Monday, July 27, 2009

Great Message from James River Assembly!

This is a great message from the pastor at JRA, John Lindell. He systematically preaches through books of the Bible and he is on James now. This message is from a week or so ago and comes from James 1:27.

James River Assembly • Messages

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Is This For Real? Praise God, Yes!

Truthfully, I wasn't sure if anyone except my very few followers was really reading this blog or not until a few days ago. I figured it didn't really matter, though, since the process of writing it has been rewarding and therapeutic for me. After a visit with a wonderful friend and a conversation with my sister, I realized that there are readers who aren't "followers" and a few of you are wondering what in the world has happened in the past few months and if this stuff I'm writing about my marriage and family is real or not.

1st - I want to thank all of you (you know who you are) who have been so supportive of me - my whole life, really - but specifically over the past year. I'm so blessed! Blessed with wonderful family and a ton of friends who, even if we are absent from each other for a time, are part of my life in such an important way. Thank you so much for being who you are in my life. I believe with all of my heart that God put each of you in my life for a reason, and I am so very blessed and thankful. The last year has been hard, but I have learned so much about myself and my relationship with the Lord and just how much He loves me and my family.

2nd - Yes, all I've posted is true. I know that many of you were surprised a year ago when I left Doug. And, you are surprised now, that we have decided to stay together. Honestly, I'm just as surprised as you are. This is not where I thought I would be 8 or 9 months ago. I'm shocked at how God has moved and changed us. If you knew all the details, you would be amazed, too.

Now, I'm not saying that it's all "peachy" and things are perfect. That wouldn't be true. However, I truly am amazed at how God has answered prayers. Specifically. All the details. Not every single little whiney thing I've asked, but He has provided provision, peace, and guidance at every turn. Because of that, I have more peace than I may have ever had about my life, my relationship with Him, my marriage and my family. This really is all in the palm of God's hands, and that's enough for me.

3rd - Believe it or not, Doug and I are right where God wants us to be right now. I believe with all my heart that even in my leaving, I was following God's plan. I was scared when I left, but left knowing I was doing what God wanted me to do at that time. I know what the Bible says about divorce and I never felt peaceful about it, but I also didn't feel peaceful about our life together. I constantly prayed that He would intervene SOMEHOW and make it right...make it what He wanted this life to be, or that He would change me and my heart so I could be at peace with the life I had. He did a little of both. The relationship is different. I am different.

4th - One of the miracles I mentioned before is that God spoke. Here's what happened. I was in a new church, having felt led to leave the church I was already involved in (with praise and worship, no less, which wasn't easy to leave). The very first Sunday morning I was there, there was a message in tongues. Sidenote: If you haven't experienced that or don't believe in it, that's ok. I understand the reservation. I, however, have had a very positive and rewarding experience and believe that this in one way God speaks to His people.

So, the interpretation was something to this effect, "I will take care of you, if you will let me. You don't need anyone except me. I love you. You are my child and I will take care of you, but you have to let me." At that point, it was very affirming to what my spirit was leaning toward, but my intellect was very scared of....letting go and letting God take care of it.

That night, in a prayer service at the same church, I was praying and felt the "whispers" of the Holy Spirit. I've only one other time in my life felt that God spoke directly to me, but He did that night. He told me that if I would obey Him, he would bless my family and give me the desires of my heart. The key about that, is that He also began to change the desires of my heart and to put things back into perspective....His perspective.

He also made it very clear to me that my marriage was about more than just Doug & I and the family we have now. He has a purpose and a plan for our marriage and our family. We have a job to do for His kingdom that will make a difference in eternity. This is bigger than my happiness or Doug's or even the boys'. It's about giving our lives to Christ and following wherever He leads. I pray with all my heart that my boys will see, someday, that the most important thing they can do is lay down their selfish desires and do what God calls them to do. I want to do that in my own life, so that they will see the rewards. After all, we all know that we teach by modeling the behavior we want them to learn.

Before we left that night (I had invited Doug to come, which was another miracle in itself), a lady who had never met us before stopped us and said, "I don't know what your circumstances are, but I feel led to tell you that God wants you two to look at each other with new eyes of love. He loves you and wants you to know that you can look at each other differently than you have before."

5th - Hang on, and watch what God is going to do. I am excited about what's happened, because God has shown Himself so vividly. I know He is working and moving in our lives and I'm so anxious to see what is coming next. It's fun to be in the middle of where He wants you to be! It's truly miraculous and better than I could've ever hoped for. I do believe that Doug and I have work to do for Christ. We both, after much prayer, believe that it involves children. I'm not sure exactly how or where or when, but that's ok. It will happen when it's time and just how He wants it to be. We are reading and praying and learning about the orphans of the world. There is no shortage of scripture that says we are to take care of the orphans and widows. You'll be seeing more about what I'm learning in the days and weeks to come. I've just finished reading a couple books that were terrific. I'd recommend them anyone. Scared by Tom Davis and Adopted For Life by Russell Moore.
Please continue to keep Doug & I in your prayers. We are closing on the new house Wednesday morning. Most everything is packed and ready. I'll post pictures as soon as the camera and equipment are unpacked and set up.

Verse For The Day: Jeremiah 29:11 ...I know the plans I have for you. ..plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Sentiments - Miracles & Moving

I'm taking a break from packing and cleaning, thinking back over the events of the past year. God is truly amazing! I knew that miracles can happen, because I'd seen them in other people's lives. Now, I know they happen because I've seen them in my own.

I'm packing our things so that our family (Doug, me and the kids) can move into our new house in a week or so. A year ago, I was unpacking our things (me and the kids) here in this house, which belongs to a friend of mine, trying to sort out whether I had a family or not. It's obviously a very long story that I won't get to the details of now. There are tremendous blessings in the details, though, which I intend to share later as the time seems right.

Suffice it to say, that I have been blessed over the past year to see God truly work miracles in our lives. I'm excited about what our future holds now, which is so much different than what I was feeling a year ago. God is so good and so faithful! I'm amazed.

I do want to share the details one day, in hopes that they will be a blessing for someone and hopefully a blessing to God by giving Him the glory for each thing. Here's a short, simple list. I'm hoping the list will help me remember and keep me focused.

  • After being home with the kids for several years, I HAPPEN UPON a job, which means I have to move from West Plains to Springfield (100 miles away +/-).
  • A home for the kids and I to live in COMES TO US. Our neighbors are wonderful and so loving toward the kids and me.
  • Doug moves to Springfield a few weeks later because of a PROMOTION.
  • I find a wonderful church home in Republic Assembly and get ASKED to help with Praise & Worship.
  • I start teaching and FIND a wonderful friend, who has just been through a divorce.
  • I file for divorce, which leads to much CONVERSATION between Doug & I.
  • A friend comes to visit for a few days, when a lot of my "issues" are REVEALED.
  • I am LED to quit one small group and join another, where I hear about National Institute of Marriage.
  • Court date draws near (4 days away) and I GIVE Doug 40 days to "do something". (No, I hadn't seen the Fireproof movie)
  • He MAKES RESERVATIONS for a 4-day intensive at NIM and makes arrangements for kids.
  • 5 couples from across the nation and Canada MEET in Branson, MO, and share their lives.
  • I'm LED to try a new church, closer to our neighborhood where God SPEAKS the first day I'm there.
  • God SPEAKS again, in the 2nd service, which I've INVITED Doug to come to, also.
  • We STEP OUT in faith and choose to commit to our family staying together, whatever that looks like as we walk "through the wilderness".
So, today, I am packing again and wondering what the next year will hold. I'm certain that God is working and that as we obey Him, our family will be blessed. It's exciting to be excited again about life and the future. I'm amazed by God's goodness and faithfulness when I'm so lost and uncertain.

I'll post pictures of the new house when we get there. It's getting hectic here as boxes are piling up. I'm sure the computer will be packed at some point, so it may be a while before I post again.

This verse was a blessing to me this morning:

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Garden Lessons #1

This year was my very first gardening experience. I've never even been able to grow a house plant successfully, so I tried to keep my expectations low in an effort to avoid disappointment. I discovered, thought, that the garden has been so rewarding even though we've struggled and even failed with a few things.

We are getting ready to move, so I thought that before we tore the garden up for the summer, I'd jot down a few things I want to remember when we replant at the new house.

  • Start seeds much earlier next year. Use newspaper to make potting cups and begin in early spring.
  • Six inches of soil wasn't enough. All my plants grew, but they are root-bound. I have beautiful green plants but don't feel like they are yielding as much produce as they should. Not sure if this is the reason or not, but I'll plant deeper next season.
  • I like the square foot design and will do the raised bed system again.
  • I need one whole square for zucchini and squash.
  • I like the tomatoes in buckets. Next year add more draining holes and place buckets on casters so they are easy to move.
  • Horn worms are disgusting and they will devour tomatoes and peppers...quickly!
  • The DE (ditamaceous earth) worked to prevent other pests. I used it about once a week. If it wasn't the DE, then I just got lucky. Other than the hornworms, I've had no other pest problems.
  • Start composting.

Food & Fun Friday

I realized this morning as I was catching up on my blog list and finding great new ones, that I had forgotten my Food & Fun Friday post. I have a good excuse, though. We definately had a fun Friday, as we were going full-speed from the time we opened our eyes.

We had great friends from out of town spend the night Thursday night. Carter had gone camping with his Nana in Branson, after we spent the afternoon in Silver Dollar City with said friends. So, Friday morning we woke with company, but minus Carter. When the friends left mid-morning, the remaining boys and I headed back to Branson to reclaim our Carter.

We ended up going back to Silver Dollar City with Nana. We spent the entire afternoon riding and eating (which completes the Food & Fun theme for the day - lol) before we headed back to Nana's camper. Doug drove down after he was off work and played a round of putt putt with the kids after dinner.

However, our plans to reclaim Carter were blundered when both older boys wanted to camp instead of come home with mom and dad. So, Harrison came home with us and we will hopefully reclaim Jackson and Carter this afternoon. I'm thinking that after today, Nana will see to it that I have my sons back.

So, we had a Friday full of fun and lots of good food!

The menu plan for next week looks very similar to last week's plan. Because Doug showed up at the beginning of last week with several steaks that I wasn't planning on, we grilled those and ate leftovers a few times. Most of the groceries I bought for last week are still in the fridge or pantry. I'll just have to restock the milk, bread, eggs and butter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Widhalm Mission Statement

I've seen over the past several months, several bloggers (sorry I didn't keep track of blogs to give credit to) with family mission statements. I thought this was a great idea. A mission statement helps define your purpose and those things you wish to be intentional about achieving. I love the idea of having a family mission statement to give that clarity to our family lives as well. Our statement is very general and we'll be writing down more specific goals within each area in the days ahead.

We are getting ready to move into a different home and I would like to come up with a way to incorporate our mission statement or some of the scripture references into the decor somehow. We'll see what happens with that after the boxes are unpacked. If you have any ideas, let me know!

The Widhalm Family Mission Statement

We believe that our purpose as a family is to lead a quiet life as we follow Christ, take care of our family and serve others. We will accomplish this by:

  • valuing the Bible and our relationship with Christ as our guiding principals
  • making our home a place of love, service, and growth
  • interacting with each other in a spirit of love and forgiveness
  • being diligent in our effort to serve others

Scripture References:

1 Thess 4:11 & 12 ...and make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.

1 Peter 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.

Romans 15:5-6 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galations 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness.

Matthew 18:21-22 The Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

"I'm a good cooker, Mommy!"

This is Carter and his first culinary masterpiece!

Yesterday, Jackson and Carter were playing at our neighbor's house. I went over to check on them and while I was there, Carter came home. I assumed he came in to dry off or potty or maybe watch cartoons. I stayed at the neighbor's for maybe 15 more minutes or so.

When I came in the back door, I found him sitting on his knees at the table with one of my mixing bowls in front of him. He was so proud of himself! He pointed excitedly at his bowl and shouted, "I'm a good cooker, Mommy!" He went on to explain how he had poured the milk and the cereal all by himself and didn't spill anything.

It was so hilarious because he had used a good-sized mixing bowl, a huge serving spoon, and I'm positive there was at least a quart of milk in the bowl. The cereal box was empty and in the trash. The spoon was so big, he could hardly get it in his mouth! When the cereal was all but eaten, he asked if he could have more milk! LOL I couldn't help but take a couple of pictures.

He really does love to help me in the kitchen and he was just so pleased with his accomplishments. Carter is so precious. He's full of life and energy! Nothing he does comes as a surprise to anyone.

He, I think, is going to be the artistic one who is laid back and adds a little flare to whatever he does. Carter makes our home colorful and brings the excitement along. I love him beyond words and I'm so proud of the little person he is.

Blackberrries & Rice

I know, you were thinking this was going to be a post about a wonderful new recipe I found. Sorry. However, this information could save you a few bucks, so read on!

My Blackberry found its way into the backyard the day before yesterday. I'm sure it got there by way of Harrison, my beautiful toddler whose picture I posted in the post just prior to this one. He's a great little guy and already has a fascination with electronics. lol

Apparently, he carried it into the yard and dropped it. I had no idea as I was going on about my mommy business. That particular day, we were mostly inside because we were being blessed with intermitant thunder storms. Yes, that's it. There were storms and my Blackberry was in the yard, unbeknownst to me.

Long story short, I found it in the early part of the evening when I was out taking a look at my garden. I was not a happy camper. This is my only phone, as we had the land line disconnected last summer. It was only six months old. I just got it in December, when I signed up for my new plan with Sprint. I did buy the protection plan when I got it, but should have known that water damage is not covered.

While I was sulking, a friend of mine walked in the back door. She told me to take the cover off and put it in a bag of rice. So, I did. I figured I didn't have anything to lose. I left it there overnight.

The next morning, it worked!! The condensation under the screen was gone and it powered up just fine. At first, not all the keys and functions worked. I could only dial calls by actually typing in the numbers and I could receive calls. It took about an hour or so, but eventually everything returned to normal!! Yea!

Now, I have no idea how long it will last, but for now it's working like nothing ever happened. So, if you have a water issue with your cell phone, give the rice a try!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Baby Faces

Harrison - 22 months

With nothing but his BGs on! "Cheese!"

With nothin' on at all! In the tub with cousin, AnnaJo Hill.
(Ebony and ivory?? LOL)

Harrison is such a blessing! He's healthy and happy, most of the time anyway. He's definately the baby of the family and he knows how to get things done! He LOVES his older brothers and wants to do everything they do. Aunt Kate nicknamed him "Dozer" for a good reason! We love him so much and can't imagine life without him.

Downsizing Gifts

Last Christmas, we decided to make some changes in our gift giving and receiving strategies. As part of our effort to downsize and reduce clutter and "stuff" in general, we asked our family members NOT to give our kiddos the standard gifts. Up until this past year, the kids have gotten tons of cool things, mostly toys and clothes. Don't get me wrong, we were very grateful and thankful for the gifts we received, which mostly came from loving family members.

However, we were accumulating way too much stuff, including clothes. So, as Christmas approached last year, we asked our family to give our kids experiences instead of toys or clothes. I gave them a list of possibilities I thought we might enjoy as a family. We were given season passes for everyone to Silver Dollar City and a membership to the Dickerson Park Zoo.
We have thoroughly enjoyed both and are still using our passes to create wonderful family memories.

For their birthdays, Carter and Jackson were both given a Mad Science Camp. Jackson chose "Rockets and Robots". His camp was last week and he loved every minute. He was able to learn about robots the first part of the week and then about rockets the last part. He even got to build a model rocket and bring it home. He doesn't want to launch it yet, so we are keeping it safe for now. He's already talking about which science camp he would like to go to next.

Carter's ecology camp started this morning. He learned about what dirt is made of, and they started a seed sprouting experiment. He was happy to get to go to class where Jackson was last week.

Thank you so much, Aunt Kaye, for the great birthday gifts!

Here is Jackson with his rocket.

I love this and I think most of our family is happy to be contributing to the kids' list of experiences instead of putting money in toys that get lost and broken in a few days or weeks. It's a much better use of their resources and our time. Since we are officially homeschooling now, we'll be counting these experiences toward our schooling hours when it's applicable, also.

Things on our list of possibilities include: show tickets (special performances, plays, concerts, etc.), passes to fun places (zoo, pool, theme park, museums, etc.), summer camps and fun classes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Laundry Downsizing

The one thing I have done recently that has truly made our daily lives more simple is downsizing. I started with the clothes, because I felt completely overwhelmed with laundry.

With three kiddos and two adults it seemed as though the laundry was always in a huge pile somewhere. In fact, there were multiple piles of clothes in all stages of the laundry process. Usually at least one pile of dirty, loads in the washer and dryer, clothes waiting to be folded and the folded ones which hadn't been put away. All these clothes laying in piles and we still had clean clothes to wear!

I decided that we just had too much. Most of it came as hand-me-downs that were in good shape or friends getting ready for garage sales. It was in good condition and a good buy, so I bought! Even though it was a good price, it was still too much.

I went through everything and kept only 5-6 play outfits for each child and 4 dressier outfits per child as well. They basically have a play outfit for each day of the week and a nice outfit for church. They can wear the dress outfits once a month to church and also for other outings that require them.

I also got rid of a bunch of towels. Each family member now has two bath towels. One to use and one to be in the laundry. We use them for a couple days before they go into the laundry, also, which helps out. At one point in time, there were so many towels that I had a load to do almost every day.

It has been such a blessing! The laundry is so much more manageable. I can now do all of our laundry - even if most everything is dirty - in just 4 loads or so. This is a great improvement!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Grocery Shopping Success!

Well, I did it! I'm really excited that I set out with a very specific plan and accomplished my goal. the kids behavior in the store was a little less than desirable, but the bill was well under budget. The grand total was $40.66. This includes three meals a day for a week plus snacks and a couple extras that weren't on my list. Yea!

I did go to two different stores, but I still completed the entire trip and made it back home in about an hour.

At the bread store I got:

Syrup - 1.89
100% whole wheat bread - 1.00
Whole wheat English muffins - .75
French bread - 1.00

Bread Store Total = $4.81

At Aldi I got:

Boneless-skinless chicken breasts - 5.49
Bag of carrots - .99
2 cucumbers - .98
Apple juice - 1.39
Blueberries - .99
2 pkg broccoli crowns - 1.98
3# bag of apples - 2.99
Red seedless grapes - 2.98
Bing cherries - 1.49
Instant mashed potatoes - .87
Cereal - 1.69
Salmon - 3.99
Milk - 2.22
Kitchen trash bags - 6.29

Aldi Total = $35.85

I have to say that it was a little difficult to stick to the list. I added a few things because I forgot to put them on the list. I feel really good about it. A week of meals for under $50 is great for us!

Food & Fun Friday

Most of the blogs I've been reading regarding grocery shopping do their planning and shopping on Mondays at the beginning of the week. That doesn't work so well for me. I want a stocked fridge for the weekend, which is when I like to cook for friends or just have special meals for us. Monday is the beginning of our homeschool week and I want to be disciplined enough to get right to the school schedule without worrying about the menu or groceries. So, I've designated Friday as our menu planning and shopping day. I'm calling it 'Food & Fun Friday' because I hope to be able to shop in the morning and do something fun with the kids in the afternoon. We'll see how it goes.

Today we are not going to worry about the fun activity because we've been very busy all week and everyone here just needs a rest. The activities will be more applicable when our homeschool schedule officially begins.

My grocery project over the next two weeks is to use up everything I possibly can from the pantry. We are moving at the end of the month and I don't want to pack and move food if I don't have to.

Here's the meal plan for the next week.

1. B - rice
L - PB& J
D - spaghetti w/zucchini from the garden and garlic bread

2. B - pancakes and eggs
L - beef roast w/carrots and mashed potatoes
D - leftovers

3. B - Oatmeal
L - Baked chicken w/zucchini and rice
D - Ramen noodles

4. B - Malt O Meal
L - Carrots & Apples w/peanut butter
D - Smothered burgers w/mashed potatoes & broccoli

5. B - Eggs & cereal
L - Ramen noodles
D - Salmon & grilled veggies

6. B - Rice
L - Grilled cheese & apples
D - Leftovers

7. B - Oatmeal
L - PB & J
D - Chicken strips and tater tots

Snacks: grapes, bananas, home-made Kool-Aid popsicles

I'm headed out to shop now. I'm hoping to spend less than $50. I'll let you know how it goes.