living on pb & j

Ordinary moms living on Prayer, the Bible, and Jesus!

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A Season of Giving

The holidays are upon us!

I’m sure that you have already been looking around, wondering what to purchase this year.  It is not even Thanksgiving yet and the stores are bursting with Christmas.  My Facebook feed is filled with pictures of friends who have already decorated their homes and with stories of kids telling their mamas what they want for Christmas.  I totally get it.  I LOVE me some Christmas, but I also have to pace myself.

You see, if we zoom past Thanksgiving we miss important lessons on gratefulness….and this seems to be what our commercial “friends” down at the mall want us to think:  “Focus on what you WANT, not on what you HAVE!”  (Let alone being grateful for those things.)

Now before you start to think I’m “The Grinch”, let me tell you that I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas.

I love the true meaning of the season.

I love the decorations.

I love the songs.

I love the smells.

I love the adorable Christmas plays.

I love almost everything about Christmas.

BUT, I don’t love the “GIMME” side of Christmas.

The Bible says  “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35

….and so what I have tried to do in our home and hope to convey to our kids is that Christmas is a season of giving. I often bring up the fact that God gave us the best Present, Jesus,  and this is the basis for our giving.

Some of the ways we “do” Christmas:

  1.   Feeding the hungry
    1. My son figured out that the Salvation Army bell ringers collect money to feed other little boys and girls. We can not go in OR out of the stores without giving them money.
    2. We have also invited friends over that do not have a place to go during the holidays. We try to be ONE BIG family to them.
  2.   Gifting
    1. Neighbors: Every year we make or buy a gift for all of our neighbors. This is just our way of sharing God’s love with them.  Avs loves to go and help me deliver them. This is a highlight of our Christmas
    2. Teachers and Friends:  We also make little gifts and presents for our kids’ teachers as well as close friends.  We LOVE to gift.
    3. Extended Family:  This year “A” and “T” took their own money from their piggy banks and went to the dollar store and bought each of their cousins a gift.  We gave them a few tips, but mostly the gifts were their own ideas.  This was a sacrifice on their part but they LOVED it. Then when we got home, they helped me wrap those gifts.  “A” wrote the names and “T” put a bow on each package.
    4. Close Family:  We take the kids out and let them buy a nicer gift for each other as well as their parents.  We help them with the selections and use some of our money so they can do this. They love being a part of the gifting process.
  3.   Christmas Day
    1. On Christmas Day, we begin the day by reading the Christmas story. Then we let the kids GIVE their gifts.  We make a big deal out of this and they get a lot of enjoyment from it.  Presents are opened up one person at a time.  This helps us all to fully enjoy the gift-giving process and is much more meaningful.  This is all our kids have known and they love it.

My children know the story of baby Jesus and they are starting to realize what a sacrifice He made.  We are trying to teach them that it’s not about being good and getting BUT about sacrifice, gratitude and giving.

It is sooooo much fun to give!!!!   Let’s pass this on to our children.

How much fun would it be this Christmas if your child’s BIGGEST smile came from giving someone else a present RATHER than getting a toy that he will only use for a short time! – Rejoicing in the Present


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My Calling

I started this post months ago but just never could pull together my heart on this issue.

Then, it all finally came together, but in a really different way.

My daughter woke up early Sunday morning vomiting; because I couldn’t sleep and she wanted to be held, I decided, while I held her, to read a book, GLOBAL SOCCER MOM, which I will discuss in another blog. As I read about this soccer mom who was fighting AIDS, the desire to do “something more” stirred in me again.

Ironically before I went to sleep the night before, I had read the article When You Want To Do Great Things for God and He Keeps Calling You to Be a Mom.

So, with both of these thoughts clashing in my brain, I simply let my memories and thoughts take over.

I thought about the sweet chubby little princess in my arms who was battling a fever and just needed her mommy.

…but then I remembered my months in Africa as a single missionary.

I thought of my sweet son who was learning and growing in Kindergarten.

…but then I remembered my desires to be “Run Ma Run,” William Carey or a Katie Davis, (a superhero for the cause of Christ.)

Finally, I thought of Susanna Wesley, the mother of Charles Wesley and John Wesley. …and I let my mind rest.

She taught her children.

She helped provide for them.

She cared for them.

She fought for them.

She was an intentional mom.She was just a mom, …but she was JUST the mother of some amazing men.

You see, God called her to something great. -> It was motherhood.

Moms, I know, I know…it looks like another load of laundry. It looks like another meal. It looks like another child’s book, read for the tenth time.

…but Mommy, it is more…

Proverbs 31 says “She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. 15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens…. 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Oh, my dear moms, it is so much more. Motherhood is a HUGE calling. These kiddos are our next generation. You may be raising a John Wesley, a Katie Davis, a Hudson Taylor or a Nancy Leigh DeMoss. You never know.

So, instead of ministering at church and reaching into other people’s lives, T & I sat and cuddled. We watched her favorite songs on YouTube like Jesus Loves Me and we sang. We read a whole basket of books and we worshiped Jesus together.

It was beautiful!

It was and is my highest calling. I love ministry. I enjoy working but my children are God’s assignment to me. If they are not getting the care they need, then I need to step down from my other positions.

Because THIS, my dear friends, is my calling. – Rejoicing in the Present

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Nathaniel Michael: A Gift of 20 Weeks


Revelation 4:11: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

Nathaniel’s journey began before Thanksgiving 2015. I took a pregnancy test the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and we were overjoyed to find out we would be adding another blessing to our family!  I remember praying shortly after the test came back positive and feeling excited yet overwhelmed!  Even then, God gave me peace that He would help me through this pregnancy!  We were especially excited about this pregnancy because I previously had an early miscarriage in late September/early October.

We shared our news with the grandparents at Christmastime. We gave each of the grandmothers a blanket with a card that said they wouldn’t need it until August.

Nathaniel was my “sidekick” as I taught our girls during school each day.

Just like my previous pregnancy, coffee and chocolate sounded awful.  My cravings this time were clementine oranges, apples, spicy Ramen noodles, and Jell-o!  My hubby made many trips to McDonald’s for their sweet tea, too!

My first prenatal appointment was at the beginning of January with an ultrasound at 12 weeks at the end of that month.  Of all my pregnancies, this was the only one where I had a sonogram that early, and I now realize that that was a gift from God – to see my precious baby moving and cooperating for the ultrasound tech!

Winter and school continued on and I heard my baby’s heartbeat at the end of February. The tech commented on how the baby’s heart was beating in synch with mine.  My 20 week ultrasound was scheduled for the end of March.

On Wednesday, March 23, 2016, my husband and I went to my ultrasound appointment, excited to find out whether we’d be adding a third pink or a second blue to our family!  The tech began the ultrasound, and after only a few minutes, she said she needed to step out but would be right back.  Those next three minutes were some of the longest of my life as I wondered why she had left so abruptly.

She didn’t come back, but instead the doctor I was to see at my appointment that day came in and gave my husband and I the devastating news that our baby had no heartbeat.  He told us he would meet with us in an exam room a few minutes later and stepped out.

After he left, my husband and I sat in a daze for a few minutes, realizing our lives had taken a dramatic change.  I remember commenting to my husband about how blessed we were to already have three children at home.

We met with the doctor who at that point recommended waiting a week before coming back to deliver our baby.  We went home and shared the news with our family.

We also shared the news with our assistant pastor and his wife as they had gone through a very similar situation just a few months before.  Our assistant pastor came over to our home after the evening service and spent several hours talking with us, listening to us, encouraging us, and praying with us.

I know it was of the Lord that we didn’t totally fall apart in the hours (days and weeks) that followed.

The doctor’s office called back the next morning and let me know that they wanted me to come in to the hospital Friday to deliver the baby instead of waiting a week.  We were to meet with a doctor that afternoon who would explain to us what would take place.

At that appointment I was told it was best to induce labor, and that it could take up to three days for the baby to be born.  We went home to get some rest to prepare for what looked like a very hard three days!

Shortly after we got home, the doctor’s office called us to let us know that labor would not be possible because when the doctor looked again at my ultrasound, she noticed that I had placenta previa, the placenta was in front of the baby, and if I went into labor, I would hemorrhage.  The only way to deliver the baby was by c-section.  I previously had three of these already, and so I was very familiar with this process.

On Friday, March 25, 2016, we went to the hospital for the birth of our baby.  We didn’t know yet if it was a boy or a girl, but my husband and I both felt that it would be a boy.

I was asked the usual questions and prepped for surgery.  The doctor came in and explained what would take place.  This time I would be put to sleep unlike the other three c-sections where I was awake while my children were being born.  I’m so thankful for this as I cannot fathom how painful the silence would have been after my baby was born!

The surgery went well with none of the complications the doctor had said were possible, and I know this was of the Lord!

After surgery and spending time in the recovery room, they took me back to my room.  They told us our baby was a boy, our son.

We chose the name Nathaniel Michael.  Nathaniel means “gift of God” and Michael means “Who is like God?” We were given two opportunities that day to spend with our son.  We held him, sang to him, read Scripture, and prayed.  We told him how much we loved him.  We knew he could not hear us or see us; he was hearing and seeing  much more wonderful things – things we cannot even imagine!  This time with him was such a gift!

He was so tiny and so perfect!  His eyes were still closed, and it’s amazing to think the first One he saw was Jesus!  I marveled at the details of such a tiny little person – right down to his tiny ears, fingernails, and toenails!

The nurses were all so wonderful and understanding, saying many kind words and some even shedding tears with us!  One nurse was able to get a tiny footprint from Nathaniel’s foot!  Several times they asked us if we would be more comfortable on a different floor of the hospital instead of the Postpartum Floor.  We assured them that we were fine.  I never heard a baby cry while we were on that floor, and I know even this little detail was of the Lord!

My recovery in the hospital went well, and we had several encouraging visitors while we were at the hospital.

We were discharged on Sunday.  I was ready to go home and begin the healing process, physically and emotionally.  I remember how empty my arms felt as we left the Postpartum Floor, the walls covered in baby pictures. I waited with a nurse while my husband went to get our van.

We drove in silence to my parents’ home where our son, Daniel, had been staying. It was so good to see him after being in the hospital!  Our daughters would return the following day from my mother-in-law’s home.

The next week passed by in a blur of meeting with the funeral home, the florist, and someone from the cemetery where our son was to be buried.  God gave grace and peace through each decision that had to be made.

Several  ladies graciously provided meals for us that week, which was a tremendous blessing!  We received many cards and gifts from dear friends as an outpouring of their love for us!  Many people, near and far, let us know that they were praying for us!

Our son’s funeral was on Saturday, April 2, 2016. On the way to the funeral, we were listening to Scripture songs, and one song began to play that was such a tremendous blessing to me.  It was the passage from Isaiah about God’s holiness (Isaiah6:1-3).  I remember thinking, “Nathaniel is experiencing that right now!”  What an encouragement on such a sad day!  A sweet friend told me that I would not be able to think about my son without thinking of Jesus, and I have found this to be true!

It was a cold and extremely windy day, and the cemetery was in an open area with few trees to block the wind.  We were overwhelmed by the love and support we felt as we gathered around our son’s tiny casket with each person coming together in a tight circle to shield us from the wind!  It was such a beautiful picture of how the Lord’s peace was surrounding us as we faced this storm in our lives!

Our Pastor read encouraging words of Scripture to us, and a dear friend sang a beautiful hymn entitled “My Shepherd Shall Supply My Need”.  We sang three hymns and my husband was able to give testimony of the Lord’s goodness to us through those difficult days.

We have found God’s goodness to be present each day since Nathaniel’s Heaven-going.  We know the Lord hears our heart’s cry when we ache for our son, but we know that one day very soon we will see Nathaniel again, and then we will have forever to spend with him, praising and worshipping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who so graciously gave Nathaniel to us for those precious 20 weeks here on this earth!

I Thessalonians 4: 13-18:

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Revelation 21:4:

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Psalm 147:3:

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.”

Isaiah 6:1-3:

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”

If you are reading this and are not sure if have been born again, let me share with you some passages that could help you.

First, you must realize that a holy, just, and righteous God created all things and, thus, He has ultimate sovereignty…

John 1:1 – 4 says…

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”

Colossians 1:16 and 17 says about the Lord Jesus Christ…

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers:  all things were created by him, and for him:

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

Then you must realize that you have sinned against a holy, just, and righteous God…

Romans 3:10 – 12 says…

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

And Romans 3:23 says…

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

… and that we must repent and place our faith and trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ…

Romans 5:6 – 9 says…

“For when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die:  yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

And 1 Corinthians 15:20 says…

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.”

And 2 Corinthians 7:10 says…

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of:  but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

If you do that, God promises that you will be a new creature (born again)…

2 Corinthians 5:17 says…

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:  old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

…and that you will be made righteous (positionally) before God.

Romans 4:24 – 25 says…

“But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.”

However, if you reject this gospel message and die, you will immediately be in a place called Hell…

Luke 16:22 – 23 says…

“…the rich man also died, and was buried;
And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…”

And Mark 9:44, 46, and 48 says this about Hell…

“Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

…and then later cast into the Lake of Fire to reside forever.

Revelation 20:15 says…

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Please be sure that you are born again through the blood, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:1 – 4 says…

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which ye also have received, and wherein ye stand;
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

May God be glorified!