Thursday, April 24, 2014

What I've Read Lately

I don't have as much time to read as I'd like, but I have managed to read a few books in the past several months that I have really enjoyed.

The first two are by Melanie Shankle who also writes the blog, "Big Mama". Her book, Sparkly Green Earrings, is a very humorous story about having their first child.

"There is really no better indicator you’re a mother than acquiring the ability to catch throw-up in a plastic bag, disinfect your hands, and immediately ask your friend to pass the beef jerky as you put on another Taylor Swift song and act as if nothing happened." - Melanie Shankle

I just finished her 2nd book, "The Antelope in the Living Room". This book is about marriage and comes  complete with stories that made me burst out laughing while sitting all alone in our living room.

This book is worth the price just to read about her husband at a friend's wedding when he had taken too much medication.

Marriage can be the biggest blessing and the most significant challenge two people ever take on. It’s the joy of knowing there’s someone to share in your sorrows and triumphs, and the challenge of living with someone who thinks it’s a good idea to hang a giant antelope head on your living room wall.
And yet we are in this thing together. For the rest of our lives. Not just for better or for worse, but for better AND for worse. - Melanie Shankle

Welcome to the story of a real marriage.
Melanie (aka Big Mama) Tyndale House Publishers

The third book is not a Christian book, but I couldn't put it down and cried while reading it.

It's the story of two teenagers who are both battling cancer, meet, and fall in love. When I first read about it, I thought it sounded like the oddest idea for a story, but it is very well written and kept me interested from beginning to end. The funny thing is that I was telling my oldest son who would be good to play the female lead if it were ever made into a movie and he replied with, " is being made into a movie and she is cast as the lead!" I don't know why Hollywood hasn't hired me yet.

I wish I had more books to add to this list. Hopefully, this summer I will have a lot more. Have a happy day!

Blessings - Kathy

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Moms, Houses and Memories

Do you ever have dreams of the house you grew up in?

I have. Many times.

That house is still standing in Oklahoma. I don't live in that state any longer, but I often wonder about just showing up at their door and asking to see inside. Would I be disappointed? Would anything look the way I remember it?

I discovered on Google that you can type in an address and see a house from the street view. That fascinated me and I spent a couple of hours looking at homes from my childhood that held a lot of memories for me. I was able to see my grandparents (my dad's parents) home again, which was especially meaningful since it had been in a fire and eventually torn down in the past couple of years. ( I guess that Google maps hadn't updated that one in awhile, which was a blessing to me! I couldn't seem to locate my grandma's (my mom's mother) house, but hers had been out in the country. Maybe Google doesn't go out that far.) Speaking of my grandma's house, I was thinking the other day how my aunt Pam and I used to sit on my grandma's concrete steps at night and watch the airport lights in the distance. I can still see exactly how her yard looked and how it felt to walk into her kitchen. She nearly always had a pot of pinto beans simmering away on the stove and would be kneading the dough for homemade rolls on her kitchen table. I wish I could walk in that kitchen and see her again.

My mom has always been the same way. Her grandparents home was way out in a little community called Drakestand. I would definitely have to Google that location.  I only have a general idea of how to drive there. There is still an old cemetery there where my grandmother, uncle, and great grandparents are buried. But nothing remains of the old house that is so dear to my mom's heart. As a child, I remember walking around the yard of that old house and if I remember correctly there were still parts of it standing then. But today, there is nothing there. When my mom is back there, she can still "see" the house, the yard, and her grandpa who she loved so much. There is still something tangible and special about standing where the house once stood.

Whenever I see an old home place that is falling down around itself, I feel so much sadness, especially if you can see where trees and shrubs once bloomed around the house. You can tell that it was someone's home. A mom used to look out her window and watch her children play in the yard. A husband and wife used to sit on the porch and dream about their future. But now, nothing is left but a few boards and a crumbling foundation.

Courtesy: Pinterest

A few months ago, my husband and I drove past our first home in the city we live in now. We moved into that wonderful house in 2002. It was our very first purchased home. It was like a dream moving our family of seven into that home. I loved that house so much. It was brand spanking new. I delighted in everything about it! It felt like I was living a pretend life. I had a dishwasher, a garage, a patio, a staircase, a basement...I was even excited about the sidewalks out front. I can't even begin to describe how much I appreciated and loved that house.

Our kids would have been 11 years old down to 2 at the time we moved in. We lived there for 5 wonderful years.

We drove past it slowly that night. Dave drove extra slowly so that I could see through the windows. (He's a good husband and understands this stalker side of me.ha ha) I could make out our kitchen cabinets and stairway. I thought of all the times we had walked up those stairs and that my children's feet had been little then.

Then suddenly, I had this giant lump in my throat. It felt like if I walked up to the door and went inside, I would see our children at the ages they were then. It seemed like they were just waiting for me behind the door.

Of course, they weren't. They weren't 11 years old down to 2 anymore. Now they were 22 years old down to 8!  But for a few minutes...I dreamed. It would be wonderful to see them at those ages again. My two older boys stayed the same looking for so long. They became a little taller, but their faces remained the same. It was easy for me to picture them. It seemed they should be sitting at the kitchen table together and both look up at the same time if I walked inside.

Our youngest daughter would have been only five then. She would have come running up to me with her long, long hair and a big smile to say, "You're home!"

We drove away that dark, cold night back to our current home. My family and I love the house we live in now. It was God's blessing to us. Sometimes I still pinch myself when I walk inside. It is so beautiful. But so many sweet memories were inside that very first (our very first) home.

Speaking of our current home, we have lived in this lovely place for seven years. When it was being built, I stood in the dining room area near the staircase and I could "hear" the voices of my nieces and nephews. Of course, they were a lot younger at that time. But I could almost hear them calling, "Aunt Kathy!" and running into the house at Thanksgiving time. I've always wanted this home to be special to them and to my children. And it has. I truly thank God for that and for all the memories we have made together here.

But, that night, as I walked into our own kitchen, our two boys did look up as we came inside. They were just a little older now. Our youngest daughter smiled when she saw us and said, "I'm glad your home."  She is now seventeen. I can't go back in time. I love the ages they are now, too. It's fun to see them drive and do things on their own. Time marches on, I guess. But I'm so glad to see their faces each time I walk in the door. I don't take any ordinary day for granted. You know the saying, "Life is what happens while you are making other plans." This is life right now. These days right now are the things I will think back on one day.

If you are in the middle of raising your kids, cherish every moment. I know that right now, time seems to move slowly for you. I've mentioned this before in my postings, but it won't always go as slowly as it seems to be going right now. Those young ages seem to drift along so sweetly, but suddenly, they will be a teenager. Your boys' voices will change, they will get braces, or facial hair, or your daughter will begin asking about shaving her legs and buying a bra. And then, time seems to speed up a little and you wonder how they could possibly have changed right before your eyes. It's hard being a mom at those moments.

But what a blessing to be a mom.   When your little ones remember their childhood and their home, they will especially remember YOU. You will be that memory they think of whenever they think of home. They will remember when you played with them, took care of them when they were sick, took walks with them and just doing ordinary things like making their favorite meals or desserts, and loading up the car and taking them all for ice cream. When they are a long way from home for the first time, they will think of you and all the beautiful times you have shared together. Those memories will have so much meaning to them, especially then.

Enjoy every moment. This is what life is all about...right NOW! Make good memories that your children will carry with them for the rest of their lives. If you feel that all your kids have are bad memories of your mothering, determine to start making small changes today. It isn't too late. It's only too late when it's too late. As long as you are alive and breathing, you can turn things around.

Lord, I bless each mom reading. Let each one know that she is someone her children will always cherish. If she needs to make some things right with her older children, give her the grace and ability to do that. Help her to walk it out. Bless her efforts and bring a unity and blessing upon her relationships with her children. In Jesus name - amen.

P.S. There's a whole lot that could be said about the significance of "places" to God, too. But that's for another blog!

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

My Reality and My Faith

I'm re-publishing this particular post for a link up with Kelly's Korner Blog. Today's link up is for parents with special needs kids. It is my heartfelt prayer that it may encourage someone else reading today. I send you much love!


 If you've read my blog at all, you may have seen the "About Me" section on the sidebar. It says that I'm married to a pastor, but don't have a perfect life. (Who does, right?) But I wanted to share a little bit more about myself and why I had wanted to share those particular words.

 We have had had seven children. Our second son passed away when he was four, due to respiratory complications associated with cerebral palsy. His twin sister is now 22 years old. She too has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. Our youngest child, who is 8 yrs. old, has a rare, genetic disorder which requires him to have a g-tube to help with his nutrition and medications. Other than being very thin, he is a normal, happy-go-lucky little boy who loves NFL football and NBA basketball. Even though I am married to a pastor and have a personal belief that God still heals today, I find myself in this situation with the health of my own children. I have shared before that I have struggled with despair and doubt, but ultimately, my faith rests in the character of God. I know Him, and I have experienced His kindness and beautiful mercy in my life. Have my personal faith struggles ceased? No! I would never mislead you that I have it all together and have this heartache all figured out.

Can I share an example with you? 

Just a few weeks ago, I stood in a hospital room with my husband to visit a baby in our congregation. My heart was so heavy as we stood in the room. He was just the most beautiful little baby who was born with serious, life threatening medical issues. We gathered around to pray for him and as I earnestly prayed for his healing, I was suddenly bombarded with this thought..."Will God heal this child, but not mine?" I pushed that thought out of my mind, but it came back with a vengeance. "Will God heal their child, but not yours?" Inside my heart, I had to stand back a moment to try and answer that question. I hope that you believe me when I say that with all my heart,  I was (and am) praying for this baby to be made totally well. But, what if he was healed? And what if I went home to my daughter who still sits in her wheelchair - unchanged. What then?

This terrible pain seemed to settle on me. I didn't know the answer to the "What then?" except that I would have to walk it out. There just wouldn't be a way around it. There would be rejoicing in my heart for someone else's child, but it would coexist with pain for my child.

I have to keep coming back to this one thing. When I strip everything else away, and I just look at Jesus, my heart is comforted. He has made Himself very real to me, particularly in the last four years. I used to try my best to know Jesus, but it seemed I kept running up against a religious figure. My reference point to Him was more or less at the point of my salvation experience. That just isn't enough. He needs to become a real, living person to us who walks with us and holds our hand through every experience of our life. I know this very well, that over the times in my life, when I felt truly alone, He became a powerful presence that comforted me and stayed with me. I know that I can trust Him.

A couple of weeks ago during the worship service at our church, people came up front who needed prayer.  I usually don't go and pray for people unless they ask me to. Part of the reason, to be extremely honest, is I wonder if my prayers may be a little faulty. I've laid my hands on my daughter and prayed with all the faith I have, but haven't seen any changes at all.  But as I sat with my little boy, I suddenly saw such a clear picture in my mind. I saw Jesus walking among the people and so joyfully touching them. I can't emphasize enough the word "joyfully". He would throw His head back and laugh with joy. Sometimes I get pictures like that and I am always surprised that this would happen with me. I just seem like an unlikely person to have these experiences. But that image has stayed with me for days now. On that same morning, a little eight year old girl also shared before the congregation that she felt God was saying that this was a day of joy! She had no way of knowing what I had just experienced and seen.

 I think I know why He wanted to show this to me.

I know that sometimes we pray for so long for someone and we become disappointed that nothing happens. I do know that feeling. It's also easy to slip into thinking that God has forgotten us, or He is busy, or we are unimportant to Him. But none of that is true. He so joyfully is on the scene. Even if it seems otherwise! (Faith is the evidence of things not often have we heard that phrase until it has almost become meaningless. But faith really is the evidence of things not seen! Just because we can't see it with our physical eyes, doesn't mean that something isn't happening. It is so easy to convince ourselves otherwise. But this is the crux of our faith.)

Here is the best way I can explain this whole situation. Sometimes it seems that in front of me is this very ugly curtain. I've seen it so many times that I know what it looks like by heart.  I think the curtain represents very real situations that I've cried over and prayed over, but have seen no tangible answers. But then God suddenly lifted up this drab curtain and lets me see what is behind it...and it is beautiful! What I see or think is oftentimes incorrect. It is filled with pain and questions. But then for a moment, I see a glimpse of what is real - what is on the other side of that curtain. I see Jesus as He really is. He is there with great joy. He is there with great joy beside me.

Does this description of this curtain that make sense or resonate with you? Maybe you have sensed the same thing.

So, I guess my answer lies in this. I can completely trust Him. I may not always understand, but I know that He is very acquainted with me, my thoughts and my ways, my fears and my dreams. I am not anything special because I have children with special needs. I really don't like it when people imply that. It makes me uncomfortable. Sometimes I am a really good mom, and other times I really stink at it. I  often feel exhausted and can cry at the drop of a hat. Other times, it's like, I can do this today!" God gives me strength when I need it and at other times, I think He is just like, "You need to cry a little bit today. It's okay. I'm not busy. I'll sit here with you while you cry." Sometimes I just have days where I see once again that a dream I have had for my daughter will not come to pass - at least, not as far as I can see today. It is a gut wrenching pain that is just as fresh as when I first heard the words in a neurologist's office, "Both of your children have cerebral palsy."  I don't think the pain of those words ever completely go away. But I have found that joy can coincide alongside pain.

There's a song from my childhood that comes to mind:

Many things about tomorrow. I don't seem to understand. But I know Who holds tomorrow and I know Who holds my hand.

I have good days and bad days, but I think the bad days are giving in more and more to good days. Sometimes, there are days when I feel like all my hope is gone and I need to just settle it that there won't be any miracles for me or my kids. But then, the tiniest little flame of hope will burst forth once again. It isn't much, but it's there. It begins to glow and become stronger.

If you are going through a crisis of faith, or a dark time with your spouse or children, let me encourage you as someone who is also in the middle of a long war that I wish was over. (By "over", I mean that I want to see my daughter walking and my son totally healed.) Jesus is there beside you with great joy over you. He understands the hurts and questions of your heart. Even if it doesn't feel like He is with you, He is. In His presence is fulness of joy. Let Him fill you with joy even though your circumstances seem to remain unchanged. Ask Him to show you that He is there. He will.

I send much love to each one reading:) - Kathy

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I'd Like You to Meet...Matt Cook

I contacted Matt a couple of months ago to see if he could share his testimony on my blog. I'm so pleased to be able to introduce you to such a godly husband, dad, and friend. He is another one in our church that my husband considers to be like a son.

 I remember seeing Matt years ago when we were at Teen Challenge. (My husband Dave is now a pastor, but at that time he was a counselor at T.C.) Matt was in our front yard playing ball with one of our children. I had no way of knowing then that years later, he would be one of the elders at our church. Matt has a beautiful wife, Laura, and three adorable girls. He is one of the finest men I know. I believe his story will have a great impact on each person reading today.

Matt and his three girls

Where Jesus Found Me

Six months before being born, my father was killed in a car accident. My mother was
pregnant with her second child from her second husband. She had been a single mom
once before after her first marriage ended in divorce. Now pregnant and raising a 6
year old son she found herself in that situation again.

As little boys, I remember my older brother always looking out for me. Within a few
years of my father’s accident my mother remarried. My mom and her new husband had
a baby boy about a year later. Our new dad adopted my older brother and me and
raised us as his sons.

We were not a Christian family, but both of my parents worked very hard to provide for
us. Always supportive, they spent countless hours, days, and weeks at all of our
sporting practices and events. My parents loved us and did the best they could for us.

As hard as my parents tried to provide a good life for our family, horrible things were still
done to me by neighbors as a very young boy. The abuse brought much shame and
hurt into my life that I never talked about with anyone until I was in my twenties.

Our home grew less peaceful as the years passed. In junior high, home began to feel more
like a battle zone until my parents finally divorced sometime during my 7th or 8th grade
year. Instead of turning to family or better yet to God during this difficult time, I began to
turn to drugs and the lifestyle that music videos portrayed on MTV.

Even as a young boy I excelled in sports. I made varsity in baseball, football, and
basketball by my sophomore year. I had shoe boxes full of letters from college scouts.
I believed I would be a professional athlete one day because many coaches throughout
the years told me that I had what it took to be one. Drugs and sports proved to be a bad
combination, though. While snow skiing during my junior year, I injured my back in an
accident. Juggling the pain from my ski accident and deeper drug use, the reality of my
dreams seemed to be slipping further and further away.

During my senior year of high school I inherited $200,000 from my biological dad’s
parents. It was at this point that I decided if sports could no longer be my number one
choice in life, then drugs and living the “high life” would be my back up. Within three
years most of the money was gone, I had been arrested four times, and had basically
hit rock bottom. I found myself sitting in a county jail in Colorado facing 7-10 years in

That’s where Jesus found me. I wasn’t looking for Him.

A Hispanic man came to the jail one day and talked to a small group of us about “the
Lord”. The way he talked about “the Lord” intrigued me because he talked about God
as if he actually knew Him. God used this man to get ahold of my heart. He was talking
to us about what it meant to be born again, explaining that it is the Spirit of God coming to live inside of us. He told us that God changes us from the inside out giving us
righteous desires. At that point in my life I knew my desires. They were anything but
holy. I also knew in my heart that what this man was saying was truth.

Questions raced through my mind as he spoke to us. They were questions such as, “If
God loved me and cared about me so much then why am I a strung out drug addict
facing hard prison time?”. This man, unaware of my mental questions, replied to me
quoting Isaiah 53:6 which says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has
turned to our own way: and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” How did he
know to quote that Scripture when I hadn’t even expressed my question to him? I
intentionally asked a few more questions in my mind which he again answered with
Scripture. I recognized in that moment, God was giving me an opportunity to accept His
forgiveness - to be born again. We prayed, and life came inside of me. I felt clean. I
felt peace, and joy flooded my heart. I had a radical conversion in that little Colorado
county jail.

Shortly after, I was transported by the sheriff to the main jail. As we were driving, I
remember an excitement in my heart knowing that what God had just done in me was
going to change everything about life that I had known up to that point. But, never in my
wildest dreams could I have dreamt what my life would be like today.

Nearly twenty years ago in that jail, my life took a 180 degree turn.

My prison time ended up being shortened due to good behavior. After one year in
prison, I went to a program called Teen Challenge to be discipled. Teen Challenge was
a safe place. It was a place where men and women of God could teach me, pray with
me, correct me, and show me in very tangible ways the love of my Heavenly Father.
Through God’s love and patience, through renewing my mind in His Word, and through
repentance, the roots of my faith grew deeper and deeper.

Matt at his Teen Challenge graduation (with Dave Olson)

God saw value in me even at my lowest. Before being born again, I had been despised
by many and felt like I had hurt and disappointed my family beyond the point of repair.
The pain of knowing that was unbearable at times, but even in those relationships God
made all things new. Relationships with my family have never been better than what
they are today. I even had the privilege of leading my mom’s parents to the Lord on
their death beds ten years ago.

Throughout my nearly twenty years of living life for Jesus, I have had the opportunity to
be discipled at Teen Challenge, to be a student at the Brownsville Revival School of
Ministry, to work on staff at Teen Challenge, to do jail ministry, as well as go on several
mission trips around the world. I have had the privilege of seeing hundreds of lives
changed by the Lord. In all of this the thing that has had an impact on me the most,
though, is God’s unconditional love.

Outside of being loved by Jesus, the joy of my life today is being married to my best
friend, Laura, and raising our three daughters together. Being a father has really made me cling to God, learn how to be fathered by Him, and in turn trust that He will help me raise girls
who know they are loved by their earthly father as well as their Heavenly Father.

Following Jesus has not always been easy, but as I’ve trusted him and submitted my
heart to the process of becoming more like Him, I’m finding my true identity in Him. I’m
discovering the depth of His love. I’m experiencing the freedom and healing that’s
found in Him.

Revivalist Leonard Ravenhill once said, “The greatest miracle that God can do today is
to take an unholy man out of an unholy world and make him holy, then put him back into
that unholy world and keep him holy in it.”

I’m thankful Jesus found me.

Matt and his beautiful family

Thank you so much, Matt! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April Pin-Spired!

Happy April! It's time for Pin-Spired and What I Wore Wednesday!

I hope you are all having a good week.

Alison from Get Your Pretty On inspired the outfit below (she is also on Pinterest).

This one is also from Pinterest.

Hmmm...I feel a little like I should be showing you where the emergency exits are located. And also,would you like tea or coffee, sir? lol

I think a more colorful cardigan would work better with the scarf.

What did I wear Wednesday? It's about 47 degrees here today and so I wore a scarf with my military jacket.  I had to take my littlest guy out today to get his hair cut. Of course, we had to swing into Target, too, just to wander around aimlessly. I don't know why that is so fun, but it just is!

Alison inspired this outfit, too.
She has beautiful style! Her blog is one of my favorites. (


And now, I wanted to share something with you that I hope will help you, too.

I'm a worrier by nature. I always have been. I tend to lay awake at night, worried. What about? You name it and I have probably worried about it.

Things like, "Are they learning what they need to in school?" (I home school.)  "What if Nathaniel's condition gets worse?" (Our youngest son has a genetic disorder and has a g-tube. He looks healthy, but it is a serious condition that requires monitoring). I spend a lot of time just worrying about him, and really, all the kids. Our oldest daughter has cerebral palsy. I sometimes worry what would happen to her if something happened to Dave and I. What if my prayers are never answered? What if..what if..what if...

The other day I felt like the Lord asked me, "What if you didn't have to worry?" In reality, I know, we don't HAVE to worry. I know what the Bible says about casting all our care on Him for He cares for us. I know these things, but I have trouble doing them. My answer to Him was, "I wouldn't even know how to not worry, to be honest with You. It's like breathing." I felt like the Lord answered with, "Why don't you pretend that you don't have anything to worry about today. What would that feel like? Do you think you could try?"

And so for one day, I did TRY. For that day, I pretended that I had no worries or cares. When a thought would creep in of, "You'd better worry about this one.", I would dismiss it and think, "I don't have to worry about that." I not only felt happier that day, I felt just plain old happy! Worry drains us of all hope and energy, doesn't it?

Does that mean that I've stopped this crazy worrying that takes so much of my energy? Not entirely, but it has been getting better. It will be a continuing process to break a life long habit. But you know, I've noticed something else. When I let go of the worry and the responsibility of having to control everything, things started changing that I had been praying for. Two prayers were answered on the same day! I think worry was getting in the way of seeing answers to my prayers. It's hard to pray in faith and then sit and stew over the very thing I'd been praying about.

I hope this helps one of you reading. Just try and "pretend" for today that God has "got you covered" where you are concerned.(Even if, like me, you know He has you covered as far as head knowledge, but maybe it has never rung true in your heart.)  He wants to teach you to trust Him and truly know that you don't have to fret. Try it for one day and then ask God to help you to continue in small steps. He wants to set you (and me) free from worry. Worry seems almost like an innocent kind of thing, but it ever so slowly kills our faith. It is like my eyes are opening to all the possibilities of not worrying. You've heard that scripture that says:

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Why does God tell us not to worry? Because we really don't have to.

God has you in the palm of His hand. Live your today and even if it just seems like you are "pretending" for now, don't worry about tomorrow. He has got you covered.

I send love to each one of you reading today. Have a blessed day!

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