To Read on the Journey

Friday, August 29, 2008

life swap!

We are life swapping with my sis-in-law for the weekend.

While she and her family are vacationing for the Labor Day holiday in our mountain community, We will be staying at their house in S.L.O.

S.L.O. (San Luis Obispo) is an active college town, with a great downtown for shopping. S.L.O. is just minuets from the coast, and minuets from beach fun!
It is also a short drive to Cambria (my favorite coastal town).

The great thing about the weekend get away is that our accomidations are FREE!

The best thing about the weekend is that we get to be together.

What are your plans for the holiday weekend?

Hey, even if it includes staying home and mowing the lawn i want to know (that's what we usually do)!!

this is just a funny picture of lindsey and i! i had to include it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

first day of school

Monday was our first day of school!

it has become tradition to have a breakfast party for the first day of school.

The breakfast party is always followed by first day of school pictures taken by our resident photographer (daddy).

i have been home schooling for 5 years (and have begun my 6th)! i had no idea this gig was what God had in mind for me, or our family. it is challenging, and rewarding, trying, and a blessing.
i look forward to another year and all that we will learn together.

Here are a few of our favorites to learn from
Story of the World
Learning Language Arts Through Literature
A Beka (additional history and science)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

into debt and out of debt- Light


from sept 2002 to jan. 1 2005 we moved 4 different times. we lived with the in-laws in the off season, during the first summer we lived in a single wide trailer (generous offer from a couple at church, but difficult), and the next summer we rented the lower level of a friend's house.

in those 28 months, we became financially, emotionally, and spiritually debt free. we also bought our first computer, bought michael his first digital camera, and started promoting his photography business. today his business is the second income that we need to keep us financially stable. we are so grateful that he gets paid to do what he enjoys. we also bought just over an acre of property, and built this simple 1650 sq ft. ranch style home. if i told you what we paid for it, you'd pass out in disbelief! it's GOD!

we moved in January 1, 2005, the first day of a NEW YEAR with fresh beginnings.
here is a photo of michael caring me in over the threshold of our first home.
in my hands i have a frame, and in that frame are words that were written as a prayer for me years ago from a lady dear to my heart (i got my love of mary engelbreit from her). she now lives with our God in glory.

since i was 18 it has been a tradition of mine to carry it in as the first thing i move in to any home (yes, i am sentimental and sappy and proud of it).

you may recognize the words..

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart

Never rely on what yo think you know

Remember the Lord in everything you do
And He will show you the right way
Never let yourself think that you are wiser than you are

Simply obey the Lord and refuse to do wrong"
Proverbs 3:5-8

it is my hope and prayer in writing this that you will be encouraged to
Trust God with all your heart in what ever situation you are in, remember Him, let him show you the right way, obey, and LEAP!

Monday, August 25, 2008

into debt and out of debt- part 3

getting out of financial debt was easier than we had hoped, but would getting out of emotional debt be harder?
being so consumed with our lack of finances, had kept me from really looking at Jesus, it had kept me from looking at the emotional debt i was in.
i didn't realize that i had been paying into something fierce for some years, and i also didn't realize that the price i was paying was costing me my life. i had been spending my life on lies.
i do not know how to start the sentence here... hmmm, we were becoming financially free, and at the same time i entered into a 3 year war with satan, lies, and pride. i call that season "the great depression," for obvious reasons.
there is much i could share about those years, i could tell you about-

my tears

the hurt
the fear
the warfare
the battle for my mind
the loss of self while being a young mommy
the loss of will to live

the plans to run away
the lies magnified


i asked God to get me out of debt. that is the thing about God, He always finishes to completion what He begins. He didn't just get me (us) out of financial debt, He got me out of debt to Satan, and brought me into FREEDOM!

i am learning to "Love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my MIND, and all my strength."

i am learning to "take captive EVERY thought," did you get that EVERY thought.

"The wages of sin (of Satan) is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."

the dark cloud was lifting, I SAW THE LIGHT...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

into debt and out of debt- part 2

we had to get out of it...

it started first with a conversation with a trustworthy friend. i confessed our circumstances to her, the financial bind we were in, the burden it was on our lives, not just financially, but emotionally and spiritually as well.

a few days later she phoned me, she and her husband had discussed and prayed over our situation, and God led them to help us. They were lead to give us a $100.00 a month until we were out of debt. you have to know this young family isn't rolling in it, but God had been gracious to them in a time of financial struggle, and they were "paying it forward."
we added that 100.00 to our payments, and the clouds started to break a little.

a few weeks later, during the a summer evening of 2002, michael's parents were over for dinner. they had recently completed a loft above their house to live in during the summer when they rent out their house. they shared that they were planning on living in it for the off season. somewhere in the middle of our conversation michael's mother kiddingly (i think) mentioned that we could live in the house for the off season.
after that my mind started reeling, and in hind-sight i know that the Holy Spirit was stirring up change.

there were many "buts" for me to consider- we lived in a great 4 bedroom, 3 bath house in bass lake which we rented for only 650.00 a month (new carpet, we could paint, and the land-lord was exceptional), this house was truly a God-send (that is a great story), we feared leaping out of it into the unknown future. we had recently painted the nursery for (at that time, 7 month old) josie, we had envisioned us rocking another child to sleep in that room, seeing another child take their first steps in the home that welcomed our babies. finally, we had wonderful neighbors, and a great community for our young family. we didn't want to move. we LOVED our home.

and then there were the friends who were committed to the 100.00 a month until we were debt free. if we stayed in our home they would be sacrificing that to us for a few years. if we moved we would have rent and utility free living for 9 months. a guaranteed way to get out of debt, fast. beginning to see light, and hope for our financial future we took a leap of faith and moved into the in-laws in sept. of 2002.

getting out of financial debt was easier than we had hoped, but would getting out of emotional debt be harder?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

stop bye, say hello, and welcome my friend carrie waltner to blogville!

into debt and out of debt- part 1


in my experience debt has been a dark cloud that hovers over you until you are free of it.
i don't remember when the dark cloud started to form over head, but i do remember seeing glimpses of blue skies as the cloud started to break and give way to light.

i can tell you how we got into debt, we didn't have any money, and we weren't responsible with the little money we had. when we got married i came into the relationship with 700.00 of debt, we got a credit card with a lower interest rate and determined to pay that off, but 6 years later that 700.00 had become $11,500 (the dark cloud).

i can justify why we were in debt, we didn't have any money (i said that already). we really didn't, we got married, and were pregnant 4 times in the first 5 years, i was out of work, and my hard working hubby was working low paying jobs. at one point we had 2 children and were bringing home 1600.00 a month.
we never bought anything big with the credit card (furniture, vacation, etc...). we bought groceries, utilities, needs, and meals out (and in all honesty, one too many of those).

i wonder if a few of you are thinking $11,500 is nothing to sweat about. it is when $250.00 of your $1600.00 is going to monthly payments, it is when your expecting another child (planned by God and not by us), it is when your dark cloud grows darker, and you can't juggle the finances anymore.

scripture says " you can not worship both God and money."
i learned that it is not just those who have money that worship it, but it is those that do not have money that worship it.
i was so consumed by the not having; by the worry, the fear, the frustration, the dark cloud, that i couldn't worship the only One worthy of my mind, soul, strength, and heart.

we had to get out of it...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

return to ME

I LOVE MY KIDS!!!! did you get that loud and clear? i love my kids!

Tuesday was an ordinary day of running errands- Borders, Barnes & Nobles,Walmart (uh huh , i know we ditched Target this time), Costco, Winco. Typically these type of days with 3 kids wear me out! But not this day, it seemed that in every step i took i thought to myself "i love my kids."

And i realized it isn't just my kids that i love, but it is the loving them that i love.

Before my big kids left for camp (and more camp), i was somewhere past the end of myself. i had become someone i didn't know, and had forgotten someone i enjoyed.

Like most moms, my days included a good bit of refereeing, frustration, and yelling.
My problem is that
i am easily rattled, and become too emotionally involved in there squabbles. i want to do everything right, and i worry about how each situation will affect them; how to "train them in the way they should go", am i right, am i wrong, i'm the parent that's it, will they still love me, and how much will counseling cost when they are adults? By the time their father walks in the door i am drained and done.

I hope you do not read this and think i am complaining about my kids-
I HAVE GREAT KIDS! They're not hitters, or name callers, or bully's. They love and value each other, and are exceptional (in my motherly opinion). But they are children, and really people, and they (like all of us) have a difficult time "bearing with one another" all the time. And i, like most parents, have a difficult time bearing with them all the time.

i see now that their going to camp wasn't just for their benefit but for mine.
i was given a much needed break from the refereeing, frustration, and the yelling.
i had relief from the squabbles and the emotions that follow.
i found that I LIKE MYSELF! That i am not an overly emotional yelling mess.
And most importantly i found that i enjoy and genuinely love being their, teacher, taxi-van driver, chef, nurse, launderer, maid, playmate, lullabyer... mommy.
There noise and presence in my life is a rhythm that keeps me moving.
And this is exactly where i want to be.
Monterey Nov. 2005

Monday, August 18, 2008

in the middle

If I was old I might have it together
Or if I was young that would be my excuse
But either extreme seems so easy to be
And I’m somewhere in the middle

Too young to act like there’s wisdom inside of my head
And too old not care if it's there
The pendulum swings to each end well defined
And I’m somewhere in the middle

So tell me when will I know where I fit into the scheme of things
Cuz right now I’m not even sure if I belong
The cracks are wide and it seems like I keep on falling in between
Please tell me I’m wrong
Please tell me that I’m wrong

It's too late to back out of this race that we started
but it seems the finish is light years ahead
So all I can ask is that you walk next to me
Here somewhere in the middle

by Jill Phillips

Friday, August 15, 2008

Together again, and Denise masters dorkiness with Sylvia & the karaoke

so we picked the kids up from camp today, and as it is video blogging week i had the camera in hand, getting GREAT footage of us driving up, and being greeted by about 60 staff, SHOUTING and CHEERING as we arrived!! What a way to be WELCOMED! you really would have enjoyed it, IF i had pressed record.

this ends my video blogging week. i would love to see you in a video blog!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008


i am so thankful for VBS (Vacation Bible School).
josie spent the week learning new songs, dancing, hearing from the bible, being encouraged to serve, making crafts, playing games, being with friends, and being poured into by fabulous people in our church .

VBS is in he evenings at our church, so michael and i get to catch up on some much needed time just the two of us.

i remember our first year sending Noah to VBS (7 years ago!), he was 3, we loved watching his little self "Surf God's Word."
one night after VBS, we had this conversation-
me- "what did you learn about today at VBS?"
noah- "we learned about sinned, i didn't like that sinned"
me- "do you sin?"
noah- shaking his head, he says, "nooo."
me- "yes, you do." "does mommy sin?"
noah- "noooo."
me "yes, i do."
i explained how we sin, how that makes God sad, and how we cannot be near God when we have sin in our lives. noah was very disappointed. but then i said-
"noah, do you know what Jesus did, he died on the cross to take our sins away. Jesus washes all our sins away."
noah- "where do our sins go?"
me- (keep in mind that noah is 3) " they go down the drain."

noah was satisfied that he didn't have to have sin.

here is another conversation we had that week.
noah was running around the house in circles, when he stopped came up to me and said
"mommy, i can hear Jesus in my heart" (his heart was racing from running)
me- "well what is He saying?"
noah looked at me puzzled"
me- "did he say knock knock knock, I stand at the door and knock, if any one hears My voice and opens the door of his heart I will come in"
noah- "did He come in?"
me- "did you ask Him?"
noah- lifts his shirt, looks down at his heart, and yells "COME IN!!!!!!"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

a child

during the fall of 1992, i took an evangelism class at a church on monday evenings. in this class we dove right in- memorizing scripture, pairing up, and going out.
yes, every monday that year i could be found knocking on someones door, or stopping somebody on the street, as sharing Jesus and saving lives was the goal. i can't say i am entirely proud of those monday evenings, there was a bit of ignorance and pride in that young girl, but i do miss that girl who was sure of God's love, and wanted more than anything for others to know and live in it.

occasionally our class would go to events. i had signed up to be a "barker" at an upcoming event at the local fair grounds. at that event i stood outside a tent and barked invitations for passers by to come in. on this particular day though i couldn't do it. so much was stirring inside me, my heart was heavy, and i had many questions for God, questions from a little girl reeling with hurt, and i needed Him to be near. so, i asked my teacher if i could take a break.

i walked off to a quiet place alone and let it all out, all my "God why" questions.
"why doesn't my dad love me?
why is my relationship with my mom broken?
why am i struggling?
God am i enough, am i okay with you?"
after i was done praying i looked up and there were children running on the other side of the fence that i was seated next to. i continued, "God, i need to be a child right now, children need their daddy's, and i need to be your child."

i walked back, returned to my place, and began to bark when a man in a booth across the way said he would answer my questionnaire. i walked over and proceeded to ask this stranger, whose name was Gill, a list of questions. mid way through the questions Gill stopped me and said, "Denise, why are you carrying this heavy load? You have got a backpack on your back filled with burdens, you must let them go"... he continued on telling me of my needs, and then telling me that my relationship with my mother is broken because we both desire to be accepted, he expressed hurt that my dad didn't love me, and then at the end of the conversation
he said, "Denise, your alright, your okay, your just fine." already in tears, i said "i was just over there and praying that and.." then he said, "do you know what you remind me of?"
i waited. "you remind me of a child."

when the conversation ended Gill said he had no idea where these words had come from. i did, it was a divine appointment, God showed Himself as Wonderful Counselor and Father to me that day through this strange wonderful man.

today, i was reading once again in My Utmost for His Highest.

The Son of God is born into me by the direct act of God; then i as a child of God have to exercise the right of a child, the right of being always face to face with my Father. Am i continually saying with amazement to my common-sense life - why do you want to turn me off here? Don't you know that I must be about my Father's business? Whatever the circumstances may be, that Holy Innocent Eternal Child must be in contact with His Father.

i want that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

nothing in me

From My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers

The bravery of God in trusting us! you say- "But He has been unwise to choose me, because there is nothing in me; I am not of any value." That is why He chose you. As long as you think there is something in you, He cannot choose you...

It is not a question of our equipment but of our poverty, not of what we bring, but of what God put into us...

As Christians we are not after our own cause, we are out for the cause of God... we do not know what God is after, but we have to maintain our relationship with Him whatever happens....

The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship. That is the one thing God asks us to look after.

i use to chase worthiness. i was good at it. i could get praise, affection, and value at the drop of a hat. if i was feeling low, than i would find a way to feel worth. this went on for years, until God had had enough. winning mans approval had become priority, living in God's love had become secondary.
it all fell apart, and it seemed i was nobody to everybody. God wouldn't let me be.
i didn't realize this is the goal, to be nothing. there is freedom in that, not having to be anything, anybody, good enough, lovely, lovable, talented, capable, doing...
but it's so hard to be/do nothing.

but there is beauty in that nothingness-it's humility. humility looks like Jesus.

i have got to learn to chase nothingness.

i want to be a child when it comes to my Father. my children are worthy because they are my children. i will give up my whole self for them because they are mine.
i want to get it, know it, breath it, live it, with my Father God- that i am WORTHY!
this is the relationship i must maintain. what an atmosphere that would be!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

letting go

We dropped Noah and Emilie off for camp again today, for 2 weeks!

The original plan at the beginning of summer was that they would go to Sherwood Forest at Calvin Crest for 1 week.By mid June they were given another opportunity to go to camp at YSSC for 2 weeks.
Let me be honest, I said no originally to letting them go. I was not (am not) ready for them to be gone for 2 whole weeks. But after hearing about the wonderful program, staff, campers, and adventures they would experience I knew this mommy needed to let go.

I hold them tightly. I do (tears). I LOVE them.
There are many reasons I hold on to them so tightly.
First, like many mothers I fear life without them, I trust myself to care for and be their protector.
Another reason is that nobody held on to me when I was a child. I desperately desired to be wanted, treasured, valued, kept. No day goes by without my children knowing how I treasure them.
Next, I am selfish. I want to share every moment with them, I want to be a part of all their memories.

And Last, because the old ladies in the grocery store were right- the ones who'd approach me when they were babies, and say, "enjoy them, it goes by fast." It does go by fast, too fast.
and it feels like every time they walk away from me that they are moving closer and closer to walking away from me for good (tears). I just want to keep them here and mine forever.
But I can't.
So, I let them go... And watch them walk, and pray that as they walk away from me they walk to Jesus.

Friday, August 1, 2008

i am a promise!

if you have been following my blog than you have likely read my story.

i wouldn't say that i was raised in a Christian home. The lives my parent's and step-people lived were anything but godly.
When i went to live with my mother at the age of 6, she was married to my first step-dad, Kenny. Kenny loved Jesus. When he and my mom were together (between my ages of 4-7), she gave her life to Christ, was baptized, and we went to church. Sadly, life with Kenny wasn't all that perfect, they smoked pot regularly, and by the end of their short marriage each were dating a few different people. However, Kenny poured Jesus into us to the best of his 20yr old capabilities. He bought us bibles, shared bible stories with us, prayed with us, and just as important- loved us, played with us, and wanted more for us. He was the first man i called daddy. Calling him daddy came easily. Being wanted by a daddy came easily. When Kenny left, i was never the same.
i saw Kenny a few weeks ago. ironically he and my mother now attend the same church. He has definitely had struggles in his life, but in the very deepest part of him will always live a man who desires and loves Jesus. i am thankful to that man, and to the seeds God planted through him.
During the "Kenny years" my sister and i received a record The Bill Gaither Trio's Just for Kid.
We would play the record over and over on my little blue record player. We'd sing along with Bill and Gloria, neither of us knowing all the truth that was being tucked into our hearts.
Today i found and played those songs again (on cassette). i sang loudly and with enthusiasm just like that 7 yr old girl. i remembered all the lyrics. i cried, as i soaked up every word, thankful for the shaping of a little girl's heart. Thankful that even as life unraveled around me, God rejoiced over me with singing.
Deuteronomy 29:29 says, "The truth that has been revealed to you will not be taken from you or your children's children." i count on this verse as i raise my own children. Hearing these songs i see the fruit of it in my own life.

Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite songs on the record-
i am a promise
i am a possibility
i am a promise with a capital "P "
i am a great big bundle of potentiality
and i am learning to hear God's voice
and i am trying to make the right choices
i'm a promise to be anything He wants me to be

Other favorites on the record include-
Jesus i Heard You Had a Big House
Kid's Under Construction
Let All the Little Children Praise the Lord

This week i have been encouraged by these beautiful words and thoughts by
Jennifer at Gathering Grace
and Sarah at Best Days of My Life