The 2019 Blogger Awards

The Sunshine Blogger Award is one of the best ways to learn more about other Christian bloggers who strive to write spiritually encouraging and beneficial content for all of us. The sunshine blogger award is not an official award, it’s just as important because it really reflects the good impact we can have on other people’s lives.  (Statements were cited from nominators’ blogs)

Thank you to Temi Michael-O from Christian Mommas, for nominating this blog for the Sunshine Blogger’s Award.

The sunshine blogger award rules:

  1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog
  2. List the rules and display an award logo on your blog post
  3. Answer the 11 questions the blogger(s) asked you
  4. Nominate 11 other bloggers to receive the award and notify them by commenting on any of their post
  5. Ask the nominees 11 new questions

11 questions by Herry

  1. How did get started blogging? The Holy Spirit has been nudging me for years to write, and I had gotten to a point in my life that I felt I could focus on writing, so I asked the Lord what He wanted me to write about and He told me He wanted me to encourage younger mothers to love their husbands and their children by sharing my stories.
  2. Other than Jesus what Biblical “character” would you most like to spend time with? I would love to be friends with Ruth. She was a woman of faith, and she was loyal and she knew how to love and be loyal.
  3. How many places have you lived? I have lived in Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, and spent a couple of summers in California, Virginia and New Jersey.
  4. Where/How do you blog (i.e. home office on PC, in my recliner on lap top)?. I blog on my laptop, but it helps to be alone without distractions.
  5. How has your life changed since you stared blogging? It has helped me to remember all the ways God has worked and intervened in my life. The Bible tells us to “Remember” as it helps to bolster our faith. This blog has probably encouraged me, more than anyone who has read it. 🙂
  6. If you had zero subscribers, would you still blog? Blogging isn’t about who reads my blogs, (that’s nice:) but blogging is about being obedient to God.
  7. Do you attend a small, medium or large church? Medium to large sized church.
  8. Why did you choose that particular congregation? God led us there after our son died.
  9. How long have you been a Christ follower? 40 years.
  10. What is your favorite holiday & why? Christmas–my husband loves to give gifts, and I think his generosity so reflects the generosity of our Heavenly Father, who gives in lavish abundance.
  11. Other than blogging are you involved in any other ministry? Yes– A group of friends and I host monthly international teas. I have heard that internationals come to our country and never get invited into an American’s home. I hope to see that change, one tea, one community at a time. Perhaps someone will read this and decide to start international events in their own communities.

My nominees are amazing and encouraging writers. Please read their blogs, you’ll be encouraged and supported in your faith. (Nominees–You are under no obligation to participate. 🙂 )

Dayle: When The Old Passes and The New Comes.

Esther: You”Better Watch Out” God.

Temi: What Christianity means to my family.

MFranseen: Three Ways To Grow in Contentment in a Disappointing World

Blue Cotton Memory: Her House Overflowed With Children.

Chloe: May Your Days Be Merry and Bright.

The Godly Chic Diaries: Stop Stopping Yourself.

Beholding Him Ministries: New Year: Lord, Give Me You.

Kim: You Can Trust Him.

April: My 10 Favorite Memories From 2019

Lovely In The Dark: Healing Is….

Thank you again, Temi, for nominating me!! 🙂

Merry Christmas and “Don’t Stop Believing!!”

Merry Christmas!!

I saw this clip and knew it had to be included in a Christmas greeting to you all.  It is the Peanuts gang, singing, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.

I thought this was perfect for a few reasons.

  1.  Our family loves the Peanut gang.  Each Holiday has us watching the appropriate show, from the Peanut gang.  Our son Sean especially loved Snoopy, and when our oldest son gave us a Beagle puppy the Christmas after Sean passed, we named this dog, Snoopy.
  2. Sean loved the song, “Don’t Stop Believing”, by Journey.  You might say this was his theme song for life.  He would belt out this song and sing it wherever, whenever.  One summer Sean and his older brother participated in a summer program with other junior high kids, and Sean sang this song with a friend to all the other kids—right up in front of the classroom.  Apparently, he rocked the song!!  I can just picture the scene in my mind.  Sean did not have any problem having confidence – which was unusual for a Junior High kid – and was filled with exuberance and joy.
  3. I often wondered if Sean would grow up to be a life coach, as that is what he was to his family and friends when he was here on earth.  He was continually encouraging us to take the next step of faith in our life journey, whatever that next step was.  He was relentless, persistent and so, so encouraging.  “Come on Mom, you can do this!!  I know you can!!  Let’s do this!!”  were often things I heard him say, whether it was a new exercise program he wanted me to try, or a new diet.
  4. When you watch this clip, I want you to imagine that it is being sung to you directly, and whatever you are having trouble believing right now—imagine that you are being told—“Don’t stop believing!!”
  5. Sometimes the hardest thing for me is to believe that God really loves me.  I think of all the ways I’ve failed and I can’t imagine a Holy, Perfect God would want to be around me.  I have been rejected by humans for my failings, why wouldn’t God reject me as well?   When I listen to this song, I am going to imagine, God is telling me, “Don’t Stop Believing—that I Love You!!
  6. One of my favorite verses in the world is:  Hebrews 13:5:  “….be content with what you have, for He, Himself has said, “I will never desert you or forsake you.”   God will never leave me or forsake me—no human can make that promise—only God can.  Only He can fill the empty void in my life.
  7. So this Christmas as we celebrate God demonstrating that love, by coming down to earth as a baby, and suffering and dying for us all to bring us into a relationship with Him—“Don’t Stop Believing!!”     Be EnCouraged!!   Merry Christmas!!

The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future

Every year, our family puts up our Christmas Tree.  We get out the boxes of decorations–they are in red tubs with green lids, and each ornament is nestled in its original boxes—I am bragging about this area of my organization, as it is the only area I can brag about. 🙂  We make hot cocoa, have some cookies, and decorate our tree.

I love decorating the tree.  We usually buy an ornament to commemorate a vacation we took, or a special trip we took and so decorating the tree is a walk down memory lane.  We talk about the trip or remember the people who gave us the baby ornament, or any ornament we put up on our tree. 

After Sean died, this usually wonderful tradition of decorating the tree became a tradition that led to grief.  Every ornament became a memory with his memory attached.  “Remember, we got this ornament when we took the trip to Florida and we went to Disney World?”   Then I would remember how Sean wanted to go to Florida to Disney World so badly.  There were T.V. shows on the Travel Channel highlighting the Disney Parks, and he would watch them over and over again.

“Mom, can we go to the Disney Parks?”  “Well, Sean, you can pray about anything, so you can pray that we go to the Disney Parks.”   In my mind, I didn’t know how this would ever happen, it seemed unlikely to say the least, but when Julia, my daughter told me all she wanted In the whole world was a baby sister, (she was 5 at the time), I told her the same thing—”well Julia, you can pray about anything, so pray for God to give you a baby sister.”  I was thinking we could look into adoption.  Instead I found myself pregnant at the age of 45, giving birth to a baby girl at the age of 46. 

Sure enough, shortly after my son started praying to go to the Disney Parks, my sister-in-law called my husband and she wanted to plan a family trip with our families and their parents to go to the Disney Parks.  (Their parents had a time share that we used the points from to book timeshares in Orlando, and my sister-in-law knew the websites to get the best deals on the Disney tickets—and so we found ourselves down in Florida—in the Disney Parks!!)  We had a blast!!  Sean had a blast!!

 Looking at the ornaments–led to all those memories, which led to grief, but it also led to remembering the answered prayers as well. This helped us stand in the reality that God exists, and He loves us, He listens to us, He cares for us.    

It was very difficult to continue with this tradition of decorating the tree.  We celebrated our first Christmas without Sean a mere 3 months after we lost him.  We were still in a state of shock.  My husband and I thought we needed to continue with our traditions, that the children needed these things to bring the past into our present and our future.  Even though it felt like everything had changed, some things remained the same.   God’s love remained the same.  We have found that each year, there is more of a blessing in the remembering, than grief.  It has helped to bring Sean into our present and will help bring him into our future.

 Just writing this story, I am remembering Julia praying for a baby sister, and God answered!!  God does not always answer these types of prayers—as my nieces who were only daughters will attest—but He did for Julia.  Perhaps because He knew that Julia and all of us would need this baby in the days to come, (our baby was 6 years old when her brother died.) She would bring us God’s comfort and love in her hugs and kisses and declarations that, “Sean is in heaven, and we are going to heaven too, we will see him again.”

Christmas is celebrating that God left heaven and came down to earth in the form of a baby.  “Immanuel” means “God is with us.”   In John 1: 1,14, we find this concept of : The Word is God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  

In Romans 8:31, it says, “If God is for us, who is against us?”  In other words–it doesn’t matter who is against us, because God is so big and great, we are covered by Him.

Romans 8: 38, 39 also says– nothing can separate us from His love.

I am here to bear witness to these truths.  God is With Us.  God is For Us.  Nothing—not death nor life, nor any created thing can separate us from His love.   Not losing a child, or the grief that this loss brings, or any other problem in the entire world can separate us from His love.

If you are having trouble believing this, I want you to think about how much you love your children, and you are a mere human being. If you and I can love with such passion as imperfect human beings, imagine how a perfect, infinite being who considers us His children—loves us.  It is not so hard to imagine when we think of it in those terms—is it?

However, God’s thoughts are greater than my thoughts, and His ways are greater than my ways.  Sometimes, (ok—many times), I question God and what He is doing in my life.  I questioned Him many times for taking my son.  I have come to the realization that God is not upset with my questions, but sometimes His only answer is to wait on Him, and trust Him, even if I don’t know the answers, I can trust Him, I can trust His love, I can trust that He is for my family, He is for me.

You can trust that God is for you, He is for your family.  You can trust in His love.  He is “Immanuel”—God is with us—He is with us in our joy, in our grief and in our lives!!  So Be encouraged!!

A Hoot Of A Christmas Mystery

Today, I thought you’d all like to hear from Dayle Rodgers–she’ll help get us in the Christmas spirit and she is a hoot!!

Tip of My Iceberg

It began with one. Out of nowhere, it appeared.

A small owl made of straw-like material, decked with holly berries, greenery, and tiny pine cones. Stuck at the end of a wire, placed in the lawn close to the house.

I immediately thought of Ethan, seventeen and possessing a very dry sense of humor. One of his joys in life is teasing me, so I did what any other person assured of their solution would do.

I told him I figured out he was the one who had done it.

He looked surprised. “Who, me?’

Sly boy. It was a show to confuse me. I laughed, figuring any hesitation on my part would give him more fuel to keep up the sham.

“Sure, it was you. Who else would put a Christmas owl in my lawn?” His response was a head shake.

I thought I had him.

By Saturday the…

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The Safest Place To Be

I started my “Encouragement from Katie” blogsite a little over 4 months ago.  I have written some stories detailing  the times when I have relied on God’s strength and guidance in my parenting, and that is the purpose of this blog—to encourage young moms to look to God for the answers and strength in their mothering role.   However, there were times when I did not do this.  There were times I was angry, frustrated, fearful, or anxious and I acted out those emotions.  I remember a time when I expressed fear, and then anger, in the space of a heartbeat.

At the time, I was a mom with just 4 children (I would have a fifth- 7 years later); their ages were: 8 years, 4 years, 3 years and 11 months old.  It was time for our church’s VBS and I was helping with it.  I dropped off my 11-month-old with a friend, who also had an 11-month old baby.  She watched our babies while I took the 3 older children to VBS.  At the end of VBS, I loaded up the children in our mini van and ran back in the church to grab something I had forgotten.  Then— I came back out to the van, got in and drove off.  I parked at my friend’s home and went in to get my baby.  I came back out and noticed that my four-year-old was not in the van.  I thought he had gotten out and was wandering around the neighborhood.  I started calling for him, yelling his name one minute, and crying his name in the next.

My friend’s husband looked at me in amazement—I seemed like a woman gone berserk—yelling, then crying, then yelling, then crying.    I was demanding that we call the police and the fire department.  He said, “Why don’t we call the church first, maybe he’s at the church?”   “No”, I snapped back, “I put him in the van, he must have gotten out at your house, and he’s wandering around the neighborhood.”  

“Well”, he said, “let’s just call the church first.”  Eventually, I agreed, and we called the church.  Yes, my child was at the church.  He had gotten out to use the bathroom, and I had not noticed when I got into the van.  Even now, when I remember that story, my heart starts pounding and the adrenaline starts rushing through my body at the terror I experienced when I thought my child was lost.

Why do I recount this story?  Because—this is what life is like isn’t it?  Life is going along, and then something that we don’t expect happens—and how do we react?  I don’t and haven’t always reacted well.  The first thing I thought of, in the situation I just recounted, wasn’t God; I did not call out to Him to save my child.  I tried to deal with the situation myself—and in relying on my own resources—I vacillated between terror and anger. 

Perhaps, you can relate.  Perhaps you too, try to deal with your life situations with your own resources, not turning to the Lord.

I have just recounted one story, yet, over the past 27 years of being a mother—my life is filled with many stories, many moments.  

I have seen that being a mother has taken everything I have and more.  It has brought out my worst self, and my best self.  Like most mothers—I would willingly lay down my life for my children—-yet get annoyed with them for the smallest of offenses. 

Fortunately, I have a Father who is the most patient of teachers, and He continues to give me lessons on how to love, until I learn.  He is the most consistent, faithful, love-motivated teacher there is.  His goal—to make me Holy, (whole), like Him.   I came to Him broken, and He—He is fixing me.  He is teaching me to love, like He loves.

It does not happen overnight, or in a month or in years—it takes a lifetime—it takes believing God and acting out what He shows me to do.   

Just recently, I had another incident where I reacted from emotion.  I thought I was beyond doing such things, but I am never beyond those things, because I will always need God.  Whenever I think, “I’ve got this.”  Life will throw me a curve-ball, and I will realize once again, “No I don’t have this, and God, please—HELP!! 

Being a mom, has taught me how amazing God’s grace truly is, as I am continually leaning into Him to just take the next step, when my strength has given out.  If that’s what you are learning as well—you are in a good place—you are in your Father’s hands—the safest place to be.

So Be Encouraged!!