Friday, December 5, 2008

Snow is back!

I love the snow! So, as I look out my window, feeling like I'm inside a snow globe, I am happy! It's beautiful!

We've been in Jenison for almost two months now and the church did pass their annual budget which includes Chris's job, so he's got some job security for awhile. Let the ministry begin! We are enjoying being in a healthier church than before and are already growing to love these people! The boys are making some connections and so am I.

I need to find some employment and am open to anything... retail, elder care giver, housecleaning, temporary work. Praying that God will lead me to the right type of work.

I've been scrapbooking lately... with Dawn, Cheryl and Laurie... and I'm back in the scrapping 'zone'! Now I can't seem to stop. Except to home school, make Christmas cookies, and crocheting some Christmas gifts!

The boys have been shoveling the driveway as we have about 8-10 inches on the ground. Lucy loves it and we're going to try to fix her up with a longer tie-out so she can romp more freely in the snow. Sometimes Mocha, a neighbor dog, comes by and the two of them 'dance' around together... very cute.

Facebook is connecting me with all sorts of wonderful people: my brother, Rod... second cousins, Sara, Camille, Ben... nieces and nephews, Camilla, Seamus, Simone, David, Deanna, Kristina, Aquilla, Mamie, Libby... My dear High School friend, Jenny... and some former students from New Jersey. Such a fun way to re-connect with long-distance friends and family!

I'm still finding my way in getting settled in this house, becoming a part of a new church, and preparing for Christmas. I love my life-long friends in Muskegon... they have become like family to us all!

God is good and His hand is always upon us. I am grateful for His peace, joy, and grace which floods our lives on a daily basis!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November is national Adoption Month!

November is national Adoption Month! Praise God for adoption and for the blessings of Jonothon and Timithi! They have always been, for me, God's expression of his great love for me. After 10 years dealing with infertility... within FOUR days of applying for adoption, Jonothon was born and we brought him home from the hospital two day later! Miracle!!! A year (and 12 days) later, Timithi was born and one month after re-opening our adoption file, he was in our arms. A second Miracle! What a courageous and loving sacrifice on the parts of Kristen and Marissa, our birthmothers, to place these precious lives within our empty arms. God as done marvelous things for us and we thank him everyday for our boys! So many others we know have been blessed by adoption (or are currently going through the process)... Russ and Laurie, Tim and Maria, Dan and Kerri, Paul and Vicki, Chad and Carrie, Jeremy and Kathy, Matt and Stephanie... and many more. I'm praying for women to be courageous and making the loving choice to give life to families who long desperately adopt a child. Pray for Christian counselors at pregnancy centers, pray for loving support of young pregnant girls, and pray for the older children in foster care who need stable, loving families.

First snowfall of the season this weekend and I'm so excited! Here's how silly I get about snow. Last night we picked up Chris at the office and went to a movie in Grand Rapids... "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" - I highly recommend it! Anyway... on the way home we had to stop by the church so Chris could get his car. The parking lot was virtually empty and was covered with a dusting of snow. A perfect 'slate'.... Now this takes some skill... I wrote "Lori" (in cursive) by driving my car in loops.... it's a BIG parking lot. My boys thought I had totally lost it when I got out of the car and 'dotted the i' with my feet. As we left the parking lot, I underlined my name. It looked pretty cool!

At church we are on a three-week journey of praying for the persecuted Church. We've been given a 21-day devotional that leads us in praying for specific countries and issues. Then the movie last night... about the holocaust... plus I've been reading the end of the Left Behind series... "Blessed are you when men persecute you for My sake..." "Pray for your enemies..." "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." "The prayers of a righteous man availeth much." "Pray without ceasing."

Sorry it's been so long since I've updated this... I'll try to do better!


Friday, October 17, 2008

The view from my room...

I'm sitting at the computer, looking out the window at two acres of fields adjacent to our house... to the south, I think. For some strange reason, I'm having trouble getting my bearings on which way I'm facing at any given time. I'm usually so good with 'directions' - able to follow my nose to get anywhere I need to. A couple of mornings ago I woke up incredulous at how the sun could already be in the west so early in the day! DUH! I've got to get my bearings!

The Lord has graciously provided a farmhouse on five acres of land with 5 bedrooms and three bathrooms (with heated floors, I just noticed the other day! My toes love it!) Hardwood floors in all but two of the bedrooms (and the kitchen is linoleum).

Chris is getting acclimated to his new ministry position at 1st Jenison CRC. He is enjoy working alongside Terry Scholten - describing him as the perfect blend of Russ Carlson and Ron Story (for those of you who may know them): two pastors for whom he has high respect. He is working in three areas (listed by percentage of time): Worship, Outreach and Youth Advising. Many hats, but the pastor is supportive and gives great counsel and ideas - helping Chris to strategize and prioritize.

As Chris settles in at the church, the boys and I have been settling into our house, day, by day, little by little, box by box. I am so thankful for their strength and help in moving things around, lifting boxes, etc! They are great! (We'll be back to school work this coming week.) In case you're wondering... Lucy, the beagle is getting used to her new home, too. She's a little freaked out about all the wood floors and has developed a tentative style of stepping gingerly across the hard wood floors. She'll jump from braided rug to braided rug around the house.

Today I will need to call the propane company, Consumer's energy, go the hardware store to get some items to protect the floors from furniture... that kind of 'stuff'.
We've got trash pickup set, our phones and internet are functioning. I need to find the cell phone chargers... Anyway! God is so good and His ways are perfect.

Who is like our God? There is none like our God! His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His glory is displayed in the heavens (and here on earth in the gorgeous autumn colors!). Come and exalt the Lord with me!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Need to move by October 15th...

God can do anything! We've been blessed to be living in the parsonage of our former church in Holland. They have been gracious and caring to allow us to live in this beautiful home.

Three weeks ago, Chris was offered the job in Jenison and officially started on Oct. 1. We began looking for homes as soon as he was offered the job and we knew what town to look in. Because his job in Jenison is temporary, we asked people at the church about the possibility of staying in the parsonage a little longer until we know for sure if the job will be permanent. While many Maranatha church friends acknowledge that the house "is not being used for anything", it is apparently a serious tax issue if they have someone living in it any longer.

We've been looking in Jenison and 'networking' with folks in the area to find something... Nothing as of today.

But there's always tomorrow! I'm going to start boxing things up and get ready for the next 'home' God takes us to. Please pray with us.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." His "grace is sufficient" for my need. I will "call unto" Him and He "will show me great and mighty things which I do not know." (Like where to find a home!) My "ear will hear a voice in it saying, "This is the way, walk in it."

God has been providing consistent part time work opportunities for me through the Sentinel (yes, I quit, but I've been 'subbing' routes for twice the pay) and Providence at Home (new name)- as a care giver.

Chris wrote a song, "Lord, I seek Your face" and the words are great....

Lord, I seek Your face and my heart desires to follow after You
Lord, I need Your grace to forgive my sins and turn my heart to You
And, Oh, when my life begins to crowd
You know that my vision starts to cloud
Even so, I can stand and shout aloud,
"I will depend on You."

Lord, I seek Your face and my heart desires to follow after You
Lord, I need Your grace to forget my past and turn my life to You
And, Oh, when my life begins to crowd
You know that my vision starts to cloud
Even so, I can stand and shout aloud,
"I will depend on You."

I am seeking His face and depending on Him.

Friday, October 3, 2008

autumn things....

Picking peaches with the family at Vince Brown farms.
Canning peaches.
Picking apples with the family at Vince Brown farms.
Making carmel apples.
Autumn decorations.
Soups in the crockpot and homemade bread.
Pressing leaves and making collages of them in picture frames.
Hiking with the family (and Lucy) at Hemlock Crossing park.
"PayDay" mix - peanuts and candy corn.
Rainy, then sunny, then cloudy, then sunny, then rainy.....
Making homemade cocoa mix.
A fire in the fireplace.

These are a few the Monteiro's favorite fall things!

Happy Fall!

Monday, September 22, 2008

I love Autumn!

Happy Autumn! Living in Michigan, we enjoy a beautiful autumn here and I am looking forward to seeing the leaves turn brilliant in color! Raking them is a pain, but I bought a small leaf blower at a garage sale this summer, so that'll help. I still like to press the most interesting ones and sometimes frame them.

We put in our last day as paper carriers last Thursday. Getting up at 3am was rather disruptive to a "normal" home schooling schedule, so we gave The Sentinel one month notice and we are officially 'done'. The route managers know that I'm open to subbing routes when they might need it and they promised to give me the weekend off before they started calling me to sub. (Ha Ha!) Well, the call came this morning at 5am. The person who took over our old route suddenly quit - after one weekend. So we are running the wholesale route for the next couple of days.... but this time we're getting paid double what we used to. Ahhh.. the pay of a last-minute sub!

Chris has accepted a full time position at 1st Jenison CRC, near Grand Rapids and he begins in October, which is also when his gig at the Dutch Village comes to an end. God is perfect in His timing. The position at Jenison is Music/Evangelism/Youth. As far as I can determine, the three part-time jobs were combined and came just short of full time status, but things were arranged in order to create a full time position with medical benefits. This all is only guaranteed through this December... the congregation will have to vote on a permanent position in November.

So we are appreciative of the full time job with medical, but we can only count on it through December. Of course, in the big picture, we can ALWAYS count on God supplying our every need.

We have not yet found a housing solution and are currently looking for that. (Thanks for praying!)

Home schooling is going well, and I am enjoying my work as a Private Duty Care Giver and Resident Aide at Royal Atrium Assisted Living - part time, evenings and some nights.

I withdrew from the Holland Chorale after only a couple of weeks. After I passed the audition and was extended membership, I felt that perhaps I should not do it - probably the Holy Spirit's nudging. I let the conductor talk me into joining the group and during the first rehearsal-camp-weekend, I knew it was not the right place for me. It's a fine organization with some very talented musicians... but the room seemed to 'drip' with 'ego' - close to eighty musicians - and it all felt like music for performance sake, rather than existing to honor God. It's just not right for me at this point in my life. I've been there, done that 'performance' thing and nothing fulfills me like giving myself to psalms, hymns and spiritual songs that honor the Lord Jesus and put HIM in the spotlight. So, I'm no longer a member of the Holland Chorale and it feels like my priorities are in line with what God would have me do right now.

This past weekend, we picked our first apples of the season at our favorite orchard. Just a half bushel for eating... we'll pick some for applesauce and more for eating (Fujis!) later in October. But it's an autumn thing... apple picking. The boys were thrilled when I made the first carmel apples of the season.

So as the leaves get ready to turn and this season of 'change' has begun, so is our life entering another season of change. With God, it's all good!

Monday, September 8, 2008


After an exhausting weekend, I took a long walk with Lucy on Sunday evening. I took my mp3 and listened to worship music, which took me into a long prayer time as I walked. As another time of transition looms, my spirit is a little restless. As I cried to the Lord and asked for his peace, his vision, and for strength to obey His will, I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I am certain of God's hand being on our family and I know He chooses the path we each must take - for His own divine reasons. All my life I was a 'homebody' - loved being at home, loved it when family was all around. I've never been a 'lone ranger'-type. I really, really do not like the fact that we have no extended family close-by. Close friends are wonderful, but there's really a unique aspect to family relationships. And unless the Lord makes a way for us to move back to the Pacific Northwest, I need to cultivate a heart of contentedness for the path He chooses for us. That's my heart's desire: to be content and joyful in the place God leads me to.

So, as we face yet another move and more change, I am thanking God that He is the ONE constant in our lives and that His grace is sufficient for ALL our needs. In Psalm 68, it says "He places the lonely in families." I'd like that right about now.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hit the ground running!

Wow! We had a great Labor Day with good friends at our home! Then on Tuesday, we hit the ground running, with our school studies. Spanish will be fun! And Jono's already skipped some math and is into the next book. His first year of High School will be heavier this year, but we are up to it!

This week is a tough start, because I'm still running the paper routes at 3:30 am each morning (Jono is on this week), then we come home and go back to sleep for a little, get up and start schooling, and for the past two days, I then go to work from Noon-5pm, while the boys finish their studies by themselves. I get home at 5:30 and have to leave by 6:15 for Holland Chorale rehearsals....

I got home tonight at 10:15 pm, now I'm having a bowl of cereal, blogging, and trying to listen to John McCain's speech. Soon I'll be in bed, getting a little sleep so I can get up and do it all again tomorrow.

Good night!

Friday, August 22, 2008


Oh my, I'm jumping into 'weblife' with both feet! Joined Facebook this week and have already connected with some great friends from college! How cool is that?!

(Are YOU on facebook? Find me and let me know!)

What's been happening in the past few days?
Running FOUR paper routes every day this week at 3AM (instead of the normal TWO).
Auditioned for the Holland Chorale - and made it - rehearsals begin Sept. 4.
Proctored an exam at JCI in Holland - a Manpower job.
Worked some Private Duty shifts with Royal Care Home Services.
Cleaned out the garage - okay, HALF of the garage.
Completed all lesson plans except Science - my least favorite subject to teach.
Joined FACEBOOK - such a techie I'm becoming!
Got books from the library on crocheting... need a new Christmas afghan this year.
Thursday night - Bible Study at Maranatha church - Daniel, by Beth Moore.
Great report from my oncologist.... everything looks great!
Had a chest exray and mammogram - both came back normal and clear! Yea!

Not writing much this morning. Going to go do my Beth Moore Bible Study in Daniel. Man! That woman can teach! What a gift! Can't wait to jump into today's study.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lesson plans

We are taking six weeks for "summer break" this year. And summer is winding down.

Eighth and ninth grades start on September 1st. Thanks to my dear friend, Mary, I've got a better handle on making out lesson plans and heading into this school year. It feels great to be better organized, with a good overview of where we are heading as we start the year.

As I've prayed about it, looked through the texts and gotten feedback from other homeschool moms, the 'big picture' for the school year comes into view. And the Lord has confirmed things several times as I've discussed plans for the year with Chris. It's a wonderful thing when he brings up something before I do... and we both have the same thoughts about what should be done. God is good!

So far I've planned out Math9 and Math8, Literature, Vocabulary, and Health. Still have to fill the plan book with Grammar, Science, Spanish, Computer and World Geography.

Forget about the 'thrill' of running to the store to buy back packs, mechanical pencils and protractors... I get a little rush from receiving a book order and opening the textbooks, teacher resources, and test/quiz books and writing out the lesson plans! It's a great accomplishment to see the lesson plan book all filled in.

Ultimately, of course, our days are in the hands of our heavenly Father. Most days our 'lesson plans' will stand and will be accomplished. But there will probably be some days when His 'plans are not our plans' and we will bend and be flexible. His thoughts are always higher and His ways are always infinitely better than ours. So I will lay out the 'plans' within my limited view of the road ahead, and trust God to show me what changes might need to be made. Soli Deo Gloria!

Raccoon... Skunk.... Deer!

Okay, so we have this early morning paper route. Actually we have two. One is a wholesale route in which we drive to various businesses and either drop bundles of papers at their door, or fill the racks with Holland Sentinel and/or USA Today papers. The other is a home delivery route - still done from the car - the fun is 'chucking' the papers and hitting your mark from the car window. It's been great to spend the time with the boys in the early morning hours... lots of good talks and lots of fun times, too. I drive it with them and they trade off per week. When Chris has a day off, he graciously offers to let me sleep and he takes the route.

A few days ago, Timi and I were driving the dark highway between wholesale drops and came up over a rise to find four very surprised raccoons huddled over something right in the center of our lane. Well... I was doing about 30 mph. I think two of them got away safely. I feel badly for the other two, but we were kind of chuckling afterward at the 'look' on their faces... rather cartoon-ish... They all looked up at the same time... "Wha?????"

The next day, in the same vicinity, I turned on my bright lights and joked, saying, "Hopefully there are no raccoons out this morning!" In the next second, what did I see??? A skunk... meandering across our lane.... until I hit him. Not so funny with the smell and all.

So we've been 'roadkill' free for a couple of days. (By the way, last week we had the front brakes replaced.)

TODAY, Chris and Jono took the route and I got a phone call as I tried to sleep in...
"Hi, honey. It's me. Ummm. Jono and I just ran over a deer in the road."

(Actually it was off to the side of the lane, but its legs were in the road. Chris swerved to miss it, but ran over the legs.)

"Now the brakes feel really funny and there's a weird smell coming from the front end of the car."

"We're coming home to switch cars."

When they got home, smoke was coming from the front left tire. So, we'll be taking the car into the shop again next week.
Crazy, huh!? I'm staying home today... not driving anywhere.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Life goes on... Keep on singing!

Loving this weather! Mid-70's and cool (almost cold) nights! No A/C running, just windows wide open and fresh air flowing. We took a family hike up and down "millions" of stairs (over the dune) at Laketown Park on Saturday night. Wonderful weather. Flew a kite together and enjoyed the "stair climb".... (although two days later, I can barely climb or descend a single stair without pain!)
Tonight we're going to check out Hemlock Crossings park... said to be a level walk. "Ahhh!"

I'm keeping busy... Private Duty hours with Royal Care Home Services, 3:30 am paper routes with the boys, 1:00 am "stuffing" of Sunday inserts at the newspaper building, beach days with best friends, laying out the school year in lesson plans, prayer sessions with sisters in Christ, Daniel Bible Study on Thursday nights, special music at Forest Park, worship services at Woodhaven Reformed and 1st Jennison CRC, and other normal stuff like taking the van in for brakes and a 3-month check-up with my oncologist... Life goes on!

And it goes by quickly! God is faithful and God is GOOD! He is our provider and our peace, our wisdom and our refuge! I keep on singing because He is worthy!

From Sunday's solo at FPCC:
My life flows on in endless song above earth's lamentation.
I hear the sweet though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul... How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord, my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night He giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to the refuge clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of Heaven and Earth, how can I keep from singing?

I lift my eyes, the cloud grows thin; I see the blue above it.
And day by day this pathway smooths since first I learned to love it.
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing.
All things are mine since I am His... How can I keep from singing?
How can I keep from singing?!

Find your song and keep singing!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Love Deeply

Thinking of my mom these past few days. Missing her. Longing to hear her voice again. My dad, too. It's been fourteen years since Dad left this earth for his heavenly home and thirteen years since Mom went. Twelve years since Chris's mom arrived in heaven. But some days it's as fresh as yesterday. When those tears and emotions start to flow, I try to be thankful. I'm convinced it wouldn't hurt so much if I didn't love them so much. The grieving becomes an old friend.

So, love deeply those around you. The risk of hurt is greater, but it's worth it. Tell your loved ones... Tell your friends... how much they mean to you. Invest in their lives and let them enrich yours.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The school books are here!

Yesterday afternoon I came home to find a large box from A Beka books on my front porch. Funny how the the boys didn't answer the doorbell or bring in the box while I was gone... Hmmmm.. wonder why? Probably because it was filled with textbooks: science, health, world geography, literature. (We already have math and grammar. The vocabulary, spanish and computer science courses are coming from a different company.)

Do you remember the thrill of smelling a brand new box of crayola crayons?! Or how about going to the sharpener with all those new blunt-end pencils?! Whoo-hoo! That's excitement! I am really looking forward to this school year. I feel more ready this year than before, but I can't explain why. Must be the LORD!

I started work this week as an Aide at Royal Atrium assisted living home. My next door neighbor and good friend, helped me get an interview last week. The job is 'contingent' hours - which means you're on call or filling-in for the regular employees. But they say they'll try to give me as many hours as they can.

I also applied at our local library for a position at the check-out desk. Would LOVE to work there!

Today I also had an interview at Holland Rescue Mission for a receptionist/gifts processor position. It went well and they will call me in a few days, if I am moving forward in the interview process.

So... there's hope on the horizon. I could possibly be very busy working this fall. And yet I'm very comfortable planning our home school year and getting ready for that. I'm trusting that God knows my scheduling needs better than I do. He certainly knows our financial and basic needs and I trust Him to give me wisdom to put "LIFE" together so that it all honors Him and works together for good for all of us.

My latest favorite song is by Chris Sligh(sp?) (I just read his cd cover in the bookstore yesterday. Apparently he was an American Idol finalist...)

Empty Me...
(chorus.. from my memory)
Empty me of the selfishness inside,
every vain ambition,
and the poison of my pride.
And any foolish thing my heart holds to.
Lord, empty me of ME so I can be filled with YOU.

Cause everything is a lesser thing, compared to You
Compared to You
Everything is a lesser thing, compared to You.

Everytime it comes on the car radio, I'm singing at the top of my lungs. (The boys don't even roll their eyes anymore, they just sit quietly through it.)

Time to go make lunch and then do my Daniel Bible study! More later!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Been so long!!!

Wow! It's been a month since I've last blogged! (Okay, Laurie, thanks for asking!)

HUMMUS... "Hhhhmmmmmmm-US" I just made some of this for the first time this week. It's very popular. I hear about it all the time. Healthy! Yummy! Trendy! "What in the world is TAHINI????" My local Meijer knows what it is... so I bought some. Five dollars a jar?! It'd better make my Hmmm-us delicious! Well, I've discovered that hummus is an acquired taste. And I'm still trying to acquire it. (My lunch today: Whole grain crackers, tuna, hummus and some huge radishes I got at the farmer's market downtown on Weds.) I'll let you know if I ever really acquire the taste for Hummus. "Hhhmmmmm?!"

Thank you God, for making garbanzo beans and tahini. And thanks for giving them cool names! (Both are fun to say!)

And while I'm talking about new things... Has anyone tried Bubble Tea? I went to a coffee house with a dear friend and we had Bubble Tea. Iced Cran-Raspbery black tea with "bubbles". The bubbles are actually huge tapioca balls that are soaked in a light sugar water - oh and they're colored all sorts of wonderful colors. Food coloring and sugar - probably not as healthy as HUMMUS. But the tea was fabulous. It's the bubbles I've decided I can do without. Very fun idea. Looks cool. Fun to say, "Bubble Tea, please!" The bubble sit in the bottom of the glass (probably displacing about 1/3 of the amount of iced tea you could have had without them) and you get a wide straw so you can "suck them up" as you drink your tea. About the size of a large pea. I don't know. Costs more for the Bubble tea. You get less actual tea because of the bubbles. And tapioca balls are definitely another acquired taste!

Thank you God, for creating interesting things like tapioca balls! And thank you for the wonderful fellowship of dear friends like Gail! Christian friendships are a blessing - with cokes, coffee or even bubble tea!

Now, here are a couple of "gems" I've gleaned from the Daniel Bible Study:

Daniel 1:8. (Go get your Bible and look it up! Be IN the Word!) I desire to live a life filled with RESOLVE; living more INTENTIONALLY as a Christ follower.

Daniel 5:1-9 (Still have your Bible open? Look it up!) A related Scripture is II Timothy 2:20, 21 (Yep! Turn to it!) We are holy vessels set apart for holy purposes. We are not the ones who can make ourselves holy, that's the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. We are holy because GOD makes us holy. He has plans to use us for His holy purposes! Awesome!

And here's another thought from the Daniel study: (actually it's a quote)
"Daniel did not join the carnal or unbelieving masses in his response toward God. He refused to blend in. The magnetic draw of the Babylonian culture failed to overtake him. He never assimilated. Neither did he settle into the lowest common denominator of devotion practiced by his closest friends or kin. We get caught in that trap sometimes. We abide in our subgroups by unspoken codes dictating how far we'll go in our devotion to God. Anyone who goes overboard or takes it too seriously is considered eccentric, not extraordinary. For some, the flow of the world can be easier to resist than the flow of Christian mediocrity." (Beth Moore)

Remember that Sunday School song? "Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone..."? I want to be more like Daniel.

Oh! and speaking of lions....
Check this out:

Have a great day!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Too many days have been rolling by without my taking much notice of life around me. Part of this I attribute to the disturbance in my schedule from the new paper route job. Rising at 3am, returning around 6:30am... some days I'm awake and stay up, some days I'm beat, so I go back to bed. And this is all greatly affected by when I get to sleep the night before... I'm such a night owl, and summer nights are great family video/dvd nights! It's about priorities! Some days I get it right, lately I've missed the mark.

The other reason I think I've been "off" is that I've become so focused on our circumstances: housing, job, finances - feeling "it's all up to us" to "make it happen". Yes, we obviously need to do the foot work, make the sacrifices, make wise decisions, take work where we can find it - no denying that. But a healthy balance is needed to realize that when the jobs are not available, or the job prospects don't pan out, or I don't get a call for an interview... that's not the whole picture of my life. It sure seems to be the major focus right now, trying to pay the bills, trying to keep income coming it.

So this week I'm thanking God for His forgiveness, His daily new mercies, and the promise of His Holy Spirit's work in my heart.

Right now Timi's finishing his final exam for Math (we've already got the next textbook, ready to start this week.) and Jonothon's reading his US History. We're back on track this week, having taken two of the past five weeks off - once for a camping trip, and last week while Jono was on a missions trip.

I've started a new Bible Study - Beth Moore's DANIEL study and I've begun a new one-year Bible reading plan this week (the boys will be doing it as well). I'm also going to purpose to increase the level of physical activity around here... for all of us. More walks, bike rides, exercise balls and exercise bands (great, while watching a movie!)

Still praying for a permanent ministry position for Chris. And I'm still looking for additional work.

It occurs to me that I'm feeling some discontent because I desire some "NORMAL"... some "SETTLED" in my life. But, God never promised that . Jesus didn't have it while he was on earth. Some people have it, some people don't. Is it more spiritual to be settled and secure? Or just as spiritually healthy to live on the edge, living day to day in faith for the next step God will show you? Do YOU have the answer? I'm not sure I do.
Looking back on my own faith journey, I think I'd rather be in need, a little "UNsettled". Because it keeps me right at His feet and I experience His presence and provision in my life in "high definition"! Sometimes I observe lives that are "settled" and "secure" more as "self-sufficient", rather than God-dependent.
My security is found in trusting God for the next step, knowing that He sees my circumstance and that the Holy Spirit will guide in the life of our family as we seek Him.

Do you read this? Would you let me know? I'd love to know that you read my blog and I'd also love to know your perspective on my perspective.

Have a blessed day!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Camping Trip

We got away on a much needed family camping trip this past week, following a great Memorial Day BBQ with friends at our house. After loading the van with all our gear AND the dog, we put the bikes on the rack and off we went! (We would discover later, upon arriving home, that we left the front door wide open! The screen door was shut, but the main door was not.)

It was our first trip to Ludington State Park. Having been spoiled with with great campgrounds on the West Coast, we've been a bit discouraged to find so many campgrounds that are merely 'parking lots' for campers and RVs. Ludington was a pleasant surprise! (I recommend spot #48!) We camped three nights and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

Some of our favorite things: Campfires first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee or cocoa. Bacon, eggs & potatoes cooking in the open air. Biking as a family through the camp. (Mom had Lucy, leashed and running beside her bike!) Hillbilly golf. Hiking to the lighthouse. Sequence by latern light. Evening campfires, jokes, stories, and marshmallows! All together, after dark, reading books in the tent. Snuggled in a sleeping bag, listening to the rain pelt the tarps overhead.

I cannot fully describe, how much camping restores my perspective, calms my spirit, refreshes me. God is there... in the camping experience and He spoke to my heart with thoughts on faith, family, and even fun!

Camping? I'm ready for s'more already!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stay Faithful

Staying faithful in the small things.
Seeking God's will each new day.
Trusting in the Father's perfect plan, even when you can't see it.
Knowing that God is always at work and looking for ways to join Him in that work.

These are the lessons I've been learning during this time of waiting. I'm also learning that a 'time of waiting' is not the same thing as a time of inactivity. God is always moving in our lives, His Word is always living and active and effects change in our lives, He always inhabits the praises of His people.

If I can encourage you today, it would be to say, "Don't waste the times of waiting." God is always working, so continue to trust Him and look for His hand at work. Then follow Him in obedience. You will be blessed.

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Made the move!

God has once again provided for our family. The rental house sold and we had the help of wonderful friends (and a u-haul truck) to move into the parsonage of our former church, here in Holland. (THANK YOU to Mike, Mary, Alex, Samantha, Ron, Karen, Dale, Dan, Jan, Earl, Kristi, Kate, and LaVerle!) The deacon board of Maranatha has made it possible for us to live in the unused church parsonage, rent-free, for six months.

God has provided employment options for Chris through Manpower (temp. agency) and Dutch Village Family Park. The boys had a recent opportunity to do some yard work - their first 'hired-out' job - and enjoyed the pay they received for their hard work. They've been asked to come back and mow her lawn, so they're on their way to being working men!

I have been cleaning, painting, and getting us settled in. Now that we've been here a couple weeks, we've started back up with schooling and I am looking for employment as well as getting ready to have a garage sale.

We continue to live in the present, following God's leading as we determine it and trust Him to give us wisdom for the future.

Spring is here and hope is growing!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

As our family continues in this time of transition, seeking God feels like walking on a path of stepping stones that are only laid out one at a time. As I take a step onto one, I don't always see the next 'stone' laid down. Daily, I'm walking this path.

Each new day brings another opportunity to seek God and to know Him in a new way. Not that HE changes and becomes new... But my small view of Him is expanded as I discover even more of Him. He truly is awesome. (And yet, as I say that, I'm aware that I have no idea how hugely awesome he is... there are no words to describe Him.)

I was recently encouraged by Louis Giglio about our worship of God. He talks of the greatness of God - the "otherness" of God! When I look at my concept of "worship" - such as Sunday morning - it's clear that I've become a "consumer of worship". Too often, it's all about what I like or don't like, what blesses me or doesn't bless me. My desire is to more and more take my teeny, tiny view off of myself and place my eyes on the Creator of the Universe, God Almighty, my Shepherd, the Lover of my Soul, my Righteousness and my Prince of Peace. May I no longer be a consumer of worship... But let me offer whole self to the Lord and may HE consume me.

There is an endless song - Echoes in my soul - I hear the music ring.
And though the storms may come I am holding on; To the Rock I cling!

How can I keep from singing Your praise?
How can I ever say enough... How amazing is Your Love!
How can I keep from shouting Your Name?
I know I am loved by the King and it makes my heart want to sing!

I will lift my eyes in the darkest night, for I know my Savior lives.
And I will walk with You, knowing You'll see me through, and sing the songs You give.

I can sing in the troubled times. Sing when I win.
I can sing when I lose my step, and fall down again.
I can sing 'cause You pick me up; Sing 'cause You're there.
I can sing 'cause You hear me Lord, when I call to You in prayer.
I can sing with my last breath!
Sing, for I know that I'll sing with the angels and the saints around the throne!

Just beginning to learn how to worship...

Monday, March 24, 2008

God is Enough

At times I feel like I'm in the wilderness... A period of prolonged difficulty... Discouraged... Perhaps that's what David felt when he wrote the 63rd Psalm.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
My soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

As we continue to seek God's direction, we found out last week that this house has been sold. We need to move out by April 16th. We sincerely praise God for his provision to our landlords - they were so gracious to let us move in here when we needed housing. And as it provides me with moments of anxiety, I will not despair. We've lived here with the knowledge that we might have to move at any time.

Having no income and no firm job possibilities, we are a bit overwhelmed, but not without hope. We know God has the answers. None of this takes HIM by surprise. We are seeking God's direction... knees to the ground... acknowledging His sovereignty and loving faithfulness.

Already his wonderful children, have made offers for us to move in with them if we need to. Our pantry and freezer are both filled with food provided by others. We drove out of town this past Sunday to provide Easter worship music at a church about 40 miles up the road... but not in our car... dear friends insisted we drive their car and use their gas. Blessing upon blessing. And it has opened my eyes to look for ways we can turn around and bless others. This is how The Body should function.

My heart is overwhelmed with what the Lord has done for us. There are many things we don't have right now. But there is so much we DO have in Christ. I ask Him constantly to let me focus on HIM and not on the overwhelming circumstances.

Laughter through tears has always been one of my favorite feelings - a good cry, and then something breaks through and makes you laugh! I love that! The psalm above says, "Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." My most recent favorite things is doing just that... In the midst of transition, uncertainty and need, my soul is able to sing in the shadow of His wings. Sometimes it's only a whispered song and sometimes the song swells my whole being... but I'm always sheltered by Him and secure in His presence.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

With God nothing is impossible!

That verse from Matthew is this week's BSF memory verse for the boys. How appropriate! We have reached the end of our severence package and the future is still unclear. With God nothing is impossible. "Thanks for the reminder, Lord!"

Last weekend I was invited to go to a prayer conference with a friend. It was practical and worshipful. Just what I needed to remind me of our great God who is worthy of our time and worship just because of Who He is. The fact that He does so much for us is truly a blessing. But even if we have to go without or have to struggle a bit, HE is still worthy of our worship. "Thank you for the time spent in Your presence, Lord!"

I had an interview this week and was their first choice, but after a long conversation, they didn't hire me because of our 'tentative' situation - we may need to move out of state soon. So I didn't get the job - but it's nice to know that I can still interview well and my resume is apparently not so shabby after being out of the secretarial 'work force' for about twelve years. So I was encouraged even though I didn't get the job. "Thanks for the encouragement, Lord!"

A dear friend called today to check up on how we're doing. She's two thousand miles away, but I felt the hug right through the telephone line! "Thanks for Jan's care, Lord!"

She also sent us a check earlier this month as she felt the Lord prompting her. A friend in Holland told Chris that he will help us monthly either to cover our medical insurance payment or to help with bills - which ever we need the most. "Thanks for providing this help, Lord!"

As we talked today at lunch, we had to plan our cash to cover gas or groceries for this upcoming week. I'm getting good at being creative with food... and the boys are patient. The phone rang and Chris was asked to run the sound for a funeral at our old church this week. The funeral home will pay him.... grocery money! "You are faithful to provide for every need, Lord!"

It's the encouragement I needed. God is good and NOTHING is impossible for him!

Friday, March 7, 2008

In God's Waiting Room

Still waiting.... and still trusting.

While we wait, we continue to lift up others who are also waiting.
Please say a prayer for:
A homeschool mom of four dealing with sickness after sickness in the home;
A grown daughter grieving the death of her father;
A grandmother with a broken arm who cares for two grandchildren daily;
A family seeking a church home;
A man with diabetes recently dealing with an amputation;
A man seeking employment.

Thank you. God is already at work! He loves to answer us!
So be patient in your waiting.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Timithi!

Thirteen years ago God blessed us with our second child! Timithi came to us in a miraculous way, just as Jonothon did! When Jonothon turned one year, we decided to open our adoption file once again, knowing that most families wait several months, even years, to adopt a baby in the United States. As Jono turned one, Timithi was actually born that month. His birthmother was a child herself and soon decided that the best, most loving thing she could do for her baby was to place him into a family that could love and care for him as he needed. At her age, Marissa was courageous and loving to make such a huge sacrifice for her baby. And our lives have been changed in marvelous ways, since Timithi arrived! We opened our adoption file during the end of February, 1995 and Timithi came to join our family at the end of March.

I had been in Seattle with Jonothon, caring for my cancer-stricken mother, when the phone in her hospital room rang. It was for me. Our adoption attorney was calling with the news that "a baby boy" was available for adoption, but it needed to take place immediately. Chris was home in CA, so I called him, talked with my mom and step-father and it was decided that we would do it! Jonothon and I flew from Seattle to Ventura, CA while Chris got in the car for the four-hour drive. Chris picked us up at the airport, we went to our attorney's home office, and the three of us went to the home of "the baby' - this was a Saturday.

When the paperwork was complete, we left our attorney's office and drove home with our precious new baby, now named Timithi Owen. The next day was Sunday and we showed up at church with a new baby! It was quite exciting and so joyful as our church body rejoiced with us. Next day, we took Timithi to the doctor for a well-baby visit. The following day, Tuesday, all FOUR of us boarded a plane to return to be with my mother in Seattle. Chris had to return to work, so I stayed in Seattle - my mother home from the hospital, a 13-month old and a 1-month old who was definitely feeling the transition.

God is gracious and has blessed us with such a wonderful son in Timithi! He is creative, inventive, reliable and has a great wit! Today we are celebrating Timithi! He brings joy to our home and we are truly blessed by him!

Happy Birthday, Timi!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday, Monday...

I'm so thankful for a wise, Godly husband.
I had a rough weekend, where several 'things' piled up and my emotions took over. You know, living by feelings rather than by faith. Living in this state of transition, waiting to find the next job, the next church family, the next new community to live in... and wondering when it will all come together - it all gets overwhelming at times.
This morning as I faced a Monday of homeschooling I struggled. I was frustrated, the boys were agitated, everything was hard and nothing was very pleasant. I was in tears and the boys were arguing with one another. I found a prayer corner and cried out for God to help me see my way clear to overcome the emotions the whole family seemed to be going through. The answer came within minutes.
Chris came out to the kitchen table and sat with us. He prayed for us and we all joined in prayers of confession for the ways we've been reacting to one another. Then he talked with the family. He spoke with calmness and reason. He looked at the circustances of the morning and explained things truthfully and clearly. He added some great insights on our family's homeschooling experience. And then we closed in prayer.
What a huge relief to have a husband who brings wisdom and order to our family. Sometimes when husbands are out of work and spending lots of time at home, there are jokes about "getting them out of the house". Not from me! I'm so thankful to have Chris here right now to guide our ship through some rough waters. He always points us to Jesus.
And Jesus always speaks peace over the storm.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Jonothon!

Fourteen years ago God rocked our world by surprising us with our first baby boy! We applied for adoption on a Friday and Jonothon was born the following Tuesday! We brought him home - 2 days old - from the hospital. And our world has never been the same! Fourteen years ago, Chris wrote the following for him:

You came in winter when a crust of heavy snow sat on our Childlessness.
Your smiles and wide-eyed baby blues have melted frozen streams.
The rivers run again, and yet, you choose to draw from deeper springs than ever we have dared to tap.
In wintertime, we drink a toast of living water, souls made good upon the promise of God's Infant Son.
You, too, our hearts' desire, pledged by the Lord of Our Delight, have quenched the thirst of miles of Arctic desert wanderings.
And from that north a star shines down.
Its light we follow gladly for its hope brought life.
And we can never disbelieve the Word whose waters, deep and full of mysteries, have carried you into our waiting arms.

So today we are celebrating Jono!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cold days and Corn bags

It's snowing again today... that beautiful lake effect snow! Coming from the Pacific Northwest where the snow is very 'wet', I still remember the first Michigan 'lake effect' snow I experienced. It was the first time I remember being able to see the details of individual snowflakes as they fell on the windows of the car. Mostly about one sixteenth of an inch, I'd guess. So amazing!

This past Sunday we were snowed in by blowing snow and white-out conditions. We were scheduled for special music at Forest Park Covenant, but received a couple phone calls telling us to stay safe and not try to make the 30-mile drive. We stayed in Holland and visited a church to see our friend dance with her ballet troupe during the worship service. Came home to the smell of dinner in the oven and Chris went and picked up two elderly friends of ours and they shared a meal with us.

When it's so cold like this, we like our corn bags! Usually it's the day we drive to cut down our Christmas tree... We stop at a hardware store in Rockford and buy a 50 lb. bag of feed corn for about $3.00. Then I sew bags and fill them with about 4 cups of the corn. Throw them in the microwave for about 4 minutes and they come out soooo warm! My boys love them at bedtime... warms up the toes nicely!

We are still seeking God's guidance regarding a new ministry position for Chris. He is putting our faith to the test. One of my Bible studies noted that when God tests our faith, it's not for His benefit. He KNOWS how much faith we have. He wants us to take our faith for a 'test drive', so to speak; so that we will see our faith in action. I'm thankful for the chance to live by faith. Not that it's easy or even fun... Just that it's the better way to live.

So live by faith today. Faith in God's strength to handle your circumstances. Faith that His Word always has something to say to you. Faith in His unfailing love for you. Faith in His wisdom which is so far beyond ours. Faith that He has plans for you. Faith in His ability to accomplish His purposes in your life. Faith that He will provide for your needs. Faith that He will give you wisdom and strength to meet each day. Faith that He can use you to bless someone else today.

Have a great day! (My toes are cold. I'm going to go get the corn bag!)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

His Grace is Enough

It was playing on the radio as we drove to church... "All of You is more than enough for all of me; for every thirst and every need. You satisfy me with Your love and all I have in You is more than enough." And then we sang today in church... "Your grace is enough. Your grace is enough for me."

And that is the prayer of my heart today. Asking the Spirit to quiet my heart and focus my thoughts as LIFE stares me down. Chris is still looking for his next ministry position, his income will end in about one month, the house we are renting is on the market, I'm trying to find employment outside the home, and today we think the transmission went out on our van (so it's probably "goodbye" to the van).

I'm frustrated at my tears which flow so easily today. I guess I hoped my faith would overcome my feelings and I could 'rise above' it all. But God made me with emotions and when I bury my head on His Almighty shoulder He can handle it.

I will declare my trust in Him again! I know He is good. I know He is able. I know He has a plan for me (and my family). I know He wants to focus my heart on Him. I know He will provide. I know He wants to be glorified in my circumstances.

Are you trusting in Him? Remember... His grace is enough!

- Lori

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Waiting on God

First, let me say I'm still new to this blogging stuff... I just found a bunch of 'comments' that some of you have sent. They weren't 'published' because I didn't know I where to find them and that I have to agree to 'publish' them. Sorry! And THANK YOU for your feedback. I love hearing from you!

We received a phone call from Visalia saying that they felt led to offer a contract to the other applicant. While it's a disappointment to be told 'no', we realize that it's still God's leading. And we don't want to be anywhere other than right where HE wants us. There are still some great churches out there that we are in contact with and we continue to talk with several of them.

My temptation to worry comes from living in this lousy Michigan economy, knowing that Chris's income will cease in about a month. Scary? Yes. Impossible for God? No! Both Chris and I appreciate all your prayers and emails of support. In the meantime, if you know of any work or temporary jobs... we are open.

So we continue to trust God and wait on his timing. In the middle of this, I'm thinking of Hannah's story found in I Samuel. My Bible study points out that God engaged Hannah and, by seeming to withhold her heart's desire, was really making her heart the reservoir of His own desire. God wanted a prophet. Hannah wanted a son. God, as always, is working according to a plan. He is not at a loss. When Hannah found herself in this apparently hopeless situation the truth was that God had a plan. Before Hannah began to pray, God was at work laying the groundwork for His prophet. While Hannah was praying, God was at work preparing her for the answer He had in mind. After Hannah was through pryaing, God was at work through His servant Samuel, the answer to Hannah's prayer. When we're finished, God is just beginning.

We choose to trust Him and follow His leading. (Thank you for continuing to pray with us!)

God bless your day!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Yes! More Snow!

Don't be fooled by the cold, frosty view out 'our window'... I love this! I made a new batch of cocoa mix a couple days ago, we've got lots of coffee, and I'm warming up the crock pot.

The snow turns us into children. Both Chris and I, when we got out of bed went directly to the window to check on the snow. We were not disappointed! Jonothon asked if today was a 'snow day' - I chuckled and reminded him that home schoolers don't have snow days - we just exchange shoveling the driveway for P.E. (He didn't think that was terribly funny...).

If you don't have snow where you are please enjoy some of ours! Blessings on your day!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More Snow!

It just makes me so happy to see all those big fluffy flakes falling from the sky! We've had such a wonderful weather pattern lately! Dumping snow upon snow into our world here in Holland! For years I'd only heard the national weathermen say something about "lake effect snows"... Now I know what that means and I get so excited to hear those words! I LOVE this snow. Chris and I don't have any official numbers but we figure we got at least ten inches... probably closer to twelve - just today! As I drove to grocery store today, I could see cars slipping and sliding and normally I get tense driving on icy roads. But today I just had this goofy smile while I drove through town. Mostly because the huge fluffy flakes gave me the sense that I was driving around in a snow globe! Ha! Later, I took Lucy for a "walk". I tried to keep her on the sidewalks, but she kept bounding into the foot-deep snow in people's yards... disappearing momentarily, then popping up with snow covering her nose to the mid-back! Leaping from snow to snow, having a ball! So funny!

(Laurie, you were the highlight of my week! Thanks for the visit today! Watermark's song, More Than You'll Ever Know just says so much about how I feel about you!)

I'm working on a great Bible Study by Jennifer Kennedy Dean called Live a Praying Life. I highly recommend it! It's changing my perspective on prayer. The title says so much... I no longer want to settle for having a prayer life - like it's a separate part of my world. I desire to live a praying life... a life in which connecting to Christ, Who lives in me, is just like breathing. It's a great book. Comes with a video set, but you can do the study easily without seeing the videos.

I'm going to go look outside one more time and see how much more snow we have now. Supposed to get four to seven more inches overnight! Yippee!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Waiting on God...

Chris and I recently returned from a trip out to CA where Chris had an interview at a church in Visalia. We used to live in Visalia and enjoyed living there in the early 90's. We met some wonderful people and sensed their heart for worship and their love for the Lord. We enjoyed the entire time there and now we are awaiting the Lord's leading. We are still open to other churches as we await God's clear direction.

Some have asked about Chris's 'varied' denominational background. We have served in many different churches... Baptist, United Methodist, Christian & Missionary Alliance, Covenant, and Christian Reformed. We both have some Baptist and lots of Christian & Missionary Alliance in our backgrounds. But after much reflection, I would say that what is most important is a heart that truly desires to worship God. While we can appreciate and understand various denominational positions, a heart that follows hard after God is essential to a deep worship experience.

So we continue to seek God's leading to the next ministry position. In the meantime, the boys and I are enjoying having Dad at home. I especially appreciate him taking part in their home schooling and I can tell the boys like it too. It's nice to have a fresh perspective on things from time to time!

What are you waiting on God for? Whatever it is, I hope that you are in the Word and praying without ceasing. He is mindful of your circumstance and is already working on your behalf. Even though you may not see his hand, you can always trust his heart.

Trusting His heart, Lori

Monday, January 7, 2008

Back to School!

Yea! History, Geography, Vocabulary, Math, Science, Grammar, Bible.... We're back at it today! (The boys didn't have the same reaction last night. Hmmmm...) I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine. That is, until Chris and I fly out to CA this Thursday. We are going out for an interview at Visalia First CRC and are praying for God's clear direction in this.

Finally took the tree down this weekend. Put away the Christmas stuff, pulled out my snowmen! I have way too many seasonal decorations! Thanks to the long snowy winters in MI, I can keep my snowmen up sometimes until March. Then it's time for the Easter 'stuff'.

What a great time of reunion and worship we had with dear friends at Forest Park yesterday. It was the first Sunday away from Maranatha and we've chosen to attend FPCC in the interim, especially for the boys. They LOVE it there and have several friends... It just feels like going home. We are grateful for loving friends and church family in Muskegon.

And we are looking forward to the future. Not sure what God will bring our way, but trusting in His perfect plan to use us in a new ministry somewhere... Could be in Visalia... We'll soon find out!

Tonight the boys are able to start going to Bible Study Fellowship with Chris. I'll be home with Lucy and my cup of tea... Call me and come join me!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It's a Snow Globe Day!

Don't you just love it when large snowflakes float down from the sky, making it look like you're living inside a snow globe?? We bought new snow bibs for the boys last night, making them much more eager to shovel ten inches of snow off our driveway, so they can PLAY in the snow afterward. I'll keep the tea kettle warm for the hot chocolate!

Happy Snow Day!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's a season of new beginnings! I'm reminded of the passage of scripture in Lamentations, chapter three, verses 22 and 23: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." His mercies are new to us every day! I wouldn't make it without His great mercy. So, I'm thanking the Lord for His mercy and grace, lavished on me and available as I bow my knee to Him and ask Him to guide me (and my family) in this new year. I pray that you will seek His face and experience His grace and mercy in your life as well.

It began to snow here on New Year's eve and has kept snowing, lightly. We have about eight inches on the ground... and it's still snowing as I look out the window. (Chris is out shoveling the driveway... good cardio!) I LOVE Michigan winters! (Oh, there goes our neighbor... snowshoeing down the street! How fun!) Last night I broke away from the party to walk Lucy (the beagle) - she'd had too much party and needed to get out! It was one of those magical snowy nights! The street lights were all on, Christmas lights on neighbor's houses, not a car in sight.... It was Lucy, me and the "crunch" of New Year's eve snow. I love that "snow quiet"!

We had a couple families over for the evening... Lots of laughter, games, food, and party horns! We closed the night, or should I say began the morning, with scripture and prayer and had a great time together. God has blessed us with friends who have become 'family' and we love them dearly.

Yesterday afternoon, Chris came home from the church office with a little box of his 'stuff'. He had cleared out his desk at the church. He is officially unemployed . We enjoyed a reception following the morning service this past Sunday, avoiding saying a final "good-bye" to a few close friends, but in a large part closing that chapter of our life. We are so confident that God's hand is upon our family during this time of transition, that we are at peace as we leave Maranatha.

We are looking forward with anticipation to God leading us into the next 'chapter' in our lives and are trusting in the promises of His Word. Promises to call us, to lead us, to refine us, to bless us, to use us, and to develop more of His character in our lives. We are full of faith and excited to step out and follow His lead.

I'm praying for several friends as this new year begins... One just had cancer surgery and awaits pathology reports; one who is beginning the process of saying goodbye to her father as his health fails; a few who are in the stages of 'releasing' children to a new stage of life; one who is far away from her children and has to love them through emails and phone calls; one who is expecting her second child.... So, I'm praying for God's mercy and grace to cover each of their circumstances. I'm praying that each one of them will be blessed to experience the lordship of Christ over their lives in a new way. I'm praying that each one will pass on the blessings and give God the glory He is worthy of.

So, pass on His mercy and grace to someone in your life path. Happy New Year!