Saturday, December 24, 2016

What Did You Expect in 2016?

"It was the best of times. 

It was the worst of times."

- A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

But ... We had Great Expectations!

What did you Expect for 2016? 

Did you get what you expected?

 “But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry waste.
Isaiah 43:18-19

You may have heard of the new trend to not make resolutions but to select one word that would be the basis of your decisions throughout the year. I've been implementing this trend in my own life for the past 4 years. My first ONEWORD was Joy. Finding joy in a year that I struggled with severe pain certainly helped me get through the year. The second year, I selected BOLD. I certainly, need to be bold during my surgery and visits to Mayo Clinic with all the poking and pricking that I endured. Little did I know that LESS would certainly be the theme of our year 2015. Downsizing and leaving full-time ministry was difficult but the word, LESS prepared us ultimately for all that would inspire. As 2016 approached, God began to speak to me about getting ready for something new and to EXPECT great things.

They say, "You get what you expect".

So I'm wondering, "Did you get what you expected this past year?"
I expected great things and the Lord delivered. That's not to say that this was a glorious year, but God provided in ways we could never expect. Here are a few things beyond our expectations:

Safe and Secure Home

We found a lovely little townhome in Pooler, GA just before Thanksgiving last year. What a God send. It has been a perfect home in a quiet and safe neighborhood with great neighbors on all sides! Even during Hurricane Mathew, we were safe and sound without having to leave home. No damage. It's just off the beaten path at the intersection of two interstates. Easy access to just about everything ... even Tanger Mall!

Amazing Church Family

We visited Harvest Church of the Nazarene, formerly Savannah First where we pastored from 1992-1997. Most of those we knew back then had moved on, but oh the new friends we have made. Mikaela, started nearly immediately playing guitar and singing with the praise team.
Brett has also found his place at Harvest as the technical guru running the sound during worship and developing the website. He is loved and appreciated among the people and was elected to serve on the church board.
Michael has had opportunity to preach several times and Mandy plays the piano every Sunday morning!
I'd say we found our church home. 

Connecting with friends and family

 We never really realized how much we missed being close to Daniel and his family. Having them drop by after work, worshipping together and Sunday dinners has been a great joy.
We are sad that we are now 5 hours away from our son, Brian. But so glad that he has awesome friends that are just like family. None of us were expecting this family to make us family. Brian says, "At the very beginning of the year, I didn't expect that I'd be holding a new nephew at the end of the year, but I just rocked him to sleep and lay him in his crib.

The new worship pastor and his family (Eric & Amber Grimes) arrived in Savannah one week before us last November. Turns out, he and his wife attended Asbury College while Mandy was there! They have two children the same age as our Brett and Mikaela. A fabulous family friendship has blossomed into the best thing ever for both families. 
 Mikaela says, "I don't think that I expected to find/be given the best friends that I've ever had. People that I am able to trust so much more than I think I ever have and to find/be given that at a time where I wasn't sure I could really trust anyone that much or that I'd ever find best friends. or that they would help me to "become human again" as I've been saying to myself. Meaning that they've helped me to be able to be myself and heal emotionally enough to be able to do that. I am so thankful for their presence in my life."

There are still a few "old" friends around. One dear couple that moved away from Savannah about the same time we did also returned to Savannah. It's been great to re-connect with the Myers. They are attending another Nazarene church, but we are able to get together once in a while. Mandy and Laura are enjoying crafting together.


Speaking of crafts, Mandy decided she would try to expand her skill in crocheting. She tried her hand at tapestry work, making a GA Bulldog stadium blanket. This has sparked an order list that she can barely keep up with! She didn't expect to make money doing something she enjoys!

Contract to Write Devotions

Mandy has been bloggin all year. This has turned into an opportunity to write devotions for the general Church of the Nazarene! These will be released sometime in the spring!

Good Medical Care

We found a healthcare system that has really been a blessing to us. They are connected with all types of specialists in town which Michael has needed this year. We're praying that they will be signing a contract with our new health insurance plan.

Sale  & Purchase of Home

In late September, Daniel and Tina received an offer on their mobile home for cash. This gave them a downpayment for a home in town. Within a week they found a home to purchase. Tina was excited to host Thanksgiving in their new home. We never would have expected that at the first of the year. Daniel never expected to save over $500 a month in gas expense now that he lives 5 minutes from work AND church.

God's Providence

There are so many ways that God has provided this year. We can't begin to name them all. Suffice it to say that every time we were in need cash arrived to cover the need. Isn't God awesome?

We encourage you to Expect Great things from God in the coming year. It could make all the difference!

Merry Christmas and God bless Everyone!

The Farmers

Sunday, November 6, 2016

What We Learned in October

This past year or so has been quite a journey. 

The journey has been long but fast. Good but hard. Joyful but distressing.

And here we are getting ready to re-sign our lease on the townhome. We love it here and after going through Hurricane Matthew, we've decided that we live in the best place in greater Savannah.

We had a lot of wind and lost our power for two days, but we were virtually safe. When we came out after the storm, our neighborhood had very little debris while the rest of Savannah has huge live oak trees laying on the ground everywhere . . .  even on our church!

The entrance to our parking lot still has a pile of debris waiting to be removed. I'm surprised we haven't had any accidents with everyone having to enter via the exit and get turned around.

We had to celebrate Mikaela's birthday a week late, but that didn't deter us from having a great time with the Grimes family who has truly become a part of our family. What a blessing!

Speaking of family, we also count it a blessing to now live near Daniel, Tina, and Austin. Their power was out for 5 days. And while they evacuated for the storm, they came home to no power. Plus their fridge stopped working completely. They have been spending a lot of time at our place which we have truly enjoyed! We can't express the joy we have in finally getting to know our grandson. He is an awesome young man.

Daniel & Tina say ...
Hurricanes are beautiful until they mess with your stuff. 
Our GA District camp ground is the best ever. They took in people from the hurricane evacuation and had no way of knowing how to supply food, but God provided.

God is still in the miracle working business. Our home has damage from storm. The insurance co said there was a lapse in our coverage which is not correct we always paid in full annually. The adjuster did his own digging and called the insurance company on the issue and fixed it for us. And our home was covered. The adjuster even called to make sure it all went well making sure the insurance company did not have issues. That was scary knowing that after the fact about our lapse as they said.

Family is the best in times of trouble. Friends that are as close as family too! Our family stepped in and made life much easier in a hard time.
When God is in something you better just hold on because it will be amazing and way cooler than you would ever imagine. And scary too!
October has been a whirlwind full of hardship, scary, crazy good, and awesomeness! Trusting God in all is the way to go in all things, big and small. No matter what He is in control. It would make life easier if we just kept that fact in the forefront no matter what is going on and trust Him if we like it or not, if it hurts or not. He either orchestrated it or let it happen for one reason or another. 
Prayer changes things! 

Brian says ...

I learned this month that babysitting with an actual baby is busy but wonderful. 

Last week, I took care of Sebastian for an afternoon for Robert & Destiny were out. Six diapers, three onesies, two bottles, one washcloth, and several hours later, h
is Mommy & Daddy arrived back home to find a happy little two-month-old boy and his uncle who enjoyed every second spent with him. 

Because he was a month early, Sebastian has some struggles and special procedures to deal with that add just a little bit to the difficulty of caring for him, but it’s such a rewarding experience. Tiring? Yes. Worth it? Definitely. He’s already such a vibrant little guy, full of personality and attitude, and he’s learning more and more about how to interact with people, which just makes him that much more unique.


We're expecting great things ahead on this journey called life. God continues to provide our needs day by day. And we give Him the praise.

As you prepare for the holidays, remember that God is the Master of All. He is in control and He loves each one of us dearly!

Until next month;

Mandy, et al

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Life is a Whirlwind!

It's like a Hurricane Here.

I'm sitting here watching the weather channel as Hurricane Matthew leaves it's path across the Caribbean and heads toward Florida.

Here in Georgia, we are on alert to be evacuated out of the area. The islands will begin evacuation in the morning. Already, there are no hotel rooms to be had in Georgia since the whole east coast of Florida and South Carolina has been evacuated.

When we talked with Brian (in Cairo, GA) last night, he checked to see about the possibility of getting a room in Cairo. The clerk told him that when she came in to work, there were 60 rooms available, but last night there were only 5 left.

It's looking like we may be able to stay here in Pooler and just ride out the winds. Brett's work hasn't released anyone to leave and it doesn't look like he plans to do so. So just put in a prayer for us. The worst of it will come through over night on Friday and Saturday morning.

Today is Mikaela's birthday!

We were planning a birthday bash with some friends on Saturday, but that is going to have to wait for another weekend.  :(

Can you believe that Mikaela is 20 years old? She is certainly turning out to be a beautiful, talented young lady!

Here she is playing guitar and singing for the worship team at Harvest Church of the Nazarene.

Monday, I wrote a blog post "Hurricane Preparedness for Life's Storms"

I took the Write31Days Challenge again this year to write on my blog every day in October. You can check out my "Treasure Trove of Ministry Helps" and share them with all your friends in the ministry. I'm giving away a few prizes, too. So go sign up!

Speaking of prizes ....

This is post #59 on the The Farmer's Place and my Leaving a Legacy blog will post #300 this week. Plus, my memoirs blog, Raised in a Barn will post number #60 this month. That's a total of over 400 posts. So .....  how about a free CD of the Dawson Girls, Papa's Daughters ~ For all You Done. My sisters and I made this back on mom and dad's 50th anniversary (which was 10 years ago already). My brother, LeAdam helped us record it and he says he can make a CD or two and mail them out to you.
If you would like one, I will be drawing a name from those who post on this blog or at the Raised in a Barn blog. I'll be drawing a name on my birthday, October 25th! So go ahead and make a comment below. :)

Speaking of Raised in a Barn

I wrote a post about the farm being a place with open arms last month. "Grafted Into the Family". You need to go read it and be sure to read the comments. This post prompted Pedro De Los Santos to share part of his own memoirs that talks about coming to the farm and the effect it had on his life. Then his brother Miguel has promised to write me as well. You better go subscribe so that you don't miss anything.

So did anything else exciting happen this past month? Did we learn anything new?  hmmmm.......

 ... Evidently, there was something in the water about 9 months ago. Here's a few pictures from close friends and family. It seems everyone is having a baby.... even a set of twins!


"great niece"

"friend of the family"

Sophie                     Logan
My good friend became a grandma .... twins!

 Brian is still amused by the Grandcats!

 I learned that receipts are the best cat toys. With all the money I've spent on toy balls, mice, and various other feline playthings, A.J. gets hours of enjoyment out of batting and chasing wadded up receipts. His daily exercise level has increased exponentially. - Brian

Finally and not surprising

God's timing is always perfect.

He keeps on providing our every need, day by day, as we need it. No new jobs have been acquired, but the funds to pay the bills keep showing up! He is the God Who Sees Us and He never leaves us in need or begging for bread.

Here's a bit of exciting news from Daniel and Tina ....

Tina said,  "We have been reminded when God wants to do something He doesn't have to wait on you. In a matter of 2 weeks max, we were able to pay off our home, sell it, and put an offer on another home in Savannah. We all 3 love this house.  We are trusting God thru it all and know it is right. We had a list of 13 houses and got it down to 5. In the end we looked at 2. Decided the one we initially went to cross off the list is indeed the one we are putting a bid on. No one can tell me God is dead or doesn't move in the lives of His people. If we are willing to do it His way... He is willing to move mountains. Miracle upon miracle has happened to get us this far. God is always worth everything He asks us to do or not do!
so ... you best come back next month to get rest of the story!

Well, that's about it for September. Don't forget to comment if you want a chance to win the Papa's Daughters CD.

Leaning on Him!

Mandy, et al.

This handmade stadium blanket would make a great Christmas gift! They are available for $150. My family says they will let me buy green and gold, for you Packer fans. There's a discount for family members, just text me ... or leave a comment ... you might win the CD too!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What We Learned in August 2016

To be honest, August was a tough month, but we're always encouraged by our Lord. This morning's speaker at church shared about the two rods of Israel. Ephraim which means "God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering. And Judah which means "We will praise Him now".

Yes. We are learning that God inhabits the praises of His people. If we will praise Him through our trials, He is faithful to make us fruitful. Just like the seed that must be planted in the darkness in order to sprout, grow, and produce.

We may be in the darkness, but God is working! We know that He still has great plans for our future.

So here's a few few things learned .......

1. You never really learn to fully trust God until you have nothing to fall back on. That's where we are these days. Totally trusting. ... proving that God is faithful to those who love him.

 Your Impact On Lives May Surprise You - 

Brian shared, "an old high school buddy recently reached out to me, needing to get some things off of his mind. When you're a pastor, that's not an unusual circumstance. But, he told me he'd have come to me even if I weren't a pastor, because he's always felt like I was someone he could approach. We don't always realize the footprints we've left in people's hearts."

I, too, connected with people from my childhood in Louisville, Ohio through Facebook. One person said that she still remembers when we moved away and the impact it had on the community. 

{I thought the only thing they missed were our Christmas Cinnamon rolls. Ha!}

3) God is our very breath of life.

Sebastian .. ready to go home!
Robert and Destiny, Our "children from another mother" went into early labor this month bringing little Sebastian into our lives 4 weeks early. He had a little trouble learning to breathe and eat, so they transported him to Tallahassee Memorial. Through prayers and medical science, he was able to go home after 15 days! 

That first Sunday, we went to morning worship  and they sang a new song,

"It's Your breath in our lungs, 

so we pour out our praise ..." 

Robert and Destiny are actually close friends with Brian, so he was with them down in Tallahassee. He reported .... "If I Ever Need To Be Hospitalized, I Want To Go To Tallahassee Memorial - I've said this before, but seeing the place in action again since Sebastian's been in NICU has only cemented this in my mind. TMH is on a whole different level than any of the other hospitals in the area in terms of facilities, staff, and care."

{I seem to remember that from back when dad was at the cardiac center.}

I do have a couple of exciting news bits though ....

1) I've been seriously blogging for over a year now.
Last fall, I took the challenge to post a blog every day in October. After the event, a book was published with some of the favorite posts. My writing is included! Can you believe it? I'm published! The Book will be released at the end of September!
All the proceeds will go to missions.

2) This year, I am writing 31 days of Ministry Helps. A Treasure Trove of Ministry Ideas
Maybe, I will just publish all the writing for my own book ..... You can signup here if you want to check it out ....

So folks, the thing to remember is to praise the Lord, 
He can work through our praises. On that note, I leave you with these lyrics from an old Imperials song, "Praise the Lord!"

When you're up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan's manifested schemes
And you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fears
Don't let the faith you're standing in, seem to disappear
Praise the Lord, He can work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seems to bind you
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him
Now Satan is a liar and he wants to make us think, that we are paupers
When he knows himself we're children of the King
So lift up the mighty shield of faith for the battle must be won
We know that Jesus Christ has risen so the work's already done
Praise the Lord ....

photo credit: Pixabay

Looking up! Seeing Him!

Monday, August 1, 2016

What We Learned in July

Can you believe it's August already? Time to give our monthly update,  proving that we have an awesome God who loves us greatly and provides all our needs.... and then some.

The other day, Facebook reminded me of a post I made a year ago, just before our lives turned upside down. I am in awe of a God who cares enough to prepare us for what is ahead. He is an amazing God and our strength comes from Him.

Now, we shall look back over the month and share how God has given us joy and taught us many things.

Brian had a chance to travel out to Oklahoma to visit friends. He shared this when he returned ...
There's still natural wonder and beauty in the world, even if it's flowing from a pipe.

Off the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma, there's a well flowing with ice cold, crystal clear water. A gentlem
an named Edward Brickman dug this well. Many others like it have been bought by businesses, the water bottled and sold. But, in his will, Mr. Brickman dictated that this well should always remain free and open to the public. Gotta say, the sight was touching and inspiring, and I've never tasted water quite that good.

The rest of us have been visiting the west too .... via the television. Robert Redford is producing "The American West" on AMC. It's all about the wild west like Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Crazy Horse, and Custer. He has really shed some light on things we never knew. One of the things we never knew was about the buffalo.

 Now we all probably know that at one time there were over 50 million buffalo grazing the west in the late 1800s.
The Yellowstone herd is both genetically and behaviorally unique, being the only herd with continuously wild ancestry from the days when 50 million buffalo migrated freely across the Great Plains. At the end of the 19th century, after tens of millions had been slaughtered, only 23 wild buffalo survived. Taking refuge in Yellowstone's remote Pelican Valley, this remnant herd ensured the survival of the species in the wild. Today there are a little more than 3,000 buffalo living in and around Yellowstone, comprising America's only free-roaming and unfenced population.
 What is conveniently left out of the history books is the fact that the killing of the buffalo was mainly orchestrated by our government. Buffalo were the life source for the American Indians, then the U.S. government forced the Lakotas unto reservations. But wait ...  gold was found in the Black Hills which was within the boundaries of the indian reservation. So the U.S. government decided to take back that which they had given to the Lakota. The Lakota fought back so the government decided they would kill off the buffalo stating "every dead buffalo is a dead indian". They encouraged the people to go in and kill the buffalo, even at times, providing the resources and guides to do so.

Today, there are only 4,000 buffalo in the United States and apparently, we are still killing off any excess of that. Read more at Buffalo Field Campaign and Bison Basics

A blogging friend of mine, at Praying on the Prairie,  Tara Ulrich lives in the Dakotas and shared her pictures with me. When I was looking through them for buffalo, I learned another fact ...

Did you know there is a mountain sculpture of Crazy Horse, similar to Mount Rushmore? 

After sharing about the buffalo, it almost pains me to say that we celebrated two birthdays this month with some awesome smoked pork and steaks! Daniel continues to deliver the most delectable meats on this side of the state. And we certainly have been enjoying the  family time together!

So yes, our boys keep getting older. 
Daniel is now 42 and believe it or not, Brett is 25!

Mikaela adds her two bits this month as well.
"Musician-ing is exhausting.
Being a musician and planning, practicing for, and playing shows all week is very tiring, but so worth playing in a band with fellow musicians/friends."
The "youth" at church offered a Back to School Revival for the church. They did all the planning and leading. The Worship team was awesome. Due to copyright laws, for now, I can't share the sound. :(  But it looked like this ...

Tina, Daniel's wife gave a word for us, too ...
...  I realized that my family moving home and the other stuff in life probably saved my life.
 I had lived for others, besides family, for so long I couldn't remember who I was.
I learned friends will come and go, but you can't ever leave yourself... so you better like you. I love me!
I continue to see God working on the prayers prayed. He continues to show me how He has answered my prayers in round-a-bout ways.
I welcome to our family Livi Claire Stricklen. Babies never cease to amaze me. God makes all perfect.

Alrighty, since we have no steps or halves in this family, I get to claim her as my great-granddaughter! Can you believe that? Mike and Mandy are great-grandparents, which make my parents, great-great grandparents. Of, course we've always known that we were great! ha!

Well just to prove I'm proud of these great grandbabies, I "stole" a few pictures off Facebook from Cody 'n Liz, and Loran 'n Justin ...

Livi Claire

Lacey and Cody

CodynLizz w/Caiden & Lacey
Loran 'n Justin w/ Cooper

Caiden, Lacey, & Livi

I guess I shouldn't leave out the grand CATS. 

Apparently, they didn't like Brian going off without them, so A.J. decided to get a little attention and fall sick. It seems that cats know when you are going to take them to the vet. Brian's living room got turned around a bit while trying to place him in the carrier. Brian says, "You can lead a cat to medicine, but you can't make him take it." I'm not sure you can even lead it to medicine. :)

We also learned that MMA wrestling can get a little brutal. We've been following my nephew, Grant "The Prophet" Dawson, who is working his way to fame with an outstanding record of 10-1. He lost his fight in April, but returned to the cage this month with vengeance. He won in the second round. TKO.

Speaking of nephews and nieces, I have 30 of them. I've been taking a day to pray for each one by name. I usually post a scripture for them on their day. This past month, I learned how to make my own images. So I started going to the FB page and finding a picture, then adding a verse and posting it back. Here are a few of the top favorites according the "likes".

We've got some beautiful nieces and nephews, don't you think?

Alright then, we end with this little tip.

  • Always use restaurant apps and e-clubs. We have eaten 2 for 1 several times this month.

See you in September!

The Farmers