Words have power. Written words provide proof. You can read them, and reread them whenever you want. They can speak life to someone who needs encouragement. They can speak death to someone who is being deceived. The choice lies within you. How is it that you want people to remember you? Encourager...that is the gift that God has laid on my heart. To use my written, spoken, and/or sung words to lift people up. To be one link in their road to healing, restoration, joy. I have been without those things, and I claim them to be mine again. If you want me to seek God on a prayer for a specific situation...that is why I am here. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to pray God's Word of Life over you.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Awaken oh Holy Spirit

Awaken this child to understanding. Finally, show me a glimpse of your power and majesty. What? Did you think I was saying the Holy Spirit was sleeping? Oh no…not at all. In fact, He does not sleep. He does not rest. He does not go on vacation from us. He does not whine when we call on Him. He lives for that. He lives to pray unto the Father on our behalf. See Romans 8:26 if you don’t believe me. When was the last time the Holy Spirit had a day off? I guarantee it was not the last time you ignored Him. He has to work even harder on those days. Seeking God solely for you, not with you.

I needed the Holy Spirit to come through for me a few weeks ago on a Sunday morning…and He absolutely did! I couldn’t stop smiling because I was just so excited that He met me where I was. Unsure. Nervous. Anxious. And He calmed me down immediately at the prayers of a friend.

Then there was last week. I had a really awful headache. The pain was getting the best of me. I was nauseous. I was annoyed that my kids were talking because the sounds of their voices was sending sharp pains through my head. The smell of my perfume was making me want to be sick. Finally, when I was in tears, I went to take a rescue medication that I had left over from my days of migraine headaches. As I was pulling my medication box down…I got mad. I slammed it back on the shelf and yelled…”NO! I rebuke you, satan, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Pain you must go in Jesus name!”

Next, I decided to start my own little texting prayer chain. Soon I got response after response of people agreeing with me in prayer. Each one making it easier to believe that I chose the right option. God would trump that pain medication! It was now lunchtime and I was not sure if I could get food for my kids because I was so nauseous to smells. I reached up to get cereal (my go-to when I am in a pinch)…and it came.

A wave of relief. Ahhh! I believed. I was stubborn about it. Angry at the enemy for trying to mess with me. And God met me in my hour of need. Not immediate. But if it was ALWAYS immediate…our faith wouldn’t be stretched. And sometimes a good stretch is healthy for us, isn’t it? =)

How often do I say…I am amazed by God’s goodness to me? Well…it is a phrase worthy of endless repeating. Amazed. I stood amazed right there in my kitchen. I sat amazed as I was able to eat lunch. I still am amazed!! I’m amazed to speak of His goodness. I’m amazed to write of His goodness. I’m amazed to read of His goodness. Are you annoyed yet? Because I am still amazed. =)

So this morning, during my personal devotional time, I was writing all about how I have seen God work in the lives of those around me. Here is what I wrote…

“Since I accepted and believed in my miraculous healing from Post Partum Depression…

I’ve seen God heal many many people around me. (Myself included, for many different things!)

I’ve seen a wife’s binding chains of a hurting, harsh, protective shell break loose at the alter.

I’ve seen a marriage headed for destruction…be restored.

I’ve seen a father silently struggling with a mountain of pasts…break through and become a powerhouse for God.

I’ve seen a man be broken like never before…to gain heart like never before.

I’ve seen a woman step into her prophesied calling from years past.

I’ve seen spiritual boldness arise and meet people where they lacked.

I’ve seen the Spirit of God change hopeless situations to show off His majesty.

I’ve seen the demons flee at the sight and sound of the church that is rising up.

I’ve seen offenses…not offend.

I’ve seen small children rise up to challenge the faith of their family.

I’ve seen mighty warriors step up to battle for friends, family, acquaintances, even strangers.

I’ve seen prayer journals come alive.

I’ve seen songs come out of brokenness.

I’ve seen power displayed through meekness.

I’ve seen miracles unfold as promised.

I’ve seen a tear and a hug do more than a thousand words ever could.

I’ve seen bold, stubborn obedience lead to restoration of many hearts.

I’ve seen vengeance be handed over to it’s rightful owner…God.

I’ve seen gifts be given to the sincere, asking heart.

I’ve seen dreams become reality.

I’ve seen youth get fired up to be a change to their world.

I’ve seen talent come from unexpected places, to fulfill God’s purpose.

I’ve seen a woman fight for what she first spoke in her vow’s before God, years ago.

I’ve seen blessing after blessing after blessing given to the children of God, whom He adores.

I’ve seen the enemy’s schemes unveiled, uncovered and defeated in Jesus’ Name!


Wow…that was fun to write! It will be even more fun to read and re-read when I dare feel ‘forgotten’.

Each of those ‘I’ve seen’ statements listed above are about a real person. I could list names. I could tell you the story behind each one. These are real, true things I have witnessed God do. I am not at all implying that I was involved in each of them. Don’t get the wrong impression here. I deserve no glory here. God was responsible. God was the one that led each heart, each hand, each mouth to do His will. I may have been a small part in His strategy…but that is nothing compared to His Master Plan.

Want to hear the cooler part? With the exception of my original healing last year…these things have all occurred within the last few months. How awesome and matchless is the God that we serve?

Now for the coolest part! God does not stop at what my eyes can see. He is doing these things in your life too. Take a minute to think about how God has affected you and those around you lately. Write it down if you will. It can be your source of encouragement later on, when you feel like whining because you feel like God has left you.

Remember. He does not sleep, nor does He slumber. He is never unavailable, out of service, on vacation. He is always on and ready! Our God is a God of matchless power! Start talking about His affects!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Sweet Husband

A couple of days ago I was in bed all day feeling awful. My husband only left for a short time here and there to get things from the store. First it was crackers and Sprite to settle my stomach. (And an easy lunch for he and the kids…frozen pizza.) Then later he went to get the dog food that I promised to get that day. To my surprise he brought me home my favorite calendar from Wal-Mart.

I know…a calendar doesn’t sound great. But this is ‘The Mom’s Planning Calendar’. I’ve been hooked on since I first bought it on clearance a few years ago. It has a place on the side for me to write each of our names. That lines coordinates with the date…and you can see who has what planned. It is very helpful…as long as my husband tells me of his plans. (If you are sensing the tension…then you are guessing correctly that we often have problems with this mentioned issue. Ha-ha!) One day he even raced me into the house to write ‘horse auction’ on the next day, Saturday. All of this to try to ‘prove’ that I should’ve known we needed a sitter for the plans he very well KNEW I had on that day. *sigh* It worked out…and all was peaceful again in our home. ;)

I was trying to be excited about my calendar even though I still wasn’t feeling great. I was at this point finally eating something other than crackers, which was oatmeal, so Eric decided he would tell me about my next surprise. He assured me that I would want to be feeling better in order for him to bring it in…so I tried to talk myself into it. He seemed really excited to give it to me, and I was getting more and more excited to receive it!

After much pleading and me finally showering for the day and sitting up for more than a few seconds…he agreed to bring it in. With my eyes closed…I was honestly expecting a new pair of barn boots. Ha-ha! My His dog Moose had chewed what was left of my sad barn shoes just a week earlier. I was trying to muster up some sort of reaction to these boots that I was sure he was giving to me.

I opened my eyes to see this…

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A Bosch Tassimo Brewing Machine. It brews cappuccino, latte/latte macchiato, espresso, hot chocolate, tea and coffee. Have you seen these machines before? I haven’t. I have seen the Keurig…but never this nifty little slice of heaven. =) (And the fact that I just said nifty reminds me of a song that I learned from my 5th grade teacher. First person to comment with the name of that song…gets a complimentary drink of their choice from my Tassimo awesomeness!)

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This was my drink of choice this morning. Maxwell House Decaf. Exciting…I know. I shouldn’t probably mention that I tried the cappuccino last night since I was feeling completely better. Oh…and when I woke up at 5am to do my devotions this morning…I decided to try out the hot cocoa. This is going to be an expensive habit my husband just unleashed to me. Ha-ha!!

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See that ONE large button I am pushing? That is it. That is the extent of the difficulty of this machine. Bahaha! It is a lovely, intelligent creation by BOSCH!

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My creamer of choice. (I usually prefer Coffee-mate creamers to International Delight…except for this pictured Pumpkin Pie Spice. This is my favorite holiday creamer. And I am not yet sick of it…so I will keep buying it until I am. Cause ladies and gentleman…that’s how I roll. Tee hee!)

Winter 2012 047 Note to fellow bloggers. When pouring creamer into coffee…and taking a picture of this process…

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…you will be laughed at by any surrounding 6 year olds when you completely miss the cup and dump it all on the counter. (That is one way to cut the calories huh? ;) ) The picture above where it is actually going into the cup…is picture attempt #2! Why do I tell you when you’d never know? I have no idea! Just to show I am real, I guess.

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See this picture of me ‘appearing’ to be enjoying that cup of coffee? It’s a fake. *giggles* (Again, me with the realness.) I took a picture of myself, before showering, actually drinking this cup of coffee…and I decided it would not be wise nor beneficial to post it. I already posted one awful picture of myself last week, from back when I was huge, hot, and pregnant with my son Levi. The limit has got to be one of those a month, at least! So that cup I am holding up…has a tiny bit of very cold coffee in it. Kind of like an iced coffee…only not. Ha-ha!

Not much to this post that is uplifting today. Sorry if you are disappointed. I just had to share my happiness with you all. (You see…my beloved Bunn died on Christmas day this year. (R.I.P.) I have been filling the gap here and there with whatever works.) So this machine is a blessing! It was my late Christmas gift that I didn’t know I needed before Christmas. God provides our wants and desires. Do you believe that? I do!…how couldn’t I?

As for that Bunn. My oldest brother randomly called one day and told me that Bunn machines are usually warranted for life. He told me it was worth calling because he knew a couple who had cashed in on a couple of new machines. Yesterday I was feeling good…so I called. They are sending me a sealing kit to try to do a simple repair on my existing pot. And if that doesn’t work…they will send me a brand new, updated (since my current machine was made in March of 1999!) version of my favorite coffee pot. Minor downfall…I will not get it for free. But, because I already own one…they will send me the new one for a discounted price. (And I totally have my husband talked into buying that for me in a few weeks.) Spoiled. I think not. Loved, appreciated, cared for…absolutely!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Defeating Post Partum Depression

Good morning all! I was trying to fall asleep very early this morning. (Like 12:34am…that is what time my clock says right now.) And God was speaking to me about this post. I have known for over a year that I would write it. I was just waiting for His perfect timing. Now is it. It has been almost a year since God miraculously healed me of Post Partum Depression (PPD). With this powerful, life-changing anniversary in sight, I want to tell you my story.

I just wrote a few days ago about my seventh pregnancy. My son Levi. He was born the day after my birthday…and what a gift. Really! He was such an awesome baby. He was by far our easiest baby from birth until now even. He was not fussy with no hope for finding a solution. There was almost always a solution…which then we all know would end the crying. Peace. That is how our homes are supposed to be. Filled with peace. A lot of times we associate peace with quiet. And my home rarely felt quiet and calm.
Winter 12 005 (2) **Isn’t this shot so sweet? This is Levi and our moose…correction…our ‘puppy’ Moose. The gentle giant, yet gangly and awkward. (The neighbors call him our pony.) These two pictured are only two months apart in age. Just so we are all clear…I love one of them much more than the other. And they poop equally as much as the other. Lol! Kidding.

One good thing about last year was that my oldest son, Aiden, started Kindergarten. This forced us to become more routine. Not super strict…but way more rigid than ever before. We started out with a bedtime for all of them of 8:30pm. We soon realized that Aiden, being only 5, needed more sleep because he was coming home from school very emotional.Our evenings together were no fun when he was cranky, so bedtime got pushed back until 8:00pm. After the holiday season…we moved it back even farther. The nights here in PA start shortly after 5pm it seems. Once it is dark…it is as if the bed is calling out to me. Ha-ha! Maybe that is partly because that is when the house ‘seems’ peaceful. ;)

So from 7:30pm and on…my husband and I had time to do what we wanted. And it was quiet! Lovely…just lovely. My husband plows snow…so as soon as it is quiet and he sits or lays down in the winter…he is pretty much out. So then there was me. I did enjoy my time sometimes. I would stay up late watching what I wanted. Or surfing the internet. Or reading. Or writing. Or taking a bath. Or eating ice cream. Whatever. Just me.

It was early December of 2010. A time when most people are joyful and anxiously awaiting Christmas. I realize that things with me just aren’t normal. I am getting very frustrated…very easily. I am not joyful. I am not singing. I am not writing. I am not seeking God. I am not satisfied with much of anything. I am not being a good mate. A good friend. A good caregiver. A good sister. A good daughter. A good teacher. A good farmer. A good maid. A good cook. A good example. I am struggling!

I told a friend of mine that I was in a place of complete overwhelm. I was overwhelmed at the thought of every single part, of every single day of my life. This is what one day encompassed for me… I had to shower/bathe myself and 4 kids. I had to get 3 meals a day for 6 people. I had to try to catch up on laundry whenever I could because my dryer was broken. I had to take care of our dogs (one of which was MY HUSBAND’S great dane puppy that was struggling to potty train). I had to do chores in our barn. Most days I had to drive my son to school (which meant taking all 4 kids) out in the awful snow we had last December. (If you aren’t familiar or just don’t remember, we got like 2 feet of snow in 2 or 3 days. I might be exaggerating a little. Sorry for that. Just know it was A LOT of snow in a SHORT time. I had to pick my son up from school (which meant I had to wake up my sleeping baby almost daily). I had to try to do dishes in a sink with no faucet, only a hose. (With 6 people in the house…we create a LOT of dishes. And even though I had a dishwasher…it was not hooked up.) I had to clean the house. I had to buy groceries. I had to pay bills. I had feed my infant when he needed it. At only 4 months old…he still required a lot of time from me.

That does not even count my duties at church. I was on the worship team. And we had practices Wednesday nights and early Sunday mornings. My husband, being the worship leader, would leave very early to pray and prepare himself for the service, on his own. So that left me with 4 kids to get ready by 8:15am. I was also a youth leader. I did take some time off so my son’s sleep routine wouldn’t be so messed up. But I would still go to the extra events that were scheduled. I was on an Outreach ministry team at church as well. I was passionate about planning women’s events, planning and making meals for people in need, and making baskets for people who were going through a rough time.

I don’t list these things to gain sympathy. Just to get you to see how one could become overwhelmed when staring at a mental list like that. I am sure I am forgetting things as well. Those things would bog my mind down from the time I woke up. I was in a constant state of guilt, regret, and resentment. Feeling like I was always letting someone down because of something I just couldn’t handle doing. It made me not want to do a single one of them. So some days I didn’t. Some days I did bare minimum. Some days I didn’t speak all day. If my kids asked for something, I would just do it or get it. I would walk around in silence. When my husband came home, the silence continued. I was slipping away from everyone I loved, and I was silent about it.

Let me set the scene for you on one day that was particularly bad for me. It was bitter cold winter. None of us had clean underwear. The laundry piles were huge because of our dryer being broken. I had been washing my son’s school uniforms in the bathtub at night, and laying them over a  heating vent to dry overnight. I called up my aunt and asked if she could watch my kids for a while so that I could go do some laundry at the Laundromat. She agreed and off I went. Packing baskets of dirty clothes wherever there wasn’t a child. I spent all day, and lots of quarters, on doing all of these loads. Tired and hungry, I picked up my kids and headed home. I attempted to get up my driveway (which happened a lot last winter…’the attempt’) in my minivan. I was not successful. My husband was so busy plowing out all of his customers…that our driveway was over a foot and a half deep. Over and over again I would back down, and try to race to the top. Each time getting more and more frustrated. At one point I remember yelling, “I can’t freakin’ handle this!” (Later on my 2 year old began to say that phrase when he was frustrated. *sigh* I was to blame.)

Finally, I gave up. I carried each child up the drive way. (Which is pretty long, and uphill.) Four trips in very deep snow, in the dark. Remember though, I now had load after load of laundry to get as well. So I made many more trips. I finally was on my last trip inside. I opened the door and what did I see? My children were playing in the baskets of laundry. Throwing my clean, sorted, folded laundry on my floor.




If you have ever heard of ‘the boiling point’ to a person’s anger…I so get that. I could literally feel the anger rising up within me. I screamed like an idiot at my children. Their innocent playing turned into fear and sadness. I promise that I did not lay a  hand on them. I just made my anger known with words. Hurtful, bitter, undeserving words. I mean really…it was laundry. How ridiculous it is now that I am on the other side!

The looks on my children’s faces told me I needed help. The following days when I was in the barn doing chores, a thought would flash through my head. “What if, while I was cutting through this bail of hay…I accidentally stabbed myself?” As quickly as the picture unfolded in my mind…I would dismiss it. It was not intentionally thought out. It was a random thought that was not of me, or of God.

No sooner did I say out loud the words ‘unintentional thoughts’…then the thoughts became intentional. I was now entertaining thoughts of hurting myself. I would reason…’if I was hurt, someone would see that I was desperate for help. Someone would have no choice but to help.’  I confided in a couple of close friends, and they encouraged me to seek help and they kept me accountable.

I made an appointment to see my lovely doctor. She is a wonderful woman and she is exactly the type of doctor that you would want to see in a situation like this. All of these lies that satan had been feeding me though…they continued. The enemy was whispering to me that my doctor was going to think I was an awful mother. That when I told her the above story…or anyone for that matter…they would think I was crazy. They would think I was an unfit mother. I had promised my friends though that I would go…so I went.

I sat down and slowly started to speak. She made it very easy. She started to ask me questions that I could answer with a yes or no. She said, do you feel overwhelmed? “YES!” That word described my days perfectly. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to take care of my family and responsibilities. It was that I was overwhelmed at even the thought of them. I told her about my thoughts of hurting myself and assured her that I was not suicidal. So what do you think was the next attack of the enemy? We will get to that.

God had my doctor say the most perfect words to me that day. “You are a good mom.” (I blogged about it one day. Click here if you want to read it. It is a post called ‘Feeling Grateful’ from May 11th of last year. Her response to my words of gratefulness in the office that day, May 11th, was unforgettable. I received a card from her in the mail that I will treasure and re-read for life. Written words are a powerful tool. You see how they are used for good…and I am getting to how the enemy uses the written word as well.) After all of the crap I had just told her about me going crazy…she still sincerely said those precious words to me. I agreed that I would go on an anti-depressant medication to help me handle my emotional rollercoaster.

After this point…God sent me to 4  more women. I had already spoken with 2 about my post partum. The next people that God asked me to tell…I was a bit resistant about at first. Some of these women I barely knew. But, I was obedient because I trusted God’s leading more than my knowledge. Each of the women played a specific role. Each time God would say…”Tell her what you are going through because she has something for you.” And to my surprise each time, He was right. They had something specific that I needed to help me get to my end result…which was healing.

Christmas came and went. The New Year came and went. Now there was nothing to look forward to…and still so much winter ahead. Depressing. January 8th rolled around and I was still not feeling like myself. I remember that date because Eric was going to help some friends of ours move into a their new house. It was just up the road from us, and I agreed to bring dinner up to them that evening so they wouldn’t have to worry about it.

As I was driving to drop Eric off…we had a heated discussion. We both said things that we later regretted. I left him there…and drove off with my kids. I was fuming mad. I turned on the music because I couldn’t speak. I had to fight with everything in me to not call Eric on his cell phone and tell him this…

“When you get home, you will find me dead. And you will have 4 very upset children because they will be the ones who find me.”

Sick! Those are not my thoughts. Those are not my words. Those are not of me…because I am a daughter of the KING! What would have been the outcome of that spiritual battle I was warring…had I not spoken to those women of God about my depression? I can’t even think about it. I can just thank God that His strategy was at work. That He knew that this day was coming…and He prepared us for the battle.

Clearly I did not take my life. I did not even attempt. I did something much more dangerous. I started scream praying. If you have never done it…try it sometime. If you are feeling attacked by the enemy. If you are allowing sin in your life and want to conquer it. If you are struggling with thoughts that are not of you or God…scream pray. I yelled at my attacker. I screamed about the power of God that would be unleashed on satan because he dared to mess with God’s little girl. I cried as I realized that this prayer was the first time I was interceding on my own behalf.

Soon after this…I got a message that just broke me. Words that stung. Words that were hurtful. Words that couldn’t be taken back because I could read them…and re-read them. (I told you the written word has power. Both ways. Commit to using your writing for a purpose worthy of re-reading over and over.) If this woman had known that I was fighting for my life, I don’t think she would have ever sent that message. But, if she had not sent that message…who knows how much longer this battle in me would have gone on. Who knows how much longer I could have held on.

You see that letter made me so upset…that I knew I had to fight. I didn’t want to fight flesh and blood. I wanted to fight the powers of darkness. I wanted to fight the author of these lies of overwhelm I was believing. A warrior had been awakened in me…and I was livid with the enemy. How quickly that enemy forgets the Words he once believed. “God uses all things together for the good of those who love Him.” I believe it. How could I not? God has used my miscarriages for my good and to aide others in their healing of losing a baby. (Our babies are safely in His care!) God has used this whole trial for His glory and for my good…and for someone else’s good. (I will get to that later too.)

That letter that caused me start the fight…was the reason I started this blog. That night I wrote a letter from God. It was one of the most powerful things I have written for myself. I recorded it on my blog as well. Click here to read it if you want. It is titled, “This may be God’s letter to you”, blogged on Feb 4th of last year.

Since that time I have gone through seasons of plentiful writing…and seasons of drought. I am in a frenzy right now with God. So excited to be writing whatever He is teaching me. I am praying that this season doesn’t end. That it will be a constant flow from Him to me…and me to you…whoever you are. =) I love writing. I love new revelations that quickly and easily cover over generations of clouded, weak, doubtful thinking.

Oh, and those anti-depressants I was on…gone. I quit taking them the night I wrote that letter from God. It was my proof from God that I was healed. Praise God!!! During my time with one of those six women, God told me He was going to give me a new song. And when He did, I knew it would be a powerful one. I just sang it this past Sunday at my church. It is called ‘Stronger’. Soon enough I will be confident and bold enough to share it with you all.

Remember that scripture I listed above? So far I have listed a few ‘good’ things that God did with me through my circumstance. He completely healed me. He restored my passion for writing. He helped me start this blog. He gave me a new song. He helps me to be a better mother, wife, friend, daughter, etc… He has given me several chances to speak in front of groups of people and share this testimony of His faithfulness and strategy. His miraculous healing has made me realize and accept many more healings in my own body and to pray for those around me.

A few weeks ago was the ultimate! A chance to pray for a dear friend struggling with PPD. I was worshipping and praying that she would come down to the alter because God had told me that morning that this was her day. I opened my eye several times and didn’t see her. What would have happened if I had given up? Don’t care…because I didn’t. =) I prayed harder. And I promised God that as soon as I saw her…I would leave the stage…and I would immediately pray with her. We hugged and prayed. She was in agreement. This harsh exterior that she had put up…was softened. She was receptive. She was warm. She was loving. She was a new creation in Christ. And I am overjoyed that I got to be used and witness the immediate transformation. She is a delight to me. And now she has her own testimony. Now she will have her own ripple effect in the people that surround her. Now she is a source of encouragement to me and my family. God replaced what the enemy meant to destroy her…with all good things.

How does this testimony sit in your spirit? Is it just a story with a luckily happy ending? Or does it speak to your core? Do you have something that is a mountain staring you down…that you want to conquer. It doesn’t have to be PPD. It doesn’t have to be depression. It could be finances. Or a relationship that needs new life. Whatever it is that comes to your mind…I would love to know about it. I am here as a willing servant for you. To pray for you. To intercede on your behalf. Even if you aren’t praying yourself. I would love to see the ripple of God throughout this city, state, country, world. I would love to be encouraged that sharing this testimony was part of your plan of healing. Don’t stop the ripple if you can hear God whispering that it is your time. This is all to show His glory!

God sees you where you are. He is reaching out to you right now. Look up and know that you are not alone. The enemy wants you to feel alone. He wants you to think that no one else will understand…because when you are silent about your struggles…he can keep silently torturing you. Will you continue to allow it? I serve a Mighty God. I serve a God that cares so much about me…that He sent His Son to die for my sinful nature. Let the warrior in you be awakened! Start fighting the true enemy.  And if God is telling you to use me to help begin the fight…know that I am so in love with Him…that I will absolutely do it. I don’t care if I know you or not…I love you and I want to help you…so you can start your own ripple effect. Ha-ha! I told you I was a dangerous daughter of the King! =)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Blessings galore!

Blessings galore! That sounds wonderful doesn’t it? It is a reality in me. It can be a reality in you if you just believe. Don’t believe me? Listen to this story of how God sent me three specific blessings just for believing He’d do it. I had been meeting with Him on a daily basis…and my brother kept telling me to wait, because God had something big in store to bless me. It was very exciting. Anticipation was at it’s highest. I have since become keenly aware of each blessing…big or small.

So the first…it was just over a week before Christmas. I woke up early to do my devotions. (Even though it was Saturday…and I really wanted to sleep! Remember I talked about that in my last post. I don’t want to make the enemy’s job easy on him. So I will wake…and meet with God first! So…=P) In texting my accountability partner (my brother Jonathan) back and forth, he says to me…”Today God is going to bless you with a need from the past.” Instantly I was excited. He assured me that this was not the big blessing he referred to earlier.

So I got up and got myself and my family ready to go to the Christmas party at my in-laws house. In the back of my mind all day…what could this blessing be? I had an idea of what it was…but was stuck on the word ‘need’. My brother referred to it as a need…not a want. The item from the past that I was thinking of was more of a want. Still I waited. We ate lunch together. We ate cookies together. We opened the gifts we had gotten each other. And we ate cookies together. (Yes…I realize I already mentioned that. But it is worth mentioning again…because there were A LOT of cookies…and we ate A LOT of them! Ha-ha!) I really thought I would receive my blessing there. I was a bit puzzled.

The day together with my husband’s family was fun. The kids (10 in all) were so excited to be together. Much loudness and screaming in excitement was done. No naps were had by any one of them. Lol! As the evening came we decided to head home…half a mile down the road…to our little country home. We unloaded all the kids and gifts minus one. The large combined gift our kids had gotten was to be delivered later.

After getting the kids some quick dinner…probably cereal…we put them to bed early. Sunday’s mornings come early for us…and they need their beauty sleep. ;) Once they were all down Eric and I decided we would like to split a bread bowl salad from Perkins. I agreed to go get it…thinking there must be someone there who would give me my blessing. Again…still hung up on the word…’need’. I went and came back empty handed. (Except for the salad of course.)

Later I was talking to my brother and he asked how my day was. I said…”Great. My in-laws got my kids a really nice swing set for our kids as a combined gift. Eric and I have wanted to get the kids one since our first child was born 6 1/2 years ago.” Immediately he confirmed that that was it. That was our blessing of a need from the past. I assured him that a swing set was not a ‘need’. He confidently stated…”a want becomes like a need when you are unable to provide it for yourself.” That is what I needed to hear to believe.

What came next…the next day…Jonathan told  me to expect another blessing. This one was still not the big one…but it would be something I didn’t even know God knew I wanted. Again…I was instantly excited.

So let me set the scene for you…it was the Sunday before Christmas. There were people left and right walking around with gift bags. Each one I noticed and thought…”Ooo, maybe that is for me!” Not one of them had my name on it. Lol! God certainly has a sense of humor doesn’t He? After church we are off to yet another family Christmas party. This one was at my husband’s Grandpa’s house. We typically don’t receive gifts at this party. It is all about the kids…and spending time with family. The only hope to get a gift is if you get one labeled…To:_______ From: Santa. If you get a santa gift that means that you have done something stupid over the past year…and you got caught.

Gift after gift was placed in my lap for one of my four kids. I helped them open them. Or Ooooed and Ahhhed over it if they had opened it already. So when a small gift bag (which I noticed was quite heavy) was placed on my lap I of course assumed it was for my youngest son. When they assured me that it was actually for me…I was shocked. As always…when you get a santa gift…it is custom to say…”But I don’t think I did anything stupid this year!” So I followed suit. I didn’t notice at first the woman sitting beside me cowering behind her daughter in her chair…knowing that she was the mastermind behind this gift.

Santa gifts are always accompanied by a note, which is read aloud for all to hear. It gives an explanation as to why this gift was pick especially for you. (I will give you an example. There was the year that a man in the family (named intentionally left out to keep the peace) seemed to find himself in a tough position. In the woods…in the middle of poison ivy…wishing he had some toilet paper. You can guess how that ended. Ha-ha! He got lots of santa gifts that year. Itch relief gel. Compact campers toilet paper.)

So I pulled my note out. I instantly recognized the handwriting. (Remember that cowering woman beside me.) I laughed as I read aloud…

Winter 12 006
“Dear Vanesa,
You do know candles are for burning not just for sniffing? So you can light this one or sniff it for the next couple of years. =) LOL
   Love ya!
Who knew the favor of God could be so funny? I then had to tell them all the story of when my husband and I first had our son. I went on a shopping spree with my friend Erin, while he went on a hunting trip to South Carolina with her husband Greg. On my spree, one of the things I bought was a candle…(mentioned also in my last post I believe). It is called Country Christmas or Spiced Pear. Same scent…different color. It was almost $20…so I never allowed myself to buy another…even though I loved it sooo much. Since it was my absolute favorite scent in the world to date…I kept the jar and would ‘sniff’ it every once in a while. Ha-ha! So I turned to my red-faced, cowering friend…and said…thank you santa. Then I told her about how this was a blessing from God. And told her of the story of the swing set. I love to show off my King!

That night I talked to my brother again…and told him of the newest blessing. He said to still be waiting and anticipating the next. It was going to be the big one. So I told him about my hair cut I was going to get that week. It had been almost a year and a half since my hair had met a pair of scissors. (Not by choice. I had scheduled myself and then the time would come and my children would need it. So I would take a back seat.) One day I am at my grandma’s and my aunt tells me that she, my grandma, my other aunt, and my mom went together and bought me a hair cut along with the set of salon products to improve my hair.

I am not sure if you can tell very well in the picture at the top of the page…but my hair is very thin. It was the result of a perm that I had done when I was in 8th grade. What devastating timing huh? Crucial! Eighth grade…I mean come on! My hair began breaking off…and then never grew back. I was completely embarrassed by it. So years later…about 3 years ago…my friend Trisha told me that she was praying that God would restore my hair. I kind of rolled my eyes as if God didn’t really care about my thin hair. I mean really. People are dying of cancer. People are dying unsaved. People are broken and lost. And people everywhere have thin or balding hair…what makes me different or special enough to change it for me and not them? So…I didn’t believe.

Because that seed was planted though it helped me with my brother’s next statement. “That is IT! That is your big blessing. God is going to restore your hair!” Instant tears. I have been embarrassed and hated my hair for 16 years. I don’t like going to get it done at a salon because I can’t pick out ANY hair style and ask to get it done. I have to stick with the small list of ‘things that will work with my type of hair’. It is disappointing.

I told Jonathan that I believed that that was from God. I also told him about my friend…and how this would be an answer to her prayers from years ago. Maybe this would be a spark for her to begin speaking and praying more miracles over those around her.

The day comes that I go to the salon. Mary Frontera at Innovations was my woman of choice. She is wonderful. She is inviting. She makes you feel comfortable and pampered. (I can give you her number if you so desire! =) ) I went in…alone…which is rare for a mother of four. So that was great. The salon was empty…again great. When you are embarrassed about your hair…it is nice to have no one there watching. She showed me the 6 step hair routine that my loving family had purchased for me. She said it would help to clean out each hair follicle and make a healthy bed for new hair to grow in.

As I told God I would…I told Mary about my story with my brother. I told her that I believed that God was going to restore my hair…and this was going to be the start of it. I have no idea how she took my words…but in her sweetness she smiled and was happy for me.

So there it is. In the raw. In the reality of me. I am waiting…and I am believing. I have no pictures to show you a change…but my God has proven Himself faithful to me. I do not doubt. I choose to believe. Believe with me. Give me an area of your life where you want to believe no matter how long you have been waiting. This has been 16 years in the works for me. What a powerful testimony God has been writing for me. His favor. His goodness. His faithfulness revealed.

Choose to see each thing in your life as a blessing. Your children slept in til 8am…blessing. Your windshield wipers didn’t stick to your window in an ice storm…blessing. Your oven mysteriously stopped smelling of leaking gas…blessing. Your ‘puppy’ hasn’t pooped on the carpet all day…blessing. Okay…so maybe some of those are my small blessings. But the favor of God is with me. I am not special because I am me. I am blessed because of Christ in me. And you have Christ…you have the same opportunity. Start asking. And if you don’t have Christ…you have the same opportunity. Start asking. Seek Him. Seek people that are like-minded and will help you along. Then talk about it! Don’t be ashamed to tell people about what God is doing in you. And He will not be ashamed of you when you stand before Him.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Journey Revealed

As I told you in Part Six of this ‘Journey Through Pregnancies’ series…I was really excited to be able to write this post. God gave it to me a few weeks ago…and I have been itching to share it ever since. You too could write a post just like this one. Feel free to write it and send it to me. (I would actually really really love that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How many exclamations will it take for someone to actually do what I have asked. I will let you know…=) ))

Here is my question…What would like to hear your Father in Heaven say to you when you get there?
Here is my response…

“Welcome my dear daughter…you have done well for my Kingdom. Come inside and meet the people who’s lives you changed for eternity. Dine with them. Reminisce with them. Hear their story from glory to glory. But first…you have three beautiful children that are anxious to meet you. They are so excited to have you here. They have been a delight to Me…and now they are yours to love as well. Two sons and a daughter…perfect in every way. I revealed their gender to you while you were still on earth, when your son, Aiden, was young. That was for your encouragement. That was part of Aiden’s testimony. I began a mighty work in him at a young age.

I am overjoyed to have you here. While you were on earth, I gave you a voice to sing, and you blessed My Name with it. Now you must come sing with my choir of angels. You will fit right in. I also gave you a passion for writing and you used it for My Glory. The writings I whispered to you will have everlasting effects. You will meet each person who made a decision. A commitment. And renewed their spark for My Presence to become more real to them through Our writing. Writing leaves behind proof. Writing leaves behind promises. Writing leaves behind a legacy never to be repeated. You fulfilled your purpose to encourage others with Words of Life. You have made Me a proud Father.

I have seen you with your children on earth. I have seen their beginning and their end…and I am not at all disappointed. You taught them well. You led by example. You were willing to admit your shortcomings and change them. You were a mother like Jesus’. Compassionate and nourturing. Loving and forgiving. Meek and strong. Your children serve me well because I entrusted them to a family who sought Me for wisdom. They will all be here to join you before you know it.

Welcome to your new Home beloved! Come worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Come run and dance with your children. Come laugh with your grandpa. Come bathe yourself in My Presence. Today is the first day of your eternity with Me. You will never again find yourself in need or want of anything. You accepted my Son, and I freely accept you. Run to me and hug me tight. I love the way you hug! After all…I designed it.=) I loved the hell out you (literally) and Heaven welcomes you!”

What would your response look like? I would love to see it. Read it. Hear it. Please let me rejoice with you for how fearfully and wonderfully God designed you. You are unique. Unlike any other in history or yet to come. Showing God off to believers who understand is an encouragement. To see people used exactly as they were created to be…is amazing. If you find yourself jealous of anyone…remember who you are. A follower of Christ. Deserving of death…but given Life Eternally. Praise Him for who you are! That is step one to walking in His calling for you!! I long to pray for you.
Love ya…mean it! ;)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

satan’s Scheme…Unveiled, Uncovered, & Defeated!

Notice I do not dignify the enemy with proper capitalization. It makes me happy to know that I don’t even respect him enough as a being to write his name correctly. (And since writing is wired into me…that makes the nerd in me smile.) I realize it is silly. Some may say stupid. But I will stick it to him offend him, whenever I can, since he seems to love to do that to me. =) On the other hand…when I refer to God in any form…I ALWAYS show my respect for Him. See? I even capitalize when I am referring to Him as ‘Him’.  Now that I have gotten that out of the way…I can tell how much you care…I can proceed with the point of this post.

My husband and I are reading “The Bait of satan” right now. I am only on chapter 3 because I keep going to back to things I need to reread in the first 2 chapters. Ha-ha! Really though…they are powerful. I don’t want to miss a single nugget of knowledge and revelation into the ways of this enemy I am warring against. So here it is…chapter 2 again. This is what I know someone needs to read today. Know that I love you…so I do all I can to help you succeed! =)
                                                                    Winter 12 009

…agape is the love God sheds abroad in the hearts of His children. It is the same love Jesus gives freely to us. It is unconditional. It is not based on performance or even whether it is returned. It is a love that gives even when rejected. Without God we can only love with a selfish love-one that cannot be given if it is not received and returned. However, agape loves regardless of the response. This agape is the love Jesus shed when He forgave from the cross.”

Have you ever felt like having this conversation with God? (The following is again from the book listed above.)

“I have had it. Now You are going to have to talk to me about this. Every time I show Your love to this person, I get anger thrown back in my face!”

The Lord began to speak to me. “John, you need to develop faith in the love of God!”"

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“He who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption,” He explained, “but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:8-9)

You need to realize that when you sow the love of God, you will reap the love of God. You need to develop faith in this spiritual law-even though you may not harvest it from the field in which you sowed, or as quickly as you would like.”

I am not sure how you feel…but that is a powerful passage to me. I don’t always feel the love that I extend. And when that happens it can easily lead to much offense. What happens is the next time I am confronted with a chance to love someone who I am unsure will return or accept it…I am much more leery. My position to love everyone as God loves me…has been tainted by disappointment.

I expect a lot, I guess. That is what I am realizing. I expect people to want to love me, just because I show love to them. Expectations that are unfair can absolutely lead to offense. Which can then lead to coldness. Harshness. Anger. Unforgiveness. Avoidance. Sin. Sounds a lot like how I behaved and reasoned as a child…”If you don’t like me…then I don’t like you.” That is something that I will NOT allow my children to practice in daily life. I expect more from them. So why have I allowed myself to act like that?

Sometimes, what I expect and teach to my children is not what I, myself, do. It is like the book of Proverbs. A wise man does_______(fill in the blank with any one of the Proverbs). Next it usually lists what I do. The fool. Ugh! I can choose to be offended to be called the fool. I can pretend that it is not talking about me, the fool. I can ignore it, because a fool would think it is too hard to change a habit. Or, I can allow the revealed sinful nature to wake me up to the reality of what I am portraying. What category do I really want to be labeled as? Wise or foolish. Only the foolish would willingly choose it, once they have learned otherwise.

Sometimes it is just as simple as realizing how simple it really is. Revelations from God don’t have to be beyond our human thinking. They just have to placed in front of us at the exact moment that we are ready to hear and handle it. Change is coming…and it begins with the individual. Will you affect those around you? Or will you infect…like a disease.

My prayer is that you will see people through the eyes of Christ today! A phrase that is easily said…but really, what does it mean to you and I? This is how I view it. To see someone in the eyes of Christ is to see only the good in them. To forget their shortcomings. To forgive them before they even know they need to ask! (This is a huge one!!) To love without condition. To want to spur them on in the gifts they have been given from the Father. To know that no matter how badly they mess up, each sin has already been conquered. To want to see them succeed. To pray to the Father for whatever is lacking. To be excited when they accept a blessing. To be truly happy when they finally ‘get something’ that they have been struggling with. The list can go on and on. Christ’s view isn’t tainted with disappointment. His blood was our sacrifice that covered ALL!

“In His presence, Heaven and Earth become one.” Have you heard that song? Click here if you haven’t. Or if you want to be reminded of how much we gain when we allow ourselves, let our guard down, to enter into the presence of God. I stand amazed at His goodness. He provided strength when I felt weak Sunday. I knew He could…and yet I was still a bit shocked that He cared enough to do it. I couldn’t stop smiling at His perfect plan for my day. He is too good to me I feel…but luckily I KNOW otherwise.

This is my life. Taken care of because I serve an awesome, amazing, mighty God. You are missing out if you don’t know how powerful you are in Him. I would love to pray for you if you feel that is you. Message me. Ask me for my email. Ask me for my number. Just ask if you feel this is you. I am praying for your boldness to ask. And I am praying for my obedience to answer the call. =)

Praise God for a new day and a new chance to show love like it was intended. You can not predict…nor can you guarantee how someone will receive your attempts to love. But your obedience is all that is asked of you. Their end…is still covered in grace…no matter what it is. Extend grace because you expect it. Extend love because you are freely given it by the only One who matters. That is a reason to be joyful like no other!
                                                                            New Do 018
Smile when you speak…because you are more lovely when you do.

My Journey Through 7 Pregnancies-Part Seven!

Wow…it has taken a long time to get here. Both in my life and in my writing. I am so happy to tell you of my journey with my youngest baby. Our family finally felt complete. I still have moments of longing for another newborn (especially when I get to hold one)…but the first fight I break up with my own children usually fixes that. Ha-ha!

My husband comes to me one day and asks if I remember a few years past, going by a house that he said he’d love to live in someday. I remember my exact words when we saw it for the first time. “Yeah RIGHT!” If you are picturing a gorgeous mansion…think again. Think…fixer-upper. Think…old farm. Think…eye sore. No really, this is being generous. ;) When he told me that the owner had called him out of the blue and he set up a time with the family to take a look at it…I was shocked. I expected to look at the house out of sheer politeness in not wanting to cancel. After we politely looked at it I would then make Eric gently tell them no. As you can probably guess…God had other plans in mind.

So us and our three children look at the house. My husband had always wanted a hobby farm. So he pretty much decided he wanted it before even looking inside. I =, on the other hand, needed to see if I could picture us living here. I was very confident I could NOT. So in we came to a gutted house. No plumbing. No electric. No walls in most rooms. Just studs and much clutter. Much confusion. The owner’s husband had begun gutting this house to put a face lift on it. Then in a sudden moment he was gone. He passed away and left a house full of everything he had ripped off of each wall and floor. As I stepped over boards, walked around boxes of plumbing, and ran into pile after pile of old shingles…I saw a tiny glimpse. A view from the dining room. A view that I wanted to have as my own. And soon to follow came the words…”I could see us living here.”

I went into this day believing that we would leave still planning to live in our other cute little country home. (I loved the cozy living room!) But I left this mess of a gutted home feeling blessed. Some days, living in the middle of a construction zone, makes me wonder what I was thinking. Ha-ha! I knew that it was God that laid this house right in our lap. I fully believe that it is an absolute gift from God. Gifts aren’t always gorgeous at first glance. But I have learned too much while living here to think otherwise.

I am happy to say that God has taught me great contentment through this house. I am done wishing. I am happy with what God has given us. Some days we don’t get any closer to making it more beautiful..and some days we make remarkable, lasting differences. No matter what, I am to be content. If this house would have been done and ready to move in…we probably would not have been able to afford a 30 acre country farm. But because we were willing to work as we go…and more importantly as we make the money…we bought a house that would have been seen as just an eye sore to many. And they would miss out so that I could be blessed with the view from the top of our hill. Gorgeous!

Shortly after moving in…(seriously, like two months, tops)…we found out that we were expecting again. Shocked. We were both shocked. We knew that we wanted to have another baby…but ‘our plan’ was not until our house was more prepared. Nothing about living in this house was convenient. I could go on and on…but that is not the point of this story anyway. Lol! (And I am already kind of babbling.)

We press on. This pregnancy was not too difficult. But one thing I do not recommend…being large and pregnant through the summer. Especially if it is going to be the hottest summer EVER in northwestern PA. I was miserable. I remember that my husband was siding our house in the late spring. (A lovely olive green. I get comments on it all the time…people seem to really like the color!) He asked me to come out and help with whatever I could. I honestly wanted to walk back in as soon as I walked out. My face was instantly flushed and I was miserable. I looked for any opportunity to come back inside. A poopy diaper…yippee! What’s that you say? You are thirsty? I am so on it! Ha-ha! For real. I couldn’t stay outside for any length of time at all…and at this point it was only May!

My husband’s cousin and his wife felt so bad for me that they even gave us a little swimming pool. It was only about 3 feet high…but so so wonderful! I would sit and they would splash and run. Every once in a while I would have to save Titus from drowning. I barely had to sit up to do so. Ha-ha…that was the life! Then July hit. It was time to go camping with my husband’s family.

Remember I spoke about this in my last pregnancy post. Tent camping myth…it is relaxing to go camping. Reality…when pregnant, tent camping is NOT relaxing, or comfortable, nor ‘fun’ in most ways. Sleeping in a sleeping bag on the ground…not fun. Waking up in puddles…again…not fun. Chasing kids in the hot sun…not fun. Sweating all day long and then taking a shower in questionable conditions…not fun. Waddling…not fun. Swimming…FUN! Walking back from swimming and already drenched in sweat…not fun. (Am I painting a clear picture for you? I could keep going if needed. ;) )

KFCO '10 & Levi's 1st days 059 See…do you see the redness of my face? That is how I looked all the time. Ugh…I can’t even believe I am showing you this picture. It is awful! I am regretting my decision to include it. See that smile? Fake. Pasted on to be a good sport for this awful picture. It lies, from how truly miserable I felt.

Never in my life have I sweat as much as I did that summer. I finally understood why my husband would get a bit cranky when he was over-heated. I will be more sympathetic for him from now on. It is awful. No relief. I cried. Oh did I. I went in my suffocatingly hot, stuffy tent and cried because I could not get relieved. At one point Eric was gone and I was with the kids. The whole clan decided to go for a walk. (Keep in mind…this is the 3rd week in July. I am due August 15th. I am large…okay…huge. I am swollen. I am miserable to just be awake.) They ask me if the kids and I want to go for a walk too. I decline for all of us…with much tears from the kids. My tears of apology because I knew I just couldn’t handle a 2-3 mile walk with 3 children in the heat…didn’t help them feel any better. So we took up the in-laws on their offer to use their camper.

Ahhh…relief. Being in a camper…now that is fun campin! Air conditioning. Movies so the kids could sit and rest. Cold, refrigerated drinks. This was the life. =)

With this pregnancy coming to an end I had learned my lesson from the last. There was no bitterness. I did remove myself from the worship team for the last few weeks…but that was only because I felt faint when I was on the stage because of the heat! (This summer also solidified (as if there was ever a question) that I DO NOT EVER WANT TO EXPERIENCE HELL. Nor do I want anyone I know or love to enter. No relief. Unquenchable thirst. Nope…that gonna have that!!)

It was the weekend before I was due with Levi. I started to have some questions on if I should be concerned. But it was the weekend. Who likes to go and wait for hours in the ER and be seen by some random doctor who is usually a man? Who wants to show their stuff to just anyone? Raise of hands? No?…neither do I! So I waited. Friday evening…all day Saturday…all day Sunday.

That Sunday was a special one anyway. It was my birthday. 8-8-81. That is my day. So on August 9th in the early afternoon I tell my husband…who is over an hour away working…that I am just a little bit concerned and am going to call the doctor. He acts much more worried than I am. Instructs me to call him as soon as I know what is going on. The nurse says that my mid-wife would really like to see me to be sure that my water isn’t ‘leaking’. (If you have ever been prego…you know that ‘everything is normal in pregnancy’. At least that is what they tell you. All of these crazy things that seem very abnormal…are always normal. Odd!)

I told Eric that I would just find a place for the kids to go and I’d drive there myself because I was confident that nothing was wrong. He was not having it. He told me to get all the stuff we need for the hospital. And to load up the bags for the kids and he will meet me half way. He was very late…even though he was speeding to get there. So we went on our way doctor’s office, already behind schedule. (If know anything about my husband…you will know that he is always on time! Early usually. I am naturally a late person…so we butt heads a lot. Ha-ha!) I am not sure if you paid much attention…but with all of my successful pregnancies…my labors were quite short. Had I been in labor on this particular trip…I absolutely would have delivered in my van.

Can you admit that sometimes it can be a bit frustrating to go through road construction? Okay…now add to that that your doctor is waiting on you and only you before she can go home for the day. Now add that your spouse is freaking out because we are late (for the first time his fault, not mine!). And now add that something may be wrong…and we may have to have a baby today! It literally took us over 2 hours to get somewhere that should’ve taken half an hour. It was getting on Eric’s last nerve.

We finally arrived and the doctor quickly confirmed that it is my water that was leaking. And here I thought I was just peeing myself a little bit. Bahaha! (I’m telling you…don’t count anything out when it comes to being pregnant!) When she told me that because it had been leaking for a few days…there was a increased risk of infection to the baby. I started to cry. She went from stern and not happy with me…to compassionate in two seconds flat. She assured me that it was going to be okay. We were going to go to the hospital NOW to have a baby. And this baby would have an awesome birthday. 8-9-10

That made me smile. I mean come on…I could not have planned that! So almost exactly 4 hours after starting the induction…Levi James was born. 7 lbs 6 oz. (And here I thought he was an Olivia. *shrugs shoulders here* I would not trade my Levi for anything! He is an absolute blessing to me!!) God protected Levi. He had no complications after labor. No infection at all. Praise God!
                                             Levi's 1st days 092 KFCO '10 & Levi's 1st days 086

Just one year later I celebrated my 30th birthday at his 1st birthday party. It was awesome! I couldn’t
think of a better belated birthday present. He has been our happiest child from birth until now. He is an absolute delight to our family. The kids love doting on him. And wrestling with him. And carrying him around. And helping mom with anything and almost everything to do with him. I have 3 little helpers. And the transition from 3 to 4 children…was an absolute breeze! (How about in your family? If you have multiple children which was the hardest transition? 1-2, 2-3, 3-4? Eric and I agree that our hardest transition by far was going from 1 to 2 children. Odd huh? After that…eh…what’s the difference? Lol!)

What was to come when Levi was just 4 months old? I could not have seen it coming. I hit rock bottom. But that is an entirely different story for an entirely different day. Soon my friend. Soon!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Journey Through 7 Pregnancies-Part Six

Oh man…




This ‘series’ of writings has been long and difficult at times for me. But God gave me the post that will end it all on a happy note. I am so excited to write that one…but first I must press on to finish what I started. So part six, let’s begin!

Again, if you are doing the math, you know that the last two pregnancies both have happy endings. Still, they are part of who I am as a mother. As a daughter of the King. As a woman of faith. As a testimony of God’s goodness. And as proof that God hears my cries, and is a genuine God of love. =)

Are you seeing a common trend here? It is not the ‘getting pregnant’ that we struggle with. It is staying that way. I remember praying when we found out about this pregnancy…for the baby to just hang in there. From the time we found out…until I passed the dreaded 16 week mark…I just wanted the baby to hold on for it’s life. Almost like he/she was refusing to be aborted. Remind me to tell you about why that statement is funny later. Lol!

As with the past few pregnancies. We were hesitant to tell many people. When our brand new church was growing and welcoming more and more people, it was only right for those of us at the core to help someone in need. So…as a family of four (no one knew it was soon enough to be five)…we offered to watch two children for a mother in need. She was in trouble with the law in another state…and had to go there for an undesignated amount of time. She was hoping to be gone for only one month…but was very unclear. Her daughter was 4 years old, and her son was 9 months. My son Aiden at that time had just turned 3 and Ariel would have been 1 1/2.

To say that it was a difficult month for me, seems like an understatement. (Pregnancy brings a lot of emotion in me. And for someone who is naturally emotional anyway, “apparently” I was a lot to handle for my husband. =P ) Our stand on the month we had with these two children…was to have an affect. Brendan was little…so we just have to dote and love on him. Lexy was my challenge. Eric and I agreed that we would expect the same from her as we did our own children. Talk about a struggle! But God gave us many opportunities to teach her what a stable family was like. Consistent. Filled with grace and love. And bathed in prayer. By the end of week one she was praying over our meals on her own. (There is nothing like a child’s prayer. Untainted with disappointment. Just belief and expectation. They are such an amazing testimony of how we should approach Christ. I am incredibly thankful to have so many children in my life in that I can learn from!)

We continued on with life as normal. It was July…and that is my husband’s family’s annual camping trip. So…the six of us went. Never have I counted heads so many times. It was not at all relaxing. (Which is a myth about camping anyway…if you are a TENT camper with children. Not much about camping is too ‘relaxing’ when you wake up in puddles.) Funny thing is, out of the 12 or so Knapp Family Campouts that I have been to this was not the one that I did the most crying at. Haha! (That one was yet to come with pregnancy number 7!) For one month God let us affect these two children with love. For one month we cared for them as our own. And as quickly as we acquired them…they were gone…not to be seen again. Would those days leave lasting affects on a 5 year old? I can only pray they did.

Our due date this time was December 1st. I don’t expect you to remember this, but my daughter was born on that date. She was due on the 5th and came 4 days early. God chooses the day of birth for each baby. So when they end of this pregnancy was coming to an end, I was hopeful for another early baby. I figured this baby would come more like a week or so early. My husband and I were preparing for that. If you are a hunter at all…you know that to have a baby due in the first week in December…in Pennsylvania…means that you might quote, “Mess up the first day of hunting.” I am not sure if you would consider your child being born…”messing up your precious hunting time”…(Ha-ha!)…but if you understand that statement…you and my husband would get along beautifully. Lol! I had a list of phone numbers…and an order in which to call them if I thought I was in labor. The last number being my mother-in-law who would then physically drive to the woods and track my husband down to bring him home to me.

The plan was well thought out…and never utilized. (Much to my disappointment.) I did not wish to ruin his hunting tradition…but I was anxious to hold my baby. For the last two weeks or so of my pregnancy…I had to remove myself from our church’s worship team. I was literally bitter that my child was not coming early. I was a huge grump about it. (Ridiculous I KNOW!) I grew more and more angry each day. December 1st came…and went. The 2nd came…and went. I can keep going. Because this happened until December 5th rolled around.

Again…let me set the scene for you. I want you to picture the peaceful scene God had prepared for me. It was late evening. My children were both in bed. My husband even was in bed and sleeping before me. So I decided to take this time to watch a holiday movie. (Eric hates them…and I love them!) Elf was my movie of choice. We had a pellet stove in our cozy little living room. It was the type that shows the flame in the front. So I was sitting next to a warm, flickering, relaxing flame. The hum of the stove was the only noise in the house. Not too long after I settled in to watch my movie I realized I was having contractions. My fear (as with any mother about to deliver) was that I would get to the hospital and they would send me home saying I was not having real contractions. So I waited for a while. Watched my movie breathing through the contractions. Watching the clock. And not waking up my husband.

Soon they were getting more painful and intense. I decided I would like to be freshly showered when I went to the hospital. So I took a long hot shower to help relax me. When I was done I came back to Elf and kept watching. I am fairly sure that I finished it…but I don’t remember for sure. (I was a bit preoccupied. ;) )Pretty soon the contractions were 6 minutes apart so I went to wake up my husband. I expected for him to be excited. Instead he was so mad. Not because I woke him…but because I didn’t. We still had a long process and drive to get everyone to where they needed to go. His nervousness…started to make me nervous.

He called his parents and we got everyone loaded as quickly as we could. As we drove to their house, the pain was becoming more and more intense. When we reached my in-laws house…he told me to stay put while he got the kids out. His brother and mother and father were all up (now in the middle of the night) to help get the kids in. Eric went to get the kids bags and didn’t know which one was mine and the baby’s…and which one stayed with the kids. I did not want to be stuck wearing hospital gowns and using hospital body wash/shampoo all-in-one (there is not a formula that does both of those effectively and well)…so I got out to get the right bag. His brother was freaked out! He was yelling at me to get in the car because I was having a baby and in pain. I assured him I was not having a contraction at that exact moment. His concern was sweet. His yelling at the about to deliver prego woman…questionable. Lol!

As were were on our way to the hospital…which is about an hour drive…I began to not be able to talk any longer when I was experiencing a contraction. We were just outside of our town at this point…and my husband was freaking out a bit. (Whoops!) He was so nervous that we were going to have this baby in our car. Which at this point was an Ford Escape…and very uncomfortable to have contractions in. Having a baby would have been impossible!

We arrived at the hospital around 1am. I am not one to show when I am in pain. I don’t scream or show much indication. So the nurse is calmly asking me questions…and my husband is having to answer for me when sees that I can’t. She did not act like she noticed at first. Every once in a while she would look at me breathing…and see him answer. I honestly think she thought that I was being dramatic a bit and only in the early stages of labor. Because she was still asking questions when my doctor got there and decided she would like to check me. I was 8cm! The nurse was completely shocked. She had no idea how intense it was because I was just concentrating on relaxing and breathing.

Titus Wesley, 8 lbs 2 oz was born at 1:40am on December 6th 2008. The pictures I took of me and him the night of the 6th…are my favorite pictures of me, of all time. Funny huh? When Eric called to tell his parents that we had a healthy baby boy…they couldn’t believe that he came that quickly. I gotta say…laboring at home was much better than sitting in a hospital bed for hours waiting. I had done that already. I prefer my peaceful house, flickering flame, and watching Elf!

A little while after giving birth, my midwife came over and kissed my forehead. She said, “Okay that was easy…let’s do that 3 more times.” I was unsure of whether that was a prophetic word…or just a silly comment. Haha! Eric always did want 6 children…and I always wanted 4. Only time will tell. Only God will instruct. If only we will listen. =)

Now keep in mind, Titus was born very early in the morning on December 6th. When we woke up on December 7th in the hospital we were itching to get home. My husband’s grandfather was celebrating his 80th birthday. He is not much into people fussing over him…so the fact that so many people were coming to show their love for him, was huge. I did not want to have to miss it. We were asking the nurses and doctors all day when we could go home. We finally got the discharge papers…and out we went. We dropped our older two children off at a friends house and went to the party.

His grandpa’s face was priceless. He just shook his head in amazement that we showed up…with our newborn! The party was almost over…but our appearance there was all that mattered. I told him it isn’t like we could come to the next 80th birthday party he had. Haha!

My husband and I believe that there is a lot to a child’s name. The name Titus means defender. He is tough like he refused to be aborted. ;) I love that!

Another chapter in my story. Another life to care for. Another life to teach how to be effective for Christ. Another miracle from my Maker. Another son to love. Another defender for the Kingdom of God. The world needs some Tituses right now don’t they? We have one in the making. =)

What kind of warriors are you raising? What example are you setting for those God has entrusted you with? What kind of love are you teaching them to extend? What type of worship are you inviting them to have with you? What type of praise do they hear come from your lips? What type of situation has to happen to get you to pray as a family? Hopefully none. I pray it is a relationship that never stops. Never waivers. Never doubts. Never gives up. It is never too late. Begin showing a real relationship to your children. Don’t let the enemy have another wasted second of just being busy. Your children (and/or children in your life around you)…are looking up to you. Give them something worthy of imitation!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is that You God?

Do you ever feel like you can’t hear God? Is it that you aren’t noticing His voice? Or is it that something is keeping you from hearing it?

Here are some things I feel keep me from hearing sometimes. (Usually for way too long!)

lack of faith
Winter 11-12 102(Levi is too large for this walker. I keep it out for his cousin who comes to play with us just about every school day. But that does not keep Levi from trying to get in…just about every day. Haha! This particular day he got stuck and gave up while I was making lunch. Sweet tho huh?)

The list goes on. Anything that causes us to take our eyes off God, to focus on ourselves (or someone/something else)…is then a hindrance. Since I’ve been doing my devotions on a regular basis, I’ve been having lots of God revelations. I’ve been hearing Him most through my times of devotion and writing. His Word has become alive to me. You have no idea how happy it makes me to say that! =)

For most of my adult life, a regular devotional routine has been a struggle. First my excuse was that I was working full-time (with the inability to say no to extra  hours). Then it was that I had a newborn baby. Then it was that I was pregnant with a toddler already at home…while working part-time. Each child added on was another excuse I accepted. The responsibilities and expectations of me only grew. Still, each of them were only excuses. Being always tired was an excuse. And I wake up each day with a choice. Get up and meet with God…or sleep.

The fact that I am in what I am referring to as a ‘writing frenzy’ is the result of me choosing God. I’m not saying I don’t fail some days…but God’s grace allows me to still meet with Him at some point. If reading this is making you feel guilty…please know that is not me. Guilt is not of God. God will make you feel convicted for your behavior. Throw guilt back to the pits of hell…and be willing to see God’s plan for your day.

I never intend to make you feel guilt because of where you are. I intend to encourage you…to spur you onward toward Christ. He has blessings to give you. He has knowledge to share with you. He has love to bathe you with. He has wisdom to pass on to you. But He needs time with you. He needs a relationship with His beloved.

For far too long one or more of the examples and excuses I listed above kept me from being consistent. So what does it take? Accountability. I am being help accountable by my brother. And he is being held accountable by me. That is something I really need  right now. Someone to ask me. Not to make me feel bad if I fail…but to encourage me to succeed. Who can that be in your life? Think about it. Pray about it. Let God pick your accountability partner. =)

I don’t want to steer you wrong. During those years I absolutely still heard from God. Just not daily. I was not seeking Him like He was my goal. More like a benefit here and there. How sad that I settled for that! How awful that the scheme of satan was carried out for so long! I can almost hear the conversation in hell now… “Keep her tired. Keep her asleep. Keep her resentful. Keep her offended. Keep in her in a state of self-pity…because it is working. She’s rendering herself less powerful. She’s making our job easy.”

Ugh! Makes me physically sick to think about. It brings tears to my eyes to write. And it makes me angry way down deep. So deep that it is as if my blood boils just to speak of it. Ever felt like that? I guess if my anger makes me turn this time to proving satan wrong…I can handle it. Again I say…I am going to be stubborn in my faith. =)

Don’t let another day go by that you choose to sleep, watch mindless tv, surf the internet…over revelations from God. God is helping me to write a devotional in my time with Him. All I have to do is be awake!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What was special about Philip?

 Ch (237)

This was were I plopped myself yesterday afternoon to write today’s post. (All the kids in my house were resting. And after my 10 minute power nap…I was ready to write!) What do you see in the above picture?




Ch (238)

Here is a closer shot. I have my journal. My devotional. My cup of hot cocoa. (Disappointing! I was going for a peppermint hot cocoa like I’ve been hooked on at McDonald’s this season…but the candy cane I thought was peppermint…was strawberry. Such a bummer! Not pepperminty in the least!) I have my computer. And I have my fave candle! I meant to turn it around for you all to see…but I clearly forgot. Anyway, it is called Country Christmas. I am obsessed with it. God blessed me with it for Christmas…funny story! You can get them online. To check out the site click here! It is worth the money…promise. =)

Doesn’t that scene just make you want to journal? It does me! And so here is the product of my afternoon…


What was so special about Philip you ask…funny you should mention that. I was just reading about Philip in Acts chapter 8 today. You know what I remembered that I already know…but too often forget? Philip was ordinary. He was human. He was real. His story is not a fairytale. Nor is it embellished. It is simple truth…with a divine appointment.

Why does that matter to you? Because you hear from God.

When you drive by an accident and feel the sudden urgency to pray for the people involved…that is God.

When you see a mother struggling with her child in the store and you feel the desire to smile and encourage her…that is God.

When you feel a tug on your heart to give to someone less fortunate than you, anonymously…that is God.

When your child comes to you and says they aren’t feeling well and you immediately sense to pray instead of calling the doctor…that is God.

You hear from God. You just need to be reminded sometimes. So what makes you so special? Well…I pray that you have a personal relationship with the Trinity. I pray that you have asked Christ into your heart to be your Lord and Savior. I pray that you entrust all that you have to God to take care of. I pray that you seek the Holy Spirit to converse with you often. Whether it through singing, praying, writing…etc.

The reality is that you are not special. I am so sorry if that offends you. (In my days…to be called ‘special’ wasn’t all that good anyway.) With that being said, the God that I pray lives IN you…is remarkable. He is unlike any other. He is flat out amazing! He is Healer. He is Restorer. He is Love. He is Grace. He is Peace. He is Awesomeness at its finest. =)

So back to Philip. Let’s read just part of the story. (I encourage you to read the whole thing on your own. All of Acts chapter 8 is good.) But let’s stick with Acts 8:26-27 & 29-30.

26-27 “An angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Get ready and go south…’So Philip got ready and went” –Did you hear him ask questions? Did he wonder why he was going? Did he complain about going on a road-trip because he really didn’t feel like it? Did he question if it was really something from God? I didn’t read anything that says he did. Huh? Interesting! How would I react?

29-30 “The Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’ So Philip ran toward the chariot.”-Again…no questions. Again…no delay. This time…he actually ran. He may have even looked a bit silly. (I would if I were the one running towards a stranger. Haha!) Maybe the man sitting in the chariot thought a crazy man was running towards him. To his benefit though…Philip listened to the Spirit of the Lord. He did not question. He did not waiver.

What was the gain? Eternity! Philip witnessed to and baptized that man that day. That man is in eternity with the King of Kings because of the crazy man running towards him. What made Philip special? He was willing. He was bold. He was more concerned about the eternity of another brother…than the possibility of being rejected.

How about you? When you hear the voice of God in a small whisper to your conscience…what do you do? Sadly, sometimes I question. Sometimes I speak boldly. Sometimes I say No. Am I ashamed to admit some those things?…nope. Not happy about it. But my God practices grace…ALWAYS. He is a patient God. He longs for me to get it right…for me! He will continue to give me opportunities to see Him shine. I am getting stronger by the day. And I am loving the days that I speak boldly for my Father. The more I realize that He is faithful to the end…the more I gain confidence in my ability to hear Him correctly.

I prayed that I would hear him clearly today, in fact. I was praying over 3 specific things. And when I heard…I wanted to wish I hadn’t asked. (Please tell me you have been there. Haha!) I didn’t so much like the answer. But that was part of my prayer. “God, I don’t want it to be the easiest answer. I want it to be YOUR will. Whatever that might be.” So, now I know His will…and I must walk in it. =) Boldly!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Miracles follow faith

It has been an amazing holiday season for us here in the Knapp house. For anyone who knows what is happening here right now…that might not make sense. But, we serve a God that is Good, All The Time! God has met us where we are…and He is bringing us to a place of strength. A place of confidence in His voice. A place of unity. A place of peace. This is an amazing place to be. =) It doesn’t always feel amazing…but the result will be remarkable. Unlike anything we could’ve come up with on our own.

So, let’s get to the blessings and miracles, shall we? =) So glad you asked!!

This Christmas season that just passed us was looking like it was going to a sad one. Lots of things were happening that were trying to take us down. All in just one week’s time Eric’s job became very shaken, he hit a deer with his brand new truck, he stepped on a nail and his foot got infected. To top it all off…Aiden came home from school on the day that we were going to my Mom’s for Christmas…WITH PINK EYE! Ugh! I do not tell you these things to gain your sympathy. Believe me…this story has an amazing ending. *smiles huge here*

What I hadn’t told anyone (and I do mean anyone),was that God had told me that at this Christmas party at my Mom’s house that Friday night (the week before Christmas)…He was going to restore a relationship that had severed. Circumstances that are not at all important now, had led mine and my husband’s relationship with my brother and his wife to be cut off. It had been almost a year and half I believe. So you can understand why I was so annoyed that the enemy try to keep this from happening by giving my son the highly contagious pink eye.

Since Eric was going to the doctor’s office anyway for his foot…he took Aiden along to get his eye looked at. Our suspicions were confirmed. It was in fact pink eye. When Eric and Aiden got home…I decided it was time to tell Eric of God’s plan for the night. We went to the barn (me walking…and Eric hobbling)…and I very confidently told Eric that I felt God telling me to pray as a family for Aiden’s eye to be healed. Next I said that WHEN his eye was healed, we would take that as proof that God did want us to go restore what was broken. You see…in order for restoration to take place…we needed four willing parties. My husband, myself, my brother, and his wife. I told Eric that we needed to apologize for how we handled our end of the situation…and trust that God was preparing their hearts to accept.

Eric was in a place that was very unlike him. But then again…so was I! =) For the first time since Eric and I got married (10 1/2 years ago)…Eric had to rely wholly on my ability to hear God. Usually I am more of confirmation for him through my prayer and devotional time. This time…he had to trust something that he didn’t necessarily ‘feel’. Does that make sense? He had A LOT of his mind…and this was asking him to put himself out there and possibly be laughed at…or rejected. These are not comfortable places for him to be. Trust is something that God is renewing in Eric…and this was step one. Integrity is something that God is restoring in Eric…and this was step one. Emotional connection is something that God is teaching Eric…and this was step one. Spiritual leadership is something that God is increasing in Eric…and this was step one. See what I mean? The end result will be amazing…but the process can sting a bit.

Because of Eric’s confidence in my faith…over his ‘feeling’ he agreed. We went back down to the house and he led us all in prayer over Aiden’s body. One by one we all prayed, with the exception of Levi who is only 1. =) When we were finished…Eric had to leave for a little while. So I got busy! I sent out texts to as many as I could reach. I didn’t even get through my whole contact list because I was responding back and forth to so many. I requested that people pray with us for the healing of Aiden. If you are one of the ones who responded to me…you know that I then said that there were two miracles to happen that day. And the healing was the lesser of the two. Response after response encouraged me to keep faith.

Soon I heard God say…prepare yourself for the party. I could either sit and wait for the healing…and then risk not going because we weren’t ready. Or I could prepare as if the healing was going to happen. So…I did just that. I showered. I got my kids ready. I went to the store to get ingredients for the appetizer I had planned to bring. Each time looking at the pink eye of Aiden…and believing that the healing that was already done in the supernatural…would manifest in the physical!

Soon enough Eric gets home and sees me getting ready. Perplexed a bit because Aiden’s eye does not ‘appear’ better at all…he asks what I am doing. I told him my plan…and he agreed to shower and prepare as well. It was now almost party time…and my husband says…”Ok now what?” I responded…”Drive.” Pretty soon, we were there and wanted to check Aiden’s eye one more time to see if it was better. It appeared, in the dark night with a flashlight from Eric’s phone…that his eye was still pink. I still stood on my word from God and in we went. Greeted with hugs and excitement…I knew what we had to do first. Restore.

The conversation was much simpler than the enemy had convinced me it would be…again for over a year! Apologies were stated. Love was behind each word said and received. Brokenness was covered by grace. Anger was covered by forgiveness. Lies were covered by God’s truth. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Above all else…LOVE! We all exchanged hugs and agreed to keep in better contact. After all…it was our children that suffered without fault in all of this. =(

That is it. Two miracles in one night. The Master has miracles like this in store for all of His beloved. “He is just looking for someone to believe!” That was a prophesy spoken over our church the Sunday before all of this happened. Do you believe in your ability to be healed? Do you believe that God longs for restoration in the relationships that have been strained/severed? Do you believe that God is all-knowing? All-powerful? Omni-present?

Believe! And ask God to help you with your unbelief! (<=Thanks for that reminder Erin!) The revelations of God will come to you at the perfect time. Believe that God speaks to you…and go with Him. He will lead you down a path of righteousness…always!