Friday, October 31, 2008

Reformation Day!!!!

Tonight our church gathered in a friend's home to celebrate Reformation Day. On October 31st, Martin Luther nailed his thesis to the door of his church. This thesis challenged the beliefs in the church at that time. It challenged the Pope himself. It told of how the church had gone away from the Bible's teaching and where it was not following God at all. Protestant faiths celebrate this day, remembering the brave men who stood for truth. They soon after, translated Bibles into languages that the people could understand. The church was never the same again.

This year, our church picked the German reformer, Martin Luther to study. We had a feast of German food, fellowshipped, the kids colored relevant pictures, and we learned of this brave and interesting man. We had a great time! I look forward to finding out what country we will be learning about next year!

My friend, Candace, has a good post about Reformation Day. Just click on her name.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Are you fireproof?

I just saw the amazing movie, Fireproof. I encourage everyone to see it. I also encourage you to go while it is still in the movie theatre so that we work together to support these film makers. Having the ability to never go through a fire is not being fireproof. (By the way, this is an impossible goal.) Being fireproof means that you can survive the fire. Is your marriage, is your heart strong enough to go through the fire? There is something VERY key that you need in your life to achieve being truly fireproof. What is that? Please go see the movie to find out. If you just refuse to see it, comment here with your email and I will help you figure out what the key is. Enjoy the movie!!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Possibly my best birthday ever!

In the morning, I was surprised with a very special birthday puppet show. Following this, my parents took the kids out for lunch and fun while I had the house to myself, a luxury I rarely get. I read for a long time and then took a nap. When they got home, I was ready for the fun birthday party the kids had planned for me.
I received MANY extra special hugs and kisses throughout the day.

I was showered with presents! Thank you everyone!

After playing several party games including family croquet and family hide-and-go-seek, we enjoyed a delicious steak dinner that my parents grilled and then cake and ice cream. Yum! The presents actually came at the end of the party, but that is not how they uploaded.(???) After the kids went to bed, my parents, Chris, and I played Blockus until we were all too sleepy to function. Then we declared it bedtime. It was a great day!

A wonderful week of grandparents...

Nana and Papa came at the end of the week for a great weekend of games, football, a birthday party, and church.

Grandma came for the first weekend and was able to stay for the week. We went to a football game, a huge outlet mall shopping trip, lots of croquet, church with a fellowship lunch afterwards and many more fun times.

Both visits went too fast. I guess what they say is true, time flies when you are having fun. God has blessed us with a wonderful, loving family and we are very thankful for this time we had with them.

A Fun Day at the Corn Maize!

We took a day off of school this October to enjoy a field trip out to the Corn Maize. We had a great turn out and had a lot of fun playing and enjoying friends.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Think hard about your vote in the coming election

I hope that you are prayerfully considering whom you should vote for in a couple of weeks. I encourage you to go visit Granny's blog post for Thurs., Oct. 23rd. This wise woman has a way of eloquently putting truth into words. Although this is an opinion piece, we WHOLE-HEARTEDLY agree with its contents. Read over the comments also, there is good stuff there!
(For those who read this blog who don't regularly use the computer, just click on Granny's name above and you will be taken to her blog site.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Coming to grips with who God is making me...

(This was actually posted last Tuesday. When I woke up Wed. morning, I quickly deleted it. Now that the feelings are a little more removed, I have decided to re-post it. This blog journals God's work in my life, and I want to be able to rejoice with you when prayer is answered. I would also like you to join with me in these prayers. Most of you reading are precious friends whom I don't want to hide from. So, I am going ahead and being vulnerable with you so that God may be glorified through His work in my life.)

I should be in bed. Its 1am, I have a field trip to go on in the morning that I have done nothing to prepare for, and I know I will be up by 6am. My mind won't quit though. Chris has finally drifted off, lasting as long as he possibly could as I talked and talked. I attended a meeting with dear friends last night. It usually provides much needed refreshment and encouragement, but this time it rocked me to my core. I have never wanted to get out so badly. I felt caged. Never before have I been around people who cared so deeply. Usually this is a great reason to thank God, and I do feel extremely blessed to be a part of this community. That moment though, I was trapped. I am used to being able to hide and no one close enough to know something isn't right. These women would know something was up. I knew if I let all my emotions out, I would need to explain something I didn't have words for. I knew if I left the room, someone would follow. I knew all too well that my car was trapped behind others. There was no way out. So I sat, using all the energy I had to push back down the flood of emotion invading me. I can't explain the level of pain and grief that was coming up. There are obviously things I still have to deal with. I am VERY good at stuffing. In fact, today when I had time, I tried to think about what was going on. I am once again out of touch with myself. I can nonchalantly discuss any hard time with you without one bit of emotion. I can't feel any of it.I thank God for His goodness in giving me four healthy wonderful children. I thank him for a husband that is a good man and truly loves us. I thank God for our home and all of our provisions. I thank God for my family and friends who either challenge or are used to challenge me, who love us unconditionally. I thank God for moving us here and for the community of support and love that surrounds us now. Most of the time I feel optimistic and peaceful. Most of the time I can say I trust God. Last night, I was shaken.

In the meeting, we discussed past hurts. We shared how God has strengthened us through the hard times and allowed it to make us the person we are today. I have had many hurts and disappointments in my life. I have been let down again and again. I am realizing that I have let it cut deeper than I knew. So many have had worse. I am thankful that I have been spared a whole list of things, but I have been allowed many others. I am realizing that I don't know if I truly know how to forgive. I keep trying, but the anger returns. I didn't realize how very, very angry I am about so many different things and people, even God. I don't know if I have the faith I thought I did. When asked certain questions, I want to grab control again, not willing to give that area to God.

Father God, hold me. Draw me to your side as a parent scoops up a small child into their lap. Cover me and comfort me. Lord, break my anger and my selfish, inward thoughts. Forgive me for them, Lord Jesus. Forgive my unforgiveness and help me to truly forgive. Thank you for who you are, even when I don't like you. Thank you that you are unchanging when all around me shifts daily. Thank you for protecting me from disease, from pregnancy, from death, from so many other hurts. Thank you that you know and love me more than I know myself. I don't know all that is going on in me right now. I don't know all that I am feeling and all the reasons why, but you do. You were there even when I was being knit together in my mother's womb. Bless me, Lord. Allow me to have an understanding of how you are working in all of this. Bless me with thankfulness. Forgive me for wallowing, and help me to use what has happened to serve you. Show me what needs to be shown, and help me to let go of what I don't need to worry about. Help me to embrace and be thankful for the life which I have been given. I pray for discernment as I sort through thoughts and feelings, taking those thoughts captive which are not true and do not honor you. I pray for protection from fear. Fear is not from you, Lord. It is used by the enemy to cripple my walk with you. Give me a faith that can move mountains. I want to say, "Here I am Lord, send me." Grow my faith so that I will follow you anywhere. Lord, I pray that generational patterns would be broken for our children. I pray that they would grow up loving and following you, Lord. I pray for their future spouses, that they too are growing up in loving homes that teach your word and follow your ways. Mature Chris and I, and mature their spouses parents, that we all would reflect your love to these precious children. Break the bondage that keeps us from an uninhibited, intimate relationship with you. Give me the faith to truly love you, thank you for all things, and worship you with my life. Thank you that you give when I ask according to your will. So, I choose to have the faith that you will do these things. Thank you for your constant, unending, unchanging love for me and my family. Amen.

The Presidential Election Coming Soon!

I want everyone to be aware of and thinking about the coming election. I want you to look past many of the issues that seem to be taking the front page right now. Yes, the economy is bad and getting worse. Guess what? God is HUGE!!!!! God promises to provide for our needs. In our convenience driven culture, we may cry that our needs are not being met, but look again. If you can no longer afford satellite TV, 2-3 meals out a week, a date night out including babysitter, or the brand jeans you want, you may need to re-evaluate what you define as a need. Do you have shelter (even if it has to change)? Is your family eating (even if its not your favorite foods)? Do you have clothes to put on your body? Do you have your family with you? God is our daddy who loves us and loves to give gifts beyond our needs, but He doesn't promise those. He promises to meet our NEEDS. So, with that issue out of the way.....

God is about LIFE. "God so loved the world, that He gave is one and only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting LIFE!!!" God designed life. God began life. God should decide when life ends.

As a Christian, or just a person who values life for that matter, we need to look at the abortion issue as top priority. God tells us specifically NOT to murder. God does not tell us to worry about our provisions and vote with the economy (although, if you look closely, Obama will not help in that issue either). We are to vote with HIS values in mind. Obama not only supports pro-life the way we are used to hearing about this, he is trying to expand abortion in many horrific ways. Have you heard about abortion rights through all 9 months of pregnancy? Have you heard of no rights for a baby born alive that was not wanted? Have you heard about him wanting to take away federal funding for pregnancy centers that offer alternative choices to abortion? He is not really pro-choice, he is pro-abortion.

I really encourage you, as my friend Granny put it, to grab a cup of coffee and sit for a moment to read this article. I feel it is very important to understand who it is you are or are not voting for.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Still more of the trip...

Next, we went to my parent's house. We had Uncle Bill and Aunt Linda in from Florida, Alan, Jerry and Laurie stopped in on the way to the airport, and us to be an audience for Allison and Ashlynn's show.
The girls sang several made up on the spot songs and danced.
Ashlynn took this picture of Jerry, Laurie holding Kaiden, me, Allison in Alan's lap, and Kevin in my mom's lap.
Ashlynn on my dad's lap
Kaiden literally wore this fireman's hat backwards the entire weekend. Here he was the fire fighting, singing (the turkey baster is his microphone), daddy. He had just put his baby to bed beside him.

More of the photo shoot at Grandma's...

This pictures is of the kids with my cousins, Kat and Laurie.
Here are the three granddaughters with Grandma. (Kat, me, and Laurie)
Here are the kids with Aunt Teri.
Just me and the kids.

A fun trip...

We started our trip at the Heiliger's house. I showed you the pictures of Aliya in my last post. Then, we visited the Ustruck's where the kids enjoyed a Montessori environment. They ended up building and painting a table for Madeline, the little sister of the family. Madeline and Kaiden are the same age. In the picture, Madeline is pulling Kaiden in the wagon. Next, we went to my grandparents. My cousin, Laurie, from Australia was visiting, too! The girls made brownies with Laurie. In the next pictures are all my children around Grandma, and then all around Grandpa.

Baby Aliya

Many of you remember my friends who just recently adopted and prayed with me. Here are some pictures of Aliya doing VERY well.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Training children

One of the hardest callings for those of us with children, is the command to train them up in the Lord. As a lot of you know, I am DEEP in the training of a certain two year old. He is almost 2 1/2, and I am hoping that it will get a little easier as he approaches 3 years old.

I have realized that many aspects of my life reflect our culture and not God's plan for our lives. For example, I was more interested in offending others or distracting others in church than training my child. I used to think that teen agers just had to go through a bad attitude, rebelious period. I thought it was part of growing up! I have learned that teenagers can be some of the most wonderful people to be around and to get to know. I have been afraid to be firm enough with my children because our culture teaches happiness and protecting self esteem at all costs. I have learned that when a child has been properly trained, he/she has a great self esteem and has the freedom to be truly happy. I have seen children who are respectful to all people no matter what age, who are helpful, and who know how to obey their parents. Some may think that something shady must be happening, and that these kids must have fear in them. I am here to say that couldn't be farther from the truth. These kids have loving parents and happy homes. The difference is that their parents were consistent and stuck to their guns even when it got hard for them personally, or heaven forbid, embarrasing. I applaud you whom I am speaking of and thank you for your mentorship, love, and patience.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Training in chore time

Well, I have been taking LOTS of notes as I have been looking at refrigerator doors and listening to mothers speak of all the help they get around the house. I have been working on this for a while now, and we are getting closer and closer to actually getting the house clean and keeping it there. Plus, the biggest challenge, is for chores to actually happen within "chore time" so that school and other daily responsibilities can occur.

For me, the planning and organizing of the whole thing is the most fun. We have not had a printer in many years now. So, I have done everything by hand. Now that the Mantooth's have a printer (YEA!!!!!), I have made these wonderful charts that are sure to magically make our home run in ship shape fashion. JJ :) Now, I need LOTS of prayer to make this happen. I don't have anyone in my family yet that is independent enough to actually READ these wonderful charts and do their job. I still have to work on training them to read the chart, training them how to do the job properly, and training them to complete the job without hassle and within the time limits. Whew!!! That seems like a lot. I have seen it working in many families though, and I know we can get this down too. I hate being confronted with my own laziness and poor stewardship of my time. It would be so much easier if it was just the kids being trained in this process.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ephesians 5:22-33

NIV "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything......"

This is enough for now. The passage goes on the talk about the husband's role in the marriage. God has been showing me how to stop here. I used to be very quick to continue reading and then judge for myself whether Chris was living up to his end of the bargain. I reasoned that unless he was doing his part, I was under no obligation to submit to him. After all, what if he is going in the wrong direction?

What God has taught me in the last few days has freed me up completely. I am so excited to give Chris the burden of leading! A wise friend pointed out to me that I have no control over others. All I can do is follow God as best as I can and leave the rest to Him. I have to make decisions for myself, trying not to sin while doing so. So, the Bible teaches to submit to Chris as I submit to the Lord. This means to follow his lead. It means that when we are making decisions for the family: parenting techniques, views on having children, budget, holidays, etc. etc. the list is endless, I am to ultimately let Chris make the final decision.

I have been trying to be cautious of this over the last couple of days. Just in this short time, I have been amazed at how many opportunities I have had to ask Chris what he thinks about something and if he would decide for our family on that matter. Even in the midst of football season and not seeing him much, I have been so excited to have this avenue to show him this kind of respect. The results are very positive in our relationship, too. We are much happier and united in a way that has never happened during football season.

Don't get me wrong and think that this is completely easy. When there is a topic that I feel strongly about and it is obvious that the Lord has not convicted Chris of it yet (or maybe ever), it is hard to give it to the Lord. By the grace of God, He has shown my heart how to trust in Him, not my husband. By letting Chris make the decisions, I do not feel as if I am on some uncertain train ride heading for an inevitable crash as I used to. By trusting Chris to make decisions, I am trusting in God. Our God is sovereign. He is mighty. He loves us completely and will never leave us. He is our guide, our protector, our provider, and our friend. He IS!!!!

What God has really taught me, is that I have never really been trusting Him. It has all been lip service. If I truly believe that He is who He says He is and have faith in that, my life should reflect that.

It reminds me of a story I heard in college of a tight rope walker who was crossing Niagara Falls. He asked the crowd if they believed he could do it. They yelled, "Yes!", and he crossed over and back. After several more amazing tricks, he asked the crowd if they believed he could carry someone sitting in a chair across. The crowd all cheered and yelled, "Yes!" The man then asked for a volunteer. No one would sit on the chair.

I have realized that a lot of my life, I have been in the crowd, yelling that I believe. Now, God has shown me how to have faith. He has shown me how to sit on the chair and not only believe, but have FAITH that HE will carry me across.

Here is the rest of the passage in the NIV.
"...Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy...In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." (NIV)

Thank you, God for your teaching. Thank you that you are always working in me. Thank you for showing me true understanding of your Word. I pray for continued knowledge and understanding as I read your holy Bible. Teach me to be more like your son, Jesus Christ, everyday. I pray that as you teach me, the lessons would not stop with me but be testimonies of your greatness, bringing you glory as more people find joy in following you. I love you, Lord. Amen.