Saturday, February 28, 2009

Learning Which Cupboard to Keep Cereal In with Toddlers

If this day didn't help me learn..... Then this one did.....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Although I already wrote a post for today, I couldn't let the day pass without my Thankful we always (no matter what) have so much we get to be thankful for!

This Thankful Thursday here are just some of the things I am thankful for:

1. my Bible, although covered with soot and reekin' with smoke, it's promises never end.

2. indoor plumbing.

3. gorgeous days that make us hope that maybe, just maybe, Spring is coming to Colorado!

4. great friends who we can laugh with and cry with, like Terry and Tavi, who welcome our gang into their home anytime we are able to come and they always love on our kids like their own.

5. being able to hit Dunkin Donuts while the Quiz kids were still here....yummm!!

7. New Chucks?? (We used to call them Converse.) 8. An extra-special day of antique store shopping with my Emma Joy - hunting for the PERFECT Memorial Box for one of you my dear, sweet bloggy friends!! =) (*giggle*)

9. Kids pretending to sleep, followed by peels of giggles. 10. The most spectacular fog covering over the homes below a couple of mornings ago...
10. What are you Thankful for this Thankful Thursday?

A Letter from my Bloggy Friend Linda

On Monday of this week (2/23/09) I did a Memorial Box Monday post about our miracle shoes dating from 1757. It has received a wonderful response and I am so thankful that many of you would like to start your own Memorial Box. It's not too late to join in the giveaway, check it out here.

After the post I received an email from my bloggy friend Linda. She wrote a letter about one of her own Memorial Box experiences. I cried as I read her letter. I cried as I read it to Dw. Dw had tears dripping while he listened to me reading it.

It had such a profound impact on both of us that I wrote to this bloggy friend and asked if I could put post her letter on my blog. (She said yes.)

There are many of us who have struggled with our kids and some of the choices our kids have made. Dw and I have also counseled many families who are in deep pain because of the choices of their kids. This letter reminds us all that God is always at work in the lives of our kids - both grown and still at home. He is always faithful. He continues to woo them, even when they seem to be turning a deaf ear and their hearts are hard.

So even when our hearts can fill with discouragement and the situation looks bleak...He is still the Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God.

Shared so graciously by Linda at Treasures in Earthen Vessels:

I love your "shoes" story, and I am reminded that our God is a God of details. This will be long, but here goes~

When we lost our oldest son in January 2003, at age 25, my grief was compounded by the fact that Danny had drifted so far from God in his last few years. He had been a difficult teenager, but I remember crying out to God (in 1993? 1994?) and having Him speak to my heart to tell me that Danny would indeed be restored to Himself. I was given no time table, but I believed. Still, ten years had passed, and I had seen little that would indicate a return to the God that Danny once professed to love. I began to question if his conversion experience was genuine, and at some points I wondered if I had imagined God speaking to me that night so long ago.

Fast forward to 1/1/2003. We received the most awful of phone calls from California telling us that Danny was the first death in Los Angeles County for the year. Devastating does not begin to describe the agony. I cry even now as I remember... and my greatest concern was where was he now? Was he a believer? Had he just gone along for the ride as a child because this was expected? I was only 44 at the time, so how could I live the remainder of my years with this agony? - it was too much to bear. I prayed, and I journaled, and I BEGGED God to give me some peace. Then one night, two months after his death, I was searching through a desk drawer. I had looked many times over the past few years for the bulletin from his baptismal service but could not locate it. In fact, I had searched this particular drawer at least a dozen times - I wanted to read his life verse. That night, I felt God leading me to the place I had looked so many times, and this time it was RIGHT THERE. I found the verse he had chosen as a 9-year-old boy to be read by his father. It was Romans 4:5, "However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." Then - I remembered. The other kids had all chosen John 3:16, which is good, but Danny had picked this verse because he liked the meaning. I remembered asking him if he knew what it meant, and he did indeed. That was the first touch towards mending my broken heart.

Summer arrived, and I was again doubting. I am so weak of faith that I am ashamed to be admitting this to the world, but I still could not find it in me to be certain he was with our Lord. Over and over, I begged and cried out to Jesus for help. Out of the blue, one hot July day, I went to the mailbox and found a letter from his girlfriend in California. She had gone through some of Danny's textbooks and found a letter jotted on the back of a school worksheet. This had been written in September 2002, and there was no doubt that it was Danny's handwriting. It was a confession letter to God the Father, asking for help to get his life back in order. He admitted to being a stubborn man, and he listed the sins he wanted to repent of and make right. In it, he claimed the blood of Jesus. The funny thing is - he seldom bothered to write things down. Yet our God of the little details knew that some day a mom would have to know that her son yearned to be in fellowship once again with the Father. I fell to my knees and spent the weekend praising God and crying for the son I had lost, yet found.

Okay, I'm really crying now, but they are cleansing tears, and I need to remind myself often of these stories. And on top of it all - God kept his promise to restore Danny to Himself, albeit not in the way I would have chosen. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chocolate Milkshakes in Pictures

While the Quiz kids were here for 10 (glorious, fantastic, delightful!) days we went to one of our favorite places to eat, where one of our dearest friends is a waitress and they have the very best chocolate shakes! Elijah's chocolate shake was near his left hand.....
He was so serious - don't anybody touch HIS shake.....only thing was that he thought mine (in forefront) was his, even though we showed him where his was (he had already drank part of it).....
BUT he was convinced mine was his....look at that expression
of dismay as he reaches for it!
Even though we showed him his, he would not believe it, he was broken-hearted...and we couldn't help but laugh...mean ol' mommy!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Memorial Box Monday - The Shoes

Four months ago when I did my first Memorial Box Monday post I wanted to use the time to remind ourselves of all the miraculous ways the Lord has been faithful, just as the Isrealites were instructed to do once-upon-a-time. (A Memorial Box is first explained here.)

Little did I know back then that we would lose our home to a fire. There are many, many facets of emotion when you lose your home to fire. Dw and I spent most of Saturday crying and grieving. One of our teenagers did too. It has been a rough few days.

One thing we have learned is that when we are overcome with grief it helps us to remember what God has already done...and so these Memorial Box Monday posts have taken on an even deeper meaning for us as a family. In difficult seasons it is important to have prepared and one of the ways we prepared for this season was by having a Memorial Box.

Which brings me to my next thought...our Memorial Box was destroyed by the fire so we are hunting for a new one. I feel soooo strongly about the importance of the Memorial Box that I wanted to challenge you my bloggy friends. As I am searching for our new Memorial Box I am actually searching for two. I would like to ship it away to one of you who decide that you would also like to begin a Memorial Box for yourself (whether you are single or have a family). Please allow me this privilege as it will be something to look forward to and concentrate on that's really fun for me!

All of us have had times where God has shown up big-time and this is one way to remember and pass the stories on to our children and our children's children. If you have a Memorial Box or are starting one and would like to be included in this giveaway (I will have a drawing here in my home in a couple of weeks), please post a comment that either links me to your blog or includes your email address. Your Memorial Box will most likely come from a hunt at an antique store as I have found some beautiful ones in antique stores. Either way, it gives me joy to think of mailing one of you one as I so desperately want each of you to have join in the plan and start your own Memorial Box. Even if your kids are grown, it is NEVER too late to start one.

Anyway, on to this weeks post:

Since the fire we have grieved over memoires and 30 years of treasures we have gathered. We had purged much as we were trying to bring home kids - selling things to raise money for each adoption. But we had held onto the best of the best and the most important of treasures.

As it would be, the babies room was originally our guest room and since I love that old quilty/antiquey look I had put our dearest treasures in there for guests to feel cozy and loved. When we moved the bed out and put the two cribs in, we kept the treasures right where they were. I loved sitting in there with the babies and admiring the beautiful heirlooms we had.

Another piece we had was an old quilt box. My mom is a beautiful artist and she had painted a scene of a group of Amish women quilting on that old quilt box. There were two little Amish children peaking out from under the table while those Amish women worked. It was beautiful.

Years before Dw's dad had died he had called us aside. He wanted us to have a pair of shoes that had been in the family for generations. He, himself, had wore them as a baby. When he showed us the shoes we gasped. They were amazing and beautiful and on the underside of the shoes it said: 1757! We had never even known about the shoes and were dumbfounded that Dw's family had such a treaure that we knew nothing about. We took the little shoes home and were in awe of them. Soon after we were leaving to go on a trip somewhere and we thought about those shoes. Where should we hide them while we were gone? So we ended up putting them in the bottom of the quilt box my mom had painted us. Every now and then we would pull them out and admire them.

SInce the fire we have cried and cried for all that was lost. At times we have been nearly inconsolable as we have grieved most for our home, our photos and for the heirlooms. Their value is minimal to many people, but the sentimental value of each of these items to us - priceless!

Almost immediately after the fire we both thought of the shoes. They had been in the quilt box in the babies room. We ran to find the quilt box, which now sat on the front lawn, charred and completely destroyed from the bottom. Knowing those shoes had been in the very bottom, we knew there was really no hope - BUT GOD!!

As soon as I saw how destroyed that quilt box was I began to cry and pray. The God of the Universe has done sooo many things for us that I refer to Him as the Miracle-working, Mountain-Moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God. The shoes were not something that is too difficult for Him. Infact scripture tells us that "Nothing is too difficult for Him!" At that moment I said aloud while bawling, "This is not too difficult for you God. You can put those shoes under a snowbank for us to find in the Spring. You can do it anyway you want to. You can resurrect them. You can do anything - just help us to find those shoes!!" Now if the average person saw all the charred beyond recognition things they would laugh at that prayer. It looked impossible!!

We told our dear friends who came to help us sift through the things...."If you should happen upon an old pair of shoes or even a piece of something that looks like old shoes - please do NOT throw out - call us immediately. Sift carefully. Sift cautiously - we know those shoes are out there somewhere."

A week passed and there was no sign of the shoes. We kept praying. I kept asking the Lord to put them in the snowbank, what a shock/surprise to find in the Spring. We kept looking.

Then that Saturday, 10 days after the fire I was up in my room cataloging. There were some precious friends helping. Carie, Irma, Beth and Lori were graciously going through the stuff and listening to my stories of things that were once treasures (thank you ladies - you have no idea how special you each are to me for being there for me!)...there were so many sweet friends there that day helping us. JD and Steve and Ron and JR and Janet and Shaunna and Marc M. and Mark S. and Pat and my mom and Vicki and Devon. Ashley and Morgan were helping Emma with her things. Brenden and Nick were helping Graham with his room. These people all took time out of their already very busy schedules to grieve with us and help us catalog and carry to the dumpster. Literally the house was full of sweet, caring friends being the hands and feet of Christ, ministering to us with their time.

Upstairs in our bedroom my girlfriends had pulled stuff out of the little cubby we had off our master bathroom. Our master bathroom was bite sized and this little cubby (also bite sized) was used for seasonal clothes. They pulled everything out and lined it up and I would go through piece by piece and see if there was anything that I just couldn't ever part with even though it was ruined by the smoke, soot and water damage.

As I was moving through the items that had been pulled out I came across a little box. I remember looking at the box in bewilderment, because my traumatized brain was trying to recognize. This box meant something, my brain was recognizing it. I will never forget my brain trying to was the weirdest feeling. I opened the box and there was a tiny little knobby glass. Again, my brain was grasping to recall what this box held. As I lifted the glass out and the tissue paper underneath it I screamed!! There were our heirloom shoes!! I screamed with I jumped up and over boxes and clothes and piles of stuff....I jumped into the loft and was screaming hysterically the whole way..."Dw, Dw - the shoes - the shoes - we have the shoes!!" People came from everywhere. (Some thought someone had died I was screaming so hysterically!)

I remember turning to Carie and seeing her sitting tears running down her face, she had also been begging God since the fire for those shoes to reappear!! She was there to witness this 2009 miracle with us. **I am laughing and crying as I type and recalling the feelings of finding those shoes in the box in that little cubby.**

Our Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God had moved those shoes from that little quilt box to the cubby. They had been in the quilt box - there is NO doubt! But they were found in the cubby. I am confident that the night before the fire - while the angel of the Lord was keeping the wood wet, He had gone and got the shoes and put them in the cubby, and no one will ever be able to convince me otherwise.

Rejoice with us about our heirloom shoes and at the same time remind yourself of the things God has done for you....and post a comment about beginning your own Memorial Box (or tell me if you already have one)...and in a few weeks we will have a drawing....xo

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday - First From Our New Rental Home

This Thankful Thursday I am sooooo very, very, very thankful for:

1. this precious little guy who is still with us because the angel of the Lord kept the wood wet and the grace of God protected him (and the rest of us)...and that he is also finally learning to smile for the camera....

2. Almighty God rescuing at the last possible minute this little beautiful baby girl from life in the big orphanage....and who loves to sing The B-I-B-L-E and Oh How I Love Jesus...
3. our Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God moving on the powerful Chin*se Government to reverse the decision to bring this little guy home:

4. this always smiling and tender-to-all little girl who also happens to have the most contagious giggle and by the way happens to be excellent at basketball too.... 5. this orphan-loving daughter helped me dress the babies and get them outside while a fire was destroying our home....
6. this tender-hearted son, also filled with compassion for the orphan, who helped dressed the little ones during the fire, and then ran upstairs to try to save our photo albums....(how difficult it is for me to think of this, since I had absolutely no idea he had gone upstairs but the smoke was so bad he was driven back down - another miracle that he had the wisdom to come back down)...... 7. a rental home with a gorgeous view....

8. young friends visiting us....Josh, Steven and Anna....they have brought such joy at such a difficult time - I told their mom the other day, "If you ever think of giving them up for adoption, we'll take them".. They empty dishwashers, help get babies dressed, put shoes on little ones, clean up, fold laundry - all without being asked (not even exaggerating) - they are totally rockin' awesome young people, who are obviously being raised by awesome parents - and I know already we will be bawling when they leave this week-end (if we let them go at all).....
9. crazy girlfriends who had the groovey idea to take a picture in my new tub....(yes, the master has a stinkin' huge tub...bummer I'm not a bath gal....)

Irma, Liberty, me, Carie, and Elijah

10. homes with heat that keep us all toastyish.

11. oranges - thank you Florida and California for growing them!

12. eye glasses that allow us to see.

13. laptops and hi-speed internet connections.

14. sweet dates with Dw - my BFF.

15. our troops and their families serving around the world.

16. missionaries around the world, forsaking the comforts of home and families and friends to let the world know that Jesus loves them...

17. the privilege of pastoring an awesome bunch of people.

18. fresh water that is readily available by turning a knob.

19. thrift stores!

20. comfy slippers!

What are YOU thankful for this Thankful Thursday?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Friends are Friends Forever

We thank everyone for their prayers as we moved into the rental. It went well and last night the kids slept in sleeping bags and the babies in cribs (thanks to our sweet friend Terry coming late at night with tools to help Dw put the cribs together). We were able to sleep in a queen bed someone gave us, and we all slept well. Yippee Jesus!

During this very difficult season we have been blessed by many, many very sweet people. There is something so special about these dear friends of ours that I just couldn't let another day pass without honoring them. They have each done treasured things for us.

For instance, Terry and Tavi have regularly shown up (at our hotel and here) bringing flowers because they want us to be reminded that flowers speak "life" and "brighter days". We are constantly reminded when looking at the flowers that we are loved.
One of the many bouquets from Terry and Tavi

There is also Kim and JoJo and Sally and Amie who each text me regularly or brought favorite candy or special things or phone messages "just to check in"....

Then there are those who day after day did inventory in the horribly smelling, rentlessly reekin', freezing cold place that once was our cozy log home. Thank you Carie and Irma and JD and Sara and Steve and Pat and Tom for listening to the stories as we would sift through our once-upon-a-time treasures. It has been a job that was only bearable because of treasured friends who have journeyed with us in the task. They have gotten sitters or taken days off from work just to be there for us and we will never be able to thank them enough.

Then there is Sara and Steve who felt that the Lord wanted them to take Dw and I on shopping trips to buy a new wardrobe for each of us. Steve took Dw last week. Neither Dw nor Steve are shopping guys (at all!), but they actually enjoyed it together and Dw came home with many bags of new duds. He looks so very handsome!
Steve and Dw
Irma, me and Sara

Then Sara took me and Irma joined us. We spent hours in the Polo Ralph Lauren outlet store and I came home with gobs of treasures - we had so much fun and many laughs - it was utterly refreshing! How we thank the Lord for placing people around us to walk through this difficult season with us....and speaking of friends....

It has been a few days since I welcomed new friends to our journey at A Place Called a warm welcome and cyber-hug to Amy Genn, Ruth, Michelle, Marian, elliotoille, Tonya, Linda, Ashley, jamieb, Lesley, Mrs. E., Ashley, ann, Girly Girl Mommy, BrandeeHancock, KTB, faithfullywaiting, jay, Elisabeth-Truly Blessed, Ainsleylove*, Heather Graham, Chasity, Todd andJenny , Katy, Deb, Sarah the Kool Kid, catbertie, Carolynne, Mimsy, Mountain Family, Chris, The Potocniks, Jayme, ModernJune31, Katy, Kristy, Tonya, Clayton, bamamama, Wanda, fireballbrady, Guitar Grl, and Anita - all of our friends are so awesome and have encouraged our hearts so much - thank you and may God abundantly bless each of you! xo

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Moving Day

I promised myself when I started our family blog that I would be transparent and make myself vulnerable. So here's the real deal:

Sunday Dw and I spoke together about what it is like to be "in the valley". We shared through tears much of our struggles. In the second service Dw had a very clear and dramatic revelation of one of the aspects that I have been wrestling with - it was powerful and instantly I started to cry. (Soon I will write about it.) We couldn't have been anymore open and honest. Today or tomorrow the service will be available to listen to on our church web site: River Church

If instead you would rather have a CD of the service you can email Kelly (Dw's administrative assistant) here:

Anyway, today we are moving into our rental. But being completely vulnerable both Dw and I are weepy and keep crying. The reality that we are not going home is hitting us with a new flood of powerful emotions: profound sadness and grief. Although the rental is very nice and has spectacular views we long for our little log home tucked away amidst acres of farmland.

Many of you have written or posted comments that you are praying for us and we thank you. We don't know how we would have made it this far without the support of sweet friends here and bloggy friends around the world. We cannot repay you for your love and support, but we pray that God will multiply his blessings upon you for loving us so tenderly and lifting our weary arms. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We love you dearly and pray that one day we can personally hug your neck.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Good News from a Distant Land

"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land." Proverbs 25:25
I mentioned that I had some good news from Africa the other day and Nicole A. commented and asked about Martha.....Nicole you are goooood!! Boy-oh-boy do we ever have some wonderful news!

For you who are new to A Place Called Simplicity while Emma, Graham and I were in Africa in December we met Martha at the orphanage where Elizabeth and Elijah also lived. She had been brought in only a few weeks before we arrived in Africa and at over 2-1/2 years old she weighed only less than 10 lbs. I first introduced Martha here.

Then I even did a second post from Africa about Martha here. Our hearts broke for little Martha and we wanted to bring her home with us. We prayed that the Lord would send a family to adopt Martha. Maybe the Lord would even use our blog to help find her a home??

We received a picture of Martha from the Christmas play the orphanage did. She was a little lamb. Emma posted the picture on her blog here. We cried when we got the picture. She is improving greatly. We then received word last week that Martha is now walking holding onto the walls.

And the greatest news of all.....We joyfully report that there is a family who read about Martha on our blog and they are pursuing her adoption. I actually talked to the mom of the family the very night before our fire. She was such a delight to talk to and we had a long, wonderful conversation. Last word I had was that they are heading to Uganda sometime in probably March to begin her adoption proceedings!!!!

To all who prayed for Martha and homes for the other little ones....please pray again! Pray that the Lord would raise up homes for other little ones from Sanyu (and around the world)....there are such precious treasures waiting for mommies and daddies!!!

FRIENDS AND LURKERS......PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do NOT copy the photos from this site and post them on your site or send them in emails. They are only for your viewing. If you would like anyone to see them, use a hyper-link to allow them to come to A Place Called Simplicity and look for themselves. The director of the orphanage does not want the children paraded about. The sole purpose of the pictures is to entice you to come and serve and meet them. Thank you so much for respecting our wishes. xo

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day to all you friends in bloggy land! We are off to Liberty's basketball game. Daddy is the coach and they are having a ball (pun intended) with that!

Tomorrow, February 15, 2009, Dw and I will be team preaching at both of our church services. The church council graciously gave him a month off, so it will be his first time back in the pulpit since the fire. Please pray for us as we have been preparing. We will be sharing about the fire and how we are continuing to learn how to praise Him even in the midst of great loss, struggle and sorrow. If you should want to join in the service, click here.

It will be broadcast live at our 10:45AM Mountain Standard Time. Sometimes it takes a few minutes to get up and running, so if there is nothing at 10:45 hang on - it's coming! If you are joining in, please drop a comment - it will be encouraging to know that so many are supporting us!!

By the way, Dw has a blog: One Life, One Legacy. He wrote a bit the other night, and since he doesn't post all that often, I thought you might want to know.

I have some exciting news to share about something many of you prayed for when I was in Africa....but I have to go get these cherubs ready to get out of here in 40 minutes and since I haven't even gotten out of my nightie, I better get a move on....I will attempt to write later. Happy Valentines Day!! xo

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday - From Our Hotel - Graham

It's Thankful Thursday again and we have so very much to be thankful for.... First, yesterday, February 11th, was our Graham's 14th birthday. It was an exceptionally sweet day for Graham.
We were pastoring in Charlotte, NC back in 1995, having just moved there not long after finding out I was pregnant. When I was about six (6) months pregnant the doc found that I was dialated to 4 cm and having multiple contractions a day. Not good. He told me he was going to hospitalize me. Having four little ones at home, and Emma just having turned a year old, I begged him to allow me to be at home, and promised that I would abide by every rule he set. He hesitantly agreed.
After 10 weeks of complete bedrest I was finally allowed up. The doc figured I would have the baby that day. Well my miracle-working, mountain-moving, awe-inspiring, gasp-giving God had been listening to my pleas.....having just moved into our home 10 days before the complete bedrest order I had asked the Lord if He would please keep the baby from coming so I could nest a bit. The first day up from the bedrest I went straight to the fabric store. I had been dreaming for 10 weeks of what I would do to nest and so I was ready to 'get it done' before the baby came. I sewed like crazy. Miraculously two full weeks passed and no baby - which the doctor was in total shock. I mean, come on, 10 weeks of stricht bedrest, dialated to 4 cm and now up and no baby?? Who hears of such a thing!?

Against all the medical odds the Lord allowed me to sew and nest and wallpaper for the next two weeks. On February 10th, after two weeks of non-stop nesting...I prayed to the Lord and said, "Thank you. I'm done nesting. I'm ready for the baby to come now." The very next day I went into labor. How faithful God is!!
At 6:35pm on February 11th Graham Josiah entered the world, weighing 7lbs. 15 oz. He was so precious. Emma and Abby both had heart shaped faces and brown hair. Here was a fair skinned, blonde haired baby boy with a very square face. I was smitten!!
Now, 14 years later, Graham has grown into a tender-hearted, often very serious young man who wants to honor the Lord with his life. He is passionate about music and plays both the drums and guitar. He has a huge heart for the orphans and has worked in several orphanages in the last few years. He is saving to head to Africa again with Dad in late May.
Graham has had some difficult birthdays in the last few years. All unfortunate things that none of us had control over but left him wondering if he should just skip birthdays all together. Of course this one being in a hotel, having had our home destroyed by fire was not looking too perfect we prayed and prayed that this one would be special, inspite of it all.

Little did Graham know, but he and Emma's best buds (Anna and Josh and Steven) had flown in to surprise him. These three are just three of Ryan's (our son-in-love) siblings. Anna and Josh skype with Graham and Emma almost every night. So tonight, when Graham and Emma came in from youth group imagine their complete shock to find Anna, Josh and Steven(with bows on their heads). Emma and Graham were elated!!
This morning when I told Dw that the three were coming, even Dw got teary-eyed. He said, "We could use some cheer Linny, I'm sooooo glad they are coming." We love the Quiz family and their kids are just some of the sweetest in the land. They will be helping the kids inventory their things at the house and having lots of healing fun along the way. What a wonderful birthday surprise!! Josh (17), Anna (14) and Steven (15)
Faithful Friends Forever...

And so this Thankful Thursday we honor our precious son - Graham - how thankful we are for his life!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Graffiti That Brings Glory! - Yippee Jesus!

Today we intended to go work on some more inventorying, but a snowstorm made us rethink that decision. It is cold at the house without any real heat and so dampwith the heavy snow coming down.
We did go over to check on things and feed the cats. While inside Dw decided to "paint the walls" up in the loft and I joined in....I think you agree - they look stinkin' awesome now!! Below is our bedroom door, which was upstairs off the loft. If you notice the speckles on this third picture....I am not an environmental scientist but the pictures were taken one after the other....I keep my camera tucked under my sweatshirt AND coat in a little case...but by the time of the third picture the camera does not want to work and the speckles show has to do with the heavy chemicals that permeate the air - I am convinced. It only does it at the house after I have my camera out to take a few pictures....just imagine what our lungs would be like without our masks......TOXIC!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Memorial Box Monday - The Angel of the Lord

Memorial Box Monday is a time to remind ourselves of all the ways that the Lord has been faithful. I first explain about a Memorial Box here if you have just happened by A Place Called Simplicity for the first time.

Since the fire there have been (and still are) many things to sort through in all the areas of our lives: spiritually, physically, and emotionally. And also since the fire, truthfully, it has been very difficult for me to hear the Lord speak. My brain seems to be racing all the time - even through the night! So much so that I thought if I could just take my brain out of my head and lay it on the table for a little rest from it all it would really help. (Although it would probably get lost in this crowded hotel room and for sure then people could say, "Linn truly lost her mind.") *LOL* And since my mind is racing so, this may be a bit hard to follow, so bare with me, please.

There have been a few big questions that I have not been able to get my arms around since the fire. One of the things I have wondered is: I mention here about just how uneasy I felt the night before the fire and I have wondered if I had gone upstairs to our bedroom and got on my knees and asked the Lord what was making me so uneasy, would He have told me about the fire?

But in order to understand why I would think that, I have to back up a speck. When I was in Africa in December I was doing my Bible study and was reading Psalm 25. Although I have read Psalm 25 many times, never before had I "seen" verse 14.

The LORD confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them. Psalm 25:14
I immediately knew that the Lord was speaking to me and so I began to meditate on this verse. I felt like it confirmed many things over my life but also challenged me as well. I felt that it confirmed why the Lord had spoken so many times to me over my life (because I had a very respectful fear of Him and so 24/7 I want to only please Him!). And it also made me realize that if I continued to fear the Lord, He would continue to confide secrets in me. I was excited!! I meditated on this verse over and over in the next few weeks.
Less than four weeks after returning from Africa the fire happened. After the fire and trying to sort through things in my head I wondered: In light of Psalm 25:14 - why hadn't the Lord told me that the house was about to catch on fire so we could have averted such a trauma? Or a better question I wondered was: If I had gone upstairs when I was feeling such uneasiness and knelt beside our bed and been still and waited would He have shown me that the fire was starting to smolder under the house? These thoughts have tormented me.
When my dear friend Celestia came to vist last week I asked her. She said to me: Linn, are you someone who continually walks in wanting to hear the Lord? (Yes) If the Lord speaks do you listen? (Yes) Do you hear the Lord speak without having to go kneel beside your bed? (Yes) Well then Linn, if the Lord was going to tell you about the fire beforehand, you did not need to go upstairs and kneel beside your bed. (*tears plunking* Okay, Celestia, okay.)
But still this thought tormented me. Until yesterday. Yesterday the Lord put it all together for me. Here's how: My oldest brother, Dan, lives in Texas. Three days after the fire he posted this comment to my blog entry about the fire, Graham's surgery and our dog Lucy:
I was laying in bed early this morning about 4 am my time
and I saw in my minds eye that Satan had
come to exchange your beauty for ashes,
as we know he comes to steal, kill,
and destroy, he tried to start the fire late in the night
when no one would awaken, but the Angel of the Lord
was there keeping the wood too wet to burn,
Satan wanted to take you all, but the Angel of the Lord said no,
you can have the house, you can have Lucy,
and you can take Graham thru the valley of the shadow of death,
but NO, you can not have them. You are doubly blessed in
all this, for you have not only been able to assemble
the family God gave you a vision for, but God allowed
you to carry them all out of dangers grasp.
This was your Exodus exerience, your family has walked
right past the grim reaper and survived.
This is a time of rejoicing. Of all the outcomes that
could have been, this is the one you would
have chosen. Julie and I have wept with you
and we rejoice with you in life.
Blessings, Your Big Brother in Texas
When I had read this from Dan I knew it was a word from the Lord for me. It resonated in my spirit. Truly, when the smoke alarm had gone off at 1:30am I could not even figure out what it was. I had tried to incorporate it into my dreaming and realized that it was something outside my sleep realm. I had stumbled downstairs and not really had a clue what was going on. If I had found the floor on fire at that time, I am certain that we would not have made it out in time, I was just too out of it and sleepy, barely able to think. Two hours later, at 3:30am, when the smoke alarm went off again, I barely remember getting up and looking around (although I know I did), because I was just still so out of it. Again, I am convinced if the floor had been on fire then, it would have been deadly and disastrous. And no, there is no way on God's green earth that I would have ever left my house without my kids. I would have died trying to get them all out.
So my brother's words kept rumbling around in my head. I just couldn't put it all together - with Psalm 25:14 too - well until yesterday that is.
Yesterday morning Dw came into our room as we were getting ready for church. The first thing he said was, "Did you read your Bible yet? (We are on a Daily Reading Plan.) Linny listen:
The angel of the LORD encamps around
those who fear him, and he delivers them. Psalm 34:7"
The minute Dw quoted the familiar verse I started to cry. Tears plunking away, right at that instant, the Lord brought it all together for me. Yes, because I fear the Lord He had had the Angel of the Lord there the night of the fire, and yes, the Angel of the Lord had been keeping the wood wet until I was awake and able to get the kids out and yes, the Angel of the Lord had delivered the kids and I. I felt an instant peace about that aspect of the fire.
I believe the Lord allowed the fire for a reason (we may never know exactly why). I believe that He will cause all things to work together for good. I believe if He had wanted me to know there was about to be a fire, He would have told me. And yes, I believe He had the angel of the Lord keep the wood wet till I was awake enough to get the kids up and out. I am convinced (now!) that the literal Angel of the Lord was there the entire night, watching, keeping the wood wet, protecting, faithfully ministering to me and the kids....
And I am so thankful for my precious relationship with my Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God....He alone is worthy of my praise!! And so, we will be looking for a symbol of the Angel of the Lord to put in our Memorial Box. I am thinking maybe a very strong, manly looking angel, since I just can't picture a little fairyish looking angel as "the angel of the Lord"....I picture him as ripped in muscle and oh-so-very strong!! (Actually we are also on a hunt for a new Memorial Box also, which will replace the one destroyed by the fire and smoke damage.) What stories do you have in your Memorial Box?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Current Theme Song....

If you come to our hotel room you are very apt to hear this song playing over and has become one of my new theme songs....Listen to it through, it's absolutely beautiful.....I play it, refresh, play it again and so on. It soothes and reminds me that it is all about Him....

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Aftermath - Cleaning Up and Cataloging

I had never known anyone up close (except my mom before I was born) who had survived a fire. Maybe you have never known anyone up close are some pictures that give you a glimpse into the aftermath of a devastating fire.....and should you ever have a friend who has a fire...a true friend will go with them and see it...because most want you to not only experience their pain and grief with them, but also to feel it.

Ben and Graham

A children's book a dear friend authored and sent to me days
before the fire. I had just read it to the kids the night
before the is a beautiful story!!
I was so weepy to find it so burned and charred..... A sweet friend of ours, Ann. She and her dear husband lost
their youngest son this past Spring in a tragic accident...their oldest son is good
friends with our Emma......we just can't imagine their pain and yet, Anne took the day off and came with Ben, her son, to help us sort through
our stuff.....

This pile of rubble was once precious treasures!!
Take pictures friends, take lots and lots of can never have too many!!

Part of Elizabeth's crib is visable....

Three dumpsters (so far) of 30 years of things ......

Difficult days.....(but didn't realize just how it takes a toll even on our
expressions till we saw the pictures)... JoJo (my dear old friend), Graham and Kelly (Jo's daughter)


Can't tell from the picture, but wedding dress has black soot all over it....
Notice the ceiling fan looks like an upside down tulip....and BTW,
the ceiling used to be white!!!