Thursday, May 3, 2018

No Good Thing

I said, awhile back, that I have learned so much in the (now 13) years since my dad's death. One of those lessons is that it is a good thing.

Um . . . what??? I know that's what you're thinking. And years ago I would have agreed with you. So hear me out, and hopefully you'll agree with me when all is said and done.

In the early 2000's I was on the way home from college for a weekend visit when my car caught fire. I was in the process of paying it off and only had liability insurance instead of full coverage. So even though I didn't have a car anymore, I still had car payments. I think the lesson there was to do the right thing even when it's difficult. Psalm 15:1 (NLT) asks "Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?" Psalm 15:4 (NLT) says "Those who . . . keep their promises even when it hurts." I learned that lesson, and it was hard, but God was refining me, and it was GOOD.

In 2005, my dad passed away. It was not good. Not in my eyes. Not at that time. I knew I could trust God to always do the right thing and be in control at all times. I struggled though with fear of what that "right thing" might be, with what He might require me to walk through. I was terrified for years.

During those years, there were other hard lessons.

In the mid to late 2000's, I dealt with babies being born early and being admitted into the NICU. We did this three times, and I struggled each time because I knew I had done what was necessary in order to avoid NICU and still, they had to be admitted. I learned, during these trials, that God was providing me rest before bringing a new baby into my home. I had very young ones at home already, and though it was difficult to leave the new baby behind, I was able to go home, get my house in order, and spend some quality time with the ones already there before bringing the new one home. I was also able to get some rest and a few nights of full sleep before having to meet the demands of a new infant all night long. Another thing I learned was to depend on God to meet the needs of my children. There was absolutely nothing I could do to help my precious newborns. I had to rely 100% on God to meet their needs. Those were hard, dark days, and I'm thankful they're over, but God provided rest and reliance on Him, so they were GOOD.

During those same NICU years and in a few of the following, we dealt with major vehicle issues. At one point or another, though we had two vehicles, one or the other of them was broke down and we could not afford to fix it. During that season, I could not see how God was using that trial to hold my family together. You see, we were having some horrible marital issues, and on more than one occasion, if I'd had a vehicle, I probably would have left. My family would be split up, and some of the children I now have would never have been born. It was very difficult to be forced to walk that road of forgiveness and rebirth, but I'm so thankful that God made it happen. I have a marriage that I no longer want to "get out of" and 7 wonderful children. Those marital issues taught me the value of forgiving another and walking with them through the process of life change, and the vehicle issues showed me that God has a plan and a desire for my family as a whole. They were horrible, horrible days, and I don't want to walk them ever again, but God restored and taught so they were GOOD.

Each of these circumstances taught me lessons and drew me closer to God. But they weren't the entire lesson. They each worked together to teach me a couple of even greater lessons.

1.) I can trust God ALL the time. Psalm 33:4 (NLT) says, "For the word of the LORD holds true, and we can trust everything He does." Y'all. I've walked through many different trials in my short 33 years, and I will face many more in the years I have left. I may not always know WHY He wants me to walk a certain path, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that I can trust Him. He has proven - through previous trials - that He always has a reason and that He WILL "work all things together for the GOOD of those who love him and are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

2.) This is the biggest lesson I've learned so far and the main reason that all of these trials - including my dad's death - are GOOD. In a nutshell, what if my trials are for the benefit of someone else? It's difficult to explain and put into words, so please bear with me as I attempt. God put us on earth the glorify him (Isaiah 43:7). That is our main purpose in being alive. We each have a different route to walk - career, family, etc - but the end goal is the same: Glorify God in ALL things. Colossians 3:17 (NLT) says, "And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father." (For more on this topic see John Piper's sermon at ).

The Bible also teaches that God desires for ALL people and nations to come to know Him on a personal basis. John 3:16 says that he "loved the world" so he sent Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:4 says that he wants everyone to be saved and understand the truth. And 1 Timothy 2:6 says that he (Jesus) gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.

This is where the lesson gets tricky for me to explain. I believe this with all my heart, and I believe that it is from God, but I don't have a specific verse to back me up. (That doesn't mean one does not exist. It simply means I have not come across it. So please feel free to share if you know of one.)

If God's desire is to use our lives to bring glory to Himself, and if He desires for all people to come to know Him, doesn't it make sense then, that the trials we walk through, though they may have lessons for us to learn, be about using our lives to draw other people to Him? For instance, when CJ was in the NICU, God led me to post Bible verses all over his crib.

Now, I don't know who read those verses. I don't know if anyone drew closer to God because of them. I don't know if anyone came to know God because of them. I don't know if any other NICU parents felt peace because of them. All I know is that they were posted on my son's bed for all to see - parents and nurses alike. But because God's greatest goal is use my life and/or my son's life to bring him glory AND He desires ALL people to come to know Him, couldn't it be that CJ's NICU experience was not for me, but for those around me? Sure. I learned some lessons through the experience and learned to trust God a little more, and I was given some rest. But what if that was not the ultimate goal? What if CJ was in the NICU simply so someone could come to know God, even if I never hear about it? Y'all. That's tough. It's even tougher when I put that thought into the suicide of my father.

Several people came to Christ at his funeral. I don't know how many there were, and I don't know who they were. I just know it happened. What if the ultimate goal of his death was to bring others to God? My human nature, my selfishness, says, "You mean I gave up my father for someone else to come to know God?" My humanness wants to reject that. Then God points out to me that it truly is selfish to think that way. Is my father being here on earth, in my life, knowing my kids and husband, so important that I would trade that for another person's soul? Would I condemn someone to eternal hell just for one more day with my dad? How selfish of a person can I be?

Someone once posed this question to me:
So you're saying that if someone came into your home, kidnapped and/or murdered your child, but later came to know God because of Bible verses they saw in your home, it would be worth it?"

Yes. Yes it would. Not in my humanness. Not in my selfishness. I would want to live a lifetime hating that person. Of course, I don't want that to happen either, and I'll go to great lengths to prevent that (locked doors, parent accessible guns, etc), but isn't it God's desire that my child's life, in addition to my own, bring Him glory and point others to Him? Is my child's presence in my home and on this earth so much more important than that person's soul? No. It isn't.

And because of that, I can say with confidence of my dad's death (and any other trial God requires me to walk through) that I am thankful for it (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and that it is GOOD.

Psalm 34:10b
". . . those who trust in the LORD will lack no GOOD thing."

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Turkey Headbands - Days 5, 6, & 7

On Sunday we spent the day with my in-laws so we didn't do any craft. Instead we spent the afternoon and early evening hanging out with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. We video chatted with Aunt Caitlin in Macedonia. We ate pulled pork or sausage sandwiches with beans and salad for lunch. We played outside in the heat. We had ice cream. We colored pictures at the table while the guys watched the Cowboys game. We napped on couches with babies in our arms. All in all, it was a nice, peaceful day, and my in-laws are better than yours! :-)

On Monday, the house was a wreck from not being home Saturday or Sunday. So we didn't do anything special. The kid finished coloring their pages until a certain 4 year old boy started throwing crayons across the room "just for fun"! After that, they got up and cleaned their rooms while I cleaned the rest of the house. We ended the day with 6 fussy kids going to bed about 30 minutes early. Then Chase and I had a pizza date in the living room while we stayed up WAY too late watching episodes of Castle on Amazon.

Today, day 7, we made Turkey Headbands. This was another inexpensive craft, and quite fun. I will say, I had to make Chance's for him, and Allison needed quite a bit of help. Also, the original craft uses construction paper for feather. I bought actual feathers, but I don't think it was a wise idea. They  make the headband too top heavy and the turkey tends to fall forward. Next year we will use construction paper feathers! I'll add pics tomorrow of them wearing their headbands. Tonight we had to wait for the glue to dry. For now, here is the link to the craft instructions and some pics of the kids assembling theirs.,+Resources+and+Rants)

I bought two packages of feathers, 
but I think one would have been enough.

The small package of construction paper doesn't have brown 
so we had to buy the large package, but with 6 kids, we'll use it eventually!!


It's blurry, but . . . that face!!! Melt my heart!




Chance watching me make his!!

Busy, Busy Day - Day 4

Today was pack full of all kinds of fun! We started the day waking up Jennifer and singing "Happy Birthday" to her. That's right. My sweet #2 turned 7, and I'm very emotional! Through age 6 they still seem like little kids. Age 7 hits and suddenly they're big kids. When did she grow up????

Anyway, we got up early and met Aunt Casie, Nolan, and Judson at the Touch-A-Truck event in Texas City. It was hot and we had some bad attitudes because I wouldn't buy them anything, but it was still lots of fun! We're definitely gonna do it again next year!!

Some of them are distracted by the helicopter taking off
in the distance, but the fact that we got one this good with
8 children is an accomplishment in and of itself!

Getting hot but still have good attitudes!

Someone gave them a sucker so we got a few smiles again!

This was at the end at the height of bad attitudes, but they
still managed a few smiles!!

When we left there we went and visited Daddy at work and bought a snack from his store. I was exhausted and so were the younger kids, and I didn't feel like getting food out at home so we ate snacks in the car while we drove!!

We took a nice long nap, and then the kids played while I wrapped presents. After that, while they waited for me to cook dinner, the kids colored some Thanksgiving themed Bible verse pages. Brand new crayons from Dollar Tree made this super exciting!!







Here is the link for the pages.
There are a couple of options available. There are three different pages available as a coloring sheet or a pre-colored page to hang as decoration. I printed a pre-colored of each page to hang in the little kids bedroom, and each child got a copy of all three coloring pages. We're gonna hang these in the dining room tomorrow!

After coloring, we ate dinner and then mommy made Brownies with Andes mint pieces and strawberry frosting. The mint brownies are my specialty, but the strawberry frosting was Jennifer's idea. It sounded nasty to me, but it was actually pretty good! Once Daddy got home from work we opened presents and had brownies before bedtime. It was a busy but fun day!!

Soccer Ball

Yoga mat to use for gymnastics around the house

Skateboard with wheels that light up when they spin

Happy 7th Birthday Sweet Jennifer Bryce!!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Pumpkin Cloud Dough - Day 3

Y'all. This activity was so much fun for the kids, but it is EXTREMELY messy! I'll definitely be doing this outside if we do it again next year!

Here is the link for this awesome stuff!

The only thing I did different is that I halved the recipe. I didn't have a container large enough for the amount she called for. Also, since I had 6 kids playing in it instead of just one like the author, I put it in cereal bowls for each child.

Enjoy the pics!

Just three ingredients
(unless you opt to color it orange)

Separated into smaller bowls for each child

Getting started!

Already getting messy!

Why keep it in the bowl???

Mixing it with his snack!
(Later on he climbed on the table and kept licking it!)

Group Picture

It got even messier after this pic was taken!!
Definitely an outside activity!!

One more just because he's really cute!
(And yes, he's still wearing his chocolate frozen yogurt clothes from last night!)

Everyone had showers after this and they're all tucked snuggly in their beds! Mommy spent an hour cleaning the mess, but the dining room is sparkling again!!
Good night!

Menchie's - Day 2

The original plan for today was to make Candy Corn Milkshakes. If you don't like candy corn, don't worry! It has no candy corn flavor. And if the thought of making milkshakes stresses you out, fret not! These are actually just cups of colored ice cream! You can find instructions here:
All that said, we ended up scrapping this plan because Daddy promised a certain little girl named Jennifer that since he won't be off work for her birthday, we'd go get frozen yogurt on his day off. That day fell today. So after dinner, we loaded up the car and took everyone to Menchie's. We'd never been there before, but we loved it! They were extremely friendly, welcoming, and SUPER clean!

We sampled several flavors, filled our cups, added toppings, had them weighed, and paid. They gave each of the kids a toy and a coloring page. They also had a chalkboard the kids could color on. We were the only customers at first so the cashier helped us move tables so we could all sit together and helped us get settled. Except for Chance's fussiness (because it was past his bed time), we had a really great time and we will definitely be going back!

Group Picture (minus Mommy and Daddy!)


Jennifer, the birthday girl, making a silly face!

Samantha with candy in her mouth



Chance, with the results of his fussiness still on his face

We also started a countdown chain. We started with the youngest (besides Chance) and each night a different child cuts a link off the chain and tells me something they want to thank God for. I'll write that thing, their name, and the date and hang it on a poster board. They look forward to it all day long!

Countdown Chain
(It only goes until November 22 
because that's when we leave for our trip.)

Thank you, God, for . . . 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Thanksgiving Story Bracelet - Day 1

First off, thank you to everyone who prayed for Emma. This dog was literally at death's door, and I believe that, if it weren't for the prayers of our friends and family, she wouldn't be with us today. That said, she is doing much better, and is back to her normal self . . . hyper and chewing up every. little. thing!!

Second, we decided not to do Halloween this year. Since they don't go to public school and we've missed church because of multiple illnesses the last few weeks, the kids have missed all of the discussions about "what are you gonna be?" Illness can be a blessing in disguise! Halloween came and went and my kids had no idea! Y'all the money I saved and the stress of last minute costume needs that I didn't have to deal with . . . let's just say that it was worth all the candy I didn't get this year! And that means a LOT coming from a sugar addict like me!!!

Third, and the reason for this post: Years ago, I planned Christmas themed activities/crafts for Elizabeth and Jennifer for everyday of December. They loved it, and I had lots of decorations for my house! Since fall is my favorite time of year, I decided to do the same thing with fall/Thanksgiving activities for all 6 kids.

*All of the ideas came from Pinterest and can be found on my fall/Thanksgiving board.*
Here is the link for the one we did today:

Today, being November 1, we did our first craft. Thanksgiving Story Bracelet. This one was easy and inexpensive. I paid $0.88 for a pack of 25 blue pipe cleaners. They didn't have the small package of primary color pony beads, or it would have been much cheaper. I paid $4.97 for a container of 1500 though so it wasn't too bad, and I can use them again next year. The only thing is that this container doesn't have brown (which is needed for the bracelet) so we had to substitute purple.

I read the accompanying story to the kids and emphasized the color words. Then we read it again, and they added the correct color bead. The bigger kids didn't need any help, but Allison doesn't know her colors yet so it was slow going while she looked at my bead (I made a bracelet for Chance while he napped), and picked out the matching color. Once all the beads were added, as I tied their bracelet and snipped the ends off, I had them tell me one thing they are thankful for. We prayed and thanked God for all of those things.

In all, it only took about 15 minutes, and they were upset when we were finished because they wanted to do more! Next year I'll probably add an additional coloring page for them to do.

25 pack of pipe cleaner cost $0.88
1500 container of pony beads for $4.97.

Samantha (5), CJ (4), Allison (2)
putting beads on their pipe cleaner!

Jennifer (7), Elizabeth (8)
putting beads on their pipe cleaner!

Allison making a silly face
at her completed bracelet!

Friday, June 9, 2017


Of all the lessons I've learned since the death of my father, some of them are directly related to that situation and have resulted in peace with my circumstances. However, for other lessons, his death was just the catapult that helped prepare my heart to learn lessons that can be applied to any situation in life. This first lesson is one of those.

One year ago, yesterday, we closed on our very first house. For an entire year before that we lived with my parents (6 months) and Chase's parents (6 months). Though they were very kind, and we appreciated the roof over our heads, it was the roughest year of our marriage. We were pulled at from all sides.

During that time, I came across a book called Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson, author of the blog Scissortail Silk. Everyone who knows me well at all knows that I can read an entire book in one day. I'll be honest though. I still haven't finished this particular book. Not because it was bad, but because it was that good. And I felt like I learned what God was trying to use this book to teach me. For now. :-)

In one particular chapter of the book she is talking about Shardrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace (see Daniel 3 for full story). In the paragraph that changed my life, she had this to say:

"But when everyone looked inside, they didn't see ashes or smoke. Scripture says that when those on the outside looked into the flames, they saw a fourth man in the fire, and none of them were being burned. Friends, God doesn't promise that we won't walk through fire. But He absolutely promises that when we do, He will be with us."

Y'all. I've always known this. I was raised in a family that some years money for Christmas presents showed up on Christmas Eve. Where a turkey . . . or 3 . . . showed up on Thanksgiving Day when we didn't know where our next meal would come from. Where our car would break down and someone would call - without possibly being able to know our situation - and tell us they'd just bought a car and wanted to just give us their old car. Where my father took his own life and we made it through. God walked with us through every fire we faced. I already knew all of that when I read this particular paragraph in this specific book. That is a good lesson, but I already knew it.

What did I learn?

". . . when those on the outside looked into the flames, they saw a fourth man in the fire . . ."

Everyone around saw the fire these guys were walking through. Everyone around knew what these men were facing. And everyone around saw God in the midst of their literal fire. When I walk through a figurative fire, what do those around me see? Do they see me grieving over my circumstances like the lost (1 Thessalonians 4:13), or do they see a life filled with hope and peace and joy and grace and thankfulness. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that we are to give thanks in ALL things. Is that was people see when they look into my fire, WHATEVER it may be?

When those on the outside look into my flames, do they see a fourth man in the fire? He's there. Do they see Him?