Thursday, August 21, 2014

When You Feel Like Saying "When" - "When Your Bankrupt Before God"


My First thoughts when asked to contribute to the post was no. I am a horrible writer and known as the "run on sentence queen" hahaha! And other excuses were going through my mind. I’m too busy. I’m not worthy to even be writing about myself and my relationship with the lord. And what would I write about.  Considering there has been quite a few “When” moments in my lifetime thus far. My thoughts were all over the place, and the Lord kept bringing to my mind “when you’re bankrupt before God”. 
Being bankrupt before God is not pretty by any means, I have had a few of those moments. The one that stands out the most for me was several years ago in the late 90’s, because it was such a pivotal point of my life. It took me on journey of healing, transformation, restoration, forgiveness, unconditional love, mercy and grace. It transformed my life as I surrendered everything; he opened my eyes to the truth, and refreshed my spirit.  It also brought me to a new place of growth in my walk with the Lord and a “HELLO” remember I’m in control and you are not moments, and there is nothing you can do apart from me. 

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
The Lord knows I have control issues; it’s such a thorn in my side a character flaw I wish I didn’t have. It affects my relationships with my husband, my children, and at times my friends. It is a constant struggle and constant surrender to the Lord for him to be in control and not me. Control can be a relationship destroyer. I feel the need to control things when situations arise whether it be with my husband, children or anyone for that matter. I also can throw God in there to, I try to tell him what to do, and it’s quite hilarious. I tend to let people know what I think, how it should be done, and the right thing to do. I can be pretty dominating in this area, which has lead me to being very legalistic in my way of thinking.  Which is a train wreck waiting to happen.  Thank God He is not finished with me yet and is so patient with me.  However I have learned control has some good points, if you can find the balance. hahaha! 

Usually controlling people are more apt to fight for things and not give up and see things through and usually never question "why God. I tend to just go with the flow these days. I'm like "Okay God what do you want me to do, if anything". I am not as legalistic as I used to be but it creeps in. I am not proud to be a controlling woman. I even make jokes about it, but the reality is it can be destructive.
My bankrupt before God moment was totally a journey that I will never forget and hope that I don’t, because it is a reminder of Gods power, his gift of transformation he has to offer me, and comfort (John 14:18 “ I will not leave you comfortless”). You may be hurting says the Lord, but I will be with you along the way. If you TRUST me, I will provide you comfort. I have learned what peace is that surpasses all understanding Philippians 4:7, and have learned to truly trust the Lord and have faith that he does what his word says he does.
It was just a normal day in our home I was cooking dinner waiting for my husband to come home from work, while the kids were playing while waiting for their daddy to come home. Not even expecting the bomb that was about to happen and leave me and our children in a very dark and devastated place. My husband announced when he got home that he was leaving me and he did not love me anymore. I was in complete shock, and beside myself, so many things running through my mind. What was I going to do? I was a stay at home mom with young children and home schooling my oldest son at the time, I had never worked and we just moved here to the Hi-Desert a few months ago to buy a house. We were still searching for a home church, and I only had one friend in this town.  

Of course I needed answers how do you just leave after 9 years of marriage, what are you thinking etc. I really was not getting any answers to satisfy me, nothing made quite sense at the time. I then became angry and was pointing out his sin and telling him this is not Gods will on an on. Which just pushed my husband more away. At this point in the journey God was not even the first on my mind, yes he was there, but once again there I was trying to fix it and get answers not even going to him. I had called my friends of course knowing they would pray and counseled with our pastor from our previous church from where we used to live, but the reality was I was angry and I allowed it to take control of  me. A few months went by and things were still the same no closer to reconciliation with my husband. I just kept thinking WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO FIX IT.
Then my friend from my previous church invited me to their women’s retreat. It was a divine appointment between me and God I am sure of it. He not only worked it out for me to go. But wouldn't you know the topic was “Woman of God: Controller or Servant”. I didn't know it until the first session began. This was the beginning of an eye opener to who I really was and I left there feeling a veil had been lifted from my eyes. I cried the whole time throughout the speaker teaching. I felt my heart break into little pieces as God began to show me who I really was, and it wasn't what he had intended for me to be. 

It had affected my marriage and my children and most of all my relationship with God. I had a very dissatisfied husband and a very unwilling child as a result. I am only to be in control of my body, my tongue, and self-control. 


Phil 2:3 who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control will transform our lowly bodies, so they will be like his glorious body.


 I was nowhere near this and hadn't been for years, if ever.  I then realized I accepted Jesus as my Lord, but he really was not Lord of my life I was. In a way I was like Miriam I became unhearable. I knew God but didn't really trust him, and I felt like the last 10 years of my life at that point were a waste. I was just going through the motions and doing everything that I was supposed to. Go to church as a family, have prayer and quite time with the Lord and my husband, and have daily devotions with my children. I was doing all the right things, all the motions, but not truly honoring the main thing. One can lose sight of the main thing when you are a controller.
I realized my extreme need to control stemmed from the fear of losing something, so I had to keep a tight rein on my so called perfect life. Which a lot of the reason for that, goes way back to my childhood of having to live with a mother who was a drug addict who was physically and verbally abusive, and I always said I would not be that kind of parent. This took me down a path of being a controller. A mom and wife that wanted everything perfect and right, which leads to being legalistic it’s such a downward cycle. 

Before the retreat it was all about restoring my marriage little did I know the key to restoring my marriage was changing me. God had me in the perfect place at the perfect time and used that speaker as a vessel to speak to me. I was bankrupt before him I had no more of my own resources; he had reached out to me and opened my eyes. The journey of this trial was a long 2 years most of it if not daily spent at the feet of Jesus. Because he really after all is the one in control not me, I had no other options left, but to surrender and find myself again and embrace his transformation in my life as painful as it was. I left the retreat with a different attitude and was willing to change even if God did not restore my marriage.
As the weeks went on I found a church for the kids and I, that I absolutely loved and still attend 19 years later. I would love to say I was this happy go lucky gal after the retreat, but no I still had anger that creep in, when I would find out my husband was doing things that were hurtful to me and was on the verge of filing for divorce. It took time it was several months before I got a grip, I was still sitting at the feet of Jesus, but I struggled.

If it was not for God putting certain woman in my life who God had restored her marriage and brought healing to their family along with other bits of nuggets along the way I probably would not have made it through.  I believed in marriage with my whole heart and the covenant that was created between, my husband and God. Even though God does allow divorce, for certain reasons that was not the path I wanted or desired. Even if my husband was way out to lunch and had chosen to completely walk away from us and God. I believed in his power to change people and knew my battle was not just within myself to not be that controller. That now I was battling for my marriage and that the fight was beyond my reach, it was a battle that God had to fight for me.


Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
 God showed me that I needed to intercede on behalf of my husband that I wasn't just fighting for my marriage, but I was fighting for my husband soul.  God provided me with faithful praying friends who prayed for my husband daily and prayed over my family continually and as I started surrendering to the Lord everything. I began to see Gods hand move in a mighty way.

All along he was just waiting for me to move out of the way so he could move in.  It sounds so simple doesn't it?  It wasn't.  It was a whole process that took me months of God moving in my life filling me with his love, so I could love my husband unconditionally through this crazy time. Teaching me to love my husband even though he didn't love me back was heart wrenching. God was molding me and teaching me to be the wife that he had really intended, which was a lover of my husband, a supporter, an encourager, a wife who uplifted her husband not tore him down, and to be the mother my children needed.
 God was showing me I literally  had to win my husband over with a gently and quite spirit... 

1 Peter 3:4-6 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfailing beauty of a gentle and quite spirit , which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.


 I totally had to allow God to transform me to be that woman. I realized that God allowed the wrecking ball of my marriage, so he could rebuild it the way it was intended. God, husband, wife, and children. Not wife, husband, children and then God. That leaves your family open to the enemy to try and destroy your family. I began to find the balance of being a submissive wife, without being a doormat, and to be a servant and not a controller.
There is so much more I could share, but this is a blog not a book. LOL! I am happy to say God completely restored my marriage, the love that had been lost He restored 10 fold, and He restored my husband to Him. We just celebrated our 28th wedding Anniversary and are looking forward to many more years. I would like to say that after that our family was whole and we were just so happy, but not so. We had children that suffered and were affected tremendously, 

there were trust issues that needed healing and change of hearts of my husband and children that I was not the person I used to be. I was confident that God would complete the Good work he had started, even if it took years. There are always consequences to your sin, it never just affects you. It affects those around you as well. God allows everything for a reason and it is for His good even if we don’t see it at the time. 


Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  


Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.
Whatever situation you go through Jesus does not want to just drag you up that hill, He wants you to get to know Him. So do not fear, hold on to Him with all your strength. Don’t just follow Him, but be filled by Him to experience His love, grace, and mercy He so graciously bestows upon us. 

God wants our empty hands and trusting heart, not our plans, or our control, but His plans and His control, which brings us peace along the way. Jesus meets us where we are and there is nothing that can separate us from his love. He has shown me what true forgiveness is. What unconditional love is, and what it means to trust him and see his hand move in ways that left me in awe.

 I watched Him restore my prodigal husband to a Godly man full of faith and trust in our Lord. I am not perfect, my all means I fail daily and constantly. I'm taking two steps back and one step forward, but it keeps me in a place of hunger for God, a desire to be a daughter of the King, because He loved me enough to seek me and find me. To reveal himself to me and show me who I really was and who I had become wasn't his best for me. Lastly I am learning to be compassionate towards people instead of judgmental, because they may not be the way I think they should be (this is a work in progress). God is a God of love, and I want to love people, the way God loves me, after all it really is what wins people over, his love not condemnation.
In His Sweet Love,
Maria

Maria lives in Victorville California, She has been married to her husband Robert for 28 years. She has 3 children David 28, Jonathon 23 and Alyssa 21 . She loves to run and has run 6 half marathons she also ran in the LA marathon this past year.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

When You Feel Like Saying "When" - Prepare To Stop


 I was 16.

 I ran a stop sign - on purpose.

The chain of events leading up to this caused me to want so badly to end it all. There were actually so many events that had gone on in my life by the age of 14, that it was really the cherry on top.

 I found out I was pregnant. That to me was a blessing.

Five months along we found out that it was a boy and he had a genetic disorder called Trisomy 18. It was a horrible diagnosis. The life expectancy was a year…If that. His organs were all over the place, and he was not doing well. They wanted me to abort. Imagine that! I wanted to give him a fighting chance.

 I felt him kick a lot. Played music for him, and read to him in my belly. I cherished every moment I had with him inside of me. I forgot the rest of the world spinning around me and just lived for him.
I grew up a lot in those months.

Nine months along... he stopped kicking - for good. We went to the doctor and they told us that he had passed away. I was crushed. Even though they try to prepare you for this, nothing ever does. I gave birth to my stillborn baby Brenden after 31 hours of labor. I did not hold him. I was so upset and so young. I didn't know the effects that would have on me...  For the rest of my life I've regretted it.

His birthday was December 3rd. I picked out a tiny white casket, made funeral arrangements and buried him December 7th 2014. The two years of my life after that was a destructive blur. I didn't care about my life. I wanted to end it. I remember asking Tracy, my longtime family friend / second mom for guidance. She said to pray. Pray hard. A month or so after talking to her, I was driving by myself. I had no one. I felt as if no one loved me. I felt that my baby died because of me... but in fact there was nothing I could have done to prevent it.

 I ran that stop sign and almost got hit. I pulled over. Started praying, asking God to forgive me for turning away from him during the darkest time of my life... I cried and cried. I probably looked crazy to someone driving by me. All I remember after this breakdown saying that I had had enough.


I felt this weight come off my shoulders and knew I needed to start living the life my baby would never have. For all I knew he could be walking with God, watching my actions and I realized I had to stop. That was the end of it. Right then and there. Every decision I made from then on out, was a positive one. I know that if I didn't go through that I wouldn't be who I am today. With the values and my strong relationship with God. I knew my life would be better. Sorry for rambling, but that was my “when” saying “enough is enough”.
My name is Jody Ann Garber. I am 35. I have 5 kids 4 of them are on earth 1 in heaven. Ages from 14 to 2. I live in eastern Pennsylvania with my husband of 4 years. I also am a work at home mom with an amazing company called Itworks Global. We specialize in health and wellness products. I'll include my link in case anyone reading this needs help getting into better health.
Jody would love to connect with you at 
Cajunbeachwrappers.com

Monday, August 11, 2014

17 Years Of "Us"

Some one turned 17 at the Cottage today.

Well two of us did really...
Our first birthday. I'm the one with the cake on my face looking at my momma off camera no doubt telling me to "wait for the picture to be taken" or  "look at the camera" as Brianna prepares to dig in. LOL!
It's always been the two of us. I guess that's how it is when your a twin. One & Two. Briana and Cheyenne. B&C. Always two. Never alone, one always has the others back. A constant team. Even now you rarely see us apart. One always following the others lead. Together we are whole. That's just how it is- how it will always be.
This was after I caught my hair on fire since mom is holding both of our hair back. (I'm on the left and Brianna is on the right.)
I don't know whether to say it as an announcement or a fact. My twin and I turned 17 today. The first thing that comes to mind after that isn't I want my learners permit or only a year until I graduate High School. But where has the time gone? Where? It seems like just yesterday I was feeding the ducks at the lake at my sixth birthday- or was it 5th?
I'm on the left Brianna is on the right.
The other day I was looking at pictures of our birthdays over the years. Each one with its own story... its own disaster, its own perfect memories. Like the year I caught my hair on fire blowing out the candles on the cake with my sister. Or the fact that it almost always rains when we have a party and sometime when we didn't, and as I write this the storm clouds are just beginning to clear and the thunder becomes further and further away as sunshine streams through the front windows. Or the year it rained really really hard and dad had to pull the grill up to the back door so he could cook lunch in the rain. Or the fact we always had our party at two o'clock.
As I looked through the 17 years of photos I had to notice who else was in them... I noticed who was in my life then that wasn't in it now and wonder why? How had knowing them changed me? Influenced me to be who I am today... Thank you. To everyone of you who were in those photos- even to those who left it in a storm that broke my heart. Thank you- you helped make me who I am.
Brianna is on the right and I'm on the left.
I couldn't help but smile at the ones that were still in my life as we grew together... Its weird where life has taken us all. Some to other continents some still are in the house they always have been in but they are all grown up. Some of us have more siblings than when we first met, others have nieces and nephew now. Crazy, It seems like we should still be playing hide-and-seek at night. Or so many other little girl things. Not driving, or working with orphans, not chasing new siblings or holding them and laughing at their giggles as we tickle them...
Where has the time gone?  Why aren't we still on that trail ride for our sixteenth birthday?

This morning as I sat reading my bible as Mrs. Cottage made our traditional birthday breakfast of waffles and bacon. The scents of both mingling with the smell of maple syrup in a heavenly mixture that smells like- like my birthday. Of birthdays gone by. Of laughter and smiles and the occasional birthday candle wax resting on top. The birthday Mr. Cottage was working second shift so we went out for an early lunch and had a girls day shopping. Then ending our birthday at a friends farm as she taught us how to show goats so we could help her at the fair that weekend. So many many good memories. Funny how even the disasters have become good memories.
Happy Birthday to my wonderful, talented, beautiful, partner in crime, best friend, sometimes crazy twin sister.  I love you so much.
 
This is a slide show I put together of my birthday through the years. :)
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Thursday, August 7, 2014

When You Feel Like Saying "When" - For Everything There Is A Season



When -noun (a question or declaration as to a time of some occurrence)
 
Lord, when will this be over? How much longer Lord? Oh my gosh! If I had a dollar for every time I've asked Him that question, I could have paid cash for my car! I really thought this was going to be easy. My testimony is filled with some really horrible, desperate things so I thought sharing one of them with the world would be a simple thing. It hasn't. I've hit the delete button more times than I can count. 


Jesus has always walked with me but I've only walked with Him 15 years.  I used to cry out "why" more than "when".  When only came after learning to worship the Lord with my sorrow, knowing that He would make something beautiful out of it! I've walked through the horrors of rape, abortion and suicide attempts. I've struggled with poverty, homelessness, and being a single parent. Nothing in my life has broken my heart as deeply as my family has. My family is a puzzle in a box. None of the pieces are put together. I can put two or three of the pieces together for a short time but they soon are pulled apart. It's tragic, ugly and very, very heartbreaking! I've never known what it's like to have a normal family.  When you walk with the Lord, you learn that life is full of seasons...good ones, bad ones, long ones, short ones. I'll be 53 this October. This season with my family is one I've been walking in all my life.  

"When" has been mostly Psalms 13 to me for many years. "How long oh Lord will you forget me?" When will this be over Lord? When will my son come back? When will my family be whole again? Now, more than ever, "When" has become Psalms 126. It is a thanksgiving for restoration. When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”  The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
 
Seasons come but they also go. Seasons end. God turns them around. I declare salvation, reconciliation, and restoration for my family! Thank you Lord!





Linda lives in Columbia TN with Norman and BJ, her faithful furry babies. She is mom to her son, Jaymz, and Nani to her grandlovies Toby, Charlie and Skylar.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ice Cream Sandwich

Ice cream (You can use whatever flavor you like, we used vanilla) 
Pizzelle (Italian Waffle Cookies) 
Carob Sauce *Optional
Sandwich Number 1 (No Carob Sauce)

Take a scoop of ice cream and place in onto your cookies. Be really careful not to break up your cookie. Place the second cookie on top at a slight angle (again being careful not to break it). Its best to build these on the plate you intend to serve them on. 
Sandwich Number 2 (Painted Shell)

Make your Carob Sauce. Let it cool so that it begins to get thick again. Take a basting brush and brush the sauce over the cookies. Place cookies into fridge for a few minutes so the sauce will harden fast and not make the cookie soft or mushy. After it is hardened remove it from the fridge and place on a plate. drizzle about a quarter size circle of Carob Sauce in the center of the cookie, then take a scoop of ice cream and place in onto the Carob. Again being really careful not to break up the cookie. Slowly drizzle the carob sauce over the ice cream. Then place the second cookie on top at a slight angle
 Sandwich Number 3 
Make your Carob Sauce. Let it cool so that it begins to get thick again. Drizzle about a quarter size circle of Carob Sauce in the center of the cookie, then take a scoop of ice cream and place in onto the Carob. Be careful not to break the cookie. Slowly drizzle the carob sauce over the ice cream. Then place the second cookie on top at a slight angle

Thursday, July 31, 2014

When You Feel Like Saying "When" - Jesus Take The Wheel

I've been struggling to write my little blog post. Not that I can't write. I have millions of ideas running around in my head. Mostly at one in the morning! As my Dad refers to it, it's my "head squeezing time". I have always found the early morning hours are the best ones for remembering that I didn't sign a permission slip. Or wondering if I locked all the doors after my late night swim. Do my cats have water? So these past few days, my head squeezing time has been about a time that I have said "when" and God has brought me through. Honestly, there are so many I can't even begin to pin point one specific incident. By nature I'm not a worrier. I am fortunate that not much really drops me into the depths. Yes, I have been through heartache and traumatic events. I have lost people I have loved. But through it all God has remained at my side, steadying me like a mother steady's a toddling baby.

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me; You will stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand will save me" Psalm 138:7

So, I chose one of the latest things God has brought me through. My husband and kids and I have lived in our apartment for 20 years. A few months after we moved in I quit my job. The owner of the building came to me and asked me if I had ever thought about managing an apartment building, to which I replied "no!". She suggested I try it and long story very short, I had been doing it ever since. Fast forward to April of last year. The owner informed me she was thinking of selling the building. So many things ran through my head, mostly at one in the morning! Would I continue on as the manager? What would these new people be like to work for? Oh my gosh, what if they didn't keep me on? Would they allow us to rent our apartment? How much rent would they charge us? Where would I work? How would I be able to have a job and still take my 13 year old to school and pick him up? How much would child care be if I had to use it?

My head squeezing time was pretty bad at this point. "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me; You will stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand will save me" Psalm 138:7 After a few days of fervent prayer and freaking out a bit, I'm so glad my Jesus loves me and is patient with me.

 "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble and he knows those who trust him" Nahum 1:7

Finally I had a sense of peace. Not complete peace mind you, I am human. However I knew it would be okay and that it would have NOTHING to do with my meager attempts at making everything right!! As it turned out, the building sold and the new owner brought in his management company, who in turn brought in their own managers. We were allowed to stay and pay rent. That was a whole new freak out moment! I hadn't paid rent in 20 years!

My Dad had been asking me if I would come and work a few days a week in his office and I had hemmed and hawed. Now he offered me full time work and the ability to take care of my 13 year old at the same time. He owns his own tax firm and is an Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Those of you that know me, know that for me this would seem crazy! I have never been a math gal. I majored in English in college, minored in music. I am creative!! I sing, I write, I paint, I am mom to all in my home as well as the neighborhood! I am a free spirit....no one can tie me down.

Jesus said, "you will go work with your Dad". So I with GREAT trepidation on my own part, and yet trying so hard to trust God, I was pretty sure that he had made a huge mistake.....I mean I'm seriously like a monkey working a math problem!!!

The first few weeks were mentally exhausting. I had never seen ANY of these programs, these forms. I was doing simple clerical work and I felt like a pokey Joe. I told my Dad that my eye was pretty much on permanent twitch mode! Slowly I became familiar with the routine. I found out that I LOVE answering the phone, setting up appointments, making up tax folders, payroll....I actually enjoyed finding out where those little number puzzles led me!

I have been here over a year, and I just love it! I love that I get to see my Dad everyday, that I am part of something that is rewarding mentally for me. That I can take care of my youngest son who still needs me!
I am so very grateful for God's leading and working through my Dad and my dear friends who encouraged me to try something different!

Again...."Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me; You will stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand will save me" Psalm 138:7 My go to verse during this time..... 

Jesus pulled the hands away from the side of my head....no more head squeezing! His word assured me that he was in control, that he knew what was best for me. I am so Thankful that he brought me through this and I know that he will continue to steer me through the rest of my life. I am reminded of the song "Jesus take the wheel" By Carrie Underwood
 "Jesus take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can't do this on my own
I'm letting go
So give me one more chance
Save me from this road I'm on
Oh, Jesus take the wheel"

I pray I allow Jesus to continue to steer my life. Funny how things go so much smoother when HE who made Heaven and Earth is in control!

menn.jpg

 Cherie Mancaruso lives in Torrance California with her husband of 26 years Glen and their two boys Joey 25, and Daniel 14. And is also Mom to many more!!!!

Post 2 He Has Dealt Bountifully With Me

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Cottage Surprise Party

Last week we decided to throw my best friends Aubrey and Anna and their little sister Ella a surprise party before they go back to Africa. They haven't had a birthday party since they moved there two years ago. Ok, so I'm really bad about doing things last minute (I got it from my dad :) ) well this might have been one of those things. I decided to do it sitting in traffic with Mrs. Cottage. So the next morning Mrs. Cottage and I with Baby Cottage tagging along ran to town to pick up some party supplies and a cake as well as gifts.
What I used:
 4 rolls of streamers (2 white 2 Purple)
4 star balloons 
1 package white balloons 
To make the balloon tower you need a long piece of string and balloons. Blow up your balloons then knot the rope around the end of your balloons spacing them about two hand breadths apart. Use a tack to hook it to the ceiling and if you want use tape to hold the other end down.




Present time!!!