Friday, August 31, 2007

My Story, part 2

*WARNING*

This is another long post. Not as ugly, but just as long. Read only if you have time to kill.

In my last entry, I left off at the date of my salvation. That is where this picks up. . .

In Basic Training, there were two flights, or teams, that did everything together: eat, drill, train, etc. I was in an all-girl flight and the other flight was all-boy. Since we spent so much time together, I got to know everyone on both teams very well. I spent every waking moment with them for 6 ½ weeks!

After BT, I transferred to Wichita Falls, TX for job training. About 2 or 3 other people from my flight in BT went with me. We all ended up being in the same class at that base, too, although this class was much smaller with a total of 8 or 9 people. I really got to know everyone well because of the small class size. About half way through the training period (about 4 weeks into it), we received our orders for our permanent duty station.

We were all in a class for airplane mechanics on the KC-10A Extender aircraft. I won’t go into the details of the aircraft; you can Google it if you’re interested. The important thing to know is that for this particular aircraft, there are/were only 2 bases in the entire WORLD that support them: McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey and Travis Air Force Base in California. Being from Ohio, I definitely wanted to be stationed in Jersey. It was only an 8 hour drive from home and I was homesick! That wasn’t God’s plan for me, though!

4 of us went to California and 4 went to Jersey. If we could find a willing person in class to do so, we were allowed to swap orders. No one was interested. I was headed to California, and I was scared, but because of all my moving experience, I looked at it as an adventure, and I was a little excited. I had never been to California, and I joined the AF to get away from Ohio, so the Lord was answering my unspoken prayers.

During this time, I became good friends with a boy named Nick Behm. He was from a small town (Valley Springs) about an hour and a half away from the base. He received orders back to California and was confident I would love it there. The Lord was using Nick to help me grow in my spiritual walk with Him, but of course I couldn’t see it at the time.

Once our training was over, we were able to go home for a short visit during Christmas. I packed up my stuff, and on January 2, 1998, I began my cross-country trek from Ohio to California in my truck. I had 5 days before I had to report to the base, so I was going to take my time and enjoy the drive.

The Lord protected me during this time, especially because I was so naïve about things. I stopped each day to sleep in a motel, but because I didn’t have a lot of money, I chose price over comfort. Looking back, I chose some really scary places to stop, and being a single female, that probably wasn’t the smartest decision! Again, though, the Lord’s hand of protection was upon me.

As a side note, if you’ve not ever driven cross-country, I highly urge you to do so. Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, and New Mexico are all beautiful places to visit. God’s creation is astonishing and each of these states provides a small glimpse as to the beauty of Heaven. I’ve done the drive 4 times, going different routes in order to see as much of the country as possible. I spent the night in Vail, Colorado during a blizzard, and it was breathtaking! The mountains of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico are spectacular, and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is indescribable! Lake Tahoe is amazing!

Back to my life. . .

Once I got to the base, I got situated in my dorm room, met my new commanding officer, and found where I was going to be working. I still had to attend some more training, so for a few months (from Jan. to March) I worked on the aircraft, shadowing different people and learning as an apprentice before the class started. On the weekends, Nick and the rest of us from our class in TX hung out together. We became a close knit group of friends, visiting places like San Francisco and Sacramento. Nick also took us to meet his family and we’d often spend the weekends with them. It was nice to have a home-cooked meal!

Eventually, I was the only one going “home” with Nick on the weekends. Nick was engaged so he spent his time with his fiancé. I just enjoyed spending time with his family (Nick had all brothers) and his family liked having me around, especially his mom. She owned her own dress shop, specializing in bridal wear, and I liked to go work with her on Saturday’s. I enjoyed his family because his parents were married and when they fought, they worked it out. It was an encouragement to me, plus they welcomed me with open arms!

Nick’s family were also Christians, Baptists actually, and me being so immature in my walk with the Lord, when they went to church on Sunday mornings, I gladly went with them! They attended a small church (about 50 members) but the Doctrine was sound and the congregation was very nice. The pastor and his wife were very welcoming, too. I spent every weekend at Nick’s house for a good couple of months. I went even if Nick didn’t go!

On base I had met more people and I was gradually making new friends. Being in a unit of almost 500 people, I was a minority as a female. There were probably less than 15 girls in the entire squadron, and about half of those were married and a good bit older than I. That didn’t leave very many girls for me to befriend, but I did make a few good girl friends. Needless to say, most of my time was spent around males.

Since I was making new friends, I wanted to be with them on the weekends. I gradually decreased my visits with Nick’s family; however, the pastor did help me to find a church closer to the base. Again, it was a small Baptist church, but I liked it. Since it was closer to me, I was able to become more involved. The music director and his family took me in on Sundays so I wouldn’t have to travel back and forth to the base between services. Again, it was nice to have a home-cooked meal! The Lord was putting people in my life and using others to help me transition to my new life in California, and help to ease my homesickness.

I really loved my job as a mechanic. It was very empowering to me, and I was a go-getter! I didn’t care how dirty the job or how labor intensive, I wanted to learn it and do it and just be around the aircraft. As a kid, I would look up in the sky and pretend I was on the airplanes flying overhead. It was my way of escape from the reality of my life as a kid, so being around these gigantic planes was a dream come true.

One day in early March I worked with a guy named Tom. We were changing tires on a plane during its routine inspection (A-check). There was another guy with us named Jason. Jason was from Ohio, and from the moment he met me, he claimed to be in love with me. He was always asking me out on dates and doing goofy things to get my attention. While the 3 of us worked together, it was really a good time. We laughed as we worked because Jason was trying to show off for my benefit!

From that day on, Frank (the truck driver that took the mechanics from the squadron out to the aircraft and assigned work tasks) assigned me to work with Tom. I didn’t really think anything of it. It’s common practice for more experienced mechanics to work with and train newer ones. As long as I was learning how to do things and get signed-off in my records as knowing how to do them, I didn’t care with whom I worked! The more Tom and I worked together, the more his personality came out. He was a smoker, as were most of the people in the squadron, so we would joke and talk during his smoke breaks.

One day he asked me out on a date, and I told him I had a boyfriend. I was occasionally dating another guy. It was nothing serious, but I didn’t want to hurt Tom’s feelings. I wasn’t physically attracted to him- he was shorter than me! I had always been attracted to guys who were tall! Tom asked me out about 6 times (isn’t that borderline harassment?!)

Because of his seniority in rank, Tom was able to move out of the dorms and live off-base. He was moving into a townhouse with 2 of his friends. He asked me to help him pick out bedding, cookware, etc for his new place. It was fun to spend his money, and again, he made me laugh the entire time we were together.

One morning I went out to the flightline (where the aircraft are parked) and found Tom in a flightsuit hanging out of the window cleaning it. I had noticed he wasn’t at roll call that morning, so when I saw him I stopped to question him. He was going TDY for about a week, and I found myself sad that I wasn’t going to be working with him during that time. I instantly knew then that I was attracted to him, but not for physical reasons, but rather because of his personality. That was the first time in my life that I put personality ahead of looks (I know- very shallow of me!) I called him down from the window for a smoke break. While we were talking I asked him where he was going to take me when he got back. He kind of looked at me funny, then smiled and said he’d think about while he was gone.

When Tom got back, I had already started my next class so I wasn’t working the flightline except with my instructor. During that 6-week period, I only saw Tom in the evenings or if my class happened to be on an aircraft he was working. But, we did go on our first date to Applebee’s and we saw the movie “Titanic”. It was not my choice (if you know me, I’m not really into sappy movies), plus I’d already seen it 5 times (I’m not joking!). But, we had a good time, especially at dinner, laughing and such.

Now, I forgot to mention this in my first post, but I am really into community service. In high school I coached Special Olympics with my best friend Karrie and other best friend Chelsea (remember, I said Chelsea and I worked together at 2 of my 3 jobs?). An opportunity arose in the squadron to plan an Easter Egg Hunt for the children of the squadron. I readily accepted the position, and I enlisted Tom to help me. I sort of required it if he wanted to continue to date me. He obliged, and we had fun working together on that little project.

I have a funny side-story to tell about how hard Tom tried to get me to go out with him. He was changed to swing shift, meaning he had to report to work at 3:30pm and work until 11:30pm. I was still on day shift (7:30-3:30) so for a brief time we didn’t work together. I guess one night after work he decided to wash his car (he still lived in the dorms, right above my room) in hopes of making enough noise to wake me up. Now, at almost midnight, it’s dark outside. Why a person would wash their car in the pitch dark is beyond my understanding, but I guess when you like someone, people tend to do things out of the ordinary! His plan failed (if you don’t know this about me, I sleep with earplugs to keep noise to a minimum! He obviously didn’t know that about me!) and I didn’t wake up. Here’s the funny part- his windows were down and he didn’t know it because it was dark outside! The next day he went to go somewhere and his seats were soaked! They say love makes people do strange things!! He didn’t tell me this story until some time later, and it still brings a smile to my face!

If you haven’t figured it out, Tom is TJ. Why he introduced himself to me as Tom I’ll never know, but for the first 5 years that I knew him, he was Tom. All of our friends from California know him as Tom, and all of his AF friends know him as Tom. Only his family called him TJ, although now he goes by TJ full-time. And remember how Frank kept putting us together to work, TJ told me that he requested to work with me and Frank obliged.

I am stopping here for today. The important thing in this entry is that the Lord brought Nick into my life, then his family, and then Tom (or TJ). Again, my story of God’s grace and mercy doesn’t end here, but I’ll finish another time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

10 Years- Almost!

The 10 year anniversary of my salvation is approaching. I have been reflecting on my life since that day, and actually the years before, and God’s goodness throughout. I would like to share with you, but I warn you, this post is long and not for the faint of heart. I also want to add that I am going to share some ugly details of my past, so stop reading now if you think it will change your opinion of me. Finally, I want to add that although I am not proud of my past (I am dreadfully ashamed!), God is so amazing and forgiving, which is why I am sharing. If He can forgive me for my most horrific sins, He truly can forgive anyone (Psalm 103:12). I hope from this post you will better understand the God I serve. He is an amazing God, full of love, forgiveness, hope, compassion, strength, more than any man can know, and all that I am lacking. It is because of His love for me that I was saved 10 years ago and have changed to be a new person, conformed to the image of Christ His Son (2 Corinthians 5:17). I also encourage you to look up the verses I have referenced. Read for youself what an awesome, loving God I praise.

I did not grow up in a Christian home. My mom and dad divorced when I was 2 because my father was/is an alcoholic. When she divorced him, my mother and I moved to Texas from Ohio. There she met and married another man.

I lived with my mom and step-dad, and a few years later my sister Erin was added into the mix. I was 6 when Erin was born, and we did not share very much in common. My parents occasionally took us to church, and we prayed before supper, so I did know there was a God, but I knew nothing about Him. Because of my limited knowledge, I did not have the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7) and did not understand how having that fear should shape my life. I truly thought I controlled my life and all that happened, and when bad things happened (i.e. sexual abuse and an alcoholic father), I thought I was being punished by God for something I had done. This wrong thinking set the stage for my behavior all through my teenage years.

My home life was chaotic. I think that is the best way to describe it. My mom and step-dad fought often. He had an explosive temper, and I can remember fights where chairs would be thrown and furniture kicked. My mom separated from him a couple of times, moving my sister and I from Texas back to Ohio. She got back with him, and we moved again. By the time I reached 7th grade, I had attended 10 schools because we moved so many times. Each move caused me to feel more alone, and it was very traumatic for me. I was forced to become an out-going person or else I’d never have any friends! The older I became, the harder it was to adjust to a move because friendships and groups were already established and I never fit in any of them.

My step-dad sexually abused me when I was 11, although I can remember times as young as 6 or 7. However, being so young, I didn’t really think anything of it; I just didn’t know any better. At 11 though, it was much more overt and I knew what he was doing was wrong. I told my mom and she confronted him, but for whatever reason nothing changed. The abuse continued and became progressively more frequently and worse. I couldn’t take a shower without being watched! Where was God in all of this? Why did He allow this to happen?

Moving, feeling alone and like I didn’t belong, sexual abuse, an alcoholic father, a mother who worked a lot to support us, and a stepfather whom I despised all mixed together to create a hard, cold, bitter person (Titus 3:3). About the age of 12, I sought acceptance from boys. I couldn’t change anything about my home life, but I got the love I was so desperately seeking from boyfriends.

At 13 I became rebellious, sneaking out in the middle of the night to go meet boys. I was forced to go live with my alcoholic father. His girlfriend was nice, and she treated me kindly. But, I wasn’t her child to care for, and bitterness grew between her and my dad. They fought, he drank, and I watched. I remember an argument I had with my dad about me moving back to live with my mom. He told me he didn’t ask for me to be born, and if I hadn’t been born, his life wouldn’t have been this way. That was a heavy burden for me to carry on my shoulders, and what little of my heart remained was crushed. Where was God in all of this?

At this point in my life, my mom had divorced my step-dad and remarried another man. She had my brother when I was almost 15. The marriage was not going well, and both my mom and step-dad worked a lot. I was left to care for my siblings. I had a lot of responsibility and I didn’t know how to deal with it. Again I looked to boys, and I began to seriously date a boy 2 years older than me.

His name was Keith, and I adored him. We met in April of 1994 at the local YWCA in a lifeguard training class. He was a Boy Scout, working toward Eagle. My mom and his dad grew up together in the same neighborhood, so there were some family ties. We ended up working together at the same pool, so apart from school, we were always together.

In December 1995, almost 17 and a Junior in high school, I found out I was pregnant. I told Keith and my best friend Karrie. Keith was mortified. He was almost 19, working full-time for 7-UP as a merchandiser. It was okay pay, but not enough to support a child. He could not tell his parents; he didn’t want to let them down. I had horrible morning sickness, and everyday before school I would vomit up my breakfast. My mom figured it out on her own.

We met with my mom to talk about “options”. She told me the decision was mine, but that if I had the baby, I would be throwing away my life. Despite all the moves and all the *crap* I had dealt with in my life, I was a straight-A student. I had many, many options for college, and a baby would make them disappear fast. Pretty much, if I had the baby, I would not have any support from her (not just financial, but emotional). She basically told me that I made the adult decision to have sex, and I needed to make the adult decision on what to do.

I went to Planned Parenthood. I talked with a “counselor” about options. I got information on abortion, and Keith pushed for me to have one. Ohio law requires a 1-week waiting period before going through with it. That was the longest, most difficult week of my life. I would make the 40 minute drive to work crying because I wanted the baby so badly. I knew in my heart abortion was not the right decision, but I had no support from my family or my boyfriend. I couldn’t talk to friends at school because I didn’t want word to get out that I was a whore. I was so ashamed, isolated, and depressed. I went through with the murder, with my mom and Keith accompanying me to the clinic. Where was God through all of this?

Keith and I remained together another 10 months after the abortion. I just could not get over the guilt of having the abortion, and Keith wanted to put it behind him. We fought constantly because I blamed him for making me do it, although it was ultimately my decision. I just couldn’t bring myself to face the ugly truth, though.

Where was God through all of the abuse, divorce, abortion, loneliness? I’ll tell you.

During this time, when I was probably at the lowest point in my life that I had ever been, God was working. In my lifeguard class a few years back (the same one with Keith) was a girl named Chelsea. I hated her. She was pretty, beautiful actually, and seemed to have a great life. Everything seemed to come so easy for her, unlike me, and I couldn’t stand to see it. I was consumed with hatred and jealousy (Titus 3:3).

We ended up getting a job at the same pool and working together. A lot. Our boss thought it was funny to torture me (she had a strange personality!). It was really God working, though. Chelsea was a Christian, and once I got past my pride and began to talk to her, I found that I really had a lot in common with her and that I really liked her. One day we were sitting at the guard table talking. She knew I didn’t go to church, but she asked if I was saved (John 3:16).

“Saved from what?” I asked. She explained that I was going to hell unless I put my trust in Christ. I didn’t really understand, but looking back, I see that God was using Chelsea to draw me to Him (John 6:44).

After Keith and I broke up, I was very depressed. I couldn't go anywhere without crying because there were memories everywhere I went. We lived in a small town, so there weren’t too many places we hadn’t been together. I was offered a college scholarship my senior year of high school to the University of Akron.

In October of my Senior year, My mom and step-dad separated, and we moved once again. We stayed in the same town, just moved down the street. I was a senior in high school, and I worked 3 jobs (2 during the week and 1 on the weekend) to pay for a car, gas, clothes, spending money, etc. When my mom divorced again, she picked up another job at night in addition to her full-time job during the day. I picked up the responsibility at home, cooking, cleaning, and caring for my siblings. In the mornings I would get my 2 year old brother up and ready, drop him off at daycare, go to school, go to work, then pick him up at 6. Once at home, I’d cook dinner and get my sister going on her homework. My mom would come home for a few hours to eat, nap, and get my brother in bed, and then she’d be off to work her second job. We’d repeat the same routine everyday.

By spring, I’d had enough. I had no time for friends, and was tired of all the responsibility. I decided to enlist in the Air Force. I did, and I didn’t tell anyone. My guidance counselor called my mom one day to ask why I declined my scholarship- it was pretty much a full ride! My mom thought she was joking. When I told her I joined the Air Force, she thought I was joking. We went to the recruiter together. I was 18, there was nothing she could do. To say she was mad is an understatement! I just needed to get away from Tallmadge, Ohio!

Through all of this, Chelsea remained a close friend. I worked with her at 2 of my 3 jobs, and when we became friends, we purposely worked the same shifts. She brought me to church a few times, but I still was not at a point in my life of understanding salvation. I just cherished her friendship and enjoyed being with her. She knew about my abortion, yet was still committed to being my friend. We worked the entire summer after my high school graduation together, and spent time together outside of work. We even went on vacation to the Outer Banks together! We were going our separate ways in the fall and wanted to spend as much time together as possible. I was leaving for Boot Camp in September, and she was returning to college.

Wednesday, September 3, 1997 is the day I left for Basic Training in San Antonio, Texas.

After enduring 3 days of torture (not really!), the reality of my situation hit me. I was a soldier, and I had no idea what the future held for me. I could die during times of war, and that scared me terribly. Sunday I had an opportunity to attend church services, and I gladly went to escape my TI (Training Instructor). It was there I first heard a true salvation message preached, and Sunday, September 7, 1997, at the ripe age of 18, the Lord forgave me of my sins (even murder!- James 2:10) and my name was added to the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 3:5; Revelation 20:15).

My story doesn’t end there. This is just the beginning. For now, though, I am leaving it as it is. I’ll continue another day, another time.

In the meantime, think long and hard about your standing before the Lord. We will all one day die and appear before Him, and when He asks why He should open the gates to Heaven, what will you say? Before September 7, 1997, I would have been speechless. Or perhaps I would have mentioned all the good works I did to help support my family. Or maybe even all the good works I did when I coached Special Olympics. Regardless, the Bible tells of one true way to get into Heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ alone (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Romans 6:23; 1 Timothy 2: 4-6; 1 Corinthians 15:3-5; Titus 3:4-7). As you read above, I have done some horrible, terrible things, but I was willing to put aside my pride and ask for forgiveness. If God can forgive me, He can forgive anyone! Now that I’m saved, I am still a sinner, only now I can rest easy because I know if I confess those sins, the Lord is faithful and will forgive me (1 John 1:9). Rather than dreading the day I die and appear before the Lord, I look forward to meeting my Savior face-to-face. Heaven promises to be everything I can ever imagine and more, and I am ready whenever the Lord decides to take me. It is there I will meet my precious baby, who, if s/he had lived, would have been 11 this past July.

Thank you, Lord, for sending ME a Savior in the form of Your only Son. I pray You will continue to work in my life and convict me in areas You know I am sinning against You. I pray that through this testimony of Your greatness, many would realize their standings before You. I pray You would use me and the testimony of my life to draw others to You. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Joseph MacGarvey Olson


Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of Joseph's birth and death due to complications from Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). Since I am going out of town, I am posting this today.

In my mind the last few weeks, I've been thinking of ways to best honor him, his family, his life. I can't really express my feelings; for some reason I am having difficulty putting my thoughts and feelings into words. The Lord has just really layed it on my heart to tell everyone AGAIN about what a special little boy Joseph was/is, and the incredible strength his family has. To honor his short life, my post today is dedicated to him. I am including links that his family feels are important, and my hope is that this will help spread awareness of CDH.

I also want to share how God has used Joseph to bring me, and undoubtedly others, closer to Him. Romans 8:28 says that the Lord works all things together for good. The Olson family has suffered terrible pain and loss, but God has been working in their lives, and here are some examples of good that have come from Joseph's life, and most importantly, death: because of Joseph, I have gotten to know Carole. Because of him, I have grown closer to the Lord through prayer for her family. Because of him, I have grown closer to my family through prayer. Because of him, I have grown closer to Joanna. Because of him, I am more thankful for my own children. Because of him, I have learned about a little-known birth defect called CDH. Because of him, I am helping to spread awareness about CDH and NILMDTS.

Carole, if/when you read this, I hope you know what an honor it has truly been to share in your journey the past year. My memories of the day, and days leading up to his birth, are still very vivid. I felt your pain and heartache deep into my soul. Being pregnant myself, I woke in the night crying at the thought of your pain and what was to come, especially because I could have easily been in your situation. Those sleepless nights led me to do the only thing I could do for you: pray. I have just really learned so much about compassion this past year. I won't fully understand because I'm not in your situation, but in a different way, I do get the sense of loss you feel. Please know, I will never be the same because of Joseph. His life and your story helped to change me for the better. Again, I appreciate so much you sharing your story with others. Thank you!

Daycare

I feel like I am sleep-walking. I am mentally drained. This has been a difficult week for me. I started the semester Wednesday, so I now have the added responsibility of school along with my other duties as a wife and mother. The lack of sleep this week is getting to me, too. Last night was the best night of sleep I've had in a long time. I was asleep by 10:30 and didn't wake until 6:20. Almost 8 hours!


Watching the children went better than expected. My verse for the day was Philippians 4:13. I woke up at 2:30AM because I was paranoid I wouldn't hear my alarm go off at 4:15, so from 2:30 -4:15 I just sort of dozed for about 20 minutes at a time. During this time I prayed and prayed that the Lord would give me the patience and endurance I would need to face the day. I also prayed He would allow the children to behave (mine, not the others). God is good and answered my prayers! There was some fighting between my kids, but overall we had a good day. The sugery went well, too, so that was another answer to prayer.

Today is going to be relaxing. We are going to my sister's house at the beach this weekend so I need to wash and pack for that. I am excited to see her, and get back to the beach!

I'll write more later!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Me, Panic? No!

I am panicking tonight. I normally try not to let stress of the unknown get to me, but tonight it is. I offered to keep my friend's youngest 2 children (ages 11 months and 2 1/2) for her tomorrow because her husband is having back surgery. I know what it's like to not have family nearby to help with childcare, and I didn't want her to not be with him at the hospital because of lack of childcare.

So. . .

I am keeping them for her. No big deal.

Except the baby doesn't like to take a bottle (sound familiar?) and doesn't care for food too well.

And his surgery is in Charlotte.

And he has to be at the hospital by 5AM.

Yes, you read correctly. I am getting her children at 4:30AM.

I just pray they go right back to sleep! I've been up since 4:20 this morning because of my own children.

I know God's grace is sufficient, and I am thankful I am able to help her out. Just pray for my sanity tomorrow as I care for a 9 month old, 11 month old, two 2 1/2 year olds, and 4 year old.

Th can change diapers, right?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Finished!

I finished transferring all of my old posts over from the other website. Transferring them allowed me to see God's blessings in my life. Some of my favorites are listed below:

Carole
The Season of My Life
Get Growing!
Be Strong, Like a Tree

I hope you read all of them, not just those listed above. The Lord has definitely reminded me of His presence in my life over the past few months as I re-read my old posts, and I'm thankful for that.

Friends

". . . the sweetness of a man's friend gives delight." Proverbs 27:9 NKJV

We spent the morning at the park. It was very nice, especially since a friend from church met us there. The youth pastor (YP) and his wife Julie had a new baby a couple of weeks ago so my friend brought their children with her to give Julie some time alone with the baby. Th and the YP's oldest son Caleb are great friends.

Talking and sharing of God's goodness is what I love to do, and I had an opportunity to share with my friend today. We have a similar background, so she understood a lot of what I was sharing. She was such a blessing to me, and I feel very refreshed this afternoon. I'll share my story with ya'll someday soon, I promise.

I had Caleb over last week to play to give Julie a break while her other children napped. As you can see from the pictures, the two boys think and act alike. They had fun, and that's all that matters!

We all need friends, no matter our age. Thank you Lord, for my friends!


Monday, August 20, 2007

Recap

I’ve not written in a while because I’ve been busy preparing for various events.

To make a long story short, the Lord really blessed me on Friday. I ended up saving $35 off the total bill for some clothes I purchased for the kids. The cashier made a minor mistake but felt so bad for it that she gave me 20% off in addition to a $10 coupon I had. That was an awesome feeling, especially because the cashier really didn’t have to do anything!

I also helped prepare another meal for Val on Friday evening. I was hoping to be able to deliver it, but my schedule wouldn’t allow it. Although disappointed at not seeing them, I was still grateful for the opportunity to be a blessing to this family.

Saturday we had friends over from the MOMS Club for a family cookout. It was really nice. I am hosting one every quarter and limiting participation to the first 5 families who RSVP. Because it’s small, we are better able to get to know the entire family, not just moms and kids. It’s an even better way for the husbands to get to know each other.

Yesterday I finished cleaning and pricing toys for the consignment sale today. TJ ironed the clothes I am selling, and I finished pricing those, as well. It is a great feeling to know that the back of my van is loaded full of stuff my kids no longer use/need/want. Th even helped pick out some of the toys so he isn’t too heartbroken. TJ took it harder than Th, but I guess it’s because some of the toys that are going are ones from when Th was a baby.

We didn’t have a lot of money when Th was born, so he didn’t have very many toys. The ones he did have were all his favorites, and he played with them all the time. He didn’t really have a choice! Because of that, it is sad to see them go. But like I said to TJ, they’ve just been sitting there unused and taking up precious floor space. It’s time to move on, especially with birthdays and Christmas coming soon.

Our pastor is in NY this weekend. His youngest son Andrew was accepted to West Point Military Academy, and he just finished Basic Training. Our pastor’s family went up for the graduation ceremony. He begins class today, so hopefully Andrew will be home for Thanksgiving or Christmas break. In one of my posts I told the story of when T.G. was born and how my pastor and his wife kept the boys. Th built a relationship with Andrew that night and misses him. He drew him a picture and wrote a little letter. I know Th will be excited when our pastor returns with pictures. Hopefully Andrew will find time to write Th back between the busyness of class and drill duty.

That’s been my weekend in a recap. As always, I am trying to keep my perspective on the Lord and not on my temporal circumstances, especially at night. T.G. has been going to bed very late and waking in the middle of the night. To say I am tired is an understatement! I begin class this week and will have to wake at 5:45AM to get myself ant the kids ready by 7:30AM. Most nights T.G. doesn’t go to bed until close to midnight, and she’s been waking about 3:30AM screaming. TJ thinks she’s teething again. I HAVE to remember that this is God-ordained, and it’s happening for a reason. Although I don’t know the reason and I don’t like that it happens, it is and I must accept it. Lots of prayers go on at night in my house!

Until next time. . .

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

'Till Death Do Us Part

The randomness of death is all around. I can’t seem to get away from it.

We were walking last night at a local park and happened upon a monarch butterfly dead on the pavement. Th was brokenhearted; he wanted me to bury it. He had a difficult time just leaving it there on the ground. I didn’t know what to do, so I told him we could remember it by drawing a picture of it.

A friend of my sis-in-law passed away today. About a month ago he was feeling ill with flu-like symptoms. Found out he had cancer and was immediately hospitalized. He never made it back home, but God sustained his wife through this ordeal as is evident in her journal she set up to keep friends/family members updated as to his condition.

Perhaps I am just “noticing” death around me more since the passing of Mark. I don’t know. I know death is coming. I get that. I really do. Sadly, I sometimes feel like I am so caught up in my day-to-day activities that life passes me by. But I guess that’s why I write here. I can see the Lord’s providence each and every time I write. He takes care of me EVERY minute of EVERY day. I just hope I live each day without taking for granted too much of the many blessings He gives.

And I hope when I die others will know I lived each moment for Christ.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Footprints


I have added some more posts dated from May. Re-reading them helped make me much more aware of the Lord's involvement in my life, and more thankful for it. I mean, it's easy to see God when things are going good; it's when a person is knee-deep in muck that faith comes into question. May wasn't too long ago yet it's easy to forget the blessings, especially if I'm not paying attention. I think re-reading my older posts has helped me to really see that I am not alone in my motherhood journey, even though so often it seems that way. It makes me think of the familiar "Footprints in the Sand" poem.

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it:
"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me." The LORD replied:
"My son, my precious child,I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
written by Mary Stevenson

God really is carrying me, and I know that because His footprints are much larger than mine and make a bigger impact in the sands of life.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Giddy Up!

As you can see from the pictures, we went horseback riding yesterday afternoon with our T-n-T group from church. We had fun, especially the boys. We had a great turnout, and it was nice to see a certain family join us who hasn’t been able to attend the past few months for various reasons. I greatly enjoy the fellowship this group provides, and I believe the other families do too! If you are interested in participating in our next event, contact me and I’ll give you the details.

The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful husband, and I was once again reminded of that today. TJ helped me clean, and then he occupied the children so I could relax in the bath. . . for an hour! It was so nice to sit and read my favorite magazine (Family Fun) in peace and quiet. What a wonderful way to start the week.

Thank you, Lord, for my husband.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Angel Food

Hi! I am very busy today but I wanted to take a moment to let you know about Angel Food Ministries.

"Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing grocery relief to communities throughout the United States."

Basically, pay $25 and receive approximately $50 worth of food. I have never done it, but being married to the thrifty person that I am, we placed our order for September's menu today. I emailed the company because I was concerned that if we did order, we would be prohibiting others who really need the grocery relief from receiving a meal since we do not qualify for food stamps, WIC, or any other type of government help. I was assured that it is open to anyone, especially those who recognize a great value, regardless of income.

I hope this is valuable information for some of you, especially those who like to save money like us!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Woman of Faith

I visited with Val for a little over an hour last evening. I am so thankful I was well enough to go. We sat on the floor and cried, talked, cried some more, and talked some more, all while T.G. played around us. Mark's spirit was evident all around us from the pictures on the wall to the "We Love You, Dad!" banner hanging in the dining room.

I have met some strong women over the past few years since attending Harvest. Each of them is strong for different reasons, and Val is no exception. She amazes me with her strength through what is probably every couple's worst nightmare. As we shared a moment of grief, she quickly thanked the Lord for the many blessings He's provided during this time. I think so often as humans we are quick to ask, "Why me?" or "Why didn't You do something to prevent this?", which is a totally natural response, but Val has a different attitude.

She pointed out to me that although she misses Mark dearly, so much good has come from his life, and now his death. Former co-workers of his have emailed her and given testimony of witnessing Christ through Mark because of Mark's daily walk with the Lord. She told me her pain and grief is worth it if it means God is being glorified through this situation. How amazing is that!

Her children started school this week so I asked how it was going. She told me a boy's father in her youngest son's class has cancer. Isn't God great?! He placed Val's son with this boy because he's been there. He knows the pain of watching his dad go through cancer treatments, and the uncertainty that accompanies it. Val's son can be a great comfort and encouragement to this other boy, and I'm sure they'll become fast friends.

I hope to be an encouragement to Val because her family has certainly brought my family closer by allowing us the opportunity to pray for them over the past year and some months. Family prayer time is so important to us, a time we look forward to each day to pray for family, friends, and co-workers. God has answered our prayer for Mark and his family because Mark has been healed. He is no longer in pain, and, in fact, is in perfect health as he walks beside Jesus.

Thank you, Lord, for answered prayers.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

By the Way

I opened up my blog to allow anyone to read it. It scares me to do that; I am very apprehensive about not knowing who reads it. I switched to this hosting site to better know who was viewing my web page because of the comments left by total strangers at the last web host. BUT, not everyone wanted to log-in here each time. So, to combat that and to make me feel better, I have shortened all of our names to just initials. If you know me and my family, you should be able to figure out to whom I am referring. If not, email me and I'll consider sharing that information.

I am also feeling better today. Just a little congested but nothing to complain about. I have a million things to do today and a few errands to run. I am actually excited about that since we haven't been out of the house in a few days. Well, that's not true. We did go to the doctor and library yesterday, neither of which was enjoyable.

I am helping to bring a meal to Mark's widow this evening. That is weird to think about, especially because she is so young! I saw the children at church this past Sunday. I cried when I saw them, which is probably not a normal reaction. My heart hurts for them, and I can't imagine the pain that they are experiencing right now. They began school this week so I am interested to talk to them about it. They are attending a new school (private) for the first time. They have been home-schooled for most, if not all, of their lives. I am sure this has been a difficult adjustment for them.

I look forward to seeing Val, Mark's wife. At the funeral, I hugged each of the children and made my way to Val. By the time I reached her, I was crying so hard I couldn't speak. She began comforting me! Can you believe that! In her time of need, she was reaching out to others around her that she knew were hurting, too. They are such giving people. I am happy to not be sick anymore so I can go visit. Just seeing them again will be a blessing and encouragement to me.

I just need to remember to bring plenty of tissues.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Twenty-Four


As in Jeff Gordon's race car, not the TV show.

My dad went to the NASCAR race in Indianapolis a few weeks ago and bought souvenirs for the boys. Aren't they cute in their matching shirts?

I am feeling a little better this evening. My medicine kicked in, and I was able to nap this afternoon for about an hour and a half. The Lord allowed TJ to come home at lunch time and stay to help this afternoon. Of course, now he's feeling sick, too. We stayed home from church this evening because all of us are sick. Our entertainment for the evening was a trip to the library to return some books.

I know, you are so jealous of my action-packed life!

Yucky!

I am worse today than I was yesterday. I went to the doctor yesterday evening and I was prescribed a mouthwash with a numbing agent to help my throat. The doc did a strep test and it came back negative, but she also prescribed an antibiotic because she said it may be too early to test and my throat was awfully raw. Yeah, no kidding!

I ran a fever through the night and broke out in chills about 3:30AM. I couldn't get warm enough. TJ slept with Ta because he's still not feeling well. Without TJ in bed, I didn't have the extra body heat to keep me warm. I feel miserable today and am scheduled to work in the nursery at church this evening. I don't even want to get off the couch let alone watch other people's babies!

T.G. has her 9-month well visit this morning. I was hoping TJ would be able to come home from work and take her, but no such luck. I have to muster up the energy to shower, get dressed, and feed the kids before making the journey. I hate being sick, but again, the Lord has blessed me by allowing T.G. to take a good morning nap. Hopefully TJ will be able to come home early so I can nap this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Humble Beginnings

The Lord is really humbling me today. Because T.G. is teething, she has cold-like symptoms that are making her cranky. Additionally, Ta was up at 3:30AM this morning with croup. Despite being sick, his energy is the same. I am also not feeling well. My throat and left ear hurt terribly. I am going to call the doctor later this afternoon to be seen this evening. I still haven't showered yet; I don't have the energy. Because my throat hurts, I haven't been talking much today. The kids love it, I'm sure! Since I'm not feeling well, I've been praying A LOT for the wisdom, grace, and mercy that I need in order to mother today. The Lord has answered my prayers and allowed T.G. to take a good morning nap. Also, the boys have been getting along fairly well. The minor tiffs they've had have been handled well by me, if I do say so myself. As TJ put it, get through this morning and then rest this afternoon with the kids. Sounds great to me!

I'm off to lay on the couch some more. Thank you, Lord, for Elmo!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Straight to the Heart

I talked TJ into going through the kids' toys and selling some of them. We just have way too much stuff, and in the past I've donated the toys to the Crisis Pregnancy Center. I am going to try sell them at a consignment sale and use the money to buy the kids some clothes. Whatever doesn't sell, I'll then donate. I am looking forward to going through the toys; I just need to find time to do so.

School begins again in 2 weeks. I am excited, but also stressed at the same time. My time is limited as it is, and school only adds to it. In addition to taking classes, I am leading a Bible study for some friends of mine. This will be my second time leading a Bible study, and I love to do it. I love sharing with others the many ways the Lord has blessed me, convicted me, and taught me. We are doing a study on stress, so it will be beneficial to me, as well. We begin next week, and meet 10 times over the next couple of months.

God has been dealing with me the past couple of days. I know there are areas in my life that I need to improve, mothering being the top priority. Well, that isn't exactly truthful. The top priority is my time spent each day with the Lord, or lack of it. I guess I have gotten out of doing daily devotions; instead, I've only been doing them every 2 or 3 days. The key to overcoming sin in certain areas is by hiding Scripture in one's heart and recalling them when needed. I can't hide Scripture in my heart if I'm not reading God's Word daily. I know what I need to do, I'm just not doing it. I also know I am reaping the consequences of disobeying the Lord: when I am tempted to sin by yelling or punishing angrily, I can't readily recall the Scripture I need to overcome my temptation. God dealt with me severely yesterday. Sunday School's lesson was on controlling the tongue. The message at church was seeing my inadequacies and calling on God to step in.

Nothing like a sharp arrow to the heart or a blow to the gut to put me in my place.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Toys Anyone?

I've been doing better with the kids the past couple of days. I visited a friend of mine yesterday morning who has 4 children and is pregnant with her fifth. Her kids are all less than 2 years apart, and I always receive a blessing when I spend time with her. She is very laid-back and easy-going; not at all like me! Her philosophy is pretty much let them be kids unless they're hurting themselves or someone else. Who cares about the mess they make, which is where I struggle with my kids. I am such a neat-freak that to see a mess in my house stresses me out. I can feel my blood pressure rise when I see the toys and chaos. I am trying to teach my children to put away their toys when they want to play with something else, and my friend just has them clean up at the end of the day. After spending time with her, I remember not to make a big deal about the small things, so it makes parenting a little easier because I'm not constantly griping at my children. I guess I just need to find a balance between her parenting style and mine, along with getting rid of some of their toys!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Slowly but Surely

Thanks to Carole who instructed me on how to do it, I am adding my posts from my old blog over to this one. Click on "Older Posts" to read about the past few months. I am adding a few at a time, so please be patient.

Blessings,
T

My Little Vampires

Th has officially retired his label of "preschooler" and traded it in for the title of "youth". To him, TJ and I are no longer Daddy and Mommy, but rather, Dad and Mom. As the realization of that sunk in yesterday, I became teary-eyed. I know I can't be Mommy forever, but I miss hearing him call me that. I don't think I ever recorded him calling us Mommy and Daddy, which means I am making it a point to record Ta and T.G. talking.

In some ways, I hate that my children are getting older, but at the same time, I am really struggling with their current ages. As I was dropping off T.G. in the nursery at church last night, I began crying when Gretchen (the pastor's wife) asked about feeding instructions for T.G. I know, that question probably made all of you cry, too! Seriously, I started crying as the frustrations of the day came pouring out. Let me back up.

Earlier, I was trying to prepare dinner, feed T.G., and keep the boys from killing each other. I didn't have enough hands to do it all, and T.G. didn't want to eat. She wanted to be held, and I just couldn't do it. So she cried. Then she wailed. Then she fell backwards on the carpet and cried even harder. Then Ta started climbing the pantry shelves and Th hurt himself crashing into the couch. My house was in complete chaos! I hate when TJ comes home to that, but that is the reality of my day each and every day. Now back to Gretchen.

Church starts at 7PM on Wednesday evening. We eat supper before we go, so for T.G. to need to eat is unusual. I felt like a bad mom for bringing her to church hungry, but as I wrote before, she didn't want to eat when I tried to feed her. Gretchen gave me a hug and just listened as I told of the difficulties I've been having with my children. If anyone understands, it's her. She told me I'm in the worst of it because of the ages of my kids, which is both good and bad. It's good because that means it (parenting) really can't get any worse. It's bad, because it totally stinks. She used the illustration of having the blood sucked out of you because of all of the kids pulling in different directions.

That is exactly how I feel. Bloodless. Stretched. Eyes toward Heaven as I pray for strength.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Blood is thicker than water

Or so the saying goes. Lately, though, I'm not so sure.

I just haven't been feeling myself lately. Very overwhelmed by my kids, especially the boys. I think part of it is TJ's working longer hours, which means I'm home longer with them. But, on top of that, I feel very alone and isolated. TJ and I don't get many opportunities to really "talk", and if it's important, I usually email him. I feel very disconnected, and that's not good. Plus, I hate to bother him with the details of my day at home, especially because his work environment is stressful on him. I know I add to his stress, and I'm trying to stop. In the past, when I've felt bummed out, I would call my mom. But lately, I feel very disconnected from her, too. I'm not sure what's going on with everyone. Maybe it's just me, but I just don't feel like I have anyone who is willing to just sit and listen. I have several close friends, and I know they can relate to how I am feeling, but the point is, I miss my husband. The good news, however, is that TJ mailed our deposit for an overnight getaway to The WILDS Christian Camp in Brevard, NC. We are going the weekend of Th's birthday, and it will be our first time leaving the children. I am anxious about doing so, but I look forward to getting away for some alone time with my hubby.

Until then, it's me versus the boys, and they usually win!