Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Our Christmas Miracle: The Exciting Conclusion!

If you've been following my story of Our Christmas Miracle, this is the exciting conclusion and the part where the hero and heroine ride off into the sunset and live happily every after!  {I really wanted to say that, because I liked how it sounded! ;)  But the reality of our story is that the only Hero is God!}

If you've just stumbled upon this post and have no idea what I'm talking about or what the Lord has done for us or why it's a miracle, I invite you to read our amazing story of God's miraculous provision here:  


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

And now for the conclusion:



Yesterday our dreams came true!  There was no last minute crisis or drama (except for waking up to a sick child!)!  We actually closed as scheduled on the house that the Lord has provided for us!!! 

I had planned to get someone to take a picture of Alan and me with our amazing realtor, Marcia, but I forgot until the last minute. At that point, Alan was in a hurry to get to a meeting and it was SO COLD and the wicked wind was chilling our spoiled-by-south-Georgia-winter bodies, which meant I just quickly snapped this photo of Alan with Marcia. I'm glad it turned out!

Marcia has been Awesome!  She really accepted a challenge when she agreed to try to find a house for us and she has become way more than our realtor, she is a dear friend to our family and a witness to all that God has done for us!! Thank you Marcia for really going the extra mile for us!!  :)





Several of you have asked me for pictures, so here are a few!  As you will see, the house is beautiful and we are beyond excited!  :)





This is the dining room, looking from the kitchen and towards the front door.




This is the family room also looking from the kitchen.  The hall on the back left leads to the master bedroom and bathroom.  The rest of the bedrooms are upstairs.



I love how I can stand in the kitchen and see into both the family room and the dining room and even see who walks in the front door!  :)



The kitchen is truly the heart of this home!  It is both beautiful and functional.  It also contains a double blessing, with 2 ovens and 2 dishwashers!  :)


Speaking of a double blessing, now would be as good a time as any to break the news to you gently -- this house has not just one, but two laundry rooms!!!  One upstairs and one downstairs!  :)

If anyone is still reading here after I've admitted to that blessing, I'll be back soon with more pictures and a moving update, but for now, I better get back to Work!  ;)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Marriage Monday: Loving Your Husband Through Depression {Link up}


Marriage Mondays


Welcome back to Marriage Monday! I am in the midst of a series on Loving our Husbands. Last week, I talked about Loving our Husbands by Encouraging Them. If you missed that post, you might want to click on the link and read about 10 ways you can encourage your husband.

These tips are helpful if your husband is simply discouraged or mildly depressed. But what do you do if your husband is deeply depressed? How can you love your husband during a time of depression?  The following thoughts are from a woman that I love and admire and who had to walk down this difficult path for a time --  my Pastor's wife, Susan




As a woman, I depend on my husband for so much. I need his love and support, his listening ear and his strong arms. He is called upon to fix the leaky faucet, change the oil in the car and to destroy any creepy-crawler that might invade the privacy of our home or yard. He is my provider, protector, and my partner for life. I think you would agree with me that every woman is proud to have a strong, stable and dependable man at her side, one that she can admire and respect. As wives, we breathe easier knowing that we can securely rest in our husband’s ability to handle whatever life brings our way. He’s the man and he’s got this!


But what happens if you wake up one day to find that your husband has no joy, no smile, and no strength? Your better half is hard to find because he has drifted into a world of deep sadness, anxiety and hopelessness. In these current days of financial insecurity, a troublesome job market and the overwhelming pressures of daily life, more and more of our husbands are finding themselves in this dark place know as depression. What’s a godly wife to do when faced with a spouse’s depression? How should she respond? 

After years of ministering and serving the Lord, deep trials and affliction caused my cheerful, happy-go-lucky and funny husband to lose his spark and become filled with so much sadness and despondency that he struggled getting out of bed and facing the day. Darkness and despair became his daily companion. What I share with you I learned from our walk together through times of depression.

Although you may want to run and hide and give into the fear and frustration you are feeling, DON’T. Now is the time to be the virtuous woman God has called you to be. The actual word for virtuous is valor and now more than ever you will need to be a woman of great valor and courage. 

Here are 7 Suggestions for Loving Your Husband through  Time of Depression:

1. See it as an opportunity to live out your marriage vows. 
Remember those words, “For better or worse, ...in sickness and in health….to love and to cherish”? Now you will be able to prove to your husband that you really meant it. You must make a concentrated effort to focus on his emotional, mental and spiritual healing. You will be partnering with the Lord to bring healing into your husband’s life. “Love never fails.” I Cor. 13:8

2. Seek out opportunities to courageously love your husband
Depression can cause your husband to act in unappealing ways. When he is harsh, angry, and despondent, be gentle with your words and kind with your actions. Let love be behind your every motive. The love of Christ and His example must be your guiding force as you respond to your husband’s depression. “Love suffers long and is kind.“ I Cor. 13:4

3. Speak blessing over him, when he can hear you and when he can’t.
When he is hopeless, speak of the hope we have in the Lord. When he is anxious, speak of the peace Jesus gives. When he is feeling worthless, speak of his worth in Christ and to you. In his presence tell him how thankful you are for him, affirm him, praise him. When speaking of him to others be respectful and uplifting. It is important to remember you must do this even if you do not feel like it. “She opens her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” Proverbs 31:26

4. Submerge yourself in prayer for your husband. 
Pray for him silently as he sleeps. Pray for him openly in his presence. Ask him if you can pray over him during the day and then speak the words of blessing and healing that can only come from the hand of God. I learned this from my own husband’s example of praying over me in my own personal times of affliction. “Pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16
 
5. Silently listen when he is ready to talk. 
Don’t nag. Don’t belittle. It is important for him to express how he feels which is not always easy for our men. He will need to know that his feelings are safe with you. “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” James 1:19

6. Speak the truth in love. 
The time may come to confront his depression with a Christian counselor. If your husband knows he can trust your good heart he will be more likely to listen to your words of advice and know that you are seeking his well-being. Use the wisdom of Esther to know how and when to speak to your husband about the difficult place he is in and how it is affecting you and others. Pretending like it doesn’t exist will not bring healing and peace into your husband’s life.

7. Finally, while focusing on your husbands’ spiritual, emotional and mental well-being, don’t neglect your own
It is crucial at this time that you die to self and be a Spirit-filled wife. Now is the time to draw ever closer to the Lord God who can meet the needs your husband cannot. Isaiah 54: 5 says “ For your Maker is your husband; the Lord of hosts is His name.” Depend completely on Him who is able to work this dark and lonely time into a powerful, beautiful season of blessing and healing.

Depression need not be the end of stability and strength for your husband or your marriage. You as his wife, can work alongside our Almighty God to bring beauty for ashes and to turn mourning into dancing. Claim Jeremiah 33: 6 as your own, “Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.” He is able, and He will do it!




Your Turn to Share:

Has your husband ever gone through a time of depression? Please share some of the ways that you helped him walk this dark valley. What sustained you the most during his depression? What seemed to encourage him the most? Please share so we might all be encouraged!


If you were blessed or encouraged by this post, please consider sharing it with your friends on Facebook or other social media sites.  Thank you!


Link up:

I'd love to have you link up your blog to mine!  Please link up any past or present posts related to Christian marriage.  Don't forget to link back to my blog!  Thanks!



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Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Peek into Our Home

I thought you might enjoy a little peek into our home to see how we're spending our days!


Routine schoolwork in the morning and early afternoon followed by Packing 101!  :)  One of the blessings of homeschooling is that our children are not tucked away at school where they miss out on Real Life. They are here with us from day to day learning how to navigate the ups and downs of life and learning practical life skills such as how to pack a box for moving! One of the first lessons I taught them was that books go into small, book boxes -- not larger boxes that are soon too heavy to lift!!  ;)



We probably have more books than any other family in the entire world!  And as you can see, our bookshelves are emptying out. My husband really wants me to prioritize what we keep with this move and try to reduce the number of books we own, as we won't have as much space for bookcases in our new house.  Do you know how hard that is to do?  Especially when I've been collecting quality books for the last 23 years of homeschooling, plus my Mom has been blessing me with treasured books from her extensive library in recent weeks!  So, I will be facing some tough decisions in the days ahead . . . and looking for creative storage options!  (I wonder how many boxes of books I can store under my bed or in my closet??)  ;)



Did you know that children need meaningful work and that working hard and contributing to the family actually makes them feel important, needed and enhances their "self-esteem?"  Maybe that is one of the problems with the young people today -- due to the characteristics of modern culture, overly zealous child-labor laws, and an abundance of academics and extra-curricular activities, most children and teens of today don't really seem to do much physical labor

Let me give you an example that illustrates what I'm saying. A few days ago Matt said this to me:  "Mom, I just feel so achieved because I packed four boxes all by myself, plus I cleaned out the bottom of the pantry for you!"  Isn't that cute??  It just proves that he felt good about himself because he had worked hard and accomplished something of real importance to the family.  





Sometimes a big job can be overwhelming for kids and adults alike. That is why we should always break a mammoth task down into smaller jobs. I realized that if we all pack just a couple boxes a day, we will get it all done without feeling overwhelmed!  



Working also builds character!  So, I'd say that we will be doing a good bit of character building in the days ahead!  ;) 



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Seriously God? Winner Announced!

Thank you to all those who entered and shared my recent giveaway of Jenny Smith's book, Seriously God?  


I have a winner!  The free book will go to Christi!  :)  I trust it will be a blessing to her!

If you did not win and would like to grab your own copy of this edifying book, Click here.

What's Cooking? Zuppa Toscana

I made this recipe last night for our Homeschool Co-op's Couples' Night Out.  It turned out really well and was enjoyed by those who tried it!  Some were scared off by the Kale!  :)  I do think I would chop the kale into smaller pieces next time, but believe me, there will be a next time for this delicious soup!!! :)

Zuppa Toscana (Inspired by The Olive Garden)




Ingredients:

2 pounds Italian sausage
1/2 pound bacon
4 large Russet potatoes, cubed
1 to 2 large onions, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups kale, chopped
4 to 6 cups chicken stock/broth
2 cups water
2 cups heavy whipping cream or half and half
Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Cook bacon in large dutch oven. Remove and crumble; save drippings.
2. Remove Italian sausage from casings. Brown in bacon drippings, crumbling as it cooks.
3. When sausage is almost done, add chopped onions and minced garlic; sauteing in the drippings.  (Drain excess grease if need be.)
4. Add chicken broth and water and bring to a boil.
5. Add chopped potatoes. 
6. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender.  
7. Stir in bacon, chopped kale and salt and pepper to taste.
8. Simmer on low heat until ready to serve. Then add cream or half and half and heat gently for about 5 minutes.
9. Serve with parmesan cheese, a big salad and some crusty bread!


This recipe was a big hit with my family!  They are already begging me to make more!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Marriage Monday: Loving Your Husband by Encouraging Him {Link up}


Marriage Mondays


Welcome back to Marriage Monday! I am in the midst of a series on Loving our Husbands. Last week, I talked about Loving our Husbands by Spending Time with Them. If you missed that post, you might want to click on the link and check it out. It's not too late to add your ideas for spending time together! 

This week I want to talk about how we can love our husbands by encouraging them!

My husband tends to be naturally more melancholy and pessimistic than I am. I'm definitely more of an optimist. However, at times I can be unrealistically optimistic, so he brings me back to earth! ;)  And when he is sounding too much like Eeyore, I encourage him to look at things from a brighter perspective. As you can see, we balance each other out perfectly!  ;)  (Which, by the way, is exactly how God intended marriage to work!)

Regardless of whether we are naturally optimistic or not, one aspect of loving our husbands is to encourage them when they need it. Whether they are uncertain of their abilities, feeling beaten down and trampled on by the world, overcome by their failures, or just generally discouraged by the trials of life, it is both our responsibility and privilege to come along side of them and encourage them! Here are some simple ways to do just that.





Ten Ways to Encourage Your Husband:

1. Write an encouraging note and put it in his lunchbag, briefcase or car where he will find it. Or send him an encouraging email or text.

2. Listen attentively to his problems and offer sympathy or perhaps a few gentle suggestions, if he seems receptive to that.

3. Encourage him to look for the good in every situation, reminding him to trust God to redeem even the worst situation and to bring good out of it. (Romans 8:28)

4. Affirm him and make sure he knows that you believe in him!

5. Remind of him of his positive attributes, strengths and abilities and express confidence in his ability to handle a difficult situation or to make a wise decision.

6. If he is discouraged because he is overwhelmed, stressed, or has too many demands on his time and energy, look for ways you or the children might be able to lighten his load by helping him with some of his chores, such as doing the yard work or running some errands, perhaps. (Yes, even if you are overwhelmed by your own work load!)

7. If he is discouraged about finances or a job loss, refrain from complaining about a lack of resources. Instead look for creative ways to make do.

8. Pray for him and with him.

9. Share encouraging Scripture verses or devotionals (like ones from my favorite devotional - Jesus Calling!!) with him. Encourage him to keep his eyes on Jesus!

10. Smile and stay upbeat and positive in his presence, even if you are struggling with discouragement yourself! (Let that be your little secret!)  :)


These are a few of the ways I've encouraged my husband through the years. I'd love to hear other strategies that you have used to encourage and build up your husband!

While I know that the above ideas are helpful for encouraging your husband if he is struggling with discouragement, I also know that some of you may be facing a more serious situation. Perhaps your husband is beyond discouraged; he is drowning in a deep depression that is affecting your family life and his ability to work. What then? How do you help your husband when he is seriously depressed?  Make sure you come back next week, as I share some insigts from someone very dear to me on how to love your husband through depression.



Your Turn to Share:

Please share some of the ways that you encourage your husband when he is discouraged. Or perhaps you are the one who has struggled most with discouragement and he has encouraged you. Feel free to share practical ways that your husband has encouraged you!  Please share so we might all be encouraged!


If you were blessed or encouraged by this post, please consider sharing it with your friends on Facebook or other social media sites.  Thank you!


Link up:

I'd love to have you link up your blog to mine!  Please link up any past or present posts related to Christian marriage.  Don't forget to link back to my blog!  Thanks!



Photobucket









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The Alabaster Jar










What Joy Is Mine





Growing Home













Courtship Connection
































Marriage & Mommyhood















TLHV button


Wise-Woman-Builds




Missional Women






















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