Monday, September 24, 2012

I Still Believe

4 weeks ago my faith was rocked, and rocked hard.  A situation occurred in my life that was pretty major.  It was a social conflict with a Christian.  I did not react properly. Accusations were spoken.  Those words run through my head several times a day and questions...oh, the questions.  Brokenness...oh, the brokenness.

I can't say that I walked away from my faith.  But, I will honestly tell you what did happen. Satan took a STRONG foothold.  He grasped what was spoken and has enlarged it.  Made it so huge.  And, I know he has twisted it too.  Isn't it funny how fast that happens?  How we allow Satan a millimeter (or even smaller sometimes) in our life, and he takes miles upon miles.

Scattered words and empty thoughts
Seem to pour from my heart
I've never felt so torn before
Seems I don't know where to start

4 weeks of this.  Torn between trusting God and allowing the situation/Satan to control.  Torn between what happened and what should have happened.  Torn between how I reacted and how I should have reacted.  Torn between judging and being judged and allowing Christ to work.  I didn't know where to start.  I was broken.

Oh, don't get me wrong...I put on that face, the mask.  Yes, a few know what is going on, because apparentely I don't hide things so well.  And, in all honesty, I needed a few to know.  But, I have hidden in my heart and mind and soul, what is going on, what is truly going on, from 98% of the people in my life.  I have pulled away out of necessity to protect myself, my family, and all the parties involved.  But, that doesn't mean I'm not torn, I'm not broken.

Life continued to go on around me.  Survival.  Survival of who I thought I was.  Survival of who I was striving to be like - Jesus.  But, the Bible reading had disappeared instantly after that situation.  The prayers were still there, just mostly the "Why God's?" and the prayers for my children.  I had scattered words and empty thoughts toward anything and everything pertaining to myself.

Life continued on.  Weight came off. My body image "improved" in others eyes.  People noticed.  People cared....but, I was in a dark place...and still am, but it isn't as dark.

Though the questions still fog up my mind
With promises I still seem to bear
Or even when answers slowly unwind
It's my heart I see You prepare

Questions.  There are many.  And, they definitely take over my mind a lot!  And, I do still seem to bear promises....I bear them....but do I believe them?  Do I believe the promises in His word?

Psalm 139 (excerpts)

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand
when I awake, I am still with you.
or what about this one?
Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Or even this one?
Proverbs 3: 5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Questions.  Questions continually running through my mind.  Running away from the truths in the Bible, the book of Life.
How can I be judged in 1 day when the relationship has lasted 6 years?  How can I be accused of such and such?  Why does everybody know?  Why do I want to read the Bible when it only gets me here?  Why did this happen?  Why doesn't anybody care?
Oh there are so many...Some should be asked while others are lies that I am believing.
4 weeks ago, I became a very broken person.  Broken on the inside.  Questioning faith.  Questioning my own personal walk with God.  Questioning circumstances.  Questioning who I was. Broken.
We have been seeking wise counsel.  I knew that I couldn't live like this for very long, and truthfully, and so ready to have everything resolved and reconciled but that is for another post (one on submission and obedience).  One of the wise persons that I spoke with encouraged me to "Praise Him in the storm, in all things." 
Ephesians 5: 19-20
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Definitely not what I wanted to hear.  But, it was what I NEEDED to hear.  Another wise counsel is holding me accountable to being in the Word daily. 
God has worked on my heart.  Softened it.  Massaged it and got it beating again.
Well the only place I can go is into Your arms
Where I throw to You my feeble prayers
Well in brokenness I can see
That this was Your will for me
Help me to know You are near yeah
But it's now that I feel Your grace fall like rain
From ev'ry fingertip washing away my pain
'Cause I still believe in Your faithfulness
'Cause I still believe in Your truth
'Cause I still believe in Your holy Word
Even when I don't see I still believe

I can only run into His arms.  This situation was His will for me because of the blessings that have rained down from heaven.  I am beginning to see them.  Beginning to have eyes open.  My pain is being slowly washed away, starting with writing a letter of apology.  Continuing with reaching and resting in His loving arms and His grace and mercy that is new every day. 

Life is still going on, still moving forward.  Blessings are being poured down, but am I seeing them in my brokenness?  Are my arms open wide, giving thanks in ALL circumstances? 

I DO still believe in His faithfulness, in His truth, and in His holy Word.  Even when I am not seeing the reasons for this situation or knowing the answers to those questions that overtake my mind sometimes...I still believe.  Even when those scattered words and empty thoughts pour from my heart and I'm torn not knowing where to start, I still believe.

2 Corinthians 12:9
 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
**Song lyrics are from the song "I still believe" by Jeremy Camp.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Garden goodness

Drought.  We are in a bad drought where we live.  Supposedly, #3 of all times.  We have been very fortunate though.  We have rural water for the house, but the well is still functioning.  We spent so much time watering this summer and weeding and nurturing our garden.  We live off of our garden - through canning and processing all the produce.  We definitely enjoy it fresh as well!  Below are some pictures of what we have picked and a list of our processing so far. 

By no means am I bragging....I want to document the bountiful blessings that we have been given this a reminder when things get tough of the way that God has provided.  Even though the drought hasn't greatly affected our garden, our family has definitely been in a drought spiritually and emotionally.  We have been going through a few tough months.  This provision that God has provided for us physically is a good reminder of what He can do spiritually and emotionally.  To God be the glory in this time of drought.

Peas - 17 2ish cup bags frozen
Potatoes - almost 300 pounds - canned 28 quarts and saved rest to eat or process later
Peaches - 225 pounds put into 84 quarts, dried some as well and ate a lot fresh
Blueberries - 2 5 qt pails picked - several frozen into 2 cup bags and some dried
Beets - 55 pints and 7 quarts
cauliflower and broccoli - several bags (15 of various sizes?) put into freezer and much eaten fresh
mock apple rings made with cucumbers - 42 pints
lime pickles made with cucumbers - 12 pints
onions - 80 lbs
V8 juice made with tomatoes - 43 quarts
whole tomatoes with onions/peppers - 4 quarts
corn - 52 3ish cup bags frozen
Salsa made with 100% garden veggies - 50 jars varying sizes
carrots - 21 quarts
tomato sauce to be used for taco sauce - 4 quarts and 1 pint
tomato soup - 18 pints and 7 quarts
pumpkin - 6 2 cup bags frozen
zucchini - several 2 and 4 cup bags put in freezer (21 pints zucchini bread canned)

Cantelope.  They were absolutely delicious!

Carrots that we picked and ended up canning.

Our 4 children in the cauliflower leaves. 

Cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, tomatoes, banana peppers

Our 4 largest onions

Our onions all braided and shallots on the left going up and down

Miscellaneous thoughts....and pictures!

This is my chore charts that are now hanging in my "new" schoolroom!  I turned our cluttered crazy office into an organized schoolroom!  I am so excited about teaching responsibility to my children - and it is going to start with these.  They start tomorrow, so I will keep you updated as to how they work....

This picture was taken on my 32nd birthday.  The outfit is a size 14/16!  I am so excited!  Also, this picture shows me at 80 pounds gone!  80 pounds to never return!  I am at the same weight as I was at our wedding!

This is the youngest twin.  He is held by my father while we were camping for vacation!  I took all 4 childre and went camping with my dad and step-mom, my dad's dad and mom, and my dad's sister and husband.  This picture shows the youngest twins excitement as we were out on a boat ride chasing birds.  We would spot one and then drive after it.  He had so much fun and laughed so hard!  I think I laughed just as hard seeing the joy he displayed!

This picture was taken tonight at a local public pond.  The oldest twin is in the highlight of hte picture.  He caught his very 1st fish - a little sunfish, and was so proud of that fish.  I enjoyed my time with the four at the little pond, and I think they enjoyed their time as well!

This is "Joy" and she is holding a fish that she caught while on vacation.  She had so much fun catching minnows to put on hooks and catching fish.  She did great out on the boat and definitely had "big fish stories" to tell when we got back in to camp!

This is "Blessing" and she is holding a fish that she caught!  She finally warmed up to the fish she was catching and by the end of vacation was even catching minnows.  When we were fishing tonight, she was so patient and did such a great job casting and trying to catch those little fish.  She didn't catch any tonight, but was definitely a trooper - not complaining and actually not wanting to leave.  She is growing up way too fast!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pictures are worth more than words...

February 23, 2012 - only 1  week into WL journey
Oldest daughter with me

April 3, 2012 - 25.6 pounds gone!

April 14, 2012 - 29.8 pounds gone - over 10% of initial weight!
In Easter dress - hadn't worn in 5 years!

May 29, 2012 - 53.4 pounds gone!
Oldest twin with me

June 27, 2012 - 64.6 pounds gone!

July 9, 2012 - 66.6 pounds gone!
2nd and youngest daughter with me.

July 20, 2012 - 71 pounds gone!
I think I need some smaller shirts....all the ones I have are so baggy!
This picture was taken on Friday.  I will blog more about our garden and include better pics of some of the children.  The youngest twin has been camera shy lately!  :-) 

Keep your eyes open for a gardening blog...

By God's grace, this weight will never return.....Thanks to the lifestyle change I am making!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Laundry Distractions

Non Scale Victories....NSVs. They are encouraging and so uplifting...But, honestly, I hadn't really had many during the last 13 weeks. I have been concentrating on losing weight - eating right, exercising, and
working on the emotional habits I had formed. It hasn't always been easy, but thankfully, the weight has been coming off.

I am not a huge measurer. I have been measuring every 4 weeks and have seen on paper the inches coming off as well, but have not experienced it but 1x with clothing. I did wear a dress the week after Easter, but I had fit into that dress in the past.

So, I was doing laundry on Thursday. Actually, doing laundry from beginning to completion, washing, drying, folding, AND putting away! I usually stop somewhere in the middle, but was determined to get everything put away. While I was hanging my skirts in the closet I noticed a dress that was given to me a little over a year ago. I liked it and put it in my closet. Some friends came over and were helping me clean stuff out that had piled up after twins, and commented on that dress. I tried it on that night after everyone had left, and there was no way the dress was zipping. I could barely get it on, but squeezed into it. I remember feeling so depressed. But, I liked it enough I put it back in the closet with the thought of "someday I will wear that dress."  Never in my wildest dreams did I think that someday would be this week!

So, I pulled out the dress, and tried it on, and it FIT! It fits beautifully. So beautifully, that I think I have figured out something to put over it so I can wear it to church tomorrow. It is sleeveless and we are trying to teach our girls modesty so I must model modesty. Anyway, that one dress led into the trying on of many many other clothes. And, I fit into many of them that I couldn't even get over my hips or around my waist a year ago. Some of the things are too tight to wear in public, but I have the determination and motivation to fit into them before the end of summer.

When my FIL had repeat open heart surgery last July, I had to buy shorts - size 24/26. I was embarrased and depressed when I walked out of the store. I am happy to report that I wore them today, only because I wanted to be comfortable, but am so annoyed with them because I can't walk 2 steps without them falling off my hips! So, I am thinking these pants are going to have to go! And not go because they are too small, but go because they are TOO BIG! I have a huge smile just typing it because of how it makes me feel.

I called my husband at 1:30 am (because he works 2nd shift and was to be home at 1:15 am) to ask him if he was almost home, and he wasn't. But, he wondered I told him I had a size 18P jeans on from CJ Banks. 18P! His response was, "Are you sure honey?" And, my response was "would I sound like this if it wasn't true?" 18P! I still can't get over that. It has been years since I have fit into 18P – ok, not tons, but at least 3. I would even wear them in public, which is how good they fit.

So, laundry is distracting. I have a new wardrobe and am ready to weed out my "fat" clothes. AND, I AM NOT KEEPING THEM! Because, I am making this lifestyle change permanent! No need for them anymore! And, the next time I can get to a store, the 1 thing I am going to buy is new underware....because, just like the shorts, are having to be hiked up every 2 steps - and that is not flattering!

I have had a beakthrough and have realized the impact of my loss....not only in how I feel, but in the sizes I can wear and how I look. All glory goes to Christ, who has formed me as this person and who is walking with me through this journey! Thank you Jesus for NSV's and for your strength to continue on
each day!

May each of you be blessed with your own NSV, whatever that may be! God is so faithful, lean on him!

Stats to date
Weight lost - 45 lbs
Waist inches - 6.75
Hip inches - 3.75

Bust inches - 5.5
Arm inches - 1.5
Thigh inches - 1.5
Current size - 18 or 20

Sunday, December 25, 2011

2011 Christmas letter

I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showes in season; there will be showers of blessing. Ezekiel 34:26 way you look at it, they all mean the same...God's love towards us, His children. Early this year, I was given a book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp, which challenged me and our family to look for gifts, blessings in all situations. Sometimes this was easy and other times it was hard. It is a lifestyle...a way to keep perspective, so enjoy some of our blessings from 2011.

Mr. Tall still works at a local hospital 32 miles away 4 days a week from 2 pm to 12:30 pm. He really enjoys this shift and the interaction with people. Austin has completed preceptor training and lead training. He is enjoying the challenges these two aspects bring. In March, we were able to travel to Columbus, Ohio for a week. During this week, we worked with Touch Bionics and Austin got a new hand, a myoelectric one. This was a great time to be together as husband and wife and to accomplish getting a new hand ~ all in 1 weeks time! In July, Mr. Tall's dad had open-heart surgery in Rochester, MN. We spent another week together supporting them and reflecting on the blessings of health, life, family, and support.

I am still a stay-at-home mom and truly love it. Many times, my motto is "The days are long but the years are short!" Watching my children grow and teaching them is an amazing experience. I wouldn't trade it for the world! Also, I have really started working as a music therapist for a local hospice. I am based out of my home which is wonderful. I have received so many gifts from my patients this year...the faith they have, the love married patients share, memories from 80 years ago...such gifts from God!

Blessing started piano lessons this summer and has started kindergarten this fall. She is doing very well with her math facts and is learning to read. She enjoys playing with her sister and brothers and is such a big help around the house with laundry, trash, dishes, vacuuming, etc. She is growing way too fast...It seems like yesterday she was born, but it has already been 5 years!

Joy has grown so much during this past year as well. The differences between her and her sister are amazing. Joy wants to do "school" every day and is learning about letters and numbers. She enjoys playing house with her sister. Joy is mommy's helper...she is always in the kitchen with me. Joy's cuddles are precious as well, especially when she falls asleep in my arms.

The twins are now 15 months old, almost 16! Where has the year gone. They are walking all over the place, well actually running, and usually in different directions. They are starting to talk saying cheese, please, more, thank-you, night-night, etc. It is such a blessing to have such healthy boys. They are active and love being outside!

So, our blessings...

~life, health, love, Jesus, family

~stored food, bountiful garden, canner, coupons, worms on roads

~church family, women and men of God in our lives

~accidents that save marriages, doctors, nurses, hospitals

~laughter, loss of life, animals, jobs, rain

The list can go on and list is currently around 1250. How many blessings can you count in a year? Can you give all the credit to God's son, Jesus, who came to earth this time of year...Christmas!

It is our prayer that you will take time to reflect on your blessings from the past year and look at all you will experience in the year to come.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

More pictures

Boy 2 at 5 weeks with eyes open

Boy 2 at 5 weeks with eyes open

Boy 2 at 5 weeks

Boy 1 at 5 weeks

Boy 2 on left, Boy 1 on right at 5 weeks

Boy 1 on left, Boy 2 on right at 3 weeks

All 4 kiddos - Boy 1 on top, Boy 2 on bottom, Blessing on left, Joy on right

Boy 1 on left and Boy 2 on right (7 weeks)