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n his birthday we celebrate and remember, LIFE.  

We remember the 16 years we were blessed with him in our lives, as our son and brother. As a child grows, we celebrate the milestones . . . the first tooth, first step, first day of school, driving, graduation, marriage, first grandbaby.  How I love these celebrations, and I have many of them.  But when it comes to a death date, it’s hard.  It’s not a celebration or another milestone, EXCEPT, we are that much closer to heaven and eternity.  It’s an anniversary that will always have a cloud over it.

Today marks 10 years our 16 year old son, Matthew, has been in heaven.  This 10th year has hit a bit harder than some of the past years.  As our children have gotten older and reflect on when Matthew died, they not only lost their brother on earth, they lost parts of their childhood.  They lost a part of their parents as they were lost in their own grief.  No one just snaps out of it – and gets on with normalcy, because it’s not normal for parents to bury their child. It’s not normal to lose a child to the choking game and for siblings to have memories of that day forever embedded in their minds.  I will share about the choking game and give it’s warnings and if you have not talked to your children, PLEASE sit down with them TODAY and warn them.  It’s being done every day in school, buses, at parties, and alone.  It kills.

But today, I think of my whole family, and my heart is sad. This is not a woe is me post.  It’s just a sadness that is much more than losing a child. It’s losing years. It’s parts of my children growing up that I do not remember because of the blur of too many years lost in grief.  Over time our children have revealed what they lost too. They see it as mom or dad “checked out”.  I gave up on things – sending the kids to bed without praying with them, eating away from the dinner table for many years with the TV on and no family talk.  We hid behind various things.  Yes, we miss Matthew, and always will.  But today, we miss a lot of other things.  But, it’s not hopeless.

It’s ten years our son is temporarily out of our lives.  Compared to eternity, we will forever be with him again, sooner than we can imagine.  But, for now, we have things to complete on earth.  I recently was reading through Joel and read in 2:25,  “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.”   Israel’s crops had been destroyed for years, not just because of the locust, but also because seeds could not be saved.  It had a long term affect.  Joel saw the destruction as God’s judgment.  Then, God promises to “restore” those lost years of the locust because of their repentance.  He promises to not only restore, but give abundant blessings.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
Joel 2:26

This restoration is both physical and spiritual, because what follows is praising God.  Their hearts are joyful again.

There are many good memories in our past ten years, with a new child and new children being added to our family by marriage and then a grandbaby.   For my children, it’s my prayer that God will restore the years that grief has eaten.  It’s just what’s on my heart this year, this 10th anniversary. I have more of a glimpse of what our children have gone through and voids in their lives.  I am sorry.  I am sorry for the pain it caused them. I pray they will never understand the pain their parents have gone through.  I pray for abundance of continued blessings in their lives and they will continue to see God satisfying their lives in ways people humanly cannot.

Someday all tears will be wiped away, we won’t miss the lost years, and we will not miss our temporarily missing son and brother.

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Friday Favorites

Posted: July 25, 2014 in Meme

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hough I have taken the last month or so off from daily writing, I still do a lot of reading online. Today I am just sharing some things that have encouraged me that I’d like to pass on.  I hope you can be encouraged as I have been.  

ONE

One of my daughters introduced me to this song, Be Still by The Fray.  

“Be Still”

Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still and know that I am here
Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still, be still, and know

When darkness comes upon you
And covers you with fear and shame
Be still and know that I’m with you
And I will say your name

If terror falls upon your bed
And sleep no longer comes
Remember all the words I said
Be still, be still, and know

And when you go through the valley
And the shadow comes down from the hill
If morning never comes to be
Be still, be still, be still

If you forget the way to go
And lose where you came from
If no one is standing beside you
Be still and know I am

Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still and know I am

TWO

This simple but needed truth from Chuck Swindoll to “Be Accountable” is well worth the 90 seconds to watch.  

 

 

THREE

A week or so ago, an online friend introduced me to the song, Brave by Sara Barelles.  I did not realize how popular this secular song is until now that I am hearing it all the time.  It’s a song my kids already knew and has been our new theme lately, to be brave – past our fears and brave for God. I think God really wanted me to grasp it even more when I got this devotional today.  God knew I needed to hear more on being brave.  Might you too?

BRAVE“It is brave to get up and carry on with your day even if you have a broken heart … It is brave to be married and committed. It’s brave to be sick and yet full of joy. It is brave to be quiet when you want to scream.

. . . I need the reminder, every day, that no part of me is a mistake and my normal life isn’t so normal….

These two stories – God made you on purpose and God made you to be brave – are what my life is about. Because I want you to believe it, but even more so because I need to be reminded and I need to believe it.

By Annie Downs,
Author of  Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have

 

FOUR

For my homeschool readers, be sure to check out Free Homeschool Deals on a regular basis or join their e-mail list.  You will not want to miss out on the many great deals and best of all, FREE deals, including e-books, lapbook projects, calendars, helps, apps, etc.   

FIVE

    

      Friday Favorites1

Saving Money on Clothes

Posted: July 14, 2014 in Saving Money

Whether you consider yourself a fashonista, or are happy with whatever you happen to grab out of the closet, the fact is clothes wear out, stop fitting, or just simply go out of style, whether for you personally or society in general.

The fact is, eventually you are going to have to spend money on clothes, whether you want to or not. The good news is you can upgrade your wardrobe without breaking the bank.

  • Avoid impulse buying and keep an eye out for sales. The first part of this is mandatory to controlling your fashion budget. Yes, you may find just the perfect blouse or shoes when you were least expecting it, but don’t take that as a sign that you have to have it right now.Check with the salesperson if the item might be going on sale soon. Most stores rotate their specials on a regular basis. A number of them will be happy to share this information because they just want to get you back in the store. Just remember when you go back to limit yourself to the sale items. Also, don’t be afraid to check out the discount rack. Many of the items are simply discontinued, or may have minor irregularities, but are still a great piece at a great value.
  • Think multi-purpose. There are several ways to make a few garments into several versatile outfits. When you are purchasing different parts of an ensemble, think about color and pattern matching across a number of pieces. With the proper blouses, vests and skirts, you can compile numerous looks for a fraction of the cost of off the rack sits. Of course the same is true for pants, jacket and shirt combinations. The only limit is your imagination.
  • Consider quality versus price. Sure, you might be able to by two dozen pairs of socks at the dollar store, but how long will they last compared to a three-pack of quality stockings for a few more dollars? There are times when buying a bargain is well worth it. If you need a bunch of cheap work socks you know you’re going to trash while working outside, or just working out, the cheaper socks may be a better choice. However, a heartier pair of socks will be more comfortable, prevent blisters, and last much longer. Consider your priorities, and make the choice you think will serve you best.
  • Shop at outlet stores and second-hand shops. Most big name chains also have factory outlet stores available. Though these aren’t always available in all areas, when you can find them they are worth exploring. They remove the glitz and glamour of fancy store fronts, but offer the same merchandise at greatly reduced prices. Sometimes the savings are due to irregularities, but often the products are no different than those you’d find in the upscale shops. Likewise, second-hand and consignment shops are becoming more and more popular. Of course the old stand-bys like the Salvation Army and Goodwill are always available. Granted, these may have a lot of clothes in which you have no interest, but with a little work some great clothes at amazing prices can be found.

If you’d prefer a more upscale environment, second-hand and consignment boutiques are popping up more and more in cities everywhere. Not only can you find quality clothing at rock bottom prices at these establishments, but you may also be able to bring in many of the clothes you’ve cleaned out of your own closet for trade credit and even greater savings. Whether these kind of money-saving stores are available where you live or not, there are also many online variations available for buying, selling or swapping used clothes.

And then at thirteen, when I was dying on the hospital bed and the nurses said I was a miracle, I finally saw him.

I saw God for who he was – a Savior who wasn’t a minister with a wrinkled forehead stuck in his office [her dad], who wasn’t a mother who had never been affirmed growing up, who wasn’t the church with all of its rules.

He grace.  And I began to believe with more than my mind, because I wanted to live. 

Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look page 48 by Emily T. Wierenga

 About the Book
Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.

Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I have followed Emily’s blog for many years now, so I was thrilled to get her book to review.  And, I was not disappointed. This memoir brings about all emotions . . . those of compassion and understanding, to gripping your heart for the unknown that Emily writes of.  I really like how Emily’s book brings you through her childhood – to heart commitment of never returning home – and then God changes that, and with it brings so much healing.  I find this so true in life – when we say “I will never do such and such” God often has other plans.

I found this book to be like I am  reading through someone’s journal – skipping around, and then coming back to fill in the gaps.  Her words are raw and real – writing things that we wish we could say at times, giving hope, truly found in Jesus.  I highly recommend reading Atlas Girl.

greensig

 Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look was provided courtesy of Baker Books,
in exchange for my written, honest review of this Book.

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xcept for maybe a post a week, I am planning on taking through July off from blogging for more time with my kids & grandbaby, more time outside enjoying the sun after too long of a winter, painting, gardening, knitting, sewing, walks, and impromptu picnics and adventures.  I also hope to read one stack of books – one of many stacks!

In August it is my plan to share some special reviews of various products, including homeschooling resources.  If you have products you would like reviewed, please drop me a note here. Just as one of daughters, who is an artist, is continually sketching something, both in her mind and on paper, I am always writing also, so I will be back!

T

his past week has been a humbling and healing time, which, in time, I will write about, but is part of my delay in writing this review for the blog tour (this was due last week). I was reading this book throughout some major home renovations and heart renovations, making this an especially wonderful God-ordained time to read, Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray.  I’d like to encourage you to click that link and not even read any further.  Order the book now!  It’s that good. There’s hardly a page in my book without a marking on it.  And, I can see it as one for anyone, where ever you may be with God. It was written from a broken heart in such a personal way that can touch a heart very personally, like it did mine. 

whitespace-coverI felt many times I was sitting at a coffee shoppe with Bonnie, saying, “oh yes, I have/am there too . . . yes, I struggle with panic attacks and dreams and struggles from the past…things I want to shove aside, forget“, and Bonnie would respond,

Perfect peace from God isn’t found by forgetting. Peace is ours if we dare to remember our pain and our sorrow, and experience our fears fully with Jesus.  Shalom peace from God is a putting back together.

Shalom is the movement to recover pieces of ourselves that have been abandoned, a putting back together of what we’ve left behind, to find Jesus with us in our memories.

….Shalom peace is now my place of faith.  My journey to find rest is now a journey toward wholeness.  A putting back together that includes broken pieces.

The journey of rest is leading me to recover all of my soul.  This peace makes no detours around reality.

Finding Spiritual Whitespace page 76, 77

Bonnie and I could easily understand together how “[b]ehind every pain lies a lost dream” and how we need to allow Jesus to repair the nets of  our dreams we’ve left behind and allow God to fill them full, and overflowing.  I imagine there will always be the knots in nets that have torn, but we can find the beauty even from those snarls and snags in our lives.

I can go on and on about Finding Spiritual Whitespace.  Her words are so much better than mine here, so I invite you to read her book.  I believe you will be greatly encouraged!I

greensig

 Finding Spiritual Whitespace was provided courtesy of Baker Books,
in exchange for my written, honest review of this Book.

We are so thankful for the 16 years we were blessed to have Matthew on earth.
We look forward to eternity together in heaven.

Always loved ~ So very missed.

Matthew BD 2014

 

Matthew2