Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Supernatural Swagger Wagon XXL.....

After baby #6 got here in September, we began having to take two cars everywhere we went!  We could no longer fit our entire family in our 7 passenger van.  Because of this and the cost of gas, for the last 8 months we have just been sticking close to home most of the time, unless Grandma was able to come over so me and daddy could have date night at the grocery store!

We realized this past week that we were going to have to rent a van soon for a trip we had planned.  That rental for a large van was going to cost us $900.00 for the week!!  We've been very budget minded the last year, and have our hearts set on working towards living debt free!  I'm sure it will take us a while to get there but we are making strides in that direction.  We decided that in order to be a good steward of God's money he has given us- it was a waste to pay $900.00 to use a van for a week when we needed one to keep!  So we went on the hunt for a 12 or 15 passenger van that would fit our family.  Every few hours of each day you could find me searching Craigslist for a van up to 200 miles away from us!  After a few weeks of nothing, I realized I needed prayer!!

I posted to my Christian brothers and sisters on facebook, asking if they would pray that God would provide us with a van that was in our price range.  Most everything we were finding was 6k more than we wanted to pay for it!  Many friends let us know they would start praying that we would be able to find a van within our price range- and one in particular that stuck out to me said that they were praying that "God would supernaturally provide" us with a van!  And that is exactly what he did!!

Saturday evening we saw a post on Craigslist.  It was a 15 passenger, 215k miles, and was missing the back seat.  It was also 500.00 less than I wanted to pay for a van!  I told Nathan "this has to be the right one cause we've been praying!!"  He called the guy who agreed to meet with us on monday!  Sunday evening when we texted asking for the vin number he told us he went ahead and sold it!!!  I was so devastated!  I just couldn't understand why that happened when I knew that people had been praying for us to get a good van at a good price!!  BUT- I prayed again- asked for more prayer and thought to myself, "my God will supply all my needs."

Yesterday we exhausted all options with finding a van.  We wanted to pay cash for it so we didn't have a payment but had to stay withing our budget but there just was NOTHING!!  We looked at auctions, craigslist, and called car lots!  We even thought that maybe we would just have to finance a little more so we could get a van!  Well I'm glad we stuck with our instincts that "God would supply our needs" because that very night after asking for more prayer, I received an email from a friend.  It told me she got emails from a ministry here in town and just tonight they sent out an email that they were wanting to sell a 2002 15 passenger van, 147k miles, 1k less than our budget price, in EXCELLENT shape besides a few cosmetic issues!!  We called immediately!!!  We drove out this morning and then this afternoon we brought home our Supernatural, God given- 15 passenger van that we can ALL fit in plus more!!  The girls call it, "our bus!"

We are beyond excited that God has been using our lives to show his miracles!  I am thrilled that at the young age my children at at that they have already witnessed the hand of God moving in our lives and answering so many of our prayers at such an early age!  I pray that The Lord will allow them to always look back on what he has done for us, and supplied for us and never have any doubts about who holds their future in their hands!

Huge thank you to all who prayed for us!! Prayer makes a huge difference!!  Thank you!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

My Real-Life Love Story....

In the last several years, I've taken a love to reading.  I was never a huge reader in the past and always thought, "what's the point when I can watch the movie," however, I started reading one day and haven't stopped since!  I am a very picky reader and read mostly read Christian-fiction.  Recently, I've tried a few books outside of my normal genre and they were pretty good but one category that I have never been able to really enjoy- is Romance.  I have many friends and family who really enjoy reading Romance Novels and there is no judgement here from me on their decision- however, for me- just not my cup of tea!  I had someone recommend a book to me not long ago that was a romance and I decided I would be open-minded and give it a whirl but I found it cheesy, boring and very unrealistic.

  Why you ask, do I not enjoy a good romance novel?  Because I have experienced, first hand, the most romantic, selfless love story anyone has ever read in my own personal life.  Compared to my love story- any non-fiction Romance is down right cheesy!  Some of you may know most of my story but for those of you who do not....I hope you enjoy.

Thirteen years ago, I was a Senior in high school.  I was a Christian who was still leaning the ropes of what Christ expected of me, I was also actively looking for that love that lasted forever!  See I knew the love of Christ but I had never really experienced the love of Christ- ( you will understand what I mean by that later on).  At Graduation I was dating my high school sweetheart whom I also thought loved the Lord like I did!  I went on to marry him at the young age of 19.  Three months before I married him- he threw me through a wall- yet I still married him!  Love is so blind when it is infatuation!  For two years, I hid the fact that I was being abused, mentally, and physically.  Then one day I was dragged down the hallway and thrown from my apartment barefooted.  I went to his family for support but was told if I wanted they would put me on a plane back to my parents- so I kept quiet-and we went through counseling.  Just when I thought things were beginning to look up, and we were talking about having children- I caught him with another woman.  He sold his truck and took all that money he got from it down to an attorney and filed divorce papers.  I thought my life was over!

I spent that Thanksgiving and the whole month of November- on the floor in my kitchen, praying that God would put my life back together.  I was 10 hours away from any of my family, my closest friend was in Colorado, and I was completely alone!  In December I packed up my Jeep and drove 10 long hours back to my parents house praying and asking God the entire way, "Lord- I don't think that I can get through this alone, not knowing that one day I will have a family, not knowing that one day I will have a husband who loves me!"  I begged God  "PLEASE LORD send me a man who loves you more than me, and me more than anything else!"

It was the first time in my life I felt like I had absolutely no control over anything!  One night when I got back I was at a small group meeting and our small group leader decided to do a foot washing.  For those of you who don't understand that- back in biblical days washing someone's feet was a way that they showed hospitality and respect. It's something that isn't done much now days and can be a bit humbling when it is done to you!  That night I remember like yesterday because it changed my life! As our leader walked from person to person washing their feet, I began to get very uncomfortable!  At first I began getting angry because I didn't want him to do that to me!!  I was not above him, I was a dirty, worthless person that no one wanted! I didn't want him to do that, I didn't deserve for him to do that!!  But it didn't matter what I wanted because he was going to do it anyways!!   For the first time I realized the price that Jesus paid for my Sins!   Here I was feeling dirty, unclean, unwanted, thrown away, and no good for anyone else- and Jesus didn't care one minute about that, he saw me as someone who was beautiful and worth dying for.  That night as my feet were washed by one of my most respected friends, I imagined myself arguing with Jesus, pleading with him to not get on that cross- DO NOT DYE FOR ME!!  Do not throw away your perfect, sinless, guilt-free life for someone who is dirty, used, sinful and broken!!  Please Lord I'm not going to change, I'm always going to be a sinner!!  I'm always going to do the wrong thing, and disappoint you!! I always disappoint everyone!  Then I heard the Lord whisper to my spirit, "I have already died for you, I chose to die for you because you are worth it!"

That was the first time I realized exactly how much Christ loved me!  He knew that I would sin again- he knew that there would be sins in my life that I struggled with EVERY DAY for the REST of my LIFE-- yet--he still died for me.

A month after I moved back home to my parents, I met Nathan.  I knew the minute he walked into our small group that night that he was everything I had ever wanted in a husband.  I thought that there was no way he would ever be interested in someone like me, especially since I had been married before!  We became friends and quickly grew close.  After a few months we were inseparable!  He was my best-friend!  I was too scared to have a real relationship outside of that friendship with him- although after 2 weeks he was begging me to run away and get married- I didn't want to make a mistake again!  What if I messed up again!!  What if he wasn't who he said he was?  So- we went on dates- which normally consisted of us singing praise and worship in my room together, or going to church.  I pushed him away, treated him terribly because I thought if I could get him to leave me, then I could avoid hurt later.  But he stuck around.  Finally I begin taking a class on inner-healing.  Through that class the Lord healed my broken heart and at the end of that class he spoke to me and said, "Toneka, you asked me for a man like Nathan and I've given him to you, now you can either accept him, or I will take him away from you!"  That day was the first day I told him I loved him!  We were engaged a month later and married 6 months later.

The bible says in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."  John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him, shall not parish but have ever lasting life."

It is 13 years later and I can tell you that I have two amazing men in my life who love me so much they would be willing to lay down their lives for me.  Jesus Christ, and my sweet Godly husband.  No Romance novel could ever compare to my love story, and no love could ever compare to the love I have found in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and in my sweet God given husband!

Since tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday, this past week our family sat together and watched "Jesus of Nazareth."  When it was time for Jesus to be put on the cross my sweet Little-Bear cried her heart out and kept asking, "why won't he save himself mommy?!"  and I would answer her, "because honey he didn't want you to have to go through that, he did it for you, he loves you so much that he died for you!!"

Needless to say we do not do the Easter Bunny at our house.  The kids get a treat from us but Easter isn't about a bunny bringing treats for us, it is about the fact that a stranger gave his life for our own, it's our day to celebrate the greatest love story ever!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What large families face....

Signed onto my blog today and was going to do an update of our last few weeks.  I saw there was a new comment so I went to read it and here is what it said:

"speaking of getting over it... why don't YOU get over yourself. what makes you think that anyone is even interested in the fat that you're pregnant. AGAIN. its old news by now. not to mention how sickening it is that you DON'T support them on your own and you rely on taxpayers and IMO it boarders downright recklessness. the rest of us are already over it. the only people left to comment are the ones who are just learning about you. and for the rest of us, it is kind of shocking and abnormal.~ Quiver of One~"

I was going to just delete it and let it go because obviously this person does not even know our family, or maybe they do and they are just hateful and didn't have the courage to let us know who they were, but I wanted others who don't understand why I get so defensive of large families to see the ignorance of some people!  Automatically this person thinks that we do not support our children ourselves, automatically this person thinks we are being reckless and abnormal.  What they think does not, nor would it ever, change my mind about how many beautiful children we have or will have. The only thing I would like to clear up is that we pay for every one of our children on our own and do not get government assistance, nor would we want it- we would not want the government in our lives more than they have to be.  Just because someone has a large family doesn't mean that they can't afford them.  So in response to your nasty comment Quiver of One: If you do not like reading about "shocking and abnormal" families, then move on and find another blog to read.  Your negativity is not needed here!  I'm very sorry that you are probably struggling with issues in your own life that causes you to try and bring others down, your comment does not affect how we feel about our family and what God has chosen to bless us with.  Praying that God will open your eyes and heart to see what a blessing Children are whether there are 10 of them or just one!  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Missing puppy....

This little guy has stolen our hearts!!  We are so thankful to have him as a member of our large and growing family!  So thankful in fact, that today while he was napping and having dreams of frolicking through our huge back yard chasing after Sammy, we were all crying at the thought of losing him!

YES, we thought he was MISSING!!  We could not believe after all we went through the last several months, the death of our bunnies, our cat running away, and then not being able to find a dog to adopt- that our brand new puppy that we've only had for 5 whole days disappeared out of our back yard that was fenced in with a huge privacy fence!!!  One minute he was running around chasing after the kids, the next minute he was GONE!!  We searched all the crevices outside, along the fence, along the house, under the house!  We drove around the neighborhood looking for him, asking everyone we saw if they saw him, and even our neighbors were looking around for him!!  We searched through every single room in our house, the playroom, living room, under couches, inside of cabinets and closets, under beds, in baskets, under clothes behind the washer and dryer.....NO PUPPY!!!

For an hour in a half we yelled for him, tore our house apart, drove the neighborhood, and searched and re-searched the back yard and we came up with no puppy!!  Nathan went out one last time to search the neighborhood and the girls and I got on our knees together and asked God to protect the puppy and help us to find him!  I posted on fb for immediate prayer.

I got a call from Nathan saying, "he is nowhere, start making flyers and post on craigslist!"  I replied, "how in the world did this happen, there is just no way he could have gotten out of that fence, this is just so embarrassing that we can't keep up with our animals!"   Feeling completely hopeless I pulled out my computer and messaged a friend who assured me that he would be back, and began posting an ad in the Lost/Found of craigslist.  I got the first line typed and heard Nathan knocking on the front door so I put down my laptop and went to walk to the door and THERE HE WAS!!!  Running in circles, wagging his tale in the middle of the living room floor!!  That little stinker was asleep somewhere in the house!!!  WHAT A RELIEF!!!

I think we are done with animals for a LONG time after this!!  lol  I just am not sure why in the world we have these issues with them but our hearts just can't take it anymore!!  I told Nathan today, "I sure do wish that I could still not be an animal person so that this stuff didn't bother me so much!"  Funny how seeing how much our children love something can soften our own hearts for the same things!  So thankful for answers to prayer!!    

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Jesus makes it all better.....

Horrible weeks like last week are so worth the tears, effort, time, and hard work that is done every day to keep our household going.  This past week I began feeling like I was a "house fairy" who does laundry, dishes, gives the children baths, makes dinner, gives out snacks, nurses the baby, does the bills, keeps a budget, plans out the garden, takes online courses, and is never seen at all.  I think most stay-at-home moms can identify with this at least ONCE in their stay-at-home careers.  Now I do have to say my children always tell me thank you, they ALWAYS complement me on my food I prepare, and make sure to hug me and tell me they love me at least once a day.  My husband walks in and tells me the house looks great, thanks for folding the clothes, you worked really hard today and thanks me for all that I do- NORMALLY.  But last week it seemed like everyone was so caught up in their own lives they forgot that they normally do this.

It was a terribly hard week with discipline!  We had children with bad attitudes, and lazy children who didn't want to do school or chores, and on top of my daily normal things I have to do I had to stop an deal with these things first because making sure our children understand that when mom and dad say to do something you do not disrespect them, or making sure that our children understand that they have chores because we are all a family and we help each other, and making sure our children understand that God says it is right to honor your mother and father and they need to do this because GOD said not just because WE said, is all more important than anything else I have to do that day!  However, it is the MOST exhausting thing I do ALL WEEK LONG!!  I hate being the nagging mother who has to constantly stand behind her children and make them do what they are supposed to do!  This is not in my personality to do this, nor is it in my will to do this, I have to practically FORCE myself to do this because not only do I loath this- I find it unbelievably stressful!!  I want to throw myself on the floor right next to them some days and kick my feet and yell at them "why do I always have to make you do these things!!!"  I want to be the one crying about how unfair it is and that it is SUCH HARD WORK!!!!  I don't think I ever understood when my parents used to say to me when I got punished, "it hurts me more than it does you" until I had my own children!!

Back on Valentines day we watched our beloved cat Elliott run out the front door when we opened it and we haven't seen him since.  It was a hard day for Pumpkin as she is the biggest animal lover I have ever known!!  When Elliott was a kitten she would hold him on his back and tickle his belly and he would playfully swat at her hands and ended up scratching up her hands REALLY bad!!  One day she got a fever and ended up in the hospital because they thought she had rabies from the kitten (he was too young to get a rabies shot yet).  Then after further investigation they decided they thought she had "cat scratch fever" from all the scratch marks.  They scared the living daylights out of me and wanted to treat her for rabies but because I had scratches on myself and I was fine,  I knew it had to be some silly virus...which after trying to treat her for 15 days for rabies and I refused they finally tested her for step and it was POSITIVE- HELLO!!!  After that we decided it was in our best interest to get the cat declawed on his front paws.  It was over $400.00!!

Now that it has been almost two months since Elliott has left and we have not been able to find him, we decided it was time to start looking for a new dog.  Pumpkin was having trouble getting over it, she blamed herself because she said she was mad at him that morning and maybe if she had just kept him in her room that wouldn't have happened.  We went through daily crying spells of how much she missed him and how maybe he didn't remember her anymore and didn't love her anymore.  We assured her he loves her so much and probably found a girlfriend, we had her write a letter to him and we spent many days talking about him.  Not only was she upset but it started affecting her attitude.  She became mean to her siblings and irritated at us, she didn't want to do anything besides watch tv.  After two months of this I realized something needs to change. 

A few days ago, she again had a tough morning.  She again had a crying spell about how much she missed Elliott with Nathan.  I called her to my room that afternoon and sat on the bed with her.  We began to talk about Elliott and her feelings about what was going on.  In that one moment I realized that all that hard work I've done disciplining our children, showing them God's way for their lives, taking time out of the day to work on their character and attitudes and hearts- was more than worth every minute I felt I wasted in the last week!  I sat and watched my 8 year old daughter pour her heart out and cry her eyes out about how she "JUST wants to be with Jesus because life is painful and hard and Jesus makes it better!"  I have never in all my life imagined that her sensitive heart at the young age of 8 years old could understand a concept that I myself did not fully understand until I was 29 years old!  When I was her age I remember praying and begging God to NOT come back yet and let me graduate, get married, have children, watch them get married..." Lord let me experience life" I would pray.  And here I am years later watching my 8 year old express that she JUST WANTS JESUS TO COME BACK so she can be with him!!  I often find myself asking "Lord why have you chosen ME to have all these children, it is SO hard!"  But all the tough times are so worth hearing my daughters love for the Lord expressed so greatly at such a young age!

Nathan and I talked after that and felt like we had to get a new animal asap after that conversation with her.  Her heart was broken-and because of that our hearts were too- and we felt that it was important that she be restored.  We told her we would go looking for a new dog this time instead of a cat because we didn't want to #1 pay another 400.00 to get it declawed and #2 run the risk of losing it again.  So after prayer and discussion we went and got our new puppy Koby.

On the way home that day Pumpkin was in the back of the van and I did not see her stop smiling at ALL.  A song came on the radio (christian station) and she says, "mom, can you turn up this song?"  i turned it up and looked in my mirror at the sweetest sight of my 8 year old with her eyes closed, hugging her new puppy, and praising her Savior!"  She recognized that God had blessed her with another animal to love in her time of loss and grieving.  He had restored her heart and she knew that the first thing that she should do is PRAISE THE LORD for all that he has done for her!  What a great ending to a horrible week!

In the midst of last week I didn't know how I was ever going to make it to the end of the week!  I questioned everything about my parenting and told God I wasn't getting anywhere with these kids it was JUST TOO HARD!!  It is not easy to guide soon to be 7 children down a narrow path that I have to stay on right behind them!!!  But then he showed me just a small glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel!  Stuff like that is what carries me through into the next week, into the next 10 loads of laundry, into the next temper tantrum, and sleepless nights.  I am so grateful for my hard life because without hard work we will see no results in the end!  Thank you Lord for helping us to overcome the hard things in life and giving us Jesus to make it all better!!