Italian Dinner and Writing a Book

I just finished writing a book.

I have been working tirelessly on the final edits on a book about our journey with Gracie, and I’m not sure what to think. My story…our story…how can it help anyone? Surely there are people out there who have gone through something much harder and handled it much better.

Recently as I was getting ready to send this manuscript to an agent, I had insomnia four nights in a row. I couldn’t understand why, but finally came up with an analogy that expressed how I was feeling.

It was as though I had invited a bunch of people over to my house because I wanted to feed them a nice, home cooked Italian meal…and then realized…I didn’t have the slightlest clue how to do that. I had never made a home-cooked Italian meal and now I would be exposed as a fraud.

Not only that, but I began to look around my house and see it from someone else’s eyes. There were major projects that needed to be worked on. Paint that was peeling. Doors that were rusty. Suddenly, I was embarrassed for everyone to see where I lived. They might find out that I don’t recycle. Or that sometimes I do recycle, but I don’t rinse the cans before putting them into the bin.

I was telling my friend about this analogy and she said there’s a word for what I’m describing.  It’s called vulnerability.

The only thing that keeps me going back and working on this is all the parents out there who are hurting. Maybe I could say something to benefit them or help them feel not so alone. Maybe I could point them to the one who is always with them.

This is truly the motivation.  That God would use this story to bring hope and healing and help through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

There is still so much editing to be done, so I must rinse off the fears and clothe myself with trust.

God, have mercy…Writing is so hard.

 

The Momma Diaries

Motherhood has not been smooth sailing for me. I’m assuming it hasn’t been for you either, although one can never tell.

From day one, I’ve chosen to stay at home with my kids (Just for the record, I’m not saying this is for everyone…).  Some personality types seem to thrive in the role of a stay-at-home mom, but for me it’s been a steep learning curve.

I’ve wrestled with a lot of dissatisfaction, feelings of insignificance, failed expectations, all of which have resulted at various times in anger.

Lucky for you, I wrote it all down.

I guess doing so puts me at great risk of judgement and mommy-condemnation, but I’ve lived long enough to know that we’re all insecure and struggling.  So, here you go.  Listen to my struggles if it helps you not feel so alone. Laugh a little. Learn from my mistakes.

HouseWork:  The Never Ending Story

Mommy Angst (When Motherhood Feels like Groundhog’s Day):  Part 1

Mommy Angst (When Motherhood Feels Insignificant):  Part 2

Mommy Angst (To Stay Home or Not to Stay at Home):  Part 3

Mommy Angst (When the Big Feels Small):  Part 4

Laundry, Dishes, and Everything Else We’ll Do in Eternity

Despite all my feelings of inadequacy, the last ten years of being a stay-at-home mom have grown me, stretched me, birthed me, and left some cellulite to humble me. It has been awful and breath-taking, dignity-robbing and glorious, emptying and filling all at the same time. It has broken me; it has put me back together again.

Being a mom has shed light on my selfishness and revealed more sin than sometimes I think I can handle.  However, when highlighted against the backdrop of God’s grace, my weakness becomes something I can boast in. His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  This makes Him look all the better, and for that I am grateful.  

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My Crisis of Faith and How to Get Through Your Own

Have you ever asked your self one of these questions:

If ultimate truth really does exist, how could I even find it?

And, if I did find it, how would I know that I’ve found it?

There are so many religions out there, how could we possibly know which one is right?

Even though I was born in a Christian home, went to church three times a week, attended Christian college, and went right from there into ministry life,  I went through a crisis-of-faith of sorts at age 28.  It actually began the very week that we interviewed to be missionaries in Iceland.

My college roommate and close friend had just joined a cult had asked if we could get together and talk.  I think I was in a state of shock as we walked around Burke Lake together and I listened to her try to convert me. At the end of our time together, I can remember us both getting into our separate cars which were parked next to each other.  Feeling like I was seconds from both puking and passing out, I bowed my head and prayed for God to open my friend’s eyes to the truth.  As I finished praying and lifted my head, I looked over to see my friend in her car with HER head bowed in prayer…most likely praying for ME.

At that moment I questioned, for the first time in my life really, if what I believed was really true.

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There were many skeptics in my life at the time who questioned the authority of the Bible, mocked its significance, and simply were much more critical of its claims than they were of their own ideas.

Throughout the week of our interviews for the missionary position in Iceland, I felt the ground rumbling beneath me. Did I believe what I believed only because it had been the reality that was handed to me? Was Christianity in fact THE truth…as in…ALL other religions were really wrong?

I knew it was, but at the same time I didn’t know it was.

Our time in Iceland only made the ground shake more as we were immersed in a post-Christian populace who had (regarding Christiantity) been-there-and–done-that-(or so they thought -and-hadn’t-found-it.

There hasn’t been just one thing that’s helped me find solid ground, but rather thousands of stones that, when pressed together, have formed a kind of foundation, solidifying my faith. Studying the Bible, listening to the words of C.S. Lewis, experiencing the faithfulness of God firsthand, asking hard questions, and learning to humble myself in front of the answers have all been a part of the process.

Maybe you’re a Christian experiencing a crisis of faith.  Maybe you’ve heard about Christianity (perhaps you think you’ve actually experienced it) but are skeptical about its claims.  Maybe your experiences with Christianity were not a clear picture of what it actually teaches.  Maybe you’ve rejected the claims of Christianity, but are not satisfied with the fruit of your current worldview.

Whatever the case, it has always been my prayer that God would use this blog to “proclaim the excellencies of HIM who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).  That HIM is Jesus and He has brought me out of the darkness of sin and skepticism into the light of His mercy.

I’m not sure if any of you are still reading this, but in the event that you are, I’d love to suggest a few things to all the honest truth-seekers out there.

1. PRAY

Pray that God would make your heart sincere as you search for truth. Pray that God would open your eyes to truth and help you understand. Perhaps you’re not even convinced He exists.  That’s okay…if by some chance He IS real and concerned about the intimate details in your life, then perhaps talking to Him is a good idea.

If He isn’t real, then you’ve lost nothing but a few moments of your day.

If He is out there, and you really do ask Him to show you what’s true, maybe He actually will. Or perhaps (if you’re honest), that’s what you’re afraid of…

2. Read the Bible for yourself.

Have you ever read the Bible for yourself? Most people have many criticisms about this book, but have never actually read it for themselves. They are just parroting things they’ve heard other people say about it.

For starters, I would recommend reading one of the gospels.  Recently Colby preached through Mark and you can listen to those sermons here.

3. Read More

  1. Mere Christianity-C.S. Lewis
  2. Reason for God-Tim Keller
  3. The Case for Christ-Lee Strobel
  4. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus-Gary R. Habermas
  5. Cold-Case Christianity-J. Warner Wallace
  6. The Confessions of Saint Augustine-Augustine (I can remember reading this in college and being blown away that the same God who pursued me has pursued people throughout the centuries)
  7. I could go on and on…If you get through all these, contact me. I’ll give you more!

4. Attend a Local Church that teaches the Bible

Websites like this one can assist you in finding a good one. Go and listen.  See if Christianity is truly as empty and confining as you think it is. Sure, you will find hypocrites who think church is just a social club, but perhaps you’ll find some people there who have truly been transformed by the grace of a living God. Watch THEM.  You will see the light of Jesus shining through their fragile, cracked lives. And it will point you to the One who changed them.

5.Consider it a long term project.  

Okay, my pastor-husband totally gave me this one. “Don’t expect to find one silver bullet that will change your mind,” he says. “We discover truth in lots of different avenues of our lives.”  This most likely will take time

So…It’s my prayer that as you read our lives like an open book, not only would be challenged to consider whether or not Jesus really is who He said He is, but that you would also SEE Him written on the pages of our lives.

Good Friday and My Really Bad One

A few months ago on a Friday, there were some words exchanged in our home that led me to lock myself in the bathroom and get on my knees (Deep breath for those of you who thought being a pastor/pastor’s wife meant being immune from these kinds of things…).

The details are muddy, but I’m sure it involved being challenged by my husband, my pride getting dealt a good blow, and feeling offended.

I was nursing the wound with tender, loving care when I remembered my prayer from that morning, “Lord, help me to be quick to see my sin and take responsibility for it instead of blame-shifting.” It kind of hushed my heart for a minute to realize that (DARN IT!!) God was simply giving me an opportunity to grow in the way I had asked Him to just hours earlier.

In the past, my first instinct to being corrected has been DEFENSE. Hurt. Offense. Self-Absorption. Not believing the best about his motives.

Okay, so on this particular morning in the bathroom, I asked God for strength to change my mode of operation. I was feeling the pain of (what I thought was) an unkind rebuke. Instead of retaliation, I decided to just sit there and let it sting. To actually just feel the pain and look at it in the eye.

Was my husband right in what he said? Was his assessment of my selfishness spot on? I guess that activity is called Self-Confrontation and it’s what we’re supposed to do when we’re corrected and..well, what do ya know?… that’s actually the name of a Bible Study that I took for almost three years and let’s be honest…it’s  a lot harder to DO than just read about.

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Embracing the pain of the rebuke that morning felt synonymous to lying down on a bed of jagged glass shards. But instead of kicking against it and trying to avoid the inevitable, I tried to lean in to it. The shards…they had the potential to cut through me…to gut out the cancerous sin that so quickly spreads when it goes unchecked. I wanted them to. I needed them to. But, oh the pain.

Okay, I realize this analogy sounds kind of dramatic…but I know no other way, people.

Today, on this Good Friday, I’m reminded more than ever that the gospel IS good news even in circumstances like this. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can turn from our sin instead of trying to conceal it. We can stand unashamed because of mercy.  We can learn from those in our lives who see things about us that we can’t see.  We can rejoice because correction keeps us humble.  We can look directly at our sin, our weakness, our shame and celebrate that it has been atoned for.

 

The Day Colby Told Our Church to Stop Tithing

“What do you think would happen if I told our church to stop tithing?”

I stopped what I was doing and looked over at Colby who was preparing for Sunday’s message at the kitchen table.

“Well, I’m not sure…” I responded, feeling both a level of pride in my scholarly pastor-husband who was parsing Old Testament Law…and a fear that I would soon need to start applying for a part-time job.

“I mean, tithing was an Old Testament command given to ISRAEL as a part of the OLD covenant.  There is just no scriptural basis for tithing anymore,” Colby continued.

Colby recently preached this sermon about tithing and I thought it was so brilliant that it needed to be shared.   In my experience, the Old Testament has been misunderstood and therefore not taught well.

The audio of the sermon can be found HERE as well and the notes are below if you like a visual (my comments are in orange).  Grab a pile of laundry to fold and listen to some great teaching that will not only help you better understand the stipulations of the Old Covenant, but also give you better motivations for giving than the law.

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Sermon Notes: Colby Garman (1-18-15)

I want you to have absolute clarity when it comes to what the Bible teaches about financial giving and the church.

  1. Tithing and Giving are two very different things. (Why have I been a Christian for roughly thirty years and never heard this?)

Deuteronomy 14:[22] “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. [23] And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. [24] And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, [25] then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses [26] and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. [27] And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.

[28] “At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. [29] And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.

 

(Deuteronomy 14:22-29 ESV)

a.Tithing was the practice and command of designating 10%(tithe means tenth) of the yield of the land/livestock to be set aside for the Levite Priests, the celebration of certain religious festivals, and care of the needy.

b.Tithing was an Old Testament command given to Israel in association with the Old Covenant. It was a way in which they acknowledged God’s ownership of the land and provided for the Levites who served God as priests.

 

  1. Tithing is not what New Testament Christians do when they give to a church or other charity even if they give ten percent. Tithing was a commanded exaction under Old Testament Law. There is no such command in the New Testament in this regard.
    1. The implications are that it is not disobedient to give less than 10% of your income. If you have heard someone say, to give less than 10% is stealing from God, you should know that they are wrong. (This is so beautifully blunt. I just love my husband.)
    2. It is also means that generous giving for a Christian in different times and places may exceed 10% significantly. It is not a box to be checked. (I think we like boxes to check…I do at least.)

 

Illustration: John Wesley as told by John Piper

 Take John Wesley for example. He was one of the great evangelists of the 18th Century, born in 1703. In 1731 he began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. In the first year his income was 30 pounds and he found he could live on 28 and so gave away two. In the second year his income doubled but he held his expenses even, and so he had 32 pounds to give away (a comfortable year’s income). In the third year his income jumped to 90 pounds and he gave away 62 pounds. In his long life Wesley’s income advanced to as high as 1,400 pounds in a year. But he rarely let his expenses rise above 30 pounds. He said that he seldom had more than 100 pounds in his possession at a time.

This so baffled the English Tax Commissioners that they investigated him in 1776 insisting that for a man of his income he must have silver dishes that he was not paying excise tax on. He wrote them, “I have two silver spoons at London and two at Bristol. This is all the plate I have at present, and I shall not buy any more while so many round me want bread.”

When he died in 1791 at the age of 87, the only money mentioned in his will was the coins to be found in his pockets and dresser. Most of the 30,000 pounds he had earned in his life had been given away. He wrote,

I cannot help leaving my books behind me whenever God calls me hence; but in every other respect, my own hands will be my executors.

In other words, I will put a control on my spending myself, and I will go beyond the tithe for the sake of Christ and his kingdom. (Quotes from Mission Frontiers, Sept./Oct. 1994, nos. 9–10, pp. 23–24.)

I’ll finish with what Piper said on the subject: –

“I want us to value our riches in Christ, Freedom from Sin, Our Gospel so highly that we would LOVE to give. Possibly even outgive those who were under the law. Brothers and Sisters, why would we want to do less. Everything is greater in the New Covenant.”

 

  1. What sort of things did churches collect money for in the New Testament?
    1. Collections that supported the widows and the poor. Acts 2:44-45; Acts 6
    2. Collections that helped others continue in the mission of spreading the gospel. Philippians 4:10-20
    3. Collections that supported local gospel ministers. 1 Timothy 5:17-18; 1 Corinthians 9:14
    4. Collections that provided for other Christians who were suffering. 2 Corinthians 8-9

 

10 Motivations for Giving that are Better than the Law:

Let your giving be motivated by:

  1. The example of generosity by those who have less. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5
    1. Maybe you, like me have at some time been struck by the generosity of someone who is less financially secure than you. It is worth bearing in mind brothers and sisters that we live in one of the wealthiest times and places in history. In addition we live in one of the wealthiest counties in our very nation. That means two things. First, We should read our names in all the Biblical warnings on the dangers of wealth to numb us to spiritual things.
    2. Second, we should consider with great carefulness how we contribute resources to the work of the gospel.

 

  1. The love of Christ in the gospel. 2 Corinthians 8:8-9
    1. The most important point made in this passage furnishes our second motivation for generous giving. Our Salvation itself was accomplished by a great exchange of wealth in which Christ who possessed all of the riches of heaven became poor. And why did Christ who had rightful claim to enjoy these riches become poor. So that we through his poverty might become rich.
    2. I love what Tim Keller said in one of his sermons on giving. Here is what Paul wants us to understand. Tim Keller – Don’t sit down with a calculator to give your money away sit down with a cross.

 

  1. The faithfulness of those who are administering the funds. 2 Corinthians 8:19-21
    1. There is a third motivation found in this passage. It is the faithfulness of those administering the funds. Here we have a motivation for being involved in and giving to a church where you are committed and have confidence in the gospel ministry being done together.
    2. There are many charities or missions that I could recommend to you that do good work. But there there is greater confidence when you have the ability to assess for yourself the faithfulness of those administering the funds. One reason I would direct you to give the greatest portion of your gospel giving through a local church is that you should have a greater confidence in those who are administering the funds.
  • Paul goes to great lengths in this passage to show how they will honorably take care of the collection. He expects them to give only because of their confidence in those who are watching over the whole matter. This is also one of the reasons we function the way we do here at Pillar. The 5 men who serve the church as Elders and recommend financial decisions to the congregation can be examined by you yourselves. You can observe our manner of life and our financial activities here at Pillar Church are open to all. If you ever have questions or a desire to know more you can. I would hope that this would motivate you to great confidence through our faithfulness to the Lord.

 

  1. The Law of Sowing and Reaping. 2 Corinthians 9:6
    1. For the farmer who rightly understands the multitude of conditions that are outside of his control that must go well for him to have a success. Sowing is an act of faith.
    2. Sowing a little and keeping back a great deal just in case will mean reaping quite a bit less as well.
  • Spiritually this remains true. Sowing to eternal things puts great faith in God’s ability to reward us in the reaping. There is nothing wrong with being motivated in this manner. If you sow to your own abilities you will reap your own rewards. Those who sow to Spiritual/Eternal things put their faith in God’s power and love and stand to reap fruit of their faith.
  1. Here we do not have some formula for getting yourself rich at the Lord’s hands. That is still all about getting ourselves rich. There is an old story about a boy and a king. The King had given the boy an allotment of land to tend…

 

  1. The Joy of God in cheerful giving. 2 Corinthians 9:7

 

Charles Spurgeon “But you are not under a system similar to that by which the Jews were obliged to pay tithes to the priests. If there were any such rule laid down in the Gospel, it would destroy the beauty of spontaneous giving and take away all the bloom from the fruit of your liberality! There is no law to tell me what I should give my father on his birthday. There is no rule laid down in any law book to decide what present a husband should give to his wife, nor what token of affection we should bestow upon others whom we love. No, the gift must be a free one, or it has lost all its sweetness.”

 

  1. The ability of God to provide for your needs. 2 Corinthians 9:8
    1. Paul adds to our motivation for generous giving by remind us that God is our security and the one who has the greatest ability to provide for our needs.
    2. When out of sincere motivation we give generously to the work of the gospel, we are placing our faith in the Lord’s future provision.

 

  1. The promise of God to increase your seed to sow. 2 Corinthians 9:11
    1. We see this principle in the parable of the talents and other parables that Jesus told. God provides greater levels of responsibility as we increase in faithfulness.
    2. Paul uses that to say here that one reason we are compelled to give generously with our small portion is that God uses it to prepare us for the time at which he will entrust us with a greater portion to administer.
  • We practice this as a church corporately and teach it regularly to our church planters. There is not some great wealthy time later when we should begin giving money to work that is about the extension of the mission and not just our own work at the present. We give to missions and church planting from the beginning even when it means going without things ourselves.
  1. We do this knowing that it is faithful to the Lord and also prepares us with the necessary mindset in the days when God entrusts us with greater resources. If God is looking for a Christian to entrust with greater resources, would an examination of your giving to the gospel cause Him to entrust you with more.

 

  1. The needs of the saints. 2 Corinthians 9:12
    1. Our giving to gospel work helps to provide for the needs of the saints. Increased giving will lead to a greater preparedness to do so. There are multiple additional organizations that I could point you to that do this as well. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, Baptist Global Response, an the IMB all do a great deal of work to care for the needs of Christians and communities around the world. Christians are like family to us. IF you have little motivation for giving I would encourage you to become more directly involved with other Christians around the world.
    2. Here is what personal involvement does. Over the past two years we have been helping Gunnar transition his time to establishing a church in Reykjavik Iceland. He has taken steps of faith and it has been financially difficult for them at times. I remember one day when we were Skyping they were discouraged by the difficulty. As Clint and I left conversations like that we felt more motivated than ever to help connect people to them to give. Clint even took a trip with several other pastors just to expose them to the work in Iceland and urge them to consider helping provide for Gunnar to lead it.
  • Involvement leads to generosity.

 

  1. The harvest of thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:12
    1. I cannot think of a better motivation than the one found here in verse twelve. Can the use of my money and resources lead to a greater amount of thanksgiving to God.
    2. When we were in South Asia with Robert this past fall, I was struck by the financial need for the ministry. Robert told us about how powerfully the gospel was advancing in different regions they had been working. Their trainings were making an impact and people were being used by God to bring others to faith.
  • The major limit they had for doing a greater number of trainings, was not time. It was money. They had more opportunities than they had money available.
  1. Here was a ministry where the money provided for training and the training was resulting in people coming to faith in Christ and an increase of people praising and giving thanks to God. Evangelism increases worship. When we give our giving produces thanksgiving to God in a multitude of ways.

 

  1. The love and prayers of those who benefit from your giving. 2 Corinthians 9:14
    1. The tenth and final motivation is the prayers of those who are blessed by our support and giving. I have sat with people in different places in the world and heard them pray for our churches and give thanks to God for them. I have heard them fervently ask God to bless our work and help us remain strong and persevere. I have heard them pray for me and other individuals who have given and often wondered how God has used those prayers to continually sustain our work. When we give we also receive. We receive a harvest of prayers for our lives and our work. Do not underestimate the power of these thankful prayers. We may have money at times but our brothers and sister pray with a fervency that makes us look poor.

New Content Coming!

I’ve been trying to spend more time on my blog, tweaking things, adding more content, ect.  Over the next couple of days, I’ll be adding to the “Laughs” section and posting cute things my kids have said over the years. I really am still trying to learn how this blog works, so bear with me as I learn!

Happy Reading!

“In an Orchard Stands a Tree”

“This is my dream come true,” Haley comments slowly and with awe. We are all looking out the window of our van at snowdrifts that tower over us like giants. The Northeast apparently hasn’t recovered from the winter storms and we find ourselves in a scene straight out of “Frozen.”

A few minutes later, we pull up the driveway to my grandparent’s home. Only, for the first time in my life, my grandpa won’t be there.

Even though it’s below freezing, the kids beg to go outside and play and I follow them out to the backyard.

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I love my grandparent’s backyard. I think it’s the most beautiful thing in all of Marlborough, Connecticut. My Grandpa, after building a home for his family with his bare hands, planted fruit trees and cultivated them until he had a full-out orchard.

My childhood glows with memories of this orchard. We played, we climbed, we ate, we laughed, we enjoyed the fruit of his labor. Literally.

At the funeral, many stories are told of my grandpa’s life. The main themes are hard work, sacrifice, endurance, and patience. The best grandpa quote shared is, “Time will still pass whether or not you plant a tree.” This generation that my grandfather was a piece of, this generation that is slowly leaving us, radiates with lessons I must learn.

I pause so I can learn them well.

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On the drive home Colby and I talk about this and try to write a book about it together.

“In an orchard stands a tree, surrounded by the fruit of many seasons,” he begins.

I begin to choke up. We never finish it.

The fruit has been born of diligence, perseverance, and love. The fruit…this family…we all are who we are and where we are today because of how sacrificially Grandpa provided for his family. I am grateful and forever indebted to this tree. I am grateful to have called him my Grandpa.

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Last Visit

Before nap time today, I read “Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel” to my small kids. If you’ve never heard of this classic, it’s about a steam shovel that has grown old and begins to feel useless in a world that is moving and changing. On the last page, I couldn’t even read I was so choked up. Besides the fact that I’m highly emotional today, the story struck a chord with me because of our recent trip to see my grandparents in Connecticut.

 

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My grandpa is 92 and my grandma isn’t too far behind. We drove there knowing that it would be an emotional trip as my grandpa is receiving 24 hour hospice care. Grandpa Bob was doing better than I expected, but was only able to speak one or two sentences before getting winded. He was asleep in his chair for most of our visit, but we sat in the same room, the kids playing at his feet, oblivious of the ninety-two years of life that his withering body represented.

One time when Grandpa woke up, he began to recite the following poem from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

He could only get through the first paragraph before needing to close his eyes and rest his voice. We looked up the rest of the poem and read it aloud for him. He began to shake his head in agreement when we got to the last paragraph,

Toiling,–rejoicing,–sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.

My grandpa was a hard working World War II vet and could resonate with the Village Blacksmith who the poem was about.  Grandpa’s eyes had a dim light that was fading still and looking into his eyes was like watching a beautiful sunset. I told him thank you as many times as I could.  It was a really special visit.

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2014 Year in Review

Here we are at the end of another year! I guess we all KNOW that time passes quickly, but it’s mind boggling to actually experience it.  Kind of like the difference between STUDYING space travel and actually DOING it.  Not that I can verify this…Let’s move on…

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Penelope Raine is now two.  The terrible twos (which began somewhere around 15 months) don’t seem to be AS terrible anymore and she is charming us with her new language skills and baby blues.  Her favorite words to say are “lolly-poo-pa” (lollypop) and “SHELF!” (self…as in, “let me do it MYSELF, will ya?!”).  Penelope loves running across our couch, baby dolls, jumping on the trampoline, painting, riding her trike, and saying the pledge of allegiance.

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We recently found our little P-Nella BUCK STARK NAKED in her crib at night, which the pediatrician tells us is a sign of potty-training readiness…  Speaking of potty training

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Gracie Kane is FOUR and explodes with joy.  She is going to a class once a week called “Classical Conversations” and consistently wakes me up early asking if it’s Thursday yet. She is blowing us away as she memorizes the states and capitals and history sentences.  I love learning along side her and we have fun “playing school” at home every day.  She recently shared with me her career aspirations (can’t decide between a doctor or a pilot), but after watching some men cut trees down in our neighborhood she now has her sights set on becoming a “TREE CUTTER.”

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Gracie had a procedure this fall patching up a hole in her heart and we’re so thankful that her oxygen levels are now at 97%.  She did so great during the whole thing although later she asked me if the procedure was because she can’t/won’t poop in the potty.  Ah yes, potty training.  We began potty training August 10th of 2013, which means we’ve been potty training for roughly 498 days…but sheesh….who’s counting?!  Gracie tells us that she WILL poop on the potty tomorrow, though, so (whew!), are we ever relieved and looking forward to THAT.  (insert eye roll here).

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Darcy Elaine is eight which means she’s not too old for snuggling. Darcy came home from school last week and told me she wants to spend the rest of her life studying computer science and writing computer code.  For this, I am thankful for our local public schools…

Darc ran her first 5K this fall and won her age category!  Never mind that she was the only participant in her age category…we couldn’t be prouder of our little runner.

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Darcy continues to love the outdoors, science experiments, math worksheets, and has recently fallen in love with reading chapter books.  She loves reading to her baby sister and playing school with Gracie.  She is very thoughtful and gets a lot of joy doing random acts of kindness for others.

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Haley Jane is TEN and officially a teeny-bopper.  We are working on showering with more consistency, using deodorant regularly and flossing. Yesterday I found Haley sitting on the couch with my computer memorizing PI.  She had 3.141592653597932384 down and was working on the next set. I’m not sure how I birthed mathematicians and scientists, but we’re rolling with it.

BAHAMAS, January 2014

BAHAMAS, January 2014

Haley is a huge help with her little sisters and they adore her so much!  She stays busy writing songs with her best friends and band, Three-In-One (You’ve got to check out their website here…so precious!),  playing with beanie boos, singing in the Honors Chorus and drawing on any piece of parchment she can find. Haley took tennis lessons and soccer lessons and even a drama camp along with Darcy this year. She is currently our most level-headed child. :)

 

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Colby continues to stay busy pastoring Pillar Church and training church planters to send out.  He does a good job balancing all his responsibilities and loving all his girls well.  He coached Darcy’s soccer team (Haley tagged along to practices) and offered tennis lessons to the kids of Pillar Church this fall.  In his free time, he managed to squeeze in a missions trip to Nepal. Colby ran his first marathon this year and did amazing.

Meanwhile, I’ve been running my own kind of marathon as I stay at home with the little ones. I had the chance to lead a missions trip to Iceland this year, attend a writer’s conference, attend a Global Think Tank, and grow in joy and contentment as a mom and wife.

After experiencing hip pain for awhile, I eventually went to the doctor and was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and a torn labrum. This means that I can no longer run and instead walk laps around the house or do low-impact aerobic you-tube videos for my cardio workouts.  I think I’m adjusting to my new life quite well…

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All in all, the Garmans are thankful that there is hope in Jesus beyond this life.  We’ve been reminded of the brevity of this life this year as we lost our precious friend Noel and three other friends from church.

We hope you choose to close 2014 with grateful hearts to the God who sustains you.

God bless!

The Garman Six

(Better luck getting a complete family photo next year)

 

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