Friday, November 30, 2012


A few days ago my friend Stacy asked me to give my testimony at the women's bible study group that's been meeting for the past few months. Several other friends had already given theirs, so I didn't have a good excuse to say no. I spent some time writing it, read it to my little group, and then folded it up and put it back in my bag. After some thought, I decided to post it up here on the blog. To be honest, I really didn't want to. I prefer sharing cute pictures of my kids and funny stories here, nothing too personal. But, oh, I don't know... I think God deserves a bigger spotlight than that. He's done great, undeserved things in my life. He should get the glory.  So here's my story as it sits right now. I hope you'll read it, and be blessed.

I was born into a family deeply rooted in the Catholic faith. In fact, when I was younger one of my favorite stories was about my father’s parents. They met in Cleveland when they were young and fell in love, but my Grandpa was a Catholic and my Grandma was a Protestant, and her parents disowned her on the day of her wedding. She walked to the church to be married in her white wedding gown all by herself, and I was entranced by the story as I pictured her, young and scared and all alone, running off to marry my Grandpa. My parents followed suit and were good Catholics. My sisters and I were baptized as infants, went to Catholic school, made our first Confession, our first Communion, and were confirmed. My parents led Marriage Encounter weekends, and our church life was the center of our world. I wasn’t taught the truth of scripture the way my children are being taught it, but I knew God loved me. I knew Jesus had died for me. I felt safe and secure, and had a wonderful childhood.

When we moved to Pittsburgh, things changed. Life seemed to go from slow to fast. My sisters and I were taken from our safe little Catholic school and put into a public school where none of us fit in. As the years progressed, my parents became disillusioned with the Catholic church and at some point we all just stopped going. Weekends were busy with activities, and none of us seemed to notice that we were no longer a churchgoing family. I was a teenager, consumed with my social life, boyfriends, and sports. I didn’t know anything about the Bible. God was irrelevant to me. At the same time, my mom began to watch a church across the street from our house as it was built piece by piece. She heard it was a Christian church and went to check it out one Sunday morning not long after it opened its doors. God found her there and pulled her back to Him in an amazing way. My dad and younger sister soon followed, and have been devoted Christ followers and spiritual role models to me ever since.

At the time, though, I was too far gone. I hadn’t learned much beyond religion as a set of rules when I was a child, and had spent my teenage years living life on my own terms. I went away to college and was very much a student of the world. I went to a liberal university and spent time abroad, learning that living a life of self-involvement was my right, and “sewing my oats” was a good way to spend my time. By God’s grace alone, as I graduated and met my husband Greg, who was also not a church goer, He pulled us back to Him. Greg and I started attending my parents’ church together, became members, and bought Bibles. We weathered a few ups and downs, but mostly enjoyed a pretty easy life that kept those Bibles closed on a bookshelf gathering dust.

God used our firstborn, our sweet Chloe, to shake us from our spiritual trance. Getting pregnant was not as easy for me as I had anticipated it would be, and when I finally saw two faint pink lines on the pregnancy test my heart soared. Greg and I rejoiced with our good news, but the joy quickly turned to fear. I had a series of problems throughout my first and second trimesters, and on the morning of my 23rd week, I went into labor. The ride to the hospital was a blur, but one moment is crystal clear: the doctor on call explained to me that if he couldn’t stop my labor, he couldn’t save my baby. At just 23 weeks she would be too small, too fragile. I remember that the doctor was from another country and had a really thick accent. "Do you understand?" He asked me several times, trying to shake me from my stupor. "Your baby might not live."

How can any mother understand that?

Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Over the course of the next few months, God used this trial to teach me about His faithfulness. After eight long days in the hospital I was stable enough to be allowed to go home, but I was put on strict bedrest – they even told me how many times I could walk the ten feet to the bathroom. I was gripped with fear, terrified that one false move on my part would cost my baby her life. God took every safety net but His Word away from me. There were no guarantees. I knew of wonderful Godly people who had been in similar situations and had not been given their miracle. For the first time in my life, there was nothing I could do but pray, trust God, and know that He was good no matter what happened. I spent hours and hours immersed in His Word, and in those 13 weeks of bedrest God changed my heart. His kindness to me was so undeserved. He ministered to my smallest needs. Here’s one example that will forever be etched in my memory: I was having horrible nightmares that kept me up at night, terrified, and I finally cried out to Him, asking Him to help me. The next morning, someone called me and said that she’d felt prompted to pray Psalm 91 over me, and that she would be doing that every day - she just wanted to let me know. I hung up the phone, opened my Bible, and turned to Psalm 91:

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday…”

I couldn’t believe that the God of the universe cared so much about my smallest needs. Our little Chloe came into the world four weeks early, small and mighty. Most importantly, Greg and I both developed a true thirst to know and serve this great God of ours and have never turned back. I pray we never will.

By God’s providence I was asked several weeks ago to share my testimony, and I agreed without giving it too much thought. Nothing is accidental with God though, is it? A week before Thanksgiving my husband walked into work and was told he didn’t have a job any more. We didn’t know it was coming, but God did. And He knew I would need to be reminded of His faithfulness. The past few days as I’ve pored over old prayer journals and thought about my testimony, I have rejoiced at the faithfulness of Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides, and marveled at His kindness in preparing me so well for the journey that lies ahead.
I don’t know what will happen, or where we’ll end up. But I know that God is good, and the gospel is true, and that is enough for me. As Beth Moore often says, “Onward together to the finish line. Jesus is is so worthy.”

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Halloween 2012


Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and I'm just getting my Halloween post up. Sigh. Life has been very busy around our home lately. Halloween was lots of fun, and I wanted to preserve for posterity my little Rapunzel, Bat, Knight in Shining Armor, and Lion.

We were so grateful to have the grandparents in tow this year!


Halloween coincided with Hurricane Sandy, and though we gratefully escaped her wrath, our town postponed Trick-or-Treating a few days to ensure everyone's safety. We ventured out on Saturday night with friends, and came home with exhausted kids and bulging bags of candy.

It came as no surprise to Greg and I that Charlie made it as far as his brothers and sister, boldly marching up to the front porches with his lion mane flowing and eagerly grabbing candy from each bowl.

What can I say? He's one rad dude.

Our first stop is always to our awesome next-door neighbors Miss Jan & Mr. Jerry.

One of the kids' favorite traditions is "the spooky house," which is an otherwise lovely home in our neighborhood that turns into a bat-infested, cobweb-bedazzled delight each year on Halloween. Sam loves it. He made two visits this year (only one yielding candy, of course).

We also enjoyed our annual Homeschool Halloween Party at my friend Sarah's - great fun as always. Herewith, some sweet moments from Halloween 2012...

What homeschool Halloween party would be complete without a Constitution-wearing Founding Father? Due to Hurricane Sandy, our party coincided this year with Election Day, so this was no mere costume. Gavin was making a point, people. A point which, incidentally, the majority of voters seem to have missed this year.  Just sayin'.
December is almost here! We are decorating and baking and throwing in a little school on the side. God is good, and we are grateful for so much.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Today, Daddy is thankful for his family's good health, Mom is thankful for the kindness of friends, Chloe is thankful for her family, Sam is thankful for God and everyone in his family, Max is thankful for his brothers and sister, and Charlie, based on his devotions of late, is thankful for his mommy and pup pups, in that order.

Happy Thanksgiving, from our family to yours.

"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe"
Hebrews 12:28

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

His Promises are True

"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul. 'Therefore I will hope in Him.'"

Lamentations 3:21-21

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Honoring Our Nation's Heroes

I love Veteran's Day. As I've gotten older and learned more about the history of our country, I have come to love the opportunities we're given to pay our respects to the true heroes who have faithfully served to protect our freedom. I have to wear sunglasses every year at the Memorial Day parade to hide the tears that roll down my face when the veterans march by. My kids learned God Bless America along with their ABCs. And each year, we honor a hero living among us on Veteran's Day. Greg and I want our children to understand how truly blessed they are to be Americans, and that the freedoms we enjoy have come at a very high price.

A few months ago I was at a Ladies Tea at our church and my new friend Emily casually mentioned that her father, Mike Dove, who also goes to our church, had served in the Vietnam War and earned two Purple Hearts. TWO purple hearts. I went home and googled "Purple Heart," just out of curiosity. I'd certainly heard of the honor before, but wasn't quite sure what one might have to endure to earn one. Here's what I discovered, courtesy of Wikipedia:

The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after April 5, 1917, has been wounded or killed. Specific examples of services which warrant the Purple Heart include any action against an enemy of the United States; any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged; while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party; as a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces; or as the result of an act of any hostile foreign force.

Mike served in the United States Army in Vietnam, and was shot at and wounded while he was there. On one such occasion, many of his comrades were not merely wounded; they gave their lives that day in a country on the other side of the world. They never came home.

Mike Dove actually caught Greg and I's eye soon after we started attending our new church, long before we knew he was a war hero. He stood out because he was always bustling about the church, cleaning, preparing, and serving. We assumed he was an employee because he always seemed to be working. He was the one who made sure there was hot, fresh coffee during Sunday School. He was the one who made sure the Communion was ready at the front of the church. He was the one in the kitchen during the fellowship lunches, making sure there was enough fried chicken and mashed potatoes. He was always the one emptying the trash.  

Turns out he's not an employee. He's just a man with a servant's heart. 

It is with great gratitude today that we honor veteran Mike Dove and all the men and women, living and dead, who have courageously fought to protect the land of the free and the home of the brave.

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace."
1 Peter 4:10

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Weekend With the Cousins

A few weekends ago we went to Ithaca to hang out with family and let the kids play with their cousins. We had several birthdays to celebrate and had a great time despite the fact that the nasty weather kept us from the pumpkin patch.

The kids raced around the house, visited their first haunted house, and enjoyed a cousin sleepover on the playroom floor. Good times & great memories!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Hilarious Six Year Olds

"It feels kind of hilarious to be six."

That's the way Max described how he felt about his birthday the morning of Nov. 1st when he woke up. It seems to me that last week they were just about to be born, so I guess I kind of agree with him.

We've had great fun this year celebrating our six year olds. Instead of a party, we decided that each of the boys would choose a special adventure that we would do as a family. Sam chose Living Treasures, a local animal park that is a lot like a zoo. Max chose Fun Fore All, a crazy, loud Chuck E Cheese-type place with a three-story climbing structure. I'm going to do a separate post for each of our adventures because we had a lot of fun and I want to remember each day.

Their birthday morning began with our family tradition of breakfast in bed for the birthday boys.


Then we managed to get in a little school before spending the afternoon at Fun Fore All and eating pizza, cake, and ice cream.



Finally, finally, it was time for presents. Max in particular was getting downright rude a tiny bit impatient after waiting all day for his gifts. Guns, swords, ninja attire, and animals were the hits of the evening, and the boys were mostly gracious, which was a delight to see. Our only incident of ingratitude was when Sam unwrapped a pair of Elmo jammies and was quite indignant. He may or may not have announced "Ewwww! I don't want these!" before tossing them behind the couch. I was a tiny bit offended; Greg thought it was a perfectly appropriate response from a six-year-old boy unwrapping Sesame Street sleepwear instead of toys.

As usual, I can't believe how big my little boys are. The night before their birthday, Max came into my room before bed and said, "Mom, are you going to cry happy tears tomorrow when I turn six?" I'd been telling them all week that they needed to stop growing up! It's happening too fast!  The truth of the matter is, I really love their ages right now. They were sweet, miraculous babies, but they were a lot of work. They're so much fun now! They're smart and curious, funny little boys. So creative, and often so endearing. Their childhood is going fast, but Greg and I rest in the certainty of this: we sure are enjoying the ride. Una vita sine paenitentia.

Here they are six years ago:

and here they are today:

Dear child, if you become wise,
    I’ll be one happy parent.
My heart will dance and sing
    to the tuneful truth you’ll speak. 
 Don’t for a minute envy careless rebels;
    soak yourself in the Fear-of-God
That’s where your future lies.
    Then you won’t be left with an armload of nothing.
Proverbs 23: 15-19 {The Message}