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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Maxi Styles

I don't own even one maxi dress. I am only about 5'4"  and don't feel quite tall enough to pull it off. After looking at these though, I think I may change my mind.

This collage of dresses I could see my daughter wearing.


Pinterest
Left - hautepinknwa.com  Middle-impressionsnwa.com Right-fabfashionfix.com


The next three are ones I would feel comfortable wearing.


Left-Nordstrom
Black dress- shopbop.com
Multicolor-Nordstrom




There are always so many cute summer wedges.




Peach shoes- reddressboutique.com  Black and white striped - shoespie.com
Lace Wedge- Lucky Brand, Macys

I love these two pair for myself.

Left - 6pm.com   Right- Lauren Conrad- Kohls




Lastly, a pretty summer necklace is always fun to wear.

I love monogrammed necklaces. This one is from Bauble Bar.




 The next two are so colorful!


Left- Kendra Scott     Right- Stella and Dot




What fashions are you wanting to try?

Linking up to:  impartinggrace.com   frenchcountrycottage.blogspot.com  thepleatedpoppy.blogspot.com  savvysouthernstyle.net tabanderika.blogspot.com


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Be Happy Where You Live Today

Are you waiting for your first "real" home? Are you unhappy where you are living now? Are you living in a rental or a small apartment?

I want you to know that you can be happy and content where you are right now.

When we first got married, we lived in a small 2 room apartment. The building that we lived in had actually once been an old hotel (circa 1909) that had been reconfigured into small apartments. Here is what the hotel looked like in its heyday.


In that era, rooms didn't have their own private bathrooms, and our apartment didn't either. A small closet had been redesigned with a toilet added, a small sink stood in our bedroom,  and showers were down the hall. The shower room had definitely seen better days. To be honest, I still felt slightly dirty after showering in that room. But I was newly married and everything seemed an adventure.

The grounds of the old hotel were simply beautiful. A long driveway led up to the building and there were 90 acres of rolling hills around the property. The hotel had been famed for its mineral springs baths and had thousands of visitors during the early 1900's. The building itself was still a stately and majestic building, but of course this was now 1989 and a lot had changed over the years.

After about 4 years of living in the building, I was excited to hear that we would be receiving a trailer for our family. We were now a family with four children! Around the back of the building, there was a row of 3 trailers for staff and now a fourth trailer was being donated. I can't tell you how excited I was to hear the news. While the old building was full of charm, it wasn't easy transporting diaper bags, grocery bags, strollers, car seats, (and of course, the kids) up and down 3 flights of stairs.

After a few months of trailer renovations (the ministry we worked for so graciously did some updates to a 25 year old trailer. They re-carpeted, painted the dark paneling white, AND built on not only a master bedroom, but a vaulted ceiling living room, and put new counter tops in the kitchen.) To say I was in heaven, was an understatement. I remember standing in the doorway of that wonderfully clean and freshly painted living room and marveling that I had my very own hallway and most awesome of all, a  bathroom with an avocado green bathtub. I loved that bathtub. That bathtub was an answer to a mother's prayer. There was also our very own washer and dryer. After doing laundry in the basement of the building with a truly ancient, scary washer and spin dryer (which was some sort of metal open tub that spun like crazy and rattled the floor I stood on), and then later waiting for an upstairs washer and dryer to be free when I had piles of kid clothes to wash, was like my very own miracle! I was over the moon grateful.

There were also so many people that helped us during that time. An older retired couple from New Sharon, Iowa, came for weeks and painstakingly worked to get the trailer ready for us to move into. Also, dear friends of ours from Kansas donated money to the ministry to help with renovating costs. We were able to have nice woodwork installed in the living room due to their kindness.

 We hung pictures, arranged furniture, hung curtains, and had the most marvelous time making that trailer a home. My husband built a flower bed for me and I spent many happy hours outside planting flowers, hostas, lilac bushes, and a multitude of mail order plants.

There were some drawbacks. There was no central air and in the summers it got pretty hot. We did have a couple of window units that helped, but trailers aren't the easiest to cool or heat. Also, each fall our home seemed to be invaded my carpenter ants and box elder bugs. But those were small minuses. I was just so happy that we had ROOM to breathe and a yard for the kids to play in.

After a few years in the trailer, I began to dream of a day when we would have a house. We even semi-looked around the town we were living in, driving by old homes that just needed some fixing up. I would often sit on my couch when younger kids were napping, and older kids outside playing, and look at home magazines and dream. I kept a list of things I would want in a someday house...wooden floors, french doors, white woodwork, fireplaces...I knew what I liked.

But time went on, and it didn't seem a house was going to be in our future. As the kids got bigger, it seemed the trailer was shrinking.We now had six kids. I started complaining and sighing a lot.

But somewhere during that time, I made peace with it all. I was going to be happy where I was. The kids and I would go on long walks gathering fall leaves, for example, and I decided to be happy in the now.

I think that is the secret. Things may not be changing and going as you want it to be as far as your housing. But eventually, it will change. But don't waste the days you have now, pining for something else. Look for the everyday joys. Keep whatever house you are in now, clean. It is much worse living in clutter. It doesn't have to be a designer anything. But strive to make it a clean and welcoming place for your family. Light a candle, bake cookies, create beautiful memories with your kids, and be happy.

I think I made the mistake about being overly stressed over too many inconsequential things. I'm sure a lot of my older kids would look back and see that I majored on the minors too much of the time. Don't make that mistake, moms. This will take effort on your part.

Wherever you are living today, it can be made into a beautiful home. Our trailer would never had made it into Better Homes and Gardens, necessarily, but it was a lovely home to us. My older kids have very fond memories of living there.

Each time we had a little extra money, we invested in furniture. We still have that furniture today. So many people would come inside our trailer and be surprised. We had a four poster bed in our bedroom and an oriental rug in our living room. It was fun making our house a home.

We live in a very beautiful home in a different city today. And do you know what? It has wood floors, white woodwork, french doors, and a fireplace. But sometimes, I look back at those early days and smile. Because I learned a secret that serves me well today. I had to learn to be happy with what God gave me then. I blew it sometimes with grumbling, but God gave me beautiful grace to do what I needed to do, and He will do the same for you. Keep a list of things you want for your dream home, by all means, but also, start making a list of things you can do to make your current home a better place. Maybe just some paint, some new plates and glasses for your family to use at supper, a few plants, or asking someone to make new curtains for your windows( I did that and it made a world of difference to me) ...you can do it and it will be beautiful.
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P.S.
I was inspired this week by a book entitled  The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith. I picked it up at the library. I would encourage you to pick up this book or order it on Amazon. It would be a small investment and it is full of ideas for making the home you have now beautiful, especially if you are a renter.


 http://www.amazon.com/Nesting-Place-Doesnt-Perfect-Beautiful/dp/0310337909/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431181622&sr=1-1&keywords=the+nesting+place

Linking up to:  impartinggrace.com momfessionals.com tabanderika.blogspot.com redheadcandecorate.com

homestoriesatoz.com astrollthrulife.net

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

Happy End of April to you!

I'm linking up with these girls for


to discuss these things...


We (and by we, I mean at least three of us) have been eating a lot of these wonderful things.

Roasted brussel sprouts. Just trim the sprouts, spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and a little sea salt and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. They are delicious.


My husband just celebrated a birthday yesterday. I was gathering a lot of photos for a slide show at our church and reminiscing quite a bit.

This was 1989 (some of you hadn't been born yet, I know!)






This was taken in 2006. We have had seven children in all. Our daughter that is in a wheelchair on the right, was one of twins. Her brother, Alex, went to be with the Lord in 1996 at the age of four.





Here are my kids today:




What I've been dreading?  Hmm...our youngest son has surgery #3 in June. I know that he will be okay, but I don't look forward to the whole process. The doctor thinks that the recovery time will be much faster this time (He is having inner ear surgery. The first two surgeries were to remove a growth that had done some damage inside).

What I've Been Loving -  I have been loving seeing all the new babies out in blogland. I really, really love seeing baby photos and cute kid photos. It just never gets old to me.

What I've Been Up to - I keep a list of "things to do" and have been steadily marking them off my list. I am currently pinning a lot of ideas for our daughter's high school graduation party. If you looked at my pins, you would probably think I was planning a wedding and not a small gathering! But I love prettiness like this:



What I'm Excited About!  We are planning to take our daughter to NYC this fall for her graduation gift. I was there for the first time last year for our 25th anniversary and just loved it. I can't wait to walk the streets of New York with my girl.

What I'm Watching/Reading -  Right now, I'm reading a book on our Kindle called, "Tisha, The Story of a Young Teacher" by Robert Specht. If you've ever read "Christy" by Catherine Marshall, you would like this one, too. They are very similar.




What I'm Listening To -  I don't often listen to music around the house, but this past weekend, my kids and I listened to Frank Sinatra sing, "New York, New York" while driving home:) It put us all in a good mood.

What I've Been Wearing - I wear this watch all the time. It was a gift from my son.



What I'm Doing This Weekend - My husband is gone on a missions trip, so I will be holding down the fort until he gets back.

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month - I look forward to eating my mom's blackberry cobbler!

What Else is New - I went to see The Lion King last night! The artistry was beautiful. My son and I sat next to a lady with a baby. She was an angel. She quietly looked around and then slept through the whole show. What a brave mama!

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All of you sweet young moms are doing such an important job. Keep up the good work. Everything you are investing now in your little ones will not go to waste. You have the most important job in the world. Bless you!


Linking up to:  pinteresttoldmeto.blogspot.com



Friday, April 17, 2015

This Time of Life






My littlest son and my oldest son from 2009.
I seem to have begun a new journey. I don't know if it is officially perimenopause or menopause, but whichever it is, I don't think I'm ready!

I can be sitting in an air conditioned room feeling just fine, when suddenly it feels like I am at 212 degrees. I am on fire! It lasts about 30 seconds and then it is gone - hence the name, hot flash. It happens throughout the day. Thankfully, I haven't experienced anything more severe than that.

Except that I could sport a real nice mustache (or is is moustache?)  if I were interested. Yea, I'm not.

But the real reason I'm not ready is this.

When I go to the grocery store, there isn't a little one to put in the front of the cart anymore. He is nine years old and now just walks alongside me.

I walk past the girl department at Target now and instead go to the Junior Department with my daughter. But wait, didn't we shop in that girl department just a few days ago?

No more baby food. No more diapers. No more maternity clothes for me.

No more Little Mermaid underwear.

No more Mickey Mouse underwear.

No more Toy Story pajamas.

No more sippy cups.

But wait...I'm not ready.

Don't you want to watch Bubble Guppies?

Now my littlest girl is about to graduate.

But wait...she's my little girl. Won't she be working on her school work in the dining room anymore?

Wasn't it just the other day that she was in her ballerina dress twirling in the kitchen?

Can time please slow down? I'm not ready.

Now there are big people shoes in the downstairs closets. Where did the little people shoes go?

When my 15 year old son sits beside me, I notice his feet. I remember when he was three and I used to laugh at his little, yet wide feet. I used to call them Fred Flintstone feet. Where did those go?

I was so proud of him when he was four and insisted on taking his training wheels off his little bike. We were doubtful, but Dave took them off. He hopped on and began riding and never looked back.

My oldest son had to grow up so fast when our twins were born. He and I used to drive to a nearby town together when the twins were little and go to Burger King and Walmart together. He was the best company and we had so much fun together. He still takes care of his little brothers and sisters. He is the best son.

Our second oldest son is the one I used to carry around in the trailer at Teen Challenge and sing the most goofy, made- up songs to. I can still see him in his diaper as I held him and sang to him in our kitchen.

Wasn't it just the other day that I used to get our oldest daughter ready and put on the school bus? She and I would walk out to the street in front of our house when it was still dark outside. I would watch her drive away and pray that she would have a good day.

But thankfully, thankfully, we had one more little baby when I was 42 years old. I'm a lot older than a lot of ladies who have a nine year old. But I am so THANKFUL. God was so good to give me one more. He knew I would need one more.

He may not fit in the shopping cart anymore. But he still holds my hand. He still likes to sit close to me and watch a movie. He's still my back seat buddy when we have to go somewhere.

I don't like change very much. It is kind of hard to see myself about to go through this big change that is occurring.

But I know that God is able to keep that which I have committed to Him.

Don't wish for time to go faster. Don't wish away your life. Enjoy your day to day life with your little ones. Hold their hands and be in the present. Look at their chunky little legs and their dimpled little hands and enjoy.

Someday I will have grandkids and then I will get to experience this wonder all over again.

I can't wait!

Linking up to:  impartinggrace.com  thediaryofarealhousewife.com  momfessionals.com frenchcountrycottage.blogspot.comastrollthrulife.net










Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What I Wore Wednesday

"I say...has Kathy started blogging again by chance?"
                                                 
"Did you hear that she finally posted something?"
Photo Courtesy Pinterest


Yes, I'm still around. I've been reading tons of blogs as usual and enjoying them so much, but as far as blogging myself, well, it's been one thing or another getting in the way (sickness, doctor appointments, etc.)  But when I see The Pleated Poppy (thepleatedpoppy.comdoing her
What I Wore Wednesday post, I always think that I can sit down and join up with that one. I love seeing what kinds of outfits ladies put together. 

So I tried out a black jumpsuit from Nordstrom.  I stood and looked at myself and then had my daughter and my husband look at. They liked it, but as for me, I just couldn't get over the image of Catwoman or maybe a cat burgler. If I lived a life of crime, I might keep it.


Nordstrom
It's actually a beautifully made pantsuit , but I don't think it's me:)

Here it is in blue. Vince Camuto - Nordstrom





Our cooler weather is finally moving out. I wore this on one of the last chilly days. 
Vest - Old Navy
Note -It is very strange to smile at one's self in the mirror. 




In keeping with the black theme, I wore this last weekend. 
Black top - Target Mossimo $16.99 (see below)  


You can't see the pretty lace detail in my photo above, so here it is from Target's website.

Kendra Scott necklace
Frye boots (my birthday gift)

Thanks so much for stopping by! I appreciate many of you hanging in there during these absences. You are all wonderful!

Blessings to you!!

Linking up to: thepleatedpoppy.com  getyourprettyon.com  onthedailyexpress.blogspot.com  stylelixir.com

Friday, March 20, 2015

When It Feels Like God Isn't Hearing Your Prayers



Courtesy Pinterest


I woke up this morning after a night of tossing and turning. During the night, I was trying to figure out solutions to several problems. I know that I am supposed to give these things to God, but at times, God can seem distant. I know that is only my perception and there is no "correctness" to that statement at all. Our feelings can be very fickle.

 As I was going about my morning, I even said to God, "Do you hear me? I know You are there, but I can't seem to know it. I am really concerned about these things." I didn't hear anything back in response, but a thought came to me suddenly. I started thinking about a Bible story where David sees King Saul and his soldiers lying on the ground sleeping.  David could have easily killed King Saul that night, but he refused to touch God's annointed... even though Saul had made it clear that he wanted to kill David and probably would have had the roles been reversed.  Even after the prompting of David's friend to go ahead and take the opportunity to kill Saul, David refused. There is so much to explore in that story.

But for some reason, in my mind, I was focused on the sleeping soldiers. My prayers suddenly shifted as I thought of young women and men caught in human trafficking. I started praying and declaring that God would send a deep sleep to their captors, that there would be confusion in their ranks, and that there would be opportunities for their escape. Just like that, the whole clouded atmosphere in my mind changed. I definitely felt power in my prayers and knew that God had heard me.

My other concerns? I still have them, but it is obvious to me that God wanted me to pray what was also dear to His heart right then. He knows what concerns me. He isn't indifferent. But this morning, this is what was on God's heart.

If  the atmosphere in your home or in your mind seems troubled, ask God today what is on His heart and begin to speak out in prayer what you want to see happen in those areas. Sometimes I also have to say out loud, "God is kind. God is faithful.  He will never leave me. No matter what I feel like today, He is here watching over me and my family." Don't let your feelings sweep you away. We are all prone to allowing our feelings dictate our lives.

God will answer my prayers and give me direction. But in the meantime, I'm glad that He asks us to pray what is on His heart:)
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A Friday Favorite today is...the first day of Spring! Have a wonderful day!


 impartinggrace.com savvysouthernstyle.net  astrollthrulife.net frenchcountrycottage.blogspot.com momfessionals.com

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Favorite Things in March




Happy Saturday morning!

We have had beautiful weather this past week. I don't know if it is here to stay yet because after all, I live in Iowa where we had snow in May two years ago! But I'll take it for as long as it is here. Actually, my daughter and I were talking how we will miss the snowed in days with the fire flickering in the fireplace and a good movie. Every season has its good points, I guess.

A few favorites that come to mind for this month are:

1. Reading. I love to read, but have a hard time finding the time! This book came in the mail last week. (You know what's really neat? I think I won it! There is no other explanation since I didn't order it yet.)


If you read Sophie's blog, Boo Mama, then you will love her book. I'm only in about the fourth chapter and it is very good so far. She has a way of writing that speaks to the heart. Here's a little summary:



This nostalgic celebration of home is sure to make even those north of the Mason-Dixon line long to settle in on the front porch with a glass of sweet tea and reflect on all of the people in our lives who—related or not—have come to represent home. Because at the end of the day, it’s not the address on the front door or even the name on the mailbox that says home, but the people who live and laugh and love there, wherever there might happen to be.   - (Amazon)



Melanie Shankle, The Big Mama Blog, also has a new book about to come out. I loved her first two books. I was sitting in our living room all alone when I read her second book, The Antelope in the Living Room, and I burst out laughing several times. It's worth the price of the book to read the chapter about her husband officiating at a wedding service while on painkillers.  Her new book is:


I can't wait!

Another book I have on request at the library is:




Julia Child's life is so intriguing to me. After watching the movie, Julie and Julia, I wanted to know more about her and her life. I remember visiting the Smithsonian in D.C. and looking at her kitchen that they have on display there, but at that time, I didn't know much about her. I don't think I'll ever cook all her recipes from her famous cookbook the way Julie Powell did, but I thought it would be fun to pick five recipes and try them out on the family, or see if my daughter would like to do it to count towards a class credit?

2. I blogged some time back about one of my favorite movies of all time- Slumdog Millionaire. That movie changed me! All I can say is that God can use a movie to speak something profound to your heart.  I need to re-watch it and write about it all over again. But ever since that time, I've loved the actor who played Jamal. So, of course I'd love to see this movie.



The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Dev Patel)




3.  After finishing this season of Downton Abbey, my daughters and I have been watching the other seasons again. 


We still miss Matthew and Sybil and wish their characters hadn't left the show, but I loved the ending this season with Mrs. Hughes and Carson.

4. This cute Easter banner at Target is only $5!




5.  Finally, speaking of Target, I saw this recently and I could so relate. If you love Target too, then you'll know what I mean.




No matter what may be going on in your life today, know that God is with you. He hears you, He sees you, and He loves you.

Happy Spring to you!!

Linking up to:  momfessionals.com  tabanderika.blogspot.com  graceandloveblog.wordpress.com tatortotsandjello.com thegirlcreative.com  frenchcountrycottage.blogspot.com thevintagenestblog.com

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Your Ways Are Higher Than Our Ways - Meet Jamey Beck

I'm so pleased to introduce you to Jamey Beck.


I believe I first met Jamey about a year ago at our church. She is such a beautiful young mom with a precious family. You would never guess by looking that she and her husband had been through such an ordeal. Their faith saw them through a very hard event in their lives.

I am so thankful that she was willing to share her story with all of us. Thank you, Jamey!




The Beck Family



Jamey and Greg



The Beck Family

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Let me start from the beginning....

I met the love of my life March of 2000. We fell madly in love and were married October 13th, 2001. It was a perfect day. He is an amazing man.. really... I am BLESSED! We welcomed our first precious daughter into the world Sept. 28th 2004. What a life change that was, but what an amazing blessing as well. We never knew we could be so in love! Shortly thereafter our first son was born. Aidan arrived on March 23rd, 2006. He was nothing but perfect and precious and he proved to us that you really could love another baby as much as you love your first! June 14th, 2008, we proudly welcomed our second son, Talan! He has been full of spunk since the day he was born and he still is to this day. He keeps us all smiling and we are blessed by his happiness! 

Fast forward to June 2009 and Maddie is four, Aidan is three, and Talan is one. For nine years, my husband had been in the loan business. Long story short.... My husband called me and said he received a call from the "men in black." He met with them and was questioned in regards to a loan he did back in 2006 that foreclosed. They stated MANY times that they were not interested in him, but another man that was already in prison for many other very bad things. Greg did not "know" this man. He did a loan for him, but he only "knew" him from a realtor bringing him into Greg's office to help him out with a loan. Greg did make a very serious mistake. He did not disclose that there was a 2nd mortgage on the 1st mortgage HUD. 

LONG LONG LONG legal battle & story short... Greg was sentenced in federal court on August 12th, 2011 to four months in prison, four months house arrest, five years probation and $1.3 million in restitution.  He was to check in September 22nd, 2011 to Federal Prison in Yankton, South Dakota. On  what seemed like a forever long drive to the courtroom, Greg just kept having me read this: 

Psalm 91 
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,

10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation..."
 
We know that God DID answer our prayers. I know to some it may sound strange, but He did. God turns EVERYTHING into good. We may not even fully understand to this day what He has for us, but we trust Him completely. We know that He holds all things together & we have Joy that only He can give us through all of our trials.  He is our strength! Twelve weeks prior to Greg's sentencing we had our 4th precious little baby. Sweet Asher John was born May 20th, 2011. He was a blessing, a joy, and such a gift during such a hard time. We also held onto this verse through this difficult time.

Isaiah 55:8-12

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nether are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than your way and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater. so is my word that goes our from my mouth it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Fast forward to the morning of September 22nd 2011. The day he was to check in to federal prison. His eyes opened while still in bed & he said  this...
"The Lord told me to read Philippians 4:4-9 " He ran to get his Bible & he read this to me...

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent  or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 

I had been dreading the day to come since when we left the federal courtroom: the day we would have to say goodbye. It was just as terrible as I thought it would be. Saying goodbye to the love of my life was so very hard. Watching him walk away from me broke my heart. I didn't have a clue before all of this happened the heartache I would feel. But God did something in Greg. He walked into the prison camp full of peace that only comes from  God!  He even giggled and told me that he loves me more than I know and that he would be just fine. 

James 1: 2-4
Consider it pure Joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let that endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Maddie (7), Aidan (5), Talan (3), and Asher(4 months)
 Visits were allowed every three weeks and we were there for every one of them. It was not an easy task to say the least, but we did it!  We would drive many hours from Ankeny to Yankton.  A little tiny glimpse into what it was like to visit my husband... The door would open and I would see my husband walking towards us.  The older kids would run to him saying, "Daddy!!!" Maddie would have tears running down her little cheeks. As I would see him, my heart felt so overwhelmed with so many emotions. There he is, my precious, sweet husband. I loved him so much, I wanted  to take him home with us.  I didn't want this night to end. I wanted  to just curl up in a little ball and have him take care of us. With tears running down my face I would also feel joy just in seeing him.  Then the night ended. We said our goodbyes and Maddie would have such a hard time letting go. We watched him walk away.. until the door closed and we could no longer see him. I wanted to run back in and yell, "Greg, I need another hug, I want one more kiss.  I need to look at your face for another minute. I can't let you leave me yet..."  But he was gone.  Here was something I wrote when I got back to our motel that night from the visit. 
God, I thank you for my husband tonight. When I saw him, Lord, just the joy that overflows from that man is amazing! He is in prison and You have given Him such joy! Such joyful giggles, precious smiles, silliness, just the same silly fun-loving man I fell in love with!  Lord, I miss my husband so much, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING about him! God I pray for strength for both us. You have blessed us with such supernatural strength that we know only comes from you! We praise you Lord Jesus for ALL you have done this far! We could not do this so peacefully and so joyfully on our own without you Lord. So we Thank you... thank you... THANK YOU JESUS!! We praise you!   
So we did this every 3 weeks and counted down the days. It was hard for the kids to understand just how long daddy would be gone. So we decided to make a chain. A visual of exactly how much longer we had left.
102 days when we completed the chain 
49 days left
We saved all the links as a reminder of how far we have come. 
We got the news of Greg's release date. January 20th, 2012. We were so ready & excited to have him home! 

While Greg was in prison God richly blessed him. He had amazing times teaching the men, praying for them, talking them through some hard things. Greg was needed there for a season. God had an amazing plan and he used Greg in Yankton. Thank you God for revealing to us what you have in store for our family. Greg is on probation for another two years. It is hard... there is A LOT he/we have to organize in finances to turn in by the 5th of each month to his probation officer. We have to show every penny that we spend. We have NO savings, not one credit card... nothing. At first it was really a hard thing for me to take hold of. What if this happens? What if we need it for this? Then one day I had peace over it. I knew that no matter what God will give us what we need. And He has! 

God clearly spoke to me one morning... He immediately gave me visions of how it will play out. How we will be speaking about His amazing love in the prisons & the favor He will give us. He kept saying the money would be gone. You will go into churches & share your testimony. Share about my love. My JOY through the hard times.

Then this is where I could not keep it together. God said, "You and Greg will start a Christian organization for kids who have a parent or both in prison. He showed me how it looked. How it would change the lives of so many kids. We would bring them into a house FULL of Gods amazing love! It would be a place where they know it is ok to talk about their mom/dad. That it is ok to love them!!! They made a mistake, but they are not defined by what happened in either their mom or dad's past. He showed me many many things about this place.  He also said it will be in the inner city and the name will be Isaiah House. He showed me what our kids will be doing there too. And how He will use them specifically. God had a plan through all of this. God is going to break the chains!! We know He has great plans for these kids!! 

After I got all this from the Lord I started looking back at old prophecies. This one was from 2/11 prior to Greg's sentencing. This amazed me. 
Birth a new birth being born. I have a ministry for Greg forth coming. He loves kids so much. Ministry is going to be reaching out to other families that are struggling. I will grow this is you and show you what I want you to do. I will have you & your wife develop this together. There is a new financial breakthrough  coming. Way beyond what you can ever dream of. But keep dreaming because that dream you have is coming true.  
God does have a perfect plan for everything. I always wanted a perfect little family in a beautiful house. Easy life. I know there are people out there, MANY people that have gone through MUCH harder things than us. But I do know our life is FAR from perfect or easy. It is hard sometimes. BUT I know God is good and he gave us a mission. I pray God that you give us clear eyes to see what we need to see to start the process! We want to follow what you have for us!! We just want to follow your will!! We love you Jesus and are willing to do whatever you call us to do! 

And lastly.... I HAVE to share what God has done in our lives since Greg has come home. How He took back a really hard day! This brings me to a beautiful morning in August. Maddie was asked to be in a spelling bee at the State Fair so we were getting ready very early to head down there. My mom was in Ankeny for the day to watch Maddie.  My dad was out of town on his annual Sturgis motorcycle trip with a couple guy friends. It just so happened to both land on the same weekend. This morning was a bittersweet morning for me. 1 year ago we were getting ready to go to the federal court room for Greg's sentencing. I told my mom that morning, "I just do not like this day.. It is just a hard day." The memories, the crushing memories of that day overwhelmed me throughout the day. My mom said to me, "God is going to take this day back!" That is all she said. We went about our day. It came & went. Our Talan went home to spend special alone time with his Nana & Papa as my dad was on his way home. After Talan had a two night sleepover,  we were to meet my mom and dad in Story City to bring our Talan home. Here is where it gets good....

Both of my parents looked like they had been crying. Our kids were running all over the place (as usual) and my parents asked if it would be okay to turn on a movie in our car for them to watch as my dad wanted to talk to us. So many thoughts rushed through my head..... what is going on?!?! Did someone die on the trip? Is someone really sick? What is happening? I am so confused. This seems serious. My mom had already started crying. We had all the kids in the car. My dad started talking... with tears running down his face. He said he was on his way home from Sturgis on HWY 44 (4+4=8 the number 8 means new beginning).  My dad said he was going about 60-65mph and he was in the back of 2 other guys. A deer jumped out & he hit the deer. I said, "What happened to you?!?" He said nothing as he was crying.... I had help from above.... He held my bike up!!!!!! 
He said he got off  his bike & knelt down, face down on the ground & gave his life to the Lord. Praised Him for his life!!!!!!!!!!!! My dad was 60 years old & the most amazing dad! He truly is amazing! This is amazing too....... This ALL happened 1 year ago to the day of Greg's sentencing!!!!!! GOD TOOK THAT DAY BACK!!! HE IS AMAZING!!! I told my mom a few years ago, when we were going through all of this. I would go through anything if it brings my dad to the Lord. Whatever it takes. THANK YOU JESUS for Your faithfulness!!! When you go through the hard times... remember through it all Jesus has you. He loves you!! He never leaves you! He has the most PERFECT plan even when you have so many things ripped away. Press in for more & never let the enemy win. 







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