Saturday, January 31, 2015

Mom's Birthday

Today is my Mom's 65th Birthday.

My Sister Bekki planned a party for her tonight and asked our friends and family to send her a card or note.  The hope was to get 65 little notes :) I of course was unable to be at the party, so I wrote her this letter.  Enjoy!

Mom's Birthday

March 10, 1976  
A day you will soon not forget… Not necessarily because I entered the world, but also because it is a day that you experienced terrifying, adrenaline filled adventure!  I am certain that telling Dad that you were in labor was exciting enough, but to then realize that you were in fact at the pushing stage while still in the car on Highway 99 was sheer terror! Dad's response, ever so Dad, was to take matters into his capable cars hands! Speeding down that road, jumping the railroad tracks (is that true?) and being deposited at the emergency room doors without a moment to spare! I entered the world like a whirlwind, with Dad still parking the car!  Haha!

I don't really feel like I was your whirlwind child though…  oh I had my moments, my stubborn nature, my canny ability to lie to your face, my frequent emotional outbursts, yes, I have had my moments. I would say in general, I was an easy child. I am sure that you realize however, that I took it all in. I examined what was going on around me, not constantly, but more often than not. I remember great times, funny times, and yes, even hard times. 

We have had so many great times.  Life on the farm as a small child was filled with adventure, excitement and work. Toiling in the garden with you, hanging out laundry, petting and trying to catch all those farm cats, drinking iced tea on the back patio, you helping us make hay forts in the haymow, feeding the cattle, the list is really endless. I watched you with Tim, and Drew and finally Baby Joy. You were and are a fabulous mom.  This is my recipe if you will, of how you Mothered
Julies Recipe to Motherhood

1 part discipline
1 part fun goofy behavior
1 part memorizing scripture (wonder where all those tapes went?)
1 part Evie, Joni, and The Gaithers
1 part soft structure
20 parts love!

We have had lots of fun times.  Here are a few highlights in my brain
Christmas baking, riding on the hood of the car to the bus that day and saying, as we likely bickered, "Cut it with the negative waves baby" (To quote a classic movie, Kelly's Heros) Making me ride my bike to school after I had perpetually overslept, (horrifying then, funny now) You graciously allowing me to traverse through the huge library of our family archives, (This is funny to Ben and everyone else, but just plain fun to me) Canning corn, strawberry jam, and tomato's. Trick or treat with you, such a great sport.  You enjoyed dressing up with us! You playing along with Dad and his silly little jokes on us (seriously, I was probably 12 before I realized that you were not the skier in the poster!)

And oh the hard times.  Transitioning from the farm to a shell of a house that needed major renovations. Hanging on for the ride that was our yard (Jule, it will look nice!) Countless hours covering your sinful children in agonizing prayer, Losing Dad, Shaelynn, and Adalyn. (Ugh my heart) And your Berbs moving to Texas. 

All these things Mom, I have watched and examined. I have watched your great times and noticed your joy in living in those moments. I have watched the funny times and marveled at your ability to let responsibility fly, to embrace the fun of life. I have watched and examined the hard times and am amazed how you have turned sorrow into joy. Watching you and Eddie love each other, my siblings and nieces and nephews, and my own family….. Oh Mom. You are a great Godly woman. To which you are, I am sure saying, "oh Sarah" but Mom, there really is not a Mom like you. You have embraced a God given life, with fun, joy and perseverance! Not many would be able to find love again, nor be able to be OK with Ben and I and your grandchildren, moving across the country, or find the joy in driving 12 hours at the drop of a hat to come visit us. We love you so much.

I get asked so often here in Texas, (the land filled with 2.1 children) "How do you do it? I mean, you have 5 kids?  My answer is always simple. "It's fun and it's what I know!  We have a ball, and this is how I was brought up! It's second nature!"  It's all those things because of your example. I have examined you. I have watched you. I have chose to follow in your footsteps. I can only hope and pray that I do it half as well as you did Mom.  I love you!  Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What I really think about Ben.....

Many people know the vibe I give off when Ben is around...  googly eyes, saying "Honey" with a certain inflection, holding his hand, etc...

I must tell you that while all of these feeling are genuine and true, there are some other things that I thought valid to share, how I really feel about Ben. Let's just say this is a full disclosure blog post. :)  Don't worry Mom, keeping it clean!  hehe!

This is my view of my marriage to Ben: I am desperately in love with my Husband... I believe most wives are, or should be.  I truly feel completely whole when I am with him.  I would love to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with him.  I hate for him to walk out the door without me.  I can't explain the hole it leaves in my heart when he goes to work, or any other place he goes without me.  He is a constant source of accountability for me, and I tend to work best when he is here.  Plus he is not bad to look at :)  No, seriously... He is a hottie!  (he loves that i tell you all that)

I am forever desiring to work on our relationship, hone it, and not take a day for granted.  You never know what tomorrow will bring and I would rather Ben know exactly how I feel about him, than not :)  All that said, we have our struggles, we do have 5 kids, and a revolving door of emotions running through this house at any given moment, (not just my little girls people... lets be honest here i am an emotional nightmare at times)

My view of marriage is likely not far off of many of your views of marriage, nor is it much different than how Christ loves the Church.  With that in mind, I truly believe that I am to be a help to my husband.  In Genesis God outlines His reasoning for sending Eve..
Genesis 2:18 
Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him"
This passage states quite clearly that my responsibility as wife is "helper" The term helper or helpmate may be difficult for some to take in this day and age. The term "suitable helper" (as it is also translated) may sound harsh to some. The term helper may be seen as "assistant" or any number of other words, but generally speaking it is someone who does the work that the boss won't or can't do.  I think most women who hear this description would be uninterested.  But this is only the worlds opinion of "helper" Gods definition is a bit different...
Psalm 121:1-2
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
God is the maker of Heaven and Earth... MY HELP!  If God is called helper, than I should commit it a privilege to be a helper to Ben.
Another verse that strikes me is:  
1 Corinthians 11:9
For indeed the man was not created for the woman's sake, but the woman for the man's sake.
OK, I know this may sound harsh, but here is my perspective.  God created me out of a need that Ben had. Now, that is not to say that I am secondary or created as an afterthought.  NO!  God had a specific purpose for me.  My support and help to Ben is essential to his success! God saw me as a great need for Ben, and fulfilled that need by making me.  I was created specifically for Ben!!  God knew that Ben needed someone custom made to help him be and do what he can't be and do by himself.  Such a humbling thought if you really think about it.  
So, the question then is "How can I be an effective helper?"  I understand that God created me with a special purpose, but how can I fulfill that purpose? 
Titus 2:4-5 Gives us a peek into the role of wife, Paul is speaking to older women here of their duties to the younger women.
Titus 2:4-5 that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
There are some highlights here that I was challenged by.  
Love Ben.  Well of course!  We all know that we are supposed to love our husbands.  My love for Ben is a responsibility rooted back in Genesis 2. To love Ben is to be his helper.  It is also encouragement, admiration, focus, attention and acceptance.  These are some of the ways I truly express love to Ben.  I find so much joy in our marriage in these things. He likes to hear me appreciate him. 
Proverbs 15:23 - A man has joy in an apt answer.  And how delightful is a timely word!  
Proverbs 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due...
I love being Ben's biggest fan.  People may forever and incessantly tease me about how I go on about how cute, and giddy Ben makes me.  But honestly, he is certainly the cutest most handsome guy out there, and I am not ashamed to tell you just how "hot" he is!  I pour myself into loving Ben by encouraging, admiring, focusing, attending, and accepting Ben daily.  It is a divine responsibility that God has given to me as his wife.  Do I love all of his funny quirks?  OK.... I do.  Do I love how he giggles during arguments? OK.... that one burns a bit, but as I think on it, it is one of the things I enjoy about him :) His humor!  Maybe not in the moment, but you get it. :)
He is truly my greatest earthly joy.  I count it an absolute privilege to be his biggest fan.  I do not want to hinder him, as that would result in his relationship with Christ to be hindered.  
Proverbs 12:4 says "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones"  
I really desire to be Ben's help, not hindrance.

While all of this lies at the core of who I desire to be to Ben and who I believe God wants me to be, I also love the random mundane things about him.  I have written about my husband many times on this blog, and on his 32nd Birthday I chronicled my favorite things about him....  Here are a few that are still at the top of my list in this his 37th year, and our 17th wedding anniversary:

1. Ben loves me how I am and who I am.  I need not change anything to make him happy.  What a gift he is to me!
2. Ben loves to tinker.  Over the years this has become more and more apparent.  Working on cars, rebuilding tractors, building furniture, etc.  I love his hard working hands!  Seriously.... I LOVE the callouses, and greasy fingernails.  :)
2. Ben is seriously sweet with words.  He could woo me with 2 words!  For real! His letter writing when we were dating was amazing!  I have a whole box of letters, (nothing like the written word ladies) and I cherish them!
3. Ben has a reddish tint to his hair and beard, with a few speckles of grey dotting it now,  seriously.... sooo handsome!
4. Ben loves pumpkin pie and raspberries. I have made him a pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin, and raspberry jelly, not jam folks... jelly!  With all the seeds stained out!  Took me 5 hours to make 6 pints, but it stands out as one of my favorite things that I have done for him :)  It was sooo good!
5. Ben is a servant.  He would do just about anything for anyone, anytime, anywhere.  
6. Ben is an excellent Dad.  He is very patient. He never hesitates in letting out kids "work" with him. He is more than willing to let them attempt their own project, even if it involves paint or mud. :)  
7. Ben is a human garbage disposal, which I share with you affectionately :) He will eat anything, and I mean anything, that I place in front of him.  
8. Ben's Granny Annie called him Benny..... it makes me tear up just typing that!  We miss Granny so much, and she was THE ONLY person who would get away with calling him Benny.... Don't even try it :)
9. Ben is an excellent tradesman.  He can woodwork, weld and just about anything to do with a construction site.  He once told me he has poured more concrete than I have walked on!  hehe!  If you had seen some of his jobsites, you would know that he is speaking truth!
10. Ben has 5 sisters and 1 brother.  You would think that this would prepare him for his own 4 daughters trek into their teen years.... you would be wrong :)
He can tell you how old his siblings are, but can't remember when their Birthdays are.  He mixes them all up! I won't even try with our 42 nieces and nephews! I love a large family.... it's so homey!
11. Ben loves coffee.  Plain black coffee, from a coffee stained mug he won't wash because "you lose all the goody!"
12. Ben impresses me daily in his efforts to live a Christ centered life, desiring to know a grow in the word, and lead his family in that way.  We still struggle and fail at times, but this last 2 years of our life has made us to be a more Christ centered family.  It's been difficult at times, and I know it will continue to be, but being led by my excellent husband of 17 years, gives me the courage to go on another day.  :) Seriously, so much has changed in us in 17 years.  In a lot of ways we are a completely different couple!  In a powerfully amazing Father-led way!!  I can't wait for the next 17 years!

So, this is what I really think of Ben. To be perfectly honest, I struggle with making Ben an idol in my life.... There I said it.  I have shared that nugget of guilt with 1, maybe 2 people.... EVER!  I have struggled with this since we started dating and have been too ashamed and nervous to speak of it.  My fear is that God will take away my idol.  Nobody wants a world without Ben Berberich! Am I right?  But, I have accepted the fact that that is Gods choice, not mine.  I need to fork over my idol worship of my Husband and embrace my worship of Christ. He loves my with a greater passion and desire than I could fathom on an earthly level. While I am head over heels with Ben, it is nothing in comparison to how head over heels HE is for me.  Perspective people..... perspective.  
My kids should never come above Ben, and Ben should never come above my Savior. Never, ever, ever...

One of my absolute favorite passages over these last 2 1/2 years is 
Ephesians 3:14-21
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work in us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen

This is how my Father loves. The love of Christ surpasses knowledge. If I can love Ben in a fraction of the way that Christ loves me, well... I commit to doing my best here on earth. I love you Benjamin Charles Berberich. You are His gift and treasure to me!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pushing myself.

I need to push myself.  I have hit a wall.  Life, worry, not living up to expectations, doubt in my relationships, etc...

Here is what I KNOW to be true:

God. I believe that He is the God.  Above all else, creator of the earth, master of my heart and mender of my wounds.  Big, real, here.

God promises are true.  Absolutely true.  He never promises that things won't be difficult.  He does promise His love, His Son, and my security in Heaven.  

God loves me... unconditionally.  Despite my recurring sin that will never cease while I am on this earth.  He loves me.  This is often beyond my comprehension... Why would a Father love a broken, bitter, sinful, destructive child.  He does.

I am struggling to keep my head above water, clinging to the truth that I have secured in my heart over the years, yet somehow I fail so see truth in it.  God has proven Himself to me time and time again, not the He has to, but nonetheless, He has.  Year after year I see that truth, large and loud.  I see it! And year after year, I lock that truth in my heart and often forget about it.  I forget the basic, unfailing love of My Heavenly Father! This is astounding to me! In the 27 years that I had with my earthly father, I never once doubted his love for me.  I can recall times when I felt failed by him, that I disappointed him, that he was stern with me, but I always felt loved.  Always.  I never have doubted that because I believe it to be true.  It is true.  Mike Kelly loved me. Why am I doubting the love of a most wonderful Heavenly Father?

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  

Oh faith.... why do I doubt?  Why do I wait? Why do I not believe?  

And here it is.  By faith our fathers in the old testament were proven to us. Had it not been for their great faith, and sometimes the lackthereof, the truth that I firmly believe in my heart would not resonate so strongly!  
Hebrews 1 is full of these stories of honest faith!

Vs 4  By faith Abel...
Vs 5  By faith Enoch...
Vs 7  By faith Noah...
Vs 8  By faith Abraham...
Vs 9  By faith Sarah...
Vs 20 By faith Isaac...
Vs 21 By faith Joseph...
Vs 22 By faith Joseph...
Vs 23 By faith Moses...
Vs 31 By faith Rahab the harlot...

By faith we receive.  We receive love.  We receive joy.  We receive a promise, a promise that we must, by faith, believe!  

God does not promise that there won't be struggle.  Matthew 7 clearly shows that.  Two men were building houses.  One built on the rock, one built in the sand.  We all know how this turns out, but I want to point out that the man who built on the rock was not promised protection from the storm.  The same storm that washed away the house on the sand, poured down on the house on the rock.  The house on the rock had a firm foundation.  

I see my struggles.  My doubt, my trial.  Right now those truths that I have in my heart are locked in there because of my struggle.  I confess that I have not been pursuing His word, nor praying as I should, and frankly that is effecting me.  Through all of this though, I have been continually loved by a gracious, caring Father who sees through my doubt and struggle to my heart.  I don't know that I have ever felt such a love as I trudge through the muck and mire of life. 

My Father loves me.  In spite of my struggle.  The battle has been won. I can claim victory.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I have been thinking...

I have been thinking ....

I have been challenging myself with writing out scripture and placing it around the house...

I started reading "The Cost of Discipleship"  (we'll see how long that lasts)

I have also been going over some of my "feelings" and "emotions" I know, danger, right?  If you know me at all, you realize that it takes seriously nothing for the waterworks to start.  In fact, this week as I was purging through papers, I got into some particularly precious ones, and just started bawling. Bawling because I miss my kids being tiny, and their notes to me with the sad little misspellings of words and the crazy amount of army man pictures that Jonah drew me.  He doesn't do that anymore!  Crying because I miss the earthly presence of my Dad, and of our sweet Shaelynn Sue.  I found Jonah's and Lydia's school journals from 2007-2008.  Let me tell you, I had not read them, and it's probably a good thing!  In their sweet childlike minds recalling their baby cousin's struggles and their own worries about their family.  I can't even explain how that hit me.  Ugh.  Anyway...  

I have endeavored a somewhat challenging and new thing for me.  I am going to start helping in our Women's Ministry team at Genesis Metro, called Sisterhood.  Every year they have a Women's Retreat, and I will say I am so excited!!  It is at a place called Allaso Ranch. Our theme this year will be "Beautiful" I am being challenged to think of something that I have encountered or endured, and to be able to tell my "story" while wishing to keep my emotions in check.  I can't even imagine.  So, I was going over some thought and decided to look back through my blog history and see what I had to say at those times when I felt most refined by my Savior.  This particular day struck me... July 9, 2007.  4 years after we lost Dad. Here is what I wrote:

"I don't know. I just feel kind of empty right now. Emotional too. I know what and who will feel the void, but for some reason I want to feel the pain. I think I need to keep everything real. To remind me how I healed my heart 4 years ago, and to continue to heal it over and over again. God fills the void. God heals me over and over. God is my Daddy. Praise Him!" 

I just don't know what to think about this comment??  It makes sense to me in some crazy way.  Let me explain:

When Ben and I got married in 1997, we were just young'uns who thought that we had it all figured out and that our love was enough to get us through the trials that were bound to come.  We knew challenges were on the way, we were 20!  We knew everything!  Right?  Well, we soon realized that God had a sense of humor, and a bigger plan and idea than we could fathom.  I became pregnant with Jonah a month after we got married, and lived in denial about it for 3 months.  Finally in July we told everyone we were expecting.  In August we thought I had miscarried.  I was at my Mom's house getting ready to go to a friends bridal shower, and began bleeding.  Mom hurriedly took me to my Dr. in Cedar Rapids, where she told Ben and I that the chances of still being pregnant were not good.  She took out the doppler, and put it to my belly, and we were sure that we would hear nothing.... thump, thump, thump, there was a heartbeat!!  I was put on bedrest for 10 weeks, and our little perfect world that we were sure to have, against all odds, was disturbed a bit :)  On Dec. 23, 1997, yes... 3 weeks early (oh, the tongues were wagging!) Jonah was born perfectly healthy.  Trial's #1-#25 Done.  Check!  We can do it all now!  BEEEEEEP!  Wrong!

Our trials are still here, I think we are in the 20,000's now :)

All this to say that I thought I had it all together!  I was the child of a revered Elder at Harmony Bible Church.  My parents and grandparents served faithfully every Sunday, and Wednesday's, and any other day in between.  I could stand behind my family, and feel security in Christ.  (what I felt at the time was security)  I was Mike's child.  It really did get me far.  Not only in church, but in the community, in my jobs, just everywhere.  This was somehow sufficient.  I remember thinking when I was engaged to Ben, "I'll worry about my relationship with Jesus when we get married, we will do this as a couple and everything will be great."  Perfection planned out.  The only problem with the plan? Actually doing it!  I know I failed my husband and frustrated him desperately!  
I was "riding the coattails" of my parents. Content with their faith.  Pleased with myself, and foolish.

Anyway, on July 10, 2003 our world was rocked.  This emotional girl was about to meet a warhead of emotion.  

Hebrews 4:16 says this:
"Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need"  
(Aside: We nearly named Lillian, Mercy.....)

When Drew called us, to tell us that Mom was on her way to the hospital with Dad, I was instantly shaking, panic stricken, in fear of losing him.  

Ben and I packed up freshly bathed and jammied babies, and rushed to the hospital. By the time we got there, he was gone.  Mom knew it, she had witnessed it.  She was beside Dad as God came and retrieved His faithful servant from this damaging, trying, contentious world.  Oh, isn't that beautiful though?  To witness the homegoing of the person you love the most on this earth?  And to have full knowledge of it happening? Wow, just wow. Sharing that moment.....

My heart broke in that moment, and I was forever changed.  But I wasn't angry with God, interestingly enough?  My range of emotions were devastation, to sadness, to fear, to worry, to sadness again, then back to devastated.  And around the loop again. We stayed in the hospital for a long time.  The kids weren't sure of what was going on, but Jonah did understand that Grandpa was in heaven.  As the ER filled with family members, dear friends, pastors, and others who just felt called to come, Jonah was outside with a friend.  We had not spoke much with him about all of this, in all of the craziness, but being carried around the parking lot, he pointed to the sky and said, "that's where my Grandpa Mike went"  Not sure where or how he understood, but at age 5, he did.

The time in the hospital was a blessing to me.  While we waited for Joy to arrive, (she was a counselor at camp that summer and got there as soon as she could) I reveled in the idea that Dad was not there... his body certainly was, but I knew he was not.  That was a strange sense of peace to me.  I held his hand, kissed his face, hugged him, and did the normal things a daughter would do.  We all did this for what seemed like hours. I think it was. 

Sweet friends of ours came and selflessly took our 3 babies home with them so that all 9 of us kids, Bek and Curt, Ben and I, Tim and Megan, Drew and Sam and sweet baby Joy, took our Momma home, and wept and prayed with her. What happened over the next few days was a lovely time for me.  I loved everyone coming together, and helping us in or grief, providing for our needs, both spiritual, emotional, and physical.  My Aunt and Uncle deep cleaned every inch that they could find, Dad's friends came and mowed our yard, dear sweet souls came and cleaned my messy home, It was just beautiful to me.  A picture of God caring for us in our desperation.  
Psalm 77:7-15
"Will the Lord reject forever?  And will He never be favorable again?  Has His lovingkindness ceased forever?  Has His promise come to an end forever?  Has God forgotten to be gracious, or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion? Then I said, "It was my grief that the right hand of The Most High has changed." I shall remember the deeds if the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old, I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds. Your way, O God is Holy, What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known Your strength among the peoples. You have by Your power redeemed Your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph"

Oh how we cry out in our grief. But verse 13-15 is my favorite.. 13"Your way, O God is Holy, What god is great like our God? 14 You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples. You have by Your power REDEEMED Your people."

God worked a wonder in me in those few days.  He gave me strength when I believed I had none.  My flesh cried out saying "Sarah, you are too fragile. You should be crying out in anger.  You can't handle this.  You can't, you aren't, you shouldn't, AAAAAH!  Enough!  I DID. In Christ's power and His alone, I shared at my Father's funeral.  I got up in front of a room full, and an overflow section, and a video feed to another room, and shared with everyone.  ME! The one who cries.  The one who exasperated her Dad on many occasion with tears, I just got up and told everyone that they needed a Savior named Jesus. Though I was scared and worried, not about getting up there, but about whether you could see my nursing pads or not.  Weird, I know!  I was not afraid to share with all of these people who, let's be honest, had likely already been witnessed to by my Dad, I was not afraid. 

That's when my life changed for the 2nd time in 4 days. When I say changed, I mean, changed course, it diverted, it did a turnabout.  This was the day that living my earthly Father's faith no longer was sufficient.  The day I had to stand on my own two feet. 

Romans 8:28-39
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord"

In my recent purging of papers..... we'll call it The Great Purge of 2013, I found a sheet of paper that I had scribbled a bunch of notes on.  The reference at the top is Romans 8:28-29
Here's what I wrote:
Why do I suffer if 28 is true? His promise is true-I misunderstand the promise. Even in suffering God causes all things to work together for good.  This promise is for those who love God and are called to His purpose.  His promise is that He is working it all together for His good - It's frankly hard to believe  
Key word- "good"  What is good? All the things that I think are good, still don't make me happy.  Being conformed to the image of Christ.  To be like Jesus - This is what is "good" for us- God do whatever in my Life to make me more like Christ.  Break me! 2 Cor. 12 7-10 (Paul is suffering) If God had to break Paul, there will be suffering for me.  Suffering is a beginning.  

I don't know when I wrote this, but here, in Texas, 10 years after my course took an about face, this makes more sense than ever!  What???  

I feel like I'm still at the beginning, we shall see....  my failures are great, my struggle is real and loud, and I am far from sanctification, but I feel like my understanding is continually being formed.  I am understanding more of my Savior.  These are the victories that have come from Dad. I could not be more proud of who he was as a man, and can not wait to see what God has created him to be in Heaven... Dad, there with my sweet baby, with 2 nieces that I had the pleasure to know here on earth, my Grandparents, and a plethora of others on the other side.  Oh I can't wait!!  Dad loved the songs about Heaven,  "Heaven is a Wonderful Place"  "I'll Fly Away" "Blessed Assurance" "Surely Goodness and Mercy" and he is THERE!!  He is!  And I will be there too someday.  

God is working on me.  Not sure the outcome yet, but I am determined.

Matthew 5:13-16
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are n the house,  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.

If you don't know my Dad, and if your eyeballs can take more reading, read this!  :) hehe, also, theres a picture of him and my Momma, see if I look like either of them!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Where we are at, and what we are doing....

I guess it's time to fill you all in on what has been happening to our family this summer.  

It has been a bit crazy at times, but we're hanging in there!

May 24: A day I had been anticipating for a long time.  Ben was flying home to help me pack!  I took the day off, and picked him up at the airport.  We had a nice lunch and after Ben spent some much needed time with our dog Lucky, we began packing.  Ugh.  I hate packing!  The girls got home from school and were elated to see their Daddy after 6 weeks.  
Our plan was to do as much packing as we could that weekend, and be prepared to move the weekend after the girls finished school.  They were to get out on June 5, Lydia's Birthday. :)  (a 13 year old!)  Ben was scheduled to fly back to Dallas on the 28th, and we were going to make the best of our time.

May 26: We found out that Ben's stay was going to be extended.  His work was installing a sign at the Blank Park Zoo, in Des Moines, and instead of flying up someone to install it, Ben would just stay until the 30th and install it.

May 27:  Had an unusually early phone call from a friend in Amana.  One of the Amana Farms employees had alerted Mike to the possibility of our home being in the path of the flooding that the area was experiencing.  At the time we were told that the potential of the flood could be worse than in 2008, which was a 500 year flood, that no one thought could ever be repeated.  
We made the decision then that our goal was to have everything packed that week, in the truck, ready to be driven to Texas.  We were uncertain of how all the details were going to shake out, but we knew we needed to get our things packed up.  ASAP. We packed, sorted, thew away, and repacked all day Monday.  

May 28:  We called in reinforcements.  Dear friends and family came and helped us pack.  We are so blessed to have such a wonderful group of friends.
Ben's Dad found us a truck on short notice and brought it out to the house. We then had a group of guys from our church come and help us pack the truck. Shout out to Veritas Church!  We love you! We had the truck packed and ready to go by 8 pm, all while watching the river rise behind our home.  It rose a lot that day.  The river is about a mile behind our house, on a normal day, but by the end of the day on May 28, it was about 1/4 mile away.  

With our home packed up and in a truck in our driveway, we had nowhere to go.  My hope was for the girls to finish as much school as they could, so our dear friends and distant cousins who live in Amana, Mike and Tracy Williams, let our family stay in their home.  We stayed there for 2 nights.  We are so grateful for them!  

May 29: Finished up some things and began moving things like kitchen cabinets and such upstairs.  We also ran some errands and such.  Luckily the buyer of our house was wonderful and understanding.  We worked together to get everything on the upper level of the house as we continued to watch the water rise.  By this time the water was lapping closer.  Here is a picture:

May 30: We had decided that this was the day we were leaving.  Our moving truck had to be in Texas by Saturday evening, and Ben was going to Des Moines to do the install anyway, so we got the girls out of school early on what was their last day.  We said our goodbyes to our school family and friends, and Ben's mom who had come over to say goodbye.  We loaded it all up, and pulled away from a home that was a home to us for 6 months.  We love that little house in Amana.  It did our family much good.  Ben had to be in Des Moines by 4, so off we went.  Ben finished the job in Des Moines and we plodded forward until we could go no further.  We stopped in Kansas and slept.

Here is our rig:

Yes, I pulled a trailer!  Ben drove the big truck.

May 31:  Up at the crack of dawn, hoping to get to Dallas quickly.  The kids were so great, they travelled so well, chatting, singing, and generally being champs.  I love them!  

We arrived in Frisco around 4.  Ahhhhh... Now to unpack all of our belongings in a storage unit, and get to Amanda and Steve's.  And while I am at it, I really have the most amazing family in the Finley's.  They have been the picture of grace and service to our family.  We love them dearly and are excited to live life alongside them!  Love being close to them!  Love to have someone to list as my emergency contacts for the kids school registrations :)

June arrived with excitement and a Birthday.  Lydia Grace turned 13.  We celebrated the day with a lunch date with Mom, to our favorite Tex Mex place, Salsa's, and a Starbucks.  I made her meal of choice that evening, Daddy brought her flowers, and we gave her some cash for her big 13th Birthday.  We had a fun time honoring our Lydia.  

We have tackled the summer with fun, swimming, sharing life with the Finley 7, and visiting family.  If you do the math, our 7 plus the Finley 7, living in the same house, plus 2 dogs, equals a lot of fun!

We have settled in at a Church Home too!  Genesis Metro, in Frisco, is giving us much in the way of community and spiritual encouragement.  We are really enjoying meeting and making new friends there.  Jonah and Lydia are enjoying the youth ministry, called FUSE, and we are excited to start a life group this fall!  

We also found a home!  We were set to close on the 26th of July, but the underwriting hit a snag of some sort, so we are still waiting to close.  We will be living in a town called Little Elm Texas.  It is a cute community, and we are looking forward to settling in.  

I will post more as soon as we move and settle in.  I am anxious to let you all know about our new home, and also fill you in on Ben's job!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Again with the Lately! But here it is!

Lately, there are more changes.

Lately, we are seeing God work.

Lately, we are excited!

Here goes...

After our fall of transitions, we have continually been in prayer for any opportunities that would use us as a family.  Amana has been a wonderful place for our family.  The school has been great for me, as a first "post SAHM" job. The farm has been good for Ben, and the kids have transitioned beautifully to the new district.  

We have been greatly encouraged by our Church, and the relationships that have been built there.  We had our first Church service Easter Sunday at The Chrome Horse in Cedar Rapids.  The official count was 225 people in attendance. Some familiar faces, some not.  What an exciting time, seeing people come together!  We are truly excited to see what God is doing through Veritas Cedar Rapids!  

About 2 months ago, Ben got a call from a company in Dallas Texas asking if he would consider coming down to talk about a possible job opportunity.  This is actually the company where my Brother-in-Law Steve works, and Ben and Steve have always dreamed of working together. We prayed asking God to guide us if we should even bother going.  We honestly were content in where God had us, and what we were doing, but after much consideration, we decided to go and at least hear them out, spend time with our family there, and enjoy some warmth.  We spent 4 days in Texas, Ben job shadowing, me hanging with Amanda and chasing after their 5 kids :)  Oh, I love them oodles!  We left feeling a bit confused.  What was God asking us to do?  Was there a clear answer that we were unwilling to see?  Was our pride in the way?  We gave it one more week of praying, and with confidence and peace we decided to take the position and move to Texas.  We are not sure what is in store for us, and can't explain or defend the choice or the peace we have  We have been unable to deny it.  So we are going to walk in that direction with heavy heart, in faith, believing that this is where God wants to use us.

So, here are the details...  Ben will start his job on April 15.  He is a Project Manager.  The company is called Museum Arts.  They in short, make museums. The exhibits, the technology, and the major ins and outs of of almost anything you see at a museum.  So, Ben will leave on April 13, and the kids and I will be staying here until the end of the school year.  Ben will be living with his sister and brother in law while looking for a home for us.  In the mean time, I will be tying up the loose ends here, finishing strong with the kids, and spending time with our families.  On the bright side, we have already sold our house!!  God has seen fit to take care of all of that!  That is a huge answer to prayer!  That has weighed a bit heavy on us since we only bought it 6 months ago. 

While this is a bittersweet thing for us, we are excited about what is in store for us in Texas.  We have a bit of a head start there, as we have family and many friends that live in the area, plus Chase and Abby are at Ft. Hood.  (Chase is a brother from another mother.... no for real, :) he is my brother, Eddie's son!)  Which is not too far.  It's only 12 hours from Iowa.  Mom and Eddie are retiring this spring.  Ben's family can hit 2 birds with one stone with both Amanda and Ben being there.  Both families can vacation there, as there is so much to do in Dallas!  We are excited!

Thank you so much for your prayers and support of our family over these last several months.  We love you and appreciate you.  Come visit!

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Lately, there have been changes.  

Lately, we are seeing God at work. 

Lately, there has been excitement.

Here goes.  

After a year or more of much prayer and sitting at the feet of Christ, Ben and I, under the what we feel leading/calling of Christ,  have decided with much sadness that our time here at camp is coming to a close.  God has been challenging us to take a huge leap of faith and change our lives, and therefore our kids' lives, and move on.  

We absolutely cherish the time we have spent here at EIBC.  The time we have grown as a family, and Ben and I as a couple is just a treasure to us.  When we started here at camp we were coming from a time in our lives that was hard.  Ben was working treacherous hours, and I was attempting to hold everything together.  The move to camp was such a huge answer to prayer, and God was definitely in the move.  He provided in such astounding ways then and has continued to prove to us that He is able.  We know that He loves us.  

In much the same way, He is proving His loving faithfulness to us now.  The things that have happened are really, humanly speaking, impossible.  

Let me tell you....

In the span of one week, Ben had been approached and interviewed for a job, I had been approached about a job, and we found a house in our price range, (which was peanuts).  

Ben took a job at Amana Farms, currently working on the cattle side of the business.  He will eventually transition to a position of Carpenter for the Amana Farms.  I took a postion at Amana Elementary School as an part time associate, and we have now purchased a home in Main Amana.  Ben is enjoying his job, I enjoy my job and the hours work great for our family, and the house is, well, it's amazing.  It is an Amana home, with all the character of an Amana home.  It has 4 bedrooms, is located in an area with much yard, and is close to the best fishing in Amana.  Jonah's dream come true.  There are also trees in our yard, the girls want a tree house. :) God came through with these request of the kids.  We are in the process of renovating the downstairs of the home.  The upstairs needs carpet and paint, and we will add a bathroom eventually for the kids.  The downstairs needed some attention.  We have leveled the floors, tore out the existing bathroom and kitchen, and are in the process of putting it all back together, in hopes of moving in a few weeks.  

To say that God has been in all of this is an understatement to us.  We have worked at camp for 9 years.  We have no equity to roll over into another home, nor have we much savings.  For us to be able to buy a house was out of the question, we thought.  Nothing is out of the question for God.  Nothing.  I don't normally talk of money things, but let me tell you.... we bought the house for $23,000.  It appraised for more than that, which means we got instant equity.  What???? Yep!  Nothing is out of the question for God.  Nothing.  

We are continually reminded of how big our God is and in fact how small we are.  We are going through a new sermon series at church.  Going through the book of Romans, yep it's great.  Check it out.  You won't be disappointed. Veritas Iowa City

Our family has been very encouraged by all that has been happening lately. Our kids are aware of what is going on, and they are excited too.  We really wanted them to understand what living in faith looks like, and we have been blown away by what God has given.  Thank you Lord for that!  That one thing alone is priceless to Ben and I.  

We are excited and standing by for what God is going to do next.  I am certain He will not disappoint :)

This is a view from our new yard.