Saturday, November 27, 2010

Don't You Just Love It?

Trimming the Christmas tree, Bing Crosby singing in the living room, the smell of something baking in the oven, going through all of the Christmas books and reminiscing of Christmases past..."Don't you just love it Mom?" says my Brendan as we carefully place those lights on the tree...just so! "What's that Brendan?" "The Spirit of just makes my heart so happy!" says my 9 year old!

Indeed it does. There is something about this day that we have always loved. I love it because it is drenched in tradition (wonderful, joyous tradition) that I know my boys will continue on long after Mike and I have gone. It is just what we do, and we do it well.

In years past, I always tell the story about each and every ornament. This year, the boys are remembering more and more. So in my mind, as I was handing those ornaments to be hung, I was picturing my boys as men, handing those ornaments out and saying these very same words:
"Oh that was for my Mom & Dad's favor at their wedding, you know they got married 10 days before Christmas, way back in 1990!"

"Oh this ornament was my grandmothers when she was a little girl, let's be very careful, it is very delicate."

"Ha! I remember my Mom would always try to hide this one in the back of the tree, but it was very special to my Dad. His Mom had that ornament when she was a little girl!"

"These were the ornaments Mom and Dad would get before they could have children. They got these in Vermont."

"Oh this one was from the Jonases, and this from Mrs. first birthday, I made this in 2nd grade."

The stories go on and on and on! I can't tell you how much this makes my heart swell.

As we trim the tree and listen to the songs play in the background such rich and wonderful conversations are always birthed. Singing...Gloria in Excelsis Deo, Shane says.. "Mom who was Gloria?" or "What does 'pa rump pa pump pum" mean?" or "Why do those boys (Vienna Boys Choir) sound like girls?" Makes me smile!!

This year, Mike's grandfather is 92 and he suffers from Alzheimer's. He lives with us (or we with him..however you want to look at it!) It was very sweet today. He came up to the table with the boys and waited patiently for his ornament to hang on the tree. He never use to do that, in previous years he would sit and watch, but not this year, he fully participated and it was so precious! We don't know how many years he will have with us, so my boys get to have this memory too: Their great-grandfather trimming the tree with them! Priceless!

And finally, it was Kyle's turn to place the angel on the tree. Every year a different boy gets to place the angel on the tree. I cry a little on the inside, knowing that someday, they won't need Dad to reach the top. Oh Lord, help me to always cherish all of these moments, as I know time goes by so quickly!

The Day after Thanksgiving....2010!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

I tossed and turned about what to write. I wanted to pick up with my "1000 Gifts" posting, but then I get stuck in this rut where I feel the need to be creative with my writing and making sure it is meaningful and purposeful. However, that is why I'm writing a book..this is supposed to be the place where I keep my we don't forget. So here it is!

Traditionally we make this peppermint bark...really to help ring in the Christmas season. We try to do it on Thanksgiving Eve. Here are some pictures from last night!

Actually there is something so rewarding about crushing those candies...not sure what it is yet..
Look at the intensity on Kyle's face! A little outlet perhaps for pent up aggression? Who knows?? hehehe!!

Anyway, after two days of cooking, my husband does an amazing job, we have the traditional Thanksgiving fare with my cousin from is our tradition. She makes the best stuffing! Above you can see we didn't go without dessert...that white washed picture would be the boys peppermint bark & my terrible photography!

As we sat around the table here is some of the things I heard:

I'm thankful for Jesus and how much He loves us all.
I'm thankful for my wife.
I'm thankful Jim & Ilene get to spend Thanksgiving with us every year!
I'm thankful for my Mom & Dad
I'm thankful for Mike & Lisa and that we are able to spend this special day with them and their boys.
I'm thankful for God's provision in our lives.
I'm thankful for gift of homeschooling my children.
I'm thankful for my children.
I'm thankful for this turkey and all of this amazing food.
I'm thankful for our friends and family.
I'm thankful for my brothers, I always have friends to play with.

William Bradford, when he was first elected governor of Plymouth Rock, said that they were going to set aside a day every year to give thanks to the Lord for His provision. I'm glad that we do the same...I'm glad too, however, that we don't have to wait until Thanksgiving to give thanks to the Lord.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good & His love endures forever!

Here is my personal portion of 1000 gifts...

Thank you Lord for...

135. Every way you provide for every need (as sometimes it is not how we think).
136. Close snuggle time with my most precious gifts of all.
137. The ability to homeschool my precious gifts.
138. Friends and family that love each other for who they are.
139. Your gentle reminders that my body needs to rest.
140. The warm sunshine on my aching body.
141. The miracle of unconditional love.
142. The comfort of a nice new pillow.
143. The faith of a child who prays and waits for God to answer.
144. The TRUTH from God's Word that is ever so sustaining.
145. The freedom to read my Bible every single day of my life.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Attack

I was recently going through some of what I have written for my book. I'm thinking if this book ever gets written I'll be glad (even if I'm 92 when I finish it!) I noticed that I had written a piece about divorce. Most likely (since it was 2007 when I wrote it) it was because I had just been going through an incredible time as I noticed an onslaught of attacks on marriages. Prior to my best friend's divorce 4 years ago, I had never really gone through such a thing. I mean, I knew people who were divorced, I even had people in my family that were, but I had never really experienced it up close and personal. My parents weren't married, so that really didn't even count.

Around that time, the Lord had brought 9 women across my path with troubled marriages -- all at one time. I had no idea their marriages were struggling (I didn't even know some of these women), but for some reason, the Lord knew, each one confided in me and I had a huge burden to lay at my Father's feet! I prayed for each one. I cried many tears. I rejoiced at reconciliation and I mourned the loss of loved ones through divorce.

It is now 4 years after that time in my life, and it is just like the enemy, he is still trying very hard to dissolve relationships. His lies are still the same!! Since then, I have had to walk that very difficult walk, yet again, with several very close friends and loved ones!! It is not easy..but I'm burdened more than ever to pray like never before.

In less than a month, I will have been married for 20 years to my husband. He is my brother in the Lord, a child of God, my best friend, my confidant, my covering, and much more to me. I pray for Mike all the time. Friends, I encourage you to pray for your Sons, Husbands, Fathers, Grandfathers, Sons-in-law. I found this video favorite story teller...Mark Schultz. I thought it would encourage all of us to pray.

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicless 7:14

It is no big secret that the Enemy of our souls seeks to devour our marriages, our relationships, let's not let him have his way! It's not just marriages you know, its relationships - Mother/Daughter, Father/Son, Sister/Brother, you get the idea! God is well able to heal the hearts and lives of the ones we know and love who are struggling out there. He may not answer in the way we hope or think would be best, but He is the business of restoration, and for sure HE knows best. I have seen the hand of God at work in the lives of so many women, I Stand in awe of God. As I said before, some reconciled, some have not, some are still working hard, but the common thread - GOD IS STILL ON HIS THRONE, He is still in control.

So lets pray for one another ok!

There used to be a great video...all I can find now are the words...but they are powerful!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pink & Blue

I listened to the intro to this Marriage Conference last night. It is called Love & Respect by Emerson Eggeriches and his wife. It was so good! I want to listen to the whole conference now. He talked about how women see through pink shaded glasses and men see through blue shaded glasses. That everything we see we filter through those "shaded" lenses. Not only that, but we hear with pink hearing aids and we speak through pink megaphones. Of course, men hear with blue hearing aids and speak through blue megaphones. That is why we can say one thing to our man and he totally hears something else, but when we talk to our girlfriends they completely understand. I'm not going to go into all the details of his research, but suffice to say I think he has something here.

For example when a we as women go looking through our closets and drawers and say something like "I don't have anything to wear!" Men hear this (through their blue hearing aids) and think "What, you have two walk-in closets full of clothes, what are you talking about?" However, when women who also speak through pink megaphones and hear through pink hearing aids hears another woman say that very thing, they say.."Me either...come on let's go shopping!" Because really, what women are saying is that we have nothing new to wear! In the same way, if a man were to say that same thing "I don't have anything to wear!" to other men listening with their blue hearing aids...they respond by saying, "She's not doing your laundry either huh?" See, men say they have nothing to wear because they have nothing clean to wear. The whole idea is that men & women communicate so differently, not incorrectly, but differently. We have to learn to decode. He gave so many great examples, Mike and I were cracking up!

I found the picture above, because I was thinking, if women wear pink glasses, speak through pink megaphones and hear with pink hearing aids, and men wear blue glasses, speak through blue megaphones and hear with blue hearing aids, why is it that my boys at times don't understand what either my husband or I am saying. I think they will eventually have blue glasses, blue megaphones and blue hearing aids; but right now in their life, I think they have green! This is my own theory mind you. Not at all part of the Love & Respect book! I just find it funny that they speak a language of their own, have very special selective hearing and they too see things just a little differently.

Anyway, just food for thought! I love my boys, their uniqueness and their charm! They make our parenting journey so much fun!

Monday, November 8, 2010

This Beautiful Day

It started off with the smell of coffee and the sound of the pages turning in my favorite Book. Then He spoke to me through the pages. We spent the first part of this particular morning just talking with one another. Suddenly He surprised me with a gift. There in the midst of my chaotic life, a precious gift, beautifully wrapped. He beckoned me to open it..I decided to open it then and not wait, like I often do. There it was, on my lap, Peace. Oh and it was a very special gift. The Giver sat and smiled through the pages of The Book as I looked upon it with great delight. He told me that this particular gift is His continual gift to me and that it actually flows abundantly from His throne of grace. Here is the catch; every day, I must remember to meet him our special spot, in this comfy chair right in my room. He told me that this gift is sufficient for the present, when I come to meet Him "by prayer and petition with thanksgiving" He will continue to pour this gift into my life.

It makes perfect sense to me. If He had chosen to give me a permanent gift of Peace, independent of His presence, I might just fall into the trap of self-sufficiency. He obviously loves me too much to let that happen to me! He wants to meet me right here...every single day! I'm glad He designed me to need Him moment by moment. It is a beautiful day, like I know every day can be if I remember to approach His throne of grace in confidence and in trust, receiving His Peace with a thankful heart.

See you soon.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Miracles on My Street!

Surprise Gift Package from NC!

To God Be The Glory -
Great Things He Hath Done!

Well, there is power in the testimony of the goodness of God! So, as someone requested, I will list some of the most recent miracles that have found the Engel family. Let me just say this. God has always been good to us...ALWAYS! I remember praying years ago, "Lord, please don't let us be wandering in the wilderness for 40 us to be grateful and recognize your blessings in our lives and help us to remember your faithfulness even to a people who are not always faithful to you!" Lately, as I'm sure I've mention in another blog, I have been truly walking out my faith in the Word of God! It is after all God's Word!! His Word is TRUTH! We either believe it or we don't. We know we believe it when we act like we believe it. I'm not talking name it and claim it...not at all. I'm it and believe it!

So when it says in Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." I believe it. When 2 Corinthians 9 tells me "God is able to make all grace about to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever. Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." I understand that to be truth!

The Lord knew that we have had pillow woes for months! Today the UPS man delivered 5 brand new firm yet fluffy pillows! Thank you Jesus and thank you to the person that sent them.

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the flood gates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it!" Malachi 3:10-12 I believe it so I'm obedient to His Word. There have been numerous times when we have written a check, offered it to the Lord, saying..."Well, Lord, we are trusting you!" He ALWAYS comes through.

My personal favorite: Habakkuk 3:17-19 "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen, & no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feel like the deer, He enables me to go on the heights!" I have changed this verse around to make it more "Though there is no food in the freezer, no job on the horizon, our cabinets are bare and the gas tank is on empty, yet I will rejoice!" We purposed to rejoice - no matter what! I will say these verses back to the Lord and remind Him of His Word. (He hasn't forgotten, but I want Him to know I'm leaning on Him!)

Here are just a few miracles: (wish I had pictures of all of them).

Serious tooth trouble...$2,000 worth of trouble. Went to bed and husband prayed Lord, how am I going to pay for this? Next day, a knock on my door...$800 in cash from random anonymous the end I believe we're only having to pay $600 of this because of the Lord's generosity. Amazing Grace right?

Since Mike's unemployment over a year ago, we have received gift cards to food stores, cards and letters of encouragement filled with scripture and hope. Exactly when we have really needed to hear those very words.

One night, I remember sitting on my couch quoting that scripture from Habakkuk and I changed it around like I've written above. The very next day, I was driving someone home from a meeting at church and she said she had to clean out her freezer because her Father-in-law was on his way to fill up theirs and they had no room. She was going to throw out the food, unless I wanted it! (Freezer full!) That very same night a friend of mine was leaving the church and handed me an envelope and said...someone stopped by my store today and gave this to me to give to was $300 in cash. No one could have possibly known that I had $25.00 in my checking account. God knew.

This past summer the Lord heard my private cry regarding my husband's grandfather whom we care for. This person came and blessed us by cleaning Pop's room and bathroom. Huge undertaking and one that I have so much trouble doing. Thank you Jesus.

Above you see my children painting. Private art classes are very expensive. This dear friend wanted to do this (I never in a million years would have even thought to ask), she fully supplied my children with their own container of 10 professional paint brushes and a set of 8 acrylic paints. She is also planning to come every week to give my boys a lesson for as long as she is in Florida. What can I say, but I'm so humbled that the Lord would provide for every need! Praise Him!

One day as we were walking into church, a lady came up to me and told me that she use to take care of elderly people. She wanted me to know that it would bless her to help with Pop if we needed it! WOW!!

That same Sunday, a man went up to my husband and shook his hand while handing him a $100 bill. Mike looked shocked and the man clicked Mike on the head and just said.."I don't know man, God just told me to do it - so don't give me that look!" He had no idea of my husband's silent prayers either. But God hears our prayers and answers them.

Last week we got a call from a friend of ours who says that the Lord wants them to provide Pizza dinner for my family every Friday night for as long as they can. (We should'nt worry about the food we eat..God feeds the birds of the air and the flowers of the field...)

That same week a woman came up to me in church and says she wants to take me to Sam's Club -- her treat! She said, it has been on her heart for awhile..she didn't really know why, but every time she thought about it, it made her heart so happy. WOW GOD!!

One day a friend of mine said, "I'm tired of just hearing about what God is doing, I told God I wanted to do something too. So the Lord told me as I was food shopping to buy the Buy-One-Get-One's and give the Get-Ones to the Engels!" She was so tickled!! She has done that a few times.

Most recently, we were at this place again where I had bills to pay, hardly any gas in my car and no money to buy groceries. My husband is so good to make so much with so little. He is really amazing that way! It appears that we have an IRS mistake to rectify as well. Learning not to be discouraged, I went to the Lord and thanked him for his provision and for wisdom on how to handle these things. The next morning, someone came up to me at church and handed me an envelope with yet another amazing answer to prayer! HE IS!!

Just today Mike got another rejection letter from nursing school...but we are trusting Him who has our future planned!

I could go on! Please remember this -

To God Be The Glory --

Great Things He Hath Done!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lingering Longer

I know it has been so long since I've actually sat down to write in this blog (technically this is my second in a few days). I think that the Lord has been doing so much in me that it was difficult enough to speak let alone write. I'm glad to report that my book is coming along. It is much deeper and more challenging than I ever imagined. Someday, I will have it in print.

I am presently learning the fine art of lingering. That's right, lingering. You see, I don't stop to linger in any one place long enough to enjoy it most times. I am presented with the challenge of living with, caring for, and schooling 3 boys, one of which is a special needs/learning disabled child (which by the way is one of the greatest joys of my life), but also a 92 year old Alzheimer's grandfather. I am acutely aware that neither one of these loved ones have opportunities to linger longer either. Kyle suffers from some short term memory issues when learning. OH he tries, and it sometimes sticks...but what it takes to stick would exhaust the average person. Pop, well, he has Alzheimer's. He doesn't linger with a thought or anything for more than 10 minutes. It breaks my heart!

So then there is me. I need to learn to linger longer with the Lord first and foremost. My time with Him is amazing. He has taught me more this past year than in my lifetime I think. Then I need to learn to linger longer with my loved ones. My husband and children. I think that my "Life is an Education" blog series may have been my undoing because I miss that time like you wouldn't believe. I really do think that after that trip, I long for nothing else, but to go back. Not because it was Miami and the Keys, but because we were forced to stay in one room together, we ate every meal together, we did exciting things together and my boys would say..we all went to bed together! We all miss Miami! Living the life we live with our grandfather certainly has it rewards, but it has incredible challenges as well. My boys are growing up so incredibly fast. I homeschool them, but I still can't get enough hugs, kisses and sweet talks.

So maybe your thinking about now...what does any of this have to do with these pictures (as cute as they are)?

Here I am, doing it! Lingering. My boys and I woke up last Thursday, started a pretty decent day of school and by 9:30am, I about we go to the beach? Let's bring our favorite CDs (well Shane's favorite), a couple chairs and a bucket and shovel for each boy.
We laughed and played in the ocean. Kyle and I held hands for 35 minutes in the water, and he laughed like I haven't heard in a long time. Belly laughing is my favorite past time I think. We played our music nice and loud...sang as loud and silly as we was 10:00am on a Thursday and hardly a person on the beach! Oh how desperately I needed that. I have been so bogged down with about 23 phone calls to return in a week, meetings almost every week and often times more than one a week. (I started turning my phone off during my school day because the thing rings continuously.)
I received some wise counsel from my friend Rhonda as she could totally see me going down the exhausting road known as "burn out." Pouring out without being replenished is very dangerous. I'm grateful for the Lord who is my supply, because sometimes I feel alone too, even in the midst of 23 phone calls to return. So, feeling the pressure all around, I realize sometimes, we need to snap out of it, get off the treadmill of life and hold hands and belly laugh. Ahhh..that feels so good!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Sparrow

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:26

I have been living this amazing "George Mueller" kind of life lately. (Go a google search..he's one of my heroes of the faith). I'm gonna put it out there, I think it is because I have finally come to the place where I am believing God for who He is and what His Word says. Don't get me wrong, I've always believed the Word of God is true, but lets face it, you know what you really believe when you act like you believe it. How often to we say things like, "The Bible says...", "I know the truth is this...", but then at that very same time we worry about our finances, we rack up debt, we continue in our slump...perhaps we are not really believing God. As always, it boils down to trust for me. I found that I could totally trust Him for some areas of my life, but then there are others that I act like I'm just not sure. I would never consciously say that of course, but my actions would.

If I were to mention the miracles one by one that have occurred in my home...the hand of the Almighty God found at my address, time and time again, my fingers would hurt from typing so much! I feel like I'm living in the New Testament. Only the Lord would know the silent prayers my husband and I have prayed for our various, and often times numerous, situations. So when the very next day the Lord sends two or three people to us with very specific answers to our silent blows me out of the water. It has happened so much lately that I have just come to expect the Lord to meet our every need "according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Please note I said need, not want, dream or desire...NEED. I am so eternally grateful for that!

Believe me when I say that I'm not just talking monetary, physical, and emotional, I'm talking all of those plus spiritual as well. His truth resonates in my that at times that is all I hear. I am in love with His Word. It totally sustains me! So, please if you know me and you see that I'm struggling (because lets face it, we will continue to struggle this side of Heaven)...please, just remind me of the Word. I have recently heard someone say that people often say when you are in the center of God's will you are sure to be safe. However, when you are in the center of God's will the enemy is not happy and you are more vulnerable for attack. (Living that like crazy lately) The difference is, God will still have His way. God cannot be defeated by the already defeated enemy of our souls. Amen?

So, as I close my first blog in many many months...take a look at that picture. That is my boy and the baby bird we found hopping along our driveway. He barely had his flying wings. My Kyle, lover of all nature, has a precious heart for God's creation. Prayed for his friend, Baby Peeps, that God would protect him, help him find his Mommy & Daddy, and make sure no stray cats ate him. After we prayed I spoke that verse to Kyle. His eye is on the sparrow (even though that is technically a baby blue jay)...

Popular hymn penned by C. Martin here is a little history of the song:

Civilla Martin, who wrote the lyrics, said this about her inspiration to write the song based in the scriptures outlined above,
Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle—true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheel chair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle's reply was simple: "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" was the outcome of that experience.
—Civilla Martin

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

You can listen to it here.