Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One Year

December 20, 2010 was the beginning of the end for us in our previous ministry.  It was the beginning of a trial that sparked these posts:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

To bring you up to speed...we're still in our house.  It has not sold and we may not be here much longer. Joel still has secular work and we're still looking for a new ministry.

We have learned so much this year...things we knew but really learned on a much more personal level.  We joined Maranatha Baptist Church and have really, really enjoyed this ministry.  We've made some new friends and learned lots of lessons....we had a lot of growing to do (and we still do!!).  God has been good and gracious and kind and loving and we do not deserve one bit of His favor.

I've made an effort this year to try and make Christmas really special for our boys.  Last year I was so numb and hurting that Christmas was just a hold-it-together-and-don't-fall-apart kind of holiday.  As much as I tried to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, my selfish pride was focused on my own situation and the despair I felt inside. Don't get me wrong...much of the pain is still there.  Leaving a place (and people) you love is never easy.

I write all of this to say that life is still hard at times.  I still wonder what God is doing and how He is going to do it.  I still have to work to focus on Christ at Christmas and not myself.  I still lay awake some nights and ask God when we will be through transitioning....when will we find a new ministry....when will life move from waiting to being normal again?  Through it all, I KNOW that my God is good.  He has a plan.  The details are worked out, the plan is in place and I get to watch Him work in our family through it all.

So this Christmas, I will worship with my church family and marvel that so many years ago He came.  My redeemer chose to come and rescue me from my sin and despair.  Nothing says Merry Christmas more than that.


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Please Don't Bash The Youth Pastor

This post may come off as a rant, and I certainly don't mean it that way. I've waited a week before writing this because I was so bothered.....

One night I was sitting at Tim Horton's (clipping coupons, if you're wondering) when I overheard a conversation a few tables away. Now, the Tim Horton's that I frequent is not large, so I really wasn't too far away from the table of men (there were 3 of them) and I forgot my iPod so tuning them out was impossible. I noticed the men come in and sit down, and really just tried to mind my own business. The men were chatting about the youth pastor at their church. The things they said were not nice. They questioned whether or not he was actually thinking when he planned an upcoming trip. They questioned much about what he's doing and how he's doing it....they pretty much sat there and picked the man apart. Then they decided to pray for the man....and prayed that "he would see the error of his ways and do things the way we want instead....that he would realize that we know more than him and we can tell him the best way to do things..."

I sat at my table just a few feet away and really, really wanted to say something. I'm still not sure what I would have said (I was honestly afraid I would say something stupid or just cry), but I'm sure it would have sounded something like this:

  Please don't bash your Youth Pastor. For that matter, please don't bash any of your Pastors. You probably have no idea just how much they think through the decisions that they make. 


 You probably have no idea that their work is always before them. They don't leave their work at the office and pick it back up the next day. They are almost always working, and a lot of times it is behind the scenes and you'll never know it. 


 You probably have no idea that living in a fishbowl is difficult, demanding and challenging. You probably have no idea how much they love you, pray for you, and thank God for you. You probably don't know that they love what they do, and that they are thankful that God put them in a place to minister to others in such a way. 


 Sitting in a public place, chewing up the youth pastor does not do anything positive for the gospel. In fact, for the 4 other patrons sitting in Tim Horton's, I wish you would stop! Sure, having a Bible study in a public place can open up lots of opportunities for conversations with those who do not know Christ...but if I were one of those four other patrons, I surely wouldn't want MY kids going to YOUR church. And I certainly wouldn't want anything to do with your God. 

I spent 7 1/2 years as a youth pastor's wife, and will hopefully get to minister in a similar way some day. I know that conversations like this are not isolated and that these men are the only ones in the world who picked their youth pastor apart. Can I offer you some advice? If you don't like the way something is being done...please go talk to the person instead of having a free-for-all session.

 Consider the fact that **you** might be the one that needs to change. I'm not saying that youth pastor's never make mistakes and that they are perfect (I know that is not the case), but neither are you. When was the last time that you said "thank you" to someone on staff at your church? When was the last time you dropped them a note to let them know that you appreciate what they do? When was the last time you prayed for God to change your heart and your response to someone instead of praying for God to change them?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Late Fall - Thankful

Most days I don't feel very thankful. There, I said it. Most days I want to complain about where we are in life, and I want to whine and cry to anyone who will listen.

That's not very sanctified.

The truth is that I have a lot for which to be thankful. So, here's a list. By the way, this is for my benefit...to remind myself of how blessed I am!!

I'm thankful for:

1. Joel - while this year has found him working with paint, wires and endless strings of stringers, he does what he needs to do to provide for us. This year has been hard, but good for us.

2. Camden, Josiah, and Trevor - yes, I'm busy. Yes, I have my hands full! But, they're full of good things (read that in a blog post this year!). I'm grateful that I have the chance to mother these three boys.

3. My church - I cannot even begin to tell you just how much we have appreciated Maranatha this year. Our church family has been a wonderful addition to our lives this year. While the circumstances that pushed us toward Maranatha were not pleasant, we found a new place to learn and grow. We've established some great friendships and have been able to get involved in many different ways.

4. My extended family. In June, my Grandpap Shaffer passed away and we traveled to West Virginia for the funeral. While my aunts, uncles, and cousins all lead different lives and make different choices than I do, I love them. They're MY family. We're Shaffers. We GET each other. My siblings are the best!

5. A roof over my head - this year has been a roller coaster when it comes to our house. For now, we're still here.

6. Healthy kids - other than the occasional cold or stomach bug, my boys are healthy. There are plenty of people around this globe that cannot say that!

There are other things that I'm thankful for.....I'll post them in the coming days.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dear Meijer, Who do you think you are? Walmart?

WARNING: THIS POST IS LONG. PLEASE DO NOT LAUGH AT MY PLIGHT.

So, I have this little routine....actually, it's a big routine. It is probably the most routine thing I do, and Meijer had to go and mess it up!
You see, every Monday night (okay, almost every Monday night) I feed my family dinner and then I leave for the grocery store. Armed with my coupon inserts, a cup of coffee, my Ipod and my coupon binder, I head into the store. On my way in I grab a sale flyer and I make my way over to the cafe area, snag a table and get to work. I cut my coupons and make a shopping list (er...battle plan) while sipping on my coffee and listening to my favorite music. Then, I hit the aisles (of course, in the same order every week) and do my shopping. I enjoy this time. I love this routine. I've been doing it this way for several years.

Until last night. Last night, my routine changed forever. Maybe this is God preparing me for a move in the future. After all, I've been dreading the idea of having to learn a new store and develop a new routine. This will probably at least start to push me over the edge....

So what happened when I got to Meijer last night? It was unthinkable. It was **almost** devastating. I did not cry, even though I wanted to (don't judge me!!). I walked through the door, grabbed a flyer, turned around and saw....particle board. The cafe area has been boarded up and it looks like a construction zone.

That's because it IS a construction zone. My beloved cafe area is gone. 100% never to be seen again gone. Meijer has decided to add a Subway. Really? A Subway?

I looked at the greeter in disbelief. I didn't want to cry in front of this man, who was trying so very hard to be helpful. He said it is going to take about 5 weeks to complete. So I asked him if there was anywhere else in the store that I could sit and clip my coupons, etc. His idea? I could sit on one of the benches at the front of the store (near the registers) and we could turn a cart upside down like a table. Um, no. That's okay. Like I don't look like a big enough dork with my zippered coupon binder. No thanks, I think I'll leave and come back.

So I left, drove across the parking lot to Tim Horton's and went inside. I can't sit there and not order something, so I bought a cup of soup (I already had a mug full of coffee) and grabbed a table.

I do not like clipping my coupons at Tim Horton's. The table was smaller, my stuff was crowded, and I really wanted a donut but opted to buy chicken noodle soup because I'm trying to be good. Clipping coupons has never been so blah.

After I was done I headed back to Meijer and took my time shopping. Then it hit me. In 5 weeks my favorite store is going to smell like Walmart...well, at least like the Walmart's that have a Subway inside. It's going to smell of yeast and wheat and pickles and asiago cheese. All of those things are great on a sub, but pungent when combined in a relatively small-what-used-to-be-a-cafe-area location. Now if I want to sit at Meijer, I'm going to have to find something small to purchase (can I buy one pickle slice please?) in order to sit at the table in the micro-Subway. And chances are they will change the tables and put in the little round ones that don't hold my purse, let alone my nerdy binder.

I know it's not the end of the world. After all, it is just my boring, nerdy, Monday night routine. I do think my reluctance to change might be Joel's fault. He gave me the Gearhart name, and anyone who knows the Gearhart's knows that Gearhart's are slightly resistant to change. When I was a Shaffer, change was life. I grew up with change. Change occurred every time we packed up our entire house and moved to a different state...or country! Now that I've been a Gearhart for more than a decade, change is synonymous with "I don't want to and if I have to I'm going to drag my feet or sigh reluctantly because this is really difficult and I hate change." By the way, this isn't a knock on the Gearhart's..I love them for their stubbornness :)

So now I get to come up with a new routine for the next 5 weeks, and then figure out how to make little bitty tables work after that. I might have to start clipping my coupons at home (perish the thought!!) or buying more than soup at Tim Horton's. I do know one thing....I either need to get used to pungent Subway smells or figure out a discreet way to wear a nose plug.

******Update 11/1/2011*******

I contacted Meijer via their webpage about my frustration. Today, I received a call from Rick, the general manager of my store. Whoa! First of all, Meijer is a BIG company. The fact that the manager not only received my complaint but personally called me? I'm impressed. He apologized for my frustration and explained that the addition of Subway was a corporate decision. Then he asked if it would be okay if he called me again to update me once a solution is reached that will satisfy customers like me. Wow.
I took the opportunity to tell him why I choose to shop at his store. I explained to him that a clean, well-stocked store is important to me. I told him that his employees are pleasant (especially the greeters).
I let him know that I'll continue to shop at his store :) Can you tell that I'm impressed that he would want to keep just one customer happy? Wow.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Pinteresting....

So, a while ago I decided to see what the fuss was all about and I checked out Pinterest. Yikes. As if I didn't already spend enough time online, now I have a whole new time drain!

I've been "pinning" things a lot, but I hadn't ventured out and done anything that I'd pinned yet. Before I went to New Hampshire in September, I bought the supplies for a project but it had to wait until I returned home.

Why is it that I think that somewhere, deep inside, Martha Stewart is living? Seriously, of all the things my mom passed on to me, the craft gene is not one of them.

So here it is, my first Pinterest-inspired project. I basically combined a few ideas I saw into one manageable project. It's not perfect (don't look too close) but I still like it!



It's hard to tell, but the ribbon is green, not brown. Now, if I could make some sort of bow with that green ribbon, I think it would look complete.....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dreaming of Fireflies

There were once three little boys
Who played and played their summer away
With backyard baseball, games on the radio
and fireflies...

If only they could relive the magic as
Summer fades gloriously into Fall
and fireflies of Summer dim until
the magic begins once more.


BUT WAIT....THEY CAN...if Bzz Agent will let us
try the Dreamlights!!!

How magical Fall could be...if we could have the Dreamlights in our room!

Please, BZZ Agent...don't you want to make three little boys dream of summer?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Waiting for Fall

Waiting...seems to be the pattern of my life for a while. While I don't like it, I'm learning that it's part of a process. We were at Greenfield village with friends last week and we went into the pottery shop. As I watched the potter mold and shape the clay, I marveled at how gently - yet forcefully - he took a lump of clay and made a cup. You'd think that was the hard part, right? But - don't forget the kiln! That cup has to be "fired" to make it into a cup, otherwise it's just dried clay that will crumble and be unusable. The molding stretches and forms...but the fire tests and proves. Eventually, the cup comes out of the fire and it is only then that it can be used as the potter intends.....


This Fall will be different than others before it. Our boys (Camden and Josiah) will be starting school at Emerson Elementary in Fraser. This choice was not made in haste, and we are convinced that it is where they need to be right now. I will have just Trevor at home with me...that's going to be odd but wonderful.

This Fall also finds us still waiting on God for another ministry opportunity. We are not sure how much longer Joel will have work, but God has never failed to provide for us. I'm praying that Ferndale gets swamped with work and they can keep Joel on until God moves us elsewhere.

Our Little Blue Heaven will not be our home for much longer. Our short sale deadline is the end of this week...after that we will start the next phase of this not-so-easy process. We'll likely have a different home by Christmas, if not before. Sigh.

So as our Summer of Fun quietly slips into Fall, I wonder how our lives will transform....before long the trees will scream praise to their maker as they bid farewell to their leaves. The glorious color will give way to brown, then gray.

I'm going to relish the golds, reds, and purples. I'm going to drink cider and play with my kids and just enjoy the life God has given me.

One more thing...we LOVE our church. God has given us a haven....when something new does come along, it's going to be very difficult to leave our church family, again. They welcomed us with open arms...and for that we are so very, very, grateful.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Goodblogs Post

Head on over to Goodblogs to read my first post there!!

Abnormal Summer

This summer is different for Joel and I as a married couple...every summer from 2001 to now we have had big plans. We prepped and planned and packed and trekked here and there in vans and buses with people that we loved. But this summer is different...there's no camp or missions trip or retreat planned at all.

I'm finding it to be harder than I thought. I LOVE camp. I LOVE missions trips. I DON'T love tent camping...but I LOVED tent camping with our teens. I loved summer because it was always so busy...and while I longed for slower days, I didn't realize that THIS is what the slower days are like.

I miss them. I miss anticipating camp and watching them bloom and grow so quickly in a week. I miss following up with them on what they are learning and listening to them as they put the pieces together. I miss crazy van rides and friendship bracelets, coffee shop counseling sessions and craft shop bonding moments. I miss manicure night on the way to camp and sitting in the back of the gym/chapel praying for them as we listen and sing in the services.

Don't get me wrong...part of me is enjoying the respite...enjoying planning fun things for my boys and knowing we have our summer free to berry pick and park hunt. Daddy is home more in the evenings with fewer commitments and we're not constantly packing and unpacking our entire family for different events. We are enjoying the ministry that God has us at right now, we are serving where we can and soaking up everything else.

But part of my heart will always be at Northland Camp in the summer....and part of it will always be at Hartwick Pines and on the Au Sable River in a red, Borcher's canoe.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Forget Me Not....

A few years ago (well...more than just a few) Joel and I lived and worked at a group home for the elderly. I worked with the residents more than he did, and many of them suffered from some sort of memory loss - some worse than others. I felt badly when family members would visit (not often enough...but that's another post) and not be instantly known by our residents. While none of them had Alzheimer's, many of them appeared to have some Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

I recently attended a webinar about MCI and learned some interesting things. Did you know that losing cognitive ability is the #1 fear among the aging? MCI can now be diagnosed, and is basically the intermediate stage between age-related mental function loss and Alzheimer's. 1 in every 2 people that have MCI develop Alzheimer's...that's alarming!

Congnitive impairment is caused by metabolic and genetic imbalances. Basically, neurons in the brain lose the ability to communicate with each other. Over time, this affects one's cognitive ability altogether.

The webinar I attended introduced me to Cerefolin NAC which is a medical food used to treat MCI. A medical food must be prescribed by a physician, but is not a medicine. Instead, a medical food must meet the following criteria (taken from the Cerefolin NAC website:

1. The active ingredient must be present in/derived from a food.
2. It must be administered enterally (either by mouth or feeding tube, etc).
3. Efficacy/dosing/safety must be proven in peer-reviewed scientific literature
4. It is intended to be used under medical supervision; and
5. Addresses the distinct metabolic requirements of patients with a specific
diagnosed disease(s) or condition(s)
6. All ingredients must be Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)

I was intrigued by the nutritional aspect of this treatment. Basically, Cerefolin NAC contains active forms of folate and vitamin B12 that cross the blood/brain barrier and work within the brain to repair the damaged neurons. This medical food contains far more than your body can metabolize from food, and helps to make up for decades of lacking nutrition (and I'm certainly NOT going THERE in this post, lol!)

Best of all, since MCI now is an official diagnosis, Cerefolin NAC is covered by many insurance companies and an authorized generic will be coming out this summer.

Joel and I both have grandparents who are aging, and parents (sorry, Mom and Dad) that will be dealing with this sort of thing in the years to come. As my interest in better nutrition grows, I am curious to see if this supplement can really make a difference in the lives of those I love...and perhaps myself someday.


**Disclosure** I was compensated for my time for attending the webinar and for writing this post. The opinions contained are my own, and my compensation was not dependent on writing a favorable post.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spring...finally...or is it Summer?

We just had our first "summer" storm. You know the kind...they come up suddenly and are gone nearly as fast. I spontaneously told the boys to get their shoes on and head outside. I grabbed my camera and captured a few minutes of memories....a hard storm moving through...lots of wind and rain and thunder....then it got lighter....then heavier again.

Slowly the rain stopped and the sun began to peek through. At one point I looked up and half the sky was blue with light, puffy clouds. The other half was gray and stormy.

That's kind of where we're at as a family. The hard, blinding rain has passed. We've not forgotten the storm clouds, for they linger...but the sun is shining and we're dancing in the rain.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Blessings



We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home,
It's not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise


All information about this song and the CD it is on is available at: Laura Story Music

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cousins

It's not super warm out today (maybe 40?) and yet I have 4 boys playing outside...and they've been out for almost 4 hours! Sam and Gabe are here (Trev and Max are at Mimi's house) and Camden and Josiah are just having a blast. Add 1 neighbor boy and you've got a backyard full of fun! I made the boys wear hoodies and coats....the coats were abandoned almost immediately. The hoodies have been taken off too...

Hmm...fresh air, a warm bath and homemade pizza...sounds like some little boys should sleep well tonight!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Waiting

Do you like to wait? Does anyone? I don't know about you, but I'm am not good at waiting. When I was a kid I snooped for the Christmas presents. As a teenager (ok, so now too) I liked to drive fast and get where I'm going. I just don't like to wait.

Ah, but you know the phrase....good things come to those who wait. So I often spend my days wondering what good things are coming our way, because I am tired of waiting.

I am tired of waiting for a new ministry.

I am tired of waiting for our house to sell.

I am tired of waiting to decide what we're going to do about school next year.

I am tired of waiting on life in general.

My fear is that with all this waiting, part of me is missing life as it comes. I need to just live here and now, and not in some future part of my imagination. Oh, I have lots of things that I want for the future...but where I am right now is where I need to be.

God is never late. And I don't think I'm ready early, either. I just need to realize that His plan, in His time, is what is right.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

3G

My boys love to pretend that they are spies and detectives. Camden reads books about it, they all have code names, and they play with spy gear all the time.

Today, Camden taped this sign to our front door.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

March Madness

This morning I told Camden that he should wear a little green, since it's St. Patrick's Day. He looked at me with that, "Mom, you're so out of it" look and said, "Uh, it's the first day of March Madness, actually, so I should be wearing a basketball jersey or hat or something."

I love the fact that he gets into the Big Dance just like Joel and I do!

Right now Josiah is sounding out words on a phonics paper, Camden is working on his Language Arts worksheet and Trevor is playing Irish Angry Birds on my phone. The sun is shining, the weather is warming up and we're enjoying the day.

Oh yeah...the appraiser is coming tomorrow to estimate the value of our house...so I guess I should tidy up a bit and be ready for his visit!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Trev's Snowman Cookie


A few weeks ago, Trevor was asked to be the Cubbie of the week. He also got to bring a snack to share.

Joel forgot to tell me :).

So, last week we talked to his teacher and decided to try this again. At lunchtime today I remembered (I really should have written it down!!).

I pulled out a few cookie kits my Dad sent the boys and let Trevor pick one, whipped up some sugar cookie dough and we now have a treat ready for tonight.

A side note

I just want to mention something that has been going through my mind.

My last few post have outlined (briefly, long as the posts maybe have been)a trial that we have gone through.

But I know it's NOTHING in comparison to some things that friends and others have gone through.

We are healthy.
We are together.
We are safe.
We know Christ.
We have Hope.

I don't mean to diminish or belittle other people who have gone through far greater trials than ours.

I'm simply trying to not waste this trial...and really trying to remember some things to reflect on later.

The end of winter

"I am overwhelmed at the goodness of my God, and the graciousness of His people. Life may look differently today than it has for the past several years, but my God is in control."

This quote was my Facebook status on January 17th. The first few days with Joel home were weird. We had no solid leads for paying work, although he had been looking for a few weeks. We had no solid lead on churches that may want us, either.

Our church was providing Joel's paycheck through the end of January, so we could have time to look for work. Joel needed to clean out his office by the 31st, so he made several trips up to finish the job.

February came and still no work. No leads, no interest. Nothing. What is God doing? We got our taxes ready to file and took a hard look at our budget. Between the gifts from our now "former" church and our tax return, we could see that God was taking care of us financially. We were going to be okay.

We started attending another church in January and were really trying to get the kids acclimated. It took a solid month before there weren't tears every time we walked in the building. Honestly, it's nearing the end of March and sometimes there are still tears.


On January 29th, we listed our home for sale. We may not be living in "Our little blue heaven" for much longer.

At the end of February, Joel found work! I have never been so happy to see my husband leave at the beginning of the day. We are so thankful for God's provision through this job. While it's not ministry related and could be temporary, we know God provided the work.

Now we find ourselves a the end of Winter with Spring poking it's head around the corner. We're not sure what God has for our family in the future. Right now we are praying and just looking for direction.

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for Spring and the sunshine it brings.

Mid Winter

Mid-winter warning...another LONG post...

When I returned home, we put the boys to bed and sat down to figure out just what we were going to do. We had less than a month before we had to say goodbye to people that we dearly loved. We had little direction, few answers and hearts that just ached with what was to come.

We gritted our teeth and made it through Christmas. Our family sang together for the Christmas Eve service and I remember wanting to just sob! Nobody knew yet, so I had to hold it together and act as though life was just as it always had been. I didn't WANT to feel like this at Christmas. Christmas isn't about ME, but I had such a hard time focusing on the true meaning of Christmas...my mind wandered...my heart ached...and I was definitely sleep deprived!

I tried to talk Joel out of our traditional red-eye night on New Year's Eve (an all-nighter)but was unsuccessful. I threw myself into this activity, knowing that it was our last. I wanted the food to be perfect. I wanted the teens to have the best time possible. And yet, while games were played in the dark (it's tradition) I silently mourned each one as they ran past me. They had no idea that a little more than a week later an announcement would be made and that we'd slip out of their everyday lives. We loved these kids. We poured our hearts and lives into them and truly loved them the best we knew how. And this was it...the last activity after 7 1/2 years of camp, retreats, Where's Waldo and Red-eye nights. There would be no more roadtrips, no more hang outs, no more SNACS. I loved taking them to camp and hearing how God was changing them. I loved putting my arm around a girl and asking how her relationship was with her mom. I loved reminding them that God makes no mistakes.

God makes no mistakes.

I knew it was true, but found it hard to believe when it came right down to it. How is this best? How is this pain not wasted? How do I move my boys on from the only church they've ever known? THIS is BEST??

On January 9, a meeting was held after the morning service. The boys were at my in-laws house for the weekend (on purpose) so that we could tell them ourselves the next day and they didn't hear it at church. Pastor announced some changes that were taking place as far as the budget was concerned.

It was all I could do to not burst into tears too early. I barely made it.

He announced that the next Sunday would be Joel's last as youth pastor and that there would be a fellowship after the evening service to say goodbye. Goodbye. Really? Do I have to?

After the service, many came to us and gave us a hug, shared tears and expressed their disbelief. I ran out of things to say, but just found myself repeating that "God is good, all the time." Even as I said it, I struggled with not understanding how this is good, even though I know the statement is really true.

The next week is really a blur for me. On Monday evening we told our boys. First we told Camden, then Josiah and Trevor. We discovered that Trevor is a social crier (really!). I laid on my bed with the three while Joel ran out to grab pizza. I really didn't feel like cooking and we thought pizza might cheer them a bit. While he was gone, my boys and I cried together. I still can't get that sound out of my head.

Saturday we had lunch with our three seniors. It was bittersweet. These three had been with us since Jr. High!! I am so thankful that we had that few hours together, one last time.

On Sunday I felt a little numb. I had cried so much and tried to brace myself, but it was so hard. The farewell fellowship was very nice, although I don't really relish being the center of attention like that. The church family gave us some really nice gifts (my favorite is the Keurig, of course) and a few men shared some thoughts.

The gracious people that we had spent 7 1/2 years with took up a love offering for us. We were blown away by the generosity of God's people. Between the love offering and other personal gifts, God was showing us that HE would provide, that HE was still in control and that we needn't worry.

The ride home that night is a blur. The only thing I really remember is crying a lot, and hearing my oldest son wail in mourning.

I slept that night for the first time in weeks.

Early Winter

Winter Warning...this post may be long.....

I wasn't ready for Winter. Oh, I was ready for that first snow fall. I love the first one each year! I wasn't ready, however, for what winter would bring us.

In late December I drove to Cleveland to visit my Dad. He was there on business, so the boys and I headed down there after church on a Sunday afternoon. It was very impromptu, but I was glad to get to see Dad, and for my boys to see him. We spent the night at my brother's home and planned to stay until sometime on Tuesday.

On Monday afternoon I had the chance to see my Grandpa and his wife, Della. They came over to my brother's house and we sat at the dining room table and chatted for a few hours. My phone rang and I knew by the ring that it was Joel, so I jumped up to get it. My heart sank when he told me that Pastor and the Deacons had met the night before and had decided that they could no longer afford to keep Joel on staff, and that we would be done at our church in January.

I waited for Grandpa to leave (relishing the time with him, but wanting to escape) and then told my brother that I needed to go home. So I grabbed our things and headed home (it's only 3 hours). I was sooo thankful for sunglasses, because my oldest could see me in the rear-view mirror and I was trying to hide the tears from him.

What were we going to do? How were we going to find work in Michigan right now? What about our precious teens that we love SO MUCH? How were we going to tell our children? Where would we go to church? And Christmas?? Why did this have to happen right now, right before Christmas?

The next few weeks were ones of little sleep, lots of prayer and many, many tears.

Fall

This past fall held a major change for our family...we began homeschooling. Yikes! I am confident in my teaching abilities but teaching your own children at home is very different from a traditional classroom.

After much prayer and research, we decided to enroll our two oldest in the Michigan Virtual Charter Academy. I absolutely LOVE the curriculum! My boys are thriving educationally and I'm surviving this new way of life.

I'm not sure how long we'll homeschool...our main reason for doing so this year was financial. We weren't sure we could swing tuition for two. Camden attended Faith Christian School for K-5 and First grade...and he LOVED it there. However, tuition for both Camden and Josiah was really going to be a stretch and we just weren't sure about being able to do make that payment every month.

There are days that I love what we're doing, and days that make me remember why birds eat their young. I must admit that if we are able to enroll the boys in school next year (wherever we are...but that's another post!!) I would love to. I guess time will tell :).

Waiting on God

I was a little shocked to see how long it has been since my last post. I'm not even sure I have readers left anymore!!

The last few months have been really difficult ones, but we are learning a lot right now. In the next few posts I'll catch you up on what's been happening and what we're learning.

Stay tuned!