When All You Want to Do is Hide

So this is what my blog looks like, I almost forgot!! It’s been a while… 😉

April and May are whirlwind months every year for me, but this year they have flown by before I can even catch a breath. Two state competitions for my piano students, three piano recitals, field trips with Kali, programs for my elementary music classes…the calendar on the fridge is full. Probably most of you can relate!

But tonight is Saturday night and Abe is working so I get to blog a little. 🙂

I thought I’d share with you what I wrote in my journal today. I’m not sure what to categorize it as–stepmom stuff, family life, what-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong… but I had a “moment” today. So here’s how it happened, straight from my heart. (And journal.)

This morning: RAIN. GO AWAY.

We’ve had rain for like two weeks straight here where I live. Once again, it’s Saturday morning and raining. And I WANT to go to yard sales!! I had plans this morning to take Kali (my step daughter) and Sophia (my 1 year old niece we are watching this weekend) down to West Chester to go to a big community yard sale with my mom and sister, who is up from Virginia. So I get the little girls and myself ready, pack our backpacks with every possible thing that might placate any temper tantrums, and make sure everyone has raincoats on and hoods up. We trudged out in the rain to my car. To find that my sister-in-law forgot to put Sophia’s car seat in my car the night before. (My kind heart doesn’t blame her. She’s busy and has tons of other things to remember. My inconvenienced brain wants to scream.) I plop Sophia on my lap and drive the couple feet to my in-laws house right behind ours. They’re away on vacation, but surely they have an extra car seat around somewhere. Nope.

Poor little Sophia had to ride in Kali’s car seat  and Kali got to be a big girl and use only a seat belt. And my angel mother went out as soon as I called her and found me a baby car seat for $5 at a yard sale. (Have I ever mentioned that she is the best mom in the world? She is!)

So then we go yard-saling in the rain, and it’s OK. I mean not exactly relaxing and no stress, but it was fun.

We got back home around 2pm, and both girls fell asleep in the car. Yay–nap time! We literally didn’t do too much for a few hours. Straightened up here and there, Abe and I watched a show and ate food…a nice lazy rainy Saturday! Not for long.

The girls got up, and I decided since the rain had cleared and it was nice out that I should take our indoor cucumber and pepper plants out and plant them in our garden. The ground was still wet and soft, and I really don’t know anything about gardening but it seemed like a good idea. So Kali, Sophia and I got to enjoy some time outside. I planted our little sprouts and Kali and Sophia ran around collecting dandelion wishes. It was beautiful. When I was done planting we stayed out for a while, playing on the swings, Kali being a big helper and pushing Sophia in the baby swing. Abe came out and got to swing with us for a few minutes before leaving for work.

Can I just say….

WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAPPEN AFTER YOUR HUSBAND LEAVES FOR WORK??

When he’s home, we’re a beautiful little family. Swinging on the playground. Planting a garden. The kids are happy and love him.

Then. He leaves. And chaos decides it’s time to hit. Because now it’s just mom home! (Oddly, I remember that feeling as a kid. Dad leaves, and it’s like OK we can party now, it’s just mom. What goes around comes around…)

Anyway, literally minutes after Abe’s car goes out of sight, and just as I was about to suggest we go inside and get their baths for church tomorrow, my in-laws dog somehow got loose and came bounding and barking into our back yard. His name’s Boone for future reference. Boone is a medium sized, loud, energetic type dog. (In case I forgot to mention, it had just rained for two weeks. Our yard is basically a giant mud puddle.) Boone proceeded to get myself and the two girls very muddy. I can handle cleaning up mud. But I know this dog, and I know that trying to grab him to take him back inside is next to impossible. I’ve been at their house plenty of times when there’s two or three people trying to corner Boone and grab his collar. The in-laws are away, I’ve got two little girls and a mud puddle, and I just groaned at the thought of trying to take care of Boone. I gave myself lots of excuses why I should just ignore it and let him stay out all night. But I ended up going the responsible route.

I left Sophia and Kali playing and chased Boone back through the trail and trees to his house. Where naturally it was impossible to get a hold of him. While I’m trying to get Boone to come, sit, stay, etc. I heard Kali yelling “Mommy!!” and Sophia wailing. Ughh. I left Boone and ran back to our yard. At this point I don’t even care about my mud splashed jeans. As soon as I’m in sight Sophia stops crying. Kali sweetly calls, “Never mind, Mom!” Grrrrr! Since I was running, Boone got excited and ran with me back to our house, and somehow was just sitting there with all three of us. I grabbed his collar, called Abe’s cellphone, and he decided Boone was staying at our house tonight. Yay. He’s currently downstairs with a mat and water and the door closed.

But chaos isn’t done quite yet. Now we have to get through bath time. Kali was so excited to have Sophia play with her bath toys too. I got muddy clothes off both girls, and picked Sophia up to put her in the tub while Kali was climbing in herself. Sophia chose the moment her feet touched the water to stand still and poop. Right in our soapy clean water-filled bathtub. AAAAUGGGHH. Can my shift be over? Isn’t it someone else’s turn? Abe come back!!!

I cleaned up the tub. Refilled it. Shampooed Kali’s hair for church. Got both girls in their jammies, and was literally hanging on by a thread for bed time. And it dawned on me we never ate dinner. *Inhale.* Crackers, bananas, and milk. We can do this. Then it’s bed time.

FINALLY. The girls were fed, bathed, clothed, clean. I gave Sophia her binky and blanket and rocked her in the rocking chair next to the crib for a few minutes while Kali was in the bathroom finishing up brushing her teeth. I started humming the song that Pappap sings to all of his grandchildren when he puts them in bed.

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”

I didn’t even get past that first line. Because there in the dark room, Sophia cuddled up on me in the rocking chair, with the fan blowing to give her noise to sleep to, I had a moment with God. Lord all I want to do is hide. Hide from the stress, from the problems, from the chaos. Let me hide myself in Thee. Please! Cleft for me. God made a spot for me. For when the hassle is too much, when I need to hide. The Rock of Ages is my Rock to hide in, my place of refuge. It made me think of one of my favorite verses in Psalms, “Lead me to that rock that is higher than I.” 

Kali came bounding in from brushing her teeth and heard me humming. I asked her if she would sing it for me. She sang the first verse perfectly and beautifully, and my whole aggravated heart melted into a thankful spirit. Thankful for the old hymns. For almost-bed-times. For Kali and Sophia.

Thankful that my God lets me hide in Him, the Rock of Ages, when I can’t even make it to bed time.

Both girls are sleeping now. I have a blog post written. Abe will be home again soon! 🙂

I hope you have had a good Saturday too. EVEN if it involved frustrating circumstances. 😉

Until the next time I drop by….

❤ Flossie

 

 

Learning To Love, FRIENDS (Week 2)

Valentine’s Day has come and gone! Naturally, I got behind on posting weekly about my Learning to Love Study. 😉 So…even though the holiday is officially over, I will still finish out the four weeks of the Learning to Love Bible Study.

Before I get into that, though, I have to tell you about our exciting Valentine’s weekend! Abe, Kali, and I had a beautiful weekend celebrating, and I got a very special present on Saturday. For years, I have been saying I will get my ears pierced. Like for the first time. Once I was finally old enough that my parents would let me get them done, I had lost all desire. I wasn’t big into earrings, and the thought of a needle stabbing my earlobe wasn’t worth it to me. By the time I got to college and was in a dorm full of ear-pierced girls, the idea was starting to grow on me. I kept thinking that one of these days I’ll just go get it done.

College came and went, and I still hadn’t found enough courage to do it yet. My sister, Tricia, also had never pierced her ears, and was begging me to go with her. (You would think by the time we’re in our twenties we could be independent of each other…but nope.) I told her we would both go get it done whenever the first one of us got engaged, so we could wear beautiful earrings at the wedding. Thenn…my wedding came and went. I just cannot find the desire to willingly get TWO needles. Now Kali (my step-daughter) is turning five and is also begging me to get hers pierced. Her father…my ABRAHAM…told her she can’t have her ears pierced unless Mom does. (He did that on purpose!) Honestly, I could probably go my whole life without pierced ears and not care too much. I think Abe and Tricia were both finally understanding that, because they came up with a secret “surprise” for me. Abe’s Valentine’s gift to Tricia, Kali, and me was to take us all to the mall and get our ears pierced. I think he knew if it was a romantic “gift” from him I wouldn’t be able to turn it down! 😉 So I now, FINALLY, have pierced ears. And believe me, I did not like those needles. Kali went first, and was amazingly brave. No tears, and only one grimace when the needles went in. Great, now I have to be brave. Then Tricia was second, because I was hyperventilating. (I’m serious.) She was SO calm and didn’t even blink her eyes! Finally it was my turn. If you could have only heard the battle going on in my mind. “You have to do this–No I don’t.  You want to do this–Yeah…not really. Abe just paid money for this–Ok I’ll do it. It won’t hurt–YES IT WILL. You’ll be able to wear earrings–So what. Kali said she’ll hold your hand…she is on cloud nine looking in the mirror–Ok I’ll do it.” 

Somehow I managed to sit still until they shot those little studs in my ears. It wasn’t too bad, and I can honestly say I am excited about the earrings I’ll be able to wear. I admitted to Abe I’m glad I did it, even glad that he cornered me into it! ❤

 

I’ve been continuing with my Learning to Love Bible Study by Darlene Schacht. (For a link to her study see my last post Learning to Love Week 1.) This week we studied the friendship type of love.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen or done any other study on love between friends. Somehow the other types of love seem more important. Love for your spouse, love for family, love for God and His Word/ministry seem to all overshadow any type of friendship love. But there are tons of stories about faithful friends throughout the Bible. Jesus called Himself our “friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Growing up next-door to a family with kids the same age as all of the kids in my family, I have always treasured the verse in Proverbs “Better is a neighbor that is near, than a brother that is far off.” Friends are important!

God valued friendships enough to teach about and give examples of them in His Word. This week I’ve enjoyed learning about some of the famous friendships in the Bible. Here’s what I learned about friendship love this week:

  1. Love speaks up, stands up, and shows up for its friends. (David and Jonathon)
  2. Love cares for friends even when they hurt you. (Job)
  3. Love is faithful to friends at their lowest points. (David and Ittai)
  4. Love generously thinks of the comfort of others. (David and Ittai)

I’ve added more prayer requests in my notebook this week. I can think of some friends right now that can relate to one or more of these points. I have a friend that I could speak up for right now; a friend that I can forgive and care for even though they have hurt me; a friend that is going through a hard time; and in general I can always think of the other person first and what might make them more comfortable.

Do you have friend situations in your mind right now that you need to be a faithful friend in? I’m inspired to love my friends more, and be the friend God wants me to be.

Hope you are enjoying this snowy February! Hard to believe March is right around the corner. Don’t forget to go stock up on Valentine’s Candy that’s on sale this week! 🙂

Love,

❤ Flossie

Learning to Love Week 1

February is here. Officially almost one week ago. How did that happen? So much for blogging once a week. (Sorry!) I’ll start being realistic and try for once a month…

Since this is the month for love and Valentine’s Day and all that, my mom printed and gave me Darlene Schacht’s Learning to Love 4-week Bible Study. It’s in a pretty pink folder, and she gave me a small pink 3×5 notebook with it, so naturally I was excited to get started. 😀 (P.S.–A Christian bookstore was going out of business near me, and I got a beautiful pink Bible for half price! I was so excited. If you are one of those people who hate pink…I apologize. I might put a picture up though. 😉 )

I thought I would share what I’ve been learning from it this past week. What I love about this Bible study is it is very open-ended. The questions aren’t the specific, fill-in-the-blank type questions that you find in most Bible Studies online. (Ex. “How many times was the word love mentioned in this passage?”). She divides the studies by types of love–Storge, Philia, Eros, and Agape. This first week has been all about Storge, or the natural affection between family members. She simply puts the day, Bible passage, and main characters at the top of the page, and then asks two questions.

  1. What is the main concept, or what is God telling you?
  2. How can you apply this to the way you love others?

I love that set-up! At first, I was a little thrown off. You ask me to read fifteen verses and then tell you the main concept?? Isn’t that like what we did in Doctrines class in college, except we always had some type of hint based on the notes? So I was stuck, academically trying to figure out what the main concept was. I even thought about cheating by using my study Bible to read the footnotes about the main concepts. But as I kept doing it each day, it was easier to see what the main idea was that God was trying to get across to me.

This week can be summed up for me in one main idea, actually.

Love cares for others first, no matter the circumstance. 

The verses I read this week illustrated over and over again how family members sacrificed, hurt, and surrendered their rights for the ones they loved. What stuck out to me most was how in almost each story, love was shown in the most dire circumstances. Here’s a few examples.

I learned from…

  • Jochebed that love is creative, determined, and will always find a way.
  • The un-named mother in Solomon’s kingdom that love is more important than being right or winning an argument. She was willing to surrender all her rights to the child in order for her baby to live.
  • Naomi that love grieves for and wants the best for others, even when it’s own grief is greater.
  • Ruth that love chooses the hard and difficult road over the easy way out. 

That’s just from this first week! I’m so looking forward to the next three weeks of February. If you’re interested in downloading this free Bible study, here is the link to her site and the study: Learning to Love Bible Study.

I am using the small pink notebook as my personal prayer book. (I already have a prayer notebook that I write down a lot of requests in…honestly, I have about two or three of those. I write down my prayer list, and then lose it…and write another one, and find the old one… I really am trying to have a more consistent prayer life. Now I need to find a consistent spot so I don’t lose all my stuff!) 🙂

Anyway…this little pink notebook is prayer requests that I have for myself, for God to change my heart. I wouldn’t normally share what’s in my prayer notebook, but what I have written down has helped me so much regarding the Bible study. Each day I only wrote one prayer request–basically the words in bold above. For instance, the second one in my notebook is that I would “give up my rights and trust God to fight for me.” I’ve found that writing just short statements from what I’ve learned, and praying it every day along with any others I add, has helped me remember what I learn each day. Many times I do a Bible study and feel like I am drinking from a fire hydrant–I can’t remember from one day to the next what I have learned, because I am learning so much! Praying this way has been a huge blessing to me and a way to remember the main idea of what I learned the day before. Just FYI, something that helped me. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed learning second-hand through this Bible study. Maybe you will have time to read it yourself soon! And maybe I will have time to blog again soon. 😉

Next week I turn 26! And Abe is taking Kali and I to get our ears pierced for Valentine’s Day. Since it’s part of my “present” I guess I have no way of chickening out this time. Besides, Tricia is coming too and she and Kali are dying to get theirs pierced so I will be brave for them… Speaking of low-pain tolerance, at the end of this month I will be getting all four of my wisdom teeth removed. They are almost all in and impacted and facing every which direction, so it will not be fun. Abe is also getting his four out–we are both going in at the same day and time. We must be out of our minds, I know. 😉 Kali already agreed to be our nurse for the weekend! (Just kidding…she will probably spend the night with her cousins and we will sleep away our misery, while texting our moms to bring us ice cream and pudding! What a romantic end to February that will be…)

Happy Early Valentine’s Day!

Love,

Flossie ❤

bible study

 

 

Sunday Situations (True Stories from a Church Pianist)

Church music.

The venue that gives a musician the most experience and the most inconvenience; the most encouragement, and the most anguish; and the most opportunities to mess up a whole service.

The church pianist and organist (in a traditional worship service at least) hold the power to turn a serious, worshipful service into a laughable circus act. I have seen it done before, and I have unfortunately contributed to it myself, too.

For example, have you ever stood up with your hymnbook ready to sing out a strong “I Sing The Mighty Power of God,” only to have the organist come in at a different key than the piano? The single notes in that beginning phrase is a nightmare to start out in different keys. At least other hymns have chords that blend in the wrong notes…

One time I used the offering prayer to put my big, bulky offertory notebook up on the piano rack. Unfortunately, as I was pulling the heavy thing up from the floor, I accidentally bumped it too hard on the music rack and the entire rack crashed down onto the soundboard. In the quietness of the prayer, the crash seemed to just echo through the entire building. More than one jumped at the noise, including the usher praying. From a startling crash to an usher’s voice cracking…there wasn’t much recovering from that. 😉

Another time I managed to sit (yes–SIT.) on the piano keys as I was heading back to my seat in the audience. It’s another whole blog post to explain how that happened…but just know that a lot more notes are played when you sit on the keys, than when you accidentally bump the keys with your fingers.

There was the time I forgot my choir music and the whole church waited five minutes while I ran back to the choir room to grab an extra copy. There was another time when I brought the wrong choir music and began the introduction, only to stop when the director stopped directing to stare at me in confusion. Five minutes later, I was back with the right music. 😀

Oh, and did I mention the time I forgot to come back to play for the choir all together? We have two morning services, and I play for both. I sit through the whole first morning service, then leave for my Sunday School Class after the choir sings in the second service. Except for that one Sunday–I just went to Sunday School right away and completely forgot about playing in the second service.  Halfway through Sunday School I had a heart attack and grabbed Abe’s arm with a death grip. I whispered in a panic, “I FORGOT TO GO BACK TO THE SECOND SERVICE AND PLAY FOR CHOIR!” His eyes got big for a minute and then he laughed and laughed. Ohh welll…. The pink slip’s coming! 😉

My final and most mortifying mistake regarding church music took place one summer at my grandparents’ church in Marcus Hook. The majority of members in their church are elderly, and the pianist had some type of health problem making her unable to play for a while. I was home on break from college, and my Mommom asked if I could come a couple Sundays to help out with the piano playing. Everything went great for the most part. Then one Sunday they had a special speaker—-an older, white-haired, distinguished-looking preacher. I played the hymns and offertory then sat with my grandparents. Then.. the preaching started. Maybe it was how late I stayed up the night before, or maybe it was the mono-syllable flow of his voice and lack of main points. (I have to admit…I am used to hand-outs with lots of fill-ins, exciting illustrations, and PowerPoint presentations that display the main points of a sermon…) Anyway, whatever the reason, I found myself slightly day-dreaming and spacey…my mind was everywhere except the service. I could tell it was going to be a long morning as the message seemed to go on and on. I was ready for him to say  a final “Let’s Pray” so I could go  play the invitation song softly in the background while he invited sinners to be saved. Then my job would be done and I could go get lunch. Finally, I heard those relieving words: “Let’s Pray.” I glanced at my phone and was shocked to see that only twenty minutes had passed. Wow! We lucked out today–a short message! I quickly headed up to the piano and began playing “Just As I Am” as beautifully and emotionally as I could.

Suddenly, I heard the special speaker ending his prayer without an invitation. I started playing even quieter than before, suspicion forming in my mind that maybe I missed something… I glanced at the schedule of the service on my right…Yes, this is the right song. There’s no special announcements at the end, so I think this is right… Maybe I should have went to bed earlier last night, why does my brain feel like it’s in such a fog? Then, the speaker said “Amen,” and turned to stare directly at me. I continued playing softer and then just awkwardly faded out and stopped playing. Why my brain could not grasp the situation, I do not know, but I was still sitting there confused when the preacher smiled and said, “Young lady, that sounded beautiful, but that was just my opening prayer after my introduction. I’ve still got a whole sermon to go before we sing that song.” Twitters of laughter spread throughout the congregation as my dreams of a short sermon and lunch receded and my utter mortification increased. I managed to make it back to my seat and somehow made it through another forty-minute sermon. By the time we made it to lunch I was able to enjoy a good long laugh with my parents and grandparents about it. But I will ALWAYS remember that humiliating moment of realization, that I-can’t-believe-I-just-did-that feeling, that deep wish to go back and erase that decision from history. But alas, since that is not possible, I will continue to always have a most-embarrassing moment to share without even having to stop and think about it. 🙂

Do you have a humorous church music story to share? I’ve heard many from my musician friends, and could probably make LOTS of posts out of the stories I’ve collected. From showing up to direct the choir wearing only a slip for a skirt, to accidentally pressing the demo button on the electric keyboard. I’d love to hear yours, too!

I have to add that there are plenty of inspiring and rewarding moments involved in being a church musician, too. I love playing for my church, even with all the possibilities for mixing up the order of the service. 😉

Within the next few weeks I’m hoping to post some more church music helps–PDF’s of hymn arrangements I’ve made, as well as hymn-playing tips. Stay tuned!

Happy Sunday!

~Flossie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better to Die in Egypt

Have you ever been at a point in your life where you wanted something different, something better? And then something happens…and you change your mind and want your old life back?? (Not speaking from experience, I promise…. 😉 )

I have occasionally wanted something and then got it, only to find out I didn’t really want it at all. AKA, a small sporty car. Give me back my big engine Explorer! 🙂

Abe and I are attending a class on Wednesday nights offered by our church, called “Restoring Love in the Blended Family.” This was our first week. We are watching the “SMART Stepfamilies” video series by Ron Deal. (If you are part of a blended family, which a HUGE percentage of Americans are, please check out the site: Smart Stepfamilies You will be encouraged!)

Before I get to the reason why this blog post title is about Egypt, let me back up. I was excited and cautious when I found out our Pastor was doing a blended family parenting small group class on Wednesday nights. For those of you who don’t know me, I married my husband Abe in December of this past year, 2014, and became an instant step-mom to his beautiful daughter Kali. So we are about 9 months into the whole blended family deal. And it is true, NOTHING can fully prepare you for this life. You think you are ready, and you prepare, and you pray…but it is simply, as Ron Deal puts it, “complex” and there is no easy formula! 

So back to this class, I knew I wanted to go…knew I needed to go. I tried to think through our church families…Umm, who besides Abe and me will be there?? I actually knew of many in our church that would possibly go to it. Will we have to talk? Because I’m positive there’s no way Abe will say anything so that means I will have to. I was relieved when Pastor announced that it is open to people not in blended families as well, as they could still learn from it. Phew!

Another part of me was scared to admit I needed to go. So many well-meaning people took it upon themselves to talk to either me or Abe or both of us about what we might be facing when we got married. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the advice…but when you are the main pianist at a large church, a lot of eyes watch you! And when you are a staff member, pianist up front, teacher to most of the kids in the church, AND you are about to marry a man with a daughter…there is no END to the advice offered, warnings issued, “I’m praying for you” phrases heard. I remember patiently trying to graciously accept each and all and take as much truth out of them all as I could. But then the wedding happened…and life went on. People still watched, but didn’t talk as much. They just watch us walk into church with Kali, watch Kali calling me mom and getting excited to watch me play the piano, watch us both try to keep her quiet during the service. (Haha! She turned 4 right after we got married…so we got to deal with those fun times right away!!) And somehow the combination of all the talk before the wedding, with the silence after the wedding, and the reality of our life after the wedding, put a little guard up on my heart. All of a sudden, it wasn’t about appreciating prayers and advice and kind people. It was about proving that we could make it, that we don’t have problems, that being a step family is the most natural thing in the world. 

But it’s not.

It’s really hard. 

There, I said it. 🙂 All of the kind people at my church are truly kind–it is only in my heart that I feel pressure to live up to expectations. This class on Wednesday nights is slowly taking that guard off of my heart, and helping me realize I can admit that sometimes life is a struggle. Whether you are part of a blended family or not–life will be hard!

Ron Deal made a statement that was like cool water refreshing my soul: “Feeling lost in the wilderness is par for the journey of a step-family.” How did he know?? 🙂

Sometimes I do feel a little lost in the wilderness. Sometimes when I see the hugeness of it all. Like the fact that Kali is growing up. And just like I grew up in my stable home with mom and dad and brothers and sisters, she is growing up in my home. Is it stable enough for her? Are Abe and I a good team, do we let our own problems affect her when we think she doesn’t understand? Will she ever resent me? Am I doing all the right things as a mom for her? How on earth will I get her through school and make sure she learns and does well in her class? If you are a mom out there–step mom or biological, I’m sure you can relate to the myriads of questions and concerns that bombard my mind constantly regarding Kali. I simply feel inadequate to meet all her needs.

Sometimes I feel lost in the wilderness because I’m not sure where I belong. My life took a turn that I never envisioned–so how do I go forward when I’m not even sure what our family life is supposed to look like? After 9 months, I’ve accepted the fact that we are, and always will be, a blended family. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We’re not like my parents, or my family. We’re not like Abe’s family. We’re not like the families that most of our own generation grew up in. So where do I fit in? I’m embracing this new family life, embracing Kali and everything that comes with her. But I realized in jumping in wholeheartedly, it is easy to actually lose my heart’s orientation…lose who I am, myself, as a person, why I chose what I did, why I do what I do. Hence…I’m lost in the wilderness. 🙂

As we sat in the dimmed chapel and watched Ron Deal on the big white screen speak about the Isrealites in the wilderness, I thought about the verse he read about Isreal wishing they were back in Egypt. First they wanted out of their slavery. Then they got what they wanted, and found out they didn’t want it at all. They were envisioning the Promised Land full of milk and honey, peace for their families and land to build a life on. Instead they were stuck in the wilderness–wandering, lost, losing sight of God’s plan and provision for them.

We heard about how that picture is similar to a step-family situation. Two people fall in love–and envision the Promised Land. And then we find ourselves in the wilderness, and wonder what on earth went wrong.

If you are like me, and tired of wandering in the wilderness–don’t wish for your Egypt! Abe and I were encouraged on Wednesday night to not quit until we reach our Promised Land. We WILL get there. It could be long, hard, dangerous, difficult–but God is our God in the wilderness AND in the Promised Land. He IS leading us to right where He wants us right now–in the wilderness. Depending on Him. With the hope of the life He promised when He said, “For I know the thoughts I think towards you…thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jere. 29:11) And until then, we are finding God’s peace in the wilderness. When parenting problems arise, and worries crowd out our joy, we know we can depend on God to teach us what we need to learn in our wilderness.

It is NOT better to die in Egypt. I’ll stick through the wilderness and die in my Promised Land, thank you very much. 🙂

Honestly Yours,

❤ Flossie Phillips

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Our family when our Promised Land journey began ❤

Free From Fear

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.”

The very first fear that I can remember in my life was my fear of walking down the dark wooden steps to my family’s dark damp basement. It’s a fear that I share with all four of my siblings—we used to waste so much time arguing or bargaining over who would go down first and turn on the lights! But one day, I guess my mom had had enough of stopping her work to go turn on the basement lights for us half a dozen times a day. She taught me something that freed me—freed me to be the first one down those steps every time. She sat me down (as the oldest one at home at the time) and taught me that verse out of Psalms, the verse that is hidden deep in my heart and still comforts my soul to this day.

What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” I took another step, holding onto the railing with all of my might! “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” I made it one step at a time, repeating the verse every time I took another step down the stairs. I vividly remember those steps and that verse being repeated over and over. Amazingly, I never needed anyone else to go down and turn on the lights for me again! God’s Word has power. From that day on, I was the big sister who would turn the lights on for the other kids every day. (And my mom could do her work un-interrupted! A fact I appreciate more these days… 🙂 )

Today, I am faced with more fears than I thought possible. I’m four months into this whole step-mom thing, and here’s the latest realization that has hit me: Having a child = multiplied fears. Sometimes the fear overwhelms me—what if she chokes on the granola bar I give her while she’s playing in her room, and I don’t hear her? What if I lose her in the store? (Probably not possible at this point, since my fear makes me demand that she holds my hand the whole time…I know she’s 4 years old, just humor me…I’m new at this, as if it were my first time baby! 🙂 ) What if she doesn’t have friends in her class, what if she has a nightmare and I don’t hear her cry?

As a teacher, I get lots of training in child care and protection, and the statistics I hear in meetings can sometimes send my heart into panic mode. 1 out of every 4 little girls will be abused at some point in her childhood. I know way more than four little girls…and the fear I feel thinking about that… I will do everything in my power to make sure my little girl never has to face that! I could go on and on about my fears and what ifs. I have to be careful about not being an over-protective parent…Yeah, I even fear about that! But don’t worry, Abe won’t let me be too over-protective. He is the opposite of me, and is one of those scary people who has no fear of anything. I just pray somehow we will balance each other and our kids out… 😉 

The verse is still true though, whether it is me as a child scared of the dark basement, or me as an adult, scared to face the realities of our world and the way they affect my family. I can still trust in God. It’s easy to want to run away—Satan sends those thoughts about how I could still be on my own and single and living for myself. But then I would have never seen how much I need God, I need Him to help me and my family and to guide us through this crazy life. So instead of running away, I take one step of faith at a time”What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.”

Do you have a particular verse that has helped you overcome fear? It is amazing how conquering one fear gives you courage to face the other fears! I hope you can find a verse that you can just repeat over and over until you are free from your fear. Because it will free you—the Bible says “The truth will set you free,” and fear is a liar! The truth is God is on our side, He hears us and sees us, and wants good for us, not evil. Feel free to contact me if you want a list of other fear verses! 🙂

❤ Flossie

Books, Blogs, and Busy-ness

Hi again! Remember me? I used to post on here once a week…or at least once every other week…would you believe once a month? OK, me either. But it’s March 31st, a beautiful Tuesday night, and I’m sitting up in my bed watching my demon cat chase her own tail. Might as well blog, right?? 🙂

I actually do have more to blog about than just my crazy cat. (And she really IS crazy…why can’t my animals be cuddly and cute like my mom’s?So first of all, some excuses REASONS why I haven’t blogged much this month…

*Kali’s Birthday!!* March 11th she turned four! After a busy week at school (the last week before our spring break), we celebrated with both sides of the family on Saturday, March 14th. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work…Abe and I were happy we got through our first birthday party! I’ll include pictures of the party at the end–we had a princess theme with all her cousins dressing up, and Nana as her “Fairy Godmother.” I used some ideas off of Pinterest and made up my own to fit our family, too!

The week after Kali’s party we enjoyed a whole week of Spring Break. I had grand plans of blogging that week…somehow, it didn’t happen. Somehow, most of my list for that week didn’t happen! But hey, life happens, and that’s OK. A favorite time of mine over spring break was each morning. Kali normally wakes up around the time Abe leaves for work, so over that week when I didn’t have to go to school he would just come and set her in bed with me. I tried to make a rule that we couldn’t get up before the sun did. (The sun gets up earlier than I thought!) She would lay there and cuddle with me and try to get me to wake up soon after Abe left, and I was amused every morning at her tactics! One morning I tried to convince her that we should “sleep in” today…she just looked at me a minute, and then said, “But I want to sleep out today!” Somehow spending a day with her makes it not so hard to get out of bed in the morning. 🙂

And finally, the week after our glorious spring break was competition week for our highschool. (Read: run-around-like-crazy-week; opposite-of-spring-break-week!) With long practices and a long day on Friday, it seemed like all the housework I got done over the break just disappeared and my to-do list multiplied! Thankfully I had a Saturday at home to get caught up and this week has been much slower and easier to stay on top of things. There’s something about having a clean house for a couple of days straight that can lift your spirits!

So now that you’re caught up on my busy month of March, which is totally interesting, I really wanted to write today about a book I’m reading that has been a huge encouragement to me. You should look it up! It’s a biography of Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India. It’s kind of old I think–I found it at a thrift store sale over spring break. (I paid 25 cents for it!) I like looking for old biographies now. I am and have always been a big reader–I love any and all books! And libraries! (And Abe thinks I’m crazy…if you know Abe, you know he would rather be practically anywhere besides a library!) But as I’ve gotten older I’ve run out of interesting things to read, as well as the time to read them. I’m in a stage right now where all biographies interest me. I’ve read a million and one novels and almost as many mysteries (those have typically been my favorite genre)–but now I LOVE reading true stories about people’s lives. It’s so interesting!! Do you like to read? Do you have any favorite biographies? I can give you a list of biographies that I’ve enjoyed or are on my list to read! My current book on Amy Carmichael was first printed in America in 1979, but was written earlier by Frank Houghton.

It’s written in an older English style, but here are a few of my favorite quotes/poems/statements:

“What though I stand with the winners, Or perish with those that fall? Only the cowards are sinners, Fighting the fight is all.” 

“When God does favor any action, it runs, it flies. All things concur to give it a perfection.”

One of my favorite poems, not sure if she wrote this one or just liked it:

“Many crowd the Savior’s Kingdom, Few receive His Cross.

Many seek His consolation, Few will suffer loss.

Many will confess His wisdom, Few embrace His shame.

Many, should He smile upon them, Will His praise proclaim;

Then, if for a while He leaves them, They desert His name.

But the souls who love Him truly, whether for woe or bliss,

These will count their truest heart’s blood, Not their own, but His.” 

Her story is an incredible one–a single lady who followed God’s winding, full-of-surprises plan for her life, and saved hundreds of children in India in the early 1900s. Her book  is inspiring, with lots of thought-provoking quotes and poems. It’s been said that “you will continue being the same person you are except for the books you read and the people you meet.” Has there ever been a book that changed your life? I can think of a few that have made me think differently about my life and how I am living it! Would love to hear about any books that you would recommend, too! 🙂

Well Tuesday night is just about done. We made it to Wednesday! Hope your April 1st is a beautiful start to a new month!

❤ Flossie

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A new Snow White dress from GGmom!

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Kitchen all set up and decorated 🙂

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Kali and her cousins admiring her new Princess bike, complete with a seat for her baby dolls 🙂

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Birthday girl spot next to the presents

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the pretty roses cake that she picked out 🙂

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My Pinterest-inspired birthday wreath. Regular bows with sticky paper on the back, some star garland, and the birthday girl’s initial–I think for each birthday I will just change the inital (A for Abe, etc.) and keep it up for their birthday week! 🙂

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Blowing out the candles

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Our chalkboard 🙂 (It still says this…)

Home Sweet Home

Welcome, 3pm Friday afternoon! I’ve been waiting for you all week! (Well…with Monday off and Tuesday a snow day…I can’t really say I’ve been waiting all week. But would you believe…the past three days? The past eight hours?) But now you’re here and I can go home!

“Home is the nicest word there is. Well, one of the nicest, that’s for sure.”

I can still hear Laura Ingalls’ voice from Little House on the Prairie filling our small living room on any given night when I was growing up. I have to agree with her–Home is definitely a nice word.

For me, that word has been changing a little recently, taking on a different meaning. I love all the pins and quotes on Pinterest–“Home is wherever you are” and “Home is not a place, it’s a feeling.” It’s easy to say that…but when you wake up in the morning and can’t figure out where you are, or when you walk into the kitchen to undecorated white-washed walls because you’ve put off painting, you begin to wonder how long it will take to really feel at home.

Have you ever seen Fiddler on the Roof? If you have never seen that movie, stop what you’re doing, go rent or buy it, and spend the next two hours watching it. Really. 🙂 It’s a very good movie about a Russian Jewish man living during World War One. He has five daughters, and the movie follows his relationship and reactions with each of the oldest three daughters as they grow up and get married.The middle daughter, who was always my favorite, marries a zealot who travels all over and carries out his beliefs with passion. There’s a scene where the dad takes her to the train station so she can go meet her zealous fiancée in Siberia where they will be married. Get out your tissues when it gets to that part—the music and acting and entire scene is heartbreaking! The man asks her if she’s sure she wants to leave her home, her family, and everything she’s ever known. The middle daughter tries to explain to her dad why she has to leave, and the climax of the scene leads to her drawn-out whisper, “When I’m with him…I’m home.” (Go watch it—it’ll be better than me trying to explain it! 🙂 )

I love that part–where she gives up what she knows as home for the man she loves. I haven’t done anything as dramatic as moving to Siberia  (Although I feel like I live in Siberia with this cold weather lately!) in a time with no phones or email or connections. But the dramatic part of me can sympathize with her. It’s hard changing your whole life around! But rewarding, too. Here’s what home has come to mean to me:

  • Home is when Abe apologizes after a fight.
  • Home is when we all do the dishes together. 
  • Home is hauling wood from the garage so we can be warm.
  • Home is finally finding an over-the-door hook to hang my wreaths.
  • Home is having a secret stash of birthday presents in the closet.
  • Home is when the fire is blazing, dinner is cooking, and we play “Ring Around the Rosies” fifteen times in a row in the living room. 
  • Home is carrying my sleepy little girl upstairs to her bed. 
  • Home is walking in the door, knowing that I belong right here–with these people, in this place, doing what we’re doing. 

So we could be at “home” almost anywhere! Which leads me to what I was actually planning on posting today…some lessons learned from buying a house! 🙂 I’ll try to keep this quick, but God did so many amazing things for us that I can’t go too long without sharing on my blog how He worked it out for us!

Here’s what happened: Abe and I (mainly Abe) bought a fixer-upper in October right before we got married. It’s not a major wreck, just needed some cosmetics, a few new pipes, paint, and just some TLC. We started looking at houses in the early summer, and the house we got was actually the first one we looked at! It was a little high for our budget though, and on top of that, it was about a two minute drive from his parents house! We debated over all of it, and decided we wanted something a little farther away so we could be our own family right away, etc. etc. So we decided not to put an offer in. Hence, four more months of searching. And putting in one other bid. And viewing lots of houses. Some nice, some small, some too far away, some too wrecked. Every house we went to, I couldn’t help but think how that first one was just so nice…it is perfect  for piano lessons, with a cute front room with wooden beams and a fireplace and just the right amount of space for a piano and shelving and seating. I could envision so many things in that cute house, and I began to regret influencing Abe to not get it. By this time, it had been taken off the market again.

I remember specifically being in the car with Abe when I told him that if by some chance that first house went up for sale again, we should get it, and work out the whole practically-living-next-to-mom-and-dad situation. He agreed, and then we spent the rest of the car ride listing all the solutions and boundaries we could set to make it work. Soon after we had gotten to that point in our hearts, Abe’s realtor called. She said the Rockhill Road house went up for sale again, at a lower price than it was originally. We were shocked. We went and looked at it again, and still loved it. We put in a bid, and got our call that they accepted our bid the day before it was going for Sheriff’s Sale! We were thrilled, and could finally start working on it and fixing it up and making it our own.

Isn’t it neat how God can change our minds? If I learned one thing through the whole house-buying process, it’s that God is not limited by us. When I had been regretting not getting the house the first time, my tendency was to think I had made a big mistake. Maybe I ruined our lives by influencing Abe not to get that nice first house! What if that was the one God wanted us to get! I should have been better, should have been more agreeable and had an open mind for wherever God leads. I should have seen the positive instead of just the negative. I could look at the first decision as a mistake. But God isn’t limited, or surprised, by our mistakes either. God knew if we waited four months, not only would the house be cheaper, but our hearts would be more ready to work out the social aspects of living there. In June 2014, I was not ready to live in this house.  But now, after God changed our hearts, we are absolutely so happy—we love our house, we love working on it together, we love our yard with the big playset and beautiful gazebo (that needs a lot of work and will be our spring project) and we even like being close to family. God gave us exactly what we wanted, and needed—in spite of ourselves! So go ahead—make that decision you’re thinking about making. Weigh it all out, and make the best decision you can. And rest in the fact that if God wants you somewhere else, that’s where you’ll end up. He’s in control!

Hope you enjoyed your Friday, and have a spectacular weekend. 🙂

❤ Flossie