I only needed a couple of things and we would be on our way. I debated whether I should go to Wal-Mart on a Saturday, but did not want to fight the lines that would surely be backed up into the clothing section. I chose Stop & Shop, which would be easier to get in and out faster. My girls and I selected our snacks for the party, then walked to the self check out registers and waited for our turn. There was a lot of hustle and bustle around us as everyone did their own thing, so the loud commotion down the main aisle did not bother me at first. I heard the loud stomping of feet, gasps of surprise, and felt the wind rush passed me as someone raced behind me. A lady's cart crashed as someone pushed it out of his way. I thought some teenagers were just having some fun, running around being crazy like they sometimes do. Then I heard someone whisper, "He was at the bank!" My original thought evaporated as a policeman came running after the young man, full speed ahead. The look on his face was intense, determined to catch the man before he caused any more harm. My eyes grew wide as I watched the shirtless young man slam into some shelves near the front entrance of the store, but he kept going right through the first set of doors. It was at the second set of doors that led outside where the police officer caught the young man by the shoulder and threw him down onto the ground.
People all around me stood, terrified at the scene that just had played out before our eyes. One lady began to cuss out the young man, but I gave her a look that warned her of my young girls standing right next to me and she immediately stopped and apologized. As if in slow motion, the activity began to pick up again when everyone knew the danger was passed. Leaving the man outside with two other cops, the policeman walked back into the store, took a deep breath, checked his arm as if he was looking for a wound or something, and then approached the young woman from the bank. He asked her if she was okay and she said yes.
Tonight, I cannot help but think of that young man who is most likely sitting in a jail cell right now, alone, bitter at the world. What caused this desperate attempt to steal some money, in front of a busy store where hundreds of people were trying to get their shopping done for the week? Does he have a mother out there somewhere? Does she love him? Is she weeping over the bad choices he has made in life? Is she praying for him to change his ways?
I pray for that young man, so desperate and alone. I pray he is in the Cheshire Correctional Center where he will have the opportunity to hear of God's love for him through the men from church that hold services up there every week. I pray God will get ahold of him and allow him another opportunity to make things right, and to make the right choices. May he ask Jesus into his heart and make his mother weep with joy and not grief. I would want the same for my sons. I am truly thankful the Lord watched over us today and kept us safe from harm. There are a lot of what-ifs going through my mind, but I am most thankful for the opportunity to pray for a young man, who needs the Lord, and maybe God will turn this misfortunate event into something good for him and his family.
Ever since our children were school age, every summer we always examined where we were and what God wanted us to do for them school-wise during the next year. For many years we homeschooled, not having any ideas of what private schools were out there. After we found Heritage Baptist and made it our home church, we discovered there were many other homeschooling families that attended, as well as the Christian school the church provided. Since we had so many children, sending them to the private school was not an option financially so we did not consider it at the time.
Two years ago Pastor approached us and gave us the opportunity to attend the school if I agreed to help them out in the afternoons with aftercare. We sought the Lord's guidance on this and felt He was giving us the go ahead to make the change. For the first time in six years we let the homeschooling title go and our children began private school. Having been a homeschool graduate myself, I had always thought I would be homeschooling my children forever. That was not God's plan for those two years. The truth was I needed a break so I could get refreshed from the burnout I had. I did struggle a bit with the fear that I was not doing what was right for my children, but over time the Lord gave me peace and brought me through an amazing time of growing bolder, more confident in Him (and myself) and nurturing wonderful relationships. I even taught for three months and realized I could do it again (teach, that is) with the Lord's help and strength.
It is summer once again. As always we look at the year ahead of us and wonder what God has in mind for our children. A few weeks ago I began thinking about homeschooling again. I began to pray about it, not sure if it was something we should even consider. Usually if it is of the Lord, the thought will not go away. I figured it was just the same usual argument I have with myself that eventually works itself out and fades into the distance. Not this time. I could not get the idea out of my head. I approached Joe and told him of my thoughts. I asked him to pray about it and see what he got from the Lord. We went away on our trip to PA and talked for quite some time about it. He was also getting the same idea and could not shake it. For days I agonized over the decision - homeschool or Heritage. I love the staff there. I have made friends with the other teachers and feel like I am a part of the family. I know my children love their teachers. Caleb especially loved his teacher. The gentleman was good for him and I know he will miss his wit and knowledge. Besides, Caleb has only one year left before junior high and youth group. Do I honestly think I will be able to prepare him for the challenges that no doubt lie ahead for him? Alaina and Susy loved their teacher too, and will no doubt miss their girl friends from school. Benny loved his classmates and teacher. His buddy is going to be going full time - how can I think about taking him from his friends? JJ struggled with seventh grade, but now that he is going into eighth things would probably get better. He would not be alone since his friend, who is going into seventh would help keep things interesting upstairs.
Over and over I argued, weighing this matter against that matter. We even talked to the principal and he told us he would support us in either choice God called us to follow. He is my son's youth pastor and loves him. He wants the best for him. We do too. We also want to do God's will. Still, the feeling would not go away. We made our decision the other night. We both have peace about our decision. We do not know why God is calling us down this road this year, but we believe we are to homeschool the children again. It may be that the Lord sees something big in front of us and knows we need this time to prepare us. Prepare us for what? I have no idea. Maybe it is simply because He wants us to become stronger as a family. Maybe He wants to see if we are listening to His voice so He can direct us to something bigger in the future. Maybe it is because there have been people praying (my oldest son included) for us to homeschool once again and God is answering prayers. If the only reason we homeschool is so one day my son can look back and see how much the Lord loves him and made Himself real to him, making a difference in whether he chooses the world or God's way, then it will be all worth it. I have no idea and neither does my husband. I do get a sense it will be only for this year. Highschool years will be different and I want JJ to get the firm hand of all the men teachers at the school, and benefit from their example. Yet, for now we do know this: it is God's choosing and we can only be safe in His will, no matter how hard it may seem, or how tough it may get. 1Th 5:24 "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."
I believe He will see us through every step of the way.
To hear with my heart,
To see with my soul,
To be guided by a hand I cannot hold,
To trust in a way that I cannot see,
That's what faith must be.
P.S. Heritage staff, we love you and will miss you!
Happy Monday, everyone! I hope all is well with my family and friends. I am sorry for not keeping up with my blogs these last couple of weeks, but summer has fully kicked in. My husband and I went down to Lancaster, PA, while his sister watched our five children. It was the first time we were able to get away for three nights since we have had children, and we had a wonderful time. We got to go to the Sight and Sound theater for the first time, where we watched Jonah. It was sooo good! If you have not been able to go see a show there, you must make a special trip. It was worth going just for that! We purchased the dvd of Joseph and watched that when we returned home. I wish we had been able to see that one on stage. It was the best portrayal of the story of Joseph that I have ever seen. Awesome music and special effects! I cannot wait to take the children next summer to see Noah! Okay, enough advertising for the theater. :)
I am so thankful the Lord blessed our entire trip. It was a time of renewal, catching up, making decisions, and praying about God's will for our future. We need to get away more often!
Well, that is it for the moment. I just wanted to let you know I was still here, but I will return soon and write more for you to read. God bless!
I have not put a song up for a while, but felt the Lord leading me to put this one up today. Maybe it will bless someone's day, and put some encouragement into a hurting soul. This song always brought tears to my eyes. It is amazing how much God loves us, even when we did not deserve His love.
For Those Tears I Died
Words and Music by Marsha J. and Russ Stevens
© 1972 Communique Music, Inc.
You said you'd come and share all my sorrows,
You said you'd be there for all my tomorrows,
I came so close to sending you away,
But just like you promised, you came here to stay,
I just had to pray.
And Jesus said,
"Come to the water, stand by my side.
I know you are thirsty, you won't be denied.
I felt every tear drop, when in darkness you cried,
And I strove to remind you, It's for those tears I died"
Your goodness so great, I can't understand,
And dear Lord, I know now that all this was planned.
I know You're here now and always will be,
Your love loosened my chains, and in You I'm free,
But Jesus why me?
Jesus, I give You, my heart and my soul,
I know now without God, I'll never be whole,
Savior, You opened all the right doors,
And I thank You and praise You from earth's humble shores,
Take me I'm Yours!
Five weeks old. If I knew then what I know today, I would have never taken her that day. I should have given her another three weeks so she could get the nourishment and training that a little kitten so desperately needs from her momma. Yet, she was so sweet as she came bursting through the doorway with her brothers and sisters, little blue and pink ribbons tied around their necks so we could know whether they were male or female. I had a hard time choosing which kitten I wanted, but finally decided on her because she was friendly and did not try to run away when I picked her up. I paid the lady for the kitten and drove home with the itty bitty thing on my lap. It was on that ride back that I decided I would call her Samantha, Sammy for short.
The first week with Sammy was rough. She missed her momma and siblings and cried every night. She had not mastered eating dry food very well and picked at it, looking at me miserably, wondering why I did not help her. I tried watering it down so it could soften, which helped a little. In an effort to comfort herself, she found that the nook of my neck, under my long hair, reminded her of the one she missed, and spent the nights tucked in near my head. It did not take me long to realize she was actually licking my hair, but the wetness did not seem to bother me. In fact, I loved hearing her purr near my ear. I had become Sam's momma now.
She survived that first week, even though she became unkempt and quite skinny, but soon survival took over and she learned how to groom herself. It did not take long for her before she became the sleek siamese. Samantha was beautiful and everyone who saw her would agree, though they would always ask if siamese cats were as tempermental as they say. I would just smile and nod. She sure did have a distinct personality!
I decided to let her have one litter of kittens, just so I could have the experience of having little kittens running around the house. I also wanted to make some money and earn back what it took to buy her, and have her earn her keep. I was off at a friend's house when I got the call from my brother that Sammy was in labor and had already had two kittens. I had hoped she would have them in my room, but she found a better place, much to my mom's displeasure, and nestled down in a box in my parent's closet. I rushed home and knelt down by the box, petting Sammy and congratulating her. I never knew a cat could smile, but I believe she actually smiled at me as she purred happily. She seemed to say, "Look at what I did!" I was able to witness two more kittens enter the world, then she decided to have one last one during the middle of the night.
Sammy was the best mother in the world. She always perked up when I walked into the room and was pleased to let me touch her babies. See, I was Sam's favorite person and though she tolerated everyone else, to her I was her mother. Because of this, my mother told me to get the kittens out of her room because she hated hearing the loud meows at night every time Sam left or came back to her nest. I tried moving the kittens to my room, but Sam would not have any of it. She picked up the kitten by the scruff of the neck and ran back upstairs and plopped him right back in with the others.
The first time she actually attacked someone was soon after she had decided to move the kittens to a closet underneath the stairs. It made it quite difficult for us to visit the kittens because of all the stuff in the way, but I managed to clear out some things and make a path to her nest. I had a friend come and visit, and I proudly showed her the kittens and gave one to her to hold. I glanced at Sammy and noticed she had an evil gleam in her eye. I made some sort of comment to my friend about Sammy not liking it, and she laughed, while still holding the kitten. Suddenly, Sammy lunged forward and in a panic, my friend tossed the kitten to me and leaped onto the large freezer we had on the opposite wall. Sammy did not settle down until I put the kitten back and we snuck out of there, laughing nervously.
Later on that night, I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth when I heard a loud commotion in the other room. "What are you yelling about?" I called out to my friend.
"That's not me! That's the cat screaming! She's got me cornered!" It was a matter of life and death!
I raced into the other room. I was shocked to find Sammy hissing, spitting, and screeching at my friend who was cowering in the corner. Sam's hair stood on end. Her tail was three times the size it normally was, and she was carrying on as if my friend had kidnapped her babies! I shooed the cat away and quickly led my friend to my room and closed the door. Needless to say she stayed completely out of the way of the cat after that.
A little neighbor girl came over to play one day soon after, and Sammy decided she was a threat and scratched her legs all up. She was okay, but I knew we needed to do something about this overprotective mommy. Another one of my friends came over and decided she would take matters into her own hands. She piled on layers of clothes, along with a snowsuit, hats, and mittens, then climbed under the covers of the bed and hid. "Open the door and let her in!" She called. "I want to see if she will attack me!"
Sammy ran into the room, and leaped onto the bed. She sniffed around the covers, but decided it was not worth the effort and went back to her kittens. My friend came out victorious! I still thought it necessary to take precautions, because not everyone would come in wearing that many layers of clothing! I decided to make a sign which read: Beward of the attack cat! and I placed it in the garden near the walkway.
Sammy settled down after the kittens left, though I did keep the sign out front for quite a while. According to my sisters, it was a good excuse to keep the nerdy guys from calling on me during the summer, and once my sister even tossed the cat at a guy whom she did not particularly like, in hopes that he would leave me alone.
I left Sammy behind when I got married. I was afraid to take her away from the home she knew and loved. My baby sister became her new favorite. I missed my siamese, but knew it was best to leave her there. There was lots more country to explore, and she would not be able to go outside in Connecticut.
Sammy is now eighteen years old. I saw her just the other week when I went to visit my family. She has become quite skinny now, her eyes are always tearing up, her nose is stuffed up, and she is completely deaf. I have a feeling she will not be around much longer, so I spent some quality time with her. I do not know if she remembered me. Maybe she did, but chooses not to show it. Maybe she harbors a grudge for me leaving her so long ago. Whatever the case, I know I will always smile at the memory of her funny antics as she danced in front of the stairs or came pouncing out from behind my bed spread. I will frown in sorrow as I remember the humming bird she caught outside the front of our house. I will giggle as I remember her dashing out the front door in hopes to be free from the leash we used to put her on before we gave her the freedom of running loose outside. She always hid under the car just out of reach. She was a sly one, that Sam I Am.
I have heard it said that once you have a siamese, you will always want to have one around. It is so true. Once again I own a siamese with plenty of personality. She does not have the attack side of her, thank the Lord, but she does love me dearly. She is my shadow, and I love having her around. She reminds me of my first 'cat love', Samantha. May she give me lots of warm cuddles and love, just as my Sam used to do. Thank the Lord for wonderful siamese cats! :)
When I first met Joe about fifteen years ago, I remember him commenting about a certain "flower" that Vermont had dotting its beautiful landscapes. Now, I know that Vermont was not the only state that had these "flowers", but because Joe liked to tease, and because that was where I was from, he did it because, well, in Joe-ese vernacular, because he could.
These gigantic, round, metal flowers were usually black, and they could be seen in the backyards of most houses as you drove along the highway through the Green Mountains. They looked like those round wooden chairs that people have in their living rooms, with a big cushion in the middle to make them comfy to sit in. Technology has come a long way over the last ten years. The TV satellite dishes have shrunk down to the size of a real dinner plate, and do not mar the scenic view anymore.
Yet, after my drive through my old state over the weekend, I wondered if we had slipped back in time. Large metal objects once again mar the landscape. The first time I saw a field full of them, it took me by surprise. The contrast between the bright green mountains and the black, glaring sides of the solar panels made me stare in shock. I was surprised Joe did not comment about them, but in my mind I automatically heard myself saying, “These are the new state flowers!”
Now, I must assure you that I am not against people trying to find new ways to conserve energy. Windmills have been around for years, and even solar energy has been used before. If you are going to choose this route, personally, I think the homes with solar panels on their roofs look so much nicer, and it is a better way of utilizing the space you have. I just find it odd that everything technology creates is always rather large in the beginning. Computers were once as big as a room when they first came out, gradually getting smaller and smaller until they are what we have today. Calculators, phones, mps players, etc, all had a large beginning, but have come down in size over time. I know the solar panels will change in size too, as they develop a better way of conserving the sun’s energy. Until then, I will simply put on some sunglasses and try to enjoy the new “sun flower” that is popping up in many fields over the country.
I want to take a piece of this home with me. If I could only take a knife and cut out a square of this green mountain scene, I would put it on the back of a trailer and bring it back to Connecticut.
Nestled in a valley in the northern part of Vermont, my parents have this awesome view from their brand new deck in the back of the house. Now that my dad is retired, he finally had some time to put it on and this was the first summer we could actually sit outside and enjoy this view. Now if only we could do something for the crazy horseflies that insist on eating us, I mean with us, at the table. For anyone interested, he has plans to sell the house in the near future. Vermont winters have become too much for them and they have some land in North Carolina where they will build their new house.
We have to leave today. We only arrived Thursday and spent a wonderful few days swimming in the pool, wading in the stream in Jeffersonville, eating creemees, and catching up with family members that we had not seen in over six months. I even played my flute in church yesterday, bringing back memories of the days when I would play every Sunday with whomever the song leader was at the time. I had prayed it would be a blessing to everyone yesterday, and I know God answered my prayer.
Overall, this vacation has been very relaxed, and I have seen some other answers to prayer which have been a great encouragement. God is faithful to His children and does wonderful things even through the tough times.
Who knows if this will be the last summer we get to spend as a family in this house, in the valley of the green, rolling hills. I have a sense that things will never be the same here, though good or bad, God has a master plan. I pray He will give me the grace to deal with whatever changes lie in the future of my family. I have greatly enjoyed our time this year, and will always hold dear the wonderful memories this place played in my life. Now, back to the grind of real life. The highlight of the day though is the fact that thirteen years ago, I got to hold my firstborn son in my arms for the first time, but that is another blog yet to come. May the Lord watch over you all today, and bless your time with all of your families!
Up until the last week of the summer, I felt I had been doing a pretty good job. It had been an interesting few months of camp counseling, and the three and four year olds always kept us on our toes. Every week the group of children changed as new families came in for vacation and the old ones left to go back home. Every Monday morning the tears flowed as the parents dropped off their children for day camp, but by Friday, the children and counselors were good friends. They were all very cute, but there was always one that stuck out in the group and touched my heart more than the others. Saying goodbye was very hard sometimes.
The last week of summer camp arrived and most of the other counselors had left for college, leaving us shorthanded. Families still piled into the resort for vacation, so there was not a shortage of children to watch. Normally we only had about eight children in a group with two counselors, but that week we had about 12-14 per group. I did not feel comfortable knowing I had so many little ones under my watch care. Seeing that the other girl that worked with me was new also left me unsure. She had come in to help for that week, but she did not know the routine and all that we did. It was totally upon my shoulders and I prayed it would all be okay.
The first few days were stressful, but we managed to get through it all without a hitch. It was either Wednesday or Thursday of that week when IT happened. We had spent a few hours at the splash pad area of the resort, where the children swam and cooled off from the hot summer sun. The other counselor and I rounded up the children and did a head count before heading in for naptime. I came up short one child. I counted again, but still found myself missing one of the little boys. I told the other gal to take the others inside and I would look around for the missing child. My heart pounded as I raced around the pool area, calling his name. Water was a scary thing, especially with a four year old running around without someone watching him. I had a thought to go to the big pool, where all the adults and big kids went swimming. I studied the faces there, but did not see him. There were lifeguards on either end of the pool so I figured they would see if something was not right.
I went around the pools again, and this time I spotted something that still chills me to the bone. It was him. He lay floating on his back, head still under the water. His beautiful, black skin had become a pale, ghostly white as he stared up into the sky. Someone spotted him at the same moment I did and yelled, "He needs help!" She dove into the water and grabbed him, pulling him up and out of the water. She laid the little boy down on the edge of the pool and I quickly hurried over to his side.
"Oh dear God!"I prayed silently. "Please let him be all right!"
He coughed up some water and sat up. His eyes registered fright and he began screaming. When he saw me he grabbed onto me and would not let go. Crying and sputtering, he hugged me and I comforted him as the paramedics came to look him over.
His parents were called and they rushed over to rescue their son from the "negligent counselors", which is how I still see it today. I felt responsible for this event that should not have happened. It was a shame that my summer had to end that way.
As it turned out, it seemed that the little boy had suffered a seizure, something the parents said he had never had before, so they could not understand why it happened now. I never saw him again. They did not return him to camp, but I do not blame them for their decision. I doubt I would have left my child alone with strangers again after an incident like that.
I often wonder why those lifeguards did not think it strange to see him swimming around all alone. When they were questioned about it, all one said was they had seen him going under and coming up without any problems. He had been doing fine. It must have occurred just a few seconds before I saw him, but long enough to get some water into his lungs. That pale face under the water still haunts me to this day...
I finished up my last few days, but I never did another summer of camp counseling again. I felt horrible at what happened and did not think I could handle something like that again. Yet, in this unsure world, I am so glad to know I have a Lifeguard Who will never take His eyes off of me. I am so glad to know He will never fail in anything He does, even though I fail miserably in so many ways. Thank You, Lord, for loving me and promising that You will never leave me alone.
May He watch over you this week, and may you all be blessed!