Sunday, November 27, 2011

humbled with thankfulness

As I've been working on what I'll say at our ceremony, I'm humbled at how God's hand has moved in our marriage. I know Randy and I are where we are today because of His sovereignty. He has protected us, He has guided us and shaped us. The other night we were talking and I was telling my husband, in my mind there were two defining fights in those early years. The first one the enemy rang the bell to start the "boxing" match and the second one, about two years later, was a fight I had not with my husband but with God.

In Geneses, Jacob wrestles with God all night. He not only wrestles with Him but knows not to let go till God has blessed him. I see that in my wrestling match with God. It was the night He gave me a vision of what my life was going to look like without my husband. Before that though, I had decided, as much as it broke my heart, that I was done with the fighting and that I didn't want Esther to grow up that way. It's amazing how easily the enemy sneaks into our being with his little lies. I believed the lie that she'd be better off without this life and that I'd be better off without my husband, the one I'm head over heels in love with. Yeah, I listened to his lies and believed them because I'd taken my eyes off of Christ. It had been a long two years of not focusing on Christ. Randy spent a good part of that night at his son's house, while I sat up all night arguing with God. I didn't want to let go of the account I had against Randy. I didn't want to let go of the unforgiveness. I didn't want to let go of the blame and the anger but I DID want God to fix it all for me anyway.

It was in the deep of this night that I cried out to God, that I yelled at Him, begged him, cried with lack of understanding at what He was doing. It was in this night that I told God I gave up, I was done. I couldn't see or hear Him working in our marriage anymore. It was in this night that He showed me what my life, our daughter's life would be like without my husband a part of it. It was such a deeply sad vision. It took all the fight out of me. It was in that moment that I finally got a different perspective. It was then that I felt like Jacob and refused to let go till God blessed me and our marriage. It was in that moment that God asked me, "What is your name." I had a choice. I could answer that I was Kirsten, strong willed, angry, proud, in control (yeah right), independent, fearless, closed off, guarded, hardened. OR I could answer that I was Kirsten, broken, weak, out of control, afraid, ready to be refined by the Master.  Little did I realize then that I was and had been being refined by the fire. I chose to answer that I was ready to submit to His work.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

thoughts for today...

Outside my's dark. it seems like it's always dark. 

I am thinking...of all the tasks I have for the vow renewal. I'm really excited that we are finally going to have a wedding but getting so very nervous that it won't be just right. I'm working really hard to let go some of my expectations. I used to do this to myself at holiday and birthday gatherings. I'd work so hard at making sure it was just right that I made everyone around me miserable. I'm really trying to remember what gets done, gets done and let the rest go. 

From the learning rooms...we are doing a fall unit study and I'm planning on working on the Thankful tree from MOPS this weekend. 

From the kitchen...baking, baking, baking. I did a trial run on cookies yesterday for the reception and this weekend I'll begin preparing for the turkey day pies! 

I am creating...a scarf for Esther 

I am going...for a dress fitting tomorrow. A bit nervous about that. I'm worried the apple crisp season will have shrunk the dress. 

I am reading...What Women Fear by Angie Smith, and Reckless Faith (it's about Peter) by Jo Kadleck. I love how I can see so much of myself in who Peter is. I didn't used to know much about him except that he denied Christ. When my husband said to me one day, "You're a lot like Peter", I decided I needed to know if it was a compliment or insult. I know now he was complimenting me. 

I am hoping...for a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family. 

I am hearing...the ticking of two clocks. Sometimes it really grates on my nerves because I feel like they are screaming at me that time is wasting away. Some days it hits me harder than others just how much time has passed in my life. I look in the mirror and try to figure out who that older person is. This summer, I tried to climb a tree, which I once could have easily done, and I just didn't know where this out of shape stiff body came from. Where has my flexible, full of energy, youthful body gone? My mind is still so youthful, it's hard to have these conflicting body parts. 

Here is picture for thought I am sharing... 
we could walk on water if only we could keep our eyes on Jesus. 

print by Brian Jekel

Saturday, November 12, 2011

saturday morning thoughts

Today I take off my wedding ring. This will be the first time I've had it off since the day my husband put it on my finger. I'm actually feeling some anxiety in removing it since I kept it on even in the darkest days of our marriage.  In about a month Randy and I will be renewing our vows and having the wedding we never had. I'm really exited about this.  We are having them checked, cleaned and inscribed with what has become our marriage scripture, 1 Samuel 12:16. It was a exciting discovery of this scripture (yep you'll have to look it up or if you look around, you'll find it on this blog....) because it fit so well with what Randy and I have experienced together.  I will be able to relax once it's back in my possession though.  I have my grandmother's wedding set that I can wear because without my rings I know I'm going to feel naked!!

I can't wait till December when my husband will put the ring back on my finger as a renewed commitment to God and to each other.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

God's unfailing love

I just need to share that as I'm trying to write this posting, I'm sitting here listening to my husband sing his prayers. It's music to my soul. I love to hear him play and my Aunt has blessed our house with her piano. Now beautiful music fill our home. It's wonderful to listen to him because he just caresses the keys, playing whatever notes flow from his spirit. His words are not the words of someone else, the music he offers up to our Creator are words pouring from the core of his being, his praise, thanksgiving, deepest prayers for his family and friends. It brings a sense of peace to our home as he so freely worships. I often feel I'm the most fortunate women because God saw fit to place this man in my life.

When I look back on the last seven years of my life, I'm amazed at the mountains I've sat upon and the depths of the valleys I've crawled through. I'm humbled that God has been with me in each of those places.

I attended the Women of Faith conference this weekend in Rochester. If you ever get the opportunity to go, I strongly recommend it. As a friend said, I was "sweetly broken".  I get into complacent places in my walk with God, thinking all is well right now, nothing significant to really work on at the moment (like my paralyzing fears aren't significant). As Jesus asked Peter, "Are you still so dull?"  Yepper, I am still that dull. Just when I'm comfortable in my unchallenged life, God smacks me up side the head. Through this weekend, He's revealed some more of the things I'm being asked to look at and work though, and I'm beginning to realize I'm actually happier in the storm. As I look back at the valleys I've been in, I can see growth through each storm.

Now let me digress for just a moment...when I say I'm happier in the storm, I don't mean having a drama filled life. I cherish the peace and quiet of my home and family. I mean those tough places in your life, the times you're sinking into the water, reaching out to Jesus to save you. Those places that grow your faith and trust in Him. Those places where you wonder, "Are you there God, really by my side??" and He shows you that He is indeed right there. I've been there with my marriage, my kids, my faith, my past and my wounds. The storm is typically painful but the other side is always breathtaking.

I had a moment of allowing the enemy a grip on me. As most know, I've had an abortion. I've found forgiveness, healing and the release from the guilt and shame of my abortion. But this weekend I had a moment, frankly a moment that took me by surprise, where I felt all that shame again. The guilt held me glued to my seat. One of the speakers was taking a moment to recognize all the moms in the stadium that had lost babies. She asked us to stand. My heart started pounding, my hands were shaking and I stayed glued to that seat. Surly, if I stood, the spot light would turn and point right at me and I'd be ask to leave as a fraud. I could faintly hear God telling me I had a right to stand but that voice was drowned out by the enemy yelling in my ear that I had no right. I'm so very thankful for my dear friend sitting next to me. I couldn't really hear God's voice but He used her hand to give me a slight shove up. Without me saying one word she sensed my struggle and reached over to encourage me to stand up. In her touch I could feel God's loving embrace. His words of love and forgiveness speaking to my soul that I had a right to stand. I had lost a child. It was an affirmation of His unfailing love in the face of my brokenness. It was a moment that reminded me that God is always with me but the enemy is always prowling.

This weekend has also brought to a head my struggle with my fears and anxiety. I've got mixed feelings about diving deeper into this. I do look forward to the storm, in overcoming this grip on me because I know the other side will be beautiful. However, I know I have to overcome something that has been a part of me my whole life and that is scary to face. I'd write more on it but I'm still processing it and dissecting it in prayer and with my husband.

I know for sure, His love is unfailing and He WILL walk with me through this.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

lesson learned

FREEDOM....I'm shouting that word like Lighting McQueen in Cars when he thinks he's free from Radiator Springs.  

In my analogy he doesn't get too far before he runs out of gas and is still captive to the town so logic should say that that could happen to me, right?  I'm praying that scene was already played out last week. I had my moment of yelling "freedom" as I drove from the mechanic and my car died before getting it back home! So I'm praying that this fix is the "one" that will keep me mobile.

Now I do believe my lesson has been learned to find a balance between being home and being active away from the home. I hope my hubby will help keep me accountable if I begin to fill that time up again. It's been wonderful being home. I've gotten so much done in the house. More than I have the last 6 months together. I'm feeling at peace and finally rested. However it came with a hard lesson for me, when God calls me to clear my schedule, I better not fill it back up with activities for my daughter instead!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

STILL no car

Yesterday was the homecoming dance. My son, who by the way, is growing up entirely too fast, was planning on going to the homecoming dance. I would love to post a picture of how handsome he is and how absolutely adorable his girlfriend is but I don't have permission from him. My heart broke just a little because I know how fast the next 4 years are going to fly by and he'll be heading to his last big dance of his high school career. Still feels like yesterday that we were sending the other's off to their proms!

Anyway, as normal I digress. So we're heading out on the 40 minute drive back "home" to drop him off and to pick up my car from our mechanic, that broke down there two weeks ago, and I can't help but feel a bit of sadness that I'll have a car again. I know, sounds weird, right? But it's been really nice having to look at my schedule and say, "Nope, sorry I just can't do this we only have one car" or think, this is very important and we need to take the van for this. Oh and can I say I've gotten spoiled driving my little 4 cyl 5 speed. Putting gas in the van is killing me even just the little I'm driving it. So I get in the car, thinking it will be nice to have it back but now I'm going to have to just learn to say NO because I've just enjoyed the extra time home. Oh to digress just a little...the house LOOKS like I've been stranded for two weeks. It's amazing what you get done when you're not running all the time. 

So I put the key in, it turns over, starts to purr then chokes, coughs, sputters and dies.  I tried the key a couple more times before getting my hubby to come play with it. He couldn't get it going either. I have a mix bag of feelings on this. 

Since July we've had a broken down car or van three times now, breaking down in Owego each time. I joke that Owego's mad we moved away but as my husband has said, we think God's trying to get my attention. Through some deep prayer I was lead in the spring to quit the part time job I had in a ministry I loved and to back out of a bunch of stuff I was involved in. As I was heading into fall the only thing I now had a commitment to was MOPS and this is my last year on steering.  I've filled the free time back up with activities for Esther.  Between the flood and extra activities, we've been running since September without much break.  Driving exhausts me, wears me down and by the weekend I'm wiped out. I have respect for those that drive for a living because I couldn't do it!

I have received much rest the last two weeks. I did not realize the extent that I was run down. Yes, we're still doing activities but not like before. I am able to get up at 6 am again, without issue, and have my pre-family-awake devotional time. Esther and I get her classes done and then we dive into the house. Upstairs finally looks great (except for the construction going on but it's exciting to see what the rooms will be like when we're done). I'm feeling my creativity and joy coming back to life. I'm finally looking forward to the holiday season again and I can't wait till the day we renew our vows. 

It was with mixed feelings that we drove away from the garage without my car. We half joke that there must still be work to do at home. However, Randy and I have seen God's hand in our lives too many times to not see that there is a reason I'm still without a car. 

Lord, I pray for wisdom and guidance as I face the tasks of the next week, to know where you desire me to stand by my commitments and where I should step away. Mostly, I want to say Thank you, for the peace and understanding that it will all work out, the way it's meant to.

Friday, October 21, 2011

thoughts for today

Outside my's a cold cloudy October day. I can hear the roosters crowing and now that the leaves are gone, I can see the neighbor's house quite clearly. It's funny how I didn't realize they were THAT close. I just pray the house sells to nice people! (not that the currents residents don't seem nice)

From the learning rooms...Esther is learning to tell time on a "real" clock (not digital). So we did a clock project as part of her lessons. She decorated and built a clock. She's so proud of it. She hung it in her room....until bedtime when the ticking got to her. It is now hanging in my living room where the ticking of the seconds reminds me of all I need and want to accomplish and how little time I really have. 

it's a bit crocked but works great

From the kitchen...I have the next three days dinner's planned out. It's so nice to be ahead of the game.  

I am creating...a history timeline with Esther. This is going to be a really fun, educational, memorable project! 

I am going...swimming and for a hair cut today. Woo Hoo I live the life. Actually I'm always telling my hubby I cherish our quiet simple life. 

I am reading...Women of the Bible as part of my morning devotion 

I am praying...for two women I've never met who have cancer. They weigh heavy on my heart lately. 

I am favorite band, Casting Crowns

Around the house...trees are coming down, walkways are being designed, rooms are being redone. It's chaos and I love it. Counting down to my dream fridge. (yes the simple things bring me joy)

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...Esther's measurement "chart", it's now actually become a milestone wall. We write all the big things on here. 

I used to wash the handprints from the wall.
Now I help her add them to the wall. I look
forward to many more being added. 

daybook inspired by:

Monday, October 17, 2011

fall thoughts

Outside my's dark but I hear the slight fall breeze blowing the dying leaves around

I am thinking...about how thankful I am that I'm finally falling in love with the home that God lead us to,  it's only taken me 5 months.  Something about this month has really grabbed me here. 

From the learning, we are working on so much, lapbooks, history timeline, reading, writing, music

From the kitchen...I'm so excited. We've ripped down most of the wall, ripped up the floor, and finally have a vision in place. We are seeing what a difference the missing wall will make and I'm enjoying being in the kitchen again now that I'm not cut off from the rest of the house. 

I am creating...ah, my last post said "sadly nothing" this time I can respond: 2 scarves, wristlets (yep FINALLY learned to crochet), "wedding" invites, newsletters, video albums, yummy fall desserts and a home... 

I am Women of Faith in 2 weeks and I'm so very excited about it. 

I am reading... Charlotte Mason's lectures  

I am hoping...That Esther will learn to love ice skating :) 

I am phone beeping because of a facebook notification. yes, I did say facebook. I'm on it in very very limited time with very limited people, those that I already have deeper relationships with. 

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing... Same ones last time I did Thoughts for the day but different description!! 

(actually 2, contrasting pictures of my daughter in one week. One reflects how I feel currently and the other is where I've been for months now...Thank you Lord for helping me out of that hole.) 

pure joy

daybook inspired by:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

reynolds round-up #1

There is such a freedom from no longer being on facebook but I feel the loss of sharing my family in a real-time way with other family members. So I'm going to try to do a weekly round-up of what we've been up to....

Besides the scare we faced this past week, we've had many other things going on.

The chickens continue to be a source of something...not sure if it's joy or stress quite yet. We finally found a good home for our rooster Prada. He crowed ALL the time. When I say all the time, I mean all the time. He'd crow for about 20 minutes straight sometimes. I had to keep him locked up and muted more than I wanted to.  Well now that we found him a new home, KFC (king fluffy chicken) had decided to step up to noisy rooster spot. He's not yet as bad but time will tell.  Oh and speaking of Prada.....his favored hen disappeared on Friday. I was putting the chicken back into their fence in yard and I couldn't find her. I could hear her, far off. I was convinced that she'd taken off in search of her man that we'd sent at least an hour away from here. When I went back into the house through the downstairs door to hurry Esther to on our chores, there sat Red, our hen, in the house.  I couldn't believe it. She'd been in the house for at least over an hour. I had left the front screen door open by accident and apparently she'd come in that way.  Then on Sunday night I was sitting in the classroom talking to my sister on the phone and I could hear the chickens having a fit. I figured that KFC was trying to pick out a hen and was harassing them all. My husband walks in the house with our cat (who's an indoor only cat) that he found outside. Apparently the screen door was left open, yet again, and the cat was sitting in the doorway of the chickens' fenced in yard, when they were trying to get in and get to their coop. According to my husband she was sitting in the doorway like the Sphinx. She walked around the house a little taller that night. 

This month has been filled with helping with the floods, a birthday party for my mom, Esther's recital, the beginning of school (two times for my son who started high school this year), two lost front teeth, beginning of soccer, beginning of swim lessons and grape picking.  

We were down to one car for the first half of the month. One of the mornings I needed the car Esther rolled her eyes as we were leaving and said "Well at least daddy's work is close. If it was in like Idaho, I'd freak out."  The things that she says sometimes...

Here's some pics of what we've been up to: 

Esther and her nuggets

1st day of school

and the day she lost her 1st tooth
(she swallowed it)
Zion School of Performing Arts students

Lamb of God

Lean on Me

Watkins Glenn 

Esther's 4th year grape picking by the lake

swim lessons

found a location for the shower!!

1st soccer practice. they postponed it a couple weeks
because the park they normally use was under
water and they had to find a new location

Thank you Lord for all you've given me, for hearing our prayers this week and answering them, for standing by me and being faithful even when I am not. I am grateful beyond words for all that you have given me, especially for my family and the day to day moments with them. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. 
~psalm 107:1

letting that breath out

I've had a few times in my life, very few thank God, where I felt an intense fear. Not for myself but for someone I deeply love. We just went through one of those periods. My husband and his son sat in a dr's office and was told he may be facing the "C" word. Who would have thought one word could rock the earth you're standing on just as effectively as if you just had a 8.5 earthquake shake you. Not one of our kids. It's a reality you can't prepare for.

We contacted our ministry teams to request prayers and for the last 3 days we've felt that blanket of prayers protecting us, lifting us up, giving us strength. After many tests, lots of prayer and frankly some pretty deep fear we've found out the initial diagnosis was wrong. We can't be upset about this because we are overwhelmed with praise to our God that he's ok.

Finally our family can let that collective breath out and rest in today....

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Did you ever hear or see something that made you take a sharp intake of breath? Then you let it out slowly, oh so very slowly, in the hopes that it will help calm you or help you take it all in or maybe, just maybe, you can unhear or unsee what it was?

I am still breathing out. I wonder if our whole family's collective exhale can make it no more...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

end of facebook for me

It's been a little over three years that I've been on facebook. I've really enjoyed it. I've enjoyed the connections and the daily interactions with those I know and love. I love sharing my life and being a daily part of other's lives. But like my husband says to me many's time for my facebook friends to go home.  I actually think it's more appropriate for me to say, "This party's been great but it's time for ME to go home."  I was ready to disable FB when the Floods hit (a different posting on that coming), but they were a life line for me to many I know who were posting their safety and locations during evacuations via their cell phones as Owego was being consumed by the Susquehanna. Then I was able to have one central place to gather info about what was going to to pass to my parents in Apalachin who had no power for four days. Facebook has it's benefits but it also has it's downfalls.

For me, I've come to realize that many deep relationships have become very surface due to two sentence comments on walls and relationships that seem close really aren't when you're in public and that other person ignore you OR I duck to avoid them.  I desire relationships the way they used to be...where I knew what was really going on in someone's life and they knew what was going on in mine. Facebook, I believe, really only allows you to know about 10% of someone's life. There have been times I've actually gotten annoyed with friends or family because I posted something on FB and they didn't see it or know what was going on.

With homeschooling my youngest now, it's time for me to take a LONG over due break from Facebook.  I'm sure I'll pop in here and there but I will be removing it from my daily part of life. I've decided that the relationships that suffer through this will be the ones that weren't really there in the first place. I hope that doesn't sound snotty but I truly want to know YOU, not just read what you're having for dinner or what cute thing your child did today. I want to know you on a level that we can share our trials and joys.

Anyone who wants to share their email address or phone number with me,  I will keep in touch with you!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thoughts for today...

Outside my window...summer is quickly slipping away to the vibrant colors, heady scent of leaves decaying, crisp air and the cool verging on too cold nights of fall. 
I am thinking...of all the activities that Esther and I will enjoying this fall/winter.

From the learning rooms...we are setting up in anticipation of the big day, the 1st official day of school at Reynolds' Academy

From the kitchen...I've been scrubbing cupboards so that I can paint them all

I am creating...sadly, nothing. 

I am the movies this week with one of my boys. It's not a movie I would normally choose to see but he's looking forward to it so, I'm excited about that time with him.

I am reading...Pride and Prejudice (and loving every delicious page)

I am hoping...that my prayer time / bible study will draw me back into a place of more joy

I am daughter play with some of her toys

Here is picture for thought I am sharing... 
(actually 2, contrasting pictures of my daughter in one week. One reflects how I feel currently and the other is where I'm striving to return to)

pure joy

daybook inspired by:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

creativity lost and found

Does anyone know if there is a lost and found for creativity? I seem to have lost mine in almost every area of my life.

I have a journal that's sat empty.
I have a blog that I've neglected.
I have a rag doll that's half finished.
I have a soap room with no soap curing.
I have an oven with nothing yummy baking in it.
I have a deadline for flyers that probably won't be met.
I have a computer that I no longer use to create videos or play in photoshop.

I can't figure out what is going on. It's been suggested that I'm, I don't think that's it. I've been depressed in my life and this is most certainly not that. It's more of a dispirited feeling.  How to shake it? I hardly know. I know it must be conquered.  I wonder if there's something I'm not seeing. Is God stretching me? I can not say at this time.

I love summer and I'm sad to see it go. However, when I think of the crisp cool days of fall, the earthly smell that fills my senses, the overwhelming beauty of all the colors, I feel a sense of excitement for this season I've never felt. Who knows, maybe fall will be just what my spirit needs.

Please forgive me Lord for my current dejected outlook! I have too much good and wonderful in my life to feel this way, yet it is there. Please reveal to me what I'm not seeing and what I need to do, face, correct or repent of! I feel Your peace, Your presence but I'm lacking Your joy. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

joys of summer

This summer is going by way too fast.  Regardless, each day of sun has been a precious gift and I've enjoyed the time spent with the kids in the pool and working side by side with my honey to make our house the home we want.

Since it's been cooler, overcast and in general just dreary, I've been spending the last couple of days studying and organizing Esther's curriculum for the fall. Wow, what an overwhelming task this has been but I feel utterly accomplished now that it is completed. I have deep fears and great excitement in stepping forward in faith and obedience on this journey. I look forward to sharing more as September approaches.

We've been really busy here (we are trying to decide what to call home, every home so far has had a to find just the right one for a home that we'll have for many years.)   We've taken down over 30 trees so far and it doesn't feel like we've put a dent in what we want to accomplish. I pray we'll have more of a backyard by next summer!

We got the 4 pines down that were out front and now the birch tree can breath. However, the flag pole didn't make it. I wish I had a video of that, it was pretty funny watching the tree grab that on it's way down.  The birch now it gets a visitor that we chase away to protect the tree...

And one of the trees that were cut down in June has decided that it's not giving in without a fight, yes this was just a bare stump! 

We now have 12 chickens and need to start planning a more permanent home for the chicken nuggets for winter.

 Esther with the "nuggets" trying to catch one. She's so proud of herself when she captures one of them. Chickens don't like to be handled much but these are pretty friendly.

 The one on the left is my buddy Red. She comes right to me and eats out of my hands.
The two on the right are Olivia and Prada. They are hysterical, especially Prada (the one with more head feathers) because she doesn't see as well and is always running into things. If she doesn't turn her head you can walk right up to her and she jumps out of her skin when she sees that you are suddenly standing there.
The chickens have been a surprising respite from the stress of moving and unpacking. They're a great educational tool for Esther also.

The biggest news so far this summer is that Esther is now swimming on her own!! She just began this past weekend to swim without her floaties. I can already see she's going to be a swimmer like her daddy and older sister. I can't keep her out of the water and she's an utter fish when it comes to swimming underwater.  She stays under significantly longer than I am comfortable with but at least I have the reassurance that it will help her to be a stronger swimmer than I am! 

Speaking of hubby loves to swim and hasn't been to the pool at the school in months. We figured after we moved he could get back into it but the school pool here is closed in the summer.  The pool we have is round and doesn't work for swimming laps. SO my husband creative juices got flowing and he created a swimming contraption from a tree and rope so he can swim in place in the pool and get his mile in every day. I sort of snickered at the whole thing till my 14 year old told me they sell tethered swimming systems...who knew?? So after Randy created his I had to give it a try. It works really well. I throughly enjoyed swimming in our pool with it. 

I've got the upstairs almost all unpacked except for the classroom but the downstairs still looks like a storage unit. That will be what I work on during the rainy days over the next month.  I'm getting ready to paint the cupboards in the kitchen to hopefully lighten up the room a bit till we can do some major work on it.

Esther is going to dance camp for a week, during the day only. I can't wait to see how she handles that much time away from home, or maybe it's me that will have the issue with that much time away from her! Either way, she'll have a great time and I'll be able to weed out her room :)

The other day we finally met a neighbor. They are a very nice couple and they have a little boy about Esther's age. He offered to catch her a frog and she was thrilled...a friendship was forged on the spot.

I love the slow relaxed feel that summer has, where it seems that fun and innocence will last forever. I try to cling to that precious feeling during each day of the summer because reality is just a month away now.

Thank you Lord for all the beautiful blessings of our home that You've provided for us. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

remembering today...

I'll forever remember this day. I'll forever wonder. I'll forever grieve.

This is the day I chose abortion over life. It breaks my heart every time I think of my baby but the grief no longer consumes me. I no longer live in the darkness of depression and guilt. My Lord has graciously forgiven me and shown me how to mourn without living in darkness. For that I'm eternally grateful.

Remembering today my precious Caleb.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever. 
psalm 30:11-12

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

the other side of the story...

In May (posting dated May 24th) I blogged about forgiveness, forgiveness I never thought I'd feel. Forgiveness that came directly from God. The strength to forgive that came only from trusting in Christ.  This past week I've witnessed a new level of forgiveness that only comes through Christ's leading.

My son came to me and asked me to help him get in contact with his biological father. Now there's a time I would have really freaked out at that but God had been preparing me since May for this. I knew a door had been opened, I just didn't know who would be the first to step through it. Of course, was my response. I prayed my request to him would be met with willingness.  It was immediate acceptance of my request to meet with my son. So after not seeing him for 17 years, Cody went to meet him.

Here's the part that is completely happened on Father's Day

It was a surreal evening. I dropped my son off at restaurant that they had prearranged to meet at. I saw his aunt sitting there and I deeply wanted to go say hi to her but knew I couldn't do that yet. I was ok up till that point. I fell apart on the way home. It was the single biggest thing I've had to do toward letting go of him, letting him grow up and make his own decisions. I wanted to be there. I wanted to protect him and frankly a part of me wanted to be there to defend my actions from years before. I called an old dear friend, who's walked a similar path, to try to calm down. I knew she'd understand the fears I was facing, the protectiveness, the deep worry for my son's peace of mind, spirit, heart. As the hours ticked by I got more anxious till he finally let me know to come pick him up. Praying brought me a lot of peace that evening but with not knowing how he was doing I was having a hard time setting aside my worry. 

As Randy and I pulled into the parking lot to pick up Cody there stood his other grandparents. Grandparents I'd kept Cody away from. A whole side of a family I walked away from. I was scared to death to get out of the car but Randy encouraged me to go say hi. I was humbled that she walked up to me with open arms and took me in an embrace. There was no anger or resentment towards me from her or her husband. I got to see the forgiveness of God coming through them towards me now. We talked for some time about the years and how they kept Cody close to their hearts' in prayers. I found out Cody's aunt had been able to keep up on what he was doing through a friend of his. She came to his wrestling matches and his graduation. We all found it very odd that in all the years none of us ran into each other. I have to remember that God's ways are higher!  Cody said it was a very good evening and that he'd like to get to further know him. I could see a new peace in him at finally having some of his questions answered. 

I woke the next morning with an email from Cody's aunt. As I laid there reading it, tears flowing, I couldn't help but think just how amazing my God is. I was going to include lines of it but with permission I'm going to include most of it here. It's not often God allows you to see the other side of something He's asked you to do. 

I read your faith blog and cried. I read the one about May 24th and if you are willing to read, I have a lot to share with you about what your obedience to the Holy Spirt led to. I have been praying for my brother for years. His soul was lost and so was he. He had come to know Christ in his journey through life but somewhere along the path wander away. I am part of a cell group and we have been praying for him since well since I started going to this group. He had people praying for him that he did not even know, and that did not even know him. 
On the night of May 24 He called me and told me exactly what happened in the courtroom that day and said to me, " I don't know what to do, or what to say, or anything." I said to him we should pray and thank God for the miracle he had given him and the forgiveness he was granted. I asked him if he was willing that I think we needed to pray as a group with the leaders of my prayer group. He was willing, I called my friends and they agreed to have us over and pray with us. We sat he talked we listened, we cried, he cried. He continued to say, "I do not know what to do, or how to react or what to make of all this." One of the leaders, told him that God was pouring love into him and was creating him a testimony. For a long time, he was resistant and dead set against coming back to a life with Christ. He wanted to get things straight, and clean up his mess...That was the night that it was perfectly clear to him that God wanted a relationship with him and he was to come as he was. As we were closing up the evening they asked if I would open us in prayer. I thanked God for bringing him home because it was clear to me that God brought him home so he could surround him with Christians and Godly people and show him his goodness and I knew it was God's doing because he was seeking out his child who was lost. The leaders prayed, then there was a long silence and we all still had our heads bowed praying silently, and all of a sudden a shaky voice broke the silence. "Hi God, It's me...I know we haven't talked in awhile. But I saw you today. I know you were there in that courtroom, I know it was you who laid the forgiveness of my debt on Kirsten's heart. I saw you today, I saw you in Kirsten and I saw your face. I know they left the back door open so that the debt could be revisited if she so desired, but I know I will never see that debt again, because it was you that forgave it and it was you that laid that on Kirsten and her family's heart to forgive me that debt. Tonight I pray for Kirsten, Cody, her husband and their family. Please give her peace, and calmness in knowing she followed your direction. I have really messed up a lot of things in my life. I have hurt a lot of people and made some really bad decisions, but I want to come back...I want to come home....I want a relationship with you. I am not perfect and I will make mistakes but I want to come back." as we closed in prayer when we all raised our heads we were all crying. We witnessed a miracle that day, we saw God move, he re-dedicated his life to Christ that night. I have shared this story with believers and non believers, I have witnessed God touch people through this story by sharing this story of Grace. By you following the direction of the Holy Spirit, God has changed lives. On the night of the 24th, he prayed that if it was Gods will, that he would have an opportunity to restore a relationship with Cody. Today, I witnessed another miracle. I watched the two of them shake hands and I saw my brother cry again and again I saw God move. 
I would like to thank you for being a strong enough Christian to allow God to speak to you and for you to follow him. He is changing lives and he has allowed me to witness it. It wasn't very long ago that I asked God to "use" me and I continued to pray that he would and by allowing me to witness his hand at work in all of this, he has allowed me to share a wonderful story of Grace. He is moving Kirsten, and thank you for allowing him to use you also. I admire you for taking the steps to initiate contact with my brother for Cody.  I have been in the very same situation you described about looking over your shoulder and always being scared. I knew that was the case with the way he treated you a long time ago, that was why our family did not reach out and did not interfere with you and Cody's life. I did come to see Cody wrestle, I did come to Cody's graduation. I did my best to keep tabs on him through mutual friends. I did watch from afar, but I always kept you two in my prayers because I knew what the situation was. I commend you for moving forward in faith and knowing that God will protect you and always has your back. If you are willing, I would like to have a relationship with you as a sister in Christ. You are a strong and God is Good, all the time. 

Cody and his biological father after 17 years. I'm glad his sister captured this moment! 

This is not a journey I could have imagined that April day when the first letter from court came. I have witnessed God move, heal, restore. It's humbling to me that God has used us in this way and that He's allowed me to witness the impact that day in court has had on many lives. 

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.  
1 corinthians 13:13

Through my husband, through my past, through my children, God is showing me what love is...thank you Aba! 

Monday, June 20, 2011

monday morning rambling...

I was awake at 5:30 today.

I couldn't sleep, too much going on in my head. My first feeling was of an overwhelming sense of how amazing my God is. This has been the most interesting year. I thought after I went through my abortion healing that life would just continue to go along, that there might be little revelations along the way but that the "major" work in my life was over. Ha, how arrogant we are, arrogant I am! Daily God shows me things I need to work on. They may not be major in the "Upper Story" but they directly affect how my life plays out in relation to the Upper Story. This year has been on based on major healing, restoration and changes. I've shared most of these with you so far but there's more...there's a second chapter to the healing. I desire to share this with you but I need to get permissions first to share more. I can share this son finally met his biological father. I truly believe he's a different man than the one I knew 20 years ago. I can already see healing going on in all the lives involved. Little did I know that our prayers for Cody's healing would be answered in this way but I also had no idea that I had a sister in Christ praying right along with me for Cody and for healing.

The rest of my thoughts this morning seem to pale in comparison but are just as much a part of my life. 

I've begun thinking about what my next race will be. I've not run in so long that the 3 miles I did run last week really beat my body up but felt wonderful at the same time. For almost three years, on and off, I've been struggling with exhaustion. Not just tired but complete and total exhaustion. Some days it's an effort to just pick up my arms and I live in a fog of just existing till I can go to bed. This was mostly gone when I was running. (see there are connections in my broken thoughts) and has come back with even greater vengeance since I stopped running in December. I'm not depressed but I've been heading toward depression because of my hopelessness in how I feel. We just switched Dr.'s and after listening to my symptoms she ordered blood work to cover the bases and told me to read a certain book. I was thrilled that her 1st response was not to write a prescription! The book is called When Your Body Gets the Blues and upon reading the symptoms and an excerpt from the book I have hope that I can feel better again. I know one of the most important things I can do is get running again. I've begun to set a major goal  with some minor goals along the way. I know I want to do something BIG next year, after I turn 40. I'm thinking of an ultra as my ultimate goal (and I'll try not to talk everyone's ear off about running this time...I'll try but my blog is fair game!) with a 1/2 and a marathon along the way. I'm feeling that excitement about running coming back again. My husband may even train with me again, not for the ultra but maybe a marathon...Oh do I hear Big Sur calling again :) You just never know!! 

I'm also still struggling with stepping down from my job and the Beyond the Choice ministry at LCC but I know it's what I'm being called to do, if even just for a season. I work with some amazing women and I enjoy our clients and meeting new ones. I love seeing how God works in the lives of the clients, the volunteers and the employees. I hope to volunteer on projects and stay connected but I believe that God is preparing me for the time that being on MOPS steering and homeschooling will take next year. I also have my house to unpack and help with all our projects here! I can say honestly I love working on making this our home, side by side with my helpmate!

We may not get the gorgeous sunsets in our new home that we are accustomed to but the Lord shines on us every morning with breathtaking sunrises.

Sometimes it's an awesome reminder to me that His mercies are new each morning. I'm so glad that my God doesn't bring yesterday's offenses into this day!

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 

lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

making a home...

What is a home? To me it's where we live, entertain family and friends, worship, create, work and love.  Randy and I have had a few "homes" together since we met. God has used each home to teach me to be content and happy where He plants us. Some have been more of a home than others but we finally have our permanent home, at least for quite a few years. Now begins the joyful, and at times hard, task of making this house OUR home...we've begun putting the "Reynolds touch" on these acres...

Top of our task list is taking down some of the smaller tress near the house in order to bring in a bit more sun and claim some of our property back from nature. We love the woods, it's one of the aspects of this house that grabbed us but there's just too much.

We have a beautiful path to "Moose Pond"
Moose Pond's path

A very spacious well manicured front yard that gets an amazing amount of sun...

A creek...

And did I mention God's alarm clock...
sun in the face 1st thing in the morning...

But there are lots of projects inside and out we are working on. We started to rip up carpet, we have a door we want to put in, a wall to tear down, a floor to install and I still have a ton of unpacking to do. Oh did I mention we now have a naked tree too? I hope to have a guest posting on that one soon! The funny thing is we are perfectly happy in our chaos. My goal was to get my kitchen unpacked and Randy's goal was to get the pool going. We've both achieved our goals and are happy to spend these gorgeous days outside and live out of boxes for now. Winter will be long and cold. I'll have plenty of time then to unpack. Please keep that in mind if you stop by our house and notice that we're not moved in!!

We've also added to our family.
We have 2 Silkies
Prada and Olivia with
 Grace watching over them
or maybe waiting for
the opportunity to "play"
with them!

A Star (we think) and an Amercauna or Araucana (not sure which)



Last week we got 6 new babies that will be our egg layers...I can't wait to have fresh eggs!!

Plymouth Barred Rock
We have so much going on so if you don't hear much from me over the summer that's why. God has so blessed us with a beautiful home that we are enjoying (most of the time) pouring our time, sweat and hearts into.

I hope you'll follow along with us on this journey.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

forgive as you have been forgiven...

Forgiveness is such a hard concept for me. I've gotten better with it over the years especially with prayer but I still have to be very intentional in choosing to forgive.  

Twenty one years ago I got into a relationship that would last a short painful time, produce a beautiful child and fundamentally change who I was for a very long time. The anger, hurt, fear and resentment from this relationship would consume most of my adult life. This man was not a part of my son's life growing up, which at the time I was very grateful for. Where he was in his life was not a good place and would have brought even more heartache for my son and I if I had stayed with him. So I took my son, left and never looked back. I fought to protect him. Doing all that I felt was right at the time. He disappeared, moved from the area, I think. Gradually I stopped looking over my shoulder. Then out of nowhere, Support Collection Unit (SCU) would catch up with him and start collecting support again. Checks would come and not for very long but it was enough to bring up a lot of the old fears. Each year that passed the debt to us grew more and more. I held a lot of anger and resentment again this man for not paying support, for not taking care of the son he had. There were lots of times that I could have used that support, instead of going without a lot, instead of borrowing money from family, instead of turning to social services in my son's early days. 

A couple years ago the support checks began to come again. They've been consistent. I've been able to count on them, include them in my budget (especially since food budget with a teen can be pretty high). Frankly, I haven't thought much about him or our past since becoming a Christian and processing through a lot of my own past. That was until April 7, 2011. 

I got home from an amazing MOPS meeting to have a letter from the courts waiting from me. I didn't understand it all but what I did grasp was the fact that he had signed it in his lawyers office in Binghamton!! This meant he was here, he was living locally again, had been, in fact, for awhile. I'm very grateful that God has placed such an amazing husband in my life because through talking and prayer he was able to help me calm right down. Once I was calm I was able to hear God's voice more clearly and began to get a picture of what He was asking me to do. I wasn't thrilled with it but I was willing to listen.  We were in the middle of purchasing a house so I was packing and tending to other things in life. I started to gather info on what I needed to do for when I made the time to obey what God was asking of me. God gave me the final push on April 28th, the same day my husband got a promotion and raise.

You see He was asking me to forgive. To forgive past sins and debts...just as He has forgiven mine and wiped my account clean. That day I received further court papers with a date set in May. These papers included financials and letters from government agencies threatening to freeze his accounts till a certain amount of past support was paid. Anyway, for the first time I had compassion for this man as a human. I didn't see him as the "big bad wolf" of my early adulthood. My husband and I talked about it, prayed about it and I made the decision it was time to move on what God was asking of me. 

That day I called SCU and asked them to draw up my own petition to excuse him of the significant amount of back child support owed. I knew that none of it made sense to them. What they didn't understand was at this point in our lives God takes care of us, my husband provides for us and I don't have the desire to see someone else suffer because of his poor choices.  God's grace has poured forgiveness into my life for the horrible things I've done. Who was I to withhold grace when God was calling me to extend it??

As the day of court approached I felt an odd sense of peace. I actually tried to conjure up the feelings of anxiety I thought I should be feeling. That morning I had a MOPS steering meeting and as some of my friends were praying over me, one of them pointed out how good God is in scheduling this day on a day where I could have their support beforehand. Their prayers brought a huge sense of relieve as I headed back home to get ready for court. Knowing that I had my son's blessing, my husband's blessing, my friends prayers and God's prompting made facing him and this task all the easier. 

Court was not what I was expecting. First I was late, I know the enemy loves to just mess things up to laugh at us. I looked at that paper a bunch of times and every time I saw 3:30. I put it in my calendar as 3:30. At 3:15 as we were approaching Owego, I looked at the paper and it said 3:00. Boy did I panic!  Thankfully as I was trying to get ahold of the judge, she called me so I was able to let them know I was coming.   Anyway, I walked in, actually rushed in, in a flurry and there he was. It was the oddest feeling of nothing I've ever experienced. I was so worried all those young girl fears would come back. They didn't. With God on one side of me and my husband on the other I was able to face a piece of my past with strength and confidence. I felt the same compassion for him I'd feel for a complete stranger in a tough place. There was no anger anymore. It was the first step to a new sense of freedom. 

The final step was about to take place as the courtroom doors shut behind me. I wasn't prepared for the battle I was about to face. SCU told me the judge would probably ask if I was sure I wanted to excuse all back support and then just go forward with what I was asking. That was not the case. She was a very fair and wise judge but wasn't going to let me just walk away from this situation.  She presented some really good alternatives but I knew it wasn't what God was asking of me. Every option she put before me caused more anxiety for me. I wanted to accept and just leave but I knew I had to face her and stand by my conviction that I was doing the right thing. She said to me a few times that she didn't understand, that it didn't make sense. My response was that I was aware of that but it's what God had laid on my heart to do. My husband even told her it was about grace and forgiveness but she just didn't understand why I wanted to walk away from what was owed me. It was frustrating and hard for me because I have a hard time standing up to authority figures but I could feel the Holy Spirit encouraging me. The judge finally agreed to stop the support collection process which took the collection of over $30,000 out of the system's hands and placed it in my hands, which in my heart and in obedience to Christ has a zero balance.

I walked out of the court room with the oddest ear to ear grin because I felt such a freedom from the past, a freedom from unforgiveness, a freedom from obeying my Lord. I knew God had had His way, that he touched some lives and it was pretty amazing to be in the middle of that.  Randy's quote when we left "Well, that was fun to watch".  I'm not sure about fun but it was amazing to see God working. 

My prayers are that those who were present in that room had a glimpse of God's glory and that someday, somehow it will benefit my son on a personal level. I don't know what that means but I know what it's like to grow up without your father a part of your life. I ache for my son and the pain that I know is there in his heart. I had a dream last night where I told him (my son's biological father) to get his life straightened out and then he might be able to have a relationship with his son.  Will it ever come true? I don't know. I do know that I'm now in a place of peace about the past and that I won't stand in the way. I'll be there for my child but allow him to make his own choices about who's a part of his future. 

Thank you Lord for the work you do in our lives, for softening my hard heart and for teaching me about forgiveness and grace by pouring it into my life. 
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~matthew 6:14-15

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

no poo update

No poo...
Natural, healthier living - Check.
Less items to recycle - Check.
Freedom from big corporations - Score!

This things have been some of the benefits of not buying and using commercial shampoo. I went poo free mid March. At first I couldn't stand how my hair felt. Then about 6 weeks into it, it was like BAM and suddenly my hair felt softer, lighter with less of a build up feeling. I figured, ok I can deal with this. It's not the same soft silky hair my husband's been missing but it was close.

Then the itching started. I blamed it on the season change but my scalp is so dry and itchy I can't deal with it. Using shampoo is the last thing I wanted to do but after a few weeks I didn't know how much more I could take. I researched all the no poo forums for answers, tried a lot of what was suggested and none has helped.

I've been feeling really guilty the last few days about wanting to use shampoo. I know it sounds stupid but I really strive for a more natural living. I love when God just swoops in to recuse us from ourselves. One of the blogs I follow had a posting recently that I didn't see till last night. She lives as much of an all natural lifestyle as she can but her baby has been struggling with eczema and she finally had to break down and buy something to treat it. (here's her story: Admitting Defeat, When Natural Doesn't Work) So anyway, I read this and just brought me a sense of peace in my decision to go back to shampoo, at least for awhile. I'll probably work on formulating my own recipe after I get all my soap supplies unpacked!

So I know it seems like a silly post but I just wanted to share what I felt at first was my complete failure to not use shampoo but now I see I was making not using poo an idol. It had become more important to me than actually taking care of my body's needs.

Thank you Lord for using little things in life to show us Your way and to release us from the human prisons we build.