Angels Around Us

For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully. Luke 4:10

Our family spent the 4th of July holiday at one of our country’s famous landmarks, Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello.  Monticello sits tucked away majestically at the top of a high hill in Charlotesville, Virginia.  This is one of my favorite areas to visit as the scenery is lush, green and stunning and the opportunity to learn about one of our country’s founding fathers is not to be missed.

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As wonderful as our visit was to Monticello, what happened after we left was the real miracle of the day.  We stayed until it closed at 6:00 and then started out on the trip back to Washington DC about 3 hours away.  About 20 mins. in to our trip we decided to stop for dinner, which was when the Mister realized his wallet was missing.  After tearing apart the car and searching high and low, it was nowhere to be found.  He thought maybe he left it on a bench he was sitting on right before we left.  He had taken it out to give Oldest some money for the gift shop and that is the last time he remembered having it.

We realized we needed to quickly head back to Monticello in the hopes that maybe a cleaning crew or someone would still be around.  I tried calling and only reached a voicemail.  It is distressing enough to lose your wallet, but the Mister had some very important ID cards in his wallet which added to the stress. The whole 20 minute drive back to Monticello, I silently prayed that the wallet might be where we left it or a good samaritan found his wallet and turned it in.

We rushed back and to our disappointment discovered the entrance at the bottom of the drive was blocked with orange cones.  Desperate to get the wallet back, the Mister drove around the cones (you didn’t hear it from me!) and we drove up to a large white gate which was closed and locked.  There was a man and a woman standing near the gate looking at us.

The Mister suggested I ask if they worked there although they did not look like they did as they were dressed in casual street clothes.  When I inquired as to whether they worked there, the man said the woman did.  We explained our dilemma and she said we could try calling security to see if they found the wallet during their check of the premises upon closing.  She then proceeded to point out a sign on the gate with a phone number on it.  We would never have noticed the sign with the tiny phone number printed on it if she hadn’t pointed it out to us.

We called the line for the security officer and Praise God, they had his wallet!  Someone had found it and turned it in.  As I was talking to the security officer, out of the corner of my eye I saw the man and the woman linger by the fence for a bit then climb over it and head up the path to Monticello and disappear.  When the security officer opened the gate to have us drive up to get the Mister’s wallet about 3 mins. later they were nowhere to be seen.  With the wallet safely tucked in the Mister’s pocket and thankful hearts, we headed back home.

Later, as I was re-telling the story to my Mom, it struck me as very odd that those two people happened to be standing at the gate right when we pulled up.  The whole place was deserted, not a soul around except that man and woman.  My Mom and I read an awesome series by Karen Kingsbury called “Angels Walking” and it made me stop and wonder if that man and woman might indeed have been angels!  We never would have found that phone number if the woman hadn’t pointed it out and right after they helped us they just climbed over the gate, walked up the path and were gone.

I will never know for sure whether it was just two helpful people or God’s guardian angels sent to assist a family desperate to recover a lost wallet.  Some people might call it a coincidence or “luck”, but I know it was an answered prayer.  So many amazing miracles are all around us every day, we just have to keep our eyes open to look at them.  One thing I do know for sure is that God is always with us, watching over us, caring for us and loving us and I find such comfort in that knowledge.

How about you?  We would love to hear any “angel stories” you might have.

~Blessings,

Jen

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

 

Mom-A Cherished Title

 

I don’t watch the show Family Guy, but awhile back the Mister and I saw this video and had to laugh because it is so true!  We often joke about this as we hear one of the girls call for us.  It can be relentless at times and nothing but your response will do!

You probably noticed that we have not been as active on here.  We have not forgotten about you, but as I said in the previous post, we have had a bit of a life shift around here and my free time for dreaming up inspiration has been limited.  I talked to Jules the other day and she said she just couldn’t think of anything to write about!  With inspiration though, you usually don’t have to go too far outside of your own home to find it and as I woke this morning thinking I heard someone call “Mooommmm”, the inspiration for this blog post was born.

I haven’t shared many details of  our journey to parenthood with you (that would be a lengthy post), but it was not an easy one.  One day I will share it with you, but I will share that we struggled with secondary infertility and loss before we finally completed our family through adoption.  I have always wanted to be a mother and feel so blessed to be given two incredible girls to love and cherish.

As we all know, life gets very busy with juggling work, home responsibilities, extra curricular activities and trying to even squeeze in a little fun and relaxation.  It can be a bit overwhelming at times trying to meet everyone’s needs, but it is during these moments, I try to remember of how blessed I am and how I am living the life I’ve always dreamed of.

When I hear “Mooommm” from across the house as I’m in the middle of fixing dinner, reading e-mails, or doing any of the millions daily tasks that would be easier completed if uninterrupted, I have to remind myself that I have prayed for the privilege to be called by this name.  It isn’t always easy to drop what I am doing during the day  or to be summoned from my warm, cozy bed at night by  the call of a sick or scared child, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve been hearing “Mom or even better Mooommmy”, a little more often this week as both girls have colds and one has an injured leg, but each time I hear the call, I feel warm and happy inside and I remind myself how blessed I am to hear this word-a true gift from God!

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!

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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

Through The Lens of Love

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“He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27

The school where I teach has embarked on a leadership program entitled “The Leader In Me”, based on Steven Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. As we plan and implement this program, one of the statements made was that we need to look at everything we do through the lens of leadership. This would be the focus that guides us.

I thought about the idea of looking through a lens to bring things into focus. Sometimes I feel so scattered and stressed and I tend to lose focus. I also find myself judging and feeling frustrated with people from time to time. If I had to pick a lens to focus my life on, I think it would be to try to see things through a lens of love. When I focus on loving and serving God and others, it brings everything into focus. If I look at difficult situations through a lens of love rather than impatience and frustration, it changes my perspective. Who knows why that sales clerk was grumpy or that co-worker snapped at you. Could they be privately dealing with loss or heartbreak? Responding in love could just be the thing that turns their day around. I challenge you to try to see things through “The Lens of Love” and see if it changes your day for the better.

~Blessings,
Jen

 

10 Reasons I Love America!

Flag 2014Photo Courtesy Jody Donaghy Woltman

 

10 Reasons I Love America

Happy Independence Day!  I hope it is filled with family, fun, food, fireworks and thankfulness to be living in a country blessed by God!  I was reflecting on how much I love living in America and the freedoms we enjoy.  I realize  our nation is not perfect and we have many things to learn from the mistakes of the past, but I can’t imagine living anywhere else and I wanted to list the some reasons I love America.  Feel free to add your own reasons in the comments section.

10. Wide open spaces!

9. Thanksgiving and 4th of July Holidays

8. A mix of cultures coming together as one nation

7. The boundless natural beauty from Sea to Shining Sea!

6. The brilliant blue Great Lakes (I am a Michigander after all!)

5. The many freedoms we enjoy.

4. BBQ anything

3. Walt Disney World

2. The American Soldier

1. The freedom to worship and share the Good News about Jesus freely and openly!

 

~Blessings,

Jen