Saturday, August 28, 2010

Off We Go!!

Twenty minutes from right now, Lord willing, we will be on our way to the airport! So excited! Pray for all of us, please!
Amazed by His Grace,
Brian and Michelle

Friday, August 27, 2010

I'm Leavin' On a Jet Plane

We are leaving tomorrow for Georgia! Just Brian and I! For eight days! One would think I would be jumping for joy. Well, as much as time away will be wonderful, I will miss my children greatly! They will be here with my mom and her husband, who has graciously offered to care for them while we are gone. I know, I am so blessed!

As you may remember, we are going to Georgia for a 'For Their Life' conference. We are so excited. Sitting under 40 hours of great teaching, praying, being prayed for, sounds like my kind of 'vacation'!

Please pray for us and for our children. Pray for safety and peace. Pray for wisdom and that the eyes of our hearts would be opened.

Will be back here in about 10 days. I will miss you! {{{{hugs}}}}

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Am Finished!

Thursday, August 26, 2010, by the grace of God and a tremendous amount of support from my family I finished reading the entire bible in 39 days!!! One day early!! We began on July 19, 2010.

There were plenty of nights I would go to bed with tears in my eyes, feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of this commitment. Each time my dear husband and the Lord would encourage me that HE would give the grace to finish what He called me to.

Thank You, Father, for all you have taught me. Don't stop! Continue to teach and lead. I love You.

Come, Lord Jesus come!

Oh, The Fun of Blog Friends!

This past weekend I was privileged enough to have three blog friends over for our children's baptisms! Now, two of them were friends before blogging, but we had reconnected through blogging.

From left to right, Kathy, from Regan Family Farm. Cindy, from Farmgirl Cyn. Angie, from Maple Valley Farms. And me!

What fun!

As you probably know, Brian and I are going to be going to Georgia this weekend. We are going to be able to 'hook up' with three blogging friends from Georgia! Are there any others who are in the Atlanta area??
I will finally be able to meet Elizabeth, from Yes, They're All Ours. Gloria, from Gloria In Excelsis Deo. And my sweet Natalieh, from Pure Heart!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Almost There!

As of right now I have 96 pages to read to finish the bible in 40 days!!

This time has been so amazing, I am sort of sad to see it end. I have learned more than I could ever tell, reading the bible through in such a short time.

Just a few things . . .

I am in awe of our HOLY God!

The Fear of the Lord has definitely increased in my heart.

I think, after reading through the Old Testament, we (the church) may have swung a little too far towards 'grace'. You don't hear much (or see, for that matter) about holiness. Lots and lots of teaching on the grace of God, not much on the HOLINESS of God.
The fact that young 'Christian' couples are living together before they get married and then, in church, say in their vows about being 'best friends and LOVERS' while parents and pastors just smile!!! Makes me crazy! How is this okay?
Or, 'Christian' teenagers reading the Twilight series by the millions!? Are you kidding me?
Sorry, for the rant. I'll get back to that in another post. It just slipped out ;-)

Do you know that there were sacrifices even for sins you did not know you committed?? Once you realized you had sinned you needed to sacrifice. Sounds like taking responsibility for our sins.

While we serve a God who demands and expects holiness, we also serve a God who is merciful beyond belief. Over and over again He showed His mercy to a people who continually disobeyed His commands. That encourages this sinner.

His love for His people was beautiful to behold.

I was inspired over and over again by the beautiful prayers throughout the bible. Not just the Psalms, but prayers by Nehemiah, Daniel, Jehoshaphat and others who poured out their hearts to the Sovereign God of the universe.

Reading through the Gospels and Acts was quite convicting. I hope to share more in the future, but what has happened to the Church??!! The following verse will not leave me:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. (John 14:12)

What works did Jesus do? Which of those works are we doing greater? Do we really "believe" in Him?

Do you know over and over again, as I read through huge chunks of the Gospels at a time, that one could not help but notice that Jesus healed over and over and over again? He cast out demons over and over again?

Are we really obeying the whole counsel of the Word??

Do we love the Lord our God with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength?

Do we love our neighbor as our selves?

Are we willing to sell all and give to the poor?

Do we obey Mark 16?

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Oh, we send out the missionaries, but what about the signs and wonders??? I haven't had any following me lately, have you? What about casting out demons? Speaking in new tongues? Laying hands on the sick and them actually recovering!

I could go on, but I won't right now. The Lord began stirring in our hearts quite awhile ago and reading through the Word has only excited and ignited the fire more. I think we are actually getting fed up with living life 'as usual'. We don't know what it means, but we are quite sick of it. Sometimes when I think about my shallow life compared to the followers of Jesus I get a sick feeling in my stomach.

Am I willing to go where ever He sends me? Am I willing to give it all up? The comfort of my home?

We saw this video several months ago and it stirred us up. The Lord recently brought it back across our path. It was so neat to remember how we felt the first time we saw it compared to now, several months into this journey He has us on. It is only about 2 minutes long and it is quite powerful. ( I have the book, a couple of my children have read it, I have not. I am not posting the video to advertise the book. I think the video says quite a bit!)
I thought our thinking was pretty radical before, but I think we are about to get a whole lot more radical. Care to join us?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Believe And Be Baptized!

Six of our children were all baptized Sunday, August 22, 2010!

The children have been expressing an interest in baptism for several months now. We have been studying and teaching them. It was so great to have the Holy Spirit teaching us simply from the from the WORD of God.

Initially, only four of the children were going to be baptized, but two more joined the ranks in the last couple of weeks. Luke, our oldest at home, recently repented of some things and has really turned his life towards the Lord in a much greater way. Isabella, our seventh child, has been listening to all the teaching and wondered if she too could be baptized seeing as how she also has believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

As we studied, we saw how adults can sometimes complicate the simplicity of the Gospel and baptism. Over and over the bible admonishes "believe and be baptized" Simple as that. If you know enough to believe and be saved, then you know enough to be baptized.

Also, we were struck by how it was such a common thing, you believed and then you were baptized. You didn't wait until the 'first Sunday of the month', or sometime later, maybe after a few classes. Nope, believe and be baptized.

We invited a few families that we have grown close to over the last couple of years, as well as some old friends and some family. It was so awesome to have so many people with such similar hearts. We felt honored, humbled and loved by their attendance.

Brian shared a few scriptures on baptism, and then we headed out to the pool. He baptized the children. What an honor. Afterward, we gathered together and people prayed over the children and we finished with a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace.

Below is a video that has each of the children's baptism. The video is only 7 or 8 minutes, please watch it if you can. Each child shared why they wanted to be baptized and a scripture. The first one up was Luke, and he shared his heart as well as repented to the crowd. It was quite touching. I will also post pictures, for those of you who can't or don't want to take the time to watch the video.

This is Luke, our 20 year old.
Joshua, our 18 year old.
Our sweet Victoria, 14 years old. She shared her heart so well.
Isaiah, our 12 1/2 year old. He has such a heart and zeal for the Word of God.
Sweet Sarah Grace, who is nine. She is the one that made us all realize just how simple the Gospel is this past week.
Little Isabella, almost 8 years old. She loves Jesus so much and has such a tender heart.
Definitely a day full of Amazing Grace!! Thank You, Father!
P.S. The video should be fixed now.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Big Day Today!!

Today is a big day for several of the children in our family!!
Can you guess what it is?
Hint: it involves water.
More to come, pictures and all!

Friday, August 20, 2010

It Finally Happened, I Repented First!

We ran a bunch of errands last night. Everyone was tired, some little ones crabby. Dear husband was graciously going from place to place so I could find some things I needed. We even went to Walmart, which I don't like and he DESPISES. He so sweetly helped me find what I needed, even bringing me different sizes to the dressing room. Did I mention he despises Walmart???
This man works all day, comes home and is rushed out the door. Handles all of the children so I can get what I need done. All the while just laying down his will. Dealing with a very tired and unreasonable almost 3 year old, again, so I can get what I need. Big trip to Costco, in and out of other stores.

We get home late. Children are not getting to bed as they should. He is the one who puts the children to bed, so the burden of all this is on him. He is growing impatient and is not handling things as perfectly as I think he should.
Recap, worked all day, rushed out the door for a trip that mostly revolved around ME, crabby children, all eight of them with us, confusion and chaos that just comes with a large family, a slightly less than supportive wife, Costco products everywhere, children not in bed when they should be, late at night, bible to read . . . you get the picture, right?

I am about to tell you how this SHOULD be handled and then how I actually DID handle it!
When he grew impatient and was beginning to 'lose it', I should have come along side him and helped him out! I should have said, 'it's okay, I have this one'. Pulled him aside and quietly given him some facts he didn't have on a situation so he might handle it differently.
How DID I handle it?
I continued going about what I needed to do and then, when he needed my support most, snapped (rather harshly) "Just an FYI . . . so and so really did this, not what you thought!"


But here is the really encouraging and redeeming thing in this whole yucky story. I was immediately convicted of how awful I was and what a horrible example I just was for the older children just sitting there with jaws dropped. Thank You, Holy Spirit! In the shower I was praying that God would soften my heart, make me able to separate him from the sin, go and repent to him. I didn't 'feel' anything different, as usual.

I got out the shower marched in the bedroom and without even thinking went right up to him and repented for being so harsh and not being his help meet in that situation. It was a very tender moment, we cried and prayed. I went out and repented to my children for my behaviour.
But wait! It gets better! Later, he said to me, "you melted my heart earlier". I was oblivious to what he was talking about. He said, "that was the first time you came to me first with a softened heart and repented to me."
OUCH! He was right. He ALWAYS repents first. I don't like that about me. I feel awful that it has always been that way. I've tried to, I pray, even in the middle of my hardness of heart and I can't ever seem to 'let it go'. But tonight was different! God had done something in my heart. Something broke, finally.
And to add just one more really cool aspect. Just that morning the Lord had showed me some areas of self-hatred, guilt and shame that I repented of and renounced. Normally, when Brian would share something like this with me, I would feel just awful about it and beat myself up for a very long time. Lament about how I wish I was different and apologize over and over again. Well, I started down that road and immediately recognized the self-hatred, guilt and shame and refused to go down under it! I chose to praise God instead of beat myself up and break the old pattern of thinking!

Two HUGE patterns were broken last night! I am not sure I will always handle it right, but in both of these scenarios it was a huge breakthrough. Maybe next time I might even get my focus off myself before a blow-up even happens. There is a novel idea ;-)
Press in ladies, continue to seek Jesus, trust HE is changing us from glory to glory!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Need A Little Pick Me Up??

Come visit me over At The Well today. Maybe you are 'overwhelmed' with life. Or, maybe you are completely exhausted. Or, perhaps you are downright angry with life right now. Hop on over and hopefully be encouraged.

Monday, August 16, 2010

We Are Being Invaded!!!

I think this cute, little guy is the Captain of the Tomato Army!
Kind of a cute little guy, isn't he? Last year we lost pretty much ALL of our tomatoes to some sort of blight. I think that I maybe ate 3 or 4 the whole year. This year it is unreal! Our plants are well over Brian's head and they are dripping with fruit. We are so thankful. I have already begun the canning process. Thanks to a tip from my dear friend, Ang, from Eclectic Culture Farms, it is so easy.
I freeze the tomatoes as they get ripe and then on canning day, I thaw, peel, heat and can! This way I do the canning on the day I want to and the freeze/thaw makes the skins peel off easily!
All these tomatoes in all these pictures are from 2 or 3 days! Brian goes out after work and comes back with baskets of tomatoes.
We grew some funky Zapotec tomatoes this year. The minute I took the first bite I was immediately reminded of my childhood and eating tomatoes out of my Papap's garden. He was the cutest little Italian guy with an adorable thick accent. He used to grow tomatoes on a tiny plot behind his house in the city. I don't think I have tasted a tomato like that in years!
Aren't they the funniest shape?
I think I am in Tomato Heaven. The funny thing is, I am the only one in the house who loves to eat them raw and whole. Luke does like the cherry tomatoes, but otherwise they are all mine. Well, I do share with neighbors and my mom ;-)
One hundred and seventy-two tomatoes in the pile below. Just from tonight's pickin'!

Do I Treasure His Word?

This post is in NO way meant to heap condemnation on anyone! Got it? I am just sharing my heart, recent convictions and some observations. I am NOT trying to make some new law or add a 'burden' on anyone.

With all that said, it dawned on me this weekend that this is my first time to actually be reading every single word in the bible. I am surprisingly knowledgeable of the scriptures. Trust me when I say it is a gift and not my wonderful intellect and memory retention ;-) But even as knowledgeable as I am, I still, until this forty day fast have never read every word of the Bible.

We are so privileged to have the very heart of our Father in written form at our fingertips. We have the opportunity to know what are His desires and commands. We really have no excuses to not be reading the whole counsel of His word.

It hit me when I read the following verse from Job 23:12,

I have esteemed and treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.

Do I do this? Really? Really treasure His words MORE than my necessary food, or even other even less necessary things? Ouch.

Just read through Psalm 119 sometime, you will probably fall head over heals in love with His law!

Your word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against You

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Your testimonies have I taken as a heritage forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the [whole] person; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The following verses from Psalm 19,

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure and bright, enlightening the eyes.

The [reverent] fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, even than much fine gold; they are sweeter also than honey and drippings from the honeycomb.

Moreover, by them is Your servant warned (reminded, illuminated, and instructed); and in keeping them there is great reward

I am humbled and convicted as I realize how much time I waste on 'worldly pursuits'. How much time do I spend increasing in knowledge about healthy eating, how to best home school, how to best . . . anything!?

How many times have I used the excuse of 'not enough time'? I have time for checking other's blogs, or formulating my own posts, or researching, or just vegging out watching a show, or mindlessly 'blog surfing', reading other books, (volumes and volumes of books) or talking on the phone. The list goes on.

How many hours do I spend 'studying' the wrong things, or the less important things?

We really do show what our priorities are by what we spend our time on. Is it possible that how we spend our time reveals the true desires of our hearts? ( I realize we all have responsibilities, I am not talking about neglecting God's call on your life ;-)

Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

Please hear my heart here. You are in no way to listen to the enemy if he comes knocking with condemnation. (let me know if you need a lesson on the difference between condemnation and conviction, please pay attention to 'who' is talking to you!) If the Holy Spirit is bringing conviction, then simply repent and ask Him what changes you need to make and what it would look like.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Happy Days!

Thank you for all my birthday wishes! Thank you to my sweet son, Joshua, for surprising me with that post.

While the week started out very sad and gloomy, the Lord certainly redeemed it and turned my mourning into dancing. On my birthday the children really blessed me with fun family time out by the pool and then a wonderful dinner, complete with table cloth, flowers and candles.

Brian surprised me with a Costco cake!! Chocolate with chocolate mousse! Does it get any better?? ;-)

Friday, Brian and I had to whole day to ourselves! We stopped at an antique store and then spent the entire gorgeous day on the beach at his parents. They have a home on Lake Michigan. We had the beach ALL to ourselves!

The ONLY drawback to the private beach is this walk down, well, the walk up too. But trust me, I am NOT complaining, though my calf muscles are today ;-)

This is the view down one way on the beach. Notice, not a person in sight!
This is the view the other way . . . again, nobody in sight!
Just these two, goofy, madly in love people!
We enjoyed the beauty and solitude. We read our bibles, prayed for our children and just rested! It was such a blessing after a difficult week.
Can you believe it? Just look at those clouds trying to creep in on my perfect day! Just kidding, it was perfect, but these truly were about the only clouds of the day.
Isn't it gorgeous. I have this thing with going to the beach. My family can hardly get me to go home. We have been blessed with years of being able to have our family vacation on a private beach. Every time I am on the beach I never want to leave. Even when we run out of food and water, I try to drag it out as long as I can.
This may be, in part, why I don't want to leave the beach ;-) Ugh, the dreaded steps. It is so worth it though.
Did I mention that we were the ONLY people on the beach the whole day! All this glory and beauty just for us! So spoiled, I know. Praise the Lord for His mercy and love poured out to us this beautiful day.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

This is Joshua, Michelle’s third son.

She doesn’t know that I am doing this but I wanted to let you all know that today is my mom’s 38th birthday. (Though she is really 44. She would like to think that she is only 38) I suppose that almost everybody thinks that their mother is the best in the world, I really think that my mom tops them all. She is the most loving and kind person I know. She shows by her actions and words that she really cares for us and truly loves the Lord with all her heart, soul, and mind.

Without our mom, the whole household would fall apart. If she didn’t direct chores and school, nothing would ever get done. She also makes the best food ever. Even though she doesn’t make every meal, she certainly plans and directs those she doesn’t make, as well as having taught us all we know about cooking. And let me say that the meals she doesn’t make aren’t anywhere as good as the meals she does make. (No offense to my older brother)

Now I know that my mom isn’t perfect, but what really matters is that she loves God and is trying her hardest to please him. Every morning she starts the day with a lengthy quiet time with God and throughout the day, in her free moments (which are usually seconds), she tries to read the Bible.

I haven’t been the best son to her, and have caused her a fair share of pain, but I love her just the same, and I am confident that she loves me.

Happy Birthday Mom!

This is my Mom and my Nana.

This is Mom and Josiah

This is Mom picking strawberries with Elijah

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What Would You Ask For?

Suppose, for just a moment, that the Lord came to you in a dream, as He did Solomon and asked you, "What shall I give you?"

In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night. And God said, Ask what I shall give you? (1 Kings 3:5)

What would your answer be?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's Official

Well, today my oldest son got married. Neither sets of parents were there. Though I tried, I walked up to see the end of the 'ceremony' from 50 yards away and could not follow through on my desire to put my emotions aside and show support. Brian was out of town on a trip he could not change. (he only had two days notice about the wedding) Her parents were un-invited just minutes before the 'ceremony.' The circumstances were far less than ideal. Mamas and Papas cried, sad tears. Hearts were broken once again. Little ones who struggle to make sense of sin and its consequences need comfort and words of wisdom. (from a sorrowful mama, no less) Older ones wrestle with bitterness, heartache and confusion.

Sorry to unload and invite you to my rather small pity party ;-) I thank you so much for your prayers today. I sensed the Lord's strength and grace to stay out of the pit. I was able to feel the emotions yet not let them overwhelm me. Brian had to stay out of town overnight, so our hearts are heavy that we are apart. But, we have the Lord to comfort and I have my eight other blessings to love on and to comfort me! I am blessed. Oh, and I have 30 more pages to read in my bible! No time for wallowing in the pit!

I feel Him picking me up and 'training my hands for war' as we battle in the heavenlies for our son and new daughter (whom we already love as a daughter, btw, which makes it doubly painful)

Come back tomorrow, I have a thought provoking question for you! Love to all!

Looking To Him

UNTO YOU do I lift up my eyes, O You Who are enthroned in heaven.

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, and as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He has mercy and loving-kindness for us.

Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on and loving-kindness for us, for we are exceedingly satiated with contempt.

Our life is exceedingly filled with the scorning and scoffing of those who are at ease and with the contempt of the proud (irresponsible tyrants who disregard God's law).

(Ps. 123)

Looking to Him today. In need of His great mercy and loving-kindness. Would you mind lifting this Mama's heart to the Lord today? Oh, and her son also?? Thank you.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Repentance and Heartache, But Also Hope

Whoa! This past week has been a rough one. BUT, it has also been so awesome.

The Lord keeps reminding me that there is a big picture here and He is doing a much bigger work than I could imagine. There is going to be many bumps and bruises along this journey to where ever our next step is with Him. I hadn't thought of that ;-) I am good at just 'jumping off the cliff' and asking questions later.

This past week has been filled with lots of repentance and heartaches. In the natural, our hearts are hurting. But, in the spiritual, we see that the Lord is doing a major cleansing in all of us as we seek Him in a bigger way. We sense that He is bringing us to an incredible place of unity and oneness. You simply cannot achieve that if everyone is not on board. You can't have 'sin in the camp' because it affects everyone!

It was wonderful yesterday morning when certain members of the 'camp' were doing some serious confessing and our 12 year old son and myself had the same revelation. We immediately thought of Achan and how he had unrepentant sin and it caused the whole group to lose in battle. If we are going to go out there and fight battles and hope to win, there simply cannot be hidden sin in the camp! We realized that this 'forty day fast' is doing way more than we could have ever imagined.

We are learning so much. I feel like our resolve is being strengthened and we are becoming increasingly excited for what the Lord is doing and going to be doing. Victoria was reading a book called True Religion (which I highly recommend) to me and it was only stirring and fanning what the Lord has already put in our hearts.

My new motto is "Go BIG or go home"

We want to live BIG for our Lord or we might as well just go home! Serve BIG, love BIG, lay down our lives BIG, live radically sold out, BIG!

The bible reading is going pretty good for everyone. We all are where we are supposed to be or close to it. While we desire to reach our goals, we also don't want to skim or quickly read to meet a goal and miss some precious truth.

I still struggle with this dumb computer! I am drawn to check emails way to often, and nobody is even emailing me, yet I go check anyway! It is crazy what a 'habit' it is! I am about ready to just chuck it in the pond. The Lord is speaking to me greatly on time spent on the computer. This thought floated in my head all weekend.

We have enough time in our day for the things that are important to us. (priorities)
We show what is important to us by what we spend our time on

I'll share more on this later. Can I just say, "OUCH!" that whole thought really hits home!
Have a lovely week and if you think about us, please pray for us. We some other issue to deal with this week that are difficult on a Mama and Papa's heart.