Friday, February 25, 2011

My Strength & My Song

The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. - Exodus 15:2

Shane saw the sky yesterday and called me over to take a picture. "Mom, come take a picture, it looks like Heaven!" That is the picture we took over in Oak Hill just yesterday.

I'm learning something in my quiet time lately. My spiritual "education" for lack of a better word, is never far from trust. Lately, besides feeling a little sleep deprived, and totally inadequate when it comes to Mike's grandfather's care, I guess you can say that on Fridays (especially Fridays because I'm on my own with Pop's care and homeschooling) I wake up feeling a little wobbly. So I go to my chair that I meet Jesus in every morning and give it all to Him. I just tell him how I feel and I praise Him for his faithfulness. Gratitude is so important to our spiritual, physical and emotional well being.

As I sat there this morning, I felt like He was reminding me of that scripture above, from Exodus. Actually, that was ringing in my heart, but I wasn't sure where it was in the Bible, so I got my Bible out and starting looking for it. I love when this happens because then I get to read so much scripture, you never know what greatness is going to come from a time like that. I started in Psalms..because it just sounds like wasn't there but while I was hanging out in chapter 118 and stumbled across v. 14 and it cross referenced Exodus 15:2. Ahh...

Anyway, I realized that when I look at difficult times looming ahead, measuring them against my own strength, I always feel inadequate and overwhelmed. However, when I allow the Lord His will in my life, when I simply surrender those thing to Him, I begin to see how he empowers me to handle each task as it comes..because He is my strength. Likewise, because He is my song, He gives me joy as I work alongside of Him.

His Word is true! Every single time...He comes through. I'm still tired, I have very little energy to tackle the yard work that must be done or the house work for that matter. Funny, that I'm sitting here typing, but in my peripheral vision I totally see dust. However, this is therapeutic in another way. So the picture I chose above reminds me that my hope of heaven should fill my thoughts and the Light of His Presence will envelop me. I pray the same for those who read this!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Refreshing Moment For Sure

Treats? Did you bring treats?

"There are moments when our hearts nearly burst within us for the sheer joy of being alive. The first sight of our newborn babies, the warmth of love in another's eyes, the fresh scent of rain on a hot summer's eve--moments like these renew in us a heartfelt appreciation for life." -Gwen Weising

We haven't had a family moment since December. For those that are new to my blog, my husband is the full time caregiver for his 93 year old grandfather (who suffers from advance stage Alzheimer's/Dementia. Since we all live together, and he is unable to left alone for even a moment, we don't get much time away from our home as a family. So, the only time we get is when Pop goes to respite care two days of the week - from 9am - 2:30pm. One of those days I must school my children, the other day is like our Saturday - and we have entitled those precious and rare moments...Moments For Memories.
We took Dodger and made our way to Spruce Creek Park. We really only had 1.5 we quickly took to the back trails and we tried to get lost in the moment!

As I watched my family walk out in front of me, I got a little choked up. I really really need these little escapes (actually, I can go for longer time, really my heart cries for a little camping trip or a trip back here...but who knows when we can get someone to watch Pop for a night.) Gone are date nights (and since I homeschool, date days..well that is a little challenging) lol! So I love these precious little moments.

Kyle likes to take it all in too! He is my straggler..that is the reason I lag behind the rest of the family. However, he is back there thinking.."Mom, wouldn't it be great if a tornado came through here right now and all we had was each other?"...Well, that might be a little scary, but I know the feeling..what would it be like to just be able to do something spontaneous..together as a family? I think we all crave it.

So we make sure we relax and laugh as much as we can! It was a totally wonderful day/few moments together!

The truth is, I love hanging with my men! All of them, even Dodger!

I'm thankful for the gift my family is to me (corny as it sounds, we often refer to each other as gifts). We don't really need big vacations (although I'm not saying it wouldn't be we dream)...we really just love being together, away from the house, just the five of us sometimes.

Mike had to pick up Pop so we of course took separate cars...the boys and I stopped at our favorite ice cream place to have a sweet refreshing ending to our Sweet Refreshing Memory Making Moment together!

To all of my friends up north...these are the only kinds of Blizzards we see since we moved to Florida!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lessons From a Dog

After reading 6 books on how to raise the perfect puppy, I realize I'm probably as lost as I was when I first started reading. The one thing I think we have accomplished is we have made some pretty amazing memories because of what having a puppy has forced us to do!

One thing is watching my boys, love on this dog and on each other. This picture below is so special to me. When we were coming home this particular day, Brendan said to me, "Mom, I love Shane and we have fun with him, but, this was so nice just to be and Kyle...two brothers...twins, together, it was nice!" It was true, as I sat with my very disturbed dog who didn't really like running straight into the cold ocean, I observed some serious bonding going on - and I loved it!

Another reason we love Dodger, is because this puppy has been very therapeutic for my husband! Mike wasn't able to come to the beach with us because we rarely get to go out as a family unless we take Pop along. This would have been way too much for Pop, so Mike has to miss a lot of outings with us. However, my husband loves this dog! How could you not...just look at that face!

Kyle & Brendan....with Dodger!

This puppy ready to go home...seriously, I am pretty sure he was thinking...why on earth did you take me here?
He slept so good for the rest of the night! It totally tuckered him out! I think washing him down with the hose was more traumatizing than taking a dip in the freezing water! lol!
The ride home was delightful for Dodger I'm sure! He is such a good puppy! We love him, a great addition to the Engel Family and we look forward to more memories!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Beautiful You

One of our most beautiful events in Women's Ministry to date (at our church) has to be this past Beautiful You Luncheon that we just had last weekend (February 12, 2011).

Over 180 women filled that room on this day, but for me, the best part I would have to say was Friday night as the women poured in to decorate their tables.

Here are just a few pictures...there were 30 it would be impossible to view them all. Please feel free to view our Facebook album by clicking here.

What impressed me so much, aside from the obvious talent that so many women have (I must have been absent that day this particular talent was being given out...because I don't think I have it in me at all! lol!!), was that every table had a story. I had the honor of being there on Friday night and talking to all of the hostesses. There were stories all over the spectrum, from women in their 20's wanting to make this special for the ladies around their tables, adding special little gifts for each woman, very thought out, very intentional. Then there were those in their 30s - 40s, making tables that spoke to friend set a table like she sets every night at her house...that just made me want to go to her house and have dinner! Another woman wanted her guests to feel warm and relaxed, like a day on the beach.

Then there were women that never have the opportunity to do something like this, because their house doesn't lend to this kind of decor, they had so much fun thinking about it and making it very special.

There were women who told me that they their dishes from when they were so young and hardly ever get to use them...they were so excited to share their decor as well as a little piece of themselves.

What was most awe inspiring was that ministry and love was demonstrated at each and every single table. It just made me want to cry..happy tears of course!

Then of course the event itself, was totally purposed and planned by the Lord. Our Pastor's wives did an amazing job. Each one expressing His story in their lives and encouraging us to take what the Lord has written in our lives and use it for His Glory!
It was a beautiful afternoon...we will be doing this again next February...I don't know, maybe I'll do a table. What would I decorate it as? What are my interests? Can their be a library theme or a book theme? I don't know...I have a year to figure it out, or maybe I'll just go as a guest again...who knows.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

February is Full of Friendships and Birthdays!

Seriously, besides my friends Amy Dinardi and Linda Bradley, our Pop and Mike's Mom (my mother-in-law) were all born in February too. Less important people like, Rosa Parks, Charles Lindbergh, Norman Rockwell, Tom Brokaw, Ronald Reagan, Charles Dickens, Ted Koppel, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Sarah Palin and George Stephanopoulos (everyone needs to know that huh?) There are a ton more....but as I said...we had a very busy month celebrating the ones at the very top of the list. Amy and Linda are at the Houes of Blues in Downtown Disney for a little celebration.

One of the many things we are rich in are friendships. I'm so thankful for the people that the Lord has placed in my life. Every single one I meet, hold a special place in my heart. This happens to be a special birthday for my sister/friend Linda...after all, one doesn't turn 50 but only once!
My "loving" husband thought it might be "kind" of him to help Linda in with a wheelchair. I just have to say, payback may be fun...he is only 4 short years away from that himself!
Notice my Shane in his usual stance! What is with that boy? Also notice what Linda is holding in her hands...that would be our Love & Respect Bible Study notebooks. We are doing this study together as two couples every Sunday night and we have laughed and cried and really have been learning so much!
OH...this is my sweet Charlotte! She just blesses my socks right off! This girl who was born on the last day of!! has recently come into my life and stole my heart. She is a precious jewel and is learning to shine for Jesus every single day! Twenty five years old and very mature in so many ways. She has walked a long hard road in your young years, but the Lord has taken her so far and He is not finished with her yet! She has a destiny...and I for one can't wait to see what the Lord is going to do with my sweet friend. I just love her! Here we are at A Shore Thing...a little place on our beach right here in New Smyrna...that is all about New Jersey. Go figure. So thoughtful she was to bring me here...very intentional...and very fun!

Then here is my precious Katie Henry! Again, I love her with all of my heart. Like the younger sister I never had! Again, a woman after God's own heart she is....and she may be young, but Katie is another very mature beautiful woman that the Lord is working hard in her life...molding her into an amazing, world changing beautiful woman! I am blessed to call her friend.
I organized a trip to Downtown Disney to celebrate some birthdays and the completion of our Beautiful You Luncheon (more on that later)! Here are some memories made on that evening!

I thought with that face in the middle, no one would notice my very tired/exhausted look on my face! Susan is my newest precious friend. She and I have really bonded in the past few months. I am blessed to call her sister! We tell each other all the time that we hang together because it is good for our every way! ;)

Here we are "goofing" off! We had so much fun laughing that will be one we remember for always!

Finally, loving my February outings with infinity and beyond!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Love is...

My children will tell you that we may not have much, but we are rich in love, faith, friendship and family. The rest of the posts for February will show just that. The Lord is faithful to sustain us, actually often times bless the end of this post I will continue with my 1000 Gifts. Here is how we do Valentine's Day. It's a day to reflect on how much we love each other and we make an extra effort to practice loving in special ways for each other. Shane made those very special cookies while his brothers were at church on Monday night. He couldn't wait to surprise them.

We had an opportunity to share a beautiful day at the park with all of our homeschool friends.
Finally, Mike and I really don't have the opportunity to do much by ourselves, and that is ok for this season. (Although I must confess, I miss him!) This season as we care for Pop I know is a time that we are enduring so that the Lord can work something out in us...and His Grace really is sufficient...I'm learning...that is for sure! Anyway, I digress, I want to close our little Love blog with the all familiar verse from 1 Corinthians 13: 4-13

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

We may not have much, but we've got this down pretty good...I've got a man who loves and shows how to love every day. For that we are more than blessed.

Continuing my 1000 Gifts:

Thank you Lord for:

155. Your Perfect Love.

156. A husband that knows how to love, be loved, and freely demonstrate love.

157. Provision - time and again, even though we hand our last bit of money with our tithe, or we make a meal for someone else when we have no food for ourselves, YOU ALWAYS provide!!

158. Your Grace...that really is sufficient!

159. The freedom to do what isn't necessarily the easy thing to do, homeschooling is a sacrifice, but one I know I walk in obedience to You for this time in our lives.

160. Opportunities to sit back and enjoy each other - just snuggle bugglin' with my boys!

161. My full and beautiful quiver.

162. Healing in my body and spirit.

163. New friendships.

164. The memories of my Mom and Dad when I get to feeling like I want to be a daughter and not just the Mom, Wife, and Caregiver.

165. Your very real presence early in the morning when we spend time together.

166. The opportunity to minister your Love to women and to see some come to a saving knowledge of you! I never ever tire of that!

167. Opportunities for my children to see my faith worked out. When I cry out to you, and you answer me from your Word, my children see that and I'm trusting that is where they will go when they cry out to you too!

168. Duplication. I've been blessed to witness some women in my life whom You've called me to place under my wing and disciple. Praise you Lord for the constant encouragement they are to me of your faithfulness in their lives!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Love The Way We Learn

I may not have posted much in the month of February (truth is I've not posted anything), but that is not to say we've not been very busy around the "Greenhouse Academy". What is the "Greenhouse Academy"? It is the name we gave our school...a place for my young "plants" to learn in the best environment for each of them, until they are ready to be planted in the rough elements of this world. Growing them up with the love of learning all the while instilling in them a solid foundation of their faith in Jesus and the freedom to walk in that faith every single day.

So here is a little snapshot of what we've been doing. Shane & Kyle and I have completed our study of Ancient Egypt and have moved on to Ancient Greece. The boys are totally loving Greek mythology! Brendan is full force into American History and loving every second of it....Boston Tea Party was last weeks reading!

Of course we do math, reading....well, all of the subjects...our latest science experiment is a month long experiment with radishes. We will see them grow from seeds and test various environments and manipulate several variables and see how it affects their growth and heartiness. Here a few pictures of the boys getting their hands dirty. The fun part (or not so fun part depending on the day) is that we HAVE to visit this experiment every single day, chart their growth and examine even when friends come to visit...they get a little science lesson. (Which is great...every kid wants to be homeschooled!) lol! - makes my kids feel pretty special! The picture above is our class clown Kyle pretending to eat the dirt. (Funny thing is...a few years back...I wouldn't have put it past him!)

That is our friend will helping to read instructions as we build our tin foil planters.

Here they are after a little growth! Below Brendan is charting the right?

Then we have spelling. Brendan is a great speller...some kids are! Kyle & Shane...well, I need to find more creative ways to make these words stick. Here we are with some play dough. I have to say...that was actually fun!

As everyone knows, we have a puppy. That requires many breaks in our we take full advantage of the fact that we must go outside about every 2 hours or so...we bring our binoculars out there and do what we Engels LOVE to do...bird watch. We have spotted several species right in our backyard. Here are some:
Great Blue Herons, Cattle Egrets, Wood Storks, White Ibis, Swallow-tailed Kite, Red Tailed Hawks, Red Shouldered Hawk, Bald Eagles, Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures, American Kestrels, Mourning Doves, Ruby Throated Hummer, Red Headed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker, Downy Woodpecker, Peewees, Blue Jays, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina wrens, Ruby Crowned Kinglet, Cedar Waxwings....5 different species of warblers and so much husband is actually keeping a backyard life list.

All that to say, this following picture is....
Kyle spotting the turkey vultures and laying himself down as "dead meat" so they can come and prey on his lifeless body! He is such a crack up!

OH and then I caught my kids doing this:
by themselves, on their own, just for fun! That is so nice to see!

Brendan is our resident breakfast chef, Shane loves to bake and Kyle...well, he wants to be a smoothie guy when he gets older! Here he is practicing and making strawberry banana smoothies for breakfast for our family.

Finally, every Friday we have our very special art teacher, Mrs. Carla Sellers (aka. Grandma Carla). She comes to our home every Friday and teaches the boys how to paint using the one stroke painting method. Of course we enjoy a very special breakfast with her as well. We count ourselves blessed beyond words to have her in our lives, not just because of her amazing talent, but her amazing heart and love for my family!! I love having her in my life!

And as you can see.....
the boys love her as well.
Well, hopefully that explains why we've been so busy here for the month of February. Well, I have a few more blogs that will explain more! Stay tuned...yes...there is more to in the next day or so! You know me, that is the way I roll!