God did it again! He performed the yearly miracle called our family vacation. Before 2017, vacations were very rare for us. Just surviving the day and putting food on the table was the priority. It didn’t seem like we could afford for Chris to take off work or pay for a vacation rental. We didn’t think to ask God to provide for a family getaway.
Finally in 2017 I decided to ask God in prayer. We had no possible way to make it happen, but God did! He gave us a few days in a house up north. What an amazing time we had! We returned to that cabin again the next year and started the tradition of naming our rental homes.
The second was the “Cold Cabin” because the heat in the old farmhouse didn’t reach all of the rooms.
The third was the “Star Cabin” because there were over 50 stars that decorated the place.
The fourth was the “Cow Cabin” because we shared the property with a herd of cows.
The memory of each has become so dear, and the faithful words of God so precious.
This September we received a free week at a real log cabin, and I thought sure it would be known as the “Cabin Cabin.”
I underestimated all that God had planned.
We traveled up north with two vehicles, 11 people, and a mountain of “essential” provisions. We were very excited when we saw the lovely, secluded cabin with a pond. We all went to bed dreaming of the coming adventures.
I woke up in the night. It was incredibly quiet in the woods with only the insect songs and the soft wind in the trees…until an unearthly howling began. In my sleepy stupor, I couldn’t imagine what it was. More and more voices joined in. My mind began to conjure genetically enhanced, alien coyotes having a secret round table deep in the woods, plotting the destruction of all who trespassed on their domain. I shuttered and was grateful that the boys hadn’t slept outside in their tent!
A fear plagued me all night. Yes, the howling mutants were creepy, but I had a much bigger concern: the thought of one of my precious little ones disappearing into the murky water of the pond. I had learned a lot about fear and spiritual warfare at the “Cow Cabin” last year. This year, I was still working through the irrational fear that one of my children would drown, and that this idyllic vacation would turn into a tragedy.
The next morning dawned with hope, sunny and beautiful. My girls had found some “treasure” in a drawer in the living room. They were very excited about the plastic gold and jewels.
Aria said to me, “We should call this the ‘Treasure Cabin.’”
Their older brother, Chai, made a treasure map for them to find the treasure all over again.
“How sweet!” I thought.
My plan was to bask in the warm sunshine and just relax, read, and rest. I began with Ephesians and read it one verse at a time. I allowed each verse to marinate my body, soul, and spirit in divine revelation before I moved on to the next.
When I got to Eph 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” I knew this was in a God set up. As I continued to read verse after verse about riches and blessings, I knew that God had designed this vacation for treasure, not tragedy!
I spent all morning mining the treasure found in the first three chapters of Ephesians.
Being Spotless and Blameless (1:4)
Being predestined for Adoptions as sons (1:5)
Riches of His glorious Grace (1:6, 1:7, 2:8)
Redemption and Forgiveness (1:7, 2:5)
Knowing the mystery of His will, the Gentiles are fellow heirs (1:9, 3:6)
Riches of our glorious Inheritance (1:18)
Holy Spirit, the guarantee of our inheritance (1:13,14)
The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation to enlighten our hearts (1:17)
Immeasurable greatness of His Power toward us (1:19, 3:16-17, 3:20)
The Church (1:22-23, 2:2-21, 3:10)
Good Works that He prepared in advance for us (2:10)
I was so overwhelmed by God’s goodness and knew that our vacation week would be full of beautiful surprises. The howl of mutant coyotes ceased to echo through the valley, and I counted 73 treasures that came from God’s loving hand. Here are just a few.
Eating meals outside
Misty mornings overlooking the lake
Sunsets on the porch
Family fun at the pond
Watkins Glen’s Gorge Trail (the prettiest trail I have ever hiked!)
PA Grand Canyon
The best chicken fajitas ever
Treasure Chest store where I found the blue and white frames I had been looking for
Country Haven Treasures where I found the blue and white birds I had been searching for
Kidsgrove in Selinsgrove (the biggest and coolest playground ever!)
Among the treasure were simple, everyday moments that I would have missed if I wasn’t looking for them such as:
Chai showing Aria how to play T-ball with patience and kindness
Soft words of affirmation from my husband
The Veggie Vendor along the road to the cabin
Green grass, green trees, yellow flowers
Cadin making Ashlyn giggle
Stony Fork Country store which sold raw milk, cheese curds, and $1 whoopie pies
Eating massive steaks that Cooper bought
Chris doing laundry until every load was done
This year’s vacation rental will be remembered as the “Treasure Cabin”, and I am so thankful for all that God showed me there!
During this Christmas season, when our thoughts revolve around gift giving, I would like to remind you that the treasures of Ephesians are always with us as well as the simple treasures hidden in the common place routines.
For all who are battle weary and stressed
Remember this day is a GIFT, not a test.
Not an exam you are destined to fail,
Nor a trial that mocks, “You will not prevail!”
This day is a gift from His loving heart,
A grand adventure – you have a part.
How He desires to see wonder in your eyes
As you joyfully discover each sacred surprise.
Treasure map in hand, begin with thanks and praise,
Continue by abiding in His LOVE and …remain.
Enlighten the eyes of our hearts, LORD, to see
The Hope, the Power, and the Riches of our family tree.
The end of this school year was awful! It was not what I had wanted it to be, and I felt like a failure.
I was homeschooling two elementary students and my special needs daughter with my preschooler always present. I also had a son catching the bus early to a private school, plus a middle schooler and a high schooler doing cyber at home, plus two adult children going in and out.
I love being home with my children and I enjoy homeschooling. I am thrilled to investigate new wonders or to travel to storybook worlds with my children. My joy is complete when they are thrilled right along with me!
We started in the early summer, so we took our laid-back time. We enjoyed field trips, reading books, and doing whatever we wanted. How I adored homeschooling then!
In the fall we settled into a good routine with the Pledge of Allegiance, prayers, Bible reading, flashcards, workbooks, and reading out loud to each other. The children were excited to have new workbooks, and they worked happily beyond what I assigned each day.
However, as the year went on, we got a little tired. I should say that I felt exhausted, and the children felt bored. We took a break from the normal routine for Christmas and studied Swedish customs, food, and Kristen, an American Girl from Sweden. In early spring I took a week and a half off, hoping that I would regain my joy and strength.
The problem was life kept on going with all the same errands and doctors’ appointments to attend to. I love being at home with the children. I despise giving up that time to get the necessary things done. Somehow, I had scheduled more appointments than usual right before our evaluations this year. Other events popped up and accomplishing days toward our required 180 became like feats of great strength.
“It will be fine. It always works out,” I kept telling myself.
Still, I felt so overwhelmed that some moments I could hardly remember the next thing I should be accomplishing. A wild mob of other tasks were on my calendar and on my mind, taunting me ruthlessly. Every time I had to leave the children with their workbooks to tackle another pressing concern, I felt like a failure.
“This is not what homeschooling is about!” I would lament. “It is not about workbooks and crossing off days. It is about a love for learning, a love for God and each other.”
The love was growing cold. I was stressed out and my children were noticing. My children were not excited about school anymore and I was noticing. Were they learning anything at all? What about that travel video I wanted to watch with them that we never got to? Had they remembered all the states in the US, or had they forgotten them already? Annalise just flew through her 1 grade math, but why couldn’t she remember her addition facts? Was school doing any good for Ashlyn as she remains at a preschool level year after year, or should I just graduate her already and admit defeat?
These questions were plaguing me one morning, about a week away from our evaluations. I felt like a horrible teacher and a very un-fun mom. Courage (who was completing 3rd grade) turned to me and said, “You’re the best mom ever!”
He had been saying this a lot lately. He had even taken up the habit of making it a song, “You’re the best mom ever!” He would sing out raucous notes while bounding through the house. I hadn’t given it much thought other than, “How am I supposed to think around here?”
But just then I stopped and let the moment sink into me. Courage truly thought I was the best mom ever. He was sitting next to me smiling and hugging me ferociously, and I finally just relaxed and received it.
I felt the Holy spirit Remind me, “You are not a failure. Your children love you. And they love me. What could be more important than that?”
As I began compiling all the homeschool logs and workbooks and writings and field trip pictures, I began to remember the joy again.
The Joy of exploring Virginia for the first time on vacation.
The joy of butterflies and kids’ games in the sunshine at Paulus Orchard.
The joy of listening to Dr. Dolittle on CD for the first time, and then the second, third, fourth….
The joy of learning about the ocean and then taking our very first family beach day.
The joy of celebrating Santa Lucia day with our own Annalise as Santa Lucia.
I was still feeling nervous about the evaluation. We really hadn’t accomplished very much in my mind. No large projects or epic masterpieces. But as our sweet, wonderful evaluator looked over our logs she said, “My, you have been busy this year, haven’t you?”
It was a busy year! But only what was done in love had any value. As I look back, I can say that MOST was love. Perhaps next year ALL can be love and joy!
I figure I have a month to soak in summer and God’s loving kindness before I need to plan and begin again. Perhaps I will feel so refreshed that I will finally be able to write that article that was alive and active in me two years, “I was a Homeschool Dropout, what I learned that allowed me to begin again with joy.”
Blessings to all you homeschool moms! Your love and faith are never in vain, and you are not a failure!
A friend asked me why I believed that life begins at conception. She honestly wanted to understand why I had such a problem with abortion. How could I express to her a lifetime of experiences, conversations, encounters with God, research, reading, and studying? Here is my attempt.
There are four main reasons why life begins at conception.
Abortion in its essence is evil. It is murder for babies, bad for women, bad for families, and bad for society in general. I explore all of this in my article, My Experiences with the Reality of Abortion. It is clear to me that the Devil, who comes only to kill, steal, and destroy, is the author and perpetuator of abortion. The lie that life does not start at conception violates science and the Bible and is designed to cause a moral society to accept it.
My own life experiences confirm that life begins at conception.
I was always against abortion as soon as I knew there was such a thing. My convictions deepened after I had an amazing salvation experience at age 14. After High School I attended school at YWAM Tyler and began to discover the realities of abortion.
A year after YWAM, Chris and I got married. Two years after that I conceived our first child.
My first ultrasound was at 18 weeks. At a certain moment the baby inside me turned her face and the tech took a picture. When I looked at the picture of the skull, I saw a daughter although the tech could not determine the gender. I felt as if I knew that tiny person, and I loved her so much. She probably could not have survived out of my womb at that point, but her heart was beating, she was growing big and strong, and I knew her. How much more was she recognized by God who knew her before she was conceived and who set her apart in my womb (Jer 1:5). I knew that my daughter was chosen by God even before He created the world (Eph 1:4).
I knew that her life was a dream in His heart, and He was so excited to get Chris and I together so He could begin the fun work of making her.
I had two more babies (boys) after my firstborn girl. During each pregnancy, God gave us powerful names for each child and spoke to us about his personality and purpose. We became a happy family of 5.
Then one day I felt an odd sensation. It felt as though I was not alone even though it was just me in the room. I sensed that a new spirit had arrived on the scene. I placed a hand on my belly and wondered, “Could I be pregnant again?” It was too early in my cycle to be able to take a pregnancy test. But I could usually tell the exact day that I ovulated, and that had occurred already. It can take a fertilized egg 5 to 10 days to actually implant in the uterus and start releasing the pregnancy hormone.
Yet I was curious if my feeling was correct, so I asked God, “Am I pregnant?”
He gave me this verse, “I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah, those who will possess my mountains; my chosen people will inherit them, and there will my servants live.” (Is 65:9)
I knew that I was pregnant, and that this child had a destiny. This child was going to possess mountains!
Pretty soon I was able to confirm my feeling with a pregnancy test. When my fourth child was born, a daughter, she was special. She had dysmorphic features and some internal abnormalities. It wasn’t until 6 weeks later that the chromosomal analysis came back showing she had a rearrangement and deletion in her 6th chromosome. The scripture that God had given me just days after her conception gave me hope. He knew my daughter would be special (broken and handicapped by the world’s standards) and He had already given her a destiny.
This is one of the main reasons I believe that life begins at conception – my daughter Ashlyn.
Most babies like her never make it out of the womb alive these days. In this country 80% of Down syndrome babies are aborted, almost 100% in other countries.
Each pregnancy and birth after Ashlyn just confirmed to me that life begins at conception.
Pregnancy number 5 was plagued at first with worries about having another child with a chromosomal abnormality. As the baby grew, peace began to overtake fear. God gave us a name for this child, “Chai Eric” which means, “Healthy and Powerful.” Chai has turned out to be smart and extremely athletic, seeming to have weightlifters’ muscles and power even as a very young boy.
Baby in the womb #6 also had a very powerful name which was such an encouragement to me long before he was born. This “clump of cells” was a man of destiny in seed form. How thankful we are for Cooper!
Yet I was still able to write, “I can see each child standing before the throne of God. I see Jesus embracing each one and calling him or her his friend. I see their reward for the spoils they took from the enemy. I know that their reward is my legacy.”
I was talking about the 6 children decorating the tree, the tiny baby in my belly, and any other children that God had for me in the future.
The first trimester of my eighth pregnancy proved to be even harder than the 7th. I wrote all about it in an article, “God Needs Me?”
“The question I kept asking was, “Is this worth it?” and I knew that it was. A new life is always worth it. After a mother is holding that precious bundle, her sorrow is turned into joy.
Then the question became, “How much is a human life worth? How much pain and sorrow is one life worth? How much would I suffer for one human life? Would I get pregnant and do this all again for one more human life? How much is a life worth to God? How much suffering did Jesus endure?”
The only conclusion I could come to was this; one human life is worth IT ALL!
There is no limit to the value God puts on a life, no price too high to pay, no suffering to severe. Jesus suffered more than any of us…He said that his suffering was worth it because of the joy set before him. (Hebrews 12:2) That joy was human life, redeemed and set free. He said that I am worth it. He said that you are worth it. He said that the child in my womb was worth it.
Then I heard God’s loving voice.
“Thank you for being available. Without you, I couldn’t bring this child of destiny into the world.”
God was calling my tiny baby a “child of destiny” and he was younger than 14 weeks. Now that I have him, a big 9-year-old named Courage Justice, I can tell you that he was definitely worth it!
When I was pregnant with number 8 and we had already named her Annalise Promise, I started having some spotting. Fear and dread rose up within me. What if I lost her? What if she didn’t make it? As her name suggests, her life was a symbol of the Promises of God to us. I knew that her life was precious and I would have done anything to protect her. Mothers who have miscarried even very early in the pregnancy, mourn the loss of a life. Fathers and brothers and sisters and grandparents mourn too. Thankfully our Annalise Promise is now a stunning 7 year old!
Over the years I have gotten to know a prayer counselor at our church. She does a class called, “Blessing Babies in the Womb.” It is full of scriptures and stories of her experiences that affirm that an unborn baby has a spirit that is alive and active, sensing all that is happening around it. We can speak blessings over our babies while they are in the womb and they can hear and understand. Also speaking things like, “I don’t want this baby” or “I want an abortion” can negatively impact that baby.
Another friend of mine took the class and told me this story: She was in labor with her second child. She was in the hospital and her labor stalled about half way and the baby would not descend. She prayed that God would show her if there was anything that was holding her baby back. God reminded her of something she had said several times during the pregnancy, “I love my first daughter so much, I just don’t see how I can love this baby as much.”
She immediately spoke to the baby in her womb, asked the baby’s forgiveness and affirmed that she DID love her as much as her older sister. She asked her daughter to come out so she could hold her. She felt a dramatic drop in her belly. She called the nurse. When the nurse checked her cervix, she was dumbfounded! It seemed impossible, but the baby had dropped, and she was fully dilated. Her baby was born quickly and easily.
After my ninth baby, I thought God might not have any more children for us. Then one day, God gave me a name (Aria Iolani) that I felt sure represented a future destiny, a future daughter. A few months later I became pregnant. I was speaking blessings and prayers over this baby right from the start, being inspired by “Blessing Babies in the Womb.” I have spoken to the spirits of my babies many times before…but this was the first time I ever heard the spirit of my baby speak back. I tell the whole story in my article, “The Naming of Aria Iolani.” I was worshipping in church while Aria was still in her first trimester, still unknown and unseen by any but God.
I felt the presence of God so strongly and I told my unborn baby, “This is where you are always supposed to live.”
“I know Mama,” she replied in the sweetest, little-girl voice. Her spirit communicating with my spirit.
Now Aria is 3 years old and the most intelligent and perceptive three-year-old I can remember ever knowing. I often hear her sweet, little-girl voice saying one of her favorite phrases, “I know Mama” or, “I know Mom” or simply, “I know.”
My church has a room devoted to prayer, and for years I took one hour a week to pray for pregnant mothers and unborn babies. I and some others would pray for any woman in the church who was pregnant and any woman who wanted to be pregnant. The intensity Of God’s love that I felt during that prayer time always undid me.
God loves mothers and unborn babies.
Sometimes a woman would come to us for prayer in person. Other times I would come across a pregnant woman while in church or out and about in places like Costco. Always I felt God’s delight when I looked at her. Many times, I would stop and ask if I could pray for her and her baby. God would show me His love for the unborn child, and He would sometimes give me a sneak-peak into his or her purpose and personality.
Yes, life begins at conception with a new body, soul, and spirit that the world has never seen. In God’s eternal perspective, that life began as a dream in His heart long before conception. Long before the great-great grandmother and great-great grandfather ever met. Long before the world began.
It has been the greatest privilege of my life to bring those dreams into being with the knowledge that they will be my children for all eternity.
At the beginning of the 2021 school year, I was still homeschooling three children. The other three children wanted to return to public school. Masks had been made optional over the summer. I suspected that the School Board would change their minds right as school resumed in the fall as they had done the previous year. I wanted to keep my three sons enrolled in 21st Century Cyber Charter School which was a very good school. However, I went through the tedious work of enrolling my three boys back into the school district.
“I Made My Voice Be Heard” at a school board meeting in August. I was so encouraged by what God had done in the parents, giving us boldness and confidence to speak. The school board voted to make masks mandatory anyway, one week before school started. Not only that, but they had instituted policies that pushed experimental injections on the students as well as discriminated against the students who didn’t comply.
I knew that this decision was likely, and this was just the beginning of the fight; not just for mask choice but also for medical freedom, parental rights, and true education that leads children to American Exceptionalism rather than socialism.
But what to do now! One Week before School!
I refused to submit my children to these man-made rules that violate their God given immune systems and Constitutional rights.
“What is the big deal?” some might ask. It is just a mask, right?
First it was just two weeks to flatten the curve. Then it was mandatory masks during an emergency. Now it is, “Submit to our rules or forfeit your education and career!” What will it be next?
I cannot comply with something that violates my conscience.
I decided that it was too late to switch back to 21st CCCS because the enrollment process takes a month. We opted for the district’s new cyber academy for Chai and Cooper. We were not happy with the option, and it was a bumpy road getting it going. We enrolled Calvin in a private Christian school because he didn’t do well with cyber.
God has worked it all out for our good!
We love the private school, and it has been wonderful for Calvin! The tuition was a stretch of faith, but God has provided!
The cyber academy has not been great. Chai and Cooper are begging me to put them back into 21st CCCS. However, this alone is a breakthrough; for them to want to be enrolled in a school that just last year they said they hated! Plus, they can complete their cyber school in a few hours and still have time each day to work on their lawn care business. This business has taught them more about hard work, honor, respect, customer service, business practices, and budgeting than public school ever could. They were able to save up enough money to buy a pick-up truck which will only expand their business!
Another important blessing from this ridiculous governmental overreach is that many parents are waking up! Before this “pandemic” I never knew who was on the school board, when their meetings were, or what they did during those meetings. Many of us parents have learned a lot, gotten involved, and have demanded accountability. School Boards are now on our radar!
When this school year is over, I plan on enrolling Chai and Cooper in 21st CCCS. Then all my six school-age children will be out of the school district. I am so thrilled! I love not getting emails about every COVID case and every issue going on in the district! I love the freedom!
I love the fact that my children do not have to strap on a mask and wait for the bus each morning. I love that they don’t have to enter the school building and leave their rights and facial expressions at the door! I love that I don’t have to worry about them getting detention for allowing their noses to pop out above the masks. I love that I don’t have to think about quarantine protocols!
HOWEVER, THIS IS STILL MY TERRITORY!
I grew up here and graduated from the local High School. I still live in the district and pay their taxes and vote for the school board members. I will not abdicate.
The Kingdom of God will rule and reign here and not a political machine!
I have been asking God what He wants me to do. How do I stay involved? How do I bring His kingdom to come here? The answer is not always clear and it may change from day to day.
Cooper and Chai still do sports with the district. Thank goodness they do not require masks outside! In November I went to the High School with Chai because he needed his picture taken for “Athlete of the Week.” As I waited in the parking lot at the end of the school day, I watched the students emerge from the building and make their way home. I prayed for them and wondered how each was doing this year; physically, emotional, and spiritually.
I spotted a bird overhead, above the building. I saw a glint of white in the tail. Chai quickly joined me in the truck, and I asked, “Do you see that bird? Is that an eagle?”
“Yeah, that looks like an eagle mom. I can see white in its head.” Chai replied.
As it circled, I could see clearly, IT WAS A BALD EAGLE!
This was the 13th eagle that I have seen, and each time God has something to tell me. Many of His messages have been about the coming revival. (I heard Dutch Sheets tell a story during one of his Give Him 15 episodes. He had been writing the episode about the next Great Awakening and he saw two bald eagles soaring above him in his back yard. I was so excited to learn that God confirms the coming revival to Dutch in the same way He does for me!)
I was stunned to see a bald eagle above the High School, a place I consider unfit for my children. Immediately thoughts dropped into my mind with the force of the Holy Spirit.
“God is right here, right now. Revival is coming to this school and there is nothing that the school board can do to stop it!”
In my imagination I began to see students kneeling in repentance, hugging other students with forgiveness and compassion, preaching about Jesus unashamed, and working miracles. I began to see students who have been harmed in these past two years receive healing and restoration. I began to see students who have been depressed, cynical, or just bored begin to burn with a passion for truth and love. I began to imagine the answers to the prayers that friends and I had prayed in early morning prayer meetings when we attended high school in this district.
“I have not forgotten your prayers,” I heard God whisper.
My perspective just gotten elevated! I wasn’t fighting against the men and women of the school board. I was fighting principalities and powers, and Jesus has already won!
He told me that revival is certainly coming! A divine visitation, a sovereign work of God!
I did speak at the next Board Meeting after Eagle Sighting #13. But I did it with a confidence that God has got this. I referenced the article I had emailed to all the members, “More Than 400 Studies on the Failure of Compulsory Covid Interventions.” I tried to speak truth the best I knew how, but only God can plow up the ground and water the seeds. Only God can break the deception and change the hearts and minds. I plan on going to the next meeting early to walk around the school campus and pray! “Every place where you set your foot will be yours.” (Duet 11:24) If God gives me something to say, I will say it. “For to everyone I send you, you must go, and all that I command you, you must speak.” (Jer 1:7)
I know that God will bring justice and make all things right. Someday everyone will know the truth behind the propaganda. But to stand with God now, when the truth is shrouded and most people can’t see it, that is my glory! My small actions of prayer, emailing school board members, and speaking at the meetings may not dramatically turn the tide. But they will help, even if just a little.
And if I can be found standing with my LORD, doing what He is doing, saying what He is saying, when He comes in His glory…it will have been worth it.
We celebrated 25 years of marriage in August 2021. Our oldest daughter, Areli, with the help of her siblings, planned a surprise party for us. I was amazed by how they planned, cleaned, decorated, made a superb chocolate raspberry cake, arranged for food, and created a fun diversion to keep us out of the house (shopping at TJ Max).
We were so blessed by our friends, family, and neighbors!
Chris and I had planned for a beach getaway for our 25th ,but decided that October would be the best time to go. The weekend we had chosen months before became the most beautiful weekend of the entire year! Perfect sunny weather with a nice breeze, not too hot or too cold.
It was the best getaway yet! We had learned the lessons of past vacations. In Cape May last year we learned to revel in His goodness and enjoy the good life everyday of our lives as in Ps.128. In Virginia this year, we learned to be alert and awake, for although the enemy is like a lion looking for someone to devour, we will not live in fear for we have overcome the evil one!
This time we were able to stay alert and awake while enjoying the gifts of God in our lives to the fullest!
Our first stop was Dewey Beach. The town was small and quiet and there was no boardwalk.
Dewey was my favorite beach of the trip because of the nice, soft sand and the peaceful atmosphere.
We sat down to enjoy the sun and surf and were immediately thrilled by a show of dolphins jumping among the waves.
We continued to drive and stopped at Delaware Seashore State Park. We thought we would scout it out for a future camping trip. This state park was not what we were looking for, being just a large parking lot full of campers. We didn’t even get out to explore the seashore. Apparently, Delaware charges a day rate to enter their state parks, even though there was no attendant present.
We drove on to Bethany.
Bethany was my favorite town: lovely neighborhoods with wooded lots, a beautiful downtown with flowers and shops.
The boardwalk was very short and did not offer a view of the beach. The beach was lovely. We got into a conversation with a couple who has lived in Bethany for years and they love it!
We stopped briefly at Fenwick Island State Park. It was lovely but not that different from the other beaches we had seen that day. Because Delaware wanted us to pay to be there, we continued on to our destination, Ocean City, MD.
We had rented a condo on the bay side of North Ocean City. We were right up to the water, and it was quiet and peaceful. We enjoyed our supper out on the balcony and watched the sun set.
We got up early and relished the sunrise on the beach. I really like the beach at Ocean City, MD. It is so wide and so long. In the off season there is plenty of room to spread out.
The city is packed full of high rises and every square inch seems to be developed for making money from tourists. I am sure it is a zoo in the summer with driving and parking being an issue. That would explain why the major stores repeat themselves every few blocks, most visitors wanting to walk from their rental to the beach. In October we had no issues and enjoyed the large city.
We spent many relaxing and rejuvenating hours on the beach. I had been looking forward to basking in the sun while reading a good book for months! Chris did suffer from boredom after a while and wished that the boys had come with us, so he had someone to throw football with.
We spent many hours shopping for souvenirs, one for each child. I was sad when we exited no-sales-tax Delaware but was pleased to find that Maryland had cheaper prices. And if we couldn’t find the perfect clearance t-shirt in size 8 and XL, we just had to drive a few blocks to the next shop.
We walked most of the boardwalk. I loved seeing the display put on by a kite club. I loved the playgrounds and the older buildings with history. Again, the shops seemed to repeat themselves every few blocks. All the restaurants were bars or grills, reinforcing the fact that this is NOT a dry town. It is not a quiet town either. Many shops would be blaring loud music, competing with music from another shop farther down, competing with live music from the Sun Fest at the end of the boardwalk. It still was lovely!
On our way home we stopped at Rehoboth. It was a very beautiful town with charming rental homes in abundance. It wasn’t as small and quaint as Bethany but had much more of a small-town feel than Ocean City. The boardwalk looked much classier. The beach was beautiful, and I walked up and down, looking for shells and enjoying the sun. I had to leave Chris sitting in a small, shaded gazebo because his feet and ankles had gotten as red as a lobster. I couldn’t stay very long without him.
Just as we were about to leave, I remembered the high socks I had in my suitcase. Chris put them on with his sandals, so he could walk the next beach with me. Very Sexy! I was excited to check out Broadkill Beach which was highly recommended. Once we got there it was clear that the only beach access was through renting a home on the beach. We continued until we reached Beach Plum Island State Park. It is on a huge Nature Reserve and rather secluded. As soon as I got out of the car, I got a painful fly bite. The flies continued to munch on me as we trudged to the beach and sat down to have a picnic lunch. The beach was littered with trash and debris, the sand hard and grayish.
Beach Plum Island won the prize for the ugliest beach of the trip!
It was on the bay so the waves were gentle, but I missed the sound of the ocean waves. I could look to my left and see Broadkill Beach, perfect for children because of the small waves and privacy. I wondered if the flies were as bad there and decided that it would not be on my list to visit next time. Those vicious flies finally drove me to finish my lunch in the car as we made our way back home.
It had been a wonderful adventure together, and we were in awe of God’s goodness.
Just two weeks later the forecast was calling for an 80-degree day. Wouldn’t it be fun to take the children to the beach? My original plan was to just take my homeschoolers. All the other children wanted to come, so they were able to take an educational trip and miss school. Chris couldn’t be left out so he took off work.
My three oldest had to work, but the rest of us were really going to do it! Take a day trip to the beach!
We had only ever attempted that once in the past, back in 2008 when we were visiting family in Florida. Much packing, preparation, and driving had led to 20 minutes on the beach. Quickly a thunderstorm blew in with torrents of rain and lighting. We ended up back in the van, soaked through and covered with sand.
This time we decided on Ocean City, NJ and listened to Lamplighter Theater all the way to 5th street. We found free parking in the lot there and were able to enter the boardwalk at 6th street where there were large public restrooms.
This beach was very different from the others: narrower and the sand was darker grey and not very fluffy. So many shells! Most were broken but still fun to look through. The older children made straight for the waves and enjoyed themselves in the water. The sand on the bottom was covered with broken shells that hurt their feet. The younger ones began by building in the sand but ended up in the water as well.
The boardwalk was very nice: family friendly without any alcohol at all. We explored a fudge and taffy shop before we headed back to the parking lot for a long ride home and more audiobooks. The younger children had sand everywhere, even after spraying off and wiping down. We gave showers at 10pm and all went to bed happy.
God’s goodness was hunting us down again! Chris was able to play football on the beach with his boys, and we all captured a bit of summer in the middle of October!
“We can no longer stay silent! We must speak out!” says one impressive leader.
“We can no longer hide inside the church walls! We must take the kingdom of God into every mountain of culture!” says another leader.
“As Christians we have access to the most powerful, creative, intelligent and compassionate being in the universe. We should be at the top of every mountain!” says another.
I whole heartedly agree! God put us on this earth, not to find comfort and happiness for ourselves, but to bring His kingdom into this war-torn battlefield. Whenever I hear a call to action, my first reaction is guilt. In my estimation, I haven’t done very much to impact culture. Second, I feel overwhelmed with the enormity of the job and the smallness of me.
How CAN I make my voice heard?
How DO I make a difference?
I try to be connected to the Holy Spirit everyday and simply obey what He is telling me to do. Most days obedience is spending time with Him, serving my family, educating my children, and researching important topics. I know that if I can love my family and teach my children God’s ways, I have accomplished my destiny. There is nothing more powerful than being part of a living, breathing example of God’s Love.
Sometimes I feel pushed to do more. Over a year ago I began emailing my school board and superintendent. This has led to great conversations. I have started to learn about our school district and follow the school board meetings.
I didn’t want to enroll my three older sons in public school this year. I had a bad feeling about it. They were adamant about wanting to attend in person school rather than cyber school. My husband felt that we should give it a shot, since masks were optional.
I took my son to the “New Student Orientation” at the High School. We all sat in the auditorium for a message from the principal. He seemed like a good leader, and I loved his message.
“This could be a good place for my son,” I thought to myself.
My opinion changed as the principal started giving the parents and students medical advice. Because of a new quarantine protocol, he advised all students to be vaccinated and wear a mask. That way, no one would have to lose days of school. Any student who had been in contact with a sick student would have to quarantine for 10-14 days if they were not vaccinated or not wearing a mask. His advice had nothing to do with health. From his perspective, his job was to see all his students successfully through to graduation, and this was the most effective way to do that.
It was obvious that the protocol was designed to push students to vaccinate. This is not the place of a school district. And here was a principal advising that my student get experimental gene therapy with no idea what the short-term or long-term effects would be, simply for the sake of CONVIENIENCE! How could I let this go unchallenged?
“You should speak at the next School Board meeting,” I felt the Holy Spirit whispering to me the following weekend.
“Really! I don’t think I am ready for that. Is it really that important? Couldn’t I just email them my views,” I whispered back.
I COULD NOT shake the feeling. It got stronger Sunday morning in worship. I asked God for a verse. He gave me Eph 5:8-11
“…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as Children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true) and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
These words made me certain that I would please the LORD if I would speak the truth at the school board meeting. It may not change the dynamics or decisions of the school board that much. It may not make a huge difference in my children’s schools. But at least I could please God! At least I could speak out truth and know that it would not return void!
I had watched school board meetings over the summer, and the high school auditorium was empty except for the school board members in the front and a few people in the audience. The last time there were only two public speakers. It would likely just be me and the school board, no big deal. I could do this!
Monday morning came and I planned on spending most of the day working on a 5-minute speech. I asked my oldest if she could manage the younger children so I could focus.
I looked on the district website to check the agenda for the meeting. Close to the beginning was time for public speakers. There were already nine speakers scheduled to speak! Most appeared to be in favor of universal masking. One was someone I knew who had previously ripped into me for supporting the Republican platform. One was the principal himself! The man who was to be the central focus of my speech to the school board.
Instantly arrows of palpable fear ripped through my body!
It wasn’t just me and an empty auditorium anymore! I would have to stand up in front of those who oppose me. What if I was the only one? What if I was attacked? Public speaking can be daunting. I used to be petrified of the mere thought of it, but God had healed me of that. I wrote about overcoming my fear of rejection in my article, “Fear Won’t Steal my Voice.” I have been able to speak in front of others by His power, but I had never done it in such a circumstance as this.
I retreated to the bathroom to be alone. My heart was thumping!
“I don’t think I can do this! How am I going to do this?” I asked God.
God impressed upon me that it was even more important that I speak up. I HAD TO BE A VOICE FOR MY CHILDREN. In fact, my children had a voice also. If they were going to attempt to thrive in the public school system that was designed to persecute them, they would HAVE to find their voices.
I called on some close friends for prayer coverage. I told the three boys that they would be speaking tonight and to write out something to say. I prayed that God would give me a strategy for the day. He did! Step by step I followed what I felt He was telling me to do. I was trembling literally and figuratively, but I couldn’t stop to think about it, I had to keep moving forward.
I looked at the entire agenda again. Sure enough, right after the public speakers, a new health and safety plan would be approved or denied. I called the school district to get myself and my boys on the agenda. The woman told me that the new plan should be uploaded to the website soon. I only had to wait a half an hour before my hunch was confirmed. The plan contained universal masking for every person inside school buildings.
After I had gone to the trouble of registering my students for school and one week before school was to begin, they wanted to change the plan!
I decided to call the school board members who had given me their phone numbers. I got through to one. We had a long conversation, and I learned more than I was bargaining for. Previously I had thought the board was populated by good meaning people who cared about my students. Perhaps they were just misinformed. I learned that it is much bigger and much deeper than that: A political and spiritual battle with political and spiritual forces. Thank goodness I had a prayer covering!
I also learned that 90% of the parental feed back had been pro-mask. Come on PRO-FREEDOM parents! We must make our voices heard!
I called two families in the district to ask for their support. They didn’t realize that a new plan was going to be voted on, probably like most parents in the district. They couldn’t come to the meeting, but they would pray for me.
I figured that I should talk with the principal who I was going to reference in my speech. He actually answered the phone, and we had a great conversation. I first thanked him for his strong leadership. Then I explained to him my position:
We could have in person school and STILL give students medical freedom.
He said that they all had to follow the protocols given to them by the Dept of Education. I explained to him that those were not laws but guidance, and that our school board had the ability to create their own protocols. He didn’t think that was true: they had to follow other rules given to them by the DOE like the requirement for all 11 graders to get a physical or be prevented from graduating. I replied that the physical requirement was state law. It had been a bill that was passed by the Senate and the House and signed by the governor years ago. This new protocol was NOT law, but rather something that the Dept of Health and Dept of Education were telling them they should do. He admitted that he never realized that there was a difference.
I knew that this battle was not about health at all. It was about politics. It was about freedom. I asked God to show me exactly what He wanted me to speak. I could have spoken for hours, but I only had five minutes.
I started typing and it took a long time to express all that was rolling around in my brain. Once I was done, it was way too long. I cut it, cut it, and cut it again. I had certain objectives:
To please God
To speak truth that had power behind it
To address the concerns of the school board (personal and district liability)
To treat everyone as my advocate or future advocate. I didn’t want to build a wall. I wanted these people to work for me and with me!
I then researched information on the Senate hearing where the Secretary of Health and the Secretary of Education both stated that the details of the Health and Safety plan were up to the local school boards to determine. I found the videos and sent them to every school board member and the superintendent. (Since then the Gov. and Sec. of Health have issued mandates that they promised they would never issure, but those mandates are ILLEGAL!)
I read and reread my speech out loud to make sure it sounded right and was within time. I read over my boys’ speeches and gave some pointers. I had them read them out loud to practice.
All of this took most of the day. My stomach was churning, and I didn’t feel like eating, but I made myself eat all three meals. Finally, the time was drawing near. I didn’t see how I was going to be able to function as nervous as I was. I had been praying all day, but I finally decided to pray out loud the scripture I had put up on my mirror, Jer 1:7
The Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy,’ for you will go to all to whom I send you. Do not be afraid of them for I am with you to deliver you.”
As soon as I spoke out that scripture, a peace descended. My nervous trembling stopped. I felt confident. God would do it!
I encouraged my boys to speak loud with confidence. I told them how very proud of them I was! My husband and oldest daughter were able to come along for moral support. As we pulled into the school parking lot, a good friend (who is also my sons’ youth pastor) pulled in next to us. What an encouragement!
We entered the building and there were many more people than I had ever expected! It seemed half were wearing masks and sitting alone, and the other half were showing their faces and sitting in groups. We found seats and were joined by another friend from church.
It seemed to take forever for the meeting to start and to get through all the boring stuff. Finally, it was time for the public speakers. One speaker after another lectured on the same theme: we have to protect our students and staff by instituting universal masking. Nine speakers all had this opinion, and the meeting was very boring. My confidence had grown into a burning desire.
“Let me up there! Let me speak a different word!” my spirit was screaming. I was excited when it was my turn. I began in a loud and enthusiastic tone. (My family told me later that the audience roused from their stupor and looked up at this point.)
When I mentioned that I had 6 children in the district and 10 children in all, I felt a small shock wave ripple through the auditorium. A man sitting close by who had been on his computer got up and began recording me with his phone.
“At least they are waking up!” I thought.
I was able to speak out truth! For the first time that evening, I heard exclamations from the audience. Outbursts of support! My sons spoke next (the only students to speak) and they all did an excellent job. Thankfully after that, many others spoke for freedom and truth including parents, the county coroner, a lawyer, and a bus driver. It was a wonderful discussion, and a few points became very clear.
Freedom was the primary issue.
Students are not at risk from this virus.
Masks are only effective if they are N95 and properly fitted and there are no child sizes.
The board listened to everyone respectfully and then began to discuss their own views on the subject. One board member asked the district doctor to come and explain the situation. It was very clear that she was uncomfortable, nervous, and was gasping for air under her N95. She hemmed and hawed around the point, and I couldn’t understand how the school board found this testimony compelling enough to support universal masking.
When it became clear that most of the board had already made up their minds before the meeting even began, anger erupted from the audience. This was quite distressing for the board. When the vote was taken, 7 voted for the new plan and 2 voted no.
Praise God for those 2 glorious, rebellious NO VOTES!
I counted the evening a victory and an important step in winning the entire war. Here is why:
I spoke the truth and truth will prevail. Who knows where all those truth seeds have landed? For some they are just an irritant. But for others they will take root and grow!
I got to meet many of the other speakers and audience members and expanded my knowledge and sphere of influence.
My children learned how to participate in the process of freedom.
In the weeks following I have heard from many people who were watching the recording and who were cheering me on!
A father saw my speech. He reached out to me to explain how he is devoting a good portion of his time to fight for freedom in our school district. He has been talking with school board members and lawyers. He has been talking to parents and community members to pull us together into a larger force. He told me he has a “fire in his belly” and he is not going to stop. What an answer to prayer he is! I don’t have the time to do what he can do, but I can support him!
One school board member emailed me, “Thank you and your children for having the courage to speak. Although I was prepared to say something, I didn’t feel it was necessary after you all spoke. Your words have power.”
Another member emailed me, “You and your incredibly well spoken, thoughtful and intelligent children did an amazing job of driving home so many important points… you can be so proud of your family and the wonderful human beings you are raising. It can be so difficult speaking up when you find yourself holding a minority opinion- but it is so important that we have these dialogues, and we voice concerns about giving our government more latitude than they may deserve out of propagandized fear.”
Most importantly, I experienced in my own life that God’s words are true, and He will do what He said He would do.
The Lord said to me, “Do not say ‘I can’t do it, I am only a mom with no credential or experience.’ I will put my word in your mouth. You will go to all whom I send you. You will not be afraid for I AM with you!”
Those words were true for me that night at the school board meeting. Those words are true for me every day. Those words are true for you as well!
Here are the words I spoke that night (modified to take out specific names).
Members of the school board, thank you for all you do for our students! Thank you for responding to my emails and talking with me on the phone.
I am the mother of six children in the school district. I have 10 children and have been studying nutrition, health, brain development, and education for the past 23 years. I concentrate on building their health from the inside with good food and good habits. We never have to go to the doctor for being sick. We have no asthma, allergies, or take any medications. We didn’t change anything about our lifestyle when this pandemic began and have continued to be extremely healthy.
Thank you, High School Principal, for your wonderful leadership at the high school new student orientation. Your speech is what inspired me to come tonight. You encouraged the students to come to you if they had a conflict with another student. You said that we could work out any situation if we just get together and talk about it.
It is pretty clear that we have a situation now, and I know that we can protect our students and staff while still protecting their most sacred rights. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is the foundation of our country. To protect life, we must insure medical freedom. Life is in the breath, and my students have the right to breathe fresh air. I have seen many studies that prove that masks are not effective in stopping the COVID virus. I have never read a study proving that they are.
Masking violates that very way our immune systems were designed to work. The respiratory system is an open system, always receiving foreign gases, particles, and microorganisms along with oxygen. The way our body cleanses out the bad is the exhale. To trap my child’s exhale against his nose and mouth in a warm, moist environment doesn’t allow his immune system to work properly.
I have heard from many in the district that we may have to return to mandatory masking and that is just the way that it is. Whenever you say, “That is just the way that it is”, you eliminate all discussion, all questions, all research, all individual freedoms. That is not what I want my children to learn when they are in school. I want them to learn to think for themselves, to question, to study, to research, to come up with new and better answers.
This is what the Principal talks about when he calls on his students to “BE Great Every Day!” This is the way of all inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs. When we issue one size fits all mandates, it is not teaching our children to be great and to make informed decisions. We are teaching them to comply to a socialist system.
I have heard it recommended that all students be vaccinated and wear masks, so they won’t have to miss important days of school to quarantining. It is not the virus that is interrupting school, it is the quarantine protocols. It is very clear that the unvaccinated students would be the ones denied their right to a public-school education even if they are perfectly healthy. With all the talk about inclusion and equity these days, I am very surprised that you would discriminate against one group of students.
My entire family probably had COVID in the past year. For us it was a mild cold that didn’t even slow my boys down. Yet now they have a robust and durable immunity. Did you see the recent study that looked at people who recovered from SARS 19 years ago? They are still immune to SARS today along with SARS-CO-V2! Our natural immunity not only lasts but recognizes all 29 proteins on the surface of the corona virus, rather than just one spike protein as with the vaccine. The vaccine does not prevent infection or transmission as the head of the CDC recently admitted. There were over 10,0000 breakthrough cases reported before the CDC stopped counted them.
I sent you all links to the Senate Hearing where you can hear both the Secretary of Education and The Secretary of Health state that the details of the Health and Safety Plan are in the control of local school boards and will not affect the Esser Funding.
Please correct this illogical protocol of masking and quarantining healthy students. Please protect their freedoms. Thank you!
Family vacations are so precious. To get away and have new adventures with our children is a priority each year. As soon as Chris was able to pick his vacation in February, we had rented a cabin up north for a week in August. We must have looked at 50 different cabins and weighted the pros and cons. All the children voted, and we settled on a three-story log cabin overlooking a lake and acres of forest. We would visit my dad’s hometown and the New York Finger Lakes, maybe even the Corning Glass Museum. We were so excited!
Four weeks before our vacation, the owner of the cabin called and started out with, “I am so sorry but…”
She explained that her husband had accidently double booked our week because they had donated it to a “Make a Wish” child back in November. For a spilt second, I wanted to get mad and list all the reasons why we couldn’t change our plans.
A sweet breath of grace blew on me, and I felt God whisper, “I will work this for your good.”
In turn, I extended grace to the property owner. She offered us a free week anytime in the next year. Wow! A free vacation in 2022! God was already working it out for our good.
My quest to find a new rental started with joyful expectation but soon deteriorated into dismay. Almost everything was already rented. What I could find was too small, too expensive, or too ugly!
“God has something planned for us,” I kept thinking. I just couldn’t find it.
Finally, a week later Chris found a listing on his VRBO app as we were taking a trip to King of Prussia with Cadin. It was a new listing with a discounted price, four hours away in Virginia. The house looked beautiful, and so did the surrounding 550 acres.
When we arrived back home, laden with bags of books and Legos, Areli met us at the door.
“I think I found the perfect place!” She told us. “You have to see the pictures. I will feel like I am in a Jane Austen novel. Just the kind of place I was hoping for!”
It was the same house Chris had found. There were no reviews, which normally would turn me off, yet we felt that this was the place. I spoke with the property manager on the phone, and she was wonderful. We booked it!
I was certain that God had something special for us on this vacation: divine appointments or treasures that we could only find four hours away. Plus, the rent was $700 less than our previous cabin! I began to research the surrounding area and plan outings for the family. Very close by was Goshen Pass, a spot on the Maury River where you could picnic, swim, and walk across a swinging cable bridge.
“Could we jump off the bridge?” Chai asked.
“What is your obsession with jumping off of things lately?” I asked him. To him it was just fun. He wondered if there were any waterfalls or cliffs around that they could jump from.
“Not if I can help it,” I thought to myself. He didn’t realize that what brought him joy touched on one of my deep seated fears: watching a child fall from a high height while being powerless to save him. A vision of Chai getting tangled in the bridge and breaking his neck flashed into my mind.
I dismissed the thought immediately. This vacation was a blessing from God. No matter what happened, He would work it out for our good. I knew that there could still be many disappointments, irritations and failed expectations. I prayed that God would keep me in joy and peace the entire time.
Two days before we were set to leave, Uhaul informed us that they had no 5×8 trailers available, but they were going to give us a 6×12. Chris was annoyed. They are heavier, harder to pull, and would use more gas.
“Maybe God has treasures to give us (like furniture) that we will need the extra room for,” I suggested.
“Maybe,” Chris replied.
Later that night, as I got ready for bed, a thought dropped into my head with the force of an atomic bomb.
“What if you need that extra room in your trailer to bring home a casket? What if this is the trip when tragedy strikes and one of your children dies. Would you still call that God’s goodness?”
Fear descended upon me with a menacing power. I wasn’t sure how to answer that question, and I was afraid. I pushed away the fear and started declaring what I knew about God and all the scriptures I had put up on my mirror.
The next morning God gave me Ps 145 to read, and I was encouraged again!
On Saturday, we were up early loading our 6×12 trailer, checking and rechecking my extensive list. I spent a long time packing three coolers with food.
Finally, all the children were in the van and the trailer was locked up and ready to go.
“Come on Cutie, the children are waiting. Let’s get going. I have walked through the house four times already.” Chris said.
We began our journey with excitement and anticipation. After four hours of driving and two hours of eating and exploring, we arrived at the very secluded Virginia homestead. The big, white house was surrounded by cow pastures and mountain ridges. It would have been impressive back in 1850 when it was built.
The inside was very large and spacious, and we all picked our rooms. The children erupted with pleasure upon finding more books, toys, and dress up clothes than they had ever imagined. The boys began attaching their climbing rope to the big tree out back and setting up their BB gun targets.
Soon two coolers were unpacked into the tiny fridge in the tiny kitchen. But where was the third one with all the frozen food? It had been left in our basement at home! All my planning for nothing! All my efforts spent buying the healthiest food at the cheapest prices for nothing!
I began yelling and ranting at anyone who was close by.
“God will work this for the good! Don’t worry!” kept playing in my head. Yet I continued to rage. How quickly I had let that peace and joy slip away. I soon wore myself out and decided to repent and go back to trusting God that He would work this for our good.
We used the food that we had and roasted sausages, veggies, and apples over the firepit. We watched the children jump on the trampoline, throw frisbee, and set up tents in the yard while cows meandered in the pasture. The sunset was lovely.
And the night sky? One of the most stunning views of the handiwork of God. I studied the thousands of stars and the clouds of stars that I imagined to be a spiral arm of our Milky Way Galaxy. I kept spotting flashing lights out of the corner of my eye and thought they were shooting stars. But as I looked more closely, I realized that the stars were blinking at me. Twinkling stars! I had never seen that before. God was truly so good!
The next morning, I woke up with joy to be in such a lovely place. We had a quiet day at the house and all the children were busy exploring. After a gentle rain, a rainbow appeared in front of a mountain ridge. God’s promise!
On Monday we drove into Lexington and walked the historic brick sidewalks. Most of the children found it boring, and Ashlyn was downright upset.
We found a large antique mall but discovered that the prices were so much higher than we had ever seen before! We purchased some food to replace what we had left at home. We all went to bed early, and I slept peacefully until Courage woke me up because he had a nightmare.
In the morning I learned that Chris had had disturbing dreams as well. Chris and I agreed that something was off in the atmosphere: more oppression and fear than normal. Was it the home, the property, the area? We didn’t know for sure, but we sanctified the whole place, rebuked fear and evil, and prayed the blood of Jesus over our family along with angels for protection. Why didn’t we do this the first day?
We are in the habit of covering our family with prayer every morning and evening but we had to take it up a notch!
Chris and the older children left for Panther Falls; a local swimming hole popular with thrill seekers like Chai who love to jump from high places.
I stayed home with Ashlyn, Aria, Annalise, and Courage (who we call the “little ones”). Courage spent the morning stomping from one room to another, slamming doors and pouting. He had wanted to be an “older” and jump off rocks. I let him wear himself out while the girls and I sat together on the back porch. I felt like I needed to declare some truth to myself and the spiritual realm, so I began to read Ps 145. God’s goodness is overwhelming!
Then I read Ps 91 and realized that much of it is in the music video that the children just love, “Crushing Snakes” by David Crowder. I asked Annalise to point out the verses that she recognized from the song, and she got almost all of them. Then we watched the video. The girls sat in rapt attention: a good teaching moment.
I began to look up other verses that are referenced in the video and read them aloud. I felt fear fleeing and courage rising!
No one can defeat our God! No one! He holds the keys to death and hell!
About this time Courage came around and wanted to watch the video. I asked him to point out all the scriptures and he did! He also quoted to me a related scripture he had learned at Kidz Kamp.
Some of the verses were about the lake of fire created for the devil and his demons. Those who refuse to accept Jesus would be thrown into the lake of fire as well. But those who follow Jesus would never be hurt by death, would never be overcome by evil, would never be defeated!
A sweet little voice spoke up. Aria was on my lap listening until she said, “What if I can’t find Jesus and go into the lake of fire.”
“Jesus is your shepherd. He will always come find you. He will never let you be lost! He loves you Aria,” came my reply.
The answer came straight from the Holy Spirit and spoke to Aria’s spirit. Peace returned to her face, and she said, “You’re the best mama ever.” She snuggled into me.
Then I started to read Ps 91 and 145 again, but this time inserting the children’s names.
“Does it really say my name in the Bible,” Annalise asked, amazed.
“God had David write these words thousands of years ago because they were true about David. But God knew that they would be true about you and that you would read them,” I said.
“Do you call on Jesus? Do you trust in Jesus?” I asked.
“Yes!” all the children said.
“Then it is like your name is written in the Bible!”
My spirit was rejoicing that my children were understanding these powerful truths at 2, 6, and 8 years if age. Yet I was having trouble taking in a breath, almost like the air was thick, or I had whooping cough…but I wasn’t coughing.
“Strange air here in Virginia,” I thought to myself.
Chris and the older children returned later in the day with entertaining stories of Panther Fall and Todd’s Barbecue. It was the best part of the trip for many of them. I was so glad that my fear hadn’t held them back.
As they continued the tales of fun at the dinner table, I felt Calvin tap my arm. I looked over to him and he was choking! He couldn’t take in a breath!
I immediately started the Heimlich maneuver. I had never done it before, and it wasn’t working. I looked at Chris with a face stricken with fear.
“Can you help me!” I called to him. Calvin started to breath again. I had dislodged the food just enough.
This was crazy! We needed to stand on God’s truth! The enemy couldn’t harm us. Even if demons had some sort of access to this property or this land, they had no authority over us!
As Chris and I were talking about this, Cooper said, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power or the enemy. Nothing will harm you.”
“That’s right Cooper! So you do read those scripture I put up on the mirror!” I exclaimed.
I really felt that God was teaching us to take our authority in Him and not be afraid of anything. I had no delusions that we would be spared trouble, trials, or sorrows; but we didn’t need to fear them. Most of our lives with God are about blessings. When fear comes, it is usually the enemy telling us lies that will never happen. When tribulations come, God always gives us the grace we need AT THE TIME to handle them. What a strange lesson to be learning on vacation.
That night Cooper got really sick, and I hated to see him suffer. Chris and I prayed over him, and by the morning he was better. Spiritual Warfare?
The next day I could see that even in our resting and leisure activities, God was teaching us. The book I was reading was a story of a family who loved Jesus. They had to interact with a very annoying relative. What they didn’t realize was that the relative was working with a spy for the enemy, trying to gather intelligence from their two sons who had just returned home from the war.
As soon as the mother saw the difficult cousin coming to her door for a visit, she started to pray.
“She must be cautious. She must be quiet, to be guided. ‘Oh god help me!’Perhaps it was a petty trial to bring to the great God for help, and yet Margaret Graeme had learned through long years that there is no trial so petty that may not work out to unpleasantness and even sin if allowed to sway the spirit. Mrs. Graeme had learned how to keep that spirit of hers placid, unruffled by little things. She was always looking to her Guide for strength.”
A Girl to Come Home to – Grace Livingston Hill
That was just what we needed to do on this vacation! What we all need to do every day of our lives, but especially now when the battle between good and evil is getting more intense. This is what the scripture God had given me just that morning meant.
“So, the let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” 1 Thes 5:6
We can be sober and still revel in God’s goodness and enjoy every blessing.
I fulfilled my heart’s desire that day by shopping at the farmers market in Lexington. What a bounty of fruit, veggies, baked goods, and specialty items were ours! We had BLTs that night and enjoyed the fruit of the Virginia countryside.
Areli, Cadin, and I set out early on Thursday morning to arrive at Natural Bridge State Park by 8:15 am. The forest was cool and shady. The trail was wide and even. The Natural Bridge was majestic and breathtaking!
That evening Chris and I had the perfect date night at the Southern Inn. Chris got their famous fried chicken, and I was delighted by the fried brussel sprouts and lamb meatballs with microgreens.
The goodness of God was hunting us down each day!
Friday, our final full day had arrived. The boys wanted to swim at Goshen pass and leap off large rocks. And of course, there was that swinging bridge to cross. This time Courage was allowed to go. We prayed together, and then I took my place on the back porch with my girls again. We read over Ps 91 and 145 and watched the video. Afterwards we took out the kiddie pool, and they had a ball in the back yard.
Before I knew it, Chris and the boys had returned. They had a good time and were anxious to show me the pictures. I scrolled through the pictures on Chris’ phone.
“Looks like fun,” I said almost distractedly until I saw something.
“What was that?!” I scrolled back and saw a picture of all the boys on the swinging bridge, suspended over the river. Arcing over them was a rainbow!
Immediately the forgotten image of dread came back to me: Chai tangled up in the cables, falling, and breaking his neck.
God had taken an image of traumatic fear and painted it with a rainbow of His promise!
What a beautiful gift from my Father! I only had to travel four hours and have an open heart to receive it!
My eyes turned to Jesus. My mind filled with faith and His words. He led my thoughts to a higher plain. I began to muse about what was coming next, what God was preparing to do.
I knew there was an epic war raging. I knew that there were fierce battles to come. Yet I was in perfect peace. All the schemes of the enemy, God was using for good. He was setting everything in place for the greatest awakening the US and the earth has ever known.
What may seem to many the end of freedom and our great Republic, is the beginning of true courage and boldness. What may paralyze some with fear will cause others to rise and rejoice…
BECAUSE HIS SPIRIT IS COMING UPON US LIKE NEVER BEFORE!
I began to imagine what revival could look like.
The prayers I have prayed for the last 30 years will start to manifest!
There will be a return to God in the public schools, government, and military!
I will see miracles of healing as I pray for people around me.
Darkness will be revealed, and truth will shine forth in every sector of culture.
Everything that can be shaken will be shaken, and many people will experience the very foundations of their lives crumbling to nothing.
People will be searching for answers.
The churches will overflow!
The home will become the epicenter for revival.
My family will have burning hearts, encountering God!
My neighbors will knock on my door and ask, “What do I need to do to be saved?”
I will have the answer that can save them from fear and death.
I have extra Bibles that I can give out!
I can gather new believers in my home for Bible study, prayer, and discipleship.
Dutch shared what God was speaking, “I’m about to bring the gifts, power, anointing, and strength of all 5 [past revivals] into one unprecedented outpouring of my spirit…Revival fires are about to burn in America!”
She shared that the harvest in the next ten years will be so great, it will require “all hands on deck” in the body of Christ.
How do we prepare to be part of this amazing future?
“Here is where I lay it down
Every burden, every crown
This is my surrender
This is my surrender…
Shake up the ground of all my tradition
Break down the walls of all my religion
Your way is better
Oh Your way is better,” I continued to sing with the worship team.
I began to ask God to prepare me, and I saw a picture in my mind. I saw pathways in my brain, some very tiny and others superhighways. Each led to a filing cabinet. I saw God opening files and ripping out papers that were written with lies. I saw Him taking out other documents and crossing out certain statements, while highlighting others. I saw Him purging entire filing cabinets and dismantling the highways that led to them. I saw additional pathways being built up leading to fresh revelations. New, divine files were being added.
He was renewing my mind!
He was building my brain the way it should be. He was showing me that I could plug into the Holy Spirit and have Him direct my thoughts and attitudes every moment. He could show me what input was true and what was false, what I should save, and where I should file it. In every situation I encounter, He could bring to the forefront of my mind those files that He wants me access for the sake of the lost and fearful.
The landscape of our brains can be changed and renewed as Dr. Caroline Leaf has proven scientifically. Our thoughts determine the physical structure of our brains. Our thoughts determine our attitudes, our beliefs, our actions, and our words.
What would happen if we were aligned with Him in all our thoughts?
We would always be in the right place at the right time!
We would never be afraid.
We would always be ready to give an answer for this hope that we have!
We would be equipped to throw out the lifeline to the drowning soul.
We would be overflowing with His healing to give to the broken.
We could participate in the Epic Battle of the Last Days, and we would be victorious!
It is hard to believe any of the news being reported. It all seems fake and surreal. We are living under an administration that was neither chosen by the people nor chosen by God. They are proud of the fact that they oppose the ways of God at every turn.
Just like the king of Assyria in Isaiah 37, God is asking them this question, “Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice? At whom did you look with such haughty eyes? It was the Holy One of Israel! (NLT)”
Not only are they raging against conservatives, Trump supporters, Christians, and those who believe in our constitution; they are raging against THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL! Surely He will defend His holy name.
All that matters right now is God’s perspective. What is He seeing? What is He saying? What is He doing?
It may seem that our role is difficult to define. What should each one of us be doing right now? Praying in our secret place? Preaching the Kingdom in the streets? Calling and writing our representatives in all levels of government?
God gave me an answer that will guide me through my life, through the highs and the lows, through abundant blessing and crushing defeats, through ruling over my inheritance and living under a hostile regime.
“Stand with me. Be with me wherever I am. Go with me wherever I go. Do whatever you see me doing.”
I imagine myself being found in Christ. My small frame is decked out with the full armor of Christ, yet I am hidden and overshadowed by His mighty form. He has trained my hands for war and makes me mightily in battle. Still, He is infinitely larger and more powerful than I. I can hide in him, yet stand with Him. If people fight against Him and revile Him, they will do the same to me. If people are open to Him, they will be open to me. If I suffer with Him, I can also share in His glory.
In my small life with my small sphere of influence, I ask the Holy Spirit to show me what He is doing in each relationship and in each circumstance, and I try to do the same.
How can I make a difference in my nation? I stand my ground, stay in my rank, and listen to His voice. I will pray what He prays, speak what He speaks, and believe that He can use my little part to do the impossible.
I was praying with some family and friends days before the inauguration. God led me to a scripture in Isaiah 49.
your destroyers and wreckers depart from you. (BSB)
I heard Jesus saying to the United States of America, “I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN YOU!”
How encouraging and comforting that Jesus cares about our country!
He has not forgotten His covenant with the USA. He has not forgotten a single word He has spoken over our nation. He will fulfill every one of His promises and purposes for this nation. He has heard the prayers of His people.
Then Jesus became more intense as I heard Him whisper, “I have NOT forgotten you!” I saw him whispering in the ears of those hidden in darkness with no hope.
His precious babies in the womb.
His dear ones trapped in sex trafficking and pedophilia.
His future generations yet unborn.
“I have NOT forgotten you!”
The Lion of the Tribe of Judah is whispering and ROARING!
“I have not forgotten you!”
The God of the Angel Armies is tenderly speaking!
“I have not forgotten you!”
The Captain of the Hosts is courageously announcing!
I felt in that moment that His rescue plan was unstoppable, His purposes were irresistible.
NOTHING CAN HOLD BACK WHAT HE IS ABOUT TO DO!
How can I stand with Him while I wait patiently for Him to act? Two scriptures gave me an answer.
2 Chronicles 20
God caused a multitude of the enemies of Jehoshaphat to turn on each other and wipe each other out. Not only did God save his people, but He Gave them more spoils that they could carry away. What happened right before the victory? His people gathered as the prophet had instructed them to do and sang,
“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”
2 Chronicles 5:6-14
11Then the priests left the Holy Place. All the priests who were present had purified themselves, whether or not they were on duty that day. 12And the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and all their sons and brothers—were dressed in fine linen robes and stood at the east side of the altar playing cymbals, lyres, and harps. They were joined by 120 priests who were playing trumpets. 13The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the LORD with these words:
“He is good! His faithful love endures forever!”
At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the LORD. 14The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple of God.
And what happened before the glory of the LORD filled the temple? The priests had purified themselves and then they sang,
“He is good! His faithfulness endures forever!”
As we wait for His victory, we can trust Him. As we long for His glory to fall, we can believe His prophets. As we wait for the light to shine into the dark places, we can draw near to Him. As we pray for His dear ones to be saved, this is what we can do:
Remind ourselves of His Goodness!
He will not forget, and His steadfast love endures forever.
We want to say, “Good riddance!” to 2020, toss it in the dumpster and set it ablaze. We would like to turn our backs and walk into the new year of 2021. If we do that, we will lose all the treasures hidden in darkness, all the lessons learned from challenge, all the wisdom gained in hardship, all the promises fulfilled in ways we didn’t expect. At the beginning of 2020, God was telling us that it would be a Good and Blessed New Year, and it really has been! All His words and prophecies were true. In fact, it has been our best year yet.
I hesitated to write this article, because I didn’t want to make any of my readers feel bad if they didn’t have a year as wonderful as mine. But it is simply a matter of perspective. I think that God would like all of us to concentrate on His blessings rather than the trials. If I made a list of all my heartaches, fears, doubts, and hard times in 2020, you would most certainly pity me and be glad you didn’t have my life. Yet in every life, the blessings and the trials dwell side by side. And the trials actually turn into blessings if we let God have His way.
I used to live in a state of perpetual self-pity. I spent a lot of time feeling sick and tired and grumpy, and every new hardship was confirmation that I was a victim. I didn’t realize that I had taken on an orphan identity that was in opposition to God and the Bible. It just felt like normal life, and normal life was incredibly hard!
It took years for God to renew my mind, peel back the layers, and reveal my victim perspective. A victim mindset produces victim thoughts and victim thoughts produce victim decisions. Victim decisions would lead me away from God’s goodness and into deeper darkness. I didn’t need a change of circumstance, I needed a change in perspective. I was an eagle living in the dirt, but God has taught me how to fly.
I do sometimes forget to fly. So I proclaim over myself, “I pursued my enemies, and I did not turn back until they were destroyed (Ps 18:37)! Fear, you have no hold on me! Victim spirit, orphan spirit, you have no place in me! I am wonderfully well and blessed and highly favored of the Lord. I am his favorite daughter! He has put a crown on my head…” and on and on until I have confessed every good scripture that I can think of.
If you are beholding the LORD, then you will go from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18). Each year will be better than the last because you are drawing nearer to Him and He is drawing nearer to you!
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp really helped me change my thought patterns and grow the joy center of my brain. I started keeping a journal of all that I was thankful for, writing a few things each day. At first it took some thought, but pretty soon the blessings would come to my mind faster than I could write or keep track of. I got to one thousand and beyond with no trouble. Now I am in the habit of falling asleep thanking God and waking up thanking God. Some days I must force myself to do it just to push out the discouraging thoughts, but most days it flows naturally.
I decided to write down all the amazing things God had done for us in 2020. Then Chris reminded me of additional blessings that I had forgotten about. We talked about it as a family, and the children remembered even more. It really was the best year yet!
You don’t even have to read my list. The main point is for you to compile your own. It may take days or weeks, talking to family and friends, and reviewing journals and photos, but it is worth the effort. It may just take you from the valley to the clouds and beyond.
Why 2020 has been My Best Year Yet
I have been singing truth over myself every morning. I have been filled with more confidence and boldness and spent less time in discouragement and lies.
I have been waiting on the Lord almost every morning and there is nothing better than hearing His voice.
I have renewed strength and energy – not as tired or overwhelmed.
I have taken a walk almost every morning and I have never been so immersed in the beauty of my own neighborhood in every season.
I found renewed joy in homeschooling. The children got better nutrition and better spiritual discipleship since their schools closed.
Two of my adult children have been home for most of the year. They helped me without being asked and I loved their company.
We spent a week in the best vacation rental we have ever had.
Chris and I fulfilled our 24 year desire to return to Cape May.
We were able to save money in many different ways.
My daughter Ashlyn had a better-than-expected experience during and after spinal fusion surgery.
No sickness in our home except colds.
My boys have wanted to go to church.
I was able to start making kefir and taking supplements again.
After living many years with a leaky roof, we were able to get a new roof with no debt.
I hiked Hawk Rock with the family. I hadn’t done it in 27 years. It was definitely challenging but it felt easier than when I was in my teens!
We finally got a membership to the State museum and used it many times. My dad used to work at the museum, and it was there that I spent many happy childhood days.
On our porch we had yellow mums for autumn and festive lights for Christmas for the first time.
We grew closer to a wonderful group of friends and have never felt more thankful to be able to spend time with them.
I have never been more excited to attend church! I have watched many church leaders rise up in a new boldness. I have witnessed the Ekklesia work together like never before.
I have lived through an amazing year that history will look back on as the beginning of the Second Revolutionary/Civil War, a precursor to the Third Great Awakening when America turned back to God!