Saturday, June 30, 2012

Gifts for the Common Good

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit...Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church (1 Corinthians 14:1, 12).

Every believer is the recipient of at least one spiritual gift freely given by God. A gift can’t be conjured up, or willed or merited: it is by His wonderful grace that we receive these good gifts to serve Him and the Church.

I have taken more than one spiritual gift inventory, but, as Nora Ephron famously wrote, “I remember nothing.” I honestly don’t remember what these inventories revealed, probably because after reading the results, I was busy chasing after toddlers. What became a more effective method of determining how God gifted me to participate in His kingdom was trial and error over time.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7).

Our spiritual gifts may be deeply entwined with our natural strengths, but when we are empowered to follow God, our natural gifts take on a whole new dimension and meaning. I have found that to be the case for me.  I have been singing and writing since I was a small child--I was no prodigy and didn’t have much guidance or know-how for expanding those gifts beyond the usual, but they were definite areas of interest and strength.

As I grew as a believer, my natural gifts took on a new dimension. For instance, I discovered I could not only enjoy worship (which I did not early on, because I was reserved and too embarrassed to show my joy) but I could also lead worship effectively. Through being mentored and encouraged by more experienced worship leaders who saw in me what I could not, I was able to step out in faith and discover how God could use me to help the Church to worship. Taking risks is an important part of growing in the gifts God gives.

My ability to write is intertwined with gifts of teaching and guidance.  I want to encourage and help others to grow in the Word, in their faith and in individual growth and empowerment.  The trial and error method continues, as I seek God’s guidance for specifics on how I am to use these gifts.

Last year I created a weekly summer Bible study that combines my love to write, to teach and to serve/be hospitable: I host “Stories on the Porch” at my home, complete with a front porch, an original Bible study, scones and tea.  Those attending asked me all year if we could do it again, and now it is an annual event.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms (1 Peter 4:10).

For those who struggle in identifying the spiritual gifts God has given them, I suggest seeking the insight of a trusted, mature believer. Inventories are also a good tool, but so is listing one's passions and interests, and the gifts/talents inherent in those areas. No one is left out from participating and expanding God's kingdom--and as long as we grow our gifts in love and service to others, we bring glory to our generous Creator.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Encouragment by Amanda Elder Silvers

An online search of the word "encourage" yielded these results-


  1. Give support, confidence, or hope to (someone): "encouraging results"; "I feel encouraged".
  2. Give support and advice to (someone) to do or continue something: "pupils are encouraged to be creative".
embolden - hearten - support - promote - stimulate

My spiritual gift from day one has been the gift of encouragment.  For as far back as I can recall I am usually the person in my circle whom the others come to for guidance and advice.  I've always been hardwired that way.  I believe I'm a good listener and truly want to hear what is happening in the lives of others.  It's a very social responsibility, however it's not a responsibility I take lightly.  Frankly it is one which comes with a great deal of pressure.  It's necessary that we hold that mirror up to ourselves when we are offering advice and support to others. 

Scripture instructs us throughout to be encouragers.

Philippians 4:8
"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."

Proverbs 27:17
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

It is our responsibility as believers in Christ to love, encourage, listen, and to hold one another's feet to the fire when necessary.  It's not always an easy task, but it is the one to which I was called.  Life can be challenging at times and sometimes we all just need to hear a kind word from another human who can show us a glimpse into the pure love of Christ.  I try to be that person for my family, my friends, and even strangers.  If I'm being honest there are times I fail miserably, but it's comforting to know that when I, "the encourager", need support I can always to to a Holy God Who will never keep His love from me. 

My prayer for each person reading this is that God has blessed you with a person (or several people) who are encouragers to you on a daily basis.  I have my support.  They are often times what keeps me sane!  In a world which can be so cruel at times I personally find it of foremost importance to know that there are people who will listen and help steer when I feel I'm drifting off road.  I'm honored to be able to return the favor.

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Tag on the Gift says My Name…but Underneath it says “Do Not Keep”

As the title infers, we are given gifts, by the Lord, for the common good, to prepare God's people for the works of service, to benefit and build up the Body of Christ as a whole.

I have posted a webpage at the end of this post, which has a clear explanation of Spiritual Gifts.

There are three categories of gifts.

Ministry Giftswhich reveal the plan of God.

They usually are a full time office or calling. As of now, I have no such calling, but if I did, I could picture myself as a Pastor.

I see a Pastor as leading, tending to, protecting and even sometimes correcting the sheep (the people) in his or her fold.

Manifestation Giftswhich reveal the power of God

I have operated in Prophecy (not the office of a Prophet)…Speaking in Tongue…Faith…Healing…Words of Knowledge.

I would say the strongest are Prophecy, Healing and Words of Knowledge

For a while now, I have been able to give personal Prophetic Words to people. I now carry a stack of index cards to church. I do so because the recipient can have a record of what I have written. In the past, when I personally, have been the recipient of such words, I have often forgotten them. Just a note, they are not directional or corrective, but always edifying and encouraging.

In the same gifting, the Lord has made room for me to give Public Prophetic Words to the Congregation. If I am at my Home Church, we have a Prophetic Team in place, where I can check out what I feel the Lord is saying. They can agree or disagree, as to how they sense the Holy Spirit moving.

If I am at a Church that is not my own, I must ask permission, from the Pastor to give it.

I do not take these gifts lightly, especially the Public Declaration.

I have a deep desire to see people healed. In addition to physical healing, I seem to be more focused on emotional or inner healing. This has come from the promise, in the Word of God that says…”what the enemy meant for harm, the Lord will use it for good.”

I have suffered from depression and had several suicide attempts.

Depression issues have plagued our family, along with alcoholism. This has been true of my husband’s as well... Sadly, I have a brother who has suffers from schizophrenia, for many years. There have been 5 suicides in my family. I WANT to take back that which has been stolen from my family. I want to come along side of others who have suffered in this way.

When I pray for people, I am often given a Word of Knowledge. An example of this happened when a woman came up for prayer, for her son who broke his leg. She, of course, was asking for healing for him. However, I could not get away from a nagging feeling that there was something else
I was then lead to tell her what I sensed the Lord was saying to me. I said “I sense the Lord is saying, for me to tell you, that you are a good mother” Well, torrents of tears came from her eyes. THAT is what she needed to hear, as she was feeling very guilty about the circumstances that surrounded his accident.

So you know I am not infallible, just this past weekend, I was at a Ministry Training School. I spoke to a woman, what I thought was a Word of Knowledge. I was WAY off. The teacher corrected me loudly, in front of everyone. It was embarrassing but I quickly got a hold of my emotions and said to myself, I am here to learn.

I learned a lesson…you have to be careful in what you say.

Motivational Giftsreveal the personality of God

For the many Motivational Gifts Tests that I have taken, I am always off the charts, with Mercy being my identifying gift. It seems that I was born that way (duh). I cannot seem to withhold mercy and compassion. I have a deep desire to have others know of the Lord’s unconditional love for them.

What comes in second is Encourager/Exhorter. I just love to encourage. Along with the cards I have already mentioned, I have been making sets of cards for different women. There are 30 cards in a set and the Lord will show me who to make them for and what to say. I draw a picture on each one (that feeds my artistic leaning) and write personal words on each one (That satisfies my prophetic and writing gifts) I have experienced much pleasure doing them. 

It was recently suggested to me, to have such cards printed up professionally and sell them I am praying for the means to do this.

I would imagine if we really thought about the ways that the Lord uses us, it might seem like we’ve always been that way... It is naturally supernatural.

In closing, I know you’ll agree that Bach was given a huge gift of talent to pen scores of incomparable music. He regularly inscribed, at the beginning of his scores, the letters J.J. which stood for Jesu, Juva or “Jesus help.” At the end of a composition, he often wrote S.D.G for Solo Deo Gloria or “To God Be the Glory”

Gifts from God were never intended for us to hold on to or to brag about, but to freely distribute to whosoever needs them. That would be in and out of the church walls.

Let’s all roll up our sleeves….get rolling…. press in and don’t faint ... be bold, as we use them. Most importantly, let us make sure that God gets the glory, whether they come through our mouth or hands or actions or through another.

Pedestals are bad news…for us and for others.

Linda Maynard

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Teaching by Jenna Vick Silliman

Teaching Children to Dance, Spring 2012

I am a teacher. I know that now. I am finally ready to admit it. After all these years of hiding behind the spiritual gift of encouragement—which is still a part of me—I am willing to say that my spiritual gift is primarily teaching. It is a huge responsibility to be a teacher. However, it is what I do. I just automatically start teaching. I go to Scandinavian Folk Dance (for adults) on Sunday nights at the Sons of Norway Lodge. One evening I tried to teach a young man how to do a certain dance and he said, “What are you, a school teacher or something?” (I don’t think he appreciated the lesson.)

December 2011 I volunteered to teach a children’s Scandinavian Folk Dance Class. February to June I taught the class once a week and I loved it. The class will begin again in September and conclude at Christmastime with a dance performance. I enjoy inspiring, enlightening, discovering, revealing, demonstrating, informing, communicating, and learning. I also love kids. They all seemed to love my class and were sad to see it end for the summer. One little girl cried when she found out it was over.
Dance class performance, May 19, 2012.

In high school when I took those surveys or questionnaires of what you would be good at doing for a career, mine came out teaching every time. I thought about public school teaching at the time. (I got married and had eight children instead.) Now, I’m sure I could have done that, but it wasn’t my destiny. I am a dance teacher. This summer I am going to Germany and will be helping to teach a dance workshop there!
Everyone's Favorite--The Teddy Bear Dance! Spring 2012
I enjoy writing and have the dream of writing a book and getting published. I am writing a book on dance. I have been housesitting for the past few days and I was happy to find out the Internet doesn’t work there, so I could not get distracted. It has been a perfect time to focus on writing. I really wrote up a storm—13,073 words! That’s about 25 typed pages, so far.  I already have a cover for my book too. It is a beautiful, original piece of art created by an artist I met over Facebook. When I asked him for permission to use his painting he immediately created a book cover with my title and subtitle and my name on there. It is beautiful! The colors are blue, gold, and white. It is print ready! All of this has happened in one week. At this rate I may be a published author by the end of the summer. What really got me excited was the thought that published authors get asked to speak. That excites me more than the book! Here is my book—a sneak preview. Anyone want to volunteer to proofread?
The cover of my new book--not published yet! Art by Todd L.Thomas.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pastor Joyce the Teacher

I have taken a lot of spiritual gift inventories in my life.  I am one of those people who love to take these type of inventory things, it doesn't really matter whether they are true or not.  It's also pretty easy for me to be able to manipulate them.  I usually can figure out where it is going and skew my answers.  Now why I do that? I don't know. Perhaps it is the challenge of it.

I usually end up on spiritual inventories with one of my strengths being pastoral ministry.  I also end up high on the teacher scale as well.  All that makes a lot of sense I suppose and seems to fit me.

Those of you who are my friends in real life, or on Facebook, know that I have been very frustrated that no one seemed to accept or receive my gifts.  I had a LONG talk with God a while back. Oh it was a talk all right.  I cried.  I argued. I sort of told God just how I felt.  I said God - this is just not right.  You've given me these gifts and yet You open no doors for me.  I went on with how I did everything I thought He told me to do.  I went back to school.  I'm a very well prepared unemployed, unused but willing vessel.  I really just want to serve and when the one giving out the assignments doesn't give you one, what do you do?

I've found that it is one thing to reach the end and it is another to reach the end and tell God what you think.  Okay, for those of you who have never wrestled with God and wonder if it's okay to do, let me tell you this. I've found that sometimes it is the only way to get the answer.

It wasn't long after this "conversation" with God that I got an email from the Pastor of the church to which I belong.  He wondered if I would teach the Book of Acts to the Adult Bible study on Wednesday night.  I was like HUH?  Really? Of course I would.  That's like asking a kid if they want candy.

Finally, a place to use my gifts. I love it!  I love teaching.  I love digging through the scriptures and getting all nerdy - then I have to work to break it down so I don't bore the folks with all my nerdiness...The folks seem to like it. I'll miss them tomorrow night while I'm at my summer residency at school.  But a few weeks has turned into the end of August. Woo-hoo!

Not only am I teaching but I'm actually beginning to feel a part of this little church I belong to... that's a plus!  And, I get to preach for them on an upcoming Sunday - I think I love preaching as much or probably more than teaching.

In two weeks, I'll start a job.  I haven't had a job in years.  I'm going to get paid for what I love to do - okay, it's not a full-time pastor job - but it's a close second.  I'm going to teach at a Technical College - they'll even pay me!

And last, but certainly not least - pastor ministry.  Now you don't have to have a church, or a title, or a paycheck to engage in pastoral ministry.  Every day I find opportunities to minister to people.  It happens on line a lot.  Sometimes I wonder - where are the pastors?  Perhaps they are too busy to be with the people who hurt and have needs - so they find me.  And that's just awesome!

For The Common Good

In the last days [after the resurrection of Christ] God will pour out his Spirit on all [hu]mankind (Acts 2:17) and by this Spirit we receive different gifts [from each other’s] with a variety of ministries and effects (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). Gifts are given for the common good [of everyone]. We all benefit when our gifts are in use and this week on Kingdom Bloggers, we are sharing places and ways where our spiritual gifts are in practice.

Come along for the week and read how these amazing women of God who make up the week’s writers on this blog use their gifts, expand the kingdom and by doing so benefit you and me.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Moments of Accomplishment by Amanda Elder Silvers

There are many moments in life which pop easily into the forefront of one's mind.  A birth, a death, a wedding, a graduation- all are things which seem to automatically embed themselves deep inside us and are available for us to draw upon and reminisce about whenever the time calls. In keeping with this week's topic of our proudest life accomplishments I've had to break them into a few categories.

1. On a superficial tip: Some fun life events I'm proud of, but which don't really amount to a hill of beans, would be that in high school I had the pleasure of serving on the homecoming court, the student council, the yearbook staff, the National Honor Society, and the cheerleading squad.  I went to a small, private Christian school so it's not really a testament to my overall "fabulosity", but more so that the odds (being in a graduating class of 21) were simply stacked in my favor.  :)

Getting involved, taking risks, and learning to participate in groups were key elements in shaping me into who I am today.

2. On a grown up tip: I have been fortunate in that I've been able to put my college degree into action during most of my career years. I've always desired to work in a job which served people.  My theory is that we are all here for a purpose and I wanted my purpose to count.  I served several years as a psychiatric technician at Woodridge Psychiatric Hospital in Johnson City, TN, working with adolescents.  This job was then followed by working for the State of TN in Chattanooga on the Crisis Intervention Team.  We served as case workers who worked exclusively with families of adolescents going through the juvenile court systems. I loved, LOVED these jobs.  Neither a high-paying position, but both came with rewards beyond any dollar amount.

Knowing what your spiritual gift is and utilizing that during your time on this planet is key to happiness, peace, and fulfillment.

3. On a spiritual tip:  As a believer in Christ I feel we all have a responsibility to live up to our obligations.  We are here to worship our Lord and to bring others to Christ.  I'm most proud, on a spiritual and eternal level, of the people in my life I've been blessed with the honor of sharing the Word of God and praying with them for salvation.  My first experience with this came somewhere around the age of 8 and my last around the age of 30.  My "numbers" aren't nearly as high as they need to be.  The beauty of writing with an amazing team of bloggers such as this group is that I'm being kept in check (even though they may not realize) and I'm going to up my game in this arena.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share.  Have a wonderful weekend, friends.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Being Proud without being Prideful

Years ago, I was playing a game with my family called the Ungame. It is a game to improve communication with others. They groaned and reluctantly agreed to play one of “mom’s games”

 One of the questions was “Who is the person, in the family, that talks the most?” They all agreed it was me. A while later, another question was asked, “Who is the person, in your family, that is the best listener?” Again, it was unanimous…it was me again! I thought that was pretty funny actually.

As God is my witness, my mother told me that I hardly talked for years. I just relied on my older brother and sister to communicate for me. I was also very sensitive and very much in the background in my family.

Early in my walk with the Lord, I sensed Him saying to me, that I was a lot like Gideon. When I read about him, this is what I found. Gideon was hiding…check! He considered himself the least in his family…check! Then, when the Lord called him a Mighty Warrior… what…who me??? I was at once amused and intrigued.

With that in mind, I would have to say two of the proudest moments of my life were when I gave the eulogies at my parent’s funerals. My dad’s came first and several years later, I spoke at my mom’s service. I was not only grateful that I had the courage to get up there before a large crowd, but I was also able to capture the very best of their lives.

Within each of their eulogies I was able to rightfully give honor to the Lord.

Many people, after each service, told me that what I said blessed them. They said that “I nailed it” with describing them.Along with what they knew about my parents, I was also able to share private moments that I had with each of them about faith and how much the Lord loved them etc. Because of those talks, I am reassured that they both are in heaven.
They, including my brothers and sister were amazed that this quiet Linda was up there talking.

Of course, I totally owe thanks, for that transformation, to my relationship with the Lord. He has endowed me with so much strength and confidence that I never had.

Another very proud moment (and you thought I could stick with just one) is when I was around 14.

Growing up, I would pick Christmas Eve as the happiest day of the year.

Actually, we celebrated Wigilia, which is Polish, for Christmas Eve or Vigil. There are specific traditions, like certain dishes on the menu... an empty chair with a table setting, is in place in anticipation for Jesus’ coming, as a guest… shared the Oplatek, which is a wafer, symbolic of the bread of Christ. Each person would approach another and break the wafer and speak a blessing on the other person. This all had such meaning for me. Also, having all my relatives together was a joyous occasion for me.

One Christmas Eve, my Babci (my grandmother) and my aunt arrived. They however came without my grandfather. He was sick, probably already suffering from the effects of his cancer. In those days, hardly anyone said the “C” word for cancer out loud.

The thought of my Dziadje (Grandfather) being alone, was just too sad for me to consider. I told my parents that I wanted to go over and to be with him. I think they were a little surprised ,as they knew just how much this day meant to me. My father, however, agreed to drive me over to his house.

One thing, about my relationship with my grandfather, needs to be noted. I don’t think I ever had any extended and personal conversation with him…ever. He certainly was not a talkative person. Then there was the language barrier too. He mostly spoke Polish with a smattering of English. Last but not least I was kind of afraid of him.

The greatest memory that I have of him is, when we would visit, he would give each of the grandchildren a banana and a small glass of Pepsi.

I didn’t think about the language issue, when I volunteered, but that was OK. I think he was pretty surprised that I came. He and I spent the evening with a bit of conversation along with a banana, a glass of Pepsi for me. He had glass of hard liquor.

I hope the visit lightened his heart. I remember how my heart was warmed. It probably was the first time I realized, that it IS more blessed to give than to receive.

I would be remiss if I didn't say that my wedding day and the birth of my children are way up there on the top of my list a days of pride.

God has been so good to me.
by Linda Maynard

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Children by Jenna Vick Silliman

Silliman Family at Daniel and Beth's Wedding, March 21, 2009
One of the accomplishments of which I am the most happy about is home birthing, breastfeeding, nurturing, and mothering my eight children. My desire was to give them the best start in life that I could. Though there are many things I would do differently now, I have no regrets because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I’m thankful we were able to have eight—we wanted a dozen, my husband, Cliff and I. I guess God thought “Eight is Enough”. Hahaha!
From personal experience I can testify that God’s Word is true. “Children are a blessing and a heritage of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is the Lord’s reward. They are likened to the arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are his many children in the gates of his land. Happy is the man who has his quiver full.” See Psalm 127. If you were going into battle with only a bow and a quiver with arrows, how many arrows would you want? We wanted as many as God would give us!
Though their lives are their own accomplishments, and a product of their own choices, hard work, and God’s blessing on their lives, I have you as my captive audience so I’d like to tell you about each one of them.
Peter Stanford is nine-years-old. He is sweet, loving, funny, tall, freckled, fun, smart, and good at math. He likes basketball and playing sports. He loves his kitten, Gus. He is a helpful son. He is a Christian and likes to speak and share what he is learning. Peter is not shy a bit. Sometimes he goes with me to the nursing homes when we do sing-a-longs. Today we will dress up in cowboy hats and vests and he will go with me.
Luke Thomas is twelve, but he’s wise and thoughtful and knows stuff intuitively. He is tuned in to how people are feeling, how God sees them, and what potential they have in life. Luke is smart and does very well in school, but it comes easily to him. Luke is a writer and would make an amazing journalist. He has lots of friends and enjoys being a kid, but he can get in serious discussions with adults too. Luke is a talented artist. He has already entered art shows, has a portfolio of his art, and has tried all different forms of artistic expression from photography to origami paper folding. Right now he’s painting his room black and white!
Stephen is fifteen. He is extremely smart and knows something about everything. He collects facts and loves to share them. He has a talent for math and he’s also an athlete. He’s excelled at basketball and soccer, but his favorite right now is track. He throws the javelin, runs fast, and pole vaults over nine feet into the air. He is a leader on his track team and naturally spurs them on to do their best. He’d make an awesome coach. He’s an all-around great guy and will do well at whatever he decides to do in life.
Joshua is nineteen. He is living at home right now, but he is a naturalist and lived in a debris shelter he made himself for six months over last fall and winter. He studies, enjoys, and lives in harmony with nature. He has grown to love our area, the beautiful Olympic Peninsula of the far Northwestern U.S.A. Joshua works very hard, and enjoys serious and deep discussions, but he has an amazing wit and is so hilarious sometimes. He makes me laugh! He is also a poet, an artist, and a good friend. He has a tender heart and intuitiveness and loves deeply. Joshua is extremely strong and is into health and fitness. He works as foreman in my husband’s business, Father and Sons’ Lawn Service, but he’s also in training with Tribal Edge. He naturally passes on what he knows and I can see him training boys for Tribal Edge, or being a life coach/personal trainer.
Michael is twenty-two. He is heading into his senior year at Simpson University and was elected class president. He is leaderful and has a natural ability to see what is important for people’s lives. He is a smart, articulate, and deeply spiritual man. He had training with Youth With A Mission and has traveled to many countries already. He works very hard. He worked for our family business, Father & Sons’ Lawn Service, and in the summers at college he is a groundskeeper. He is pursuing a degree in cross-cultural studies and then will work towards a Masters in Public Administration as he hopes to be involved in community development. He is also will get his teacher’s credential and would like to teach and coach children and will be an awesome role model. Right now he’s getting ready to go to Uganda and has worked hard to earn the funds, raise support and prepare for this trip where he will work at a school there.
David is twenty-five and he’s married to Charisa and they live next door in our mother-in-law cottage. He has a dream of becoming a fireman. He’s worked and is working very hard towards that goal. He is a volunteer fireman in Port Angeles and is also in a training program and serves as a “Residential Firefighter” for the city of Port Townsend. David has completed EMT training, lots of other training and passed many testings to qualify as a firefighter. Right now he is pursuing some college classes to make him more eligible for a position next time he applies. He and Charisa are also a dynamic duo with the company Advocare and they are mentors, coaches, and a support team for those pursuing better health and fitness. David is extremely fit and athletic and enjoys many outdoor activities.  He takes along his dog Charlie and has a blast. He also enjoys fixing things, has been rebuilding a VW bug, he loves antique cars, and riding his motorcycle. David is also a leader and has coached a softball team in Sequim for several years. They were in first place last year!
Valerie Joy, our one and only daughter, is twenty-seven and lives in Portland. Her name means “strong, valiant joy” and she definitely lives up to her name. She is smart, wise, and practical at the same time. Valerie is an awesome writer and communicator and is an excellent counselor/support person as well. She is leaderful and a good friend. She has many friends all over the country. She is musical and enjoys going to concerts, many different types of music, playing the piano, and singing (though she hasn't had much time for singing in choirs or playing piano while getting her Masters). She’s very good with her hands, enjoys making things, types fast, and is a hands-on kinesthetic type. She is also an awesome chef and an amazing hostess. She loves to plan events and cook for a dinner party and pulls recipes off the Internet or gets them from friends, to try new recipes. She's growing a little kitchen garden on her deck this summer. She went to college at University of Portland in Oregon and graduated with her BA in Literature. She amazes me how she bicycles everywhere in the city! She lives there in Portland with her partner, Val. She just finished getting her Masters in Social Work, or MSW, at University of Chicago. She’s applying for jobs now and has a bright future before her.
Daniel, our first-born, is now thirty years old. (How can that be?!) He is brilliant. He is a writer. He has been published many times and continues to write his blog several times a week. My Danny is fun to be with. He turns on awesome music and is a terrific conversationalist and also a story teller. He's also an extraordinary artist, photographer, and woodcarver. He plays Scrabble and is impossible to beat. I think he’ll be a world champion at that game some day soon. He is a deep thinker and a philosopher. He graduated with his BA from Hillsdale in Michigan in Philosophy. He also studied Journalism and worked at several newspapers while in college and then worked as a crime reporter for two years on a newspaper in a city near Atlanta, Georgia. He now lives in Tuebingen, Germany with his wife, Beth. Beth is leading a missionary team at Tuebingen University and works with the students there. Daniel is now working towards his PhD in American Studies while he’s in Germany studying under a professor at Heidelberg University.
Crescent Lake, WA, Summer 2007 when Daniel brought home Beth to meet us.
All of our children have a living faith in the Lord Jesus and are loving, awesome people! I have to give the glory to God because I surely can’t take the credit for who they are today. However, I can tell you I am thankful and I am blessed to be their mother. 
One of my favorite photos! All my children in my kitchen, Summer 2003.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's all because of my Dad

It’s interesting that this was our topic this week.  On Sunday, the sermon was about boasting.  It was an interesting take on the passage in 2 Corinthians 5:12.  In some interesting homiletical work, the pastor tied this in to how our father’s (it was Father’s Day last Sunday) would boast on us.  He said that we should recognize the impact of our “fathers” and boast in their impact on our lives.

I’m going to follow that advice.  My father was not an educated man.  However, I think he probably was brilliant.  I recently looked at the 1940 census and saw that he listed himself as having finished seventh grade.  My mother often said that she doubted he got that far as he “went to sea” at the young age of 13 or 14.  By the time I came along, he had a job as a night janitor at a major bank in NYC.

My father stressed education.  I don’t remember specific conversations about college nor do I remember pressure about my grades.  But somehow, the idea that we needed a college education was impressed on my brothers and I.  Of my two brothers, only one graduated high school by finishing the 12th grade.  The other, like me, got a GED (equivalency diploma).

But this is not about my brothers.  This is about me.  This is about my boasting on the imprint of my father that led to something of which I am very proud.

If you’ve read my blogs either her on Kingdom Bloggers or on Sounds of Hope, you know I am working on my doctorate.  You know that education is very important to me.  If you’ve read Sounds of Hope for a long time, you know about my early marriage at the age of 16, becoming a mother at 17, and you know about my childhood, etc.  For those of you who haven’t, here it is in a nutshell.

I married at 16.  I became pregnant immediately.  By the time, I was to enter my senior year of high school, I was dealing with first trimester exhaustion.  I quit school.  My peers graduated and I changed diapers on a beautiful baby boy.  The next fall, I tried again.  I tried to finish my senior year.  I remember falling asleep in class.  I couldn’t do it.

My dad, who was still living at the time, consoled himself with comments about how I always loved my dolls and seemed destined to be a mother.  By 19, my father went home to Jesus and my second child was born.  Still no diploma.  Abuse, abandonment, divorce, remarriage to the same guy, and another pregnancy followed.  Five months pregnant, he beat me for the last time.  The day my first daughter was born was the same day as graduation at the University of Missouri.  Three kids, one in the ICU nursery maybe dying, living on welfare and alone, I cried as I watched my peers stream out of commencement with their caps and gowns.  However, by this time, I had gotten a GED.

Three and a half years later, I finished college.  Something rose up within me that day as I cried and grieved over my life.  Yes, it was God but it was also my dad.  It was all those times that he instilled in me that education was important.  I was so proud.  Three kids and three and a half years later, I had a Bachelor of Science degree.  My only regret is my dad didn't see that day.  When I walk with my doctoral tam and academic regalia next May, I hope he's looking down from heaven and saying, that's my girl!  I knew she could do it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Proud Moments

We all have them – stuff we did that we’re proud of.  This week on Kingdom Bloggers were showing off a little prowess in areas you might not have guessed about us. Stay tuned all week and add your own proud feats in the comments.


I’ve never enjoyed camping, not as a child and not as an adult. I don’t like being dirty, absolutely detest public bathrooms and I’m getting too old to sleep on the ground. But I’m a good mom, or at least I try insanely hard to create fantastic memories for my Boy that will balance out the trauma I caused him in other areas. One such memory making opportunities is camping. He’s a boy, he loves dirt, he loves sleeping in a pack (everyone on the ground together) and it’s only in his later childhood years that he’s developed a quasi-phobia about public toilets. Probably because I’d scoot him away back to home rather abruptly if he even so hinted at a #2, but that’s another story.

When my Boy was three, I thought it would be a good idea to take him camping. When he was two, we tested it out by sleeping in a tent in the backyard – I could handle that. The next summer comes along and I decide, Yes. I can do this. Let me clarify, I am speaking in singular first person because my Man is not available to us in the summer for overnight excursions. When I say I took my Boy camping, I mean me and only me.

I made all the necessary purchases – a 5-man tent (because the dinky 3-man tent was not enough room for me, my Son and our stuff), a coleman stove, and of course, an above-ground blow-up bed. I packed up the car, my Man loaded us up with firewood and off we went to the great unknown.

Thirty minutes later, I arrived at a beautiful campground on the ocean. I proceeded to unpack the car and begin to set up camp. Did I mention my Boy was three? He was no help whatsoever and in fact, I had to stop what I was doing every few minutes to make sure he was still on-site. Finally the car is unloaded and I decide where to place the tent. That’s when I look at the directions – it shows 2-3 people in the helpful diagram. I am one person, and a 3-year old. I have been called tenacious (some might say stubborn), and eventually the tent is in place.

By now it’s nearly dinner time and I’m determined to make dinner on the fire. The only problem is I’ve never started a fire in my life. Oh well, it can’t be too hard, and an hour later, it wasn’t. We had our fire-cooked dinner and s’mores too and drifted off to a sleepless night. (Seriously, the crunch, crunch of people walking along the path near our site to make a midnight trip to the bathroom is extremely loud in a tent.)

We stayed two nights – because it’s way too much work for one night and remember when I said at the beginning I absolutely detest public toilets? Yeah, well 2 days is about all I can take. After that, the cramps are too much to handle.

I’ve done other things I’m proud of but nothing has been as satisfying as feeling like I might actually be able to survive if I had to.