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

 

 

Advertisements

Our Life, 2015

Recently I clicked on that “Most Used Words on Facebook” link that I noticed most of my friends sharing. It showed the words used most in your status posts in a neat little word cloud. I’ll show you mine, because it goes perfectly with my 2015 post. I think you can see from the large letters what my life was like this past year! 🙂

IMG_1349

As I close out this crazy year of life changes and firsts, I realize how much Kali and I have grown and changed together. Abe and I have grown as a married couple (hey, we made it through the first year!!) but the differences for Kali and me are more noticeable. So this New Year’s Eve post is dedicated to my special little girl and the bond we made this year. (And sorry, Abe–but Kali’s name is just bigger than yours on my Most Used Words cloud! 😉 ) 

Life with Kali

#1 thing I learned this year: Kids grow SOOO fast!! It is hard to believe that this time last year Kali was a little toddler who needed me to carry her up the stairs, lift her onto couches and her bed, and kind of basically do EVERYTHING for her. Now she is a tall-for-her-age beauty who walks on her own, is fully potty trained, and has a better sense of style than I do! Her confidence has sky-rocketed this year. And so has mine.

She is more confident in my love for her. She doesn’t ask Grammy any more if her mommy will “love her forever, or just for a little bit.” (And break my heart!)

I am more confident in her love for me too. No matter how many times it happens, it touches my heart every time when she wants me over all else. I love when she runs past her dad so he doesn’t grab her (it’s a morning ritual haha) to get to my side of the bed so I can pull her up and cuddle before we have to wake up. I love when we’re at church and she tells everyone around her that that’s her mommy playing the piano up front.

I’ve seen my confidence grow in the area of parenting. And trust me–I’m no expert!! But I’ve noticed that a key, at least for me, is knowing Kali. I’ve read a lot of books trying to get a handle on the whole instant-mom deal, have gone to parenting classes at our church, and watched other parents. But only Abe and I really know Kali, and sometimes all that stuff just doesn’t work. Kali and I went through a lot of rough patches this past year. It wasn’t easy going from “best-friend/sleepovers-every-week” during the engagement phase to just mom.

I remember one day she was being pretty difficult–nothing too crazy, just a lot of whining… and crying… and acting like I was the most terrible person on earth. 😉 I went into her room to tell her she had to put her night braces on, and she burst out crying yet again. “You ALWAYS make me wear my braces! I don’t WANT to wear them!!” At that point, after the whole rough day, I was ready to cry myself. I couldn’t handle our repeated conversation with her about why she needed to wear them, and definitely couldn’t handle a battle where I just made her wear them. Just from lack of knowing what else to do, I picked her up, sat on her bed, and just rocked her in my lap for a little while. I was tired of trying to have all the answers like “real moms” do (in my opinion at the time).

I was a little shocked when just a little later she stopped crying and hugged my neck and told me she loved me. She seemed calmer and easier to deal with, we got her night braces on with no problem, and she was even laughing and begging me to read her a book. It was a miracle from God and I thanked Him for getting me through!

#2 thing I learned: Kids pick up on and copy actions that you might not even know you’re doing!

I can’t tell you how many times Kali will say something and I wonder where she heard that, only to find out I had said it! I didn’t realize I said this one certain phrase a lot–“If I said it’s time for bed, it’s time for bed!” and “If I said it’s not, it’s not!”  Then we got in the car one day and Kali said it’s sunny out. Abe and I looked at each other, and Abe said, “Actually it’s pretty cloudy, Kali.” Kali replied without blinking an eye: “Daddy, if I said it’s sunny, it’s sunny!” Ahhh!!! Abe definitely knew where that one came from. 😉

But then there are the times when I didn’t know it was possible to feel so proud of someone. Like when she picks up on my teaching habits, and teaches her dolls how to play the piano–with lots of praise for how well they do! Or when I realize that what I’m saying might actually be getting through to her–like when she uses please and thank you without being told.

I’ll end with one of the most rewarding moments of my year.

(BESIDES when she went a week with no accidents and finally was potty trained–I HONESTLY was more excited on that day than I was at my highschool graduation!) 

We were at a family gathering, and all the cousins were eating at a smaller table in a different room from the adults table. At our house, Abe and I always pray before meals with Kali, and she loves to beg us to let her pray for the meal. She and I also pray before lunch at school. In the busyness of getting all the kids their food and drinks and being all together, I didn’t even think about praying before the meal. Suddenly I heard Kali’s high, loud voice above all the commotion–“MOMMM!! We didn’t pray!!” Apart from being a little embarrassed as all the eyes in the room turned to me, I felt an enormous sense of satisfaction that my girl remembered and wanted to make sure we prayed before we ate. I quietly told her she can pray for herself and her cousins, then the whole room got quiet as my little Kali prayed in her cute little way.

I realized that day that investing in the life of another person is worth it. Whether you are a step-parent, biological parent, teacher, mentor, friend–any time you make a difference in someone’s life, all the struggle is worth it. I’ll go through a thousand more nights waking up to Kali’s cries at 2am and rubbing her legs for 15 minutes until she falls back asleep because the night braces hurt her so much. I’ll take the extra 10…15…20 minutes it takes to get out the door each day with her in tow. LOVE does that to you somehow, you know??

I wouldn’t trade a single day with you this year, Kal-Pal, and can’t wait to see how much you grow in 2016. I love you so much. ❤ Mom

 kali an me

P.S. Goals for 2016??

Abe and I are cutting Facebook out of our life this year, just for one year. We’re focusing on our family and limiting distractions. I’m committing to wake up earlier and exercise…yeah, yeah, that’ll last about a month. 😉 We’re saving to go to Disney…if that dream will ever come true, for Kali AND for me! And we’re praying about decisions for the best option for Kali’s schooling. We are so thankful for all that God has brought us through this year, and all that He has in store for 2016.

Happy New Year!!

 

 

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

11587_10152570293662828_4058620318663179003_n

Our family when our Promised Land journey began ❤

Jealous Letter to Those Who Were Born

Dear Alive Person,

You probably didn’t expect to live in a world where simply being born was a luxury that 56 million human beings were denied. But still, you were given the gift of life, and I hope you know what you were given.

You were given the chance.
You were given the possibility of having a life full of experiences, colors, tastes, smells, smiles, and love.
You were given the opportunity to grow into a mature person, with dreams and goals and aspirations to pursue in any way you would like.
You were given the option to make the best out of whatever situation you were born into–because no matter the circumstances, at least you were born
You maybe were given the good fortune to be adopted into a loving family.
You possibly were given the destiny of living a special needs life–surrounded by skilled, educated care-givers, touching lives in a special way that others can’t.
You definitely were given the precious commodities that all of you living people share–Oxygen. Water. Breath in your lungs, blood in your veins.

Do you see why I can’t help being jealous of you? I wasn’t even given the chance to know what was happening to me. You continued growing in your safe womb–I had no idea mine wasn’t safe. I was the unfortunate one…the one who wasn’t given a choice. The one whose opportunity and destiny were ripped away from me the same way my tiny body was ripped apart and sold to make a profit.

I never knew what it meant to breathe in a full gust of clean fresh oxygen or grow into the person I wanted to be. Maybe I would have experienced heart break, or failure, or desperation–but the hope of change or interaction with other people would have been worth it.

I hope you thank God every day for the gift of life you were given. No matter what kind of life it is–it is yours, and you can choose to do what you want with it.

I am heading up to Heaven now, where my Creator will welcome me since earth did not, but was given a chance to write you this one letter. Make sure you thank mom for picking you to be the one to live.

I’ll be with all the others through the ages who were murdered…some before their time, some through excruciating means, some innocents who lived in the wrong time period. That is the group I will be in–Tthe unfortunate group of innocent millions who were conceived in America, in the age of convenience, irresponsibility, and selfishness. 

To my alive brother–forgive my jealousy, and break the pattern of your society. You were born–make it count. 

Sincerely,

Your Aborted Sibling

dfce3d6c4960cd9db079770133b2031e

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

13508_10152768888002828_8465042035222256334_n

A new Snow White dress from GGmom!

1911835_10152768886952828_4011722885620357117_n

Kitchen all set up and decorated 🙂

10172852_10152768888667828_4025780063597731137_n

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

10492166_10152768886562828_9107356396957494921_n

Birthday girl spot next to the presents

10553625_10152768887097828_4178517062022687485_n

the pretty roses cake that she picked out 🙂

11039267_10152768888662828_3238810497800463159_n

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! 🙂

11043530_10152768888787828_5002358507183822872_n

Blowing out the candles

11072949_10152768887077828_5083019750070563757_n

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

25 Years of Wishes…and Prayers

MAKE A WISH

Yesterday, I turned 25. I don’t feel too different…yet! Over the past week or so I was thinking of making a list of my top 25 Bible verses, quotes, pictures, or memories for my birthday post. But with a full time job, keeping a house running, a three-year-old occupied and dinner on the table, my life right now is not very conducive to coming up with lists of 25 of anything! (Unless it’s a to-do list…)

So I thought we could talk about wishes. Do you have any wishes? A bucket list? I don’t have a bucket list…but randomly I’ll find myself thinking “I wish” this or that.

I have seen two shooting stars so far in my life. I know lots of people who haven’t seen any, so I feel “lucky” to have seen two. One was just randomly when I was driving my car at night while in college. My first thought was cool! My second thought was it’s silly to make wishes, everyone knows it’s not for real but my third thought was well just for the fun of it, I wish… and I made a wish that night that I could continue eating ice cream like I did then for the rest of my life and never get fat. (Seriously. Anyway everyone knows they don’t come true right??) 🙂
The second one I was sitting on a bench by a fountain on the front campus of my university, with my boyfriend at the time, and we both saw the same one. Romantic, right?? Yeah well we didn’t get married. We just weren’t right for each other and we both knew it. But I made a wish that night too–I knew I probably wouldn’t marry that guy I was sitting with, so I just wished that I would be happily married someday to someone.

Do you make a wish when you blow out candles on your birthday cake? I can still picture my family’s small living room on cold February nights, year after year, lights dimmed, people crowded, and a big pink and white Valentines cake with flickering candles sitting in front of me. My big extended family would sing at the top of their lungs, off-key, “Happy Birthday” to me, and of course when the song ended, everyone would be laughing or clapping and calling out for me to make a wish. For someone who doesn’t believe in wishes coming true, I sure have made a lot of wishes! 😉

So at 11:11 or birthdays or shooting stars I maybe will make a wish for the fun of it, but there is something better than a wish that I believe in, and I hope you do too. I believe in prayer. I can trace who I am today, and all the blessings I have, back to someone’s prayers. My Poppop Koechig used to tell us all the story many times about how it was through his mother’s prayers that he married a Christian girl (my Grandmom) instead of the Catholic girl he was dating. Prayer saved my dad’s life when he was in a serious car accident in his teens. Prayer kept my family’s finances going–through five kids, a stay-at-home mom, and Christian School payments. And now, God has answered our prayers for college funds, and four out of the five kids in our family either are, or will be in the next year or two, graduating college debt-free. (Our youngest sibling, Jacob, leaves for his first year of college this fall!)

In my own personal life, I love looking back and seeing all the prayers that God answered–whether I realized it at the time or not. I know that I owe who I am right now to my own mom, who has prayed for me since before I was born. She has even fasted for certain “bigger” concerns in my life, and God answered her prayers. To this day, if I really really need something, I call up mom and ask her to pray for it. I am incredibly thankful for that heritage and hope to pass it on to Kali and any other kids I have!
And it is amazing to see the answered prayers in Abe’s life. Someday maybe I will be able to share some of his story with you, but it gives me chills sometimes to think about Abe’s life before I knew him, and all the prayers his mother prayed for him, that possibly kept him alive, and made it possible for me to marry him. I’m thankful for a godly mother-in-law who didn’t give up on her son, or her faith in God.

I wish I could give you a snapshot of what I envision in my mind when I think of prayer. It is my dad–at the crack of dawn, driving his old station wagon into crime-ridden downtown Chester, sitting in the car outside his plant, opening up the old wrinkled Bible and praying through the aged, creased, single piece of notebook paper with his prayer list scribbled in his own writing on it. It is my mom–in her robe, sitting in the living room easy chair with the lamp on next to her, reading her Bible and praying until we woke up to get ready for school and she went in the kitchen to make our lunches. It is my Grandmom–gathering everyone into one room at her house every time we came over so that she could pray for our “needy family”. It is teens in our youth group, kneeling in their classrooms and fasting for the upcoming revival meetings. Check out http://youthablaze.us/ to see what God is doing in this fiery group. I hope you have a picture in your mind of what prayer looks like. Has it changed your life? The most important prayer that you could ever pray is the prayer to let Jesus into your life.  I hope that you have done that already!

Do you make wishes? Have they come true? I’ll be praying for you, whoever you are reading this blog. I hope on your birthday you say wishes and enjoy seeing movies of wishes come true…but if you ever find yourself in a place where the fairy-tale ends, and the wishes are just blown away in the wind like the dandelion seeds, I pray that it will lead you to find the One who really wants to give you your hearts desire…and He is as close as a whispered prayer!

Flossie ❤

P.S. I had a wonderful birthday–got to sleep in due to a delay because of ice, bake cookies with Kali, and then spend a quiet evening at home. Abe continued a new tradition he started last year…my favorite store is White House Black Market (http://www.whitehouseblackmarket.com/store/) but it’s a little pricey for me! Last year on my birthday he went and picked out a dress from there and got shoes to match it. This year, sure enough, I woke up on Tuesday morning to a beautiful White House Black Market box with an even more beautiful dress in it, and and elegant matching bracelet and sweater! He definitely spoiled me…hope he knows this is an expensive pattern to follow!

3c5f21f6d1279e670972dad0018310805a5764630f47b8e1053e0cdc2e8aa1c1 57dfa106f51c218398e9ed17b97615e5 e2c96e96d1bacdcc191ed5dfc451bd1b

Be that one person

Lately I’ve been realizing that I really need to get organized! (I probably should have realized that a lot sooner, I know..) But when I think about everything that I’ve just recently added new to my schedule and life in general, it can just overwhelm my mind sometimes! It hasn’t happened to me that often yet, but last night it’s like I physically felt all of my responsibilities weighing on top of me. My husband, of almost a month, came down the steps to the kitchen where I was putting dishes away (another endless responsibility) and asked, “Have you done wash in a while? I have no jeans upstairs.” My mind instantly remembered that I had put a load in about an hour before we went to church and in the busyness of getting ready to go to church and clean up from dinner and get Kali ready, I must have not heard it beep and forgotten to put it in the dryer!

So that’s not a huge deal, and I went and put them in the dryer and Abe got his jeans this morning before going to work. (Poor guy!) But for some reason it just dawned on me that now I understand what it means to be “mom” and “wife” and the lady of a house. In the space of a month, I have gone from:

-Having just a little room at my parents house, to owning a whole house with Abe.

-Doing dishes on Sunday afternoons, to doing dishes a minimum of 4x a day or else watching them sit there because no one else will do them. (Abe will occasionally though.)

-Throwing my clothes in a hamper and magically seeing them appear folded on my bed, to doing mine, Abe’s, and Kali’s wash all the time.

-Living with no one under 18, to stopping what I’m doing every 5 minutes to either take Kali to go potty (she’s in the process of being potty trained, so we are CONSTANTLY trying to go so that she doesn’t have an   accident) or answer endless questions, or fix endless toys.

-Seeing a messy floor or no towels in the bathroom and thinking “Mom will get it,” to knowing that it’s up to me if I want it fixed.

-Casually wondering what’s for dinner tonight, to intensely concentrating on figuring something out to make for dinner.

I could probably go on and on! And add to that, having a full time job, extra outside piano students, being the church and choir pianist, and our house being a fixer-upper! It’s a lot. J It makes me so thankful for my mom. She homeschooled five kids, kept the house going and food on the table and clothes in our drawers. It seems so basic, but I’m now wondering, how did she do that?? And she STILL finds ways to take care of us, on a different level now. I came home from my honeymoon to find beautiful curtains hung in both mine and Abe’s and Kali’s bedrooms. I wouldn’t have a clue how to do that, and she took care of it! Our bed was made and our house was clean, with even some added cute touches—the table set beautifully with a candle in the middle! Another way she still is there for me: I had told my mom that I was trying to potty-train Kali but don’t know what I’m doing, and when we came over to mom’s house, she had bought cute Dora underwear for Kali to start wearing….all the motivation she needed! It’s been going basically pretty smooth!

There’s tons of other ways that my mom has helped me in this transition to being the mom of my own family. She listens, she sympathizes, and she laughs with me. She tells me her own stories and little by little I have been seeing the quiet faith that she had to have to raise our family. It amazes and inspires me! We have plenty of crazy stories about mom, but I’m beginning to think…how could she not be crazy with five kids like us?? I love the quote from Abraham Lincoln, “Everything I am, I owe to my angel mother.” I can definitely relate! She was my #1 supporter when I was dating and then engaged to Abe. She is the one who makes me able to face life’s problems and difficulties. Because she believes in me, I know I can make it. And THAT is what I want to be for MY kids, too. I want to pass down to Kali the godly heritage that I have in my own mom!

So…if your life is pressing in on you too and you don’t think you can do it, find that person in your life that gives you courage, and keep going! And then make sure that you are that person in someone else’s life too, to encourage them to never give up!

 aa7d499c4910e974c17de5621c11f714