Monday, November 2, 2015

Consider it Pure Joy

  I awoke with an old hymn in my heart this morning.  This photo reminded me of the words, "...though sorrows like sea billows roll.  Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well.  It is well with my soul."  And I am thankful...thankful that all is well despite the storm!

Photo from

It is hard to even begin to describe this year for our family.  Back in January, we began dealing with a rebellion with one of our sons that was difficult to understand.  There were sleepless nights.  There were days he didn't come home.  Many were the tears.  The concern and anguish ran deep.  We prayed and sought God as never before.  We turned to others for outside help, seeking counseling and prayers.

It felt like things could not get worse, but it did in March.  Another son ended up in legal trouble.  We faced the difficult decision of turning him over to the authorities to be placed in juvenile detention or to place him ourselves in a place where he could get help for his struggles.  We chose to place him at the age of 14 in a boy's ranch for troubled boys.  It broke my heart.  It was the hardest thing we have ever done to drive away from the ranch that day leaving a piece of our heart behind.

This situation made things much worse with our older son who was in rebellion and running hard from his problems.  We let him leave the end of May to go spend the summer with his birth family.  We had to begin to create a safe and healing environment for the rest of our family, and it was impossible any other way.  He quickly decided he did not want to come home, and we signed over guardianship to his birth family in August.

There are not words for the pain.  It is a pain that makes it near difficult to take the next breath at times.  It is tears that fall unchecked.  Some days they will not not stop.  Other days they leak out here and there.  The sadness is overwhelming.  Though we have not lost children to death, we have been going through a grieving process.  There is a grieving for the loss of hopes and dreams.  We miss our boys.  I long for closure, and there is none.

During this time of agony, God has ministered to me.  He has shown me that I am not alone.  He has walked beside me.  He has granted strength when I had none to walk this road.

Ironically, I have always longed for a relationship where I was close to God.  Through this season God has become the reason I live and breathe.  I could not have said that before in my life.  A lot of "Me" motivated and inspired me to live each day.  It was about what "I" was going to do. It was about "My" dreams.  Now my heart cries out, "Lord, forgive me.  May it always be about You."

I have been studying James 1 this week.  Verse 2-4 say, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

We are on the healing side of things now.  God is restoring my joy.  As I studied these Scriptures I found I could give thanks for these trials that have tested my faith.  I can consider it joy because I see the work of Christ in my life.  I have a terrible long way to go before I am mature and complete.  However, I am thankful that God counts me worth the effort of His molding me and His making me into the vessel he wants me to be.

Pizza Sauce

I have always used canned spaghetti sauce as pizza sauce for my homemade pizza.  However, it often has unnecessary additives in it unless I want to fork out more dollars.  I like to save as much as possible on groceries, so I looked for a recipe for pizza sauce that would be inexpensive to make.  I found this one that is yummy, and I only modified it slightly.  The original recipe was Kittencal's Pizza Sauce.

Pizza Sauce

3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons oregano
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (I thought 1 teaspoon was too much, but my husband liked it)
1 Tablespoon of sugar

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil; saute the onions, Italian seasoning, and oregano for 2-3 minutes.

Add in garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.

Add in the remaining ingredients; cook and simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes. stirring occasionally.

This can be used immediately or refrigerate up to 5 days or you may freeze.  I found it made enough sauce for 4 medium pizzas.

Note:  Crushed tomatoes do have citric acid added to them.  Citric acid is a natural preservative.  I add vitamin C powder (citric acid) to my bread dough enhancer.  I also use lemon juice (citric acid) when canning tomatoes.  It does not seem to cause Alex any problems.  However, some people are allergic or sensitive anything citrus.  So be aware that it is in the sauce.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Jesus Close To Me


Pain so deep.
A twisting in my stomach.
A crying of my heart.

Pain so deep.
My soul questions.
My mind can't comprehend.

Pain so deep.
It pierces.
It threatens to destroy.

I cry out.

I fight the answer.
It is sin.
The fall of man.

Sin destroys.
An aftermath continued from Eden.
Leaves no one untouched.

Yesterday as soon as worship started at church my eyes filled with tears.  I could not stop them.  They rolled down my face each one chasing another.  My heart ached.  It cried for my hurting family.  It wept over the pain of sin.  Anguish for my lost son gripped me.

I struggled.  I hoped no one saw.  I wanted to bury the pain.  Hide it from those around.  But it demanded to be released.  I longed to let the grief shake my body. To let the pain take its course.

Last night on our drive home, there was a beautiful full red moon.  I watched as dark clouds would pass over its surface from time to time.  It reflected my mood.  There was beauty, but it was obscured by darkness at times.  It was a mournful beauty.

The red against the black of night reminded me of Jesus's blood that was shed for our sins.  What agony Jesus must have suffered when he took the sins of the world upon him.  As I thought about the cross, I wondered.  Did Jesus die from the physical torture he went through, or did he die from taking the pain of sin upon himself?

Pain so deep.

This afternoon I opened an e-mail from a dear friend.  She sent me a verse she was praying for me.  It brought understanding and closure to my struggle yesterday.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  Psalm 34:18

Who better to understand the pain of sin then our Father God and his Son?  Jesus took on the weight of sin, so that I could be free.  He understands my broken heart.  He walked this road that I may be free.  He is close to me.  He saves.

Pain so deep.
Death comes.
But it is not the end.

Pain so deep.
Resurrection power revealed.
Hope for this life of mine.

He is holding me and carrying our family through this trial.  He is the one who Overcomes.  He has the ending in His hands.

Throughout this year my husband and I have a song that has been a source of strength to us.  God in his providence had it as the focus in the worship yesterday. Here are some of the words:


My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour's love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

When Darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour's love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless stand before the throne.

He is Lord!  I look back today and see how He was there with me each moment yesterday. I like to think that the worship, the song "Cornerstone", the beautiful moon, and the e-mail in my box this morning were all Jesus.  Jesus close to me.  Jesus ministering to my pain so deep.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

For Those Who Are Praying

I have had many friends express their concern and love for our family throughout this year.  In fact, I have a stack of cards sitting on my desk right now to which I'd like to respond personally because each one came at a time when the love and words were desperately needed. I feel bad because I have not been able to do so.  Thus I am blogging in an attempt to answer my many friends who have been concerned about how I am doing.  

Emotionally, I have good moments and bad moments, good days and bad days,  good weeks and bad weeks.  At times I feel like I am doing well, and then I find myself struggling.  So I may tell you I am good, and I probably am in that moment.  However, I can be crying in the next moment.  Sometimes I can talk about it and even need to talk about it.  Sometimes it hurts too bad to talk.

My husband sent me to a counselor who ordered me to take care of myself.  She said I needed to refill my cup which has been drained so that I would have something to give to our children who all have a great many needs right now.  Writing is therapy for me.  It helps me sort out my thoughts and understand life around me.   So when I get my few hours of alone time a week, I find myself attempting to put into words the myriad of thoughts and emotions that I am dealing with.  It is helping.

Physically, I am working on recovering from exhaustion.  I still have a few nights a week when I struggle to sleep because my brain is trying to solve problems too big for me. I have fallen asleep while reading books or saying prayers with our little ones.  Some days I have a hard time functioning because of the fatigue, but it is improving.

Stress has taken its toll.  Sometimes I will suddenly feel anxious.  My stomach will feel upset, my chest feels tight, and it can be hard to breathe.  I have never experienced "anxiety attacks" before.  It is frightening because things feel out of control.  However, I am learning to deal with them.  I have to take deep slow breaths and talk to God.  I tell him that this all belongs to him, and I will trust him with it. These attacks never last more then a few minutes.

Spiritually, my faith is strong.  God has been with us each step of the way.  We feel His presence.  We see His work.  We do not feel alone.  I cannot imagine going through this type of heartache and struggle without God.  I can still say each day that "God is good."

Photo from

To all the prayer warriors out there, we know God is hearing your many prayers.  Michael is doing pretty good in the boarding school where he is at.  There have been no major problems, and he does seem to be happy.  Troy continues to struggle and we are facing some difficult decisions.  However, there appears to be hints of a softening going on in his heart.  Please keep praying.  There is an intense spiritual battle going on.  As for the rest of our family, pray for God's protection and love to surround them.

We love you all.  Thank you for all the love you have poured out on us!

God Bless,