20 Reasons Why 2020 Has Been My Best Year Yet

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

  1. 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.
  2. I have been waiting on the Lord almost every morning and there is nothing better than hearing His voice.
  3. I have renewed strength and energy – not as tired or overwhelmed.
  4. 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.
  5. I found renewed joy in homeschooling. The children got better nutrition and better spiritual discipleship since their schools closed.
  6. Two of my adult children have been home for most of the year.  They helped me without being asked and I loved their company.
  7. We spent a week in the best vacation rental we have ever had.
  8. Chris and I fulfilled our 24 year desire to return to Cape May.
  9. We were able to save money in many different ways.
  10. My daughter Ashlyn had a better-than-expected experience during and after spinal fusion surgery.
  11. No sickness in our home except colds.
  12. My boys have wanted to go to church.
  13. I was able to start making kefir and taking supplements again.
  14. After living many years with a leaky roof, we were able to get a new roof with no debt.
  15. 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!
  16. 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.
  17. On our porch we had yellow mums for autumn and festive lights for Christmas for the first time.
  18. We grew closer to a wonderful group of friends and have never felt more thankful to be able to spend time with them.
  19.  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.
  20. 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!

Eagle Sightings 1-9 and God’s Words for this Season

A few years ago I didn’t believe that I would ever see an eagle.  God worked out incredible circumstances to convince me otherwise. I was starting to accept my identity as His Eagle, and I asked Him to allow me to spot a real eagle. My first eagle sighting happened on vacation, hours north from our home. I was filled with awe and gratitude to my Good Father!

However, I still didn’t believe that I would see another eagle once I returned home. God surprised me again with His goodness when the second time happened during my weekly drive to the farm to get milk and eggs.

Eagle sighting # 3 was with my son, home on leave from the Marines. We were driving to a state park. I had prayed and asked God to show me an eagle. A few minutes later, there it was, flying above our van. God used that eagle to remind me that:

We don’t belong with those who turn back and are destroyed. Instead, we belong with those who have faith and are saved.

Hebrews 10:35-39 (God’s Word)

Eagle sightings #4, #5,and #6 were up north again during our next family vacation. I was reminded that God encounters are all around us, we just need the eyes to recognize them!

Eagle #7 was soaring 10 minutes from home.  I was amazed that eagles lived so close! 

God spoke to me that my eagle sightings were like something else I had been praying for: REVIVAL!

Revival with miracles, healings, salvations, and deliverances happening all around me. 

That which seemed impossible has become a part of my normal life.  Now I expect to see an eagle as I gaze out of my kitchen window, watching the birds perch on the church across the street. 

“Someday, I will see a bald eagle right there! Someday I will see revival right here, in my neighborhood, in my own house!” I often think to myself.

Eagle #8 appeared at a State Park in February as I pondered the Good and Blessed New Year of 2020!  Our plans for the year were very uncertain, yet I was full of hope I surrendered to God’s wonderful will, whatever that turned out to be.  I had no idea what crazy events 2020 had in store. 

Now that it is December, I can still say that it has been a Good and Blessed year, and I have come to know God more than ever before.

Eagle #9 was just 5 minutes from our home.  We were heading out for a family day, and I was feeling especially discouraged.  We were passing road signs that were normally used to update drivers on accidents or adverse weather conditions.  They were flashing messages that I would expect to see in a Socialist State, not in my beloved country. Here in the USA we have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assemble, freedom to work and earn a living, freedom to innovate and run your own business, and freedom to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Reminders that these freedoms are being taken away are everywhere. Lately it feels stressful to leave the house, never knowing what the “rules” are, how and if the “rules” are being enforced, and what extreme viewpoints you might encounter.

When I saw that eagle I realized, God is right here!  In my town! 

I can be that eagle.  I can soar above the circumstances right now.  I can go out into my city, the land of my inheritance, and claim it for the kingdom of God.  I can be full of joy and tell people good news wherever I go.  Even if others are walking in fear and offense, I don’t have to.  Jesus is King of this land and I am His Eagle.

God continues to speak to me with eagles and I spotted Eagle # 10 just a few weeks ago…

To be continued…

Our 24th Honeymoon in Cape May

Chris and I got married 24 four years ago. (I wrote about our romance in my article, “Our love Story is my Favorite.”) We honeymooned on Brigantine Island. We spent one day in Cape May and loved the beautiful seaside town. We vowed to go back someday. Many times we talked about it. We even tried to plan it. Finally, after 24 years we were able to fulfill our desire!

Our first honeymoon was in August. We were 20 and 21. We had enjoyed our wedding and celebrating with our friends at the best reception dance party we have ever attended, before or since! We left the worrying to others, and we just enjoyed the day.

Before we set out for New Jersey, we had to return to our apartment. It was full of wedding gifts and cards but little else. When you are young and in love, what else do you need?

Well, for a honeymoon, a little cash would be nice!

We opened up all the cards and gathered the cash. We had enough to eat out a few times, catch a movie, and buy souvenirs.

We felt incredibly blessed!

We had no cell phone. There was no social media. We were blissfully isolated and free to follow whatever schedule we happened upon. I am so glad our spontaneity took us to Cape May.

Many times over the years we have talked about returning. Finally after much discussion, research, planning, and dreaming, all factors converged in a glorious miracle! Two of our adult children were still home to watch the younger seven while friends helped out. Chris got off work. We had spending money to do what we hadn’t been able to do the first time, (such as a historic trolley tour plus a tour of Elem Physick Estate.)

We felt incredibly blessed!

We went first to the Cape May Light House.

When the woman at the top of the light house found out that we had been there on our honeymoon, she gave us a special shell with, “Cape May” painted on it along with free tickets to the WWII Lookout.

We felt God’s Favor!

Once we had descended the 199 steps, we walked to the beach just behind the light house.

We walked over to the Cape May Point State Park and had fun pretending to be wildlife photographers.

Then we ate a packed supper while we watched the sunset on Sunset Beach.

The next morning I got Chris out of bed early so we could watch the sunrise on Broadway Beach.  It was too cloudy for the colors of the sun to penetrate, so we just sat and soaked in the sound of the pounding waves and the peace.

I was sitting in the borrowed beach chair, trying to quiet my mind. I realized that this was it! 

We were sitting in the fullness of a desire fulfilled. 

I tried to let all my burdens go out with the tide and be washed by God’s goodness, as faithful and constant as the waves.  What a year 2020 had been so far, one of our very best years as a couple and as a family.  Then God spoke to me Psalm 128.  It seemed too good to be true, that God was saying this directly to us at this time!

We tried to enjoy every moment of our romantic getaway.  Worries and heaviness would creep in.  The next morning we received a text from a lifelong friend that read,

“I pray you are having the most awesome time away together!!!! You guys are such a wonderful blessing to so many and such a strength to me as my friends. May you be overwhelmed by God’s goodness.”

I felt awe and wonder, to be so blessed with friends that were praying for us while we were on vacation! I was determined to make Psalm 128 our vacation mantra.

All you who fear God, how blessed you are!

    how happily you walk on his smooth straight road!

You worked hard and deserve all you’ve got coming.

    Enjoy the blessing!

Revel in the goodness!

Your wife will bear children as a vine bears grapes,


    your household lush as a vineyard,
The children around your table
    as fresh and promising as young olive shoots.

Stand in awe of God’s Yes.

Lunch with an ocean view

 Oh, how he blesses the one who fears God!

Enjoy the good life in Jerusalem
    every day of your life.

May you live to see your children’s children

Peace be upon Israel!

What does the Bible Tell us about the Unborn Human?

Luke 1:41-44:

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice, she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

The Greek word used to describe Elizabeth’s unborn baby is the same word used in Luke 2:12 and 2:16 to describe the newborn baby Jesus and in Luke 18:15 to describe the babies that the people were bringing to Jesus to touch.

The Bible makes no differentiation between a baby in the womb and a baby that has been born. 

Elizabeth also called Mary the mother of her Lord.  Mary quickly went to see Elizabeth when she received the news from the angel that she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  She was most likely in her first trimester.  The Jesus inside of her was referred to as Lord, the same word for Lord that was used hundreds of times in the New Testament to describe the man Jesus.

The Bible makes no differentiation between Jesus in his fetus form and Jesus in his full grown man form.

Exodus 21:22-24

“If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”

Old Testament Law also viewed the unborn as a life. Striking a pregnant woman was a punishable offense.  If there was injury to her or the baby as a result, then it was a life for a life.  In Num. 35:9-15 there is a law that says anyone who kills someone accidentally may flee to a refugee city.  The life for life penalty was not in place. 

So accidental injury to a pregnant woman or unborn baby was a more serious offense to God than other accidental deaths. Accidentally causing the death of an unborn child carried the same weight as intentional murder.

There are other scriptures that show God’s special care of pregnant women, babies, and children.

Is 40:11

“He [the Lord] tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

Matt 19:14, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Luke 17:2

“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

The formation of a human is not just the result of biological forces. God is present in the womb, crafting the new life Himself.

Psalm 139:13-14

“For You formed my inward parts;

You wove me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

God has a destiny for each child before they are born.

Jer 1:5 “And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Gal 1:15 “But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace…”

Scriptures Affirm the Purpose and Destiny of a Life Exists even before Conception.

Jer 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”

Eph 1:4-5 4 “For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will,…”

Romans 9:10-12“Not only that, but Rebecca’s children were conceived by one man, our father Isaac. Yet before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad, in order that God’s plan of election might stand, not by works but by Him who calls, she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”

Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

The Bible is clear. Abortion is the murder of a life that God created, the ending of a purpose and destiny, and violates God’s special favor on pregnant women and little ones.

These are Exciting Times!

“That was the most amazing sight I have ever seen!” I thought to myself in wonder.  The sun was just peaking over the horizon, I was just waking up, and God had just given me a dream.

                In the dream I awoke at a time that I thought would be perfect for a quiet time, 4:44 am.  I got up and started getting ready before I realized that the clock read 12:44, just a bit past midnight.  After a short time the sun was up, even though it was the middle of the night.  I went outside, heading into a forest to attend a prayer meeting. As I walked into a clearing…

I saw the most amazing rainbow in the azure sky.  Its colors where deeper than a normal rainbow. Instead of making an arch across the sky, it twisted and turned like a ribbon.

I realized that the rainbow was made from brilliantly colored clouds.  I rushed to the prayer group, excited to tell them to look to the sky.  They had already seen the vibrant ribbon, because it had threaded itself through the branches of a nearby tree and cascaded toward the ground.  As the magnificent cloud reached me, I noticed that it had lost its color and had dissipated, like fog. I walked back to the clearing and the sky had turned black with an approaching storm.  Yet the rainbow ribbon was brighter than ever, with the deepest reds and blues and purples I had ever seen.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels

It was then that I awoke and thought, “That was the most amazing sight I have ever seen!”

                I got out of bed and headed to the bathroom. I looked up at my mirror and saw the pages that I had taped there. They were important quotes and scriptures that I wanted to memorize.  The first one was a quote from David Lebo from a prophecy he gave in 2019 titled “I am Setting My Eagles Free.”

                “My eagles are soaring in this time.  You will be caught up in a perpetual, never-ending state of soaring on wings like an eagle in the reality of Isaiah 40…You will not fear the storms in your life.  An excitement will arise within you when you see the storms clouds begin to form.”

                I did feel excitement when I had seen the black sky in my dream.  I read another quote, this one from Rick Joyner from a recent Word of the Week.

                “It has been said that the EAGLE may be the only creature in nature that actually likes STORMS. They have learned that if they approach a contrary wind at the proper angle, it will carry them HIGHER.”

                I was reminded of another dream I had back in October.

  I was working in the kitchen in a large facility that seemed to be hosting a conference.  Rick Joyner rushed through the kitchen on his way to somewhere important when he stopped and looked at me.

                “You are a good dishwasher. You deserve a raise!”

“YOU DESERVE A RAISE!”

Perhaps God was saying, “If you approach the storms in your life in the right way, I will take you higher. I AM going to RAISE you up in this time. I will take you to the next level.”

This is a word for the entire church, not just me. 

The black storm clouds have filled the sky.  Yet the rainbow (promises of God) made of clouds (His presence) are more visible and more stunning than we have ever know before.  If we believe Him, we are living in His promises all the time. 

As a child I would love to run out into my yard when it was a foggy morning.  The thought of being inside a cloud was fascinating to me. However, when I ran toward a solid looking patch of fog, it would seem to disappear when I got there.  Sometimes the promises of God can be like that.  They are surrounding us, but we can’t see them.  In my dream I was able to take in a panoramic view of this mysterious rainbow when I stepped into the clearing.  I think this season is like taking a step back to get a better view.

Let’s open our eyes while we have the chance, while many “non-essential” activities are canceled and our routines are interrupted.  Let’s turn off the TV and put our phones away and turn towards the Lord!  Worship Him!  Sing to Him!  Wait on Him! 

He will lift us higher. 

What magnificent sights He wants to show us!

God’s Vision for Me as a Mother

The first story I ever wrote about motherhood was titled, “My Children Aren’t Perfect.” It told about my original Glorious Vision of Motherhood. I believed that if I poured all my love and time and just the right bits of research, learning, and training into my children; they would be practically perfect. With each passing year the truth became more and more ruthless in wrestling my pride and ignorance. Finally I saw my Glorious Vision as what it truly was – a grotesque idol that must come toppling down.

                When the dust settled, all I had were broken pieces of my dream and a tentative hope – that God could make something beautiful with my imperfect mothering and messed up children.

                Now six years later I am confident that He is writing a masterpiece with my broken life!  Of course He can bring eternal glory out of my flawed motherhood.  Of course He can with yours!  That was His plan all along, and our imperfections are just interesting details that add conflict and excitement to His story. 

                During the drudgery of dirty diapers, emotional outbursts, and broken car doors when you are in a hurry to get somewhere; it is nice to set our sights on something lovely.  What does all our “day to day” hustle really mean?

                When I was feeling so sick with my 10th pregnancy, God began to show me His Glorious Vision for my Motherhood. I had been sitting on the sofa for about a month.  To pass the time I would try to read books.  Still I would have to stop every so often to put the book down, close my eyes and just breathe. 

                “I am fine.  This nausea will pass.  I will not feel wretched forever.  I just need to get through this day, this hour, this moment, this next chapter of my book.”

                Then I would continue to read, to try and escape how I felt, and to enter into another life more pleasant than my own.  Janette Oak books were always a good choice; interesting, sweet, and encouraging.  Perhaps you have read her famous book that began her famous series, Love Comes Softly.  I didn’t read the entire series, but I read one of the very last books, The Tender Years.

A scene at the beginning of the book captured my imagination.  The original heroine, Marty, was now in her 80s.  She was helping in the kitchen with all the daughters and granddaughters as they prepared a feast for a family reunion.  One of her daughters urged Marty to sit down and take a rest, and she did so gladly.  That gave her time to think about her many descendants that were all around her, romping in the yard, or in far-away places.  Marty knew each one by name.  She knew where they were and what they were doing.  She knew their infinite value, carried them in her heart, and constantly remembered them in her prayers.

I counted each name she listed (which included children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all of their spouses).  One Hundred and fifty!  That was the number of her progeny.  I was impressed and amazed!  She and her husband Clark had 5 children.  I had 10!  Marty began to fade out of my mind and I imagined myself at 80. I was vibrant and healthy, excited about having most of the family home to eat around our huge tables and play around our large country home. I could have more than 150 in my brood, and I began to get so excited! 

In the moment I was still feeling listless and weak.  But my spirit perked up as I realized that someday I would get my energy back. Someday I would enjoy playing and learning new things with my children again.  Someday even further down the road, it will no longer be me who is pregnant.  It will be my daughters and my daughters-in-law.  I will be able to help and encourage them! 

Someday I will help cook and clean for them.  I will snuggle newborns and chase after toddlers. I will babysit, read books, and do art projects.  I will encourage my children and grandchildren and pray for them by name. I will rejoice with every wedding and every new life! 

And while I am living my normal and mundane mom-life, my descendants will be slowly and surely taking over the world!

I closed my eyes and this is the vision that God gave me.  Chris and I had grown together to become the trunk of a mighty oak tree.  The more we press into God, the deeper our root system grows down into the fertile soil.  We have sprouted 9 strong, tall branches that will produce many branches of their own.  We also have a special branch that is smaller and more twisted than the others. Although she most likely won’t sprout any new branches, her life and her fruit are indispensable to our family. Together we are a magnificent tree, the kind that dominates the landscape and produces much fruit.  The kind that offers shade to the burnt-out, rest to the weary, and shelter to the storm-tossed.

Like it says in Is 61:3, “we will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

This vision of the mighty oak gives me strength and encouragement on the hard days.  I am living for the long term benefits, not immediate comfort.  Lots of crap happens in life.  Sometimes storms come and tear off the fruit.  Sometimes the branches are in danger of being cut off.  The floods come and threaten to wash us away.  The droughts come and jeopardize our green leaves. 

I know that as long as we press into God, our roots will always tap into His water, His life, His Holy Spirit just like in Jer 17:8 and Ps 1:3. Those roots are the anchor that keeps us steady and firm.

I got through that difficult pregnancy, got through the difficult labor, got through the difficult recovery and have begun to get my energy and enthusiasm back.  I have been able to enjoy my jewel of a baby girl while at the same time joyfully anticipate the future babies that my own children will have in the coming years.

God took this vision one step further for me recently at church. I had my eyes closed during worship and I was thinking about all the trials we had endured and were still enduring.  Then I saw our family as a mighty oak tree again – tall and strong and green.  I saw our roots go deeper and then deeper still with each hardship.  This continued until the roots hit molten lava. 

Photo by Phil Kallahar from Pexels

The lava traveled up the roots and soon the entire tree was ablaze.  Yet it wasn’t consumed as a normal tree would have been.  It was like Moses’ burning bush; still vibrant, still alive, yet on fire. What a sight to behold!

Then I remembered that I had been asking God to put fire in our hearts.  A fire for Him that would never be quenched. A fire which would burn away all other “gods”, which would give us zeal and energy to pursue Him to our dying breath. A fire that would continue and even increase down through the generations. 

It seemed like God was saying, “If everything that comes your way in this life causes you to go deeper with me, your prayer WILL be answered. It is happening even now.”

A fiery, flourishing, expansive tree reaching the whole earth with its branches heavy laden with fruit – that is God’s Glorious Vision for my Motherhood

It is a vision I consider worth living and dying for.  It is a vision that I know that I can’t accomplish.  I have very little control over who my children marry, how many children they have, or the length or quality of their lives.  I can’t anticipate the wrong choices, the tragedies, or the sorrows that may come.  Nor can I imagine the intensity of the triumphs and joys. 

Yet I know that God will accomplish His purpose for us.  It is HIS vision!  And if I am able to make it to 80 and take in with my own eyes the powerful world-changers I helped to bring forth; it will be all His doing!

Perhaps you don’t have as many children as I do.  Perhaps you have more. You might even have a beautiful menagerie of spiritual children, adopted children, God-children, or step-children…charming, amazing, and exasperating children!  Each family tree is unique and one of a kind.  Each has a special purpose.  Have you asked God to show you His Vision for YOUR Motherhood?  Go ahead…I dare you!

I bet it is GLORIOUS!

He Will Satisfy My Desires with Good Things

I looked up from cooking in the kitchen and caught a glimpse of something that made my heart swell with an unfamiliar joy.  What was I feeling?  A thrill? A wave of delight?  It happened a few more times that day as I gazed across my home to see the view past the dining room, past the sitting room, and through the large front window to the porch. This strange sensation reminded me of Is 60:5 (NIV), “Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy…”

                What was causing this unexpected joy?  I could see four hanging baskets overflowing with pink and yellow flowers on my porch.  MY PORCH!! I had dreamed of having hanging baskets for as long as we had had a porch.  Every spring I thought, “This might just be the year!”  Then every spring reality hit.  Food was more important that hanging baskets, which at their cheapest were $20 a pop.  Yet now I was beholding them in all their horticultural glory, and they made me so happy!

                It seemed rather silly to get so excited about plants. I had just seen them at Sharp Shopper, a little past their prime and disheveled.  I got the lot of them for $24.  Once we hung them up outside, they had bloomed all over again.  It almost felt like a miracle. 

Then I remembered something I had written in my journal last year.  I looked it up and found an entry from 2/2/18.  I had been feeling horrible for about a month and a half with my pregnancy.  It had been just long enough to convince me that I would always feel this way and would never enjoy life again.  I would sit on the sofa trying to be still, taking peaceful cleansing breaths to keep the nausea away.  I found that it helped to close my eyes and picture things that made me happy.  I pictured Chris and me on a Baby-moon to Cape May, sun on our faces, and sand in our toes. 

I also pictured our front yard, landscaped and beautiful.  There would be a raised bed in front of the porch where I could plant veggies and herbs.  There would be planters overflowing with flowers on the concrete blocks next to the steps up to the porch. More planters would grace either side of our lovely front door.  Most importantly there would be hanging baskets all around the porch.  Just thinking of springtime and the beauty and aroma of flowers made me feel better. In fact, I drew a picture of it in my journal and wrote, “Flowers are a sign of prosperity to me, to have the extra time and money to have flowers.” I didn’t expect to see this dream realized for a few years yet.  But it helped me to imagine.

                That is why I felt my heart thrill and rejoice when I saw those flowers hanging outside.  It was a desired fulfilled, a dream realized, a sign of God’s faithfulness to bring prosperity into my life before I thought that He would.

After coming out of a season of disappointment, over and over again disappointment, the thrill that went through my heart felt foreign. I almost wanted to dismiss it as unimportant.  No need to get crazy and all bent out of shape over flowers!  I didn’t want to rush in and think that all my desires would be fulfilled.  I didn’t want to really start to dream very much again.

                Thankfully God showed me scriptures that allowed me to savor this joy, rather than toss it aside. One had been up on my mirror for months.

Ps 103:5 “…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Others He gave me in the next week.

Pr. 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desired fulfilled is a tree of life.

Pr. 13:19 A desire realized is sweet to the soul…

                I sat down and wrote down all my desires that had been fulfilled lately. I came up with 14 of them.  Things I had been thinking about, researching, longing for, and praying for. 

                FOURTEEN OF MY DESIRES HAD BEEN FULFILLED!

Just to look at them all in a list lifted my spirit and caused me to praise God.  I was no longer in a season of disappointment. 

I was in a season of desires and promises being fulfilled.

                Yet I almost MISSED IT!  I was so used to being disappointed that it was easy to continue to be.  If I thought of all the challenges that lay ahead, all the prayers that had not yet been answered, I would feel like a victim.  If I thought of my dream journal sitting up in my closet for over 4 years, untouched because I didn’t want to open old wounds, I felt tired and washed out.  Dreaming like that was for the young who have extra time and energy to invest in their dreams. I need to just be happy with my lot and make it through the day.

                NO WAIT! God said that He is satisfying my desires so that my youth is being renewed!

                I am not a victim!

                I am not in a season of disappointment!

                I can look at my world with eyes wide open.  When I see the flowers overflowing – I can let my heart thrill!

                When I see the butterflies and the hummingbirds flock to the beauty – I can be radiant!

I know that God cares about what we care about.  I know that He loves beauty. I know He delights to see His children rejoice because they have received their heart’s desire. I love it when I can give my children a gift that awakens wonder and excitement in them. How much more does God feel that way?

                If we delight ourselves in the Lord, He WILL give us the desires of our hearts.  He is doing it right now, every day.  Let’s open our eyes and notice it.  Let’s make a big fuss over it! Let’s put a smile on our Father’s face when we realize how very good He is!

A Master Bedroom Makeover

This picture was taken in December of 2016.

That is when I thought that a master bedroom makeover was imminent. We had moved into our lovely older home in October of 2007. We had 6 children, the youngest being 6 weeks old. We just put together our master bedroom with whatever we had. It definitely wasn’t the decor that I would have chosen. It really wasn’t even a master bedroom. It was one of the smaller rooms in the house, but we chose it because it had a balcony. We didn’t want any of the children to accidentally get out onto the balcony…EVER!

I would day dream about how we would make our room a peaceful oasis. It wouldn’t cost very much money, and it would be so much fun. Month after month, year after year, other things would take up our time, money, and creative energy. We had two more baby boys, both born in this bedroom. We shared the small space with a collection of bassinets and cribs.

In 2015 we had a baby girl. Eventually she moved out of our room and into a room with her brothers. Our master bedroom was cribless! I began to dream of redecorating again. By December of 2016, we thought we were ready! The light blue paint had almost faded to grey, and it was peeling off the walls. Upon closer inspection, Chris noticed that there was quite a bit of water damage on one of the walls. The wall had an outside wall on the other side. It turns out the the chimney was leaking water into our house and we needed to get a chimney liner.

A Chimney liner: the most unsatisfying home improvement expense ever!!!

I had to wait a bit longer for my master bedroom makeover. Slowly over the next two years we found other items to put into our room like a beautiful dresser from Craigslist. My daughter made me gorgeous canvases from photos taken on her trip to Australia.

I was able to get some new bedspreads. A lighter one for the summer months and a duvet cover for our down comforter. Chris likes our room as frigid as possible, but I don’t mind in the winter, as long as I am snuggled under the down comforter.

I also brought a small love seat into our room. Friends of ours gave it to us when they were moving our of state. (Thank you Wander family!) It had been in the boys room, in the loft and then finally in the basement. I thought it was a goner when the furnace pipes started spurting water everywhere and it got completely soaked. Yet it dried out and still had the pleasant smell of dill emanating from it. I think it is a miracle love seat, perfect for quiet times with Jesus and nursing times with babies. All it needed was a blue slip cover!

In 2018 we had another baby girl. There was another bassinet in our room, but it was a joy! Chris and I needed a new mattress badly. We found ourselves rolling into the center of the bed and waking up terribly sore. Finally by February of 2019 we were able to trade in our 22 year mattress for a new king-sized one.

A new King-Sized Mattress: one of the most satisfying home improvement expenses ever!

Chris decided that he couldn’t put a new bed into our room with the awful paint. So he asked me to pick a paint color and soon, “Sunny Veranda” was gracing our walls.

A few months later Chris took an original door from our garage and crafted a headboard for me.

I love it more than any headboard I have ever seen!

I feel like I have an official bedroom now!

I wanted to decorate our room in a beach theme because God had spoken to me so clearly about the Sky and the Ocean before, during, and after our 21st honeymoon at the beach. The beach is where I am reminded to surrender to the God of the wind and waves so He can carry me.

There are pictures from Areli’s trip to Australia,

Areli’s trip to Cyprus,

and our trip to Ocean City Maryland.

I love each little detail because it means something to me. This old box came with our house and is a perfect place for my books. Now I just need to find one for Chris’ side of the bed.

The shells belong to Areli, which I gave to her, which my Grammy gave to me, which Grammy got when her mom and step-dad lived in Florida.

Whenever I lay in this bed and look up at the lovely white ceiling fan, I feel like I am on vacation. I am surrounded by sunny weather and beaches.

What could be more relaxing than that!

And God is telling me to dream again.

To look into my future with His vision and see the endless possibilities.

To tell disappointment that “NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD!”

To hold my dreams dearly but not tightly.

To dream but not make dreams my master.

To dream while praising the Author of my dreams.

What better place to do all of those things than in my new Master Bedroom?!

Thank you Chris for making my oasis possible! I am looking forward to relaxing at the beach with you!

A Surprise Visit from My Marine, a Family Picnic, and another Eagle Sighting

It was 7pm and dinner was still not ready! I was working in the hot kitchen as the children were running all over the house and yard.

“This just does not work!”  I lamented to Areli, my oldest daughter.  “It is simply too late to be eating supper.”

How did it get so late, and why was I so unprepared today?

“It is alright, Mommy” she said sweetly as she helped.

I was putting the finishing touches on chicken chili (why did I decide to make soup on such a hot day?) when I heard a voice behind me.

“Mom! Mom!”

                I turned around and to see a face I hadn’t seen in four months.  The grown-up, handsome face of my oldest son, Cole.  It took a few seconds to register in my brain.  Then I rushed to hug him, and hugged him, and hugged him, and hugged him some more.

He had just graduated from his Marine MOS training school that morning.  We had all texted him congratulations, and his only reply was that he was off to his next duty station.  He had told us earlier in the month that he didn’t have enough time to come see us, and that it could be quite a while before he did.  Little did we know that he had bought a car and had gotten enough leave to drive home.  Areli knew all about it and had been in communication with him the entire time.  My heart was so happy, so thrilled, so blessed that I couldn’t put my emotions into words. Suddenly I was thankful that dinner was so late and I simply said.

                “Cole, you are just in time for supper!”

 

That Saturday we decided to take the whole family to Little Buffalo for a picnic.  We had many happy memories of day trips and camping trips there, and it was a beautiful day!  As we started the journey in our 12 passenger van, my heart was overflowing.  Our van was full, and I was so thankful that all 12 members of our family were together again.  I sent up a little prayer.

                “I would really love to see an eagle today since we are all together and Cole is here, since Cole is an eagle too.”

About five minutes pasted.  We drove across the Susquehanna River and there it was.  A big black bird.  Flying across the road right in front of us.  It had a white head!

It was a bald eagle!

“There is an eagle!” I screamed 5 times as I pointed frantically.  Most of the children saw it before it flew out of sight.  Cole didn’t spot it, and he started laughing at me.  The other children looked at me strangely and someone said, “Mom, I don’t think I have ever seen you so excited!”

“I was definitely more excited to see Cole when he came home…but you guys don’t understand!  I just prayed and asked God to see an eagle today.  Literally 5 minutes ago I asked Him, and there was an eagle!”

Chris had just been telling me how he had to drive this route many days to deliver packages.  It was a lovely drive.  But he had never seen an eagle before.  The rest of the day I spend in gratitude and wonderment.  Why would God so quickly answer my frivolous little prayer?  What had I done to deserve to be surrounded by such beautiful and handsome faces?

DSC_0002DSC_0010DSC_0018DSC_0071DSC_0127DSC_0156DSC_0191DSC_0209DSC_0211DSC_0216 (2)DSC_0218

These people made up my whole world, all my hopes and dreams. They are large portions of my heart walking around outside of my body.

They are all so precious, so special, and so important to me.  They were all here together on this perfect day.  Finally we had to head home, clean up and make supper. The perfect day was fading into twilight, and I wanted to hold on to it.

Cole would be leaving for his first duty station soon.  Would our entire family ever be in our van together again? I began to worry.  It is easy for a mother to worry.  So many details for each child.  So many hurdles stand between them and accomplishing their destinies.  Sometimes one of those hurdles is me!  (Did I check all their school papers?  Did I look that child in the eyes today and see his heart?  Will this one overcome my bad parenting techniques in the past?) A hundred fears began to pop up their ugly heads, and I began to play whack-a-mole with them in my mind.  Not a fun game because they just keep popping back up again.

                Finally I remembered that God had just shown me an eagle.

He had done that twice before, and both times He had used the eagle sighting to tell me something very important.  The first time was in response to a very specific prayer of mine.  He showed me that I do hear His voice, He does hear my voice, and that He created me to be a spiritual eagle.  (Details in “A Hawk, A Vulture,and an Eagle” Part 1 and Part 2.)

The second time I was on a long drive and He told me that I could trust Him with my Children and that He loved me more than I could imagine.  Then I saw the eagle.  Right at that moment this scripture came on the Bible CD I had been listening to.

So don’t lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward. You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised.

“Yet, the one who is coming will come soon. He will not delay.

The person who has God’s approval will live by faith. But if he turns back, I will not be pleased with him.”

We don’t belong with those who turn back and are destroyed. Instead, we belong with those who have faith and are saved.

Hebrews 10:35-39 (God’s Word)

                It was clear that these fears had no place in my life.

God loved me, He was holding my husband and my children in His hands, and had given me the faith I needed to stand firm with confidence.  Then I was reminded of something He had been showing me a few weeks ago.  Frankly I had kinda forgotten about it, because it was just too hard to wrap my brain around, so against my normal way of living.  However, this third eagle sighting had convinced me that this was truly a message from God that I had to believe and attempt to live.

It is called, “The Hunted becomes the Hunter.”

To be continued….

Discouraged Much? Me Too!

I was looking forward to 2018 with great expectations.  This is what I wrote in my journal about the coming year.

The Best is Yet to Come

Best Year Yet

Open Doors

God Encounters

Becoming Eagles

When the New Year arrived, it came in a way that I didn’t expect.  During January and February I became very discouraged. Three major sorrows had come upon me.

Sorrow #1 – I felt sicker than I ever had in my life

I discovered that I was carrying a new child of destiny in my womb. It was a dream come true, and I was elated!  I felt wonderful with my last pregnancy, so I thought this one would be even better.  Wrong!  I had never felt so weird and nauseous before.  I had never thrown up so much before!  I have never had hot flashes and cold chills before.

When I believed that 2018 would be the year that I would become an eagle, I imagined writing more.  So many beautiful God stories were in my heart, crying out to be crafted into words.  Maybe I would even put together a manuscript and work on a book!  For Christmas my husband and children surprised me with a new laptop…OF MY VERY OWN!  I was so surprised and excited!

I also thought I would be able to be more involved at church.  Oh, all the beautiful times of prayer and worship and God encounters that awaited me!

Yet January and February found me sitting on the sofa or sleeping in my bed with a weak body and a fuzzy brain.  It was hard to think about anything except how to avoid throwing up again. I tried to write, but I couldn’t.  Sitting at the computer even for a few minutes made me feel even sicker!  (It still does so this article was a bit of a struggle to produce.)  I didn’t go to church at all.

Sorrow #2 – Finances

God was going do wonderful things in our finances this year.  I was sure of it!  Early in the New Year Chris got promoted to full-time at UPS.  This was amazing, happening more quickly than usual.  However, it didn’t play out so well in real life.  First of all, peak was over, so his hours went from 70 hrs to 50-55 hrs a week.  That is normal, just life at UPS.  However, because of a rule that says all full-time employees have to be paid for at least 8 hours each day they are called in to work, Chris lost the opportunity to pick up 4 hours of air-rate overtime on Saturdays.  This had a significant impact on each paycheck.  In addition, full-time employees have to pay more union dues.  We had less instead of more, and it was feeling like a struggle again.

Sorrow #3 – Lack of Healing

It has been difficult for me to believe in miraculous healing.  I do believe theoretically, but I just haven’t had much experience in my own life.  This year I felt faith arising!  Perhaps this was the time that I would see healing with my own eyes!  We were planning a double foot surgery for Ashlyn, but what if God would heal her first?

I took Ashlyn to a healing room.  It was lovely, and the people were beautiful, and I felt the goodness of God.  Prayers were prayed, but nothing happened with Ashlyn that I could see.

They also prayed for me for two specific health problems.  The following week those two issues became significantly worse. Talk about being discouraged!

One of those issues was varicose veins.  I had bad veins in my right leg since my 4th pregnancy which was 14 years ago.  14 years of no shorts, no dresses.  14 years of feeling rather ugly and old.  Last June I had the worst vein removed and the faulty vein repaired.  It took three days of surgery with local anesthesia.  It required one incision and 58 small holes.  The recovery was more painful than I had expected, and I wondered if it was really worth it.

It was supposed to heal and leave me with a normal looking leg.  Yet I had to attend my daughter’s High School Graduation in baggy, frumpy pants to accommodate the bandages.  I developed a dream in my heart that encouraged me greatly.  My son’s graduation would be next June.  I would attend that important event in a pretty summer dress!

In this New Year, I was so excited to be pregnant without those horrible veins!  No pain, no awful compression stockings!  As this pregnancy progressed, I noticed pain in my leg again.  It was awhile before I realized that it was new veins popping out on the back of my leg.  The leg that still bore 59 little scars.  Slowly the veins traveled down my entire leg.  After receiving prayer, they began to hurt so much that I had to wear a compression stocking.

My beautiful dream had officially died a pathetic and mournful death!

The Sorrows are so small

Now that I am in my second trimester, I can look at my life and see a hundred joys outnumbering those three little sorrows.  I can give thanks for a thousand different blessings each day!!!

Still, I feel discouraged.  If only things were a little different in certain areas.  If only I didn’t feel my faith slipping away.

One Sunday morning during worship I gave my discouragement to God.  Still I wished for my sorrows to be gone.  Then God helped me to realize.

There is something Deeper (than my reality).

There is something more Real (than my circumstances).

There is something more Important (than my discouragement).

Like this baby growing healthy and strong.  Like the delight that God has when He looks at me.  Like the fact that this suffering is nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed in me, the glory that will be revealed in my daughter.  Like my character being formed into the character of Christ.

Like Becoming An Eagle!

I had asked God to transform me into an eagle this year.  To help me to worship Him until the wind of His presence surrounded me.  To help me to stretch out my wings in faith.  To teach me to fly.  To teach me to see EVERYTHING from His higher perspective.

He has been answering my prayer this whole time.  No one ever learns to do something new without practice.  All these sorrows are training me to rise above and SEE!

Your eyes will see the King in his beauty, and the highlands of heaven far away.” Is 33:17 Living Bible

This has been His promise to me.  I have asked Him to help me live in it.  I have asked for a difficult thing…

But it is worth it!

 

P.S. Just a note to all of my followers.  I am so delighted that you enjoy my writing! I probably will not be posting much until August or September when I hope that I will be reconciled to my laptop.  Praying you will bask in all the joys!

P.P.S. Ashlyn’s surgery well very well!  She has been recovering beautifully and I am so thankful.