05 February, 2017

How Much He Loves Us

      We weren't saved very long when in a prayer meeting, Marlin confessed in tears and brokenness our impurity in courtship and cried out for forgiveness. I followed suit because i knew our impurity had been sin and so i also asked Jesus for forgiveness but deep down inside, i wondered how much fun dating could be if it was pure. It wasn't a wondering based in rebellion but more like questioning. It was about two years later when the Holy Spirit shattered my heart and showed me how Marlin and i had robbed ourselves of something beautiful and pure. I don't remember the details but i do remember weeping and grieving while at the same time worshipping that we were completely forgiven. It was a time of pain and of healing. I also realized that no matter how forgiven and loved we were, we could never go back and try again. Our courtship was finished, our wedding night over.

   There are so many, many things i wish i could do over. I have walked through a deeper brokenness over my past recently and a terrible grief as i realized how much i hurt not only myself but my Savior as a teen and young woman. The battles after salvation for my mind were incredibly intense as we fought the pits of hell to regain what i had freely handed over to satan for so many years. I still fight for the purity of my mind, and sometimes there are victories and other times the battle is overwhelming and i get tired. I want a list of things to check off and poof, i can move on to other things. Still, even as satan comes with fresh attack and accusations, i have discovered that as i cry out in complete desperation to Jesus, i find myself even more overwhelmed with His love and compassion.
 
    God has been so completely gracious to us and has brought healing into our marriage in every area in ways that leave me speechless. I simply don't deserve what He has given us and my life is the greatest gift i know to give to Him. I am still on a journey and am determined, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to run this race well as more than a conqueror. My awe and amazement at the love that my Abba Father has for me has never grown old and it's for Him i run.

  I wish for every one of you to meet the love of God Himself, and to weep at His feet over the brokenness of who we are as humans. You will never be the same.

 

28 January, 2017

Planners and Vitamins

    So we are a fairly large family, at least by the world's standards and even by much of the church.  9 children, two parents, one baby on the way. We're also preparing to move across the country into a brand new way of living, (city versus country) and a new ministry. A new church/fellowship setting and a two family home, altho that family has separate living quarters. Just want to make that clear. :) Still, it will be an adjustment, to put it mildly. So how does a woman stay sane in the middle of homeschooling, packing, saying good bye's and being a good, fat 6 months pregnant?

  I'm going to sound cliche here but it's the only real answer. God. He has been stepping in and it's just astounding my heart. However, He has also given me some practical answers and i'm going to share them in hopes it might be an encouragement to other mothers out there who feel like they have one foot on the slippery slope of complete failure and discouragement and the other on a banana peel.

  Just the other month i was feeling completely snowed under. I felt like my homeschooling was scattered, i wasn't keeping up with checking on the middle sized boys school, and my energy level was at the point where i felt exhausted just eating breakfast. And this in spite of whole food prenatals, caffeine and extra iron. My irritability was, well, i would walk away from whatever child was threatening to push me over the edge, and pray frantically. I looked ahead at moving and shuddered at how i was going to cope. I was also fighting one cold after another and simply couldn't seem to get on top of it, esp since i backed off of using essential oils while pregnant.

   Meanwhile i kept thinking about the vitamins i had taken while pregnant with the twins and remembered how amazing that pregnancy was. I considered buying them again and trying them but the prenatals i was using had such an incredible ingredient list that i hesitated. Besides, that meant spending money and i am trying to be frugal and if that means feeling evil instead of trying another vitamin, well then, so be it.  So we were in Ohio, visiting family and friends the beginning of January when i stumbled across those vitamins that kept coming to mind, and since i was feeling footloose and fancy free (kids were not along, just two couples, Starbucks caffeine and baby in womb) i bought them. Within a day or two i started noticing a huge difference but maybe, just maybe it was my adrenaline kicking in while chillin' with people. It was when we got home that i saw how big of a difference it really made. I've been sleeping much better, my energy level has soared, and that awful, terrible, bad irritability has disappeared. Sure, i'm still not a gentle, super sweet, laid-back kind of person (takes more than a vitamin for that to happen) but at least that slippery slope, banana peel feeling has gone. So for those who are interested, here's the link. https://www.amazon.com/Natures-Plus-Ultra-Juice-Tablets/dp/B00028N1KG?th=1 I do want to put a warning out there for newly pregnant ladies that it's not a prenatal so you may want to supplement with extra folic acid that first trimester. However, it was my midwife with the twins that recommended them to me so i feel comfortable taking them while pregnant. I also take extra calcium/magnesium.

   But that still didn't fix my scattered feeling when it came to homeschooling, esp with starting to pack up our house. I'm not a major list maker but when we have upcoming plans i like to scribble on paper what needs to be done. So one day i'm at Walmart and i see these huge monthly planners. I've never had one and they were pretty so i picked one up and pondered long and hard if i should buy. Would it be one of those things that i would buy and then hardly use? It wasn't overly expensive and it was overly large sized, but might it be an answer? There's nothing like realizing on Monday that you've forgotten to give your middle schoolers their spelling tests for like 3 weeks in a row to make you feel like a loser. Maybe a planner would do the trick. Still, that whole frugal thing kept me from splurging and i walked away without the planner. Besides, it WAS rather large and my belly is all the large i can handle right now. (doesn't help when someone kindly asks me if i'm SURE that my due date is right. and that was after i had looked in the mirror and thought i don't look to bad. Why, oh why are most pregnant ladies around me so cute and tiny? Makes me hungry for some cinnamon, raisin toast.....)

  So i just continued stumbling along my cheery, vitamin induced way when what do you think showed up. We were with friends when one of the dear ladies wondered if anyone wants a planner. I held my breath and hoped no one else was interested. After waiting a few minutes to make sure there were no other interested parties....maybe it was seconds but whatever......i said "i would love one!" Let me tell you, it's perfect! Perfect size, perfect color, perfect spacing, perfect everything. I still can't believe it and I've been happily scribbling in it ever since. Not only that, i'm now remembering spelling tests, reading sessions with the littles in the afternoons, and all kinds of other things. It has a space beside every week for a to do list, and instead of feeling scattered and slightly panicked, i write down what needs to be done and cross it off as/if it happens. Even if it only gets used til we move, it's been a sanity saver. And best of all, i know that it was a gift from a loving Heavenly Father who blessed his scatter brained daughter with something that has  brought some organization to her life.



   He is simply amazing and i love Him. Not because of planners and vitamins but because while i was crying out for Him to show me in a BIG way that He's in control of our lives (nothing like hurt to make you run to Him) He chose to show me in small ways that had a huge impact. Sometimes when we're walking through a tough time we need fasting and prayer, and sometimes we simply need vitamins and planners given from the tender hand of a big, big God.
 

15 January, 2017

Fruitcake anyone?

    It's Sunday morning and instead of being at church, i'm at home with a little man who has been fighting the flu all week. Not only has he been fighting the flu but he's been a real challenge in other ways. Normally quite obedient and pleasant, he has turned into a little terror who hates his bed, wants to sleep in the big, cozy bed with his parents, and throws a complete fit when he doesn't get what he wants. You would think after raising 8 other children that i would have this training thing figured out but i still get that helpless feeling when little angel turns into big terror and decides to let his own will be known and any good feelings i had about my child training slowly drains away. It's enough to make me want a nap. Which i deserve because last night after hearing him whine and complain quietly to himself at an unearthly hour, i dragged my pillow out to the couch. Decided i would let Big Daddy and groucho mundo figure it out so i slept on the couch and dreamt of the end of the world and massive flooding. And laundry. Lots of laundry and big appliances that quickly dried our clothing so we could keep running to......somewhere. Even in the apocalypse i can't get away from dirty underwear and socks. Woke up to see Marlin standing in complete amazement in front of me wondering why in the world i'm on the couch. In 20 years of marriage that has never happened. Nothing personal dear, just seemed like a good idea in the wee hours of the morning.

   So here i am, with the smell of baking ham in the oven and a faint plan to maybe make dessert for lunch since Sunday lunch deserves something sweet with coffee. However, that means i need to actually get busy and i'm not sure i feel like getting busy other than with a cup of tea and a good book. Busy is overrated. Altho dessert not so much, so there's my quandary.

   I was a bit sad to miss church this morning because i haven't been there for a couple of Sundays and Marlin is preaching. I like when he preaches. He's a man that lives what he preaches and has a way of speaking truth without condemnation. But then i'm biased and not ashamed of it. We don't have many Sundays left at Oak Hill and i will miss it. The singing is absolutely incredible and one reason i like it is because it's old fashioned hymns sung with great enthusiasm. I suspect i'm getting old fashioned in my mature years. I'm cool with that, bro.

   I'll also miss the amazing fellowship dinners with the rows of heart warming and waist growing food, esp desserts. Lifts me to a spiritual like plateau in no time. Lucky for them, i'm not one of those cooks who show up with an array of mouth watering food so my food won't be missed. Marlin's might be tho, since he has inspired quite a few males in the church to take their place as men and fire up that grill. Its been beautiful.

   It goes without saying that we'll miss the people too. They have been a very safe place to rest and refresh, and we will be forever grateful. God has used them in our lives and there will be tears when we say good by. Already dreading the farewell get together.

   But life goes on and we're ready and excited to take the next step. I have my moments of complete panic and doubt, when i wonder what on earth ails us that we can't act like sane humans altho it's a bit late for that with being pregnant and all. Mostly those moments come when the feedback about our move is negative and other people let us know they're wondering the same thing. It's good tho, because it drives me to my knees and a choice to trust that God is in control. That's all i really care about. Knowing He is God and is leading. I'm willing to be a complete fruitcake as long as it's Him and not my own good intentions. So even in that it's a choice to trust not only God but also my husband. When we look back over our various moves and experiences, it's amazing to see how each situation prepared us for the next. Some were very painful, and some just hard, but each one has been crucial in our walk and growth with Christ. So once again we take a deep breath and jump off the deep end but we're jumping off together......my man, myself, and a whole row of little and not so little fruitcakes, and most important of all, surrounded by the hand of Papa God.

29 December, 2016

Oh Ho, to Boston we go

   We came back from Kenya tired and wondering if perhaps our future would be like normal people.

   Work.

   Sleep.

   Church.

   Loving and being loved.
 
  A full(er) bank account perhaps.

  I dreamt of a rambling farmhouse, preferably white with black shutters and a red door. A large wrap around porch and huge trees. A screen door that would slam and a kitchen big enough to host large crowds of friends and people in need of love and coffee.

  A big dog and a few farm cats.

  Ramshackle barn or two and maybe a pond out back.

  A place to raise this astonishing amount of boys that God has given us.

  But above all, as i stared longingly at white farmhouses and old trees, i asked my Heavenly Father to give me a heart of contentment and surrender at whatever cost. Hopefully it involved country sunsets but i wrestled to give it up and shared in a women's small group setting that God was asking me to surrender my dreams.

  "God, do you hear me?"

  He heard and we're moving.

  Not to country sunsets but to the sun sinking behind office buildings and rows of houses.

  No big farm dog. Or cats for that matter.

  We're moving to Boston. We were planning on settling in Virginia for long term and talked casually of building someday. After the third or fourth request from mission boards we began to get this unsettling feeling that perhaps God was reminding us that we're to be strangers and pilgrims in this life. Not that you can't build a house and still be a pilgrim and stranger but He has made it clear to us that it's not for us, at least not now.

  But the city??? We prayed long and hard about that one. I'm a country girl at heart. It's not easy to think of being surrounded by houses and people and i remember the claustrophobia of Kisumu Kenya. So we prayed, asked lots of questions, and had hours of conversations with the older children. They have been an integral part of our decision making. We asked God to give us a heart that is unified in what His will is and we feel He has made it clear. To Boston we go.

  Marlin will be director of a refugee/immigrant center that Followers of the Way Boston is setting up. He will, Lord willing, be teaching English as a second language along with various other programs all with the goal of reaching people for Christ. The mission field in the states is growing rapidly and every believer is needed in many different ways.

  In spite of no white farmhouse and ramshackle barn, no pond, and sidewalks instead of country roads, my heart is at peace. I did tell Jesus that instead of a gold mansion in heaven i would be cool with a farmhouse but i know that whatever He has will be beyond my imagination.

  We're not moving because we think we're somehow more spiritual than anyone else or that you can't be fulfilling God's call in your home area. Some have called us brave and adventurous (we've also gotten the raised eyebrows and the icy "oh.") but i would like to think that every believer lives a life of being willing to go anywhere and do anything for the gospel. I can't imagine moving anywhere without feeling clear that it is God calling us and neither can i imagine staying if He nudges us on. We don't question that He called us to Virginia for a season of rest and renewal and we believe He is moving us into another part of our journey.


This is the kind of picture that happens when you remember at bedtime that your family picture is needed for a church calendar. Aren't they a handsome bunch? 


 

 

 

 

09 December, 2016

Supper Panic

  You know how it is. It's time to get supper cooking and nothing comes to mind.

  Nothing.

  A small feeling of panic swirls because if i don't figure something out that means 11 people won't be eating. 11 hungry people are no joke. I'm not one of those super organized people who have a menu figured out every week. I used to be a lot more organized and then.....not sure what happened. I love weekly menus but i never think of it until the panic happens. I'm also not one of those that has simple meal ingredients always on hand for emergencies. Again, just not that good. It's not all my fault because i have a fantastic cook for a husband and if surprise company is on their way, he can always come up with something. And then there was that time that we served company pizza from a pizza shop and they didn't come.......and didn't come.......2 hours past supper they showed up while the pizza rested in the oven. Chewing that pizza was an experience i never, never want to repeat.

  So what to do when you HAVE to come up with something NOW?

  It's simple, really. So simple that it's too easy.

 Pray.

 No, not being sacrilegious because i have done it many, many times and it has never failed me. If you're being deliberately lazy and slothful it might not because God doesn't reward losers, but if you're a busy mama with a good heart but not such good planning skills, He hears.

  Normally i do have a plan for supper by midmorning and the meat is thawing, but some times like today my plan flushes down the drain. I was planning on making this butternut squash, quinoa casserole with a bit of chicken breast in it (sounds nasty but i promise the picture looked amazing) and then i get a call from my very handsome husband who informed me that they will need a ride home from work. The mechanic working on our van ended up in hospital and it won't be finished til tomorrow morning. I don't know why he needed the hospital unless he happened to take a look inside the van. My meal plan wouldn't work because it needed me to be here most of the time and, well, i was't going to be here. I had just woke up from my nap and felt like a groggy smurf, but i sat down with my cookbook and started paging while sipping coffee to give me a wake up jolt. While i paged i asked the Lord to please show me what to make.

  He did, within minutes. Instead of butternut squash and quinoa we're having chicken and rice made with cream and chicken broth. The broth mixture tasted fantastic before i slid it in oven and there's the irony of it. Not only has He ALWAYS answered, it's always something yummy. He often doesn't even use a cookbook but something will pop into my head and i'll be like, "thank you, Lord!!!"

  I'm telling you, having Him involved in every area of your life is unbelievable. Here's the God of the universe giving me inspiration for what to feed 11 people out of the 6 billion or so people populating this earth. He cares.

  If He cares about supper and has got my back, then how dare i worry about our future? Which is changing but i'll share that at a later date. Sorry, but i need to get ready to go pick up my fine, fine specimen of a man and teenagers.

  Trust Him. I dare you.

07 October, 2016

Guess What?

 It's official..........



There's another Baby Weaver on the way!!!


Yup, that pregnancy test that i took a while ago was wrong. It lied and i was air headed enough to post about it and then repented afterwards but it was too late. Except that i decided that it wasn't too late and i deleted it. 


I watched our older children's faces when we told them. In today's world and even, sadly, in our Anabaptist culture, a mom of 40 who's expecting a child is someone to be slightly embarrassed of if your'e a teenager. I needn't have worried. There was great rejoicing and i'm being spoiled rotten ever since. Big Daddy brings me home special treats and I'm watched carefully by the older kids for fear a wrong movement might endanger the new member. It's the life, albeit an exhausting and alarmingly fattening one.

Baby punkin is due around the middle of May, making me 9 weeks. You can send me congratulations in the form of homemade pies and donuts. Specifically cream filled homemade donuts.

On the other hand, better just wish me well and leave it at that. I'm already having a problem shutting some of my shirts and my self control is having issues. I know, who would've thought........
  

06 September, 2016

It is Good

    Today i sat surrounded by my crew of boys and debated the possibility of losing my mind. I felt pulled in a gazillion directions as i struggled to keep the middle kids (twins and Jacob) focused on school, while helping the older ones with questions, even while Baby Love was crying every few minutes because he has massive teeth pushing through and he's beyond grouchy. I once again sat on our rather raggedy red recliner to comfort Christopher and thought about the impossibility of trying to do and be all things at once. I tried not to think about mothers who actually have a room designated for school, along with cute little girls who think school is the cat's pajamas.

The detox of green smoothies that was meant to make us healthy and quite thin?
A complete and nasty failure.


  As my boys chased each other through the house and banged kettle lids with Lincoln Logs for drums, (i chased them outside.....quite literally) and a son had to rewrite a sentence for the third time, i had an epiphany.

  I've been fighting this hard stage of schooling in my spirit. I keep thinking that if i find the perfect answer or schedule, everything will fall into place and it will become easy. My children will be cheerful, hard working, and will love nothing more than quietly sitting, preferably in a far away corner, filling out large workbooks with neatly written answers.

  So while Zachary voluntarily cleaned up the living room and i rocked Baby Love, i realized that this is a very intense stage of life and i need to embrace it. No matter how good i organize, IT WILL BE HARD. And guess what? THAT'S OK!!! Yes, there are answers to help things run more smoothly but God will only give them as i surrender to where i'm at in this schooling stage and stop relying on my own strength.

  And did you get that sentence about Zachary voluntarily cleaning up the living room? That's right! On his own, without me so much as saying a word. And why am i complaining??? Dear Lord, forgive my selfish heart. I want perfectly obedient children so i can feel good about my perfect life that never stretches me beyond what i can handle. Or think i can handle. That way when i'm old and retired, i can remember how my life was perfect and my house clean. But how empty. How incredibly empty that would be.


The living room after Zac was finished. There's hope!!! 



  I thought it was intense when all i had was littles. When my 3rd grader couldn't remember to add vowels to her words and the twins were trying to butcher bananas behind my back. I thought it was hard when my mother followed me all day wondering where her husband was, and i fed my farmers copious amounts of food at each meal and trembled at the grocery bill. I thought it was hard when i lived in a dusty compound with a green mamba snake and tin walls and worries about ISIS snatching me at the grocery store. I thought surely it couldn't be any worse when i found out my little girl was going to be buried in African dirt, and what if i never smile again.

  But now that i look back, all i can see are the silver linings. I see the row of little Weaver bodies snuggled up to me while we read huge piles of books about early American history. I see the memories made as we laughed over piles of fried potatoes and crispy bacon around that scratched farm table. I remember my mother's laughter and her tears as she realized she will never again be the woman she used to be, and i see her brokenness at the foot of Jesus as she surrendered that strong, beautiful woman that was her. I remember the fellowship with fellow missionaries inside those dusty walls, and the smiles on the people as they laughed at the strange white woman who carried her baby in front of her instead of behind her. I remember the healing as i gave Hadassah back to God and chose life and joy, and i remember the smiles that followed.







   Someday, i will look back with an ache in my heart at the memory of this little house bursting with life. I'll remember the son cheerfully taking the littles outside so i can get lunch ready and i'll remember the soft cheek of baby snuggled against my neck. I'll remember those early mornings, stumbling to the table bleary eyed, and reading the Word of God together and then searching our hearts to see what God is saying to us. I'll remember the prayers going up from the mouths of our young people as they seek God for answers and strength. I'll remember my strong leader of a husband as he sat at the head of the table, leading our discussions and challenging our hearts. So strong and yet so tender. How God has taken him through the fire the last number of years and how incredible are the results. I'll also remember the laughter. So much laughter.

  I don't know where our future as a family lies. We are seeking God's face as a family for where He wants us. We've been asked to return to Africa to reach out to street children and we've also been asked to pray about inner city ministry in the United States. Or does He want us to stay in Virginia? No matter where it is, i know God Himself walks before us, with us, and inside of us and because of that, my heart is filled with joy and peace.  And forgive me if this sounds super spiritual, but i never want to retire. I'm praying that the Lord will take me while i'm still going full blast. Whether that's in my 40's or 90's, i'm praying to never stop until i've officially been released by King Jesus Himself.





  So today i choose to embrace this season of life. I'm being stretched beyond my comfort zone AND IT IS GOOD.

  Thank you Jesus.

  Thank you, thank you, thank you.