses and duct-tape them to her head, her eyes were protected from the bulk of the glass. Because He gave her the sense to put on a mask, she did not breathe any of the glass powder into her lungs. She was able to get all the residents safely into the hall, covered with blankets to protect them from glass before the glass started flying. None of the residents were injured at all, and all were later transported safely to nursing homes in neighboring towns. The R.N., while hurt, is ok.

    When the storm was passed and my friend went outside to start the evacuation of the residents, she saw the home’s generator as well as a big tree limb on her car. The car was not dented, or even scratched.

    She did have a lot of glass in her hair that she was still trying to wash out, and she had some glass slivers in her feet from glass getting in her shoes and then walking on it all night. She said her face felt kinda burned…like if she’d been in a sandstorm.

    The biggest injury she sustained was some debri (glass?) in her eyes. Not a lot, she said, and one of the EMTs had given her some drops to put in them until she could see a doctor later in the week when the town got electricity back. She said her vision was a little blurry because of it, but she was oh so thankful for the Lord’s protective, guiding hand!

    That call was such a blessing to me. Might sound funny, but if you could have heard the absolute EXCITEMENT in her voice when she was talking about how she KNEW God had been with her, helping her… About how she KNEW it was God that powdered all that glass, and that had helped her prepare for it with the glasses and mask. =) It was so cool to hear her so excited about that. I loved it!

    I’ve been thanking the Lord for helping her, as well, of course! I love my daisytrippin’ friend, and hate the thought of anything bad happening to her. She’s had more than enough of that in the last 10 years as it is!

    I ask for your prayers for her. For her eyes to heal,  and that the school (it was damaged pretty badly) will be able to have session so she can get her RN.


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