4 Eyes Are Better Than 2

Guess who had to get glasses?

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Nope, not Avery.  But she sure looks cute!

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Nope, not Ty either, but he sure was sad that he couldn’t take his favorite blue pair home. (not pictured)

  It was Destiny!

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  She was less than thrilled as she did NOT want to wear glasses. 

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  We tried to make the day extra special, by using our Egg money for a Wendy’s lunch, along with 2 free Frosty coupons, for a picnic in the park.

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Check out Paxton’s new owie-swollen-gums-teething-face:

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See those new bottom 2?  He is currently getting 4 more, poor guy!

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A Bacon Cheeseburger seemed to make things a bit better for Destiny.  :)

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  Pray for her when you think about it.  We have been seeing a doctor since school got out, she was lip reading while her teacher was at the board, trying to figure out what she was writing.  She also was struggling with her seat work.  Bless her teachers heart, she pulled her aside and helped her with every assignment the whole last month of school! 

  The doctor is unsure what is going on, because glasses are not taking Destiny’s vision back to the 20-20, as is there job to do.  This tells them something else is wrong, something they have yet to figure out.  They are throwing the word “Specialist” around if it hasn’t resolved itself by summers end. 

  I think you know what $pecialist means:  lots of very very expensive doctor visits in a distant town.  We are believing and praying she’ll outgrow this!!!!

  Until then, doesn’t she look sweet?

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I think so.

Besides, 4 eyes are better than 2, right!?!?!

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~T

The Country Cook

Hey everybody, I am kickin’ it with my girl, Brandie today over at her great blog, The Country Cook.

  She is the one that got me started on this to die for dessert

and this AMAAAAZING Cucumber Dip

So what are you waiting for? Come on over, Brandie is an excellent hostess! I bet she is serving sweet tea and something scrumptious….

Oh wait, I am cooking over there today.

Hmm, enter at your own risk?

Tee-hee, just teasing.  :)

Come see me, pretty please, with cherries on top?!??!

At The Country Cook….

~T

Tub Time Traditions

  There is just something so darn cute about babies in the bathtub!

066069                          At around the 8 month mark, we take a bath time photo of our children in the sink.  I am not sure how this tradition got started, but it seems once I decided to decorate my red & black bathroom with black & white bath time pictures of baby Destiny, taken by my cousin many years ago, it was deemed necessary to continue,  as other little Fergusons turned 8 months old.

  Forgive me, but I am far too lazy to take these out of their frames and go scan them……

Destiny

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Tylan

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Avery

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Paxton

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Here they are as you see them in the bathroom…..I need to get Paxton’s photos ordered and into the frames already!

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  You have no idea how many years I walked into this bathroom, and dreamed of the day when I’d have 4 babies to photograph and fill this frame.     044

  Funny the things that can make you sing praises to your Heavenly Father, isn’t it?

~T

 

Weekend Fun

 I bought a swim suit this weekend, it’s a 3 piece:

A top, a bottom and a blindfold for you.

BAHAHAHA! Just teasing, I got that in an email and loved it, so I had to share.  :) 

We had such a fun weekend!  (I trust you did as well.)  We were invited to use a friends pool…….

A “real” one, says my kids.  068

As opposed to our little blow up “fake” one?   :)

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  Boy, I tell you, it took some doing to keep all of those 4 little Fergusons a float successfully!  024

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  We haven’t had a lot of practice in deep water, some of the kids not at all.  (Thankfully, Nana joined us.  We love it when she can come along with us for these fun adventures!)

  Destiny and her best friend/cousin, Brooklyn, did fine swimming unassisted. 

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Avery played it safe in the very very shallow end, at first only leaving the area when she had on arm floaties AND her tube.  It didn’t always work how she planned, but she soon figured it out with just the arm floaties, doing bobs and back floats with the best of them.

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Paxton went head first once, right out of my arms and into the water.  I was sitting with my legs in, so he didn’t go far, but he sure got a face full and scared me to pieces!  

After that, I sequestered him to a raft with me. 

Mean ol’ life jacket turned him into a little turtle peeking out of its shell, so we took it off…..

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He loved it, just chillaxin with me, and almost falling asleep towards the end!!!!

  Tylan had quite the mishap:  027

One minute he was floating in the deep water with his floaty, the next? 

Empty floaty, no Tylan. 

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You better believe that was the longest 30 seconds of my life.  He was fine, praise the Lord, just had abandoned his floaty to sit on these water-submerged stools behind the fountain;  JUST out of my line of sight.  He was playing so quietly and nicely he didn’t hear me call his name at first.   Jeepers, give me a heart attack why don’t ya!?

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  By the time our afternoon of fun was over, both Destiny and Tylan had learned to swim (floaty-free) to the half way mark where Daddy stood and back.  Remember, they really haven’t had exposure to regular swimming pools, so this was extra exciting!!!! 

We were so proud of their brave swimming!

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We told all the kids that if they showed bravery and tried their best to learn to swim, they’d earn a popsicle after dinner!

  Brooklyn says “YAY!”, cause she was already a great swimmer!!!!

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   We packed our mini camping grill for a Hotdog and Kansas Cornbread salad picnic by the pool.

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Next up, reward time!!!!! Popsicles for everyone!088

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 We had so much fun that we decided on a repeat performance for Saturday as 090well.  Don’t you just love how water wipes kids out?

  Thanks to the sweet family that allowed us to use their pool……

  You blessed us with a fun and memory filled weekend!  :)

~T

More weekend photos:

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Yes, Paxton is wearing a girl cover up.  Avery didn’t mind, and he was cold.  :) 

  My sweet Grandma asked me to come photograph her flowers this weekend, they were just lovely!

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I love that our Creator is so creative in his Creations!!!!!!

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Country Critters

 When I pictured my life with Dale, I imagined a house with a white picket fence….

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But what I didn’t imagine was that there would ever be 27 chickens behind that fence!

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  I am learning to be a Country Girl, I really am, and I have surprised myself along the way……. 

I LOVE having gardens.

But ask me how much I loved having 4 different ones after summer is over….

  Hmm, one for each kid to maintain?????  haha :)

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I love living out of town where no other homes are visible.

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  I love hanging our wet swim clothes or clean quilts out on the clothesline. 

(This was not allowed in the neighborhood I grew up in…)

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I love the fresh, cold from the spicket well water, though at first I swore you had to chew it first to swallow, based on the high mineral content.

  Oh, and have I mentioned, I love my chickens?039

I have?  Many times?

Oh. 

Ok, well, I still do, just in case you were wondering…..

   I love that they come when I call.

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Love them enough to have chased Mr. Fox down the lane, yelling and waving my fist (in bathrobe and slippers) to save them. 

Story here.

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  Do you remember when my kids used their own money to buy 5 Astrolorp chickens? 

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  It has been a really great way for them to take responsibility and care for them each day as part of their chores.   

  Well, Grandma Eileen, being the thinker she is, had a great surprise early/late Birthday present in store for the kiddos:004

 002 She got us Silkie Bantam chickies, with the promise of Americana’s to come, once they are hatched.009013 

To say the kids were excited, would be an understatement!

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Pax thought they sure looked tasty!

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No kidding, this is what they should look like once they are full-grown.

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  We got the sightless kind because they are supposedly easier to care for.

BAHAHAHA! Just teasing.

Yes, this really is what they will look like, and yes, they can see under that mop of fur.

Aren’t they just so stinkin’ adorable!?!?!?!?!?!  {cue girly squeeeeal}

  The fun thing about the country life, I am learning, is that we have our fair share of other critters out here too:

Like Raccoons

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Salamanders named Sam

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As you can tell, Tylan is not to impressed with the visitor on his shoulder.

Right after this photo of little 1 year old Avery was taken, Sam the Salamander took off up her arm. She came UNGLUED! For weeks after, she’d tell the tragic tale, in her little teeny baby voice, showing with motions how Sam ran up her arm to her shoulder. She ended the story with “And I cwy and CWY!” (And, I cry and CRY!) 

Princess the Possum. who sadly, did not visit for long.

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Baby Birds in the clothesline pole each year.

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Mr. Turtle

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Deer

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Speaking of deer, we got to go meet a little rescue fawn recently, she was precious!

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Just today, we had a Momma turkey and 11 little ones come visit…

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Oh, and I can’t forget a peeping squirrel or two….

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  I love it! 

  In addition to these wild critters, we are talking about adding Goats and a Beef Cow to our family……. 

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But, we’ll just take this Country Critter thing 1 step at a time!

~T

 

 

4 little Fergusons Daily Routine

   I have had 2 separate Mommy’s email me recently, asking about our daily routine.  Sounded like a future blog post to me, so here I am!  :)

  Let me start off by giving a HUGE disclaimer….

  This schedule is what I strive for, and I LOVE it when we succeed, ‘cause being organized makes me happy.  However, with 4 kids, I have learned to expect the unexpected!  I never know when a phone call or fussy baby will throw the whole morning’s routine, you know?  So, if you call me at 12:15 and I am not making lunch yet….no judgments!   :)

This is the school schedule, but I’ll try to make notes of how it changes in the summer time:

134Btwn 6:30-7   Breakfast time for all the kiddos! Destiny makes bed, gets dressed, and brushes teeth. (For the summer, this part of Destiny’s routine will all start an hour later, with the other kids.)
7:50  Destiny off to school
Little kids do their morning chores like make their beds, get dressed, do hair, brush teeth.
~Next, they unload the dishwasher or put away their clean laundry. If no chores need done, then they get to play in the playroom until TV time.
~I use this time to pick from my monthly menu what I want to make for dinner, lay out the necessary non-perishable ingredients and thaw meat in a cold water-filled sink.
0688:30   Morning nap for Paxton, my time to check my email/blog comments.
(Did I mention I LOVE to hear from you all? Cause I do!) 
9-10   1 hour of TV time (This is all they get for the day) so I can get a shower. (Or at least get my contacts in and freshen up a bit!  Let’s be realistic, this is not something that always occurs!!!!!) LOL :) 

*I’d like to think someday, as Pax gets older, I will be rested enough to set my alarm and get up to shower at 5:30 or something!!!! We’ll see how that goes!

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 ~The good news about limiting Tv time? It’s SUCH a special treat, that they don’t budge from the couch until the show is over.  I use the rest of this time to get some work done on the computer or make phone calls while all is quiet!
10   Wake up Paxton, so he’ll take an afternoon nap. (we are just starting to show signs of outgrowing morning nap, so we’ll cut it down slowly until it’s no longer necessary)

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10-10:50  Play a game, do puzzles or read to the kids. If they are playing wonderfully together, I don’t always interrupt, but choose to keep working around the house.
10:50  Make lunch and call for toy clean up.
11-12:00   Lunch. 
   My kids are SLOOOOW eaters! I eat with them and once I have fed Pax his baby food, start working on supper or pay bills or something constructive.

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Why, oh why, do little ones feel the need to dig their faces into their sandwich eating only the center, even if they know they have to eat the crust afterwards anyways?

  On another note: 1 bribed the kids today with a “1 Carrot Earns You 3 Chips” Rule.  Guess who got too full of carrots to want any chips? SCORE!  :)

12:15  Required rest time for big kids. (We aim for a minimum of 1 hour.)
~Destiny must read a chapter book during this time. Tylan looks at picture books and plays quietly with cars. They both must stay in their locations the whole hour, no coming in and out of the room or minutes are added to resting time!
~This is also nap time for the two little ones (minimum of 1 1/2 hours or they are cranky!) They usually sleep 2-2 1/2 hours.
12:30  Nurse Paxton and get him to sleep.
12:30-3  Work like mad to get supper prep work done (I chop veggies, or wash lettuce, fry up my hamburger and onions;  anything to make supper go faster later when the kids are STARRRRVING) then I lay out, read a book, or do something for me.

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After their hour is up, Destiny and Tylan can come out and play, or help me in the garden, with weeding and harvesting.

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3ish  Every body is awake, it’s Snack time!

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*No eating past 4 or we spoil supper.

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~From the time they get up from nap on, its swim time or (during the nice school days) outside play time until I call them in for supper.
5   Get supper in the oven, call Destiny in to do homework during the school year.
Eat supper anywhere from 5-7 pm depending on daddy’s schedule.

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Start bedtime @ 7:00   during school year, or between 7:30-8 in the summer, it takes us a good half hour!
~First we get outdoor or indoor toys picked up, put Jammies on, get teeth brushed and unmake beds.
~Meet in the office to get online and check off Chore Charts for the day. 053
~Then meet as a family in front of the fire in the winter, or either the girls room or the boy’s room the rest of the year, for Bible story, songs and prayer time.
LIGHTS OUT 7:30 during school year and between 8-8:30 in the summer!

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  No matter what time we go to bed, it seems they wake up around 6:15 the next day, and then we start this routine over! :) 

  After Tylan was born, and I had to really schedule his nursing’s and naps between Destiny’s preschool drop off and pick up, so I used to have this schedule written out on a piece of paper and taped up where I could see it.  After a while it just flowed on its own and this is the schedule we currently aim for each day.  I am sure it will change again after 3 of them are in school next year on different days in 3 different locations! :)

  Hope this gives you a jumping point in creating your own schedule and routine.  Have a good one!

~T

God Loves Me Too Much To Leave Me As I Am: 3/3

For those of you just tuning in, this is part 3 of a 3 part series, get caught up here:

Jesus Loves Me This I Know

Seeing God’s Provision

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March, 2011:

  We are now well into month 5 of waiting for a paycheck, any paycheck of size will do.  Instead, the Lord continues to provide $45 coming in, the day $45 goes out of our account to pay a bill.  He wants me to trust Him today for all my needs and I know He provides, look at us! There is NO WAY we should be “making it” with finances the way they are. I know He provides, we are living proof! But still, I struggle.

  We recently, with heavy sad hearts, cancelled our much-anticipated trip to Florida this May, to go see my family.  It’s too expensive to fly, and with gas the way it is, too expensive to drive.  Besides, in the scheme of things, there is just not money for such a trip, EVEN IF this check finally comes. 

  Our whole lives seem to be revolving around this silly check, yet when I look at our accounts, even “normal” checks aren’t coming in anymore.  I feel as if God is blocking “normal” right now….there must be more I am to learn.  I am constantly fighting panic and trying to be soft, moldable and ready to learn.

    I had a clothing sale last year, open to acquaintances only, spending days and days, hours and hours, setting it up like a store at my mom’s house, then scheduling friends to come shop.  I had a goal in mind: 

I wanted to raise enough money for new kitchen countertops.

  Guess who met that goal TO THE DOLLAR?  I was super excited!  Good-bye 1970′s yellow countertops, hello gorgeous black and beige ones!  The next clothing sale I held would be to raise the money for the installation fees. 

   Fast forward one year, to this year:  I carefully set up and planned for my 2nd sale, and got the word out to friends.  I knew the money should go for living expenses and bills this time around, but I desperately wanted those countertops.  Surely I could still tuck away for that particular item after saving for so long, right?

   But alas, the week before my “Countertop Instillation Money Clothing Sale”, the Lord asked me to give up my countertops. 

Rrrrr, I KNEW it!  But come on, not that money! 

  I had saved that money for a whole YEAR, untouched.  Please, not the counter top money!

    There was no doubt He was asking me to use my money wisely and spend the saved money as well as the sale money, to help our family.   And I knew it was the right thing to do, I had known it all along.  {SIGH}

  Selfishly, and sobbing as I did it, I handed the money over to Dale, to pay Destiny’s school tuition bill. 

  Such a petty thing I was clinging to!!!! And funny, that after months of not grocery shopping, or living the way we had grown accustomed to, THIS was the time that made me break down? 

Over countertops? 

Really?

We humans, are silly and selfish people. 

God is such a loving God. 

   You know how I gave up my Florida trip? 

  Guess who surprised me with a visit? 

My family.  :)

   Again, something I didn’t pray or ask for, was dropped in my lap!  God knows our hearts and He knew mine was missing my Florida family. 

What a blessing and what a fun week!  Again, I praise His name!

  March 23rd, 2010:

  We received a paycheck today, one of more “normal” preportions!  My heart leapt for joy!!!! Hurray!!!! This valley is over, right? We are headed up the other side to bigger and better things, right?

  Nope. 

  The very same day we received this normal sized check, (FINALLY!) we also received a notice from the IRS.

  In addition to the thousands and thousands we owed for 2010′s taxes, (remember, we are self-employed so we always pay in! Ugh.) we also discovered we owed $4,000 from a missed 1099 in 2009 as well.  And of course, we had no idea about until that very moment! 

Oh Jesus, help me.

  I felt as if I was going to vomit;  the rollercoaster of life had me so high and so low all in a matter of hours.  I am just weary of this “Lesson” the Lord is teaching us and trying to keep my head up.

  I am frustrated.  I am broken.  I am TRYING to be a learner, I am TRYING to have faith.  I am trying to keep my head up, but my burden is heavy and I have fallen to my knees, defeated.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

April 12th, 2011: 

  This is “The Week”, the one when I have to pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s.  Well, pay to Uncle Sam’s what is Uncle Sam’s.  Except, I don’t have nearly what I am being asked to pay.  We barely have money for regular bills, how am I to pay $9,000 in taxes? 

  I feel sick as I write out 2 of the 4 checks to the IRS and State.  I know there is no money in the accounts.  I know I have 2 more huge checks to write and get in the mail tomorrow too.  I can’t pray, I can’t think, I can’t even let myself process what could occur, should these checks hit with no money to cover them. 

I go to bed, defeated, weary, broken.  Physically sick to my stomach about it all.

The next morning, April 13th, 9 am: 

  I just got a call from Dale…..

God IS so good! My soul is rejoicing! 

The Bible PROMISES that if we leap, He will catch us and not let our foot strike a stone. 

Guess who just got paid this morning? 

Yes, we did!

  We got paid “The Check”!!!!!!!!!!!  The one we’ve been holding our breath for, for 6 loooong months now.  It hit today, praise HIS name!  God knew we needed this particular check today, at this very moment in time, to be able to pay our taxes, plus the “surprise taxes”. 

  Had we received it 6 months ago as planned? It’d be gone and spent to fulfill other needs and obligations. 

  God’s plan is so much greater than our own could ever be.  With this miracle money and the small amount remaining in our tax savings account, we are able to pay last years missed taxes and this years taxes IN FULL

 I wept. Whether from joy, relief, or the fact that all that money went to the government….I’ll never know! 

What I do know is that the God I serve is amazing and I am in awe of His provision in my life!!!!

Months 7-9:

  Things are still tight and not “normal”.  Small amounts trickling in just in time for the checks to clear, but its ok, after almost a year of living this way, we are really getting used to it.  It’s no longer a huge deal to pay $2,000 worth of bills when there is only $200 in the account, we know God will provide the right amount at the right time….how else could we have gone 9 months without a single bounced check or unpaid bill?

The Lord has provided us another Grocery Angel, one that gives us food almost weekly, what a blessing!!!!! Not only that, but it’s as if He tells her what I am missing from the recipes I have layed out, because if I need taco shells, that “Happens” to be in with what she sends that week.  Amazing.

  I’d love to tell you this ends with a “Happily Ever After” type finale.  I’d love to package this all up neat and tidy with a pretty bow to end this series….’cause that’s how we roll in Tonya-land, you know.   :)

But, I can’t.  And you know what?  It’s ok.

  I’ve accepted this new life….after living this way for 9 months, how could I not?  Of COURSE I hope that one day we can move past this and be comfortable again, but not at the high cost of financial/spiritual laziness.  The price is too high!

  I want to bottle up this experience up and carry it with me forever.  I don’t want to “lose it” like you lose a spiritual high after coming home from Summer Church Camp.  Somehow, I MUST take this and apply it, use it as a filter on my life from here forward, so that every purchase, every decision, every check to a good cause flows through that filter. 

  From my God’s Creative Power For Finances book, based on John 16:13: “I am filled with the wisdom of God, and I am led to make wise and prosperous financial decisions. The Spirit of God guides me into all truth regarding my financial affairs.”

So, what am I learning from all this? 

That this is not The Tonya Show

That this is an Extreme Makeover: Ferguson Family Finance Edition.

That God loves me SO much more than I will ever know. 

That He loves me too much to leave me as I am. 

That He is preparing me for bigger and better things.

My only job?

To TRUST and walk in FAITH, not by sight, cause things have looked really ugly for a while now.

  My blogger friend Arianne said it best when she said: 

Faith is like a rubber band. It’s no good unless it’s stretched. 
 
Well just call me “Gumby” cause I have been stretched to my max and back!!!
 
  God doesn’t owe me explanation or reason for everything He asks me to go through. Understanding can wait, but obedience can’t. Instant obedience will teach us more about God than a lifetime of Bible reading, learning and discussion. In fact, I may not understand some commands until I obey them first.
Obedience unlocks understanding….. 
 
~Understanding of what God is asking of us.
 
~Understanding of our selfish choices of the past and how they directly affect what we are going through today. 
 
~Understanding of how quickly self-sufficiency can set in when financially comfortable.
 
  God loves me just as I am, but He loves me too much to keep me that way. Hallelujah!
 
  Well, thanks for sticking through these more serious posts with me…..I told you this blog was a peek into my world: the good, the bad and the ugly! 
 
  I chose to share this with you, so that you may be encouraged, so that you may have hope, and so that most importantly, you can praise the Lord with me for His provision.
 
Tomorrow I will return you to your regularly scheduled, sunshine-y programs!
 
~T  :)

Seeing God’s Provision: Part 2/3

    When I ended yesterday, God had just provided Valentines and Laundry detergent for our family.  He was teaching me to rely on Him and Him alone to provide for ALL our needs, and even some wants, like the Valentines.  Something that seemed so trivial to me, but something that screamed PROVISION on the Lord’s part.

   During month number 3 of waiting for our check, and choosing to continue to refrain from grocery shopping, the supplies in our pantry and deep freeze were rapidly diminishing.  Again, God provided in a way only HE could.  He is SO good to provide for my every need before it even crosses my mind to ask Him for them!!!!!!!

   I owed a promised photo order to a friend and had to call her and apologize that I was unable to place my order with her or pay her, until we received this illusive check.  She was very gracious and gave me an extended time to take care of it.  We hung up, and I felt much better about it all.

  Not 5 minutes later HER MOTHER shows up at my door toting bags and bags of groceries for us. 

I was blown away. 

I just stood there and WEPT, as she brought in load after load of food for us. 

  Here this precious woman, who only knew me through her daughter, was allowing God to use her, to provide for a need of ours.  She told me that just yesterday, she was looking in her cupboards wondering why she had so much food for just her husband and herself?  She instantly knew why, when she heard of our situation.  She was going to share her food with us, asking only for prayer in return.  What an amazing moment! It was food for my soul as much as for my families tummies!

   It was right after this that the Lord started showing me verses about the Sparrows not worrying about what they will eat, or what they will wear, yet my Father in Heaven cares enough to feed them.  He also reminded me that He wanted me to rely on Him to meet my needs for today and today only. 

Period. 

  No gathering manna for tomorrow, it would only spoil. (Exodus 16) I was SO grateful for His provision from Valentines, to laundry soap, to groceries, that I was able to let go of another piece of my fear. 

  Hadn’t He proven His faithfulness enough for me to believe He was not going to let us go without? 

Oh ME of little faith.

  Dale was very thankful for this precious woman’s kindness, but a bit frustrated that I was talking about our finances to people.  I assured him I had not asked for help, only called about a bill and this was as much a surprise to me, as it was to him. 

  Humble pie is hard for a man to swallow and I know he struggled with that on and off this whole process.  I did my best to be supportive and let him know we were a team.  It was us against the world, survival of the fittest. 

    It’s easy for our guys to feel as if their value is determined by their financial worth.  I could tell by the slump in his shoulders, that he was taking this personally. I had to be careful the words that came out of my mouth like: “No Taco Bell kids, we don’t have money to eat out right now”. 

  I didn’t mean it offensive or hurtful, just was stating the reality, a verbal reminder of what can and cannot be at the moment. I tried my best to be encouraging to Dale, telling him I appreciate him getting out there everyday to sell, despite what the numbers in the bank show.  

  We started reading a financial prayer book my aunt had given us, talking about the power of spoken prayer using God’s word, and are starting to pray for our finances in that way.  “When you speak God’s Word over your finances, you are planting seeds that will grown and produce abundantly for you.” We added this to our evening devotions in hopes that God would release His blessings on us once again.

  You can imagine my shock and surprise, when MORE food showed up that next day.  More meaning, my entire kitchen table full plus 2 big boxes and 2 large grocery bags on the floor.  This time it was from my friend, who had asked her group of friends, for extra staples and groceries for a family in need. 

  It is SUCH a humbling experience to be on the other end of a grocery drive. 

  Once my grocery angel left, and it was just me in the kitchen, I just stood there and looked around at all these wonderful items we’d been blessed with and sobbed.  Just sobbed at the blessings others had bestowed upon us, having no idea who it was going to, yet willing to pull from their very own cupboards to help another family out. 

  My kids ran around like it was Christmas,  picking up on my excitement and tears, thanking Jesus for our food and asking questions like, “Are we poor?”  This opened the door for great conversation about God’s provision in our lives, and we immediately went to splitting up the extras for a family we knew could use it.  God had provided for our need in a MAJOR way, the least we could do was pay it forward, and bless them as well. 

  Dale came in from working out in our shed, to me putting away groceries.  As I knelt there, unloading cans and packages of wonderful items onto empty pantry shelves, I mentally prepared myself that he may be offended by this and thought for sure he’d say: “You know we’ll be fine once this check hits, you shouldn’t have accepted this.” 

  Instead, I saw this softness come over him.  I am unsure how to explain what I saw, but a physical change occurred, and he very quietly, and very humbly said:  “We’ve always been on the other side of this sort of thing, maybe our job is to humble ourselves and be receivers at this time, allowing OTHERS the blessing that comes from giving.” 

  Praise God for the work He is doing in both our hearts!

  The organized part of me wants to continue to think and plan ahead, make lists, and have excess funds in the ol’ bank accounts to feel safe.  Yet the Lord continues to challenge me to hand over my “security net” and trust Him to not let my foot strike a stone. (Ps. 91:12)   

  Fast forward another month, and here I sit, typing you at 1 in the morning, and STILL working on letting go of my fear, and not taking it back again.

  It’s now March 2nd, 5 months later, and still we await this specific check, actually ANY check will do.  We’ve waited so long, that the second the check hits, it will be spent and gone on the bills we have pending.  However, I have learned, and am still learning, to commit it to him.  To not waste another MINUTE of these precious moments in time, worrying about what we will eat, what we will wear, how I can pay several thousand dollars worth of bills when the numbers DO NOT ADD UP.  Yet time and time again, month after month, week after week, minute after minute, He takes care of me and my family….just in time. 

  One day, my families financial “store house” will be full again, maybe even overflowing, and we’ll look back on this time and see God’s finger prints all over it.  We are learning valuable lessons, and sadly, it took lack of finances to get our attention and refocus it on our Father and His desire to provide for our every need, big or small. 

  May we never take on the spirit of self-sufficiency again!  God disciplines those He loves!  And like a piece of coal passes through fire and becomes something of beauty, so He is doing the same in our lives.  And when we get through this fire?  Something refined and beautiful will be there for all to see HIS glory in.

   Hebrews 12:6, 9-11 “For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children. For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in his holiness.  No discipline is  enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”

Praise His name!

Conclusion tomorrow….

~T

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know: Part 1/3

  I went back and forth, debating.  Do I post about this? Do I not post about this?  It’s such a private issue!  BUT, it could be used to the glory of God.  But it’s SO embarrassing.  But God’s finger prints are all over it!  Ok, on we go, to the glory of God…..

  I have several blogs I follow, one being Nikki loves Mike.  Here is what she wrote one day, that gave me the push to go ahead with this journal-type, pour out your heart, blog mini-series, and I couldn’t have said it better myself:

One of the hardest things for me about blogging is that, on the one hand, I want my small patch of internet to be bright, happy, joyful, creative, and enjoyable; a reflection of God’s tremendous grace to me. On the other hand, I also want to be honest, vulnerable, “real;” I don’t want to hide the bad or ugly parts of life. I don’t want to project an artificial reality of glib cheeriness. God’s grace isn’t always sunshine…sometimes His grace comes in the form of bad weather, too……”

Well said, Nikki.  Just the boost I needed to move forward….

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  This post was written starting in December, 2010:

  You know, the Bible tells us the Lord disciplines those He loves?

  And I know you’ve all heard the saying: “The Lord loves us as we are, but loves us too much to keep us that way.” 

  I can tell you right now, the Lord loves me VEEEEERY much!

  As I write this, we are currently going through a rough patch in our lives.  I am recording events in the midst of it all, like a journal, to capture in writing just what the Lord is showing us.  However, I will choose not to share this with you until further down the road, so my story is not mistaken for a pity plea or a cry for help.   

  No, I plan to share this with you, so that you may see God’s hand at work in our lives, cause I know it is.

I can feel it.

  Back in October, we received a normal paycheck.  Whatever “Normal” is when your husband is at a commission only job, but normal or not, we knew what to expect each month.

Little did we know, it’d be the last “normal” we’d see for over 8 months.

  In all of our 9 years of marriage, we have not experienced such a dry spell, financially.  And not since the beginning of Dale’s career as an Insurance Agent, have we experienced such small and spaced apart pay checks. 

  The difference between now and his career beginnings 10 years ago? 

Um, how about 4 kids, a mortgage, a car payment, school tuition, and medical/credit card debt from 8 babies in 8 years?

  We lived like normal in November, shopped for groceries the first of December, all the while thinking a big commission check was on it’s way any day.  By the end of December, we needed to pull a bit from our savings, which we HATE to do, to continue living on our normal budget, fully expecting to pay our savings accounts back in a week or two. 

  In tightening our belt, we chose not to shop for Christmas presents for the children since, thank the Lord, I had a stash of small trinkets and toys from garage sales and store clearance racks, just waiting for future birthday’s and Easter baskets.  What a blessing that we were able to still give the children their 3 Christmas gifts from us, as tradition indicates. 

  Was this what the Lord was asking of us?  To tighten our belt before He’d allow us to be paid?  We cut out excess spending and eating out, even committing to a “Pantry Purge” by living out of the pantry and deep freeze, to spare us that $450 expense each month. 

  Another 2 months passed, and the savings accounts got lower and lower.  I begin to cry out to the Lord in fear, “What is going on? Are we being punished?  Have we displeased you that you have removed your hand of blessing upon our finances?” 

And He was silent to me. 

I felt as if my prayers were not going above my ceiling, as I pleaded with Him in the quiet of night.

    After a very dry January spiritually, with the accounts lower than I’ve seen them, I felt very lead to write a friend and mentor of mine, asking for prayers.  It was a bit scary to purge my soul and share, but I needed an outside party to talk to, someone who maybe could see something I was missing!

  I am going to share a portion of this letter with you because it was written in the moment and will help you gain a better understanding of where I was at this point in the journey.  Here is a bit of what I wrote to him:

 I have a heavy burden and need your prayers.  I really try to be sunny and happy all the time, but man, it gets hard during times like this to not be bogged down with the weight of it all.  First things first, before I tell you what is going on, let me give you a disclaimer…..
  I am not writing for your sympathy. 
  I am NOT writing to hint for your financial help, at ALL.  
  I am writing because I desperately need your prayers, worth far more than any monetary help anyone could provide…..
 
  God disciplines those He loves.  And things are a lot easier if you just learn quickly, be soft and moldable and hold everything with a loose hand.  This is something I work to apply to every area of my life.

  We are going on 3 months waiting for this paycheck.  Our living expenses are high due to the some medical debt + the credit cards we had to put groceries and bills on the year Dale took a pay cut at work AND we had a high risk pregnancy.

   I am constantly giving this money matter over to God and taking it back and giving it up again.  I am begging Him to reveal to me what I am to learn, so we can learn it, get paid and move on. 

Maybe that’s my biggest problem, wanting to learn it just so we can get paid? 

  I just don’t know. 

What I do know is God is being silent to me, and I don’t know what else to do.
  Dale and I both feel, as we talked last night, that we probably had gotten to the point where we were giving just to give. 

 Last night we decided that maybe we had gotten to the point of trying to “fix” a friends problem, or help out a good cause by “throwing some money at it”, not asking God what He’d have us to do first……all this time thinking this was “holding our money with a loose hand”, but maybe, just maybe, not really seeking if that was what God wanted from us each time. 

  What I do know is things are getting ugly.  I was praising the Lord for the continual amount in our checking account, I called it “The Account of Oil” (like the woman’s oil jar in the Bible).  No matter what came or went from our account, the amount stayed steady, the same amount dribbling in as going out and always JUST in the nick of time!  But even that bit of cush is gone, after our house payment went through this morning.

  I don’t know what else to do, so this morning when you came to my mind, I knew the Spirit moved and thought I’d at least write and ask for your insight and prayer. I am too much in the muck of it all to reason clearly, and maybe you can see something I am not.
Thanks for listening.  And thank you more for the prayers I know you are already lifting up on our behalf as you read this.
I love having someone like you on my “team”……
Bless you!  Love, T

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  Do you know what blew me away more than anything else this dear friend said back to me?  That the Holy Spirit already told him he’d be hearing from me in a dream the night before I wrote him.

WHAT?!  He was ALREADY praying for us!? 

  I was moved to tears at the love my Heavenly Father showed me by prompting this friend and mentor to pray for us BEFORE I even asked. 

  I was reminded then and there, that the Lord still cared for me, He was hearing my prayers, and He was ready to work in our lives if I was willing to let go.  I pushed up my spiritual sleeves and prepared for the hard work to begin!

Interestingly enough, God started to speak to Dale first, through a book he was reading called “Miracles Can Be Yours Today” by Pat Roberts.  This is what lead to our discussion that maybe we had been “throwing money” at issues and good causes, rather than seeking God first. 

Here is what he read in his quiet time:
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) In order for anyone to have faith, he must be profoundly aware of weakness and inability.  One who is self-sufficient will receive nothing from the Lord.  Not only does God not cooperate with the proud and arrogant, He actually becomes their enemy.  He resists the proud.  So if you want to experience miracles from God, beware lest you be filled with a sense of your own ability, your own strength, your own wealth, or your own position.  God’s power comes to those who truly are dead to self but alive to God in Christ.” 

  Dale then read in James 4.  The whole chapter is great, but I liked verse 10: “When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor.” (and a paycheck?)  :) 

  I love when God speaks to us through His word! 

  Dale immediately begin working on turning his career back over to the Lord rather than feeling so self-reliant.  I wanted answers too, I begin to cry out to Him to speak to me as I fell asleep that night.

   I continued to ask the entire next day, “Speak to me like you spoke to Dale, show me what you are asking of me in all this”.  I headed to bed that evening, and opened my Bible.  I turned to Luke 11, the last half of the chapter.  (I had fallen asleep reading the first half the night before and didn’t finish it) And right as I begin to read, a verse leapt out to me:

Luke 11:42b “For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you completely forgot about justice and the love of God.  You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things.”

Wow! This is just what I had been asking Him!  Wasn’t my tithing and cheerful giving enough? What could be wrong with wanting to hold my money with a loose hand and try to help others?  In this verse, He acknowledged that yes, I was making the effort to be a faithful tither, but He wanted more than that.  I love that He knew those thoughts were in my mind! It was the pat on the back I needed, so I claimed this verse as a word from the Lord, marking it with the date in my Bible, and then started to ask Him, “What are those more important things you are referring to?” 

Again, He was silent. 

  A few weeks later, He answered through my Bible study book by Elizabeth George, A Woman After God’s Own Heart.  He reminded me that my heart’s desire should be to prefer God and His ways in all things.  To ask God these questions before I speak or act: (or write a check to a “good cause”)

What do You want me to say? Lord, what do you want me to do?

  Maybe God wanted me to volunteer my time, maybe He wanted Dale and I to stop and pray about a specific amount before writing a check, maybe He just wanted me to add that person to my prayer list and DAILY commit to the ministry of prayer for that organization. 

 Our good intentions of being free with our money had turned to Spiritual laziness.

  At this point, I was feeling very parched Spiritually, very disciplined, and just plain exhausted of the emotional rollercoaster of the unknown.  Again, the Lord blessed me with a verse to cling to during this time:

Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing stream.”

  God knew I needed a drink, He knew I needed reassurance of his guidance through this, what a promise!!!!

  The second verse He gave me was Jeremiah 17:7-8:

But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

  I’ll admit the first thing I said to Him after reading this 2nd verse was “PLEASE LORD, DON’T LET THAT VERSE MEAN IT’LL BE A YEAR OF FINANCIAL ‘DROUGHT’!”

    At this point with that cush gone, our accounts were nearly empty, just enough in them to keep them open.  Interestingly enough, by the grace of God, we didn’t bounce one check during any of this trying 12 month time frame. If I paid a bill for $300, even though the account held way less than that, the day that $300 drafted, He provided a refund check or renewal check to hit our account, JUST in the nick of time.  Providing always JUST enough to cover what I had written, making it a “faith in God” experience for each stack of bills I paid, believing that He WOULD provide despite what the calculator in front of me read. 

And He did.  Every single month, praise His name! 

  Around the beginning of February, I started to prep the kids that this year we wouldn’t be ordering Valentines toys/crafts or cards for their class parties from the Current magazine.  We were going to make our own cards out of construction paper.  They didn’t say much about it, but inside my heart was aching that we couldn’t provide this little bit of fun for them and their school friends.  I was trying to be obedient to God and not spend on frivolous things, but really, was I going to have to ask my kids to give up fun VALENTINES too?

  Guess what happened next?  

  Right about this time, a family member offered her 2 extra boxes of Valentines to us.  They were left from a party, and she had no use for them.  I didn’t tell her at the time, but I knew that was God showing me that He hears my hearts desires and wants to meet ALL my needs.

Even the ones I deem “silly”.

  A week later, I opened my last bottle of laundry soap and thought, “Well Lord, this is it.  No more laundry soap in the stash.”  Didn’t pray, didn’t ask Him to provide, just thought it.  The next day I get an email from a friend who had recently switched to a new washer and dryer that required special soap, she had come across some leftover regular laundry detergent during cleaning day and knew she had no use for it.  Amazingly, I came to her mind, could I use it?!

Why yes, yes I could. 

Thanks Lord.

 God is so good I just want to shout of His provision in my life from the rooftops! (or this blog will do for now!)  :) 

  But just when I think I’ve learned enough, the Lord tells me again, “Nope, I love you just how you are, but I love you too much to keep you that way.”

Trials by fire make beauty from ashes, RIGHT?!?!?!?!?!  

 More tomorrow and Wednesday….

~T

Happy Father’s Day!

Dale,  Throughout the years, my love and respect for you has grown.

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  I have watched you learn to be the Daddy God has called you to be.

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  You teach our girls to expect to be treated with respect.

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You will teach our boys to be hard workers and gentleman.

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Your chest is the perfect fit for a newborn.

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And I love that you have held each and every one of our children cradled in your arms this way.

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  You are the best Daddy our kids could ever ask for.

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You’re not just a superhero to the kids, you are mine too.

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  Today, I honor you and thank you for all those things you do, that mean so very much.

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I know being a Daddy is exhausting!

(Dale with Baby Avery)
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But, from 1st time Daddy…..

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Or 2nd

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3rd

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Or 4th time around…..

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You continue to amaze me, each and every time!

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It’s true what they say about a parent’s love…..

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It never divides……it multiplies!

  Dale, Thank you for providing for our family, making life fun, and allowing me to be able to say, “Just wait until your father comes home.”

Love you bunches, ~T   xoxo

And to MY Daddy, Happy Father’s Day to you!!!!!  Thanks for all the times you encouraged me to do the right thing, shake it off, and just be a true to myself.  Your advice and support have gotten me through many a sticky situation! 034

  Oh, and you taught me how to say: “If the 2 of you don’t cut it out, I WILL pull this car over”, while still remaining eerily calm.  Works every time!  :)

I love you! ~Your “Punkin”