Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Encourage One Another

This letter was written by Candace's future father-in-law to some of their friends. We were so blessed by it and when I read it aloud to Ford, I got all choked up after just the second sentence.

"God works in mysterious ways is the understatement of the year. I can't tell you the amount of time that I have spent praying and trying to prepare my children for what the world will throw at them. Whatever time I have spent, Regina has spent 10 times more. There are times when you get weary and stop. There are times when you wonder does it really matter. There have been times when I was so discouraged that I was ready to let the world dictate how life would turn out for our family.

God has encouraged us along the way with His miracles and blessings. Many times you look back on your day and you say, "Today I saw the hand of the Lord." I think God knows when we need to be encouraged. He knows when we need saving from ourselves with a shove in the right direction.

If you have been discouraged, or maybe you are at this moment, they you must read the rest of this email.

We have always raised our children wit the understanding that dating was not going to be a part of their social life. We wanted them to grow up with purity and innocence. Part of the plan was to not date or be alone with members of the opposite sex. We were trusting that when the time was right, God would provide a mate just as He provided a sacrifice for Abraham. I can't tell you the ridicule we received from other people over this..."

"If I have your attention then you must go to this website and read how our oldest son met the woman he will marry in November. (

God has said, I will never leave you or forsake you." My faith has been strengthened, and I have renewed hope that Jesus is on the throne and I must keep moving toward eternity working for Him.



He sent this to Candace because it prompted a reply from one of his friends, who is a Baptist minister, and this friend addressed the reply to Candace also. Michael's parents are seeing this story bless many others. We all are praising God for the wonderful priviledge of encouraging God's people. Here is the letter from the friend.

"Philip, Regina, Michael and Candace,

I am speechless. (And Philip knows what a miracle that is!)

I can not begin to express the exhortation this story has provided me. I quickly read over the email last night and didn't go to the link because I was busy. Missy asked me if I had read it and how wonderful it was. I said yes, but thought, "It's just a wedding announcement." When I got up to have my quiet time, I felt impressed to see what I missed.

God used these two amazing young members of "The Family" to remind this old brother that He still is I AM. I live with the constant burden of seeing potential left unmet and often feel as if I'm running on borrowed fuel-weary encouraging others.

Michael and Candace, you have revived my heart! You both have been used by Him to shout "HE WILL BLESS IF WE WILL FOLLOW!"

I've noticed that Jeremiah 29:11 is overused lately. I see it as the theme for conferences from children to seniros. It's a great verse but I beleive God wants us to get to verses 12 & 13.

Jeremiah 29: 11-13

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to propser you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I pray blessings on your lives together in all your days and look forward to hearing what God has for you both in the coming years.

Thank you again for your encouragement!

When we do hard things and they end up blessing others, it makes it all worth it!

The Beginning of a Whirlwind

Wow, are things busy around here!

This morning I took Kezzi to get her driver's license so we now have three official extra drivers! Luke and Kezzi start guitar lessons today but I don't think I'm quite ready to send them in alone. I'm going to give Kezzi a little practice first by going out all by herself. Abel started piano lessons with Hope's teacher yesterday. We are starting to become quite a family of musicians. The addition of a son-in-law who is great on the guitar and has an awesome voice is quite a boost too!

Of course, we are in the beginning stages of planning a wedding and all of that excitement - trying to secure a date for the church building and a minister to marry them. I just finished typing out our plans for the next week and a half for my friend, and it's crazy. Between being dinner guests and having dinner guests, preparing for trips and wedding dress fittings, we are very, very busy.

Added to all of the new excitement is the fact that Priscilla is scheduled to leave for her mission trip to Kenya next week. Thank you to all of you who contributed funds for this trip. It looks like she is going to have enough. We are bustling around getting shots, malaria medicine, and other supplies. Two days after Pris leaves, we are going to the beach for our family vacation with my sister and her family. When we come back, we think we'll have nine weeks to plan the wedding. (We are currently waiting on confirmatin of a date with our church - which looks like it might be November 17th instead of the 10th.)

Even this weekend is nuts with day trips planned for both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday we are going to visit some friends who live about 2 1/2 hours from here and then Sunday, after church, we are going to drive 4 hours to stay with Michael's family overnight and spend Labor Day with them. The boys are super excited because all of the guys are going to sleep in tents so the girls can have the house. Michael's mom called us the other night and Candace and I both really enjoyed talking to her and can't wait to spend more time together this weekend.

So, things are very busy but full of FUN things to do.

Monday, August 27, 2007

One of Those Stories

Last night with a huge smile and a glowing face, Candace said, "Mom, this is like one of those stories you read to us, only this time it's ME!" She's was referring to stories of individuals I have read to her over the years about successful courtships where the couple never had to "date" and entered into the marriage covenant while still physically pure.
A short time ago, at one of our homeschool meetings, a new homeschooling mom showed up for the first time. She was trying to pay attention to the conversations about education that were going on but she was distracted by a beautiful young lady sitting next to her mom. She was distracted because she had an overwhelming feeling that this young lady should meet her nephew. That young lady was Candace.
Candace had recently gone through a process with God of laying down an idol in her life. You can read about it on her blog here. I smile when I look at the date stamp on that post - less than a month ago. What she didn't say is that the idol was the desire to get married. She was laying that down at the altar of the Lord. Part of that laying down for her involved what she felt was the calling to not be out and about much. She felt called for a time to stick pretty close to home and not run around to social events. Coming with me to the homeschool meeting was one of the few things she did over that time. She was planning to teach a nature study class and wanted to learn more about Charlotte Mason and her educational philosophy. Isn't that just like God? When you lay it down, he gives just what you were dreaming of (and more)?
During this time, I felt called to take up that burden for her and I was in an intense time of prayer for God to bring her husband. I am not the most disciplined prayer warrior but this was something beyond me. It was almost my every breath - when I woke up in the night, the first thing in the morning, while I drove in the car, every extra moment during the day. I was praying for her and asking God to SEND HIM NOW. This was not something I had to try to do, it was just with me so strongly I couldn't help it.
A couple of weeks went by after that homeschool meeting. Then we got an email from Aunt Alana. She had taken the time to pray about the matter and ventured to ask us what we thought about introducing Candace to her nephew. She told us a little about him and waited for our answer. Candace was thinking, "Oh brother, another relative wants me to meet someone. I've been through this how many times now?" So she half-heartedly told me to go ahead and email her back and tell them a little about herself. She wanted me to tell them the most radical things about her so that it would be sort of a sifting process, discouraging anything further if this young man's heart did not match up to hers. Some of the things we addressed were physical purity, Candace's desire for a large family, that homeschooling wasn't an option, but a requirement and that she didn't want to marry a tv watcher because she hated tv. She didn't want anyone to even think about pursuing her if they weren't ready for marriage right away and she had me convey that in the email. I said good things too but I did warn them that she was a bit crazy and liked to do near-dare-devil stunts. She didn't want someone who wanted her to be a prim and proper lady. We sent this thinking that this oughta scare him away but in fact, it had the opposite result.
When Michael and his family read the email, they had to chuckle because they didn't even own a tv and Michael did not want one in his own home either! When he read about her dare-devil nature, he said, "Sweet!" This was only the beginning of discovering how very much they lined up on every issue that was important to both of them. So Candace and Michael started emailing back and forth a little.
Since Michael lives four hours away, he came to visit his aunt and uncle that live here in town with us and they all came to visit our church on Sunday morning. He asked to sit next to her during the kids program and hung out with her during the middle school get together that she helps with. They talked and she got to watch him interact with the kids. He showed her his guitar and they sat outside and sang some songs together. Within a short couple of hours, he managed to completely impress her and take her from a "let's get this over with" sort of attitude to complete interest.
The next weekend Michael came prepared to talk to her father about getting to know her better. He spent the day with us and by the end of the night, they both knew they wanted to marry each other. Because they both knew that they were not interested in "dating" or interested in just friendship, they entered into serious and intense discussions immediately regarding their views and plans for life. They were shocked to find agreement on every side of every issue. Ford and I approved and they began having long discussions on the phone and things went quickly in the direction of plans for life together. Candace was reporting all about their conversations and we couldn't have been more pleased with the things he was saying.
Even though he had not officially proposed we all knew it was coming and knew they wanted a short engagement. So last week we went to a bridal boutique thinking we would just start looking. We left putting a deposit down on the wedding gown, tiara, veil, shoes and the bridesmaid dresses and shoes! Candace has always been very decisive and she loved the first dress she saw. She tried it on and it fit perfectly. The only alterations she needs is a hem. There was no need for her to keep looking or try anything else. She was set.

The next time he came, he came prepared to propose and he let us know ahead of time that he wanted to do it in front of the whole family. When they arrived from church, we thought we would have a little joke and Ford got all of his weapons and laid them on the table along with assorted ammunition. He put his hat on and sat at the table sharpening his hunting knife. When Michael came in Ford said, "So I hear you have something important to discuss with me." Candace got the joke right away because she has never seen Ford have all of his weapons out and she began to laugh, but Michael just thought it was cool that the guns were all out on the table and the joke was lost on him. How funny! Little did we know we were kindred spirits when it came to joking.
After some serious discussion about the future, Michael told us he was ready to propose. We gathered everyone together and he got down on his knee, asked her marry him and presented three rings from the bubble-gum machines for Candace to choose from. Candace had been in on the joke the whole time. We were all rolling on the floor laughing. Since this has all happened so fast, he hasn't had time to get a real ring, but that is coming soon.
So the date is set and we are in high gear preparing for the wedding. Our lofty goal is to have a stress free wedding. So many parents are so stressed out and glad to have it over and we really, really don't want to feel that way. Candace and Michael are so casual and easy that we have hopes this can be accomplished.
One of the most common comments she is hearing right now is, "I didn't even know you were dating! Well, that's because she wasn't, hasn't and won't be. And the most wonderful gift of all is that Michael has been raised with the same ideals! This has made it so easy since we are all on the same page. When discussing physical boundaries for the next couple of months, Michael said he didn't think they should be alone, not without at least a brother or sister. He understands that it will get tough for them to keep hold of their purity if they are alone and they are hoping to have their first kiss at the wedding altar. I can't begin to describe how nice it is to not feel like we are going to spend the next couple of months opposing each other. And we don't have to instruct him in these ways because his parents have already done that job and Michael has already made these ideals his own.
Thank you to all of you who have encouraged us along the way and for those who supported us with the belief that this could be done this way. A special thanks to Granny, who took the time to reach out to me as an older mom and gave me hope.
And most important of all a GREAT BIG thank you to Michael's parents because we know young men of his quality don't just happen! We are so very impressed and thankful - beyond what words can even begin to express. We have an appreciation for what it takes and we will always be eternally grateful to both of you!!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

An Exciting Announcment

Some of you have caught wind of the news already but tonight we are making the official announcement - Candace and Michael are engaged to be married on November 10th. They have been talking about marriage plans during the past week but he officially proposed in front of most of the family tonight. He has passed the test (with flying colors I might add) of all of the men of the family - including her father, uncle and grandfather. Every member of the family is excited!
We went over to Grandma and Grandpa's house tonight and once again enjoyed the treat of Michael's playing and singing. He played a couple of his original songs and then we all sang some worship songs together. Grandma sat across the room with tears in her eyes. Even Grandpa, who eyes everyone that is interested in his granddaughters suspiciously, approves.
I will tell more of the story later, but tonight I'm running on very little sleep from the crazy weekend.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

This is The Day

Today is Luke's thirteenth birthday! After years of "doing" the teenage girl thing, we now have our first teenage son. We had talked about this day, so many years ago in the baby days, when we realized the time would come when we would have five teeneagers at once and today it has arrived. Candace will be twenty in November, so it is a short lived novelty.

It is amazing that those seemingly far-in-to-the-future days actually do arrive, and rather more quickly than we imagine too.

It's been fun lately watching him, and even Abel, tune into the courting processes that go on around here with the girls. They can be seen lurking around the corners with full attention being paid to these conversations. Luke, trying to be cute the other night, pulled up an armchair to one of these talks that was going on at the kitchen table. They are so sure that after listening to all of these girls that they are going to have the upper hand and know just the right things to do and not do. This interest seems funny coming from boys who, not long ago, were interested in nothing but cars, legos and playing outdoors.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Art and Family and Friends

Our extremely brilliant and generous friend, Adam, has built this website. Elilyphants, for my niece, Lily. Stop in for a visit and see some of Lily's cool work. Lily is the daughter of my sister, whose blog is here. Who knew all of those endless hours spent drawing elephants could result in this!

Adam is a fellow artist who has done an amazing painting called The Valley of Rhyme. It's a collage of scenes from the nursery rhymes of his childhood. It has also been made into a book by the same title, which I think will soon be available from amazon. We are one of the lucky first ones to have a book and poster already! The first morning after he came out and gave us a copy of the poster to go along with the book, Annalise was up in the early light with the book open in front of the framed poster looking for each scene from the book.

To be so close to all of this amazing talent just makes me feel so happy to be alive and happy that I serve a God with fellow believers like these!!! I just feel overwhelmed with God's goodness to us all.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


When we come into contact with those who have had a less than favorable past, we have a decision to make in how we view them. Candace and I have been talking about this recently. She was pointing out that it's not people's pasts that are the problem but how they view their pasts. The distinction between those whose past mistakes have brought them to a humble realization of their need for a savior and those who stand obstinately in their pride and make excuses for their wrongs is what makes the difference.

Redemption has been such a great part of my life that sometimes it's easier for me to see beyond people's sins than it is for others. My childhood was marred by divorcing parents. Through the years I could see God's grace woven throughout it all: a mom who worked very hard to pick up the pieces and make a life for us, a grandmother who gave of herself to love and keep us as a part of the family, a dad who always kept in contact with us, took us whenever he had the chance and spent much time teaching us the things of the Lord and a step-mom who loved us and sacrificed so that we could be a part of our dad's life. I did see many of the consequences of sin but I saw people's sinful lives redeemed. My children are now blessed with a Grandfather that, though he does not share their bloodline, cares for them like he did and they love him so dearly you would never know he officially bears the prefix of "step-". In my younger years, I was blessed with a woman who loved me as a daughter (and I her) and now in my older years I am blessed with a man who loves me the same way (and I him).

Because of this I am keenly aware of this thread of redemption in the lives of others. I will admit that I rarely have tolerance for those who willfully continue in sin, but I have a lot of natural compassion for those who have repented (not just apologized but TURNED from their sin) and sought to make a new life.

I know the reality of turning and making a total and complete change. I married a man who was once an atheist, a thief, took drugs and commited other sins. (Amazingly he was a virgin and had never even kissed another girl, which was a huge blessing for me.) The wonderful evidence of what God can do is that I have never seen any remnant of that old person he was, not even a trace. He has been a wonderful husband and father. That is the power of God's redemption.

How could a life like mine that stared out so with such a foreboding of disaster be what it is now? I've been married for twenty years and have a beautiful family. I live in a beautiful area and enjoy the incredible blessing of living right next door to my mom and my sister. Daily I watch my children and my sister's run through the woods and find absolute delight in being together. How did that happen? God's redemption.

My kids have six adults in their lives who are intimately involved and watch over them with incredible diligence. These first few young men that come along seeking for our daughter's hands will have all six to answer to. They are going to have to be men enough to stand the test. But underlying it all will be a golden thread of an understanding of - God's redemption -.

Moments Like These

It's moments like these that make me so thankful that we are able to have our children home during the day. My mom and step-dad's dog that they have had for thirteen years had to be put down this morning. I gave her the yellow lab puppy all those years ago when I owned the sire. I was able to send my boys over to meet them when they arrive home so they can help dig the hole for the grave. A 60+ year old man does not need to be doing the job alone of digging the grave in near 100 degree temperatures. I am so very thankful that my boys can be a part of helping in this way. This kind of work and service helps me to have confidence in the kind of men they will become.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

School Begins Again...and other happenings

We started our official-school-schedule-life Monday. So far, so good. Of course, there are always the little bumps as we get going again. I've decided to take a no nonsense approach to complaining this year and I'm trying to nip it in the bud. The boys are usually the only ones who complain much and they are being met with zero toleration. Annalise makes up for the both of them though. She is always so enthusiastic. I always look forward to getting out of bed more when it's a school day. The last two weeks when we were completely off drove me crazy. I just miss it too much. What am I going to do with myself when Annalise graduates?

Life has been wonderfully busy. Not the kind of busy where you are running ragged and worn out, but a pleasant kind of busy. It seems every time I turn around we are forming new friendships. It's been great! A social life has not been a problem and I feel so blessed to have so many lovely people around us. Sunday we had the treat of having a family over who had a 20yo son and an 18yo daughter. It was fun for my older kids to have another family over with older kids - though they really weren't kids. An extra benefit is that it seems we are always getting ready to have company around here so we are staying on top of things more than usual. I'm really looking forward to the cooler temperatures to arrive so we can have bonfires again, and now that Kezzi is learning the guitar, we will have music with the singing.

We traded in our two minivans for an almost new Dodge Durango and I'm loving it. It's so roomy and drives so nicely. It's been many, many years since we've had something this nice and new. It seats eight instead of the nine that we could really use, but eight is ok. Most of the time one of the girls doesn't mind driving their own car anyway.

I'm just savoring this time of life while we are all still together every day but at the same time excited about the future (I know I've probably said that before). I know change is probably just around the corner. An extremely nice college that is not too far away called for Priscilla today. I didn't know colleges actually make personal phone calls to prospective students? I filled out some kind of information form on the internet a couple of weeks ago. I also know that marriages can happen in the blink of an eye, the fact brought home by the recent marriage of a friend of Candace's. Ford and I are always keenly aware of that fact since we only dated for 3 weeks and then married 3 months later. We did have family connections so we weren't really like total strangers. It's not that we would totally recommend that for everyone, but we've never regretted it for one minute.

Now, if we can just get rid of these upper 90 temperatures, I'll be even more happy.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Boy Who Can't Hear Wisdom Shouting...

because he is too busy spending time in the emergency room.

In the beginning of July Abel did a back flip off of a diving board while we were spending Sunday afternoon with some friends. He ended up with an ambulance ride and five staples in his head. I didn't think the ambulance ride was necessary but since it happened at a public pool, they were pretty freaked out about possible back and neck injuries. When we left the hospital, he was barefoot, in nothing but his bathing suit and covered in dried blood. We had to take the board that they brought him in on back to the pool and since we were driving Candace's beetle, we had to open the sunroof and drive with the bloody board sticking out. We joked with the doctor about taking him to Target on the way home just to gross everyone out.

Yesterday I spent all morning in the emergency room again. This time over a "bee sting" that turned out to be a snake bite. He came in Tuesday evening saying he thought he had been stung by a bee while reaching into some brush to retrieve an arrow that he had shot. I thought it a little strange that a bee sting would have a couple of marks and one of them was a little bloody but didn't think much more about it. After treating it, he went to bed that evening and by 2am his whole hand and wrist were swollen. I still didn't think too much of it since we have other children who swell up with bee stings. Then in the morning his whole forearm was swollen and the bit area looked bruised and I started thinking more about the bloody mark. So, I decided to be at the doctor's office when they opened so they could take a look at him. He wasn't in any pain unless people started touching it. My pediatrician was concerned about compression and sent me over to the hospital so I could see a surgeon right away. After spending the several hours there waiting on a surgeon who was, of course, in surgery, the ER doctor told us that after talking to the surgeon he thought it would be fine and to go ahead and go home. The consensus was that yes, it most likely was a venomous snake bite but that since it was 12 hours old, the worst was over.

This morning the swelling had moved about an inch further up his arm but he was moving his fingers more freely. Now the whole back of his hand is slightly bruised and discolored looking but it seems like it hurts less to touch it and I think his fingers are less swollen. I wish I could post a picture but for some reason this crazy computer won't let me.

His pediatrician just called and wants to see him again since that is what the ER doctor stipulated on the discharge papers. So I'm off again. Hopefully we will be home soon. Please be praying for a quick recovery for him.

**Update: The swelling is almost gone and he is using his arm again. Last night at church he was playing 'wall ball' with a group of boys so I guess he's on the mend. Thanks for the prayers and concern. I think he's taken us to the emergency room more than all the other six children combined! :) I think he thinks it's pretty cool to have been bitten by a snake. The whole time when it was in doubt as to whether it was a bee or a snake bite, he kept saying why it was most likely to be a snake with this air of hopefulness. It reminded me of part of It's a Jungle Out There, where the kids were competing to tell their most grusome injury stories. Life with boys. After four girls, I can sure see a difference.