Do We Stay Or Do We Go

Good morning loved ones,

What a lovely day. I have some BIG news and wanted to share it. Please forgive me, I am going to start from the beginning of the tale. It may be long so read some now and then come back to finish it.

We purchased and moved out to Leaf River in April of 2008. It was a dream of Salah’s to own some land [no less than 10 acres he would say], a stone home, and some animals. We came across this farmstead in winter of 2007. It was a late December day when we first came out to walk through the house; there was fresh snow on the ground, and it was a cloudy day. The first time I walked through the kitchen door; I felt like I was walking into ‘my’ home. The windows were large and it has incredibly nice natural light. Even on the cloudy day, each room had nice light coming in from the windows…very important. It has wood floors…no carpet…also important…no funky smells that come from having carpet. It is a simple farm house with a great enclosed front porch to view the countryside setting. It was built in 1843. It is stone. There are 14 acres with a creek winding through it.

We loved it at first sight. After some negotiating, we closed on the home April 17, 2008. We picked up Mom right after closing and brought her along with us to share in our excitement of unlocking the front door as new home owners. Justin helped later to move us in, which he has been so kind to help us each time we have moved. He was the main force getting our king size mattress upstairs [which will never be coming back down]. They pushed and squeezed and folded the euro top, deep king size mattress through the doorway and past the first flight of the stairs. Justin and Salah were not laughing then, but the sight of these two men getting that up the stairs is priceless. Sorry that was a just a quick aside…not to get off point.

The property has an old corn crib, an old hog barn and the remains of the barn that used to hold some cows. The trees and brush were all over grown it had been neglected for years. There was no life [no animals] in the buildings since 1970’s or maybe early 1980’s. Salah had a vision of some sheep. He wanted to be a shepherd. We even had bees living in outside in one of the kitchen windows…that was quite an adventure to get rid of them if you recall me relating that incident with you.

So we began our new life living on a farm.

In September 2009, Salah was laid off from att as part of a major lay off, nearly 30,000 people were affected by the lay off. We had been living in this home for just over one year. The severance, the 401K, and the unemployment managed to pay our monthly bills until July 2010. We realized after exhausting the severance and 401K funds the unemployment would not be enough to carry us through. I had been interviewing and job searching since the lay off in 2009. I finally was offered a part time job with Lowe’s in the Fall of 2010. We had sought help from HUD and worked with two different organizations to help keep the farm and prevent foreclosure.

Salah and I both believe in God and know He provides for all our needs. Honestly, the moment we found out about the lay off in 2009 the most amazing part of our life together as husband and wife and living on this farm began. I will say now no matter where you may be in your walk with God or perhaps you do not believe, this story is our, Salah’s and mine, testimony of what God has done in, around, and through our life. It is our praise story of His mercy and grace that only He could have made the impossible possible. ALL the credit goes to Him. We have been willing instruments in His hands.

Makes me think of this quote:

“I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.” ~Mother Teresa

Now back to the story.

Our last mortgage payment was in July of 2010. We continued to pay everything else:, the truck payment, the car payment, the insurance for the vehicles, the electric, the phone, the DSL, and the LP gas tank refills. The mortgage was what we fell behind on. We were graciously assisted by Salah’s two sisters who provided enough resources to cover the cost of refilling the LP gas tank one winter and covering some other utility bills, also assisting with sending Salah’s medications from overseas because we do not have medical insurance and he needs some prescriptions. Even knowing God provides, it is all together another story while you are going through the thick of it, it comes down to pride and knowing vs. believing. A huge test in faith. We gave up cells phones [do not have one to this day] mostly that came when we first moved out here…we live in a ‘dead zone’ cell phones do not always get the signal and we decided why pay for something that we cannot use. And that my dear ones is the beginning of a most needed and welcome change of perspective that God wants us to learn. Basic needs…He provides all the basic needs we will ever need and then some.

Anyway, moving on…We canceled our long distance bringing our phone bill down from $100 to $70. We use google voice…free calls anywhere in the US or Canada. Being out in the country 20 miles from the nearest stores you learn to ask real quick when you are thinking to go shopping, “Is this something I REALLY need?” All those ‘things’ I thought I wanted were not so important to have. We already had so much STUFF what more could we possibly want. It sounds like we were settling, if you are of the viewpoint of not believing in God, in actuality we wanted to deepen our walk with God. This deeper relationship cannot happen until all the distractions we have put between God and us are removed. That happens step by step day by day…

Moving forward still on the story…

In the Fall of 2010 we worked with one organization to possibly workout something with Bank of America [yeah, Bank of America] to keep the farm. After submitting a whole forest of paperwork [several forests actually, we had to submit paperwork several times each time we talked to someone new], we were told we did not have enough income in May of 2011. Salah had been job searching and was unable to locate a job. Having an issue with his lower back, we decided in May of 2011 he would apply for SS Disability. At this time, we started to work with another HUD organization to try other options to keep the farm. We were denied the SS in August of 2011. It was the first denial. We hired a SS lawyer to help us with the appeal process. At the end of August 2011, the unemployment finished. I was still only working part time at Lowe’s. I had been applying at other places for full time hours and more income.

Right at the same time the unemployment stopped, God opened the job opportunity for me at Nicor in September 2011, two years now after the lay off. The SS lawyer had advised us Salah would get his SS claim and that it would take about 6 months, that was in October 2011. We began what would seem the longest waiting period of our lives. I think the hardest part of the whole story is the waiting. The doubts, the fears, wanting an answer now…all of that…confusion, worrying will be out on the street.

Despite these obstacles in our path, Salah and I were determined to continue enjoying God’s countryside until He made it clear to us whether we would stay or have to leave. Salah and I got our Great Pyrenees dogs: Bernard and Romeo in November 2009. We picked up our fist animals [goats] in November 2009. We picked up more goats on New Year’s Eve 2009 from Mineral Point, WI. Yes, my loved ones, November 31, 2009 we traveled up to Wisconsin to pick up NINE little goats and put them in the back of our truck. The story just keeps getting better and better as we go, even though uncertainty loomed over our heads. We picked up our female Great Pyrenees, Juliet in February 2010. She took to her task of guarding the goats right away. I think for a while she thought she was a goat! We put up a fence in Spring of 2010. We now had a barnyard! Salah added some ducks and geese. All the animals lived together within the fenced barnyard. I forget to mention by Spring 2010 we had several cats. We experienced our first birth of life with the arrival of three goats in Spring of 2010. Then there puppies in Fall of 2010. So the waiting, even though it was challenging, time passed nicely with the life cycle of the seasons and the animals.

We managed to still keep up with the other monthly expenses plus the costs of supplies for the animals. Salah found a place to purchase scrap beef meat for 25 cents a pound to feed the cats and dogs. He has worked diligently at working out arrangements for buying hay for the animals. He tries very hard to keep the costs of supplies for the animals down. What an amazing [I realize I use that word a lot] experience it has been with the life of the animals.

In the Fall of 2011 when we were told we would have to wait for 6 months for the decision of the SS appeal we were discouraged, not knowing if we would end up getting that knock on the door to leave the house. Yet, we believed God had it all under control. We trusted in His purpose and plan for us. In Spring of 2011, we sold the goats and added Katahdin sheep [hair sheep; they have hair instead of wool and look similar to goats] to our barnyard. I remember the day Salah bought the sheep. I was driving to work, it was a Sunday, and I passed him driving in the truck on his back from buying the sheep. He pulled over on the side of the road. I did a U-turn and came back to where he stopped. He got out of the truck and I got out and came to the back of the truck. He literally had tears in his eyes as he says to me, “look, honey, aren’t they cute.” He was so full of hope. I started to cry too,  sensing the love of God with us.

The next big blow to hit us would be in August of 2012. We were told by the 2nd HUD organization we had been working with that our income was not enough and we owed too much in back mortgage payments to qualify for assistance. At this time, we received word from Bank of America, we would now be going through the process of a ‘short sale’. We were still waiting for news about the SS appeal. Here is where I realized the true wonder of the Lord’s handiwork. I was frightened. I had never in my life felt so lost and even worse I felt I had failed in some way. I sent a an email to Dad sharing with him my worse fears. I was given a hopeful reply and he shared insight to what he had faced when we lost the house in Springfield.  Facing the thought of losing the house and not having a place to go, I realized all my talk about believing in God was just that, talk. Satan was waiting for us to give up and do exactly as thousands perhaps millions of others had done and abandon their homes. Salah and I came to the realization if God wanted us to stay, He would work out the details and if He wanted us to leave we would go. We may love this house but we love God more. There is no benefit staying if God is not here with us. This reminds me of another quote: “ If you feel that God is far away, guess who moved?”

Salah who has faced homelessness before, kept telling me “Let them take the house. God will provide another way.” It is funny we would have such a strong desire to remain in this home. The house NEEDS work. It does not always make sense, it has become ‘our’ home. I kept praying to the Lord and asking “How can this home and land be used to benefit your glory. How can Your glory be revealed through our circumstances.”

In October 2012, Salah went to a SS hearing. The final part of the appeal process. It didn’t seem to go well. When we went to my sister Kris’ home for Thanksgiving 2012, we told them we had the farm up for sale as a short sale and we still had not heard about the SS. We had until January 26, 2013 to sell the farm to avoid foreclosure. It did not look promising. In December 2012, we received a letter from SS. Salah had been approved. In January of 2013, we notified Bank of America of the increase to income and requested for them to review our financial situation again and be considered for a home modification. We waited and prayed the resources we had for income would be enough. At the beginning of March 2013, we received a letter from Bank of America stating due to new HUD guidelines they would need more time to review our request. They stated they would give us an answer by April 30, 2013.

Meanwhile, life goes on at our farm. There have been 8 new lambs this year bringing our sheep population up to 18. We sold the ducks and geese in August 2012 thinking we would be leaving and well, they make a big mess. They are good for bug control, but the mess they leave behind is not necessarily worth it! Salah would walk the sheep down to the lower pasture when the weather permits-we have a fencing project on hold for that pasture until the outcome of whether we stay or not it is  resolved. He cares for the animals while I continue working at Nicor.

The BIG news: We received a letter this week, Monday April 8,2013, that offers us to make three trial payments with possibility of a home modification [once qualified] at the end of it. This offers the chance of keeping the farm. How incredible is that news! Only God can make such a thing happen. He alone has provided food on our table each day, a place to sleep each night and blessed us with love. When Salah emailed me at work telling me of the news, I answered him back, “Wow, I totally feel Gods love. I feel it everyday, but right now I REALLY feel it.”

Since April 1998, when I asked Jesus to save me, He has truly performed wonders in my life. He has brought a most extraordinary man into my life to be my husband, it is no coincidence that He chose Salah to be my husband. He brought us out here to His countryside where we can see, hear and know Him better. And now this. He has worked out details for a way for staying on this farm. We must remember all the while, never to let the gift become more important than the Giver. I have often times put what God gives me in the place of God Himself. When I don’t get or have the things I want [like a house] I begin to doubt God’s love. I openly admit my prayers often include pleadings that show, when examined, are more focused on enjoying God’s blessings than enjoying God.

Sometimes God causes loss to something I want [die to self is an on going process once you ask Jesus into your life] to find the right place He wants me to be. I am sure you have heard it stated, “He never gives you more than you can handle. And, He always gives you a way out of it.” The Lord never promised I would not have trials. He will either remove it, if it is His will and will glorify Him by doing so. Or, He will give me the grace, strength and ability to go through it with Him. He will turn the test into a testimony that will glorify Him eternally and make my character more like His. That is what I have asked for by accepting Jesus as my Savior.

Here is something I read recently that gave me a better understanding of this whole losing the house issue. It is from a devotional I have been reading by Thomas Kincaid [the painter] and Selwyn Hughes [the book was a gift I had given Mom and I have been reading off and on since she passed]. It is a based on the passage from the Bible: “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.” ~Acts 20:22

The quote from the devotional is: “We are often lead to areas of ambiguity and uncertainty. Situations we sometimes find ourselves in where the Lord’s purposes are not clear and the feelings we get when we don’t know which direction to take. Do you find yourself getting irritated and frustrated when the Lord unfolds His purpose just one step at time? If so, then your irritation says something about you. What is it saying? Perhaps it is saying that in this area of your life, you are a ‘corn of wheat afraid to die; you are fearful of trusting yourself to the unseen and unknown purposes of God. You see, if you don’t surrender to God, don’t think you don’t surrender. If you don’t surrender to God, then you will surrender to something else-your moods, your circumstances, your fears, your self-centered concerns. When you shrink from walking the road of ambiguity and uncertainty in company with the Lord, you are saying, in effect: “My trust is in myself and not in Him.” We don’t like to put it in those terms, of course, because it challenges our self-interest. And if there is one thing we must learn about the self, it is that it does not like to be challenged, confronted or dislodged. The self, however, must be disciplined to die. It must die to being first in order to live second. That is why the center of the kingdom of God is a cross. We must go through spiritually what Jesus went through physically-we must die and be buried in order to experience a resurrection into freedom and fullness of life.”

You may ask me, what on earth does any of that have to do with my BIG news? None of this testimony [story] would be possible without God.

“But before people can ask the Lord for help, they must believe, in Him; and before they can believe in Him, they must hear about Him; for them to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them.” ~Romans 10:14 New Century Version

Women within my heart

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. I love this day.

It is amazing to me how God has created women to be gracious and gentle yet strong and encouraging through all kinds of circumstances. Honoring the ladies who have shaped and influenced us. Wiped our noses. Comforted us when were sick. Pulled out their hair after trying every last thing possible to discipline us. Laughed with us. Read stories to us. Sang to us. Taught us to mind our manners. And everything else they could to make us be a better person. Truly amazing.

I think of my own mom who I have seen make amazing party favors and decorations out of construction paper to fulfill our magical birthday theme requests. She did a pirate them for my brother, a princess theme for my sister, and dressed up as a court jester.

My Mom as court jester

She sat with my little brother teaching him how to draw, which he soaked up like a sponge as he was so talented drawing police cars [including sound effects as he drew!] even at the age of 4 years. She taught us how to make Easter baskets from construction paper. Then would make ‘nests’ to put inside of them [chow mein noodles coated with chocolate and butterscotch chips with jelly beans as the eggs, yummy]. A tradition she has carried out until this year. She would read us stories and interject special voices and sounds to bring the story alive in our imaginations. She made pancakes nearly everyday for my little sister who would not want anything else. And so much more.

Then there are my fabulous sisters: Jenny who has 3 children, Kristin who has 3 children and one granddaughter, Amy who has 2 boys and one grandson. I have watched in awe as this little people would tug and pull on their mom’s clothes…”mom, Mom. MOM!” Then these adorable angels would curl up into their mom’s lap for special snuggle time. No matter what had transpired through the day, these little ones would look to their moms for the direction and encouragement that was needed. It just melts my heart to see the love my sisters have poured into each one making them feel important and loved. As I do not have any children, an aching in my heart, I have been blessed from time to time with special time with my nieces and nephews that have given me only a mere glimpse of the special bond between a mother and her child. I hold those moments close to my heart and when I need a smile I can take one of those moments out of my pocket and wear it!

These women. my mom and my sisters are such rare treasures. And it touches my heart to see the wonder of their personalities, the warmth of their love, and the peace of their patience change and transform the lives of their husbands and their children. God’s love working through them reaching out to shelter their family.

As Proverbs 31:25 – 30 states: Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; she rejoices over the future [the latter-day or time to come, knowing that she and her family are in readiness for it]! She opens her mouth in skillful and godly wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]. She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness [gossip, discontent, and self-pity] she will not eat. Her children rise up and call her blessed [happy, fortunate, and to be envied]; and her husband boasts of and praises her, [saying], Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all. Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain, [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised! ~Amplified Bible

Some quotes to honor mothers:

To be a mother is by no means second class. Men may have the authority it the home, but the women have the influence. The mother, more than the father, is the one who molds and shapes those little lives from day one. ~John MacArthur

The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies. A true mother is one of the holiest secrets of home happiness. God sends many beautiful things to this world, many noble gifts: but no blessing is richer than that which He bestows in a mother who has learned love’s lessons well, and has realized something of the meaning of her sacred calling. ~J.R. Miller

I would take this time to honor all the other women in my life circle some who are a wife and mother, some who are a wife, and some who are awaiting for their grooms. I have the honor and privilege of having so many of these fabulous women about me. If I do not mention you specifically, please forgive me. There is Stacy, Jennifer M, Karen, Amber, Kelly and Ginnie to name just a few from my younger days as being single. I worked side by side with these women and they were so open and gracious to share a bit of their love and thoughts with me. Some of these women are mothers themselves embracing their precious role as wife and mother. There is Anne, Jenn K, Angie, Krissi, who I worked with while at Kohler. These amazing women are not only gifted and talented in their own right they personify the ‘branding’ of gracious living. There is my CSI: Annamarie, [Cute Sister In law] who makes the world of difference in my little brother’s life and is a great compliment to his artistic talents as she is most extraordinarily gifted as well. There is my cousins [Becky, Abby, Kari, Shawna] and aunts who are marvels in their own rights as they have over come the obstacles of motherhood in a single bound. There are the women I am blessed to be working with now, Lisa, Jenna, Beth, Brittany, Whitney, Hillary, Kelly, Marybeth, Tricia [and more] some who are moms already and some who are being prepared for their future. These woman who I work with every day and take their time to share a little morsel of their hopes and dreams with me. There are the women of my church family, Tena, Cheryl, Emily, Laura who simply pour out Jesus’ love to all those around them with so much grace and warmth, what a blessing they are. There is Gene and Connie who are my lovely sisters In Christ who have touched my heart in such a special way. I miss Gene’s voice, who is from Panama originally with a hint of an accent from her heritage which I could listen to speak all day long and never grow tired of, a sweet mother’s voice that has often comforted me in times of distress. I miss Connie’s laughter, who has been recently ordained to the Lord’s Ministry, an infectious laugh that reminds me to embrace all the Lord’s joy that is given me. There is the newest addition to our family, Brittnay, my nephew Mathew’s wife and mother of their child Ivan. I pray that the Lord will lead and guide her while protecting her on her new glorious adventure as wife and mother.

There are my nieces over in Austria and Iraq, Fairuz, Ola, Rowa, Mariam, Tami [and more] who have wrapped me with a most miraculous loving embrace of family and belonging. These young women are hopeful and full of God’s love. They are being prepared for the next step toward their future.

Then there are my little nieces, at the ripe old age of 9 years, Miranda and Ellen. Little miracles they are. I am blown away by their openness and willingness to share their heart with me. A precious gift I treasure. I love to watch Miranda as she often steps up to be a leader and a teacher of sorts.  Ellen who simply just likes to reach out and embrace her family. She knows so well who is who in her family and she is so good at recognizing each one of us in a special way.

I offer this to honor all women as encouragement from 1 Peter 3 2-5: When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him–to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to deeply love, and enjoy your husband]. Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of the clothes; But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God. For it was thus that the pious women of old who hoped in God were [accustomed] to beautify themselves and were submissive to their husbands [adapting themselves to them as secondary and dependent upon them]. Amplified Bible

If you sit down and reflect, there are so many women around us that have touched our hearts and lives. It is hard to capture who they are in words. I know I am blessed by them all becuz, I have had the honor of being included in their lives and observing their fantastic style and flair for living life.

My love to you fair maidens and matrons. May the Lord bless you each day

Do I love him…

I watched the Fiddler on the Roof the other day. I love that movie. Especially the part where Tevye and Golde realize they love each other after 25 years of marriage:

Tevye: [in song] Do you love me?
Golde: [speaking] I’m your wife!
Tevye: [speaking] I know!
[in song]
Tevye: But do you love me?
Golde: [singing] Do I love him? For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him, fought with him, starved with him. Twenty-five years, my bed is his…
Tevye: Shh!
Golde: [singing] If that’s not love, what is?
Tevye: [singing] Then you love me!
Golde: I suppose I do!
Tevye: Oh.
[sings]
Tevye: And I suppose I love you too.
Tevye, Golde: [singing] It doesn’t change a thing, but even so… After twenty-five years, it’s nice to know.

DSCF0377 My hubby likes to watch it with me. Then for the next few days it is so cute listen to him whistle and hum some of the songs from the movie.My hubby reminds of Tevye [played Topol] especially when he is singing the song “If I were a rich man…Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.”We have been married 7 years. My Salah is a very traditional man. Sometimes it is a challenge to my ego and pride.Then I remember all the ways he has been so gracious and loving toward me. At night, he enjoys eating fruit after dinner. Most nights he will enjoy apples, oranges, bananas, and other fruits. When he peels the orange, he will always lean over and say to me, “Here, honey, this is your share” and hand me half his orange. He will offer to bring me tea when he is getting his. He will upon occasion do the dishes, make the bed, and offers to help carry the laundry down to the basement for me. He reminds me when my tongue and voice becomes impolite by saying to me, “What is this ugliness?” He reminds upon occasion that he does not need me to speak for  him when he having a conversation with my FBI and I try to help him out with language, “Hey, this is men talking to each other. This is between me and my FBI.” He holds me accountable to my part of caring for our home and animals. He holds me accountable to most everything…he keeps a close eye on me.Earlier this year, some of these things got under my skin and began to irritate me. My husband was laid off back in September of 2009.I found myself opening my mouth and out would come this awful attitude or response. It was not pretty. Over and over. Thoughts and words are related. Thoughts are unspoken words. Words are verbalized thoughts. Your words are a reflection of your thoughts…UGH! I was so frustrated…I could not tame my tongue.

Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief. Proverbs 21:23 The Message

I found myself amidst a totally new ‘comfort zone’ without ANY comfort. My attitude and responses to certain things began to weigh very heavily upon me. That is where the dark cloud comes over me. I wanted to scream, I wanted to yell, I wanted to say all that was in my heart…but the Lord placed His hand over my mouth and told me to be quiet. I kept saying, “But, Lord, he…” And the Lord places His hand over my mouth again. I said again, “But, Lord, he….” And the Lord placed His hand over mouth yet again this time telling me, “Be still child.” Then I said, “But, Lord, I don’t want anyone watching me so close. I want my privacy.” And there was the dark cloud storming above…my pure unadulterated pride was being poked [my dad used to warn us about the “Hemenway Pride”]. Suddenly, everything seemed very transparent and very self-centered.

If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren). James 1:26 The Amplified Bible

I was smack dab face to face with my ugliness of my space being infringed upon. I was mad because I felt like I could not enjoy a leisurely coffee and breakfast. I was resentful because I could not take a nap in the middle of the afternoon just because I wanted to. I was frustrated because I couldn’t sit and watch a movie eating a snack instead of doing…anything more productive…like dusting or vacuuming or working outside in the yard. Instead I was constantly being held accountable for my actions and how I spent my day. I did not like facing the fact that I had become pure lazy! How do you think I put on all this weight? Not by keeping my hands busy doing my daily tasks.Drama. Drama. Drama. That is how I felt…I was making much more of it than necessary. But, laziness is a very serious condition just as overeating is. Both are equally bad for your health. And instead of rejoicing that Salah wanted to spend time with me doing projects like the goats, I slapped him in the face with my attitude of having my space infringed upon. Which led way to all kinds of other grief in the process. I openly admit I did not like being “watched” so closely. It would be so much easier and less painful if I placed it on him, but that would not honor the Lord, would not be true and would not teach me what I need to learn. No, it rests within me and I take responsibility for my actions and the consequences from them.

A man’s [moral] self shall be filled with the fruit of his mouth; and with the consequence of his words he must be satisfied [whether good or evil]. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life]. Proverbs 18:20-21 Amplified Bible

Anyways, back to the movie…

This part of the movie reminds of the love that my husband shares with me every day…day in and day out…the good, the bad, and the ugly…in sickness and in health, to love, honor and obey. There are so many ways he demonstrates his love toward me and his commitment to our marriage. There are times when I look at him and I just plain do not get him…but then there are those moments when he looks at me and says something that just melts my heart. All that he does whether I agree with him or not, is done out of love. Just like God my Father. Wow what a gift.

I never really understood what it meant to really “love” until I found Jesus. When God first brought Salah into my life, I was not sure I wanted to even meet him. God knew all long the man He had ready for me…I am ever grateful it is my Salah.

I just love him, thank you Lord for making him the man he is.

Daily Devotional: From my Hearth to Yours

Romans 15:13 KJV

~The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.~

card fb My second winter out in God’s countryside has begun with new life within our old barn buildings. I was struck by a most reflective thought as I laid out fresh straw for our new little goats.

My Lord Jesus began his life among such a place.

As I continued my chore of laying out the straw, I was touched by one of the goats. Very lightly mind you, they are still hesitant of us. Each day they come closer as we build a relationship of trust with one another. They come and sniff at my outreached hand. I have even been allowed to touch their nose a couple of times. They seem to enjoy my husband’s voice very much. When they hear him call, they respond very quickly to him. Most precious to observe.

This year is nearly to a close. As I look toward the new year, I am grateful for all the life happenings Jesus has guided my through so far. I think about how I must be like our goats, I too come and sniff at Jesus’ outstretched hand, hesitantly laying out all my stuff before Him. I say hesitantly because I seem to want to hold on to old baggage and flaws thinking I will find a way to handle it, instead of trusting and handing it over to the Lord who has already overcome the obstacle for me [and resolving any issues much better than I ever could!]. He patiently and lovingly leads me, teaches me, and disciplines me as we build a relationship together.

As we gather with family and friends over the next couple of weeks, may the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ fill you in a special way. May you be grateful for all the life happenings He has guided you through so far [and continue to do]. May you continue to seek His presence in your life [be sure to ask Him for help and include Him in your thoughts, hopes, dreams and prayers]. May His patience fall upon and over you as He works out the very special intricate details of His plans and purposes for your life. You will be astonished at what a tremendous job He does for you!

Most of all, know that you are a special warm fuzzy in His heart [AND MINE!!!!].

I thank each and everyone for the laughter and the tears we have shared.

With much love, Sara

How long does it take to make living space a home?

A living space takes YEARS to mold and bend into a "home"; especially one that is left unattended, unloved, and neglected. Time passes over, by, through and around a space that just sits. Odd really when you think about it, people may ‘live’ in a house [or any living space] yet it never becomes a ‘home’. We must add life, fingerprints, smells, creativity and MOST important…LOVE!!! [just like a marriage…we mold and embrace that relationship over years of adding ourselves to it].

Never mind the ‘things’ like: furniture, carpet or tile, stairs, pictures, walls, etc. They are inanimate objects…they are useless until one applies life, fingerprints, smells, creativity and LOVE to them.

If a space is left to just sit…then it dwindles a bit…it sags, it leaks, it chips, it fades away…then someone comes to dwell within it. Do they really ‘live’ in it? Do they notice the paint peeling off the windows or the fact that the stairs are rotting from years of neglect? Do they care enough to apply life, fingerprints, smells, creativity and love? Or is it just a place they blindly use to eat, take a shower and sleep in until they need to move on? We want it all ready, shiny and new!

Think of the possibilities and memories we have the privilege of creating within those ‘unfinished’ walls. The home you are creating is alive with possibilities to provide wholeness and health–and FUN! You will identify something that is missing and address it with…"hmmm…I wonder how WE can…"

Your efforts at creating ‘home’ will make a difference. Those differences will be largely immeasurable and intangible, and yet at times you will see, as if a curtain has been opened, positive influences of home that have your fingerprints all over them. Then you will breath that little sigh…’home’…of satisfaction which is gentle and deep.

Relaxing-Fireplace-ScreensaverIt takes time to nurture a space into a home. There is the ‘inside’, the personality, the atmosphere, the warmth, and the nternal support systems essential to the place we want to call home. But a home functioning at its best also prepares and motivates us to participate in the larger world and to welcome people into our homes. That brings us to the ‘outside’, how we can extend the shelter of home into a larger sphere. Building a home is like any worth while relationship…and the care and concern we put into them varies [A LOT].

Your home is an extension of your personality and it’s where you are most you. Don’t ever forget that IT IS ALSO where your husband is most himself and your children are most themselves; and likewise for anyone in their respective homes. This is a notion that literally hit me over the head…my husband has equal contribution as to applying life, fingerprints, smells, creativity and love to our home just as much as I do [I had always thought only the woman or wife cared about such things…oops…I was soooo wrong!!]. So sometimes those personalities play thumb wars…the key is how can ‘our’ home be home for ‘all’ of us? After all we all want a home base where we are accepted and rejuvenated. And no matter what the day has been like, "Now I’m all better, I am home!"

"Imagine yourself along with me sheltered within four walls that represent key concepts of home: One wall represents to us that home is a physical structure, and atmosphere; another holds the thought that home is also the relationships developing inside that structure. The final two walls encompass our need to cocoon, draw in, and be ourselves and our need to participate wholly beyond our walls and invite people to share the exeprience of what  we have within." ~quote by Mary Beth Lagerborg~

Once we understand the personality traits of those we live with, we can develop plans that take into consideration and respect the needs of all. What we do for each other entirely positive is that we share. That is the beauty of home…where you feel welcome. It conveys a thoughtfulness of comfort and a sense of the personality and character of the people who live within it. Beauty in our homes reflects our creative best…AND IT’S FOR OUR FAMILIES…not just our guests.

Bringing us to the "C" word…contentment. A precious and rare quality. It comes more easily than one might think if we search through our lives for all the things for which we are thankful. The blessing of a ‘true’ home is a responsibility, a stewardship. Plus, we appreciate and enjoy ‘our things’ more when we’re willing to share them with others.

My little sister, recently, was given a much different view of the ‘home’ we grew up in in Springfield, IL. In simple words, the home needed much TLC and many issues of which were rather embarrassing to us living there. Her dear friends of yesteryear saw our home filled with life and as though our home was some mansion!

I pray, and mostly for myself, that we enjoy the home that is ours right now without longing for a different home to be ours tomorrow. That we would cheerfully apply our hearts, life, fingerprints, smells, creativity and love to the dwelling [under any roof, be it a house, apartment, condo, RV, etc] that God has provided for us to care for and maintain.

Phew…I know you were not being ungrateful in anyway… just realizing the task that lies before you. I apologize for the length [and perhaps preaching] of the topic. It comes from my heart which lately has been filled with ungratefulness and a lack of understanding of these things.

Listening to how my sister’s friends remembered our old tattered home made me realize how ungrateful I truly have been. It hit a mark in my heart and soul. I was so
touched by their heartfelt appreciation of the memories they have…and in the end…that is priceless and what matters most…the life, fingerprints, smells, creativity and love of a home.

To be free from excess or extravagance

A few months ago, my husband was given a 60-day notice letter from his employer. Rumors had been flying around for months about an upcoming strike and possible lay-offs. We walked on egg shells for several months waiting for the outcome. Then one morning, shortly after my husband had arrived to work, he called me. He shared with me that they had given him the 60-day letter. There was peace and disappointment within my husband’s voice.

I did my best to reassure him all is in God’s hands. I continue to do so now nearly 3-months later. However, without revealing too many personal items, let me say that His faith is much different than mine. He believes in God, he is not saved as I am. There is conflicting thoughts and approaches that have developed within this circumstance that we now find ourselves. We both believe it to be a most welcome opportunity to understand God, to hear Him more clearly, and to know Him better.  The difference comes with patience and waiting upon the Lord to work on the “what’s next details.”

A friend of mine recently forwarded an article to me written by J. Lee Grady. The article:

SLOSHED in THE SPIRIT?? – IT’s TIME TO GET SOBER -by J. Lee Grady.  
Getting “drunk in the Holy Spirit” has been a popular concept in some churches. But is it biblical?

You can read more about this at: http://charismamag.com/index.php/fire-in-my-bones/

The article itself was speaking about certain individual charismatic circles and the strange teachings of John Crowder-a confessed “new mystic” who compares the infilling of the Holy Spirit to smoking marijuana.

The article was good insight to this topic. However, the paragraph that hit home for me was the following:

“The soberness here is not primarily a reference to abstaining from alcohol (although it’s worth mentioning that believers who drink will find it more difficult to obey these commands). To be sober can be defined “to show self-control,” “to be sane or rational,” or “to be free from excess or extravagance.” A sober Christian knows the heights of God’s inexpressible joy, but he is never ruled by emotions, passions, lust or any other category of temptation that has the power to dull the spiritual senses.” 

This hit the mark in my heart condition [circumstances] today because of the new avenue I am walking with God due to His timeless teachings. The main point that was driven deeper into my heart, was “to be free from excess and extravagance”. I confess, before the Lord and all who may read this, that I am addicted to money and have misplaced and misdirected my faithfulness toward having it. It is so easy and convenient to place faith in having money and the lie that “all is well” when you have it.  It is much harder to grasp the concept that God alone knows my every need and will provide for those according to His time, plan, and purpose for me.

LiftEyesTopIn this time of the ‘shaky economy’ and the lay-off my husband, I am thankful for the revelation that God is my provider and my keeper. He is my true bank account. I look around me and my oh my, He has blessed me with ever so much. He has not let me out of His sight for one moment, while I have blinded myself with my desires for luxury and extravagant necessities [my fleshly desires for more clothes, shoes, food, money, etc.]. My vision has also been obstructed by needless worry and fear. A battle that goes on day and night within me.

Although the article was speaking more about the charismatic, I found God’s message of encouragement within that one phrase, “to be free from excess and extravagance”. I often find that to be the case. One word or phrase weaves its way within my heart and mind until the meaning is revealed and His Word is understood.

In every circumstance within my life, I can choose to respond in two ways: I can worship or I can whine!

God gave His Son upon a cross for me…I choose to worship.