Friday, January 07, 2011

2010--Year in Review

Goodbye, 2010. Hello, 2011. Wow! Has that reality set in with you yet? I pray you are off to a good start in this new year. I just enjoyed looking back over last year's calendar and reflecting on God's goodness in our lives. I'm thankful for another year of life and His continual work in it. As in every year, 2010 held so many joys and blessings, and we say that God was so good in _________ (fill in the blank). We are reminded though to fill that blank in with what may humanly not seem so great to us, because God is ALWAYS good. A recent passage was brought to my attention, and I pray that through even the trials and hard times we will live this out: Habakuk 3:17-18.

I see the many entries for homeschooling activities and Girl Scout meetings that made up the beginning of 2010. This year is starting much the same. I am so thankful for the opportunities the girls have to help them learn and grow. Next week our nice, long Christmas break ends, and we get back to school and our fun meetings and outings.

I also look at last year's calendar and see all the times that dear friends and family were able to be here. My parents came in March and stayed for a week and a half. We enjoyed the mountains, the beach, and time at both Disney parks. It was so fun to have them here, and we were doubly blessed to have them return in Dec.! We just said our good-byes again yesterday, which is always difficult, especially when the next time to see each other is not planned yet. I am trying to focus on the blessing of having them and all the memories that were made--"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." Thanks, Dr. Seuss! :-)

The visits continued with our friend, Nicole, whose Marine husband was deployed overseas. She grew up 8 hrs. north of here and visited with her family much of the time her husband was gone. During that time she came South to see us and help with a church planters' conference we went to. She graciously volunteered to watch all of the children during sessions. We enjoyed having her in our home before and after the 3-day conference and catching up on what God is doing in all of our lives. Nicole was here in the middle of April, and right after she left, our dear friends, Michael and Jenny Muth and their boys, came to visit for a week and a 1/2. Jenny started selling Pampered Chef some months before, and I had wished that I could have a party with her. Guess what? She was able to do one here in CA for me, and we had a great time! The great time with the Muth family also included going to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, and just enjoying one another at home. Yes, I managed to get school done with the girls in between and even some in the midst of all of the visits from people. Visits to the aquarium and animal park are definitely educational field trips too. :-) While the Muths were here, they were able to see the outside of the house we had an offer on and the beginnings of what God was doing to allow us to buy a home in CA.

After the Muths left at the end of April, we had a couple of weeks before my sister, Sarah, and her two little ones arrived for two weeks. Yes, by this time, I wasn't sure what a normal routine exactly looked like, but we were doing well and had switched to year-round homeschooling, with permission to finish our 2009/2010 school year by the end of August. It was wonderful to spend time with my sister and her kids. They were here to celebrate Sarah and Kris's birthday, which are on the SAME day! And, Olivia's birthday is two days after theirs, so we enjoyed having them celebrate and participate in Liv's birthday and party. We did get to take Sarah and her kids to Disneyland for their first time. It went so well, and everyone had a blast! We even got to go to the aquarium in Long Beach with them for free because of rain checks we received the day the Muths were here and went. And, the Muths really saw everything inside and mostly outside there anyway and were ready to go when we got the rain checks. Thank you, Lord, for free tickets! Anyway, Sarah was a big help to me in preparing to move into our new house--picking out paint colors, giving me ideas about rooms, etc. We closed on the house and moved into it 6 days after Sarah left.

So, yes, 2010 involved purchasing a new home in CA. That still is amazing to me. Who would have thought? We thank God for allowing us to find this house in the same neighborhood in which we had been renting--one less new thing to get used to. The house was a short-sale and was full of trash (see facebook album), but there was no major damage, and we bought it for less than 1/2 the price they had built it for just a few years ago. Again, we are thankful for God's provision and are enjoying making this house a home.

Summer of 2010 involved Emma's going away for a week of camp. Soon after she got home, we left for a fantastic vacation to MI for two family reunions on my side of the family in the Detroit area the first week. One sad element though was missing my aunt who had died from pulmonary fibrosis earlier in the year. It was hard to believe she really wasn't at the family reunion on my dad's side. Thankfully she is with the Lord and out of pain/discomfort, breathing perfectly in His presence. We spent the 2nd week of our vacation up in Midland, visiting friends we moved away from in 2008. What a blessing that was! We were gone for almost 2 1/2 weeks total. It was a nice break from school, setting up the new house, etc. Wonderful memories were made that will be cherished for the rest of our lives.

We came back from MI and had yet another visit from great friends who were out to help with the ministry here. The Thompson family from SC helped us pass out door hangers and church brochures in many neighborhoods in the area. They also helped one night with a market night in a nearby city where we talked to people and gave out tracts and church info. We thank God for the Thompsons' including us in their family mission trip to CA to help SoCal church planters. They have been dear friends for over a decade, and just spending time with their family was a blessing!

The girls and I finished up the school year in August and began the next one just after Labor Day. I was a bit fried by this point but knew God's grace was sustaining me. :-) Year-round schooling is not our plan this year, and we don't expect it to be as busy of a year. Whew! We have had a great start to this school year so far and had very little interruptions in our progress. Hopefully we will be done in June this time.

I can't forget the visit we had from Karmen (Kris's sister), Terry, and their boys at Thanksgiving. They came for a few days, and we had a great time with them, including a trip to Santa Monica Pier, an In N Out Burger in the Beverly Hills area, a walk up and down Rodeo Drive and finally a visit along Hollywood Blvd. and the Highland Center.

Well, as I do end this very long blog post, I do want to say that my biggest personal earthly blessings continue to be the husband and children that God has given me. Kris is such a loving, caring, helpful husband and father--I am constantly amazed and humbled. I am thankful for a godly man who encourages me to know God better and to live in His grace! I love him and our girls more than words can say. I have enjoyed getting to know the girls in a unique way by homeschooling these last couple of years and am cherishing this time with them. Our family desires to love God and love people. I pray 2011 will be a great year full of more opportunities to grow in these areas. I've mentioned before that the ministry God called us to here in CA is looking ahead at what changes need to be made in location and outreach to the surrounding communities in 2011. We appreciate your prayers for us and this mission field as we seek God's will.

Happy New Year, and may you know God's saving grace and/or sustaining grace in your life in 2011!

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Instrumental Christmas Recording

Hey everybody! Two posts in one day?!?! Can you believe it?! I just found out about a new Christmas recording that you might like. You can hear some samples here. After listening to the samples, you can enter to win a free copy of the recording here. Good luck!

Recent Holiday Happenings

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying the Christmas season! We have enjoyed the time with family (recently Kris' sister and her husband and boys) and are looking forward to days ahead when my parents come to visit. We have taken all the Fall decorations down and are slowly continuing the Christmas decorating of our new home. The tree got done last weekend and several things put around the house. Kris has been out today doing some outdoor lights and things. I have a few more things to do. It's looking festive around here!

So, it's been a while since I last wrote anything here (surprised?). Hah! Again, fac*book has become my #1 computer means of letting people know how we are doing. I mentioned in my last post that I was enjoying the beginning of Fall. As we now near the end of Fall, I am noticing quite a bit of nice color around this area and have been pleasantly surprised. For the last couple of weeks, I have enjoyed seeing several trees become more beautiful than I think I have noticed since we moved here over two years ago. Part of it, I believe, is that our neighborhood is not that old, and the trees are quite young. This year several of them began to burst with beautiful color, and I've been loving it! I'm glad they planted the kind they did here. We are about at the peak or just past now though. It's still funny to me to have warm temps in Dec while seeing Fall color and Christmas decorations all at the same time.

A very special event that we recently celebrated was our sweet Emma's b-day. I just posted a whole album of birthday pics on facebook. Here is one in case you aren't on that site:

She is growing into a sweet young lady, and we thank God for her! She brings such joy to our lives. I must admit that this is a bittersweet time as I watch her slowly grow out of being a little girl and into a young woman. Time does fly by though, and I am trying to cherish each moment and stage of my girls' lives!

Well, I could go on and on about the last couple of months, but I will spare you all the details. Just know that God is good all the time, and He continues to teach us more of Himself in all areas of our lives. We do covet your prayers for us and the church God has called us to. We are at a crossroads of looking to see what to do in the near future for further community outreach, possible location change (no specific plans yet), etc. We need God's wisdom and help to make choices that will be to and for His glory!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's Fall! Well, or so they tell me. . .

Happy Fall, everyone! I hope yours has started out well. Mine started with a day at Laguna Beach, studying tide pools with the girls and our Girl Scout friends. Unfortunately the first day of Autumn for me included my first ever bee sting. :-( Other than that, it was a beautiful day!

I still am not quite used to SoCal "Fall." There are very few deciduous trees right around us, and they don't show their color until January! Palm trees have their own beauty, but I miss my Maples. In the mountains there are places we can go in the next month or so that will have color similar to what I enjoyed growing up in MI. My ideal family outing in Autumn consists of getting cider and doughnuts, picking pumpkins, going on a hayride, and enjoying a bonfire during the crisp, cool evening. Some of those things can't happen here either because of their not existing or the danger that they would cause. Just the other day we were up in the San Bernardino Mtns., and the fire danger sign read "High." I will look into how to have a fun, family day here this season and see how many of my ideal elements of Fall can be experienced. Thankfully I have wonderful memories of MI. I can see the blazing colors in my mind (and in pictures we have), almost smell the leaves and/or wood burning, and pretend to feel the chill in the air (instead of 90+ degrees). Kris thinks I'm trying to recreate those MI temps in our house. Ha ha I don't think setting the air on 74 degrees is too low though, and he thinks 76 (or even 77) would be great, but we've compromised at 75. Anyway, I'm going to get out our Fall decorations in the next day or so and plan for some seasonal foods.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hello out there!

Did your RSS Feeder just go into shock upon seeing I have a blog post? :-) I was encouraged by a friend this morning to get back on and post something. After a real pain of trying to figure out how to do a new layout, I am able to post. Last time I wrote, I described "a whirlwind of a month" we had been having. I feel that I can describe the last SEVERAL months as being a bit of a whirlwind. . .Hah--even the last year! I can hardly believe that it is even possibly the middle of September! Here are some things that have happened since I last posted:

-We moved into our new house June 1.
-The unpacking and setting up of the house began (and is still going on).
-My aunt and uncle came out to SoCal for a conference, and we were able to spend time off and on with them for a few days in June.
-I had changed us over to "year round" schooling, so we worked on school for a couple of weeks.
-Emma went to summer camp in the desert and had a blast the last week of June/beginning of July.
-We went on an amazing vacation to MI for almost 2 1/2 weeks in July.
-Came home from MI, and we worked on another week of school.
-First week of August we enjoyed having friends from SC, the Thompson family, come out to help our church with canvasing the area.
-We finished our school year by the middle of August and took a little break.
-Last week we started our new school year. I have a 5th grader and a 2nd grader this year--WOW!

I'm obviously skipping many other details, but life is moving right along, and as always, our God is good through every bit of it. We've seen real challenges from vehicle problems this summer to saying "goodbye" to four core people at our church who moved East, and all the while we have experienced God's grace given for those things. We have known several blessings such as finding the house, spending time with family and friends we love that live so far away, ministry opportunities with people God has brought into our lives, as well as our own family being ministered to by loving people here.

Lately a theme has come up "coincidentally" (yeah, right) in several places (girls' SS lessons, Bible lesson for school, Scripture reading Sun. morning in the service), and that is the steadfast love of our God. I've been greatly encouraged by meditating on this truth recently. I would encourage you to sit and read Psalm 103 when you get a chance. We have a great God!

Until next time, whenever that may be. . . . :-)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Whirlwind of a Month

The last month has been exciting, frustrating, wonderful, and difficult--a time to grow and depend on our great God more. The month has flown by, and I don't think we could have packed one more thing into it. I know many of you think we are crazy. :-) Me too! Ha ha My sister is here right now with her 2 children and will have 2 weeks with us. I am thrilled, but I just feel badly about all that is going on and will have to go on while she is here. Read on to the bottom for explanation of what the rest of the month holds.

Since I last posted, we had a church planter's ministry summit for SoCal and Nevada pastors and their families. We had a great time! A good friend of ours, Nicole Fortney, watched all of the children at the conference because her husband is overseas as a Marine serving our country. She wanted to have ministry opportunities while he was gone and contacted us to see if we needed help with our church. The ministry summit had just come up, and we found out it would involve the families, not just the pastors, this year. Everything fell into place for Nicole to come and help out, and she was a huge blessing to all of us! She was able to stay with us a few days before and then after the conference, and God gave us a wonderful time of encouragement and fellowship.

Two days after Nicole left, our dear friends, Michael and Jenny Muth, came from MI with their two boys and stayed with us for 10 days. We were so excited that God provided unbelievable prices on airline tickets for them. The Muths are like family to us, and we had the greatest time just hanging out, seeing how their kids are growing and changing, watching our kids interacting with them, etc. We even got to do some fun activities like going to the Aquarium of the Pacific and San Diego's Wild Animal Park. Jenny is a Pampered Chef consultant, and I was able to host a show for her too while they were here. It was awesome, and I LOVE the products that I was able to get because of doing a show! Overall, just being together was so encouraging for all of us. We thank God for great friends!

So the frustrations and difficulties? They have come mostly from the process of trying to buy a house here. We put an offer on a short sale at the end of Dec. We knew it would take quite a bit of time, but there have been unexpected problems along the way, mostly in the last 3 weeks. I won't get into all the confusing details here, but basically the seller has been dishonest and very difficult to work with recently. The listing agent also did some things that were wrong in the last week or so, and all of this has kept us from closing by the end of April and having to pay for another month of rent. We are reminded that none of this took God by surprise, and He is in control of all things. It has been a hassle for us, and we are sad to see people act the way they have, but we are trusting God. Thankfully tonight we had our walk through, and we should have possession of the house by Fri. We will have a lot of trash to clean out of the house and major cleaning, unlike I have ever seen needed. :-( Carpet needs to be replaced as well before we can move in. I can't wait to make it all fresh and new with a good cleaning and painting. Beyond the junk is a beautiful house in good condition! A lot needs to be done, and my sister is here, but hey, we have until the end of May to move in. I need to take one day at a time. God is providing, and I thank Him so much!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Works of God Monday

I pray that you all had a blessed Easter Sunday, celebrating our risen Savior. We had a wonderful day yesterday. In Sunday school we were challenged in the area of worship. We also had a very special service and were excited to have 3 new people visit with us at HBC. The music, Scripture readings, and the preaching of God's word was a joy to be part of, as we were constantly pointed to our great God and the amazing love of Jesus Christ. We were reminded that the reason we come together each Sunday is to celebrate and worship our risen Lord. I am so thankful for God's love and grace to me. His mercy too is overwhelming, and I praise Him for the salvation offered to us because of Christ's work on the cross and power of His resurrection.

I do want to update you on my Aunt Sue. Today she went home to Heaven. Thank you for your prayers. It has been a shock to have just found out on Wed. that she was even sick, hear her diagnosis a couple of days later, and then lose her today. I am so glad that she does not have to suffer though. Please pray for my dad and his siblings. My dad is one of eight children. They have now lost two sisters and one brother. I know that my dad would like to share his heart at the funeral, and that would include the gospel. Please pray for those who may not yet know Christ as personal Savior, that God may use even this difficult time to draw people to Himself. Our family appreciates your prayers.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Four Stabilizing Truths

This is something that Ken Collier from The WILDS Christian Camp in NC put together. It is so interesting to me that last Sunday morning Kris decided to talk through these truths with us in Sunday School. It was so good to go to these passages from God's word and discuss the application of them. We weren't "supposed" to be doing that for SS, but Kris realized we were going to have a very small group together and didn't want to do Part 2 of his previous week's lesson with so many gone. I know the Lord led him to this:

1. God's LOVE for me is unchanging.
*Jeremiah 31:3--The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

2. God's PURPOSE for me is Christlikeness.
*Romans 8:28-29--And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

3. God's WORD to me is the final, right answer.
*2 Peter 1:3-4 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

4. God's GRACE for me is sufficient.
*2 Corinthians 12:9-10--But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

This past week especially has involved a roller coaster of emotions. I shared in my previous post some prayer requests and the sadness that accompanied those circumstances. We also have had great joy this week in focusing on Christ's salvation offered to us because of His work on the cross and preparing for Easter tomorrow. And yesterday we received good news that the short sale house that we put an offer on at the beginning of Jan. has finally gone to the approved state with the lender. Our agent has ordered an appraisal, home inspection, etc. for us now. We hope to close at the end of this month! With all of these different things happening in a matter of four days, I feel a bit like a pendulum swinging back and forth. Thinking of these four stabilizing truths has been extremely helpful to me this week. I love God's timing! I need to keep remembering God's word through all the other change and events ahead of us. The next two months were already going to be full, and now to add a move on top of it will call for extra grace and strength. I know the Lord gives just what we need.

Update: Aunt Sue did make it through the last couple of nights. She is going to be taken to a hospice care facility now. We appreciate your continued prayers.