God Speaks To Us

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

                                                                                                                            John 10:27

Have you ever wished God would speak to you directly, like we read about in the Old Testament of the Bible?  When I pray, sometimes I wish I would hear a deep, booming voice that clearly answers my prayer or gives me words of wisdom and comfort.  We may not hear a concrete voice, but I’m convinced that God still speaks to us in a variety of ways.  I was witness to this over the past two weeks, as I grieved the loss of two very special Uncles.

My Uncle Claude had been admitted to the hospital and despite bouncing back many times, it seemed that he was getting weaker.  I was not ready to say good-bye and I felt so sad one evening.  It was then it came, a text out of nowhere, with a number that was not in my contact list,  saying, “Hey, how are you?”  I almost didn’t answer, but decided to ask who it was.  It turned out to be an old childhood friend that I hadn’t talked to in a while.  She was always around my family growing up and she knew my Uncle and even cleaned his house, so she was in the loop with what was going on with him, probably more so than me.  That night we texted back and forth and she shared some things with me about my Uncle and some conversations that they recently had that truly brought me so much comfort.  I knew that it was no coincidence that she texted me that night, she was sent to me by God to bring words of comfort and peace.

The next day, my Uncle Claude passed away.  I learned the news while I was at work and I did my best to hold it together.  Once my students had left for the day, I sat at my desk and was gathering my things to go home.  I wanted to make it to my car before I started crying.  Then my desk phone rang.  My phone hardly ever rings, unless it is an emergency and I had a silent debate in my head whether or not to answer it.  I decided to answer it but knew it was a mistake when my voice cracked and the tears I had been holding back all afternoon poured out.  Again, God sent his special message of comfort to me though this phone call.  It was my teaching partner I had worked with for five years, who was now at another school calling to say hi and see how I was doing.  She was just the person I needed at that moment to give me words of comfort and cheer.

I lost my Uncle Herb a few days later.  When we got the news, it was the same day we were going to the funeral home for my Uncle Claude.  We were all together as a family, grieving this loss and I could feel God there so close in the hugs from loved ones, the words spoken and the shared memories.  Being with my family helped sooth my heart.  Again, God provided comfort when I needed it most.  At my Uncle Herb’s funeral, the Pastor read many passages from the Bible that I felt spoke to me and offered comfort admist my grief.  The words were like a balm to my hurting heart.

I will miss both Uncles so much.  They were such kind, happy,  hard working men.  Both were farmers, treasured family and loved God.  I know they are at peace, home with the Lord and re-united with those who have gone before.  I find comfort in the promises of God during this time of grieving and am thankful for the way He sent a message of love and comfort to me during this difficult time through some very special people and His Word.

A few days before this loss, Little One and I saw this phenomenon, I later learned is called a Sun Dog, on our way to work and school.  It was like a rainbow coming right out of the frigid morning sky next to the rising sun.  It was brilliant and beautiful and looking back, I realize it was just another way God was letting me know He loves me and He is in control.  What an awesome God we have to give us such beauty to enjoy!  I also like to think that just maybe this was Heaven preparing a big party and celebration to welcome my Uncles home.

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Jen

 

State Championship Moments

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The happy couple!

 

IMG_3001Our brother during the “Father-Daughter” Dance

A few weeks ago, my niece got married on a spectacular, fall day.  It was a day filled with celebration, love, fun and family.  At the reception, our brother surprised us all with a very poignant speech for the bride and groom with the theme of “State Championship moments”.  It was an amazing speech and he so graciously agreed to be be a guest writer for us and let us share his inspirational words with you!  I hope you enjoy this message as much as we did and it inspires you to look and be thankful for your own “State Championship moments” in life!

 

“…Now for a moment, I want to take you back in time to early fall 1979.  Myself and some of my friends  that are here tonight sat in our high school gym before our season opener and listened to our football coach tell us we had the talent to go all the way to a State Championship.  It was an awesome feeling to hear that.  To envision what that joy would be like was amazing.  Could it be?  Could it really happen?  We had some really great players but could we make it all the way to the Silver Dome?

Well as my friends will tell you… that was not to be.   I won’t bore you with the details but we ended up that season 0-9 -yes- ouch.  Potential State Champions 0-9.  One crushing loss after another.  Needless to say it was very disappointing.

Fast forward to 2009 and Katy introduces us to Scotty.  We found out Scotty went to the same high school as Katy  and played football there.  Not only that, but he was on the 2003  football State Championship team.   Of course, I am not thinking about whether this young man is suited to date my daughter or not.  I ‘m thinking WOW.  He experienced a state championship! HOW COOL! He experienced a State championship moment!  How lucky to experience that euphoria at one defining moment in your life.

Now as great as that experience would have been for my friends and I, I have come to realize that State Championship moments don’t always have to happen on the playing field.  I think back over my life and although I wasn’t  able to achieve the elation Scotty and his teammates had that day on the field, our family has had many State Championship like moments.

Of course there was a moment something like tonight back in 1988 when I married my wife.  It seems like just yesterday and it was a State Championship moment!

-There was another on April 15, 1990 when we welcomed Katy into this world.  It seems like just yesterday, that I was being scolded for eating in the delivery room while Sue was in labor.  But oh what a feeling to bring that beautiful baby girl into our life.!   Of course these moments were repeated by the birth of our two sons….For our youngest, I was scolded for watching the Bulls win the championship on TV while my Sue was in labor….a bit of a pattern there but  All State Championship moments!

Sometimes these State Championship moments aren’t momentous like weddings and births though. Sometimes they can be little things like our family get togethers on Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas, a family Christmas Celebration in Charleston where we all got to spend time with Grandpa,  before we lost him the next year.  Things like spending time with close, lifelong friends …just hanging out and enjoying each others company and sharing each others joys and concerns.  The importance of these friendships is something I learned from my father, spending many Saturday mornings at Kenny’s restaurant with him and his buddies having coffee.  Spending Quality one on one time with your daughter having lunch together over the years. Seeing your kids turn into amazing adults and making you proud beyond your imagination and just spending time with those you love and who matter the most to you.  These are all State Championship moments.

Katy and Scott, I want you both to have many of these moments in your life. Tonight is one for sure, more will follow.   Enjoy them all, both large and small.   Faith, Family, Friends, and your love for each other are the most important things.  Pay attention to those things and they will all be State Championship moments.

I’d like to raise a toast to Katy and Scott wishing them health, happiness, and many State Championship moments in the future.”

Well done big brother and thanks for sharing!!!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Lessons I Learned On Vacation Part 2: People Are People

Lessons I Learned From Vacation Part 2: People Are People

I want to apologize for another posting lapse.  We really aren’t forgetting about this blog and you our readers, it seems life has just taken over these past few weeks.  I recently returned to full-time work and am adjusting to this change of schedule.  Thank you for your patience with us!

On our trip to Europe this year, we had the opportunity to visit a few different countries and we learned many new things about the culture in each place.  For a girl who doesn’t like change or the unknown, this was quite a challenge for me.  From navigating our way through winding roads and tiny German villages to riding the metro or trains in Paris and Venice, it kept us constantly challenged in just figuring things out.

In each country we made an attempt to speak the language and honor the customs of the area.  At one point though after visiting a few countries back to back, I struggled with what I was even saying in attempting a hello at the bakery one morning-bonjour, hallo, ciao?  Sometimes I just reverted to a good old nod and smile which is a universal language!

Which leads me to the Lesson # 2 of our vacation.  As we traveled and experienced so many new sights, sounds and tastes,  I sometimes found myself just overwhelmed with the language barrier and the extreme foreignness of our surroundings.  It was during these moments that I took a breath, looked around and realized it wasn’t all that different from what I know.  People are people no matter what the language, food or customs.  They are all beloved sons and daughters of our Creator and that was very familiar to me.  I saw people smiling and frowning, annoyed and joyous in every country.  Some looked like they had the weight of the world on their shoulders, some like they didn’t have a care in the world.  I heard kids whining to their parents in French, Italian, German and English!  So when I felt overwhelmed I reminded myself of these things and found comfort  and familiarity in the “normal people behaviors” I saw all around me.  It is wonderful that God created us all so uniquely, but yet with many commonalities.

When we find ourselves judging other cultures or ways different from ours, it is good to step back and remember that we are not all that different.  Most people love and want to be loved, feel sad, happy and a myriad of other emotions.  They love their families, friends, children and most love gelato!  I know we do!  It is finding this common ground that we begin to build bridges of respect and understanding of each other ,which leads to peace and harmony.

Here are a few photos of people being people from our  vacation!

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Who doesn’t enjoy a beautiful sunny day in a garden. (Luxembourg Gardens, Paris)

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This group of fine Frenchman freed us from a broken parking garage!

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Do you think this woman finds joy in handing out chocolate samples from the giant chocolate fountain behind her?


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This is the Mister and me-who can resist a cut-out board!

IMG_2002A stranger helping my daughter with the last step of a steep climb on Mount Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain peak.

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Here is the view of the top of this mountain-hands down the most beautiful place I have ever seen!

Blessings,

Jen

God Watches Over You

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I attended my childhood church this past weekend.  As I listened to the words of this song being performed for the special music, I found myself tearing up.  The woman singing this moving song, also sang it twenty-six years ago in the same church, at my Dad’s funeral.  I found myself focusing on the words and realizing the profound truth they portray.  If you have not heard this song here is a link:

God was watching over my family and me that sad day long ago and he continues to watch over me every single day.  His comforting presence has seen me through some difficult times and He is ever faithful!

Whatever you are going through today, I want you to remember that God is watching over you and He loves you very much!

~Blessings,

Jennifer

 

Comfort-Giving and Receiving

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.    2 Corinthians 1:3-4

June 1st was the one year anniversary of the launch of our blog.  We wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who have been supporting us and reading our posts!  We hope that somewhere along the way this year, you have found some inspiration from our blog!

June 1st is also the anniversary of a very painful event in my life.  I was debating whether to share this post and talked it over with Jules.  She thought I should share, in the hopes that it may touch someone else who has been through this same experience.  Thirteen years ago on June 1st, I lost our second precious child to a miscarriage.  It was one of the hardest and darkest days of my life.  In one day, the hopes and dreams we carried in our hearts for this little one were gone.  I was overwhelmed with sadness and grief and it took me many months to move on from this loss.

In the midst of this sadness, I found comfort in God’s presence and in those He sent to comfort me.  As friends and family heard of our loss, I was surprised at the number of people that opened up and shared their own stories of  similar loss.  It was a comfort to know that I wasn’t alone and that I would survive this  grief and get through it.  As the Bible verse above states, God gives us comfort during hard times, so that we can then comfort others.  I found great comfort in those He sent to console me.  My sister-in-law, who had also recently suffered a miscarriage, gave me a special angel charm with the birthstone of the month our baby was to be born.  Someone also gave me an idea to keep a memory box.  That box contains congratulation cards and e-mails we received, and other mementos from the pregnancy as well as letters I wrote to the baby.  I look through this box in honor and memory of our child every year.  Everyone handles this type of loss differently, but this really helped me process my grief.  As the years passed, it did get easier to accept the loss.  This child will always be in my heart, but I was able to move forward.

Over the years, I have found that I have been on the other end of offering comfort to loved ones who have lost dear, precious babies.  Sometimes it is hard to understand why bad things happen, but I do believe we can take those experiences and find the positive in them and use those difficult times to help others.  Thirteen years later, I know that God had a plan for our lives and how our family was to expand.  After that loss, I was never able to have any more babies, but we found the perfect child for our family through adoption (which is a story I will share another day).

As you travel through life, I encourage you to look for opportunities to offer comfort to those around you who may be experiencing a similar difficult situation you have lived through.  You never know, you may be just the person God intended to be there to offer comfort and solace to the broken-hearted.

~Blessings,

Jen

Words of Peace and Hope

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

When I come across a Bible verse that personally speaks to me, I write it in a little notebook that I keep in my desk.  I find myself going back to that notebook over and over to re-read these special verses.

Today was just one of those difficult days we all encounter in life. fraught with stress and tension.  I needed to find some peace for my soul and this verse really spoke to me.  God’s word does that for me, brings me back to a place of peace and hope.

Do you have a favorite verse you like to meditate on?  We would love to have you share it!  I am continually discovering verses that bring me comfort.

~Blessings,

Jen