Welcome to my blog! To get an idea of what this blog is about you might want to read the "About Me and My Family" page as a starting point. You can browse through the archives or head over to the "Articles" page to read on specific topics I've written on over the years. Keep checking back because I'll be posting new articals from time to time.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Here They Are!

Motorcycle at the Harley Davidson Factory

Very happy cows! They were massaged, fed 24 hours a day, slept on water beds, and milked themselves. Don't believe me? Visit their website.
Acres and acres of corn and other crops

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fun, Food, Fellowship . . . and 316 Pictures!

Okay, I know I'm late, but my trip to Pennsylvania was so wonderful that I have to tell you a little bit about it! Here's a few fun facts:
  • On the bus was one baby, a dog named Spanky, a recent college graduate (me), and the rest were mostly senior citizens!
  • Our trip coordinator was very punctual when it came to time. We often heard things like, "We will be leaving in about 10 seconds!"
  • We went on 7 tours and saw 2 live shows
  • We saw lots of Amish people and farms
  • The lady who served us breakfast at the motel was Amish
  • We ate lots of food and ice-cream. (A trip just wouldn't be right without ice-cream!)
  • I took over 500 pictures but only kept 316
  • Best of all, we had great fellowship among Christain people

Choo Choo Barn - a huge train track with everything imaginable! All antimated.

Everything Christmas!

Outside an Amish school

More pictures to come . . .

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Who Does Your Heart Belong To?

"A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ
that a man should have to seek Him first to find her!"

Author Unknown

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Story of My Life

For the past two weeks I have been reading Hosea. What a great book of the Bible! I don't understand everything and I know it was not written to apply to every aspect of my life since it was written in times when the Israelites were still living under the law, but I still think it is an amazing book! I don't see how anyone cannot see God's love for his Children through this prophesy.

When I read of how Israel has played the harlot, I see myself. To commit adultery with God is to leave Him and find pleasure in or dedicate yourself to other things or people. I've done that. There are times when I ignore God so that I can have "fun" my way. In the end it is no fun at all, and I realize I have not been faithful to my first love. I feel like a wretch.

In the book of Hosea God shows his anger towards His people who have left Him to worship other Gods. "My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills . . ."

Israel has done great wickedness in the sight of their God and he will not leave them unpunished. "Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away. Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother." What awful displeasure God had with them! A displeasure I hate to think that God ever had with me.

Yet this harsh punishment, as awful as it may seem, is done in love. "Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up." When God takes everything from us, all we have left is our Lord. The only place we can go is to God. The only one who can help us is Jesus. When we are in our lowest state we see who we really need. When God punishes us, He sees the end. He knows that we will not like the chastisement, but He also knows that we will be better for it when it is over!

I am so thankful that just when it seems it can get no worse, God says, "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him." Praise the Lord He will always love me! No matter what I do to Him or how unfaithful I am to Him, He will always be faithful to me!

Sometimes I feel like this is the story of my life. I backslide on God. God punishes me. But in the morning . . . His mercies are renewed! It is a cycle that I have yet to find a way out of. My flesh is ever present and always causing me to err. "Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein."

**All scripture taken from the book of Hosea, King James Bible**

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Discovering God's Way to Raise a Home Part 4

After supper was over, the women got busy cleaning up all the sauce covered dishes.

"I love your plates!" Shelby complemented. "I once wanted to do my kitchen in apples too, but I decided to go with strawberries.

"Thank you! Jeff got hose for me a few years ago. I like having pretty things in my kitchen. Before then I had some really plain plates I found at the grocery store. You know, the ones that don't sell well, so usually get put on the clearance shelf?"

"Oh, I know. But some times they're actually nice."

"Yeah, they have had nicer ones lately." Alice responded.

As they loaded the dishwasher in silence, Shelby's mind went back to the conversation they had at the supper table. Why couldn't she get it off her mind? Shelby knew why. She had to talk about it or her mind would never have peace again.

Alice, do you ever worry that your children wont be very smart. I"m not implying that your not smart yourself . . . I just mean . . ."

"Oh, I know what you're talking about. I've had many people ask me that same question. Ad yes, I do worry sometimes, it's natural for all home schoolers to worry. We all want our children to be well educated and if their not, we can't blame it on a school system. It's all on our shoulders. But I think they'll do fine. Stacy scored real high when she took the tests at the Education Center. And if you look at the facts, it does look like they are learning more than if they were in a public school. Instead of reading 7 pages on the Civil War every year out of the text books, we can read 7 books that are just on that topic."

"Wow, I never thought about it that way."

"They also do projects or crafts together that help them remember it. So when I look at it that way, I feel a little better."

"I'm sure you do."

After a long pause, during which Alice let Shelby think on what they had just talked about, her guest had some more questions.

"Does your husband like working for the Rail Road?" asked Shelby.

"Yes, he really likes it. The best part about it is he gets plenty of vacation and sick days. We're thinking about taking a vacation in a few months."

"We've been trying to find time to take one too, but Tom and I can't seem to get he time off work at the same time, plus the children have to be out of school. But y'all probably don't have that problem, do you?"

"No, I see that as one of God's blessings for following his will for our family. I"m thankful God has provided a way for me to stay home with our children."

"Jeff's job must pay really well," Shelby commented.

"It pays pretty well, but with six kids, it's not he best. I've had to learn to be frugal with our money and to trust God to meet our needs. He always does." Alice said with a smile.

Shelby couldn't help but marvel at her dedication to her family. This woman gave up an opportunity to make her own money and now has to be careful how he spends the little bit her husband gives her, just to spend all her time taking care of her husband and six children. But yet she didn't feel sorry for her. Alice was the happiest woman she had ever met. She could feel her happiness and contentment from the time she walked in the door.

She stopped wiping the counter for a moment and looked into the living room. There were their husbands talking and laughing about the pranks they've seen pulled at work. When she listened closely she could hear the children in the other room laughing and telling jokes while they played Monopoly all together. Every body seemed in their right place. What was even more was everyone seemed very happy. For the first time, Shelby saw that she was not the mother she needed to be. It was her job to make a happy home for her family and she had not done the job very well. She felt a pang of regret in her heart for all the years she had wasted working while her children were away at school.

Her husband looked up at her from the couch where he was sitting and smiled a knowing smile. Her husband had seen the difference in the two homes as well. Joy started to find it's way into her heart and fill her with a sense of peace that said, "It will be alright. It's never too late to start anew."

With an energy that she hadn't felt in a long time, she desired to make her home a place of happiness, to be the mother God intended her to be, to teach her children herself instead of letting other women do her job, and to run her home the way God intended.

The End

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Discovering God's Way to Raise a Home Part 3

"Shelby, did you talk to your boss?"

"Yes, I asked him if I could take a half day off Wednesday and the rest of the week off as well, but he said he can't spare me. Two other employees have already asked for a vacation that week." Shelby pulled the covers right around her neck. "Maybe we could take a vacation the week after that."

"No, we've got a really important meeting at work that Thursday. Something about a new way they want us to hang the electrical wires. What about the next week?"

"Remember, that week is revival at our church," she said in a dismal voice. The more they thought about it the more it seemed they wouldn't be able to go on their vacation any time soon. They wanted to take their children on a trip to the mountains one more time before their son Steve started college. They knew that once that happened it would be even harder to schedule a vacation. Shelby was glad she and her husband had decided not to tell their children about the trip until it was final. Now it looked like there would be none.

"It's just so hard for us both to get off work at the same time," Tom complained, interrupting her thoughts.

"I know, and I was really hoping to get away from my job for a while."

"Did you have another bad day?" he enquired.

"It was very hectic. I didn't think it would ever end. I can't wait till the weekend."

"Oh, that reminds me! I saw Mrs. Alice and Jeff Davis at the store today and they invited us out for supper Saturday. She said they're making pizza and spaghetti. She meant to ask us at church Wednesday, but didn't have a chance. She said to give her a call."

"Oh, that sounds like fun. I'll call her tomorrow and ask her if she wants me to bring a dessert. With six kids of her own she would probably appreciate some help."

"Alright. Goodnight Shelby."



"Hello Noles family! Come in," invited Mrs. Alice in a cheerful voice as she held the door open. "We're so glad y'all could come today. The kids have really looked forward to it. Some are out back on the tire swing and the others are . . . here they come."
The three older children walked out of the school/game room to greet the guests. Soon both families were seated at the large table arrayed with spaghetti and several varieties of pizza.

"Mm, mm! Everything looks delicious!" commented Tom.
"Thank you!" chimed in Jeff, mockingly. "I taught my wife everything she knows."

"Oh sure!" several said among lots of laughter.
"Alright, lets say the blessing before the food gets cold. These kids look pretty hungry." said Alice.

After Jeff said the prayer they all began to eat and fellowship.

"Alice, how long have you been home schooling?" asked Shelby.

"Twelve years, and I don't regret it one day. Jeff and I wont gave our children at home forever, so we want to be with them as much as we possibly can. I think the children feel the same way too. They like being home schooled."

"Oh, we do!" chimed in Stacy, one of the Noles' Children. "We're not bound to a schedule, so if we need to go somewhere or if the weather is nice and we want to play outside, we can take the day off and do extra school later."
"Yes, and mama said we can study any thing we want to!" little Jacob exclaimed. "I'm learning about animals and George Washington!"

"You might notice he wont mention math or writing." Alice pointed out. "Those are his toughest subjects. Hailey is really good at writing though and Mark likes math. They're all different."

"It must be a lot of work teaching six children all at one time," said Shelby.

"It can be a little tough at times, but for the most part it goes pretty smooth. After years of home schooling I finally came up with a schedule that works really well. But you know, even if it was hard I would still teach them because I believe that God commands me to."

"Do you mean he commanded you in a personal way? Like in a vision?" asked Tom.
"No, there's a verse in Deuteronomy that we think implies that we should keep our children at home. It speaks of teaching them in many situations," replied Alice.

"Mama, can we say it to them?" asked Jacob who was proud of himself for memorizing the three verses.

"Sure, honey."
All six children began to quote the scripture. "Deuteronomy six, verses five through seven. And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest. up."

"Very good!" complemented Shelby, not knowing what to say next. She never heart that verse like they described it. But when she thought about it, it did make sense. The verse commanded to the parents to teach their children, and to teach your children best, you need to be around them all the time. That one line kept ringing in her ears, "and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house." But could they really afford to home school their children?

"Stacy, what grade are you in? asked Margaret.

"Actually, I"m not doing school at home any longer. I'm studying at the Adult Education Center in town to prepare me for the GED test."

"Oh, I thought you were sixteen."

"Well, I just turned 17. Mama and daddy let me finish early so that I can get a head start in technical college. I'm going for Medical Billing and Coding. It's a career that I eventually can do from home, maybe even while I'm home schooling my children. That is, if God blesses me with any." Stacy explained.

"We've had people look down on us for letting her finish school early, but we're just trying to run our home the way God wants us too. Not the way our neighbors would like. Believe it or not, there's even been some Christians who think we shouldn't let her go to college either. They think that women should only be taught how to cook, clean, and take care of children. We do strongly believe those are the most important things they should be taught, but in the day we live in, we think it's good for women to also have some kind of learning. You never know when her husband might leaver her or even die. So we're trying to teach our girls that their most important job is to be a mother and wife, and that their career is only a back up, or something to keep them occupied till they do get married and have children." Jeff told them.

"Makes sense," said Tom. "Looks like y'all have it all figured out," he said in slight amazement.

"It didn't come to us all over night," Jeff joked. ''It took a lot of studying, prayer, and just plain old common sense.''

"I bet it did," commented Tom. "I bet it did."

To be continued . . .

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I'm Back!

Hi everyone! Sorry about the long delay in posts. I just got back from Amish country and haven't quite caught up with all the happenings of my family yet. It was the first time I have been away from my family for 8 whole days so I have really been deprived of family time!

Check back for an acount of the trip and LOTS of pictures. For now, I am working on finishing the story I have been posting. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Discovering God's Way to Raise a Home Part 2

Just then her kids, Steve and Margaret burst through the door letting the cold air in. Excited and lively, they both began talking at once filling their mother in on their day at Faith Academy.

“I made a 93 on my math test mom! When I saw the score I was so relieved! I thought for sure I had done awful” Margaret, a spirited 15 year old said proudly. Steve however, was more enthused about his friends new 4x4 truck. Like most 17 year old boys, vehicles were one of the things at the fore front of his thoughts day in and day out.

Shelby listened and responded with all the enthusiasm she could summon, but still felt absent minded and weary. The day had taken its’ toll on her and all she wanted was a few minutes to lay down in peace and quiet.

As she finished supper her husband, Tom, walked in from his job with the power company.

“Hey I’m home! What a day . . .”

“Oh, I’m so glad you’re here!” Shelby interrupted. “Will you please put supper on the table while I fix the glasses?”

“I just . . . okay.”

“Thanks Tom,” replied a very tired mother.

As they all sat down and ate their evening meal, they all talked about their day’s events and the people they came in contact with. It was the first time they had all been together that day – as it usually was.

“Dad, do you and mom want to play that new game Grandma sent us?” asked Margaret?

“I’ve had a hard day at work darling, I don’t feel like playing a game,” replied her dad.

“Yeah, me too. Why don’t you and Steve play it together?” their mother suggested.

“We need four players though. And besides, we wanted y’all to play it with us. Y’all use to play games with us all the time,” spoke up Steve.

“But that was before I started working overtime and your mom got this new job. Just wait until ya’ll get a job, then you’ll see how hard it is. But maybe we can find time on the weekend.”

“Sure,” Steve mumbled.

To be continued . . .

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Discovering God's Way to Raise a Home (Fiction)

“Ugh! What a day this has been! I believe if one more thing goes wrong I will lose my mind!” Shelby Noles, thinking about everything that tried her patience that day, set her purse and keys down on the counter with a loud thud. She remembered all the complaint calls she got from the Alltel customers who were not happy with the way their cell phones were working.

“I don’t see why they have to be so rude about it. Yelling doesn’t fix things. And I didn’t cause their phones to drop their calls in the first place.”

She pulled off her long coat and bumped the thermostat up. Noticing what time it was she started cooking. She would have been home earlier had her computer not have crashed 30 minutes before quitting time. IT took a whole hour to get all her documents back in order, making her arrive home 30 minutes later than usual. Now she only had half an hour before her children would be home from school.

Once she got supper going she walked down the long hallways to empty the over flowing laundry basket. Feeling as exhausted as a baseball player after a big game, washing the laundry was the last thing she wanted to do. But she never felt like doing her house hold chores, so why should today be any different. However, she knew the clothes wouldn’t get done on their own so she bent down to pull out the clothes wondering when the last time was that her back ached so much from sitting all day in an office chair.

Once the laundry was in the washing machine, she was back to work cooking over the hot stove. The meal tonight was spaghetti. The same meal she cooked for her husband the day they got home from their honey moon. She had taken such joy in preparing that meal then, and was delighted over his hearty appetite and complements. “Life was so wonderful then,” she thought. “And so easy. What has gone wrong?”

Yes, she still loved her husband just as much as she did then, maybe even more, but she no longer had time to enjoy those small services and ‘gifts’ she gave to her husband each day. The question echoed in her mind, "What has gone wrong?"

To be continued . . .