Sunday, November 29, 2015

How We Celebrate Christmas and Why

We don't tell our children there is a Santa (or Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy). We celebrate Christ's birth in such a big way there isn't any room for Santa. The only Santa you will find in our home is one kneeling in front of a manger worshipping the best Gift the world has ever seen.

There is still wonder and excitement! Our children still count down the days and announce how many are left each morning! They take a long time to write wish lists! They still eagerly anticipate and can't sleep the night before. We make Wise Men Bags instead of stockings. We have a cake for Jesus and sing Happy Birthday to Him. Every year, we make ornaments which reflect our beliefs. We view light shows keeping in mind that Jesus is the Light and encourages us to walk in truth. We attend events and worship in music all month in our home! Clint reads the Christmas story from Luke to us every year.

I make Christmas morning special by appealing to all of their senses. I use homemade potpourri to scent the house. I have Christmas music playing low. Sometimes I light candles. I have warm ham and turkey croissants on the table. The decorations are lit and the presents are arranged around it. Santa is so engraved in people's minds for Christmas due to our culture that they can't believe Christmas can be special without him!

We have taught them about the real St. Nicholas. He was a quite a passionate man! We feel feisty old St. Nick with his strong beliefs would have slapped people in their face, much like he did Arius, for how they celebrate him in Christ's place today. 

They also know about the myth of Santa and have been taught by us to respect other's beliefs and ways of celebration. They know of the accusations and hatred from other Christians that has been aimed at their father and I for celebrating Christmas with Christ and without Santa. Our children have repeatedly thanked us for making a stand for Truth over tradition.

As young parents, Clint and I felt this was the way the Lord was leading us to worship on Christmas. Our goal, every year, is to place Christ first and foremost. When Clint and I stand before the Lord, we don't want Him remembering how we squeezed Him in alongside a myth but how we gave Him all of the room in our hearts and home. 

I Peter 3:15 But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect

I John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Little Closer

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I turn 47 today and am celebrating it joyfully with my loved ones while I count my blessings. I am blessed with good health and am not on any prescription medications. I am approaching the day for it but currently do not wear glasses. My teeth are all intact and in good condition. I am physically active working in our home and on our farm. My marriage and family are whole. Our finances are in order, and our home is solid. I am abundantly blessed with all I need plus enough to share with others. My God given talents were perfectly tailored to allow me to serve those placed directly in front of me. I feel and see evidence of God's Hand on my life. For decades, I felt lower than every other human being but escaped those chains and found my value in the Gift God gave to me. To God be the glory for every single bit of it! I am blessed far, far beyond what I ever imagined for myself. I would not trade my life for anyone else's. I am His, and He is mine.

Today marks another year closer to realizing what is behind the veil. I am a bit closer to meeting "the One Who loves me more than all others combined" face to face. My mind struggles to comprehend casting off this mortal form and stepping into eternity much like a caged bird would struggle to comprehend the vastness of the great outdoors. Birthdays are simply mile markers in this journey that has a glorious ever after ending.

I Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"

Friday, November 27, 2015


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second story window

We finally shuttered the front of the house. We only had room to paint those ten at one time. We will do the sides next. Painting the trim will have to wait until next spring. 

Eventually we will wrap the trim in aluminum. The money that we could have used for that went to something we value more than possessions--loving on God's people. So we will wait patiently for the Lord to provide knowing He will at the perfect time and in the perfect manner.

Free Kindle on Oregano Essential Oil

Grab quickly! Prices change often.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving 
from our home to yours!

I am writing this the day before Thanksgiving. I am enjoying cooking in the kitchen with my beautiful children! I thank the Lord for these wonderful opportunities to experience life, make memories, and bond closer to each other. Now, at almost 47 years old, I even rejoice in the chaos, mess, and my own weariness because I know that is evidence of the blessing of a large family. 

We have much to be thankful for this year! Our family has grown in grace and knowledge of the Lord. We are still here and healthy. God has brought some awesome people into our lives who have impacted our family for the better. We have had many opportunities to serve others and rejoice in being God's hands and feet in this troubled world. We have seen an improvement in a broken relationship with external family. We have filled our freezer with homegrown foods. Our home and farm has undergone many positive changes. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are healthy and have the skills to do it. Brandon has not only purchased his own home but has excelled in his job. He has impressed upper management enough that he has been offered a very nice job two pay grades higher than what he is making in Atlanta. The rest of the children have made strides in their education. We have been blessed with the opportunity to increase our income. 

We have a lot to be thankful for this year, but even if we didn't, we could still give thanks and rejoice because our God is worthy to be praised!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Please Pray Hard for Kathryn

Please pray for my friend, Kathryn, and her family. Miles, her 15 year old son, was killed when he was hit by a car. She gave me words that brought me much comfort when I lost babies. She is deeply suffering in her grief. Ask God to let His Presence be made known to her and to fill her with His comfort and peace. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Free Christmas Activities Book

I post some free Kindle books as I find them, but that does not mean I have read them.  Please preview the books before you read them with your children to see if they line up with your core beliefs.

Free Christmas Stories Kindle Book

Free Kindle of Christmas stories. 
Check price before downloading because prices can change quickly.

Article: Shut Down the Homeschool Fight

"1. Oh, I don’t like to debate my family’s choices. This one works on everything from cloth diapering to why your child can’t watch PG-13 movies with Grandma. I find it most effective when stated in a very relaxed way, because I’m not looking for a fight — I’m looking to be all done with that particular topic." - See more at:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Article: Homeschool Mom, Give Yourself A Break

"Let’s start with not being so hard on ourselves.  I think the homeschool mom is more critical of themselves than most other moms I know.  We worry if our kids are getting a superior education, are we missing something, proving how awesome homeschooling is to our family, friends and strangers.  And we still want to keep a clean house, cook healthy meals and lose 10 pounds."--read more at: HOMESCHOOL MOM – GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


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Please Pray for Our Friends (Transplant Day!!!)

Today is the day Bunny and Kara undergo surgery. Please lift them in your prayers.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Chicken Lover Gift Idea

An acquaintance of mine was given a unique gift. She really likes chickens. A thoughtful relative of hers took a worn out cupcake tin and painted it to look like a stack of nest boxes with chickens on straw nests in each hole. A ribbon was added to the hole for hanging. It turned out really cute. It was oooo-ed and awwww-ed over by the chicken crazy ladies.

No, I do not want one. Hannah might in 20 years though. :-)

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Spare your germs from others as you would like them spared from you!

Common courtesy says you stay home until you know you aren't contageous. Spare your germs from others, as you would like them spared from you! If you are a large family who has experienced the stomach virus at the same time, you know, the struggle is REAL, people!

For the Love of All That’s Holy, If You’re Vomiting, STAY HOME!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Article: Successful Cancer Treatment

"They used heat and oxygen to kill it, and then vitamins, minerals and amino acids to strengthen the immune system, which kills the cancer as well. It turns out cancer cannot survive in certain environments, if you starve it, it has nothing to feed on and killing it becomes relatively easy. " -read more at 

So . . . It Turns Out Cancer Can Be Killed After All

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Chicken Boots Made in the USA

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I bought them just to see Hannah smile. She said, "Oh, they are so adorable!" over and over. I wish Sloggers made them in children's sizes! 

They are very comfortable and made from a soft, flexible rubber unlike any I've seen on a rain boot before. The boots do not come up as high as I'd like so I'll wear these around the farm and buy a pair of waterman's boots for mud and heavier work. 

If you order a pair, you might consider going up two sizes. I wear normal width shoes. I went up one size hoping to fit a thick sock in them. These fit me perfectly while I am barefoot. I will not be able to get a heavy wool sock in them for winter wear. I do love the feel and look of these cute boots though! I may get a pair of the comfort shoes next spring to wear in the garden.

Monday, November 02, 2015

A Benefit of Homeschooling I Didn't Anticipate

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I am so thankful that homeschooling fostered a deep love for learning in our children that has carried over into early adulthood. In this picture, Brandon has sought out Clint and is listening eagerly to learn more plumbing tips and repairs during a break while we were helping him unclog a pipe at his house. Caleb is listening and learning too. Both of them asked Clint many questions.

We can either look at the clogged pipe as a difficulty or an opportunity. I am thankful both my husband and sons seized the opportunity to be together, make memories, learn together, and to share and receive knowledge. I am glad they let me hang out so I could help a little. I had some big "Praise the Lord" moments realizing how precious these moments were as I observed them interacting.

If you are waiting for perfect moments filled with lots of fun and entertainment to make memories, you might find out too late that you don't get that many perfect moments. 

Make each moment count...even the imperfect ones.

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Study on Delayed Kindergarten Effects on ADHD

“We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73 percent for an average child at age 11, and it virtually eliminated the probability that an average child at that age would have an ‘abnormal,’ or higher-than-normal rating for the inattentive-hyperactive behavioral measure.”

"The study’s findings also align with other research that has shown an extended period of early childhood play – such as in preschools – yields mental health developmental gains. As a result, Dee said he hopes his research will lead to broader examinations on how kindergarten is taught. It could be pedagogy pointed more toward play rather than structured academics." Study finds improved self-regulation in kindergartners who wait a year to enroll

Lawmakers require puppies to stay with their mothers and littermates for 7-8 weeks, and there is a push to extend that for the better health of the dog. The thought behind it is that longer periods with their mothers/littermates will prevent unwanted behaviors that typically land dogs in shelters. Why do we give so little thought to our own children, who should be valued so much more, and who also develop mentally and physically at a much slower rate? 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Kidney for Bunny

I am so excited! Clint's and my friend, Bunny, from high school is getting a kidney from her sister, Kara! Please keep them in prayer for successful surgeries, quick healing with no complications, and that their expenses will be covered. 

"Bunny has been in a health fight for many years, due to complications with an autoimmune disease known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. SLE, or Lupus as it is commonly called is a disease in which the body fights itself and breaks down the body's immune system. This disease, with no cure, can also attack major organs and organ systems within the human body. In Bunny's case, her lupus has severely attacked her kidneys, placing her in End Stage Renal Disease and having to go on Dialysis. She has been on Dialysis for 3 and a half years and though she has been responding well, her only hope is a Kidney transplant.   On September 16 of this year, Bunny found out that her sister Kara, was a kidney donor match. Hallelujah!!! The family's prayers were answered.  The two sisters will undergo donor/transplant surgery on November 10th at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.  This fundraiser is to assist with their medical costs, transportation to and from doctors appointments, and to assist with any financial needs that may come up during this process, as both will be out of work.  Those who know Bunny know that she is caring, compassionate, and thoughtful...a dedicated mother to her beautiful daughter Naleah (age 14), very active in the church in which she attends, and is an incredible Registered Nurse at Sentara Obici Hospital.  Those who know Kara know that she is kind, a wonderful mother to her son Christian (age 7), also active in church, and is a very giving person.  She works as an Admixture/Pharmacy Technician with Virginia Oncology Associates.  

Please, with a sincere heart,  help the sisters, along with their family to achieve this goal. May God bless each and everyone of you and hope that you can assist. No amount is too small!" To see a picture of these beautiful sister and consider a small donation, click here.

For Parents of Addicts

I am friends with several mothers who have confided in me that their child fights the battle of addiction and have shared the anguish it causes them. These mothers are my former Sunday School teachers, bus drivers, neighbors, classmates, and a few internet friends. Among them are some of the most gentle, sweet, and sincere Christians I know. Interestingly enough, some of them know each other but do not know that they are facing the same battles. I won't break their confidence. It is their story to share or hold back as they feel is appropriate, but I often think that if they just knew their friend was facing the same struggle, how much help and comfort they might be to one another. 
"When addiction grabs a child, it chokes a parent. I know the life-draining squeeze of its grip. I’ve never felt so incapable and helpless, so sad, so lonely. Such fear. My child has been stolen from me—stolen from himself—and I mourn Joey’s loss and suffering from a very lonely place.
There is no broad community empathy or support for the families of addicts. There is no rallying cry of solidarity, no pretty ribbon brigade, and none of the comfort that so often gets baked into meatloaf and muffins. Instead there are closed doors and mouths and minds and hearts.
I want addiction to be understood, not misrepresented, misjudged, and mishandled. Not hushed up or hidden away. Nasty things grow most freely in dark corners; the scourge of addiction needs to be dragged out into the light.
So, I share my story of love and loss and learning. And surviving my son’s addiction while coming to terms with the fact that he may not." read more Interview with Sandy Swenson, Author of The Joey Song

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Plumbing Problems? Try This Device

I am so glad my brother in law told Clint and I about this product because it was what resolved a tough clogged pipe in Brandon's new house. Neither of us had seen one before, so we are telling you about it to hopefully save someone the trouble and expense of a plumber's visit.

Brandon's toilet started backing up. Then, his tub would not drain. Then, his bathroom and kitchen sinks would not drain. We plungered. We dumped drain opening chemicals down. We used a plumbing snake. Then, we rented a power auger. We augered the toilet. We dug up the septic tanks. Yes, tanks. Brandon has two septic tanks and water drains into both of them through pipes, but there are no plumbing clean outs.

We took the toilet off. We augered from the toilet pipe until we could see the auger end in the septic tank. We augered from the septic to as far as we could go to the toilet. We augered the vent pipe. We sent a fish tape down as far as we could into the tub. We sent an old water hose with running water up the pipe to see if we could flush anything out. Then we put the hose down the toilet. Nothing fixed it. 

Richard asked me how the plumbing issue was going through text. I told him. He told me he'd text Clint about a plumbing bladder. 

We found a bladder at ACE. ACE's price was $7 more than Lowe's, but it saved us about 45 minutes of daylight to get it from there. 

We put the bladder down the pipe, and let it do it's job. We saw small bits and knew it was doing something. We would check the toilet drain pipe after a good while by taking it out and adding water to the toilet drain which would fill back up and drain a bit but not as fast as it should. So, we knew we were getting to it but didn't have all of it yet. We took it out and checked it three times before it finally broke free with about half an hour of plungering the tub at the same time. The clog came out in small chunks at first and then bigger chunks and finally, in a sludgy mass followed by bigger chunks and then smaller chunks.

Toilet paper clogged the pipe. 

I think Brandon will give up the softer, cushiony toilet paper in favor of the Asbell standby--the rougher but plumbing friendly, POM

Friday, October 23, 2015

Article: Oral Contraceptives, Epigenetics, and Autism

"Growing research supports the hypothesis that epigenetic mechanisms are causing persistent changes in gene expression of estrogen receptor beta that result in autism in offspring of mothers who use oral contraceptives. What is perhaps most troubling, is that it may be that the adverse effects of DNA methylation of the estrogen receptor gene are transgenerational." Oral Contraceptives, Epigenetics, and Autism

My husband and I did not use birth control except for a very short period while I underwent testing to see if I had a condition that was causing us to lose babies. In case you are wondering, we are not Catholic or Amish. :-) We are Christians with Baptist backgrounds. We sought God's Word in depth and prayed for wisdom and understanding for months before coming to the conclusion that God wanted His us to trust Him not just with our careers, who we married, seeking jobs, our finances, and etc, but also with our reproductive lives. If we trust God with our soul, it sounds reasonable that the rest of our life should be fairly easy to give to Him. Over the 17+ years we have left our reproductive lives in God's hands, we have seen Him keep His promise to take care of us. As our family grew, our income did also. We have lacked for nothing and have always had something we could share with others. Our home is filled with joy, and our friends often tell us they can see God's grace in our lives. While it was challenging to take that step to "let go and let God," following Him in this manner is one of the best decisions we have ever made. 

However, we recognize that not all Christians are convicted in the same areas. If one is going to use birth control, it seems like choosing one that does not harm the body with known short term and long term side effects is the better choice for health. Yes, one can opt to use it and pray against the side effects and hope God does give that protection, but that begs the question: Why would one knowingly and willingly use something that they have to ask God to protect them from to keep what God calls a "reward" from coming into their lives? (see Psalm 127:3

Whatever you decide, I am praying God will bless you abundantly in your role of mothering!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Update on the Deer Incident

Update: For those who were wondering, we did not discharge a firearm. We used a knife that was lent to us by a hunter who was too afraid of losing his license to use other methods he had available. The deer had relief from the excruciating pain in 2-3 minutes. The last call we made to 911, we waited 35 minutes before we received a call from dispatch saying it would be another 15-25 minutes. (A group of children was throwing cherry bombs under passing cars creating a public safety issue which also damaged our Suburban's electrical system.) We did not want the deer to wait so long for relief and with our other experiences with wildlife, we never even questioned if it was the right thing to do. The state wildlife agencies and other deputy did not have a problem with us at acting. It was solely the one officer. I do not have a negative view of law enforcement because of this. It was one person who threatened us and intimidated us. It's a shame they used their badge to do it, but it doesn't make them all bad. I have two stories of officers who missed the mark but can share quite a few about other officers that were a blessing to us.

Thank you to those who have been praying and to those who have checked on us. We have not been contacted by the overseeing authorities nor have we been charged with anything. We think the officer who mocked me for being a stay at home mom, yelled, threatened, and cursed once at us was either having a very bad night, did not know the law, or was offended we did "her job." She accused us of "hunting out of season without a license." She threatened us with jail time and big fines. She was not aware it was bow season. From what Clint and I can tell, the officer was having a bad day, and we drew the "vent card." If that makes her a better mom or wife later, then we can take it. The male officer was very calm, even mannered, and understanding and seemed to have no problem with it. She did not allow him to speak much.

In reading the law, there appears to be no law that covers humane euthanization of wildlife by civilians at an accident scene in our state. There are hunting laws, but nothing for this specific situation. 

We shared the story with our friend who is a wildlife official. She thanked us for ending the suffering and said she would assist us in court if we need her. Another friend of ours, who is also a hunter, was just in a collision with a deer this past weekend and put the deer down himself at the scene. The officer thanked him. There is such a big discrepancy in how we were treated and his experience. 

We have about 50 friends who have volunteered to write letters on our character and gentleness with animals, if needed. I don't think we need it. If it had been as big of a crime as she made it out to be, I think we'd have had contact from the other agency by now. I think the people who work with wildlife understand suffering and don't want to see it go on because someone is afraid to act to end it. 

I was told our state does not have a law saying it is OK to euthanize an animal after a collision with a car because the state makes the argument that people will "hunt by hitting deer." Realistically, what percentage of people would do this? and how many deer would be in the road? and does this justify making so many deer suffer? Even a few minutes of agony seems like a lifetime to the one going through it. Like other states do, it is the kindness we can show to the fatally injured deer we need to consider in these situations.

Most of my experiences with law enforcement have been good. We felt this situation was blown way out of proportion and that we were treated unfairly, but I think that has more to do with the person than the uniform. The uniform makes it easier to intimidate, but an unhappy person is an unhappy person no matter where they work. 

The easy thing would have been to left the deer in its suffering and done nothing. Ending the deer's life was hard on our minds and our hearts. We were covered in blood and had to comfort and gentle the animal as it departed from life. As Christians, we believe God has given mankind "dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Gen. 1:26  I believe part of that includes granting mercy when and where we can to suffering animals. 

That Never Ending Laundry Pile

Don't think of it as "doing laundry." It's a blessing to have family active enough to dirty their clothes. I had a friend whose very disabled daughter never got her clothes dirty. She told me envied my laundry pile! She saw the blessing in having an overflowing hamper! Those chores are a blessing to have! Even simple, repetitive tasks can be done with JOY and THANKSGIVING. 

Young mothers, it's work to change your attitude, but it is so worth it to have a cheerful family that is willing to help you do your work in the years ahead. If you complain and show a bad attitude while cleaning your home, expect to see that magnified in your children as they grow. Self-discipline in this area will go a long way in blessing your family.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

Biting and Devouring

I've seen this biting and devouring, especially in the public realm of late, and it breaks my heart. Devouring each other with words weakens the Body of Christ and our testimony as a whole to the world. We all fall short in so many ways. If your sin was exposed, would you want people to support you as a person, not your sin, but you as a brother or sister in Christ who had stumbled and fell flat on your face? Would you want a loving hand up, or would you want them to keep beating you down? God loves and protects His children, and I believe the He is very displeased when we turn on and attack one another. Knowing how fierce Mama Bear rises up in me for my children gives me a holy fear for the Father I share with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Galations 5:14-15 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." It's not right to blame culture for the weakening church if we are doing more harm to ourselves internally. Proverbs 14:1 A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. Love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, kindness, patience, gentleness, peace, where are these Christian characteristics when our brothers and sisters fall? Let's resolve to look more like the redeemed than the self righteous.
"The second—and more destructive—wave in the war on Christianity is coming from within our own ranks. The actual physical persecution of Christians will not amount to much, for the persecutors just single out one here and there to make an example designed to intimidate the rest of us. But many Christians have been induced to side with the accusers of the brethren.
I have observed in the media as they single out a Christian minister or a family, resorting to lies and distortions to manufacture a disreputable caricature of Christianity. When believers should be coming to stand beside the errant Christian or the besieged family, the blogs and Facebook posts are filled with Christian cannibalism. The media make us bleed, and Christians pile on like hungry wolves to add their bite to the wound. The church at Galatia had this same problem. Paul warned them, “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Galatians 5:15).
Believers are so fearful of being associated with sinners that as soon as there is the slightest allegation against a minister or prominent personality, Christians, out of a desire to show how virtuous they are and to distance themselves from the “sinner,” jump up on the podium beside the enemies of God and show their solidarity by loudly condemning the allegedly errant one. That is the disease that is killing the church, not Supreme Court decisions or inconvenient laws. The real threat to the church and modern Christian family is not coming from outside the walls of faith; it is coming from the pew in front of you and the sister church across town.
When a minister is guilty of sin, he should be disciplined by the church and, if it is called for, removed from the ministry. If he has committed a crime, he should face the normal penalty of law by means of the court. And if he repents, fellow believers should forgive him. Repentance may not lead to restoration of his ministry, but he should be embraced by the church. “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). “Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22)." read the entire article here.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Another Blessing for Brandon

..and the rest of us too.

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Over the spring and early summer, I shared my friend Monica's difficult journey after her father, Sanford, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. One of Sanford's last requests before he died was for his wife to let his dog, Girly, in the house so he could say goodbye. Monica told me he was adamant about the dog being allowed in even though he was very weak. I thought then she must have been a good dog if he was insistent about saying goodbye to her. Sanford got his wish, and Girly stayed by him until morning. 

After Sanford's death, his family started looking for a home for Girly. I thought about her for our family. I had so much going at the time; I knew I could not give her the attention she deserved. I also have so much poultry running around. How would I keep her from killing my feathered livestock? I prayed and asked the Lord that if Girly was for us, God would reveal it to me. Then, life got very busy, and I forgot about the dog.

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Fast forward to Brandon's offer being accepted on the house. I thought about my son sleeping there alone and asked God that if a dog was a good idea for him that 1. Girly would still be available and 2. that Brandon would be receptive. 

The next morning, I sent a text to Monica and asked her if they had been successful in finding a family for the dog. She responded Girly had not found a home, and they were going to try again because her mom could not keep her. I told Monica about the changes coming to Brandon's life. She agreed they'd be a good match and said she'd pray about it. So, I prayed about it again and then asked Brandon. He was very receptive. 

Girly lived with us for a month while Brandon's house was being purchased. She is extremely well behaved and has been easy to train. She doesn't even see the birds in the yard, but she does want to get to the penned rabbits. 

Girly bonded very closely to Brandon instantly. It's like she knew her assignment had changed! Brandon, Monica and I all agree God was in this. Girly has been a wonderful addition to our home and family. She is so loyal and protective over Brandon; it fills my heart with joy! 

It hasn't been all roses. Girly got in trouble for something minor. I think she was about to steal a sandwich left on a table while Brandon was carrying a tool to Clint. As it goes in large families, several of us corrected her at the same time. Miracle, Brandon's cat, seized upon this opportunity to apply several slaps with unsheathed claws to Girly's backside. She was merciless on the poor dog who yelped in pain! We guess Miracle was waiting for a chance to express her opinon about the dog's presence! Girly gives all cats a wide berth since. 

Brandon also took his cat, Ford, but left his old girl Miracle because I have grown so fond of the "old lady." Ford has accepted the dog and is trying to play with her, but Girly is nervous about claws! 

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Brandon gave me a key and has designated me guardian over his pets and home when he travels for business. When I go to his house to give him a hand with cooking, cleaning, and other things I do to minister to him during this phase of life, I get lots of love and attention from furry faces. Sometimes I bring them home with me which gives our family a double treat because Brandon has to come pick them up! 

Thursday, October 08, 2015

What Do You Do When Life Hands You...

high tides? We take boat rides and give thanks!

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Brandon's dog rode too! 
She thinks she is one of the our little girls!

God says to give thanks in all circumstances. Thankfulness in the midst of hard circumstances is one way God's people stand out from the world. If you want children who whine and are prone to drama, then be a grump and complain loudly about how life has inconvenienced you. If you want children who honor the Lord with thankfulness in all situations, then you'll need to example it. 

I am not perfect in this, but I have gone to my children when I have failed, apologized, and told them how my example failed to show them how God says to do it. Humility makes an impact on your children's hearts. If you present yourself as a perfect adult without sin, your children learn you are a liar (I John 1:8) and will not respect you. They might fear you but very few follow the example of someone who made them afraid. 

When the really high tides come every 5-7 years, we take the children out around the neighborhood in a boat and visit our neighbors! Our picture gets taken a lot! Sometimes, we are blessed to be able to lend a hand to someone in need. We are thankful for storms that give us opportunities to make these fun and unique memories! Storms also give us opportunities to bond closer as we work together.

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After a visit on a dry deck, Girly didn't want to leave!

Was it all fun? No. We had to elevate 200+ animals, prepare nine buildings just in case water got higher than expected, take our cars and RV to a community parking lot, and move equipment to higher ground. Joshua had surgery and then had a bad side effect from the pain pills during this period. The winds tore part of a roof off one of our buildings. Only having one vehicle that can handle some of the water, we had to coordinate appointments, jobs, and transportation with a narrow window of time that the water was low enough we could drive in it. We worked together with lots of joking around and got it all done without complaining. 

In our homeschool character lessons, we taught our children that complaining only makes a situation harder for everyone and is a vocal alarm revealing the work we need to do in our hearts. If you are saved by grace through faith, there is always something to be thankful for! Our olders now repeat this to our youngers, so we feel like this Scriptural lesson has become part of our spiritual legacy.

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back in the boat

After the work was done, we had a few lazy days with delicious home cooked meals to eat, snacks and desserts, games to play, and movies to watch. Moms, you should monitor morale and know how to renew energy and optimism in your family during stressful situations. An encouraging word, hug or shoulder massage, a treat, a break in the workload for some play, or a reward can make a big difference! Don't forget to praise your family as a group and emphasize the strength of working as a team, "Team Asbell rocks! God has made us strong together! We accomplished so much together! What a blessing to have each other because many hands do make the workload lighter! Thank You Father for this amazing family and the gift of each other!" Build your family with your words.

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As a mom with toddlers, I always "brought up the rear" to make sure no one was left behind. Now, it's habit! There is no better view than watching my family enjoy themselves. The musical laughter that drifts back to me is better than any symphony.

Our neighbors had their truck stuck for a while. As we passed, we offered to let them wait the tide out in our home. Water during the highest point was at our hips, but we were home before then.

I Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Article: Never Be Dismayed

"Sin is not “messing up”; sin is never a “mistake.” The choice to dodge her, the choice to preserve myself at her expense—this choice was organic to me, consistent with my character, as natural a sight to someone who really knew me as the sight of an apple on an apple tree. And to someone (like, say, me) who does not really know me, the choice is an exposure, an unearthing, a revelation. I am a sinner not because I chose wrong. But because I am the kind of person who would do that. This is bleak, perhaps—but I think it’s critical. Until we realize this, we don’t know what the story is really about. If we think we’re pretty decent people who occasionally do ugly things, then yes, those ugly things aredisasters, each one a miniature tragedy, each sin a perfect miniature Macbeth. But the story is not about the hypothetical me who could have made the right choice back there. And it’s not even about the me who made the wrong choice instead. It’s about the me who would choose wrong. ... How is this reassuring? How does this circle back to grace?" -read the rest here

Monday, October 05, 2015

The Boy and the Nose

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broken nose

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after surgery
cast is put on crooked to apply pressure

Joshua broke his nose last Saturday. Jack handle 1, Joshua 0. We took him to the ER. They could not fix it, so they sent us to an ENT. The ENT could not fix it, so they sent him to a surgeon on Thursday. Friday, he had surgery. The initial injury was less painful than the repair. He came back to us with swollen lips, swollen cheeks and forehead, a bleeding nose, bleeding down his throat (draining from nose), a tender throat from intubation, and a bad headache. There was significantly more trauma to fix it than it was to break it! Then there are the blood clots...yuk-ack-nasty! They gave him narcotics for pain, but those have caused him to vomit repeatedly which is not fun with a broken nose. The surgeon said his nose will be fragile for a while so he has to really watch what he does for the next month or so. The worst period will be immediately after the cast comes off. It took some doing, but we got rid of his new very crooked nose and have his old slightly crooked nose back! 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

"I Don't Want to Be a Burden to My Family"

"Often, though, we don’t act like it—especially as we grow older, or a family member ages or sustains a life-altering disability. The best of believers will be quick to say, “I don’t want to be a burden on my family, and I will do everything I can to see that I’m not!” They assume they are doing their family members a Christian service, as if it were their duty not to have to depend on anyone for help.

Yet this is what families were designed for—especially Christian families. The Christian family showcases to the world that sacrificial service is normal. Christians are supposed to give even when it hurts. We serve, even when—and especially when—we’re tired. We look out for others’ interests before our own. And if we do feel we are taken advantage of, then we find our example in Christ who “learned obedience from the things he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8)." -Joni Tada in The Beautiful Truth About Being a BurdenGod designed my disability not to make me “independent,” but “interdependent.”