Saturday, December 29, 2012

Here You Go God...

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death." Psalm 68:19-20

This morning I laid it all down once the cross. Every once in awhile I find myself carrying things I was not made to carry. I trust in God. My faith is in Him. So...I started to give Him what I was carrying this by one I looked at all of this and began to weep. I wept because I realize that when I hold onto these things in my life, I'm not really trusting Him.

I handed Him my children...and asked him to fashion them as He chooses and protect them along the way.

I handed Him my conform it to His.

I handed Him my body image...and asked Him to help motivate me to focus on my health.

I handed Him my hormones...and relinquished control to my Maker, Creator.

I handed Him my marriage...and thanked Him for the amazing gift that it is and asked Him to bless it.

I handed Him my relationships...and asked Him to cultivate each one or dissolve it if not healthy.

I handed Him my hurts...and asked Him to heal me.

I handed Him my time...and asked Him to help me prioritize and show me what's important.

I handed Him my husband...and asked Him to help me be the helpmate He's called me to be.

I handed Him my plans..and asked Him to line them up with His, plans for a hope and a future.

I handed Him my future...and asked Him to order my steps.

I handed Him my failures..and asked Him to help me see them as learning tools.

I handed Him my victories...and gave Him the Glory and asked Him to keep me from pride.

I handed Him my dreams...and asked Him redirect any that are not from Him.

I handed Him my heart...and thanked Him for being so gentle, so loving, so willing.

He is so gentle, so willing. As He took each one, He let me talk, He listened. When I was done...He reminded me that His burden is we traded.

He kindly spoke to my heart and reminded me...that those things I handed Him were not mine to begin with. They are His. No doubt I have them; a husband, children, time...but they are His.  Suddenly I am thankful. I trust Him...and He trusts me.

I feel lighter. Ready to begin my day. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

How Do You Hold A Baby?

Sweet baby Kyle (look at those lips)
"God must have said, I know what I'll do, I'll send my LOVE right down there where they are. And I'll send it as a tiny baby, so they'll have to touch it, and they'll have to hold it close." Gloria Gaither

I read this quote the other day during my devotions...and thought...brilliant!

Having twins meant when you came to visit, you held a matter how young or old you were. :) There is something about a baby...that makes you want to smell their little heads, hold them close to your heart, let them wrap their tiny fingers around your finger. 

Baby "B" for my precious Brendan!
 This time of year we celebrate the birth of one special baby...Jesus.
My sweet friend Janet...look at the joy on her face!
Interesting how we only think of Jesus as a baby around this season. However, I think it is appropriate that most of the time..we dwell on Him as our Savior, the One who came to die for us; as our King, the One who continues to protect us and who will come again; and as our Lord, the One who deserves our worship!

My precious sister in Christ - Karen...the look of contentment and joy!
So, when I read that quote, I thought of all the people who held my babies. The smiles on their faces reflect some joy that is found from within. How would you have held the Christ Child?
Our very special Grandma, love, peace...
Up close, out at arms length, up to your chest, by your cheeks? It is hard to say. The real question is how do you hold Him today? Up close, out at arms length, cheek to cheek?

My boys at Christmas at 2001 - look at those faces! Kissable!

I believe the truth remains no matter what...when you hold the Lord close, spend time with Him, talk with Him...there is a joy and contentment that comes from within. Maybe that is the true key...holding Him close. I pray you hold Him close this Christmas...and until He comes again.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Joy To The World

Honoring our Pop...missing him this Christmas!

I'm about to open the blinds into my soul once again. The email response and discussions I received from my writing about pre-menopause reminds me that I am not alone. However, my personal encounters with people this week made me realize that great need for joy certainly transcends the affects of menopause.

In light of what has recently happened in our world, the tragedy of Newtown CT, the lack of words are only shadowed by the shed of tears of grief. Yet we sing the song, Joy to the World. Remember, joy is possible...because the Lord has come. (OH He is coming again...and for that the Spirit and the Bride...say COME!)

The most recent affects of my body going through a change that occurs around my age has been somewhat physical, but mostly emotional/mental. I am watching my symptoms very closely, keenly aware..yet somehow unable to stop them.

Yesterday we took this pie to a dear sweet woman. She struggles with her health and thus with her emotions. I understand, to a degree. She told me her friends are afraid that she is depressed...she won't admit that...she is "just sad" she says.

Needless to say the special delivery and our extended visit certainly brought cheer to her heart. We left her laughing and promising to see her at the end of the week. She was at a point just a week ago...just wanting to "Go Home"..not wanting people to fuss over her, not wanting to see anyone, go anywhere, do anything. But the Lord has come.

We spoke of my latest symptoms (with the hope that she would share what is going on in her psyche). The feeling of not being able to recover...both physically (like when I was sick with the flu) and emotionally. While months ago something could happen and I would let it roll, and move on. Now when something happens, I'm disappointed or disapproving I can't seem to let it go as easily. My recovery so much greater. That is SO frustrating - after all, I live in a world of pre-pubescent boys and a husband who sleeps during the day and works when I'm sleeping...there is lots of room for disappointment.

The other symptom I'm noticing besides the occasional hot flash is feeling paralzyed. I can't seem to accomplish the things I use to accomplish. Kind of like attention deficit I guess. I will start out in my mind thinking I'm going to accomplish this list of things...and be very fortunate to get one or two things done. Again...not me at all!

Then there is the weepy thing. UGH! Enough is enough. I weep when I'm happy, sad or sometimes over absolutely nothing at all.

Then just today, this morning a woman called me, someone who read my previous blog and on her way to work, she needed someone to pray with her. She too is experiencing similar symptoms. She just wants to hide, withdraw, she feels like she can't recover from her emotions.

I am aware that our Creator, the one that formed us in our mother's womb, did not make a mistake. I am certain that when we are feeling this way, whether it is from menopause, depression or anxiety...if we spend time with our Maker...he will help us stay centered. Remind us that we are created in His image....He did not make a mistake. Sometimes this world marks us, harms us, dents us...but our Creator...he knows how to fix us, heal us, polish us. 

So, I centered myself once again on scripture. The one thing that is an anchor, dependable and true.
1 John 17:13 "But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves." 

Joy you see is a fruit of the Spirit. Not something we work is just there for us, accessible, no matter what is going on in our world, lives or others' lives. It is because He has come...the glory of His righteousness and the wonders of His Love. I think the more I center on that...the more joy I begin to feel. So...Joy To The World...and yes...The Spirit and The Bride say...COME LORD JESUS!

Mother Teresa said it best...
"The coming of Jesus at Bethlehem brought us joy to the world and to every human heart. May His coming this Christmas bring to each one of us that peace and joy that He desires to give!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

He Is Just Misunderstood

My precious boy..and the bird we rescued!

My emotions have been all over the place today. I know it is probably pre-menopause for the most part, but I have laughed hard today and even cried a little. I felt blah then amazing. I felt like a failure and then a winner. Crazy what one day can bring.
Kyle and his snickerdoodles!
My friend Allison has planned our Homeschool Christmas party for tomorrow..and one of the things she encouraged us to do is bake cookies together with our children (thank you for that Allison). I love to bake!! I love to bake with my boys. However, my sweet and precious Kyle has never shown an interest in baking. He would rather draw, play legos, make paper airplanes....700 of them. He is such a sweet and wonderful is over him that I wept today. Tonight as he mixed his ingredients..he was very awkward. I noticed, he didn't stand right...this is not his thing. I gave him the scoop to scoop out the dough and for the life of him he couldn't figure out how to squeeze it so the dough would drop off. I demonstrated it about 5 times...I watched him struggle...I got all choked up.  I told him, how much I loved baking with him tonight. I held his hands in mine and squeezed the scoop..and out plopped the ball of dough. He was so the first time he learned to use the water fountain. Everything to Kyle is....amazing!
Always so genuinely thankful - he loves nutcrackers!
Coming home from the park one day, Kyle's twin brother says to me..."Mom, I think that Kyle is just misunderstood by people. They don't understand his ways." OH that weighed heavy on my heart.
Toilet paper contest at Grapple!
 When he was very young, before he had words (he didn't speak on his own until he was 3 years old), when he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Pervasive Developmental Disorder) PDD-NOS I wanted to wear a shirt that said...please don't mind him...he's on the spectrum.
What he does with his legos...He made Cruella DeVille and some dalmatians.
 I tossed and turned about how to explain him, if I should bother explaining him. How do I explain him? Well, he is precious beyond words. He is honest and good. He has an innocent heart, one that cares deeply for all things. He loves animals and art and adores nutcrackers. He genuinely cares about people. He loves God...and really really knows Jesus. He prays like nobody's business. He sees what nobody else notices! He cares about the details!
"Oh how embarrassing" His love/hate relationship with the Paparazzi!
He use to stand on his head in new situations. No, I'm serious, that is not a figure of speech. When Kyle was uncomfortable, for many years he wore a batman mask. Yes, even to sing in the children's choir. He did grow out of that and moved on to carrying a magna doodle with he can draw...when he was uncomfortable. A few years back..the boy would stand on his is quite impressive. He was warming up to different situations and people by showing his talent. Now he carries a composition helps to keep him centered.

I just had to show the detail!
 He can be very "silly", seem immature, say things just a little differently. It is his way of making his world he feels out of his comfort zone. He is funny and his is very polite. Many people, many children have said unkind things to him. I think Brendan is right...he is just misunderstood.

I love this boy, his heart, his face...every single thing about him!
So..tonight as I stood by him at the table, we talked. I told him how much I loved him. How special it was for me to have him join me in something I absolutely love to do. I told him that he has enriched my world so much. He looked at me...right in my eyes (he didn't do that when he was 3 years old)..with that gorgeous smile and said "Mom, I want to be wherever you are...always. You know, you are beautiful Mom...and I love you!" I hugged him...he in his green apron, me in mine! You know what I don't care if you don't understand my Kyle. I don't care if he annoys you with his "oddness". This boy shows me Jesus...every single day! I sit here right now..with tears..running down my face..because I'm the one that is blessed. He belongs to me. Yes, he has challenges. He doesn't know everything a boy his age should know. I don't care. He knows how to to treat people with to touch your heart. He's mine...misunderstood or not...his brothers, his Dad and I understand.

Thank you Lord for giving Kyle to us. May we do right by you Jesus in the way we continue to raise this boy. May you fashion him and perfect him to do whatever it is you have planned for him. May he continue to have your heart Lord...and shine Jesus wherever he goes!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Holding His Hand

Before you is my 22nd Wedding Anniversary. It has been 22 years of the most incredible journey of my life..I've been married to this man more than half of my life (I was 21 when I got married). I know my dress is "old fashioned", our wedding song is certainly dated...but still beautiful. So, here are snippets of our vows...oh..and one of the songs played/sung by our dear friends...Here & Now by Phil Keaggy.
Pastor Hersey: "The greatest treasure that anyone can have in this world is the undivided love of another person. Today, Michael and Lisa have come with their family and friends to begin married life."
"How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in Hope, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the God they serve. Side by side they partake of God's banquet; side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another; they never bring sorrow to each others' hearts. They never shun each others' company. To such as these He gives His peace. Where there are two together, there also He is present."
Michael: "I love you Lisa, and it is because of this love that I make these vows to you. I Michael, take thee Lisa, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. To love and to cherish, till death us do part...according to God's holy ordinance...I pledge thee my trust!"
Lisa: "I love you Michael, and it is because of this love that I make these vows to you...."

Pastor Hersey: "Michael, indicating your responsibility to Lisa to receive her into your care and keeping, I give you this ring that you may place in on her finger as a token and pledge that you are to receive her.... Thus you are to compass her life with strength and protecting love."...."Lisa...indicating your responsibility to Michael to receive him into your care and devotion, I give you this ring that you may place in on his finger....Thus you are to encircle his life with affection and tenderness..."

"I pronounce you husband and wife....Therefore, let all men take care in the sight of God that this holy covenant shall ever remain sacred."
I'm still holding his hand, and he is still holding mine....22 years later. I love you Michael Engel...♥

Friday, December 14, 2012

Kentucky: Corn Mazes, Cookies and Catching Up (Roadtrip Series)

 Instead of taking it day by day...I figured I would condense a little and show/tell what we did while staying the week in Kentucky. If you haven't had the chance to read about our Road Trip Adventure you can start here and then go here. That should get you all caught up! Now that we have safely arrived...the meat of our trip has begun.

The best part of the trip was watching two families merge into one. We've known Karen and her daughters for probably 9 years. Karen and I have walked through some incredible storms together, holding each other as we bravely sought the face of God together and did serious battle with the enemy. When you come through something like that, well, you can't help but bond a friendship that will last for eternity.

Watching my boys, bond with these special something that can never be taken from them. Immediately I knew that I wanted Karen to feel like she had family visiting, not a friend that she had to entertain. So I took to the kitchen, baked cookies, washed dishes and my boys happily did chores too. We fit right into the daily life of the Foldy family. Our time together was priceless!

 Some of my most favorite times were early in the morning. Shane and I would wake up and have our coffee before Karen and Anna would be awake. We would sit and pray together and talk about how much we loved being right where we were.  

Here are a few of the things we did together:

We visited Asbury University and Asbury Theological Seminary where Karen and Lauren (and Mark) all work. What a beautiful campus, and beautiful facility!

We did a Civil War Corn Maze. So much fun. Took a hay ride out to the corn fields that were shaped as the confederate states in the Civil War. Our mission was to get through the maze and find clues by reading about the battles and facts about each state. I'm glad I'm writing this, because now I can remember that we may not have done any "official" school while we were gone for 10 days...but we did indeed learn!

 Here is Anna, reading out loud before we enter Virgina! We laughed, got lost and were freezing, but we loved doing it together! Plus, really we were all a little competitive so between having 2 former teachers and a teenage with technology...we were going to get back to base with all the answers for sure!

 Kyle would run ahead and try to blend in with the corn...such a cute scarecrow! So we decided that we should be a scarecrow family!

When we got back to the base, we had to answer a few questions. If we got the questions right we could shoot from the corn gun! YES...that was fun. What was more fun was watching the golden retrievers run and retrieve the corn and bring it back!
 Lots of awesome photo opportunities for sure! We watched a pig race, saw all kinds of animals, and even stopped at a quaint little country store on our way home. This is where the boys got their treasured boxes.

You know, the boxes were only $3, but the sentimental value is priceless. Karen bought the boys these boxes to thank them for doing chores around the house. Made from a rugged tree, these boxes hold memories on the inside and out!
 We also had an opportunity to visit the Alliance Church that the Foldy/Reyes family all attend. Surprisingly my boys went straight to Sunday School as if they had been going there their whole life. WOW! So proud! After church we spent the afternoon at Mark and Lauren's home.
Enjoying the view from their beautiful property. We had a wonderful time catching up, having a delicious lunch (I brought cookies...because..that's what I do)...the boys played with Moxey and Lewis (the dogs)....

 Karen and I had a few pictures taken...
And yes...the highlight for the boys was the intense Nerf Gun War with Mark. Lots of property equals lots of ways to tire out all the men!
 What a wonderful couple of days. We still have Shaker Village, Raven Run, and High Bridge to cover before we head home from Kentucky. Stay tuned.....
 ...and hang in there like Butterscotch...we'll be back with more reflections of our road trip!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

I Love Uncle Eric!

I know why I love Sonlight...this is one reason why! The books...the books are incredibly amazing! (I've been using Sonlight for the past 6 years...and don't ever see us changing!) We don't always get through every single read aloud (although I really really want to...and I own them all and plan too...someday). However, I rarely miss reading a history book.

Pictured above is Breaking Stalin's Nose (Brendan's reader this week) and Whatever Happened to Penny Candy...the history book I am reading to him this week. Brendan is studying The Eastern Hemisphere...where he has the opportunity to explore ancient and complex societies where the majority of the world's unevangelized peoples live. It has been so wonderful, so enriching for he and I both! While he is studying Russia he is learning about communism, this book Whatever Happened to Penny Candy by Richard J. showing the contrast by talking about capitalism, inflation, wages, money....the history of our economic system. This book is part of The Uncle Eric series of books written by Richard J. Maybury. Using the epistolary style of writing (using letters to tell a story), Mr. Maybury plays the part of an economist writing a series of letters to his niece or nephew. With stories and examples, he gives interesting and clear explanations of topics that are generally thought to be too difficult for anyone but experts. I will say again..BRAVO to Maybury for writing and to Sonlight for choosing this book!

I myself majored in Business Education in college then went on to pursue my Master's Degree by taking courses toward my MBA. I became a high school teacher and taught business economics, entrepreneurship and the like...this by far one of the best I have ever read on economics.

We are reading this book and feeling like...we need to write our own letters to our government officials. Someone needs to shout out loud...that TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch)!! Really America...we need to wake up! I'm so excited because my children have been so involved in this past election, understanding what both sides were talking about, hearing both candidates make promises.

"TANSTAAFL, but few voters will face the fact that the real meaning of the cry, "I want! I want!" is "Tax me! Tax me!" In an election, it is important to be aware of The Lie. The Lie is, I will give you what you want, and you will never need to pay for it; I will force someone else to pay for it. The candidate who can tell The Lie most convincingly is the one who wins the election. In other words, at bottom, inflation is an ethics problem. The only way to stop the spread of inflation is to start the spread of ETHICS!..."

What a great quote from the book! Now, this coupled with the book I'm reading to my other two boys for their Early American this...
The author Peter Marshall spoke at my church in New Jersey, years ago..and my husband and I remember thinking...WOW - this is how we want to teach history! I had forgotten all about this book...until this year. Another one of my favorite history books of all time! Indeed....we are one nation under God...we need to go back to that!

I have come to the conclusion that when I am through my perimenopausal crazy stage in life (because I'm just hanging on right now and couldn't add one more thing to my plate)...perhaps I'll run for mayor! Me and Uncle Eric. OH...Brendan has already agreed to be by my side! Here we are trying to raise boys who will be God fearing men, citizens, fathers, teachers and leaders in our world...should the Lord tarry of course. On the other side of my head and heart I read this morning from Revelation "The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price." Rev. 22:17. - I would prefer the latter...come Lord Jesus...Come!

It's a great day when all of our schooling meets up with all of what is going on in the world and all the light bulbs go on at the same time! 

Monday, December 3, 2012

There Is A Time For Everything...

...And a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die,a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace." Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 

December is all in itself a season: the winter season, the Christmas season, a busy season. I think of all the songs that talk about the season..."Tis the season to be jolly!" I actually love LOVE this season, even though it hold bittersweet memories. I am convinced that each and every memory whether happy or sad, plays a part in making you who you are. Although...I understand how this "season" can be difficult. I want to encourage you to take it all in.

One of my happiest memories would be my wedding day...December 15th, 1990. One of my saddest memories would be December 12th, 1997.  This December 12th will be the 15th anniversary of the loss of our first child. (I lost his twin three weeks after that). Then we have so many wonderful memories that go with celebrating the birth of our Savior.

I'm thankful for those words from Ecclesiastes above...they speak volumes to my heart.

I was in school, teaching...when it happened. I tried to deny it! Rushed to the specialist...I saw the screen! I remember not wanting to go to the hospital. I remember having to deliver in my pastor's home with a doctor who went to our church. I remember the tears and the prayers of my dearest friends who laid on that bed and prayed over me as I was in labor...too stubborn to go to the hospital. Too emotional to give up on this long awaited baby. I had been trying to get pregnant for 5 years already. My first attempt at insemination...and I was pregnant. I had started a baby book, received blankets and cards. My entire church family rejoiced (a time to dance) at the news that I was in fact going to have a baby! Now here I was, late first trimester, in the spare bedroom of our pastors/friends, going into labor...(a time to mourn)! I finally went to the hospital and remember feeling dead inside. Three weeks later I would find that I had an ectopic pregnancy too. This baby had died many weeks prior, but we weren't aware that he/she lay lodged in my tube (life and death situation)...which was about to burst.

December 12th was indeed a time to be born, and a time to die. Not just the death of my son, but my dream of having one, my hope of holding him. Shortly after this, a new hope was born in my heart. I understood that everything that He created (even my first son), was created for His pleasure. For son..was created for His pleasure only.  A precious woman of God, my mentor, spoke at a retreat shortly after my miscarriage. She spoke about how everything was bring Him Glory (Rev. 4:11). Even every grain of sand, or every shell upon the earth...was made special and for the purpose of bringing Him Glory. She even handed out little tiny shells that were to remind us that everything was created for His pleasure. This spoke straight to my heart.

I remember coming home and showing Michael the shells. I took two, one represented my son and the other the baby lost in my tube. At first I had them in a little baggie tucked away in my baby book. I would panic when I couldn't find them. Kept asking Mike..."Oh my gosh..where are the babies?!!" When I really meant "Where are the shells!" I realized that these little shells became my memorial of the babies, who for now, would wait for me in Heaven.

Another friend of mine gave me a very unique jar. It is a magnifying glass on top so when you look through the top you can see more detail of the items that are in the jar. This very special jar holds 14 little shells...each serving as a memorial of the babies who wait for us in Heaven...each created in the image of God...and for His pleasure.

Yes, I do have 3 amazing and precious sons now. Three boys who know this story and understand that they have been chosen to live here...for a great and wonderful purpose...a destiny that I anticipate will indeed bring Him honor. Not unlike their brothers/sisters...they too have been created in God's image and for His Glory and pleasure!

Oh, if you need comfort it is! He is on His Throne. He was on his throne on December 12, 1997, He was on His throne when my mother and father died. He was on His throne when I lost each of those babies. He is still on His Throne. He is my Redeemer, my Hope, my Rescuer! He is my Healer, my Restorer!  I look forward to the day I see Him face to face. I look forward to the day I see all of my babies, my day I will...He has set eternity in my heart  --  that is a precious and wonderful gift - for which I'm eternally grateful!

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 4:11