Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013- Changing Up the Norm This Year

It's been really hard for me to want to do blogs since my camera broke several months ago.  Cell phone pics just aren't the same and lose their vibrancy.  I finally broke down and bought a new camera.  I got the Nikon Coolpix S9500 18MP because its has built in GPS and wifi.  Soooo, that is perfect for me.  Finally, finally, finally.

My family with friend Heidi

Usually I have Thanksgiving in my house and invite family over.  We also try to invite people over that don't have any family so that they aren't just sitting home.  This year, since we'll be gone for Christmas, we agreed to change things up and have Thanksgiving with Charles' family.  Usually we do Thanksgiving at our house and then Christmas Eve with Charles family.  Then Christmas day with my family.

I was a little sad not cooking the full Thanksgiving meal myself.  I enjoy every single bit of it.  It's even hard for me to let my mom help out because I love to cook it so much!  Some day I hope its a big affair at my house.  As my kids grow up and have their own families, I hope to host it!  It's such an important day to me.  I actually prefer it over Christmas because presents aren't expected.  We just visit together and maybe play board games after.

To be fair though, I don't get a chance to see Charles' family often.  It's definitely hard when you're married because you have to be sure to split the holidays up without anyone getting offended.  It was good to see all his family.  Charles' grandma had 10 children so you can imagine how the family has gotten huge.  I love it and am excited about my own large family.  I hope, I hope, I hope we all stay near when they are grown.  It would break my heart to have a kid move away.

 Family was shocked that my oldest is 13.  Heck, I'm still shocked!  People warned me time would fly but I didn't really believe it.  18 years of raising a kid sounds like a really long time.  It's not.  Sniff.

Where I live the whether is so much better come November.  It's cooler and we're not retreating indoors to be in A/C.  Ahhhh... while others are in snow, we are finally feeling FREE again.  I guess it's just opposite here.  We retreat indoors in the summer rather than the winter.

Our 15th anniversary is in about a week!  Wow!  Time has flown! 

Ryan is right underneath Chaz as he is only 12 months younger.  He's 12!

Caleb is only interested in trucks.

 Ivy and Ashley have become close friends.  They are two years apart and it's so cute to see them play together!

Anyhow, I haven't went on friends' blogs too much because the kids just did a hayday on our computers.  Just to use them I had to do a lot of work on them.  Man, oh, man.  I'm excited to be blogging more again and visiting other blogs!!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Chicken House Rules

Being that I've been needing to get a better Chicken coop together I decided to have fun and use the old playhouse. No one plays in it anymore. I heard rain was coming so I quickly worked on a couple of shelters to keep the bedding dry. However, I need to work on a much larger coup being I want to add about 20 more chickens soon. This last summer was tough for most people with chickens in my area. The heat was bad and I lost about 10 chickens. I would have 10 more egg layers now! Out of all the chickens still alive, which is eight, I have three roosters. Argh. That leaves only five egg layers. For our size family we need at least 20.  So, here I go again getting some adorable baby chicks and raising them up again. This time, not in the heat of the summer. ;)

I'm gonna get a sign made next to the luxury playhouse for the chickens that says...

"If you lay you stay,
  If no you go."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pastoral Abuse and Harassment... Crazy Happenings of Late

I had the weirdest thing happen about a week and a half ago which is why I hadn't posted for a bit. I mean, it's so odd that I don't know how to say it without making you scratch your head.

There is a church I have my kids play sports at. Sometimes we even go to fun events that they host for families. I had recently thought about paying for my kids to attend AWANA there as well each week. Until recently.

I had set up a guy with my friend that I met while my kids were playing sports. He's in a ministry position. A lady said to me that she had no idea why he was single. He owned his own company, was in his 30's, nice guy, good Christian. Bing! I instantly thought about a single friend of mine. Well, stupid me didn't know anything about this guy and just trusted the word of someone else that knew him. Or thought they knew him.

My friend and the guy went on a few dates. It didn't turn out like my friend hoped because the guy wasn't the same Christian type of guy that he portrayed on church grounds. In fact, he was pretty aggressive in his manner in general. I quickly regretted the set up. I was actually alarmed by some things since twice a week he prayed and did devotions with kids. With MY kid. Knowing there are probably church standards I took the matter to his pastor and set up a meeting. I explained AND showed him proof from my phone that someone gave me that he is not the guy he was portraying and I was worried about him teaching my kid. The pastor said he was truly surprised since they were accountability partners. He said he would definitely look into it. Come to find out later, they are not accountability partners, the pastor and this guy are best friends. They are both young and often hang out. I didn't know what the pastor would do with the info. I just figured he could do what he wanted with it. I wasn't gonna go blast it to everyone. It was private and I wanted to keep it private.

We'll, because I brought the matter to this guy's best friend, the pastor, both were angry. The pastor immediately demanded that the girl have a meeting with the guy I set up with her. Little did she know she was just being set up to be recorded. After he was done with her, the pastor told me I then have to meet them at Starbucks. Well, I'm not comfortable meeting two guys I barely know at a Starbucks far from the church location. He was very, very demanding I meet and also demanded my pastor's number. What?  This was extremely strange behavior and the pastor even accused me of defamation of character. I looked up the definition of that. It's where you spread false info of someone to hurt their reputation. Well, I went to the privacy of a pastor's office and I absolutely told no one else. I won't even tell you here because of that very reason. It's private.

After I started to feel some serious harassment I decided to call my pastor for advice. I told him the information from start to finish. He was confused as to why a pastor would be angry since I went to him in private about something so serious. Especially when I had proof of the offense. I explained that I wasn't trying to hurt the guy. Just hoped that their could be repentance and restoration. Importantly, he was ministering to my kids. My pastor said it was beginning to sound like harassment and I didn't need to give him any info.

The texting to my phone from both guys continued on my phone for a few days. The pastor again demanded I give him my pastor's number. I followed my pastors advice and did not give it. This angered the pastor so he did some Internet digging on me. He found my blog and supposedly my former pastor's number. He texted info he found to my friend about me. He also said he spoke with my former pastor and quoted some pretty harsh things to her. My friend asked to verify the info herself and asked for the name of my former pastor. He refused to give it. I'm not sure how truthful this is since we've been catching the pastor in several lies. He would text one thing to my friend and say it completely opposite to me. Also, I'm not sure how he spoke to my former pastor since he was out of town and does not give out his cell.

I've had to seek help because of the harassment. This whole thing has me scratching my head. I mean, it breaks my heart. I absolutely believe this church has amazing people in leadership for children. They just have no idea who their leader is. I know for a fact that if anyone else tries to go to him about the same issue, they will regret they did. He's even mocked me to my friend via texting for trying to alert the board of elders about the harassment.  Laughing how nothing will be done because he is executive pastor. The behavior of the pastor is more bizarre than the original issue I brought to him. He's only been a pastor of the mega church for 5 years and he's quite young. I'm still scratching my head. I really would still love for my kids to play sports there and attend AWANA but I don't know. If the standards of people are not upheld, then who will be teaching my kids? I'm in children's ministry myself and I have standards as well. I have to live by then in order to stay in that leadership position.

Even sadder about all this is my friend who was set up has serious medical issues. She will be going in for surgery to remove a tumor in her brain. The harassment she was receiving is finally dying down but the damage is done. I profusely apologized to her for setting up for this guy. I will never do that again unless I truly know someone. I'm sad they were insensitive to her and trying to get her to keep talking and meeting them when she's in constant pain.

(shaking my head...)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Delivered from Depression

This past week has been an amazing week.  My son Ryan has been going through a rough time since going to a new church.  He was told his best friend is never allowed to see him again since his parents changed churches.  It really, really hurt Ryan.  He had been pretty moody lately.  Not just these last couple of months but really for awhile.  I hadn't really seen the evidence of him having a relationship with Christ.  I have been praying for him that he will.  But since losing his closest friend, I could tell he was hurting even more.  He became even moodier and in turn was taking it out on everyone around him. Well, our church youth invited my boys to a youth convention.  I guess our youth leader knows the singer that sings on the radio. Well, when they had the concert, the guy pulled the alter call and my son said his heart hurt.  He prayed the sinners prayer.  He said, "Mom, I just felt reborn!"  The changed I've seen in him is drastic.  The depression has lifted, the moodiness is gone, and he has had joy I haven't seen in a long, long time.  I'm amazed! 

Today at church my family went up for prayer.  My son Chaz who is 13 got a word.  That God hears his prayers every day.  That he delights in him and has favor on him.  That God not only loves him but likes him just as he is.  I tried so hard not to cry hearing that.  Chaz DOES talk to God every day.  Without asking he will pray, do his homeschool, chores, and without complaint.  I mean, he amazes me.  Okay, one down, six more to go!  Ha! 

I had been battling depression for quite some time and really tried not to show it on my blog.  I worked so hard to put God and my family first.  In the process of that I was not always able to throw myself into ministries.  I always knew my family was my first ministry.  I just felt like I was on full blown burnout because I felt pressured to do more, more, more.  I couldn't! I knew I was at my limit.  A homeschooling mama is no joke.  It's hard work.  I've gone to college and worked before. Looking back, those jobs I had were a vacation compared to what I do now.  However, no matter how hard I worked at home training my kids up in Christ and academically, I felt like I wasn't doing enough for God.  I felt like I could never pray enough, read my bible enough, go to enough services.  I felt guilty if I was on burnout and had to skip a service.  Almost like I was displeasing God and that it meant I wasn't "faithful". That's further from the truth.  God sees our heart.  God saw those times that I would gather up my little ones in the morning and read the bible and pray with them.  He saw the tears of prayer.  He saw the witness in secret to someone who didn't know Christ.  He sees those things that no one else does.  I've learned that just because others might perceive me a certain way, they aren't God. They aren't the judge.  He is.  I live to please Him and Him alone.  Yes, it's good to have accountability but that can be abused when it's used to spy or make someone feel guilty. 

I've always seen God as someone who is watching me and just waiting for me to slip up.  Waiting to knock me into hell if I mess up too much.  There is a scripture that jumped out at me while I was sitting in church. 

"Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins."  Ecclesiastes 7:20

You probably think what's the big deal. Ohhhh, that's a big deal for me. I always put down myself for not being perfect enough.  I hated that I made mistakes.  Or that I gossiped when I shouldn't have.  Or that I thought a bad word.  I just hated that I couldn't be good enough. 

"His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime!..." Psalms 30:5

What?  That was news to me too!  Well, I guess that makes sense.  A GOOD father would forgive his son if he came to him and admitted a mistake.  A dad isn't gonna berate him for weeks on end and turn his back on him because of it.  (A normal, sane, God seeking dad of course). He will be happy his child repented!  It's not the other way around where He can't wait for you to make a mistake so He can flick you into hell.  Because of this thinking I just really had a bad view of God.  I feared him, which I should, but it was a very, very unhealthy fear.  A kind that kept me extremely depressed at times.  Since being delivered of that earning my way to heaven mentality, I feel such a freedom I have never felt before.  In that freedom comes joy.  Not a single day of that depression has come back in two months.  THAT IS A MIRACLE.  My husband has seen the difference.  Praise God!

Thank you, Jesus, for not giving up on my even though I was beginning to.  Even though I was beginning to turn my back because I didn't believe you could love someone like me.  Forgive me for being incredibly judgmental of others when I had no right to.  You have forgiven so much of me and continue to do so.  Forgive me for my ungrateful heart in everything you have revealed to me in the past.  Not believing you when you revealed how much you loved.  I feel like I was going around the desert grumbling and never believing in Your promise.  I love you!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Pampered Chef Party

I've never had one of those parties in my house. I figured I'd force myself to have one. Seriously, I so much love to just have my family to myself that I rarely ever invite anyone over. I get out a lot but I don't always bring people in.  I need to change that.

I just bought a dining room table to fit 10 people. We had a table that seated eight but even though we bought it new, it was slowly falling apart. It completely fell on my daughter one day. Never going back to that furniture place!  This table isn't a high one this time so it's more kid friendly. I redid my whole living room so we are so excited! Wheeeee!

My kids are traveling tonight with their church youth group so I'm excited for them. They are going to a kid conference. I'm excited to see them making friends again. Ryans having to start all over since losing his best friend. I can tell he is really broken hearted about it. I feel bad but when we changed churches I warned him in advance that would happen. He still voted for the change even with the risk. It's hard on kids when parents make big changes because they make friends and are dependent on the parents to keep the contact.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Fun At the State Fair 2013!

We had such a bad experience at the fair about 8 or so years ago that we hadn't gone back. It was super crowded and there were some scary fights that would break out right next to us. Fearing my little ones would get hurt, we just stayed away. Finally we thought it might be time to try again and so we planned it. This time we had added 4 more to the family and knew the cost would be much higher.
It seems impossible sometimes to get our family out the door quick so we lost out on the $2 entrance fee if you're there by 2pm.  So instead of our cost being $14 dollars it was $45. That's just to get in. I had found out how to get each of my kids free rides. Five of my kids filled out three book reports each so they each got three free rides. We told them to used them on the biggest rides because they cost more and then we paid for the rest. Saved us lots!

My little Caleb is 4 years old and he loves, loves trucks. We took everyone to see the monster truck rally but especially for Caleb. He was sooooo happy! Then we took him to ride on one and race around these obstacles. It was so cute to see how happy he was!

As I've gotten older I've gotten more chicken of scary rides. I don't know why. Maybe because I understand danger better. Haha. All I rode was Gravitron, which almost made me barf, and a kid roller coaster. Well, I grabbed my two girls and since it was almost closing time I thought I'd try it with them. We didn't have many tickets left but the worker told me to have my whole family ride. I was figuring it'd be a safe and cute ride. Well, I screamed the entire time! When I got off the ride my husband asked, Babe, was that you screaming?" Ummmmm.... I loved it so much I asked the worker if I had enough time to go buy more tickets. He said, you still have enough for your whole family. What? Yes!!!  (We didn't really. He was being kind again). So we went on it again and us girls in our car laughed the entire time. (I screamed). Ivy at the end said, "man, mom screams loud." That's guy saved us $50 by doing that. It was the last night of the fair and they were closing so I think he was just dealing out some kindness. We loved it! Wowee!

It was so much better this time. A fight almost broke out right next to my kids. Seriously, these were grown adults. It's so shocking to see the immaturity at times adults display. This is where kids learn it from. Not always from their peers but from the parents. My family has experienced a lot of bullying and I've really started to notice that the kids were acting a lot like their parents. Parents just bully without their fist with how they handle their authority position over others. Kids bully verbally and physically. It's a learned behavior often. Thankfully that was a short fight. I had to shove my kids out of the way of the argument. Was scared for a moment there. It was short lived and we went on to enjoy the rest of the time there. ;)

Tip for the fair. Maybe, possibly think about adding five point harnesses to your seats. Skinny kids and only loose bars to protect them aren't cool. Especially when the ride goes upside down. We would spend the money to ride many more rides.