Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Remember the first time you really connected with what you were reading or when you first discovered an author whose words always seemed to lift you off the page and carry you to a different time and place? Francine Rivers is that author to many people. She may even be that author to you. If she is, you’ll be happy to know that there are several ways you can learn more about her and connect.
FrancineRivers.com—This is the official website for Francine Rivers. You’ll find information on her books, her life, upcoming events, and even access to her personal blog.
Francine Rivers Facebook page—This is a must for the true Francine fan. Here you’ll find the latest news and information on everything Francine Rivers. You can connect with other fans, discuss her books, and even receive exclusive content.
The Francine Rivers Facebook page is well on its way to reaching 100,000 fans. To celebrate this milestone, we’re giving away some fantastic prizes!
Until April 4, you can get a free e-book of Leota’s Garden. You don’t even need to own an e-reader to take advantage of this special offer.
Visit one of these sites to download your free e-book:
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book Distributors
We’ll also be holding a drawing with these prizes. (Each prize listed is for the regular, non-e-book edition.)
Grand Prize—complete Francine Rivers Library
Subsequent Prizes –
First Place Prize (1)—1 copy each of Her Mother’s Hope/Her Daughter’s Dream
Second Place Prize (2)—1 Mark of the Lion boxed set
Third Place Prize (3)—1 copy of A Lineage of Grace
Fourth Place Prize (4)—1 copy of Sons of Encouragement
Here’s how you can enter for a chance to win:
You must complete one or more of the following actions:
- “Like” the Francine Rivers Facebook page
- Invite at least 10 friends to “Like” the Francine Rivers Facebook page (using the “share” link of Facebook or through e-mail).
- Share this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook page.
Fill out the form below to let us know which actions you completed. Each action counts as one entry.
We’ll choose the winners at random and announce them after the Leota’s Garden e-book giveaway ends on April 4!
Any questions? Leave them as a comment on this blog post.
Thank you for participating!
Friday, February 25, 2011
On Sunday we had family night. I had the kids each do something without a part of them. For example, no elbows, knees, sight, touch, smell, hearing, etc. Kevin put make-up on Nick, Nick put toe nail polish on Kevin, Giovanni had to get up with no bendable knees or elbows. You get the picture. I used it to show my kids the importance of every part of our bodies. God knew what he was doing when he created us. We just sometimes forget.
I admit, my self-esteem is pretty low. For those of you who know me, you know my darkest struggles. I struggle with food addiction. I know it is a problem, and God and I are working on it. I know people from my past look at me and say "Wow, she got fat!" And they are right, in many ways. It used to consume me all the time, but now I am starting to learn that who I am is not determined by people in my life, but by my Creator. I have chosen to eat unhealthy. I could continue living my life blaming my abuse, my ex-husband, and other bad people who hurt me, but ultimately it is up to me. I am redeemed and restored through Christ. I have to constantly give up myself to him, to die to myself, just so I can live again. Someday I will probably have my weight under control, but for now, I trust the Lord is putting in motion everything that needs to be done in order for me to continue my relationship with Him. He loves me no matter what I look like, and that is all that matters.
"Let your light so shine before men that He may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
It got me thinking, do I have a God voice, too? When I pray do I pray differently depending on who is in my presence? I think I do. It makes some sense. I would pray for the spirit of evil to be released and renounced in front of my four year old and I wouldn't pray for dreams of butterflies and pink monkeys with my friends. But, what about when I am angry. Do I pray angry too. My husband and I are bad sometimes about praying for her attitude to change or him to start listening. Instead of that we should be praeing for their healing and restoration back to Christ.
I have to remember that God doesn't use a phone voice with me. He didn't pour fire on Sodom and turn to Egypt and say "oh aren't you cute with your flooding farming techniques." No, He is the same today tomorrow always. Through His anger there is love. There is no condemnation if you are in Christ. He loves me for me. I am so grateful for this.
So the next time I find myself surrounded by my life chaos, and you are calling, I can't guarantee o will answer the phone very pleasantly.
Whatever ... Philippians 4:8
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Have you ever asked questions like that? I do all the time. I explained to little miss that it is through faith we believe God is and was forever. I told her how Daddy and I didn't know anything about her or the other three kids before we brought them home forever. It was through out faith in God that we obeyed God's call to adopt them. As I gave her a kiss and hug I prayed she would keep her faith an innocence.
I am so thankful she trusts me enough to ask these tough questions. I am thankful I can say I don't know the answer to tough questions.
I remember how I used to laugh at my classmates In high school who went to youth group. I thought they were losers. I just didn't understand how they could be so obsessed with something that didn't exist. I wonder how many of them prayed for me and for a broken heart so I would have to find Him and the salvation He offers. I just didn't know any better. I thought I was more important than some God they talked about.
Oh my, how wrong and dumb I was! As I continue my relationship with Christ I see how big God is. He pulled me from the muck and the myre. He washed me clean. I was renewed and restored to be who God created me to be. He promises I don't have to step back into the mud, He has roped off the muddy pit. It is only if I choose to enter then I do. In my past I never thought the God would continue to clean me off. But the cool thing is - He does! Every time I fill myself and cover myself with muck, God is standing there with a hose waiting to "rinse" me off. God has set me free from my past. Once I embraced His free help, my life changed forever.
Lord remind me that even in my life chaos you show me that everything falls into place his just as He wants.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I hold tight to each miracle, joy, and light. Especially when times are tough. It is hard to remember Gods promises in the midst of trials. I remember feeling like i couldn't go on last year when my depression was at its worst. But yet, my struggles were no surprise for God. He knew what was going to happen and He made sure I was taken care of.
The last couple of days I have been praying for a friend of mine. She has been through so much in her life, yet her quiet spirit and strength give me hope.
So, what hopes do you see today in yourself, in others, or just around you? Write them down so you can pull them out when all seems lost. Remember, His plans are for a hope and a future, not for destruction (Jeremiah 29:11).
So, like me, as you go through your life chaos, remember it is not chaos to God. He knows what will happen next.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Isn't that how life is, though? Painful? I look back over my past full of abuse, hate, fear and pain and I wonder why. Why me, Lord? Why not someone else. The Brible says we are God's masterpiece. Isn't that just like a tattoo? It was painful, but the brilliance of the artwork is beautiful! What a reward to see everyday. I am refined by fire. I am made beautiful and as I struggle through pain, another masterpiece is born.
Lord, remind me as the chaos in my head continues to question and spin that I am God's masterpiece now and forever.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
So, who is my Superhero? I would like to believe it is Jesus, but do I make others my Superhero? Captain Husband, Superkid, Ahnivorine, Spider? I know I do. We are a family of comic lovers. We have superman ornaments for Malchi and Gio, sponge bob for kev, scoop for Nick, spidey for Caleb, land princess anything for the girls. So, what does that say? We long for a Superhero. It is the savior we need, it is in our created beings.
So, today I have to remind myself that Jesus is my Superhero. He is willing and able to always be here for me without question in time of need.
Lord, through this chaos, help me to let you save the day!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Isn't life sometimes like a dilation? We see everything clearly - Christ, home, work, kids, etc. Then WHAM one day we can't see where we are going. Satan is good at deceiving me into believing I can see clearly or that the light isn't that bright.
Today I woke up an hour late (me, go figure!). I got ready in a daze reminding the children in such friendly terms we had to get going. The daze continued for quite awhile. I dropped Ahnika off, and realized it was time to change the outcome of my day. So I prayed. Lord, clear my mind, my heart. I don't like to be in this blurry world. As I continued talking with Him, I saw the.ha differently.
God wants us to seek Him in all things. I CAN do all things I. Christ who gives me strength. Even when I want to give up, He is always there beside me encouraging. He clarifies every aspect of my life. I just have to remember to allow him to. For so many years I walked around an empty shell. I was lost. After all I had gone through in my life, I lived lost, broken, scared, controlling, and full of shame. I coped with drugs, alcohol, food, and control of others. Finally, God said NO MORE and I actually listened! He cleared up the blurry. The veil was torn. I am and always will be free.
So, thank you Jesus for taking away the blurry of my chaos and my past. Continue to give me clarity.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
I have some decisions to make over the next few months. Decisions God is leading me through, but sometimes i stop in my tracks, not wanting to go on. Thankfully, I have been surrounding by a group of amazing women, their families, and my family urging me to open up and trust God. I am ready for this step. I am tired of hiding behind my past and my hurts. It molded me into who I was and who I am, but it does not determine who I can be in Christ. Only God can do that. My choices, my actions and those of others has altered my entire life. Abuse, control, hate, hurt, alcohol, drugs, sex, loss, love, needs, wants all have led to one thing - FORGIVENESS in Christ. I have made so many poor choices, but God has redeemed and freed me from the bondage that used to hold me down.
Yesterday I celebrated my birthday with my family (minus the two on their honeymoon). God has brought me out of the muck into the light of being surrounded by ones who love me for who I am - mistakes, weight, tears, annoyances, all of it. God has blessed me beyond measure. He has reached His hand out to my loved ones and blessed me with each of them.
I was reading in Revelations 3 today and the church of Sardis reminds me of so many churches and people I know or have been involved in. On the outside alive, but deep down on the inside dead. I have lived like this for so long. It was easy to show others how "alive" I was, yet underneath it all I was so hurt, shameful, guilt-ridden, angry, lost, scared, alone, isolated. No one knew. I wasn't living to the full extent God created me to do. Thankfully, He was gentle with me and opened my eyes to the Truth. Through this process I have also seen God's answer from other Godly people and churches to show me truth (2 Thessalonians 1:4). Through this I was able to live in freedom, as I continue to do.
There is so much out there to hurt us, deny us, persecute us, and hate us. We have to hold tight to His promises and His calling. We don't have to answer to man, but the one who created us - God. So, I will continue to live in my chaotic world, praising God for every part of my life. I will continue to search where I am to go to next for Him, and Him alone.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Why you not? That is a common sentence in our house from our lovely six year old Ahnika. “Why you not make Sophia do dat?” “Why you not put lotion on Daddy?” She is so inquisitive, and comparative. My sweet little girl has the biggest and most joyful heart. Her nickname is smiles and Little Miss Sunshine. Most of the time she is happy. The thing I love about her the most is she wears her emotions on her sleeves. I can always know how she is feeling based on her eyes and facial expressions. There is truth behind her. I pray that innocence, the trust, the love of life does not diminish as she realizes the world does not see the same things she does.
When I watch her, I have to ask myself, when did I lose my innocence, my zest for the little things, my joy. I can pinpoint many times in my life when I was hurt, scared, lost, and wondering if there was more to life than what I was doing. I have shared a little bit of my story with some of my family and friends, but who really wants to know the hard stuff? What will people think of me if they knew the real me? I have created a perfect solution – I became someone different than what God had originally designed before my sins and the sins of others changed me. Funny, though, how God always wants to draw us back to His original creation in us. The beautiful girl, innocent, full of love, joy and grace. The nurturing and forgiving woman who strives to find others who just loves her. He is creating a new heart and body in me. He has sent me women who say “Wow, that sucks that happened to you. But, how does that make me not want to be here for you?” I am really starting to see that I am loveable, I am funny (yes, see yesterday’s post), I am worthy, I am a masterpiece, and I am a princess – God’s daughter. My husband loves me for me, my friends still call me (of course I don’t answer or call back because that is who I am) and text me, my kids light up when I get home, and God smiles when he watches me. It doesn’t matter that I am afraid of rejection, or that I have many addictions, or that I don’t read my bible everyday, or that my house is NEVER clean, or that I have a weight problem, or that I can be critical of others, or even that I sometimes am a hypocrite. They see past all my scars, my wounds, my bad choices and they see me for me. Sometimes when I don’t even see me. I am so thankful for the my close group of people who have been here for me over the last few years as I have started to shed off the old me and put on the new. I am free in Christ and loving it! I don’t need to ask God “Why you not” anymore, but instead I get to say “Thank you for!”
So, Lord even in the midst of screaming, tantrums, addictions, hurt, you show that out of my chaotic life there is beauty, grace, mercy and LOVE. 1 Corinthians 13 is alive and present in my life thanks to all those who are traveling this crazy journey with me.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
What makes you laugh the most? I live in a house so chaotic half the time I can’t tell if it is laughter or crying. The shortest sentence in the Bible is “He wept.” Is there a “He laughed”? There should be. When God created each day, I wonder what made Him laugh. Did he see the bubbles coming up from the water/earth as it separated and think “Oh yes! This is what I want to happen when my creatures fart in water?” Or did he laugh when he watched baby animals chase their tales? How often did Adam and Eve laugh, carefree before their bad choice? How much laughter happened after the Fall? We know Sarai laughed at God in negative sarcasm when Abram was told he was going to be a father in his old age.
Is there a difference between laughter and sarcastic laughter? My dear friends and I discuss this often. I personally believe it depends on the heart behind the sarcasm. My sarcasm can come out of hurt, fear, anger, or just plain joking. Thankfully I am surrounded by people who have the same sarcastic mind. It is so hard for me sometimes to be in a room when I spout off something HILARIOUS and no one laughs. Of course, it must be their own boring lives to not get MY jokes. Life is too serious to not laugh at everything – good and bad. I remember a few years ago Caleb threw a rock at our
I can be too serious I am told by my lovely children and hubby. Loosen up; let it go, settle down! At the time I get so mad at them, but honestly (shh, don’t tell them) they are right. Why do I get so worked up in this world when it is only temporary? God created my laugh, my smile, my sparkle. Why not let it shine. I get suffocated at work sometime with the different personalities, but God is smiling with me. Wanting me to laugh. It really is the best medicine for me. Well, so is dancing but that is another post.
I leave you with my chaotic life story of how laughter is key in my marriage, my family, my relationships, and with my God. George, my hubby, emailed me today asking me “What words did we use to have the kids say because they were so funny?” I thought he meant earth translated to earf, or boots that are boops. Naw, he meant how the boys say ice cream. It sounds like (ear muffs here for those of you who may be offended by a donkey’s aka name) ass-cream. So, my dear Christian husband used to walk into Wal-Mart and ask them? “Do you want some ice cream?!” “Yes!” the boys would respond. “Yes, you want what?” he would ask. “We want ass-cream!” When I think about this I laugh – hard. It is so funny to me. It brings me back to the joy of my life and the blessings God has bestowed on me. Yes, my friends welcome to beautiful chaos.
Note to readers: I do apologize if my story about the ice cream offended anyone. Just remember, I am open, honest and real on my blog. This is about the beautiful chaos God has planted in my life, my home and my heart. We are not perfect or exempt from mistakes, only saved and forgiven. J
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
So, last night I came home and crashed. I went straight to bed and slept until 830. Other than really really weird dreams, I slept. Well, kind of. Add in little children. “Hi Mom!” Caleb yells from the hallway. “Mommy, dinner is ready. How come you not eat?” asks Sophia. “Why are you sleeping so much, Mom?” asks Ahnika. So, in between weird dreams, I was told dinner was ready and I needed to eat about 10 times, 3 times I got cuddle time with Sophia, and multiple times I listened to laughter from my kids. I woke up refreshed and ready to face what life gives me.
In my reading today, 1 Thessalonians 1:7 says God provides rest for us who are being persecuted. During Creation, God rested at the end. Christ rested in the boats away from people. So why shouldn’t we rest? Being a mother is hard, I admit. Unfortunately I have to face many uphill battles. I have faced debilitating depression, past abuse, illness, loss, work, etc. Some days I just want to throw my hands us and say “NO MORE!” But, no more what? Can I really give up? When kids come to cuddle can I say “No, I give up, no more cuddling?” No way. So instead I cry out to Jesus “Lord, take this hardship, this pain. Fill me with strength and understanding.” My prayers are always answered then, in many different ways. So, I can choose to go down the path of bitterness and resentment for the “lot” I have in life, or I can embrace every moment realizing God knows my outcome and His desire is for my security and love for Him. Psalm 118:24 says “This is THE day the Lord has made, we (I) will rejoice and be glad in it.” He makes each day, so today I chose to rejoice in whatever comes my way.
I must say, though, my husband has it rough. Some could say he married “damaged goods”. I say he married a woman refined by fire. He definitely has to take on more than most husbands. For me, working 40 hours a week, battling my past, commuting to work, raising multiple amounts of children, and life has taken its toll on my body and my mind. I come home pretty exhausted and he is left to do laundry, dinner, housework, etc. while I nurse my hurts and pains. I know he gets run down, but I see the light that shines around him every time he serves me. The light given to him by God. God has already prepared an amazing place for all of us who believe in heaven, but my husband’s place outshines us all. I am so grateful for God bringing us together and blessing our marriage.
So, what are your hurts and pains that hold you back from living life? Who has to pick up the “slack” when you aren’t 100%? Tell that person you love them and appreciate all they do for you. I know I forget to thank my husband enough. So, dear, THANK YOU!
Lord, remind me that the chaos of my life is for your glory and your praise, not because of ANYTHING I do.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
So, is change good or bad? For my little Sophia, change is bad. She excels best when we are consistently the same – same bed time, same nights at home, same work schedule, etc. When any of these change, she becomes stressed and becomes needier along with more tantrums. For the last three weeks our lives have been in constant change and Sophia’s little attitude shows. Poor thing. All I can do is hold her in my arms and reassure her we love her and she is doing well. Deep breaths little one, deep breaths.
So, in the last few days I have reflected on how I handle change. Honestly, I don’t like it. I feel safe and secure when things are the same. Boring, I know. I would, if allowed, stay at home and be with the kids 24/7 if I could. Unfortunately I don’t think my family and friends would allow this. So, I have to allow some change. This week, however, I think I have reached my maximum number of changes my mind and heart can take. My son, daughter-in-law, and heart adopted daughter all showed up from
I started looking for times in the bible where there was good change and bad change. Abram in Genesis 17 received a name change. He became Abraham – Father of all the nations. Jacob becomes
What about bad change? The loss of someone or a pet? At the wedding this weekend I really struggled during the father/daughter dance thinking about how close I came to loosing my earthly Daddy and how I did lose my father-in-law who basically was a father to me. I was sad knowing he wouldn’t get to dance with his daughters here on earth. But, God gently reminded me I had to rejoice because he was transformed into a renewed and healed man. My father-in-law was and still is dancing in heaven, rejoicing in his earthly family and the marriage of his grandson. Then I thought of Romans 12:2 where Paul tells us not to conform to the world. This would most definitely be a bad change if we followed the world in our actions and decisions. I have to seek God’s help in this to NOT change based on the World’s standards. It is so hard, though! I mean really, Verizon is getting the iPhone, we have to buy a new car, everything is on clearance and my mind screams I WANT I WANT I WANT! But isn’t this the same problem Sophia is having? Tantrums because her life changed. I am really not so different from a 4 yr old some days.
So, again I ask God, “How am I supposed to cope with all this change? What am I to do?” His answer is simple – faith. Believe He knows what changes are coming. He sees and knows all. Trust. Believe. Hope. These are His promises. Even though the world may change, or my life may change, He NEVER changes. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is perfect. When I am torn between normalcy and stepping into chaos, I can only seek His face, His truth, His guidance, and His wisdom. In doing that, I will NEVER fail.
Lord help me keep my chaos and future changes under control. Remind me of it, and change, when directed by you, is GOOD! Help me to keep in your will, not the will of the world.
Sunday, January 09, 2011
There are so many stories to share, but the one that stood out to me was the toast. The maid of honor spoke followed by my son, Malchi, as the best man. A couple others spoke. Then the crowd chanted "George, George, George!" And my husband stood and spoke. I was drawn back to the time of our wedding. It was the perfect day, really. It was full of love, hope and dreams. And as I listened to my husband speak, I finally realized how different my love for him was since I said "I do". It is deep, trusting, secure, faithful, unconditional. He is my true love. My husband and pretty much all of us cried during the speech. It was inspiring and moving.
When the speech was done, Ahnika turned to my sister in law Vanessa and said "Why are you getting your face wet?" She responded something I am sure, but I thought "it was your daddy". Isn't that how God is, though? He says things about His children that move us. In Psalm 45, it talks about the King coming home to take his beautiful bride. That is what marriage is about. God created the men in our lives to be Kings. To be our strength. I forget that sometimes. Especially when i forget Christ is my true husband. He is the one who is the source and promise of strength. It is through His strength and love that my marriage is as blessed as it is.
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
As I posted yesterday we recently saw the new Narnia movie. If you haven't seen it, hopefully this doesn't spoil part of it. Last night it finally hit me what Lewis was showing us with Eustace's transformation back to a boy. When Eustace finally gave up his life, his outcome, his will to someone else (Aslan), Aslan changed him back to a boy. The transformation wasn't without pain, though. Think about it, he was being changed, transformed, reconfigured. That is painful. But, for me I am realizing I need this pain. The reminder of where I was and what I have ahead of me. Christ is our real Aslan. He alone can transform me and you. He has taken this broken human full of despair, guilt, blame, shame, addictions, etc. and restored me to a beautiful creation. The woman and little girl He created me to be. It is so easy for me to forget this. I cry out to Jesus, "Free me Lord!" But, after I am free it is still a choice for me to stay free. Unfortunately I choose to put myself back in shackles. It is a revolving cycle. The hardest part is that the shackles are the same bondage, just different materials. My main materials are self-blame, shame, guilt, resentment, anger, fear, worry, and distorted reality. Just when I conquer one, I pick up another.
Today I am focusing on keeping my "dragon" skin off and not putting the shackles back on. This allows the Holy Spirit to completely fill me.
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
"Do you really believe there is such a place?" Lucy asks. "We have nothing if not belief," answers Reepicheep. How true! Do I really believe there is such a place as eternity? Heaven? "If I have no love (nothing), I am a banging gong or a noisy cymbal." 1 Cor 13:1. All I really have is love to hold onto. Somedays I feel like I am holding onto nothing, but other days it is overflowing. The point I have to remember is that love is always there. Always available for me. Not from mankind, but one Man - Jesus the Christ. He is love. He is the belief that there is more to life than this evil earth.
I am so thankful for the love given to me by my family and friends. I just pray I reciprocate it back at them. I have a husband that amazes me daily at the amount of love he gives freely to me. From allowing me to talk endlessly, to playing princess with girls, to wrestling with my boys, even cooking and doing laundry when it is needed. That is love. My children who want to be with me, who say I love you, who ask me "how was work Mama?" That is love. My friends who answer my texts at all hours, who cry when I cry, make me laugh, and get my sarcasm. That is love.
So thank you to everyone who shows love to me and to others. Thank you Jesus for your ultimate unconditional love.
Sunday, January 02, 2011
I am slowly learning that I can only do things in and the with the strength given to me by God. When I feel like I just can't go on, I remember He gave me the privilege to care for these kids, this husband, this house, this family, so why won't He give me the strength. He promises He will always be there. I believe Him.
As I move into the year 2011 I reflect on God's mercy, grace and love He has shown me. I couldn't imagine anything different.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
This was a pretty dramatic time for her as you can see. I mean, geez, you have said no games in the past, so of course the "game warden" has to let her mama know. Is that what it is like when I go to God? "God, Daddy, we have a problem. So and so is being mean and not listening to you. She said she wasnt going to hurt me again, but she did. I told you so now it is your problem." I see two things that I fall into every once in awhile.
The first is the whole tattle-telling. I tend to forget God sees all so when I whine and complain about someone, what does my heart really want to happen? Sometimes I want lighting to come down from the sky on them, and other times I just want acknowledgment that they hurt me. Secondly, who made me the warden of everyone else's mistakes and disobedience? Do I want someone to tattle about how I gossiped about someone, or how I used to lie to my parents about drinking (sorry mom and dad)? No way! So, I guess I need to start searching my heart as to what the root of the issue is. Maybe seek God on that.
I do see a positive to this, too. I was so thankful my daughter came to me trusting I would take care of this "wrong". She also knew what was going on was "wrong" and needed to be addressed. Thankfully our God is open and willing to listen. He is trustworthy to go to for any problem big or small. And just as I explained to Sophia, I appreciated her help and I would handle the situation, God will also remind us if our problems are really a problem or if maybe there is something else there.
So, today when you talk to God, listen for His answer and see what is in your heart. Trust He will care for you always.
Monday, December 27, 2010
We all come to a path we must choose. It could be a job, a car, a husband, college, career, driving drunk, whatever. All our choices affect us in some way - some more drastically than others. I remember many crossroads and so many times I have thought, "If only I would have chosen differently." But, there is help when I choose the wrong path, God is there waiting for me to seek forgiveness and mercy and grace. He gives it freely every time I seek it. So, as I look back on my life path all I see is beautiful stepping stones shining brightly from God's cleansing power of grace, mercy and forgiveness. I can't see the crossroads anymore, He has taken it away. The old choices are buried in the dirt. Instead each stone shows me what happened after I chose each crossroad. Redemption, salvation, love, beauty, perserverance, power, strength, and on and on. I can look forward and trust He will be there at my next crossroad.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
The kids are starting school in a few weeks. Life is life here in our house. There is always something going on. Kevin is getting married in January, we had to put Brutus down, Nick moved out and Malcom is in Afghanistan. Those are the main things going on. Gio and Caleb will be in 4th grade this year. Crazy. Ahnika enters into first and Sophia is still in Pre-School. George loves his job and I am content in mine. God has really been with us.
Me, well, it has been a challenging year for me. God has opened so many doors from my past I barely survived some days. But, I look back and realize He was there every step of the way. I have such an amazing network of friends and family who are so supportive of us. God has showed me how to give up control to Him and my husband. I am in awe daily of the mountains He has moved in my heart.
So on church Friday night, I looked down and saw my little communion cracker had a little "pocket". I started thinking about what I could fit in that pocket. Maybe a poppy seed, or a tiny bead. But, what if that was God's pocket? Then what would it hold. God slowly worked in my brain and I realized He has three pockets. The first one is His "Sharing" pocket. This pocket is like a grandpa pocket, full of treats, money, gifts, love. This is the pocket I can dip into when I need something. A little pick me up of strength, a gift of mercy or grace, and some sweet treats of friends. Then He has the "Caring" pocket. This is the pocket where I put all my cares into. If I am worried for my sick daughter, or my Grandma Mabel, or finances, or I am happy for Friday, or I get an extra big hug from my husband, I put all these things in this pocket. God holds tightly to this one. No one else can take from this pocket. He watches over it and protects it. He is the shelter. The last pocket is just a "Garbage" pocket. This is the pocket that gets full of garbage, waste, junk I don't need. This is where my sin goes. You know that icky thing that is always there and for some reason I think I like but when I look at it I realize I don't. God takes this sin, this junk and puts it in His pocket. Regularly He empties this pocket in the trash never to be seen again. So, are you ready to start given God some of your treasures, your desires or just you junk. He is waiting and ready for you.
Pray for me that God continues to speak to me and I keep up on this. I miss sharing with you all.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Our school lets siblings take pictures, so we did Sophia. Yes she is missing 2 teeth. We (George) had to pull them because they kept falling out after she lost them to a tragic fall when she was a baby. Long story. But it makes her so cute!
Ahnika's first year at school. She is a Kindergartener! crazyCaleb is also in 3rd grade. He is very tall. I need to measure that kid. Bets are he will be 6'5".
This was taken last year at the girls' other daycare.
So, guess what? George got a job. Of course, I am such a slacker in the blogger department that no one problem even follows me anymore. He is working for Indian Health Services. It is a Federal job. He really likes it right now. Funny how we both work for tribes. I work for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. It is pretty cool. Life is pretty good. Busy trying to figure out the whole work schedule. Fall is definitely here and it is getting cold. No snow yet. My dad is doing better but is still very sick. We are just busy with work, kids, church, awanas, home group, kids' disciple classes and homework! Hope you all are well.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
These pictures are of my Dad in February right before he got sick. Below is a letter I got from him today. Keep praying friends!
Dear friends, family and loved ones,
After battling Nephrotic Syndrome, Idiopathic Glomerulonephritis complicated by pulmonary emboli since April of this year, we believe that we have turned the corner in fighting this rare kidney disease. Since April, I have been pretty much incapacitated and at home. Having no strength, extreme fatigue, dizziness, depression, unstableness in walking, blackouts etc., my recent lab work indicates that the disease is headed towards remission. Once (If) it goes into remission, much like cancer, it can come back later. If remission is not reached the overall outcome is somewhat grim. My lab results still indicate that my levels are still in the dangerous zone, but improving. I’m currently taking 19 different medications to combat this disease and includes some cancer drugs (Even though I do not have cancer) and heavy prednisone (Steroid) doses. This intense combo of drugs is hard on a person’s body, yet it seems to be the best (Only) option to fight this nasty disease.
It is my firm belief that this disease correlates with my other VA disabilities and was caused by exposure to Sarin gas (Nerve agent gas) while with the U.S. Army in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. That and other toxins are probably the cause. We are now currently fighting the VA over medical bills (14 total days in the hospital is not cheap) and have filed a claim over this disease.
We have had remarkable help from Bob and Sandi and their families and friends in the
The Doctor tells me that about 4 more months and the drug therapy should be over and hopefully the disease will be in remission. It will be nice to resume normal activities in life and not have medical appointments, hospital stays, lab appointments etc. rule our lives. But we remain positive and are thankful for having a graceful God and so many prayers that have been so generously given.
Thank you everyone for your love, support and prayers,
Bob and Karen
Monday, July 20, 2009
While we were in the hospital with my father-in-law, Kevin and Mikaya helped watch the kids at night and all day (bless them!). Well, they forgot Sophia’s blankie and she can’t function without it. George went up to the baby floor to see if he could get a receiving blanket to “fill in”. They found one and she loved it. So last night I sat down to pray with her and she was holding her blankie in her Sophia way and I told her the “Grampa’s blankie” story. She got this look on her face of pure sadness and just said “I don’t want Grandpa to be sick anymore.” So I told her how Grandpa watches over us from heaven’s window. Boy do we miss you Dad.
So, today as I found out the good news that my nephew is finally back in the states after being in Iraq for almost a year, I am still mourning my amazing father-in-law who also served our Country proud. Let us always say thank you to those who have served and remember how much they sacrificed for us. Let us also remember how God sacrificed His Son just so we could gain back our lives and our restore our relationship with him.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Well, life has been - life. It has been a rough few months for the Raskell's, but with faith we have survived and we will continue. Early on May 8, 2009, we lost our beloved father, grandfather, husband, friend. We miss Jim/Dad/Grandpa so much, but we are so thankful he is Home with our true Father. So many blessings have come from this loss, and we hold to this. The family is close again, siblings are going to church, other siblings are thinking about it, and we are thankful he is not suffering. My father-in-law was such an amazing man. Words cannot truly describe him. He has 7 children, over 40 grandchildren, many great-grandchildren, a wife, and two dogs. He served in Vietnam proudly for the Air Force and continued his career in the Air Force after Vietnam. Every year he paid for all the grandkids to get haircuts and shoes for school. Every Christmas we had presents under the tree for ALL of us. He donated to many charities. He loved the Shock games and watching his grandkids play sports. There is a huge hole in our lives right now. Last year we were so thankful to hear he accepted Christ. We know he is looking through his window in heaven watching his grandkids grow and play and waiting for all of us to be reunited again.
We have also been praying for my father, Bob, who is suffering from a kidney disease and multiple other health problems from exposure during the Gulf War. His kidney disease has really set him back and we keep praying he gets better and back to his active self. I was so blessed to spend a couple of hours with him over the 4th of July on a mountain horse back ride.
The kids continue to grow and have fun with life. They are all at home with Dad this summer. He is still unemployed, but truly enjoying his time with the kids. I admit I am a little jealous. I am working for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe as their Project Engineer. I LOVE my job. It is so fun and different.
We are getting excited for Camp this year. It is our family time that we don't get much each year.
I am hoping to update more often. This last year has been a kicker for us, and I am praying and hopeful the rest of 2009 will be a little more calm. Well, as much as it can be with a family of 9!
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Please pray for my father-in-law, Jim. He is in ICU and not doing well. He has multiple complications from Vietnam. Please pray for him and our family and we struggle through this time. Above are pictures of him at Christmas Eve family night. He is such an amazing man. He love his family so much and does so much for him. Every Christmas Eve we get together and have dinner, we open presents he has bought for all of us (over 30 grandkids and great-grandkids), and just love on each other.
We love you DAD!!!!!
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Those were just highlights.
I will never forget the gift of Make-a-wish and Give Kids the World. My family has never been so happy as we were when we went to Florida as the Raskells Party of 10 (with the grandparents).
Here are some pictures of our trip. They are all over the place, but I just wanted to get them up before I got more comments about not having them!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Just to update. I know it has been since December since I posted. Yes, I finally did get a job. I started work at the end of January. George is STILL unemployed. I am a little discouraged by it all, mostly the financial part. It gets kind of old not being able to pay bills! Yet, I am so thankful George is at home with the girls. Our house runs so much smoother with him home. He is so much more patient, organized and motivated than me. J
Not much has really happened, but here is a quick rundown. Nick is home from Butte. He has huge car issues and is trying to save up for getting it fixed. Kevin is still in school. George was in the hospital for a few days because of some clots in his lungs, but thankfully through meds he is better. We are working with the hospital now because he was 2 days away from getting insurance through my work. L Giovanni is working hard on a story he is submitting for a contest (sneak peak is he gets penguin feet). Caleb is being tested into the gifted kids program at school. Both boys are almost done with hockey. They had a tourney last weekend and each scored a goal or two! Ahnika is on her way to Seattle for her Dr. Ann appt. George is taking the girls (didn’t I say how cool he is). She is doing really well. Sophia is growing bigger and bigger and is slowly learning her numbers and letters. I am plugging away at work. Enjoying reading again, meeting with friends and finally reading my bible more regularly. I am currently studying the life of David. What a great story!
Our biggest news was our FREE trip to Disneyworld. I’ll post soon enough about the trip, but it was amazing. We received Make-a-Wish for Ahnika and she wished to play hockey with a princess. It was truly the best time I have ever had. Our WHOLE family got to go. It was so amazing. I will put together a slideshow of the trip once I finally get the pictures downloaded.
So just keep praying for our finances. We are struggling and honestly that is our biggest problem. Pray for wisdom with our work stuff and that God’s grace continues in our lives.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
God has opened my eyes so much over the last month. We have been so busy getting ready for Grandpa's Christmas eve party, getting kids to hockey, hanging with Malcom, school, snow, family, and looking for work. We are both still unemployed, but so thankful for God's provision through it all. We have had some serious struggles - don't get me wrong. There are days it is hard to get out of bed because of the "what is going to be different today?" But, overall we hold fast to God's promise to keep us cared for by His means and not our own. So, here is a quick update before I tuck kids in.
Malcom was here for all of November. It was awesome. He and his girlfriend, Natasha went back to Germany the beginning of December. He is moving off base in January and is pretty excited. He just got a new Hedgehog - Stuffa.
Nick is currently playing hockey for a Junior B team in Butte, MT. He is having fun. He is home on leave right now. What a different young man he is! It has been great hanging out with him and watching him mentor his younger siblings. They have been loving it. There are some pictures of him playing against Missoula in November.
Kevin is still going to school and is on break right now. He has been such a help around here with the kids. We call him Daddy Kevin. We have been enjoying him and Mikaya playing games. He is working nights now at UPS.
Giovanni and Caleb are playing hockey and loving it. They have gotten so good. There are some pictures playing in the rink and also downstairs with their new hockey set they got for Christmas. They got two extra days of school off for break because of the amount of snow we have gotten in the last two weeks. See below. Giovanni and I had a converstaion one day and it went like this: "I think God wants me to win this hand of War Gio." "No, I will win. (pause) Why do I do that?" "What?" I ask. "I always think about me. I never think about what God wants or others? Why do I do that?" He is so insightful! Don't we always do that? What I want, how I feel. Even when I am talking with God, it is all about me.
Ahnika and Sophia are funny to be around. Since we can't afford preschool for them anymore they sometimes get a little to "close" and I break up a lot of fights during the day. They are so cute to watch. The things they say are hilarious! "I am not talking you!" "Oh, man!" We have a lot of mommy Ahnika and baby Sophia talks all day, too!
George and I are still looking for work. It gets really frustrating to continue with nothing in sight. We just are hopefull for God's will to happen soon! We have both been taking care of his father and getting ready for the big Christmas Eve Raskell party. I have wrapped probably over 500 presents, baked, shopped, and driven then to multiple places. There are pictures below. He buys all the grandkids, great-grandkids and kids presents every year for our traditional get together. It is full of love, food, cookies, and gifts. I love it and the chaos!
We have had record snow in the last week. In about 36 hours Spokane got between 2 to 3 feet of snow and it has continuously snowed for the last week. Our 4' fence is almost buried in our front yard. I have never seen so much snow before. It has been fun watching the kids try to play in it. We went sledding at Whitneys last week. It was so fun! It is starting to warm up and melt so i am curious to see what happens with 4' of snowmelt. Flooding!
We had a great Christmas and the kids and I have been enjoying game time and family time. For the first time ever I don't have cable and I love it! We have spent so much more time together!
Well, time for kids to get to bed for hockey and church in the morning.
Love to you all!
Here is a collection of our life in the last couple of months.
Monday, November 17, 2008
How many of have ever really thought about what "God's Church" is? I always said the blanket "Fellowship with other believers, discipleship, blah, blah, blah." You know, I never really understood what I talked about.
For the last 6 weeks my husband and I have really seen what "God's Church" is. As you know, my awesome hubby lost his job. Well, 4 days later, I lost mine. Within one week our lives were completely uprooted, turned upside down, and we would finally learn and understand faith, hope, trust and love in God. I was devastated when I found out we were both unemployed. What about bills, health insurance, the kids, food, life? I hyperventilated. I cried. I screamed (um, yeah, crazy woman in her truck at a park screaming). I questioned God "WHY? How could you do this do us?!?!?!" I was angry, depressed, everything. I found emotions I never knew existed. Yet, underneath it all has truly been a peace I could never have found on my own.
This peace I have is not from me. Only God can give it. It is the peace and the joy Paul is always talking about. I still worry, and cry, and stress, and lose patience, get angry, etc. I just can't explain it. We still have no jobs, we are completely broke with no mortgage, electricity, cars, etc paid for, we lose insurance in about 2 weeks, yet, somehow God's love is still in me. The bad of this is not Him, but the peace and joy is. I love God more now than before. I LOVE staying at home with the girls. I love fixing dinner and eating BEFORE 6. I know it will be short lived and soon (hopefully) I will return to work. Until then I praise God I am where I am.
So, back to God's church. You always hear about how "Did you hear about that person that helped that other person?" Well we have received so much in the last month I just can't describe how I feel. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love for everyone who has prayed and helped. You are all awesome.
So far we have gotten gas money, childcare money, costco gift cards, olive garden gift card, a free awesomely comfy leather couch, food, food, and more food. We couldn't have done it with the help and prayers of others. I can't wait till this chapter of trials is over, but for now I thank God for what we do have. So many others out there don't.
I leave you with this little story from sweet Sophia. Tonight I asked her "What are you thinking?" She answered "Gawd." I ask, "What about God?" "How he make aminals (yes that is spelled right) and he make ME!" I love her! She is so in love with Jesus and God. Everytime a worship song comes on she raises her hands and says "Praise Jesus!"
Caleb and Gio playing hockey for the first time! Oh, Nick made the Junior League Hockey Team in Butte! Good job!
George's birthday party! Happy er um 40 something?
He is the best husband ever!
Family pictures at Camp this summer!