October 30, 2009

Friday Fave Five

I haven't participated in Friday's Fave Five in a while, but there's a lot of goodness to share this week:

1. Friends who pray. It's incredibly encouraging to know we have friends all over the country (virtual and otherwise) praying for our family during this time of transition.

2. Surprise packages in the mail. Carrie sent me a sweet note, inspirational bookmark and John Waller's CD, "While I'm Waiting". The words are ministering to our hearts already. What a blessing! (the link is in my side bar)

3. A trip to the symphony this weekend, for Vivaldi's Four Seasons. I made these plans with a young woman from church quite a while ago. The Lord knew I'd need some beauty right now. His timing is perfect!

4. Falling back. What with turning the clock back Saturday night, breakfast at Church on Sunday morning, and the symphony Sunday afternoon...it's likely that Sunday will be my favorite day of the year!

And saving the best for last...

5. God's grace. I know several of you have left comments that my faith is strong and my testimony is great. Believe me when I say that it's all God. He alone is doing this. R said last night that he feels closer to God than he's ever been, and he really likes it. I feel the same way. There's something so precious about knowing that He's holding us in His hands right now. Something so tender about being completely in His care. We have fleeting moments of doubt and fear, but those are the moments when we cling to Him and rest in His love and peace.

So, what's been your favorite part of the week? Let me know in a comment, and visit Susanne to see what others are celebrating.

October 29, 2009

The Gift of Freedom

When R & I first married, neither of us had great-paying jobs. We were blessed to get a great deal on a house R's employer was building, and moved into a new home 6 months after our wedding. I still remember getting that first electric bill (it was the dead of winter) and calling my mother in tears. I was afraid we'd gotten in over our heads. God provided everything we needed in those early years, but we still found ourselves hoping R could land a job at the plant. We just knew if he did, our lives would be so much better. No more financial struggles. No more economizing. No more worries.

Well...nearly 15 years later, I can see how naive we were. Instead of gaining financial freedom, we sold ourselves into bondage. Don't get me wrong. R's job has been a blessing. It's also been a curse.

~The more we earned, the more we spent. When I look at our annual income, I'm astonished and ashamed. I'm sad that we haven't been better stewards of the resources God's poured over us.

~Swing shift has stolen so much that we'll never get back. R has missed CJ's recitals and ballgames, family gatherings, and time with friends. The three of us have managed well, but there have been many, many times that we've wished R didn't work this crazy schedule.

~My husband has not enjoyed his job. At times, he's loathed it. I'm in awe of the sacrifices he's made in order to support us.

All the while, we were comfortable. We had food, clothing, shelter, and just about everything else our hearts could desire. We've traveled to Paris, New York and Boston. We've taken advantage of the things R's job has afforded us. We wouldn't have made a move.

But God...He's decided it's time to bring us out of the bondage and into a new beginning. He's blessing us with a chance to get rid of what's been weighing us down and to change our money habits. The hope of a future without shift work. The opportunity for R to find a job he loves. Sound familiar?

and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey... ~Exodus 3:8 (ESV)

October 28, 2009

The Gift of Preparation

The more I realize that our present circumstances are actually a gift from God, the more excited I become! Not that everything's perfect, because it's not. The "need to know" part of me would like to have all the answers right in front of me, but I'm learning it's okay if they're not. In the meantime, we've been given the gift of preparation.

True, the announcement of the plant shutdown was a surprise. Perhaps it shouldn't have been, but we've had reason to believe lately that we'd gotten past the rough patches. Like most people, we're shaking our heads because it just doesn't add up. Still, even though we were surprised, we know we've got several months before R is unemployed. Praise Jesus, he didn't walk into work only to be told to go home for good! We're not exactly certain how long we have, but we know he'll get paid through the end of the year. We're praying to make it through R's employment anniversary in March (to help with severance), but the timeline has yet to be established.

The good news is, we know it's coming. The news caught us off guard, but the loss of income won't. We have time to pray about the practicalities of trimming the excess, paying down debt, and putting money aside. We have the luxury of seeking God's counsel in our finances and waiting for His guidance. I'm so grateful that we found out before Christmas and the extravagant spending!

My friend Joanne is in the midst of The Gift of One Year, which is exactly how this time feels to me. (Don't you love it when God starts impressing things on your heart well in advance, and you're not sure why, but then it all makes sense? Joanne's post resonated with me and I didn't understand why...now I know!) The prospect of starting over and changing the way we live is exhilarating (even if it is a little scary!) The opportunity to consecrate this time and make it an offering to my Jesus humbles me beyond words.

And the gifts just keep coming...

October 26, 2009

The Gift of Hindsight

God has been ministering to me in such tender ways since He turned out the lights on my pity party. In fact, I realize I've been given a wonderful gift. The ability to look back on the past two years and see how God has ordained this time in our lives, and the opportunity to prepare for what lies ahead.

It's been nearly two years since I started the quest for peace & simplicity. During that time, I learned so many things. (I think this post sums it up best, but you can click on the labels to read more about that journey). I cut physical, spiritual & temporal clutter. I saw what was important. I (obviously) sought peace & simplicity. I became more frugal. I didn't know what was coming. I just knew God was orchestrating these changes in my life, and I tried to follow Him wholeheartedly.

2009 has been the year of trust & obedience. I watched Him provide as R's job fluctuated. I leaned on Him as He cleared the path to Peru. It was all so real and intimate and beautiful. It was the summit. When I returned home, we started downhill. I went back to grumbling and grousing about things. I got caught up in my wants and visions. I became discontented with my home again. I was seeking to change things, make them better.

We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. -Hebrews 2:1 (ESV)

That's exactly what was happening. I drifted. I ran ahead, and stumbled headfirst into the valley. That's when the news of R's pending unemployment hit.

But God... (Aren't those the sweetest words ever?) He has poured out His love, mercy & grace upon me since Thursday. He has sustained me. He's shown Himself to me in dozens of ways already. Some I'll be sharing here in the days and weeks ahead. Some I'll keep tucked inside my heart. One thing's for sure, this time is something I want to take full advantage of. I don't want to miss even one syllable of what He's saying or one glimpse of what He's showing.

To be continued...

October 25, 2009


Thursday was shock.

Friday & Saturday were grief & despair.

Today is HOPE.

Hope that the Lord will carry my family through this. Hope that He will carry my town through this. Hope that He is bigger than any mountain I'm staring in the face right now. He moved mountains for me to go to Peru this summer. He'll do it again.

Right now, I'm praying for discernment. I know what I would like to see happen, but that doesn't mean it's God's will. I've asked Him to make His path crystal clear to us. I've laid out what I want before Him and prayed that He will honor it. I've asked that He give me peace and strength to be obedient if He has something else in store. I'm also praying for strength to be the helpmate my husband needs and to be Christ's light to those who are hurting.

Thursday, we slid down the mountain into the valley of despair. Friday & Saturday, I looked at the next mountain and was crushed by the sheer size of it. Today, I crawled out of my Abba's lap, grasped firmly on to His hand, and started walking up the mountain. And I can rest assured that He's got my back.

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
-Isaiah 30:20-21 (ESV)

October 22, 2009


We learned today that R's company is closing down the local plant in a few short months. He is one of 1,100 employees (in a community of 8,800) to be let go. This news, and the trickle down effect that will follow, is devastating to our town.

This has been one of the toughest days of my life. Losing a job is one thing in this economy. Seeing almost every family I know suffer through the same circumstance is completely overwhelming. There certainly won't be 1,100 jobs here. Moving would mean taking a gigantic hit on our house, as I'm sure the housing market here just tanked. Most employees have been there since graduating high school. Many don't have trades. Praise Jesus, R has an Associates Degree and building skills.

Things look bleak right now. But through it all, I know God will provide. Maybe not in the way we expect, want or like...but He will take care of us.

When I started 2009 as the Year of Trust and Obedience, I had no idea it would look like this. I'm surprised, but He isn't. That's the hope I cling to.

Back on Track

Recently, I saw myself in this post. I remembered how, before the Year of Peace and Simplicity, I wore my busyness like a badge of honor. How important I felt. How I rated my days by the number of things I'd accomplished.

Thank goodness I'm past all that, I thought.

Thinking about it long and hard, I have to admit, I'm not. Something's been missing in my home and in my heart lately. I first whined about it here, but didn't want to admit how bad things had gotten until I read how Jill says "NO" and Laura's confession of quitting. Then it hit me. Peace and simplicity had completely vanished.

It was a slow departure that most likely started when I was wrapped up in preparations for Peru. Returning home to the great bathroom disaster (and no, the remodel's still not finished) added fuel to the fire. Add middle school into the mix, and suddenly I didn't need any excuses to return to my old habit of rationalizing the busyness.

I've been taking a good, long look at my life and found it dangerously close to getting too full. I've learned (again) that when I am too occupied with things outside of my home, things inside my home suffer. Chaos comes quickly and easily. Once again, I've had enough. So, I've started to let go. I've stopped telling myself "I'll do it tomorrow" and "I can't take care of that until the house is back together". I've quit believing the lie that a full calendar equals a full life.

Instead, I've gotten back into a nice routine. Thought about changes I can make to create a home that welcomes friends and offers sanctuary to my family. Started making some of them, and formulating a plan to make others. The desire of my heart is for my family to want to be home more than anywhere else on earth. For CJ to look back and remember her childhood home as a place of love, peace, and restoration. For my home to be like a breath of fresh air...a Breath of Life.

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.
- George Moore

October 20, 2009

Around the House: October

Reading: The Inheritance (Louisa May Alcott's first novella) and Real Simple: The Organized Home.

Enjoying: cooler temps. So cold last week, we turned on the heat & the gas logs. Aahh...

Learning: just how blessed I am as a wife & mother.

Watching: CJ morph into a young woman right before my eyes.

Anticipating: going to the symphony in a couple of weeks.

Realizing: God's agenda & mine are nowhere near each other at times. And that saddens me.

Pondering: Only a passion for God's glory can overpower our self-interest. - Susan Hunt, "Spiritual Mothering".

Studying: Titus 2 and Spiritual Mothering

Wondering: if and when I'll return to semi-normal blogging. I think perhaps this is the "new normal". And that's okay.

Remembering: that the state of my house directly affects my moods.

Praying: for opportunities to encourage others.

What's going on in your home these days?

October 9, 2009

On the Brink of Insanity

Hello, my name's Melissa. Apparently I DO still have a blog, even though I haven't posted anything meaningful in who knows how long. I didn't intend to take a hiatus. But, as a good friend and I were recently discussing, blogging is the easiest thing to take off a full plate.

What a full plate it's been.

The bathroom remodel? Well, I can't see the wall studs anymore. Praise Jesus...we have drywall! Hopefully the tile man cometh next week, and this nightmare will be behind me in just.a.couple.of.weeks. On the bright side, it's going to be gorgeous when it's done and I'm going to appreciate my bedroom more than ever. Nothing says "sanctuary" like having racks of clothes, boxes of shoes, and a tall medicine cabinet in your bedroom! To celebrate reclaiming my space, I found a stunning cream wingback chair at the thrift store today and snapped it right up for a new reading nook.

Another silver lining is that we've been motivated to do some other things around the house that have desperately needed to be done. Still miles to go, but at least it's a start.

Middle school? I'm happy to report that CJ is doing remarkably well. But balancing chemical equations and learning Spanish...in the SIXTH GRADE?!

Between homework and housework, I've come close to shutting down. Reminds me of life before the Year of Peace & Simplicity...and I don't like it one bit. I've been telling myself it's only for a season. I know I'll feel better once I can put everything back in it's place.

Of course, my spirits are lifting because my favorite time of year is upon us. Seems I spend most of the year longing for October thru February. Bonfires, flannel sheets (if I can find them!), hot tea, and curling up under my favorite blanket with a good book soothe my soul.

I'd like to say I'll be back soon, but I honestly don't know. (I just hope I return with as much zeal and insight as Lisa...who's ended her hiatus with some seriously great reading.)

In the meantime, friends, remember that it's all