"Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise." ~Andy Stanley

June 30, 2015

Have a loved one with cancer?

We had so many dear people love and serve us in so many creative ways, during Hubby's battle with cancer. Here are my thoughts on helping someone who is going through the battle of their lives:

Send encouraging texts, messages and cards
My hubby has a pastor friend, who always knew the right moment to send him a meaningful text with a verse of scripture. It was such a God-thing because nine times out of ten, it was always right before a big procedure and this dear man had no idea! We were always in awe of how God orchestrated those texts and how he said what we needed to hear.

~ Don't just recommend a remedy. Go out and purchase that thing that you read cures cancer
I LOVE natural remedies. Hubby tried every single one that was recommended to him so, I know first-hand the time and expense it takes to track them all down. Instead of flooding their inbox with emails about them, go and buy whatever it is for them, if you are able. (but know that the emails are still appreciated!)
This also goes for spiritual books that you think would help build their faith during this time. Don't just give them a title, bring them a copy!

Bring meals 
Their lives are turned upside down by all the appointments and if they've started treatments, those can be daily. Consider choosing a certain day of the week and tell your loved one that you will bring a meal say, every Tuesday at 6 until they cry 'mercy.' ; ) It will be a relief to know that they can count on that meal every week.
And according to my kids, (who had both parents practically living at the cancer hospital) sometimes you can have too many meals and a bag of groceries with milk and cereal is a way bigger blessing. : )

~If you are able, send a financial blessing 
It is the 'big one' so to speak, and the financial repercussions can be as frightening as the disease. Not to mention that vacation time and sick days run out quick and all those co-pays were probably not in their budget. So, financial gifts of any amount, mean a great deal!
We had several dear friends send us cards of encouragement with checks inside and they made us breathe so much easier! We even had a group of total strangers from another state send us a check at Christmastime! We have no idea who they are or how they knew about what we were going through! Still in awe of God's provision!

~ Make your home or hospital visits SHORT
It is AWESOME to have friends and family visit, but it gets really hard when they stay too long. It takes up a lot of energy for patients to socialize for an extended period of time. Fifteen minutes or so is perfect. Be sure to pray for them before you go!

~If you have a gift for humor, use it! 
If you make them laugh, their spouses will love you forever!
My hubby has a friend that he has known since the 3rd grade and I will always be so grateful for the phone calls he made that had my hubby rolling with laughter. It was music to my ears. And I love one of our pastors who made daily hospital visits to us who not only prayed for us but who always told corny jokes. He made us chuckle and forget what we were going through. The Bible says, "A merry heart does good like a medicine." Amen!

~ Help keep their kids' lives normal
 If you can, offer to drive their kids to school, church or youth events etc.. They are going through such an emotional time and being able to stay connected to their friends means so much!
We had a dear friend even offer to take our daughter out for driving practice because she knew that during our crisis, driving lessons were not even on our radar! It meant so much to all of us...even if she did have an expired tag and the police pulled them over. LOL (we got some great laughs out of that)

~ Everyone says "Let me know if there is anything I can do for you." Be that person who really means it!
If they have the courage to be real with you and tell you what it is that they need, by golly, be ready, willing and able and remember YOU are the one who offered.

~Be positive about whatever treatment option they choose
Remember that it is their body and they are ones desperately seeking the Lord for direction. Support them and be positive about the choice they feel led to make.
We got a second and a third opinion before my Hubby made his choice. One opinion was from a doctor who specializes in healing cancer naturally. When he looked at his case, he told him that chemo and radiation were his best chances of survival. He even added, that they were what he would do in his position. -Now, that sure wasn't what we wanted to hear, but it was a confirmation of the direction that the Lord was already leading my Hubby and for that we were thankful.
To have friends tell you how much they oppose the route you chose is just not helpful.

~If you are handy, offer to come over and fix things in disrepair.
Everything goes on the back burner during a crisis and unfortunately, things still break! It is a HUGE blessing to have someone come over to fix them. Our lawn mower could wait but one of our toilets couldn't! ; )

~Pray and fast for their healing
It is totally true that in a crisis like this, you can feel the prayers of the people who are praying for you. My hubby had SOOO many people praying for him. And we literally felt the strength of all those prayers. We experienced an indescribable PEACE from those prayers and such a great amount of grace as a family. Our kids even felt it.
Prayer is truly the BEST thing that you can do for them and let them know that you are standing in faith and believing God with them for their healing.

I'd love to hear any suggestions you may have.
May we love people well, in their time of need!


June 25, 2015

When your son makes your day and homeschooling rocks

This semester I had our teenage son read Little Women, which may sound weird but believe me, it was easier than trying to make another teenage son of ours get through Jane Austin's Emma!
Now, that was agony. LOL

Little Women has some great moral lessons for guys, as well as girls.

I love these passages so much.
They refer to Laurie (the young Mr.Laurence) and the influence the four admiring girls next-door and the love of their mother had for keeping him from temptation when he was away at school and then abroad in Europe.

"A universal favorite, thanks to money, manners, much talent, and the kindest heart that ever got is owner into scrapes by trying to get other people out of them, he stood in great danger of being spoilet, and probably would have been like any other promising boy, if he had not possessed a talisman against evil in the memory of the kind old man who was bound up in his success,
the motherly friend who watched over him as if he were her son, and last, but not least by any means, the knowledge that four innocent girls loved, admired and believed in him with all their hearts."

"Now, if ever, occurred an eligible opportunity for 'going to the devil,' as he once forcibly expressed it, for he had plenty of money and nothing to do, and Satan is proverbially fond of providing employment for full and idle hands. The poor fellow had temptations enough from without and from within, but he withstood them pretty well; for, much as he valued liberty, he valued good faith and
confidence more, so his promise to his grandfather, and his desire to be able to look honestly into the eyes of the women who loved him, and say "All's well," kept him safe and steady." 

Today, our teenage son got on a plane to spend the summer in CA with his brother and his best friend.
As he hugged me goodbye,
he said "I will come back and tell you that all is well, Mom."

And I said, "Great." It was early and he could see that I didn't get it.
Then he said "Like Laurie, Mom! Don't you remember!?!" 
I squealed, hugged him again and kissed his cheek and told him how much
I LOVED that he remembered this! What a sweetheart!

"'Here I am Mother! Yes, it's all right.' The last words were in answer to the look the elder lady gave him; a kindly questioning look , which the handsome eyes met so frankly that the little ceremony closed, as usual, with a motherly kiss."


June 24, 2015

Wednesdays in the Word

The gospel is the good BEST news!

"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out (= obliterated!),
so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 3:19
"To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you,
in turning away everyone of you from your iniquities." Acts 3:26
"For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him." 1 Thess. 5:9
"And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement.
So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." Heb. 9:27-28
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely;
and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus." 1 Thess. 5:23
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall ALWAYS be with the Lord." 1 Thess. 4:16

AMEN! : )

June 23, 2015

The day after Father's day

We were blessed to celebrate this wonderful man this weekend! It meant an especially great deal to us to after all he's been through this year! 

And since teaching a Sunday school class and going to worship wears Hubby out and since we had some tired boys just returning from youth camp, we had our big celebration last night instead.

Uncle Phil is staying with us and Tiffany (our soon to be daughter) came, and so did Joel, who flew in for camp and considers us his 'second parents.' : ) It was a very nice evening.

The kids wrote Hubby the usual Father's Day letters but this year the overriding theme of them all was their thanks for the courage he exhibited to them through the cancer battle and the way that it impacted their lives!

Yes, and Amen!


June 17, 2015

Down to the wire

There's nothing like finishing the school year just two hours before going off to camp! And oh, my goodness, has this homeschooling mom ever been stressed about it!
Thankfully, the end is in sight and yesterday was quite a productive day.
The nemesis of Andrew's life, otherwise known as the second semester of French II, was completed with a 'B.' (which I'm pretty sure is a better grade than I got in French II!) Then he passed the test for his learners permit (one last kiddo to teach to drive!) and he wrote an essay on Little Women, which finished up his English class.

Later on that night, his best friend flew through Hurricane Bill to be here for camp. God answered our prayers for safe travel and minimal delays and he arrived around 1:00 AM.

Today is all about finishing 4 hours of biology... and throwing some clothes in a suitcase and then it is off to camp!!! And the school year will be complete!

-If I'm MIA tomorrow, then I've gone to the beach to recover! ; )


June 12, 2015

Celebrating 10 years of thankfulness

Every February, we have a 'Thank You Party' to thank our dear friend, Carlos, for the addition and the remodeling job that he did on our house in 2005. Actually, he did SOOO much more than that... And gave up so much of his life to do it! We will be forever humbled by his love, generousity and servant's heart!

We had to postpone the party for awhile due to Hubby's cancer trial, and we finally had it last Friday night!

We looked at photos and videos of all the construction which Andrew set to the Switchfoot album we played during that whole year. And we were amazed again at how little our kids were back then! 

This year for the decorations, I attached a picture of the phases of construction to each helium balloon. I had each picture backed with some cute glittery paper UNTIL I found out that the paper was so heavy the balloons wouldn't float because of it. Who knew that card stock paper was that heavy? So, then I had to rip off that paper and just glue on white copy paper to all 16 of them. 
It looked SO cute, I thought I would do this again for Zac and Tiffany's rehearsal dinner using pictures of them over the last 6 years.
BUT the balloons that were suppose to float from 6-8 hours started dropping at hour #4 and the party hadn't started yet. (boo-hoo) Clever, Joy, gave me the idea to put a piece of tape on our ceiling for each balloon and it worked! 

For dinner, I made the Pioneer Woman's Big Steak Salad which was a big hit! Zac grilled the rib eyes for me and they were fabulous! (I cheated with store bought candied pecans and store bought onion rings to save time!) : )

Then Joy made a gorgeous peach and strawberry tart for dessert. It was amazing!

We gave Nathan a call in CA during the evening and caught him hiking up a mountain. He knew we were having the party that night and said he'd been thinking about it. We put him on speaker and while hiking, no less, he very eloquently put into words his thanks and what all that Carlos did meant to him personally. He really put into words what all of us were thinking, and it blew us away. Love that guy! (I couldn't have given a beautiful speech off the top of my head while hiking up a mountain to save my life) ; )

It was a very special evening! (even if the balloons didn't float) ; )


June 10, 2015

Wednesdays in the Word

Solitary Places

I love the verses about Jesus going off to a "solitary place" to pray.

When I think of a "solitary place" in my life, I'm reminded of a mountain top overlooking my hometown, where I used to go and pray, the summer that I was 21. It was a lonely time because my boyfriend (and future hubby) had broken up with me and moved 3,000 miles away to help start a church. My sister was traveling around Europe and two of my dearest friends had moved away. But the lessons God taught me in that sometimes-filled-with-tourists and not-always-so solitary place, changed my life. : )

Years later, as a mom of toddlers, I only wished I could go off to a solitary place   LOL
and the bathroom had to due. ; )

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Mark 1:35

"At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them." Luke 4:42

Sometimes Jesus took other people with Him to solitary places.

"Six days later, Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and brought them up a high mountain to a solitary place." Matthew 17:1

"Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.' So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place." 
Mark 6:31-32 

And another time, He delivered a man who had been driven to a solitary place by a demonic spirit.
Don't you feel for this man who wasn't in a solitary place by choice?
How many people are in that situation today?

"For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had  been driven by the demon into solitary places." Luke 8:29

Mark 4:28 Tells us that on Jesus' way to heal this man, he encountered quite a storm.
But Jesus "got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm." 

His life shows us how beneficial these times can be for our walk with God and this occasion can serve to remind us that He won't ever let anything stop Him from meeting us in our solitary place. : )


June 9, 2015

Summer is here

We are busily wrapping up our school year and we are getting ready to take our turn care-giving for my hubby's oldest brother, who is a stroke patient.
Hubby is still a bit of a 'patient' himself so we believing for an abundant measure of grace as we care for Phil for the next 4 months.

We are really glad that we can give a break to Hubby's second oldest brother and his family, who had to take a VERY LONG turn while we were going through the whole cancer trial. God bless them!

So, we've been switching out rooms, running lots of errands and arranging our house in a way that works for Phil. He flies in on Thursday.
Once he gets settled in, I'll be getting ready to send Andrew off to youth camp. And when he gets back from that, he is flying to CA to spend the next 5 weeks of summer with Nathan and his best friend, Joel.
I still can't believe we said 'yes' to that idea! I'm going to miss him like crazy! : )

On the bright side, Andrew AND NATHAN are flying home at the end of July! Yay!!!! Nathan is in a wedding and is staying for 12 days. Yahoo!!!!
Can't wait to have all my kiddos under our roof for those days. It will be the end of an era. Because
four weeks later, Zac will be getting married! Amazing!

It's going to be quite the summer!


June 3, 2015

Wednesdays in the Word

"This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly..."

"For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, 

living in malice and envy, 
hateful and hating one another 


when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,

not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy


through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit..." 

(taken from Titus 3)

Have a great day!


June 2, 2015

The groom and his men go shopping

It was a suit finding and fitting kind of night last night! : )

Here are the groom and his groomsmen:

I love this picture because it shows how much fun these guys always have together! And I love how Zac is holding his stomach because they make him laugh so hard! (these two have been Zac's best friends since he was in the 5th grade) : )

We were sure missing Nathan, the best man!

So, it takes quite awhile to try on suits and to measure everyone.

But look what you can do while you wait?  LOL!

Tons of fun!

This is going to be one handsome groom!

And how much fun is it when a wedding turns into a family reunion?!
We are so excited about all our relatives from CA who've said that they are going to try and come.
And Hubby's dad, who doesn't travel anymore, said he wasn't going to miss his first grandchild's wedding! So sweet! Hoping his health will allow him to make it.

Tiffany's siblings will certainly win for furthest distance traveled! -One is coming from Australia and another is coming from Germany! Amazing!

So excited!


June 1, 2015

Back from a blogging break with an update on all the fun

Last Friday night, before all the graduation fun got underway, we threw a family party for our future daughter-in-law, Tiffany's birthday.

Our usual word search (describing the birthday person and the things they love) took on a romantic twist, since Zac came up with all the words to describe her. (insert heart emoticons here)
Even though her name hasn't changed YET, we gave her a monogrammed clutch with her new last name initial embroidered on the bag! (insert more heart emoticons here)

Joy made her a Kit Kat cake that turned out to be adorable using Hershey's drops.

We had steak, because it is her favorite and this sauce is to die for!

We are so thankful that this sweet girl is joining our family!

The next day, we loaded up for a GIRLS GRADUATION GETAWAY with Joy and her four best friends!
They are the sweetest girls on the planet and I love them all to pieces.

The first stop was to drop Joy off at the fancy hotel, where graduation was taking place

 and where she had a mandatory 5 1/2 hour grad practice to attend. Blah! But thankfully, it did finish early.

While she was at practice, the girls and I went to Downtown Disney to walk around, eat yummy things and shop! Don't tell the men of my family, but I think DD is way more fun with a bunch of girls! ; )

We checked into our hotel and the girls decorated the room to surprise Joy when she got back from practice.
Then we got the celebrating under way and went out to dinner!

The rest of the evening included a trip to a sketchy market for breakfast supplies, a failed attempt to use the hotel pool and using face masks!

The next morning was the BIG DAY, where we met up with the rest of our family for the ceremony!

The next day, after all the celebrating, my best friend, who lives in CA came to town to hang out with us for the next couple days. We had a great time catching up and spent some time in this heavenly place relaxing

while the boys dug where busy digging away at what looked like someone's grave. LOL 

And then they flew home and I got sick and spent the better part of the next 3 days in bed! What a week!

And that sums up all the fun! #gradJOYation

Back to normal life now!