Monday, September 24, 2012


This summer did not really go as I had anticipated.  I had grandiose ideas of fun and exciting things to do with the boys.  We made a list and bought little scrapbooks. We schemed and planned.

And then Fall came.

That's not to say we didn't do anything fun this summer. We hit the beach a few times, made homemade ice cream, played lots of backyard baseball and moved into a different house.

Okay, so maybe moving shouldn't be categorized as something fun we did this summer.  I've moved enough in my life that while it's exciting and new and is not fun.  Sweating buckets while hauling boxes upon miserable boxes cannot in any way be categorized as fun.

So our summer has passed and we are officially into the best season that exists here in Michigan - Fall. Yes, I capitalized it (yes, on purpose).  Sure, nothing compares to Fall in New England, but God has placed me in Michigan ;)  The air is crisp and the cider mill is just begging for our family to visit.  The boys have switched from backyard baseball to football and we've begun making our daily trek to school and back.

It's funny.  When the boys were all really little I used to long for empty, peaceful days when I could get things done.  It seemed like the flurry of activity would never cease.  Now that I have the house all to myself each day, it's kinda surreal.  I can't stand the lack of noise - I guess you just get accustomed to the rambles of boys and when they're not here it is just too quiet.  So, it's a good thing I like to listen to music or I think I'd go a little nuts.

I'm learning that I'm not nearly as patient as I thought I was.  God has asked us to wait longer for a new ministry than I'd ever imagined.  We've done a lot of thinking, a lot of praying and, to be honest, a lot of sighing and wondering when and why and how.  I'd like to say that I never question what God is doing and I'd like to say that I've never asked why.

But I can't, because I have.  Joel and I know that God has something in mind for us.  Joel and I both remain convinced that ministry is where God wants us long-term.  We never imagined that we'd still be searching and waiting and learning to trust and trying to understand, but we are...

We don't know why God has allowed us to walk the path we have for the past little while.  We don't know when the rain is going to stop and when the sun is going to start shining again.  We're trying to dance in the rain, but there are days when we seem to have two left feet and the music gets all jumbled in our heads.

So, we keep trusting and waiting and taking dancing lessons.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Third Day in June

On June 3, 1995 I graduated from Victory Christian School in Londonderry, NH.  My parents hosted an open house and I spent the day celebrating my accomplishments, dreaming of my future and crying a few tears.  Like most high school graduates, I had big plans and couldn't wait to go off to college and begin the rest of my life.

On June 3, 2003 Joel and I moved into our apartment in Clinton Township.  We had driven from Wisconsin to Michigan the day before, but we had arrived just a few minutes after 5 p.m.  The leasing office would not give us our keys after 5, so we ended up spending the night at Matt and Rachael Wipf's house.

I was expecting Camden at the time, and was only 7 weeks away from my due date.  Joel had accepted the youth pastorate at Macomb Baptist and we were excited to see what was coming next. The next 7 and  a half years would be full of blessings, challenges, laughter, tears and joy.  In God's plan, He moved us from that ministry and placed us in His waiting room - where we remain today.

On June 3, 2012 we spent the day (the weekend, really) to honor our current Pastor and his sweet wife.  Pastor and Sue have served Maranatha Baptist Church for 25 years - and they have served MBC very well.  While we've only been part of this church body for less than 18 months, we have grown to deeply love and appreciate this sweet couple.  They are genuine.  They are sincere.  They are humble.  They are loving.   As Mike Sanders said yesterday, they are true Christians - and that is the greatest title in the world.

God has been so good to MBC.  This weekend was about thanking God and honoring Him for giving us this good gift. It was about recognizing that all of this is possible only through the grace of our good God.  

I am so thankful for Glen and Sue Currie.  God has given us a wonderful gift.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Family Update - May 2012

As you know, our family has been in the middle of a transition for a while now.  We continue to wait on what God has for us in vocational ministry, but we are making a few changes in the process.

Joel is still working the secular job he's had since last year.  While it's not what he wants to be doing long-term, we are very, very thankful that he has had continuous work.

Our family will be moving closer to our church in a month or so.  We have found a house to rent and are making preparations to move.  This will eliminate a lot of driving (especially on Sunday) and allow us to be more involved with our church family.  Since we won't be locked into a long-term lease, we will be ready to pack up and move again when a ministry fit is found.  We have to be out of our house by August 2, but we plan to move well in advance of that date.

Many have asked how the search is going - to be's difficult.  We drove to one ministry (here in MI) in March and spent several hours with a search committee.  Joel has had several phone conversations and even a conference call with a pulpit committee recently.  None of these options have resulted in a new ministry for us.  We continue to look, send resumes, follow leads and pray for guidance.  It's frustrating, at times, but we know that we are not in control of this timeline.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Living the Fishbowl Life?

Are you/Have you been a ministry wife?  Can you give me your input?  I'm trying to put some thoughts together and need some thoughts from you.  If you would, answer the following questions - and if you don't want to post them publicly, you can email them to me (gearhart0624 at gmail dot com) or send me a Facebook message.  All emailed answers will be kept confidential.

1.  What do you think is your role as a ministry wife?

2.  What kinds of struggles do you face because of your role as a ministry wife?

3.  Did you/do you feel like you live in a fishbowl - under constant scrutiny and the watchful eyes of those around you?

4.  What are your greatest joys as a ministry wife?

5.  If you have children, how does the ministry play a role in how you are raising/have raised them?  Would you do things differently if you were not in the ministry?

6.  What keeps you up at night?

7.  What kind of ministry are you part of (school, church, missionary, camp, etc.)?

8.  If you had it to do all over again, would you choose this path for your life?  Why/Why not?

9.  What topics have you found to be "taboo" when it comes to discussing ministry life?

10.  What do you wish you could tell a younger woman about ministry life?

You're probably wondering why I'm asking these questions....and rightly so.  I've actually been brainstorming for a new blog idea (I'd love to write a book, but a blog is much more manageable.)  I don't know if it will ever happen, but I wanted to ask the questions anyways.

Resources and discussions regarding life as a ministry wife are few and far between, especially online. Issues are skirted and there seems to be some sort of odd silence about what life is really like for ministry wives.

Any input you can offer is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Not as I planned....

Today my youngest little guy turns 5.  He's sweet and funny and I can't imagine NOT having him in our family.

I was six weeks along in my pregnancy with Trevor before I even suspected that I might be pregnant.  I had been hitting the gym and my shirts were fitting so well, but my pants were getting harder and harder to button.  I was quite confused but figured that things were just shifting.  One September afternoon (I remember that it was the day of the Awana fair at church) I took a nap and could not figure out why I was so tired.  When I got up from the nap, the thought hit me....could it be?  Certainly not!  I grabbed a test out of the closet (leftover from when Josiah came along) and it was instantly positive.  I thought for sure that it must be expired or fact, it took 4 tests to convince me that we were going to have another baby.

We were thrilled and surprised.  We desired more children, but Josiah was 2 weeks away from his first birthday and we didn't think another baby would come along quite so soon.  Once the initial shock wore off we began to get really excited....until the ultrasound.

You see, I prayed for a girl.  I was convinced I was going to have a girl.  You might remember that we had a mistaken ultrasound with Josiah (we were told he was a girl) so I thought for sure that God was going to give us a girl this time.  We already had 2 boys, so a girl would balance things out a bit.  In my mind, I convinced myself that since God had surprised us with this baby, He was going to really make it a good surprise and give us a girl.  

He didn't.  When the ultrasound tech told us (with Camden and Josiah watching and waiting) that another boy was on his way, I couldn't even look at the screen. I didn't want a boy.  I didn't plan for this pregnancy at all and another boy was certainly NOT on my radar.  How was I going to parent 3 boys?  Didn't God care that I really, really wanted to have a girl?  What was He thinking??

The next couple months were met with many sleepless nights.  Outwardly I smiled and accepted the heartfelt congratulations from friends and family.  Inwardly I battled with the idea that I didn't get what I wanted.  I laid awake many nights praying that God would help me to love and want this baby.  I couldn't imagine going through labor in this state of mind.

I know what you're probably thinking:  how selfish.  You're right.  I was selfish.  I was inwardly focused.  I should have been grateful for the fact that I could have children at all.  I battled with these thoughts.  I had friends that had miscarried and would give anything to have a child and here I was not happy with the gender.  I wanted to be excited.  I wanted to want a boy.  I knew that God was going to have to change my heart and my mind.

Trevor was due in May, and it was about mid-March before I finally came to terms with God's plan for our family. I spent the last 6 weeks preparing my mind and heart to welcome another boy into our family.  By the  time Trevor arrived, I was so excited with how God was blessing our family.

Today, I cannot imagine NOT having Trevor.  While the world would say he was a mistake (unplanned and not the gender I initially desired) I know that his life is a gift from God.  God decided that he would be and God decided that I would get to be his mother.  He's definitely a momma's boy (and I milk it!).  He brings us so much joy.  There's not a doubt in my mind that Trevor is a good gift from my good God.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

How do YOU Titus 2?

Last week, one of our Pastors preached a sermon on Titus 2.  You can listen to it here:

What are your thoughts on intergenerational ministry?  How do you practice this in your own life?  If you're an older woman, how to you teach the younger women?  If you're a younger woman, do you seek out the teaching of older women?

We discussed this quite a bit in our ladies' Bible study this year.  I can tell you that as someone with small(ish) kids, I know that I need the wisdom and guidance of older, more experienced women in my life.  I've been married for almost 12 years, but that doesn't mean I've got it all figured out.  Titus 2 exists, and if we believe that all scripture is profitable, then we obviously need this text.

So, take an hour (c' can do it....turn up your speakers and listen to Joey while you fold laundry or wash dishes) and then come back here and let's have a discussion on how/why we can/should follow Titus 2.

The End of an Era

Tomorrow, my sweet Trevor turns 5.  He's about as excited as any kid get gets before his birthday, and it has been fun to listen to his chatter the past few days.

It is a bit surreal to me though, to realize that the "little years" are practically over and we are entering a new stage as a family.  I remember thinking that I'd never sleep again when Trevor was born....Camden was still 3, Josiah was 19 months old and I was tired!  Lots of people told me that those days would pass quickly.  I didn't believe them (nothing passes quickly when you're sleep deprived..well, except the nap!) and sure enough, here we are - ready for whatever comes next.

Trevor has often told me that he is a baby on the inside and a big boy on the outside.  I milked that for all it was worth!  Last week he told me that once he turns 5, he's going to be a big boy all the way through.  I'm not so sure that I like this idea.....

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Patience, Preschoolers, and Lighting your Hair on Fire

You know, I thought I had this down - this patience thing.  You'd think that I'd be really good at waiting by now, but admittedly I'm not.  I want to know when and where and how God is going to move our family.  I want to know so I can plan and pack and make wise decisions.

And maybe I'm just impatient.  I don't like to wait.  I don't like to not be in control.  I get tired of answering the same questions from well-meaning people.  I don't know when we're moving, where we're moving, if any of the ministry possibilities we have are going to work out.  I don't know where my kids will go to school this fall or if we'll have to get rid of a ton of stuff so that we can fit into a little apartment.

Apparently, I need a little more polishing on this patience thing.....

Moving on.......

I'm almost not the mom of a preschooler. Come September, all three boys will be at school.  It amazes me that this phase of our lives is coming to a close - it's wildly strange and sad and thrilling.......

Oh yeah, about lighting your hair on fire.....

Josiah stuck his head on a candle the other day and singed the top of his hair.  Really?  Like me life isn't exciting enough......

Friday, March 30, 2012


When my Grandma Shaffer died (Fall 2006) one thing I really regretted was not learning more about how she did things in the kitchen.  She made amazing lasagna, buckwheat cakes, and jelly (among other things).  I'm told her jello was pretty good, too, but I don't eat jello so I wouldn't know.

The summer after Grandma died, a little old lady from our church called me and asked if I wanted to come by and learn how to make jelly.  Mrs. Lemp always gave us jelly at Christmas, and it reminded me of Grandma's, so I jumped at the chance.

I thought making jelly required some mystical powers or something, and certainly it had to be really difficult and time consuming.  When I arrived at the Lemps (with 3 kids in tow - Camden was 4, Josiah was almost 2 and Trevor was only a few months old) I was surprised that there wasn't a laboratory set up.  She had jars and lids, a big pot, some juice, sugar and pectin.  Surely, we were missing something, right?

Of course, before we could make jelly, Mr. Lemp had to show me HOW he juiced all those berries.  He took me out to the garage and showed me his steam distiller and explained how it worked.  If you've ever met the Lemps, you know that they love to talk about this and that....and talk they did!

Once we got into the kitchen, Mrs. Lemp walked me through the process of making jelly.  It was fun, it was simple, and it was instantly nostalgic.  We made batch after batch of blackberry jelly, and she told me stories about raising her four boys.  Mr. Lemp came through the kitchen with old pictures or coins and told stories of days gone by.

This scenario has repeated itself several times in the past 5 years.  Mrs. Lemp will call and the boys and I will head over there for an afternoon.  I always leave with at least a dozen jars of yumminess, and Mrs. Lemp gets a task crossed off of her list.

This week, I went to the Lemps for what may be the last time.  I stirred and stirred and made multiple batches of jelly.  Camden even got in on the action!  Mr. Lemp showed me old pictures and Mrs. Lemp showed me the grandkids on the fridge (again).  We talked about farming and trees and how they raised four boys in that house.  They aren't getting any younger, and we'll be moving this summer (maybe somewhat local, maybe not).  If we're still in the area, I hope to get back over there for another jelly making session.
If not, I'll have happy memories of learning how to make jelly and of long afternoons with a wonderful couple!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dear 21 Year Old Me...

Dear 21 year old me,

Today you're going to drive over to Charlotte, Michigan and see the place where Joel grew up.  He's going to show you his old church and more importantly, his old home.  He's going to reminisce and get that glint in his eye when he talks about listening to Ernie up in that old bedroom and playing catch with his dad outside.  He's going to remember Christmas celebrations with his cousins and life in what was an **almost** perfect world for him.

Together you're going to pop into a few old stores and stop by and visit some old friends.  By mid-afternoon you'll be playing at the playground that Joel frequented as a boy (and that you'll eventually take your 3 little boys to visit as well).  Eventually you'll sit down under a big oak tree to chat for a bit before you head off to dinner, and he's going to work up the nerve to propose.

You're going to say yes - and the whirlwind of a life with this boy is going to begin!  You'll head off to Mountain Jacks and enjoy a great dinner, and then use the pay phone to call your parents to tell them the good news.  Once you get back to Davison you'll be greeted by excited family members, take a gazillion pictures and endure an awkward yet endearing announcement of your engagement in church tomorrow.

Right now you have no idea what's ahead.  If you knew, you'd be terrified...but trust me, the journey is fantastic.  Sure, there are going to be rough days.  There's going to be days when you wonder what God is doing and if He's forgotten about you.  You will often wonder where you're headed and what life will be like when you get there.

You're going to have 3 kids before you turn 30 and you'll get to stay home and raise them.  You'll buy a house and outgrow it quickly.  You'll experience what it's like to pour yourselves into a ministry and then leave your heart there.  You'll develop relationships with some wonderful people and you'll even give homeschooling a shot.

You're going to find yourself in limbo and you're going to get homesick.  Your closest sibling will be 3 hours away and you'll only see your parents maybe once a year.

Along the way you're going to discover that God's grace is sufficient, that His promises are true and that there's nothing you can do to make Him love you more.  He's going to meet (and exceed) your needs, sustain you on days when you want to quit and provide peace in the midst of the storms that come.  You'll learn to lean on Him more than you ever thought you'd need to - only to realize that you've only scratched the surface of what you need to learn and discover about your God.

March 20 will always be a special day for you - it is the day Joel proposed and the day you agreed to become his wife. It's a decision you'll not regret - and life will only get sweeter as the days go by.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

My Life.....isn't All That Bad.......

You know, I tend to find myself wanting to complain and whine about the fact that we're still waiting on God to show us where we're headed.  I often (way too often) allow myself to think that God has forgotten about us (He hasn't) or that His plan for us isn't all that great.  Yup, I can be very, very self-centered and get so focused on me that I don't consider the entire picture.  Why do I doubt God?

In the last few weeks, 2 friends have lost their Dads.  2 friends have lost their babies. Several friends have parents, children, or siblings struggling through major health trials.    Tornadoes ravaged the south leaving families homeless and killing dozens.  All this, while I sit in my warm home with my healthy family.....who am I to complain?

God has lead me to this point...why do I think He will not continue? God has given me much more than I deserve, and yet I have the nerve to get frustrated and weary?

This is not a declaration that I've arrived and achieved some ability to not complain and worry.  But it is a notice to myself that I've got it pretty good...and that I need to be thankful for what I have and stop longing for what I don't.  It's a dose of personal perspective.  It's a reminder that God's promises are true and that His Word doesn't fail.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Feeling Torn

Have you ever prayed for something....begged God to do a work, only to have that thought in the back of your head that you don't really want it?  Don't jump to conclusions here....hear me out.  I'm just sharing my heart.....

We have been praying for God to move our family into a new ministry for a long time.  The transition from our former church was difficult and tear-filled.  In fact, if I think about it too much I still find myself getting teary-eyed and wistful.  Every time "our" teens come for a visit, I stand at the door and watch them leave and my heart aches all over again.  There will always be a soft spot for those kids.

While we wait, we started attending and joined Maranatha.  I begged God for wisdom as we transitioned the boys and worked to get adjusted.  It seemed like it took so long for them to come to grips with our "new" church.  In fact, they still make the distinction between our "new" church and our "old" church.

The problem I have is this:  we worked hard to adjust.  We got involved and as a result, have grown to love our new church family.  This is great, right?  Yes, except for the fact that we are still praying for God to move us into a new vocational ministry.  That's where my dilemma is...I want to be where I am, yet I want to know where we're going.  I want to stay, but I'm so ready to go.

Lest you think all I ever do is ramble (well, in truth I guess I do) please understand that during this process I have tried so. very. hard. to be patient and content with each step of the process.  I don't want to jump the gun.  I don't want to get ahead of God.  I don't want to be my normal control-freak self that has to know everything that is going on and have it all planned ahead of time.

You've probably heard the phrase, "Bloom where you're planted."  That's my problem....I feel like we're still in the little plastic greenhouse.  It's warm and cozy, but it's only temporary.  I don't know when the greenhouse will be replaced with a a more permanent place for our family.  I LOVE the greenhouse.  Leaving it will be so very hard....but I know God has a plan.  I know that when He moves us we will love that place, too.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

I'm a mom of 3 active little boys, and there have been days (many, many days) when I longed for a vacation or break.  Many days I thought, "It would be so nice to climb on the couch and do nothing for few days and just relax."

I take it back.

I've been sick for almost 2 weeks.  Initially I thought is was just a bad cold with a cough....only I wasn't getting better.  So I finally went to the doctor and found out that I was battling pneumonia.  Well, that explains a lot.

So, I've been on the couch for days.  Most times, the codeine (love that stuff...mostly) makes it hard to concentrate on even the simplest material, so I've not been able to read.  Yesterday I tried to help with the laundry and dishes....and ended up feeling pretty miserable.  Today I stayed home from church (again) and am really missing my church family!

I haven't played with my kids or done much of anything to care for my family.  Joel has done most of the cooking and we've all eaten our fair share of peanut butter sandwiches this week.  My house is a wreck.  I'm not whining, just telling you that sitting on the couch and doing nothing is fun for an hour or two..but it gets boring really fast!  I can't wait to feel good enough to be up and around without losing my breath or getting dizzy.

So if you're reading this, please pray that the antibiotics do their job and that I can get to feeling somewhat normal soon.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Health Insurance Frustrations

So, last year we had to switch from group health insurance coverage to individual health insurance coverage.  I was surprised at the cost (more than $500 a month, just for Joel and I) and even more surprised when after 2 doctors visits nothing was covered.  Really?  Okay...a routine physical is covered, but nothing else.  So we paid over 6000 for insurance so that our prescriptions would be cheaper.  Makes a lot of sense, right?  When I did our taxes, I calculated that between premiums and office visits/labwork/prescriptions we paid more than 8,000 out of pocket for health care last year for 2 of us...and we are relatively healthy individuals.

In January we changed plans within the Blue Cross system.  We read, and read and RE-READ through the plan specifications and decided that we would go with a higher deductible and lower monthly costs.  Office copays were a lower percentage, too and it looked like 80% of most things were covered in network.  What we did not realize (did I tell you that we read the plan, a lot) is that NOTHING is covered (no prescriptions, no doctors visits if you're sick, none of the "covered" things) until the deductible is met.  Also, there is an integrated deductible, which means that prescriptions and office visits are combined to meet the deductible, but the combined deductible for the plan must be met before covered services are paid. That means we have to pay $10,000 out of pocket (PLUS our premiums) before they will even cover a simple prescription or office visit. The wording on these plans is so tricky and we missed this detail.


So, yesterday I went to see my endocrinologist and he changed my thyroid meds.  This morning I went to pick up the meds only to find that they aren't covered.....and my visit yesterday won't be covered.....and my blood work won't be covered.....THIS IS JUST WRONG.  We considered going without insurance, but prices are different for those with/without insurance.  The system is so messed up.

I've come to the conclusion that  unless you have group coverage you have to pay several thousand dollars a year before you can get sick or worse, need surgery.  This is ridiculous.  What's worse is that I KNOW better plans exist.  When we were at Macomb, we had great insurance with BCBS.  As individuals, we CANNOT purchase the same coverage.  It doesn't exist as an option.

Thankfully, we are being added to group coverage at Joel's work in April.  Amazingly....the coverage is much like what we had at Macomb...only even better.

I'm writing this not to assert that we need a federal health insurance program.  What I do think is that I should be able to pay for the kind of coverage that companies are offered.  As an individual, I cannot even access that kind of plan.  Even if we picked the BEST plan with the BEST coverage, it still pales in comparison to a group plan.

I can't wait til April.....

Friday, January 06, 2012

Don't Mess with my Baby!

I got a phone call today from Mr. A - the boys' principal.  He called to let me know that Camden had been pushed and had bumped his head, but that he was okay.  Then he told me who pushed was a classmate (S.).  Well, Camden and and a few students (S and M) have been having trouble for a while now.  I never really thought too much about bullying until this year.  A few weeks ago, S tried to push him off the playscape at recess.  S has been spoken to numerous times by Mrs. J (their teacher) and Camden has been in tears more than once about S's actions towards him.  There have been numerous little incidents all year, and the problem seems to be escalating {Insert Mama Bear Angry Voice}

Now, I know some are probably thinking a few

1.  This is happening because he is in a public school. You should have kept homeschooling him.  Actually, these types of things happen in Christian schools and Charter schools, too.  Homeschool was not the best option for our family right now, but that's an entirely different post.

2.  He's not really being bullied, it's part of being a kid.  Yes, some teasing is part of childhood.  I think what is going on here has taken on a different vibe than just plain old teasing.

3.  Camden is too sensitive.  Well, yes he is sensitive. However, being incessantly teased and pushed and poked and bumped get the picture.  It's not right.

Well, I set aside my Angry Mama Bear Voice and was polite to Mr. A on the phone.  What I really want to do is drive up to the school and stake out the school and tell S and S's parents that this will not be tolerated by the Angry Mama Bear.  Don't worry, I won't do that.

I will, however, continue to teach and coach my son on how to respond to others that are mean and spiteful.  I will teach him that those kids are just as important to their Creator as he is.  I will teach him that character means responding correctly in these types of situations.  I will teach him that standing up for himself is perfectly acceptable.  I will teach him that no matter what these kids say, being smart is NOT a bad thing.  I will teach him that he is loved, and that sometimes loving those that are not kind is difficult.


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

2011 Year in Review

I haven't done this since December of 2009 but I thought it would be good to take a look at this past year. Besides, I really like the idea and want to keep up with it.  So, here is 2011 in Review:

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?

We made a summer bucket list and tried to squeeze as much into our summer as possible.  It was a blast!

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last New Year's was really hard, so I don't remember making any resolutions other than just getting through life one day at a time.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My sister-in-law, Kristin, had Cal in March.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My Grandpap Shaffer passed away on our anniversary, June 24.  

5. What countries did you visit?

None other than our own :)  Joel and I went to SC in May for a wedding.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

A ministry where we can serve vocationally.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Jan. 9 and 16 - our last 2 Sundays at our old church.  

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finishing our first (and only?) year of homeschooling.

9. What was your biggest failure?

You always wonder how you will handle trials when they come.  I must say that I didn't handle this one very well....but God is good and gives grace!
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Not really, just still working through thyroid stuff.
11. What was the best thing you bought?

We took a trip to Greenville, SC in May for a wedding....while a trip isn't an object, it was the first getaway for Joel and I in a very long time, and we needed it!  So, it was the best money spent this year.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Joel's - He works harder now (physically) than he ever had to in our first 10 1/2 years of marriage.  He provides for us and leads us.  I'm thankful for a husband that desires to please God, even when the road is difficult.

13. Where did most of your money go?

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan - this is the first time we've had to pay our own healthcare premiums....yuck!

14. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Finding a new church to call home for a while.  We are thankful for Maranatha and the healing balm it has been to us.

15. What song will always remind you of 2011?

There are does wonders for my soul!  Here are a few....
**Beneath the Cross (Getty) - this was the song Joel sang our last night at Macomb
**Still, My Soul Be Still (Getty) - the Chorus says "God,you are my God and I will trust in you and not be shaken."

16. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

Happier - God has shown Himself mighty in so many ways.  Yes, this year has been tough...but I know He is in control.  2011 had some rough days, but there were lots of great days too!

17. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Moving (LOL) but I know that is coming....

18. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Looking at job boards and ministry listings....but I know there is a reason why God hasn't given us a new ministry yet.
19. What was your favorite TV program?

We like Blue Bloods and NCIS.

20. What was the best book you read?

Loving the Little Years - helped keep things in perspective

21. What was your favorite film of this year?

Ramona and Beezus - it was an instant family favorite

22. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Blend in!!

23. What kept you sane?

Sending my kids back to school.

24. What political issue stirred you the most?

No one issue...just gearing up for the onslaught of political ads.