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Open Mike Night

Well, I did it! I sang in public!

The Madison Coffee House and Laundry in Madras, Oregon was having an Open Mike Night, so my daughter Michaela and I joined forces and prepared 3 songs to sing together. I on the guitar and her on the keyboard. During our preparation for the event, we discovered that we could blend our voices pretty well and make for a fuller sound. So we took our individual songs and worked them into songs from our new “band”…Broken Stream. (Can you call yourself a band when there is only two of you?)

As I prepared for the evening, I was as nervous as if I had never sang in public before. I have, but, well, it has just been a while… Here I didn’t have a worship team to hide behind. Here I didn’t have a choir to blend into. And not only that, it was with complete strangers…not a safe church setting. (Although I do sometimes find it harder to sing for those close to me.)

So my nerves were running high. I decided I wanted to feel really good about myself, so I bought a new top and put my hair in rollers to give some curls. (I think God may have goofed by not giving me curly hair…jk) I applied more make-up than I normally wear in my hectic daily life. Although still less than a lot of other women (and some men).

Michaela and I practiced and practiced some more. We prayed. We prayed for God to use us. We prayed for God to bless our abilities to more than we were capable of. We prayed that the music would encourage and inspire those listening. We gave our music up to Him.

The time finally came for us to go to the Open Mike Night.

My 12 year old, Kira, graciously offered to babysit the little kids as Papa Joe and Josiah were out of town. The kids had movies and snacks planned out for a fun evening.

The coffee shop had a guitar and keyboard for us to use, so we left ours at home. We got there just as things were starting up and were told where we would fit in the line up. We tinkered with the keyboard, which was kind of inadequate, but thankfully another musician brought in his keyboard. Then we settled in to listen to some great and some not so great music.

As we waited, some new friends and their kids joined us. They, like us, homeschool and have a large family…soon to be 7 kids! (Yeah, I know…they’re slacking.) They also like music.

It wasn’t long before we were up. After juggling mikes and guitars and such we got underway.

We started with a song by Francseca Battistelli called “I’m Letting Go.” I chose this song because 1) it challenged me vocally and 2) it fit with what I was doing…”letting go” and “taking a giant leap of faith”. I lead this song with Michaela chiming in on harmony. Next Michaela lead “If I Die Young” by the Band Perry. Then we took our seats and listened to some other groups.

After all the musicians played 2-3 songs, the round started again. We had rehearsed only 3 songs, but Michaela was feeling strongly she should do a song she wrote called, “There is Hope”.  So Michaela started our second set doing her song a capella. Then we finished with Michaela’s song, “Smiley Music”.

After we finished our last song, our friends’ kids were getting restless so they decided to head on home. Because I feel so strongly that relationships are one of the most important things in life, I invited them to come to our house for a little bit. This wasn’t an easy decision. There was a part of me that wanted to stay and get some feedback…i.e. praise. I know it was the right decision though. My kids really enjoyed getting to see their new friends, and we had a great time talking with each other.

So that concluded the debut of Broken Stream. I have no idea if there will be more performances. We are leaving it all up to God. Michaela and I did separately audition for a holiday talent show this past week. We don’t know whether we got in yet though.

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What if?

At our Free Sale, my eyes were opened to some of the hardships around us. Hardships that aren’t being talked about in mainstream media. 

One guy shared with me how he was preserving everything he could grow in preparation for great economic hardship. He also shared how he was living with his girlfriend or “common law wife”. He told me how he would never ever get married again.

I drove by a church billboard this last summer that read, “Come to church now…beat the Christmas rush.” I got a little chuckle, and then it got me thinking.

So often, as a church member, we wait in our churches for someone like that guy I mentioned to come to church. We wait for him to come to us needing a handout. We wait so that we can tell him how he is living in sin. Once they enter into church, we are all smiles and love. But once they leave, they are forgotten or at best “prayed for”.

We long to minister to the poor. We long to share our wisdom. But we really need to be longing to share our fellowship.

What if we hung out and interacted with “others” on a regular basis? What if we laughed together, ate together, helped each other?…Not because we had to, but because we wanted to. What if our hanging out naturally flowed to worshipping God together? What if there was no division between the two?

What if?

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Other People’s Children

One thing I strive for in my posts is transparency. My hope is that our lives will be an open book. So I need to make a confession.

I don’t always like other people’s kids.

Often times people tell me I must really love children to have so many…Well, I love children, but I don’t really like all children. Actually, I don’t always even like my own children.

I just don’t have the patience to put up with a bunch of crap. I actually consider this character flaw to be to my advantage as a mom. But it is not an advantage when dealing with other people’s children. I can’t scream at them, spank them, or give them a time out (all of which I have done to my own children). I can’t even just tell them to shut up.

Shortly after moving into our new home, a neighbor girl was coming into our house every now and then to tell me of some wrong doing that my children had done to her. After about the fifth time, I was quite exasperated and said to her, “You’r right! Since my children aren’t being very nice, I think that it would be best that they stop playing with YOU!” And I had them all come inside.

Needless to say, she ran home crying.

Yep, I am THAT evil mom.

So how does a woman who doesn’t like other people’s children welcome them into her home?

Only through God.

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Where was I…? Oh, yeah, relationships…

If there is one thing that I can convey to you, it is the importance of relationships…a relationship with your spouse, a relationship with your children, a relationship with Jesus, and relationships with friends.

As a mom, I find it very hard to keep in close relationship with friends. As other moms can relate, it is often difficult to finish a conversation. As I have written these few sentences, I have been interrupted at least 12 times. (“Hanna put away the vacuum. It’s not a toy.”) One of the reasons I write this blog is to stay in relationship with other people. Also, I want to encourage, I want to share my heart with you. Taking care of 8 kids has made that difficult, but this blog allows that to happen. (“Kids, turn down the TV!”)

The other day I was given an opportunity to see a friend in person…I know, what a weird concept! My husband took our boys for the day, and I headed to Lincoln City, OR with Kira, Petra, Hanna, and Nehemiah. It was a 4 hour drive one way, but well worth it.

Along the way, I stopped and snapped a photo with my cell phone.

My friend and I and the kids had lunch together. We were able to talk about old times and also find out some new things. We encouraged each other. We lifted each other up.

Some might think that 8 hours of driving was not worth the few hours of time we had together. But this is what we were created for…to be in relationship with one another and God. We are supposed to be in relationship. (“Kira, can you come and get Nehemiah?”)

It isn’t always convenient. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always even pleasurable. But I guarantee that in the end it is worth it. (“Be there in a sec to finish dinner!…”)

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2 Weeks in Oregon

We have now been in Oregon for two weeks and God has done some amazing and crazy things. We now live in a house in area I never thought I would live in. And I am totally loving living in Central Oregon. Joe is helping out his father and uncle with odd jobs…and the kids can be a part of it! Joe took on a volunteer job coaching 6th grade football. Today, Joe got a call that they are interested in hiring him to be the 7th grade football coach…a paid position!

Michaela was a part of a week-long theater camp with the Missoula Children’s Theatre. She played Queen Guinevere and did an amazing job!

Josiah got to go hunting…and I mean some real, nitty-gritty hunting. He, Joe and Joe’s uncle hiked over hundreds of acres of brush and grassland looking for feral hogs. They saw lots of tracks and heard noises, but didn’t see any. But that just means they get to go out again!

And one other thing has been happening…

I haven’t shared this online yet, but one of the reasons we wanted to come to Central Oregon is because of a church plant we were aware of. Some friends of ours, that I have known for 21 years now, had posted about a church plant in Redmond, OR on Facebook several months back. This was at the same time that we were talking about coming here and seeing if we could help Joe’s dad out. Both of us were rather excited about the possibility, but didn’t want to jump into anything. So we just committed to praying for the church.

As for our mad dash across the country, one of the things we were trying to make was a BBQ they had planned. Unfortunately, we were too tired, hungry and dirty by the time we got to Oregon that Sunday morning. But, yesterday, we did make it to church. (The church, which is still very young, only meets every other Sunday right now.)

We also got to hang out with our friends for the rest of the afternoon, and I am sure over-stayed our welcome by not leaving until 7! LOL But I think a lot of good came from our meeting. Joe and I were worried that we would be viewed as the young, inexperienced couple they once knew. But they didn’t treat us that way at all…we sure fooled them. 😉

One thing that really blessed Joe is that the pastor (our friend) asked if Joe would be willing to be a part of the preaching team. Joe was so humbled and honored by the invitation!

It was an amazing day. We are still in prayer as to what God is calling us to do and don’t think we will ever stop!

We are praying for more income opportunities and for a place to live closer to Prineville/Redmond. I am continually amazed at the greatness and blessings of God. It is such a humbling experience.

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One Week in Oregon

We have been in Oregon  for one week as of Sunday. It has been hard for me to adjust to the time change. Nehemiah wakes up at the crack of dawn if not before. I have been slowly trying to adjust his sleeping schedule, but it is a slow process. I think most everyone else has adjusted but the two of us.

There have been other adjustments as well. The dry desert climate of Central Oregon takes some getting used to. The kids were quite shocked at how cold it was in the morning. I thought, “What a relief from the humid summer we were having in Ohio.” Also, we have had our fair share of bloody noses.

Joe and the older kids are working on cleaning up Grandpa Howard’s yard and home. I have been working on cleaning our trailer and on setting up house.

We are living in a 3 bedroom house in Madras, Oregon for the time being. We have not ruled out trailer life, but some adjustments need to be made on the trailer. We discovered a leak in the water line. Also, the floor has become increasingly unstable. Disheartening news. We are hoping to save some money to do the work needed on it.

I learned a valuable lesson on our trip…never leave raw meat in the freezer while traveling. I had hamburger patties in our freezer which thawed and made a bloody mess all over the fridge and kitchen floor. What a stinky mess!

We are in earnest prayer as to where God wants us to go and what to do…as we should be at all times. We want so much to do the will of God. I am continually amazed at His provision and care for our family. We are completely undeserving.

May you seek God with all your heart…

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Final Day, But the Beginning

We woke bright and early Sunday morning to another beautiful day with the smell of pine in the air. It was very brisk out and Joe and Azariah, who were asleep in the truck without blankets, were very cold. Josiah and Elijah were in the car, but I had made them get blankets the night before. We were on the road by 6 cruising along the beautiful eastern mountains of Oregon.

I have to admit I was very scared as we descended those hills toward Central Oregon. I kept repeating to myself. “I trust You. I trust You.” We had used up everything we had. We had used the kid’s money for some of the gas, antifreeze, and food. We had used our debit card hoping it wouldn’t be rejected. We had no idea where we were going or what we were going to do. We figured we would boondock at Walmart that night.

As we came down the last hill toward Prineville, Joe called me on the cell. He said how about we stop at the parent’s on the way to Redmond. (What was in Redmond? Walmart and also some friends we thought of stopping and seeing.) So we headed to the first parent on the way…Joe’s dad.

At Joe’s dad’s house, his uncle (who lives with him) and dad were getting ready to go have breakfast and invited us along. Azariah enthusiastically said yes and exclaimed, “We haven’t eaten for four days!”

Because we had very limited funds and were unable to stop, our food for the trip consisted of bagels, chips, popcorn, dry cereal, and jerky. By the time we rolled into Prineville at 10, we had a very hungry crew.

During breakfast Joe’s uncle shared about how he had a house that we was trying to sell but because of the economy it was just sitting empty right now. He and Joe’s dad also needed some work done. His dad is trying to clean up his house to get it ready to sell. Also, the house we are in needs a little TLC. They wondered if we could make a trade. We help them and in turn we get a house.

After talking it over, we decided we would take them up on the offer. We don’t know how long we will be here. We set out on this journey saying we would be the hands and feet of Jesus. Well, we are very much needed here, and we will stay as long as we are needed.

I am still amazed how everything worked out. By the end of the day, Joe’s mom gave us food, we were given some cash, and we had a partially furnished house to sleep in.

This house is amazing! The water works so well! And no rust!!! I have an enormous kitchen with the largest oven and fridge! I am flabbergasted!

The kids are also loving it for the most part. Michaela misses her friends, but she does really like the area. Joe, Josiah, Michaela, Elijah, and Azariah are all working over at Joe’s dad’s on the house and yard. That was one thing we really wanted…the ability to work together as a family.

Some have asked whether the adventure is over. No, I don’t think so. We still have plans to go to the coast in the trailer and to Washington. But for now, we are here where we are needed.

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