Friday, March 22, 2013

As I Walk by Tyler

Recently I needed to rewrite my testimony. So since my mom kept bugging me to write a blog, I thought I would use it.

The first time I remember hearing the gospel story of Jesus was when I was very young at home. My mom and dad told me that Jesus loved me and died for me. I believed them and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and live in my heart. As I grew older, and reheard the gospel story in church, Bible school, and at home I understood it more and more. When I was ten, I decided to get baptised and that is when I think I truly understood what Jesus did for me and I wanted to live my whole life for Him.

As I grew older, I fell in love with hearing the Gospel told, and I wanted to tell it to others. Every year we would have Backyard Bible Club at our house, and I decided I wanted to teach others the Gospel too. So, when I was old enough I went to camp and started teaching at clubs. I remember at camp that I was freaking out about how in the world am I going to do this. Who is going to listen to me? I had to realize I needed to place my trust in the LORD. It was then, I realized that the people I was sharing the gospel with didn't need to hear from me. But instead they came to hear from God, and God would use me and speak through me. On the last day of camp, we went to a local park to share the gospel with strangers. It turned out that one of the couples I spoke with were already believers in Jesus, but they really encouraged me to keep at it. Another woman I spoke with had recently just accepted Jesus as her savior, and we were able to encourage her in her new faith, and she in ours. That first summer of teaching five day clubs, we taught lots of different children from lots of different backgrounds. It was exciting because at each club at least one child asked Jesus into their hearts. It was a real picture to me of how God loves all people. That same year I was privilege to help with a Good News club after school at the local school in my neighborhood. It was exciting to see these students in the neighborhood and be able to reach out to them and have a relationship with them.

It was shortly after this that I experienced my first real tragedy in life. Our family arrived home from vacation to find out that my closest friend's dad had died. It was the first time in my life when I needed God to give me the strength to comfort someone else. I had a hard time letting go of my anger at God for allowing this tragedy to happen to her and her family. It turned out that she and her family became my strength and helped me see how God was with us all. God used this tragedy to strengthen our faith and friendship. I am so grateful to God for allowing me to go through this with her, and I know that because of it, she and I will always be close.

As my fifteenth birthday arrived, I prepared for a special day. It was during this time of preparing that I was able to let go of all my anger, and begin to worship God again. As I prepared to share my special day with family and friends God healed my heart. As I gave a speech of dedication to the Lord and sang to Him it was so overwhelming as I remembered all that he had brought me through.

It was near this time, that I went for my annual heart check up. This was an amazing visit, in that the doctors told me and my mom that I no longer had a hole in my heart(that I had since birth). This was cool to me, how God not only healed my broken heart spiritually, but also physically.

The very day after my big party, my whole family moved to Pennsylvania. I knew God was with us and I trusted him with this move. But even though I trusted God with the move, I still at times didn't like being there. God took our family through a lot during our time there. We switch our school, and then we switched it back. We learned that God's Word held all the answers, so we as a family started to really dig into it. Even though we only lived in Pennsylvania a year, it changed our family because we had to be there for each other. I missed my Michigan friends, but God comforted me and I knew I wasn't alone.

When we first came back to Michigan we had to stay at my grandma's house for a while. It was really tough to feel like we had to depend on them and that we were intruding on their lives. It was hard not having a home ,and know that the home I had lived in most of my life was just around the corner. Knowing that someone else lived in that house now, was really tough.

It was really exciting though when God blessed our family with a new house. It was just the right size, and closer to dad's work. Finding a new church was extremely hard because the church we went to in Pennsylvania had really been their for us. As we attended different churches, I realized I was judging others for not being at the same place in their journey as I was. God really humbled me and made me realize that just because I am at a different place in my walk with the Lord, I am no better than anyone else. We are all just sinners saved by grace. Now God has given me opportunities to help with another after school program near our home. I am excited to share the gospel again with children and reach out to others.

So I am looking forward to see how God is going to use me in this new season of life. I am getting ready to go to camp again this year and teach all summer. I can't wait to see what God has for me and who he is going to bring into my life.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A name, a name, what's in a name?

So here is the picture that we saw on the ultrasound screen today. 

I truly have no idea what I am going to do because I was sure it was a girl this time.  So, Jeremy and I had some great girl name ideas picked out, and absolutely no boy names even considered.  So, now what am I to do.  So I am going to put it out there to all my lovely readers.  Help me find this little peanuts name.  As a reminder here is a list of our current sons names.

Daniel Tiger
Brenden Joseph
Robert David
Jeremiah John
Joshua James
Zachery Caleb
Stephen Michael

God has always confirmed the name of each of our children.  Most of our children have a strong Bible name and a family name.  But that isn't the rule.  For example:  Christianna Hesed is a name we just made up that has a strong Christian and Hebrew meaning.  So post your ideas below.  We have a few months to work on this.  If you post a name tell us why you like it and what it means (or at least what it means to you). 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tyler is not a girl, but a woman of God

1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
      3For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.       9Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.       14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20“BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Recently, I was asked about Tyler's Quinceanera.  So, I decided to try and write it out.  I wish often we would have recorded that day.  But, we didn't so to hold on to the memory I am going to try and paint a picture of it here.
First a Quinceanera is a special celebration/ceremony that a young Hispanic (usually Catholic) girl has on her fifteenth birthday.  It is sometimes called a "wedding to God."  The reason is it is as costly and as elaborate as a wedding, but there is no groom.  Instead, it is a day for a young lady to dedicate her life to God.  The above scripture in Romans 12, is often titled a dedicated servant.  This is the goal a mature Christian should aim for, and this is the goal Tyler wanted to tell her family and friends she was aiming for.
When my oldest niece turned fifteen she had a Quinceanera and after that day, Tyler had decided she was going to have one.  If you know Tyler she never asks for anything.  In fact, when she was little we would take her to the store and offer to buy her something, and she would always say no thank you.  So, when her dad realized she seriously wanted this party, he decided since she was our first daughter, that he was going to do it right.  Thank goodness we had a very blessed year the year she turned fifteen. 
So, since I had no idea what a Quincenera was I started to research it and figure out how as a non-catholic we should do this.  Thankfully, I found a lot of good websites.  My favorite being  We decided that we wanted to do this right and so we made up a purity class and assignments for Tyler to do with us.  Then we told her she had to make a purity statement as part of the ceremony.  Together, Tyler and I picked out the other ceremonies we would included in her celebration.  She wanted all her friends and family to come, and it was to be a formal event.  We asked my dad (a retired minister) to oversee the ceremony.  We found a beautiful hall to hold the party in.  We went shopping for the dress.  We got jewelry.  Every member of the family got formal clothes to wear.  Tyler chose to have a court of fourteen total (six boys and eight girls).  She chose her aunt, cousin, three best friends, and three sisters and for boys her uncle, cousin, two close friends, two brothers. 

 Grandma Lisa took on the huge task of decorating the hall.

 Tyler went with a spring theme.  Her colors were silver, fascia, and white.  We had a special cake made. 


Then Tyler decided she not only wanted to make a special statement of faith and purity, but she also wanted to sing a couple songs of praise to God.  She worked hard to prepare to sing that day.
We decided on the rose ceremony, the Bible ceremony, the ring ceremony, and the friendship ceremony. 
So, here is how that day went.  It was a perfect day.  Thanks to all the help we had.
We arrived at  the hall and decorated and then it was time for everyone to get dressed.  We got all the brothers and sisters dressed, and grandma Linton started to do hair. 
Aunt Chopper entertained the kids while we all got ready.

Then Tyler got her gown on and grandma did her hair. 

All her friends arrived and got ready, grandma even did some of their hair.  Guests began to arrive and take their seats. 

All the court took their special places up front. 

Then Tyler's dad walked her in with the song "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts playing.

 Jeremy then welcomes everyone for coming and thanks them for celebrating Tyler's life with us.  He explains that this special day is a day of Worship to God and dedication to him from Tyler. 

Then my dad comes up and shares a special message reflecting on Tyler's life up until now, and reminding her that to serve God all the days of her life she will need to know His word.  He then presents her with a Bible. 

Then my mom, mother in law, and I each present Tyler with a white rose each at different stages of bloom to represent the stages of her spiritual growth.  As a bud she only knew God as her creator, then as she began to bloom she began to know him as her savior, and know that she is blossoming she can know him as her everything , and give him her whole life.  I cried, and my mother in law totally lost it.  My mom gave a beautiful speech that I really wish I had recorded.

 Next, Jeremy and I present Tyler with a ring as a reminder of how precious she is and that she should save the gift of herself for marriage.  After this, Tyler sings and gives her speech.  Her speech brought tears to us all.  She shared how she knew God had her future in His hands and that she wanted to life a pure life in heart, mind, and body.  She shard how she hoped to share Christ with the lost and hurting. 

Then she presented her friends with each with a yellow rose and thanked them for being there for her. 

Lastly, she finished the ceremony with another song. 

Oh, I forgot the prays.  Both her dad and my dad prayed for her.  After the ceremony we had a delicious catered meal and cake.  So many wonderful friends came out to celebrate with us that day and helped with preparing for it and cleaning it up.

I can never truly capture the beauty of Tyler that day, and the presence of the Lord with us all.  I can say that on her wedding day I will be bringing a big box of tissue.  I hope she sings that day too.  As she sings I can't help but enter into worship God with her.  But, I am happy to wait on her wedding day for many more years, and to celebrate as each of her younger siblings turn fifteen.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Before Jeremy's Journey

The story of Jeremy's heritage starts with a seventeen year old girl realizing she is pregnant and scared of what that means for her.  She quietly cries out to the God she knows is there for her, and she hears Him comforter and assure her that she can have this baby, and He will be there with her.  God tells her he loves her and that the baby she is carrying is special to Him.  I have heard this story from my mother-in-law many times.  Yet, every time it brings tears to my eyes.  I am so very grateful to God for seeing her through that day, and helping her make the choice to have Jeremy. 
Jeremy was born and taken home from the hospital to live with not only his single, teen mom, but to be loved by his grandparents.  He spent the first few years being raised in his grandparents home while his mom finished high school.  Those years with his grandparents created a special bond between them.
Jeremy's grandparents are/were God fearing, church attending, hard working people.  They come from good homes.  Jeremy's grandpa's father immigrated to the US as a teen.  He was a hard working man and very enginuative.  He was suppose to work on the Titanic, but instead ended up working on a different ship.  He did all kinds of jobs. He was a cook, butcher, farmer, and business man.  He taught all his kids the value of hard work and hard earned money.  From the stories grandpa has told me his parents loved on their kids and loved God.   Jeremy's grandpa is also a hard working man, loved his wife, loves his children, and loves God.  Jeremy's grandma was raised my her grandmother after her own mother died when she was a little girl.  Although, her childhood wasn't always easy, this simple act of her grandmother's shaped her into the woman she was.  She was tough and hard working.  She loved her family more than anything else.  No matter how you entered into her family, birth, adoption, marriage, it didn't matter.  Once you were family, you were hers and you mattered.  These were the people who helped raise Jeremy in those first few years.  I am sure when they first found out that their baby girl was pregnant there was some initial disappointment and heart break for her.  But, the love they had for their child out weighed that hurt, and they embraced her and her child.  To this day, Jeremy feels very close to his grandparents, and is grateful for the support they gave his mom during those years. 
When Jeremy was three years old, his mom married a hard working man who immediately took Jeremy as his own.  He adopted him and never considered him as anything less than a son.  Jeremy's dad was the only son to his parents, and his mother and sisters thought the world of him.  Jeremy's dad worked hard and taught his sons (Jeremy and his two younger brothers) a work ethic that is hard to find these days. 
Both Jeremy's parents had experience going to church as children and knew the truth of Christ, but through tough times had gotten away from those truths they heard as children.  But as they began raising their sons they felt it was important to encourage them to go to church, know God, and live moral lives.  They encouraged Jeremy to reach for his dreams and to seek Truth.  I am so grateful to Jeremy's parents and grandparents for teaching him the values that they did and helping to make him the man he is today. 
This of course is a rough summary of Jeremy's background.  I am excited to now move on to the next step in our story.  I think the next posts will be glimpses into our childhood leading up to our marriage.  Thanks for reading along. 

If you like this post, you might also enjoy.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Before Our Journey

I have been thinking on what part of our story to tell next, and today as I was thinking about my parents and what a blessing they are to me, I decided to tell the story of them.  So this blog is going to be about what came before Jeremy and I.  I will start with my parents and then in a later post I will share Jeremy's family history. 
My mom was second generation American.  Her parents were of Mexican and Irish descent.  Both her parents families settled in American and wanted to be all American.  So, it was encouraged to not hold on to the old ways, but to move forward into American ways.  Both families were Catholic by name.  Mom's parents were hard working.  Her dad had only one arm, due to a hunting accident as a boy.  But, that never was an excuse for not providing for his family.  But there were some problems in the home, both parents had a drinking problem which lead to other problems.  Mom and her older sister often did what they had to survive.  Mom's parents divorced when she was a teen.  She and her sister both married young.  Mom didn't even finish high school, but dropped out to marry the man of her dreams.
 Dad came from a disciplined and ordered home.  His family farmed and his dad worked for Dow.  He has three siblings, and his family was always close.  His parents did not attend church on a regular basis but often sent the kids to church and vacation Bible school.  His parents were very  moral and raised their kids to be hard workers and responsible members of society.  When dad and his brother started getting into trouble as teens, grandma and grandpa decided to go back to their religious roots and see if that would help them raise their kids.  Grandma was a woman who was known for never speaking a harsh word or gossiping (even though she had nine sisters). Grandpa became very involved in the local church.  But this had little impact on dad, at the time. 
When dad met mom it wasn't long before they decided to marry.  After marriage, life settled into a routine.  Mom got pregnant and gave birth a year after they married to my sister.  My mom's greatest desire was to be a good wife and mother.  She wanted to do a better job than her parents.  But, she soon realized no matter how hard she tried she couldn't do it.  So after having me, her second baby three years into her marriage, she made a decision that would forever change her life, my dad's life, and the life of all our family.  She decided to go to the local church.  She was hoping to find the answers she needed to be the person she so desperately wanted to be.  She loaded my sister and I up and took us to church.  That first experience impressed her so much, she asked my dad to go with her.  So they both went.  With in weeks they both realized that the message the pastor was preaching was for them.  The preacher said God loved them enough to send his son to die for them.  He told them that they like everyone, were sinners and needed a savior.  This was a message my mom had never heard, but it immediately rang true in her heart.  Dad realized that he had heard this message before as a boy, and believed it, but had over time forgotten it.  So, together they made a decision to make Christ their Lord and savior.  This was such a radical experience in their lives that they began telling everyone they knew and loved about it.  My dad's family embraced this truth, and so did many of my mom's relatives.  Lives were forever changed because of the amazing love God poured out on my parents and their friends and family. 
This love motivated my parents to reach out to others.  Soon they became foster parents to children who needed a loving home.  Mom had another baby girl.  Our house was always full of kids and fun.  Then one day mom and dad both realized that God had been talking to both of them separately about serving on the mission field.  This was crazy.  But, they knew they needed to obey God's calling and stepped out in faith.  They were accepted by a mission organization and we moved out west to serve God by ministering to the native American Indians.  Over the years, my parents continued to grow in their faith and serve the Lord.  Every time God called them to something new it required an act of faith, as each job paid less and less money.  After leaving the mission field dad became a full time pastor.  No matter where we went mom and dad took in foster kids and helped over three hundred children through some of the toughest times in their lives.  They taught us girls how to love others and care about those in need.  When we became teens, mom and dad adopted for the first time.  Two special needs brothers.  Then over the next several years, God brought them more special needs children to love and keep forever.  I am blessed to have my two biological sisters, but also blessed with fourteen adopted siblings.  My parent continue to provided for my twelve siblings that live at home.  They continue to be an encouragement to my two adult sisters and I.  My parents would be the first to say that they are just simple ordinary people.  My mom often says she is a woman of simple faith, and high hopes.  Their walk with the Lord is not always easy.  Like all people they have bad days, and get discouraged.  But when push come to shove, they know who to turn to, and they place their trust in Him. The legacy they began continues, as both my sister's have married wonderful Christian men, have been blessed with biological children, and have also been given the great blessing of adopting children.  My parent are not perfect, but they have allowed God to work in their lives and use them to further His Kingdom.  I look forward to continuing on in faith with them for many more years.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Davey's Journey continues

Today is Davey's tenth birthday.  Wow, in many ways it seems it was just yesterday that we went to get him in California.  Yet at the same time, it seems he has been home with us always.  In these last few years, I have seen God work miracle after miracle in this happy little guys life.  He brings so much joy to our family I wonder what it would have been like if I had let my fears win, and never obeyed God in pursuit of this son. 
Daily, Davey says the funniest things, and doesn't even know it, but when we all laugh he laughs with us.  When we pray, he prays, when we play, he plays, when we do school, he does school (or at least he pretends to do school), when we sing, he sings, when we exercise, he exercises, and of course, when we eat, he eats. 
He bounces everywhere he goes, and always is happy to be of help.  Of course, he is a kid, and sometimes says, "No."  If he is with someone he can trick to let him get away with something, he will.  But, mostly he is just a happy, happy guy.
Currently, he takes no medication of any kind.  He is very healthy and strong.  He runs, jumps, and is even trying to learn to ride a bike.  He doesn't have to wear a safety helmet 24/7 anymore, which makes him very happy. 
A glimpse into his mind for you all.  Saturday, Jeremy and I took Davey out to lunch.  Jokingly, Jeremy asked Davey, "Now that you are going to be ten what are your plans?'  Davey goes on to tell us that now that he is ten, he is moving into his own place, and taking Josh(7) and Zach(5) so he won't be scared.  He is going to get a job washing tables, taking out the trash, and picking up the floors.  He is completely serious.  A little bit later, someone asks him, how old he is going to be on his birthday?  He says without hesitation, "three."  This is my funny little guy.  Forever three, but so happy and such a blessing to me.