Saturday, December 2, 2017

Coming Forth as Gold


But he knows the way that I take;
 when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
Job 23:10



I'm sitting here thinking of all the blessings that God has given us. We are traveling a difficult journey but intertwined with the brokenness is so much beauty that we just cannot think that God is anything but good. 

I am reminded of the Japanese art form where pottery is repaired with gold.

Photo Credit: LakesidePottery.com
I see that God is working in our family to make something beautiful. Something that can only come through pain but then the beauty brings glory to the Creator, our God. It can only happen through the work of His hands.

I'd like to take you on a short journey of our recent lives to show you where God's workmanship is coming forth like gold. To make a long story short, I will include links to details so you can read them if interested.

Our Budget / His Providence

When you put it down on paper, every month finds us shy of meeting expenses. I'm understanding now the comments from senior citizens when they say they are on a fixed income. It is truly fixed. Even when the government gives you a "raise", they take it right back and give it to Medicare. Well, at least they are giving us the increase to cover the increased premiums.

However, God's budget plan is quite amazing. I don't know how it happens but each month, we have paid our responsibilities. Every month cash comes from someplace. In February, I was PAID to write devotions for the church. Nearly every month, Michael has had opportunities to preach at the two Nazarene churches here in Savannah. Even I was asked to speak a time or two. Click Here to read my devotions on personal trauma

The greatest gift of gold is that we are learning real trust in God. Trust that rests in Him when there is nowhere else to rest. No leaning on bank accounts and regular jobs .. Just rest and peace in Him.

Speaking of jobs, God provided new jobs for Brett, Mikaela, & Ethan (her boyfriend, now fiance') all within a few weeks of each other. Brett is now an assistant manager at Thompson Sports Shop. Mikaela is working for Flowers Bakery at their "Day Old Bread Store". And Ethan who started handling boxes for Fed Ex in April has recently been promoted with a raise and full benefits.
We also celebrate with Brian. He has been pastoring at Cairo First Church of the Nazarene for 11 years now! It's a small church but it has produced some of the great preachers of our time in the Nazarene church.


Our Vulnerability / His Protection


Savannah can be a dangerous place to drive. As many of you know, we don't take likely the danger involved in driving a car. We have lost too many family members to car accidents in our lifetime to not take it seriously. But we can't control the irresponsibility of others on the road.

God has sent his guardian angels several times this year keeping us safe. Austin was hit broadside by a woman going the wrong way on the highway. He was hit directly behind the driver's seat, and yet, he walked away with only a bit of whiplash. 

They no more than found a replacement car, when Daniel's car was hit in an intersection near their home. Thankfully, again no one was hurt. The man stopped to see if he was okay but then got in his car and left. They finally, after several months, have found another replacement car.


Oh, Ethan and Mikaela have been able to save enough to purchase their first car! It's been a bit of a challenge with both of them borrowing a parent's cars. This extra car has helped to make a difference in getting where they need to get. We're proud of them for saving up their salaries and paying for this car in cash!



Brian upgraded his car and bought one of those hybrids, Toyota Prius. He is really liking it. AND it gets great gas mileage.





Reconciliations


Tina has been somewhat estranged from her children from a previous marriage for many years. One day, I received a text from her daughter asking if she could have Tina's phone number. This became the first step for her reconciling with her son and daughter, getting to witness their weddings, and meeting her kids' spouses and getting to know her grandchildren. This has been a long-standing prayer for Tina. What joy she has had this year to the extent of being invited to join them in a Florida vacation.

Tina's family @ daughter, Loran's wedding


A Roof Over Our Heads

How wonderful and pleasant it is
    when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
    that was poured over Aaron’s head,
    that ran down his beard
    and onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
    that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing,
    even life everlasting
Psalm 133


We saw from the start when we moved to Savannah that God prepared this place for us to live. We love this little community called Harmony. It's quiet and safe. We have even been safe riding through two Hurricanes (Matthew and Irma).  We have enjoyed great relationships and Bible Studies with the neighbors here even though we all come from different backgrounds. (something the press says isn't happening here in the U.S.) 

Daniel, Tina, and Austin purchased a home in the historic district of Savannah last November. They had been wanting for years to move back into the city. God brought them to a beautiful home just 5 minutes from work and church. Daniel has been using his free time to re-surface the floors. How beautiful are those hardwood floors. They, too, have found that different people can live together in harmony. They are excited to be building great relationships with their neighbors.



Note that their new home and the hurricane provided an opportunity for Brian to spend a couple days with Daniel, Tina and Austin complete with his two cats, Chester and A.J. who managed to travel very well on short notice and not get too freaked out by their dog, Lexi (a Doberman).

A.J. and Chester

Brian also had a chance to get away from ministry for a week or so at Thanksgiving. He took a much-needed vacation and went to the Twin Cities to visit some very dear friends. He found Minnesota to be very nice. 

Health Challenges

I have been managing chronic pain fairly well with regular visits to Mayo Clinic. I'm not able to get injections quite as often as I would like but God gives the ability to endure.

Thankful for my pain management since Michael is taking his turn at not feeling well. It's been a challenge with government health insurance to find specialists, and even hold on to regular doctors. It seems every year we are having to find new insurance and new doctors. This issue does seem to be settling down a bit and we finally were able to see a dermatologist where we learned he had some melanoma on his back. Thanking the Lord that the surgeon was able to remove it all! We still have to visit some other specialists for other issues but happy to be clear from cancer and see the blood pressure coming down also. Maybe we have found a doctor that can get things done.

Looking to the future.


Michael and I hope to continue to accept speaking engagements. He supplies for pastors on Sundays. And I, speak to women on leaving a legacy and living through the pain. I have been blogging consistently for two years now. After I wrote the seven devotions for the church (Click here to download for free), I took on the challenge to write devotions on perseverance. I hope to get these together and publish them in a book. But you can receive them by e-mail once a week by signing up here.

I have also found that there are a lot of questions from people wondering about fibromyalgia and I decided that a Question and Answer book on Fibromyalgia would be something people might find helpful. So I created a facebook page, for now, to answer questions as I work on putting these answers in book form. Maybe you will see these available in the near future.

And the most exciting news is Ethan and Mikaela's engagement. They have set the wedding date for May 19, 2018. She plans to wear the gown I wore which was made and worn by my mother in 1956! We found a lady that works with antique fabric and she is making it into Mikaela's size and style! We hope you can come to Savannah to celebrate with us. You will be hearing more details soon. There is a wedding website where we are adding details as they come available. In the spring, you will be able to RSVP on the website!

I doubt that I'll get back to this blog before Christmas arrives, so Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

May your lives come forth as gold;

Mandy et al

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Getting Ready For What Lies Ahead

There are preparations of all kinds going on here in Pooler. 

WEDDING PREPARATIONS

Before I speak of the preparations at hand, let's talk about weddings!
I'm sure you heard that Mikaela & Ethan are now engaged. We've started some preparations for their wedding day in May. Mikaela had an opportunity to go with a friend to check out some wedding dresses. We saw some very beautiful dresses. But clearly, that is way outside of our budget but it was fun to go try some different styles to see what she liked.

Grandma & Grandpa's Wedding Day
In truth, Mikaela has always wanted to wear my wedding gown which happened to also be my mother's dress handmade by Grandma in 1956. So we searched to find a seamstress who could work with antique fabrics and make the gown into a dream gown for Mikaela. Mike's family in Waycross suggested a lady they use. So we made the 2-hour trek to meet with her. 

We loved her instantly.


Me in the gown - 1989

Ms. Tammie is an accomplished seamstress and was recently featured in the Okefenokee Living Magazine (Look for "She said 'Yes" to her Mother's Dress) for a transformation she recently did remaking a 1980s gown into something stylish for the 21st century. She has some wonderful ideas for our dress as well and we are very excited to see what she does. You MUST come in May to see it!

 Mikaela & Ethan - Aren't they cute?
We also met with a friend of mine that has offered to do the catering and to help us design and hand-create the invitations. We're still working on the final decisions on the Save the Date card. In the meantime, you can go ahead and pencil in on your calendar Saturday, May 19, 2018 here in Savannah, GA. Do you think you might come? Make sure I have your address to send the invite.


STORM PREPARATIONS


Of course, everyone is talking about the hurricanes lately. It was so sad to see all the damage in Houston. And now, even as I type the entire state of Florida is under Hurricane Warning. And it's coming to Georiga!

Flooding in Houston


Here in Savannah, we were under mandatory evacuation, but now that the hurricane is headed up the middle of Georgia, the governor has lowered the evacuation to voluntary .. except for the coastline. We'll still get some tropical force winds and surge though.

We were going to run across the state to our cousin. But since the storm is headed their way, we decided to stay put and weather the tropical storm forces here. So now we are getting things together to be prepared for losing electricity for sure. You know, water, batteries, candles, important papers.



Preparing our Souls


I got to thinking about all the tragic things happening in our world. It certainly seems that "all creation is groaning" under the evil. Here are just a few of the world wide events that are going on.

Mudslides 

Sierre Leone

Flooding and Mud Slides in Peru

Monsoons in Asia

Monsoons in Asia


Disease


Dengue Fever

Hurricanes
Hurricanes Katia, Irma, & Jose

Earthquakes
Mexico Earthquake after math

Does This Remind You of Anything?





All of these things cause me to think that we are very near the end. Jesus describes all these things in the book of Matthew.

30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you,

This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

 So I must ask you,


 "Have you prepared your soul for the coming day?"

"Do you believe that Jesus, the Son of God, came to die for your sins and give you eternal life?"

"Have you accepted this free gift of life by believing and trusting in him?"

"Have you turned your heart and life over to His control?"



The Day Is Near


11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Romans 13:11New International Version (NIV)

"I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation."   2 Corinthians 6:2 




It's as Easy as A, B, C


ACCEPT that you are a sinner.
BELIEVE in the Lord Jesus Christ.
CONFESS your sins to Him.

It's that simple. Do this and receive eternal life in heaven with Jesus.

1 John 1:9New International Version (NIV)If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

So how about it? Are you prepared for the day of His return for His Bride?

Look up! For our redemption draws nigh!


P.S.  I'm hosting a Q&A event about fibromyalgia this fall. Go to my special Facebook page to follow along. I'm actually working to put all this in a book! Here's the link www.facebook.com/ggmandy2



                            "FIBROMYALGIA - IS IT FOR REAL?"

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Savoring the Bittersweet


 Ezekial 3:14 The Spirit lifted me up and took me away.
 I went into bitterness and turmoil, but the Lord’s hold on me was strong.

The Bittersweet of Pain
We can taste the bitter and the sweet. That’s how the past few years have been for us. Really, long before that, in 2011, I tasted the bitterness of chronic pain. Pain that lasted for not for days, but for months. A portion of that time was in stillness on my bed. But I savored that stillness as I fellowshipped with God. Drawing, oh so close, to Him as he taught me and brought me to a readiness to face even greater giants; just as He did in the wilderness with His people, Israel. I still fight chronic pain but I feel the sweetness of being still.

The Bittersweet of Job Loss

In the fall of 2015, our family tasted the bitterness in the realization that our society had become a place with no need for the mature. The bitter reality was that churches no longer desired the more “senior” pastor. And though Michael had 40 years of pastoring under his belt and a family with multiple talents, we found ourselves with no place to serve. We were left as scraps on the table and forced to take an early retirement which we really could not afford.

But these past two years are a testament to God’s faithfulness and providence.

We moved to greater Savannah. It ripped out our hearts as we pulled away, leaving our son, Brian, on the far west side of Georgia; but, oh the sweetness of reuniting with our oldest son, Daniel and his family.  Our grandson, in his late teens, barely knew us at that point. But it’s a different story now. Our home is right off the highway where Daniel traveled for work, play, and church. And we had the privilege of weekly visits on the spur of the moment for a while.
They have moved into town now. But we still enjoy worshiping together every Sunday and have regular get-togethers for food and fellowship.

The Bittersweet of Financial Loss

It was eye opening to watch our bank account diminish with our now much lower income but additional living costs.
BUT GOD is faithful to the most minute details. Oh the sweetness, in finding a check in the mailbox just as the right time or cash in the hand from a friend at church. God has never let us down. He provides every need.

The Bittersweet of Lost Friendships
Our hearts broke as we left behind 13 years of wonderful friendships. Our younger children had grown up there and really knew no other place to call home. But friends, old and new were waiting for us around the bend. Oh, the sweetness of reuniting with friends from years ago when we pastored in Savannah. Plus new friends that embraced us as if they had known us all along. There were even “college friends” to get to know.
Just a week before we arrived, the church we now attend hired a worship pastor. Wouldn’t you know that this pastor and wife attend Asbury College at the same time as me! We didn’t know one another then, but we have mutual friends. It’s a small world!
This turned out to be the sweetest of all blessings. You see, their son, Ethan fell in love with our daughter, Mikaela! And in July, he proposed! And we are now preparing to celebrate a marriage possibly next spring! The date has not been set yet.
Here’s a little video from the engagement that Brian put together. Thanks to Eric Grimes for pictures and music.



 Psalm 34:8   Taste and see that the Lord is Good.



I share all this just to say, “There is always a silver lining.” 

We are still tasting bitter with the sweet but God has been faithful.

Don’t give up when the chips are down.

Mandy, et al

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Lessons Learned in May and June

Is it July already?


I guess it is. I missed June in there somewhere.

So what have we learned in May and June?

1) Mandy says, "You should always carry business cards."

I spoke at a Ladies' Tea for Mother's Day. It was put on by my friend Laura for the ladies at her church. She always does such a jam up job baking and setting a beautiful atmosphere. There were about 50 women in attendance. And I spoke about leaving a legacy for your family. I had one lady speak to me afterward. She said she wanted me to come to her church and speak. I never even thought about giving her a business card or my phone number.



2) Mikaela says, "It's amazing how different things are when you set out with a more positive attitude."

Mikaela took a trip to Kansas City with her Ethan and his family. Leading up to the little trip she was getting a bit distracted about going to work every day. Maybe it was just looking forward to the trip. Anyway, after her trip she set out to have a better attitude about work she found that it made her day so much better


3) Daniel & Tina say, "Stop at every intersection, even when you have the right of way."

Just after they replaced their Jeep, Daniel was involved in a hit and run just down from their house. This family has entirely too many accidents. The insurance company has totaled this one as well. So it's back to car shopping."



4) Mandy says, "Michael is an awesome preacher."   
Michael says "Mandy does a great job, too."
Kids say Nothing!
Michael and I both had an opportunity to speak over Father's Day. I spoke at the Father's Day luncheon. Michael preached a great sermon on Sunday morning!
We also noticed that yougn people need to learn better how to communicate when they are together. Here's a picture of our "kids" at a church "fellowship".
Brett, Daniel, Mikaela, Ethan, Tina


5) Mikaela says, "Rest is important."

After her trip to Kansas, the others at work took their turn at vacation and then her co-worker moved to a different department. Until last week, Mikalea was working pretty steadily. That wasn't really the problem though. She just wants to spend every moment possible with her beau and that  causes her to stay up later than she should. :)  We've all been there I think!
Aren't they just so cute?


6) Our kids are awesome. And they love each other a lot.

Brett, Mikaela, Austin (grandson), Brian, Daniel

Look forward to chatting with you next month!


P.S. If you enjoy my blogs, maybe you will help keep them alive. I need to scrape together $120 by August. Chip in a few dollars at this link. 


See ya in August!

Oh, One more thing. Did you see my memoir post? 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

We MAY be BLESSED

Actually, We ARE Blessed.




We could list all the things that have gone wrong or trouble us, but why not take a different perspective? God has been so amazingly good to us. And we praise Him for that.

Here are a few reasons to Praise Him ...


1. Salvation. 


We celebrated Easter this month. I often wonder, "Why it is that we are so closed mouth about this the rest of the year? Where would we be without Him?"




2. His Protection. 

Austin was in a car accident this month. The Jeep was totaled, but Austin walked away unharmed!









3. Family.

Everyone was together for the week after Easter. What a joy to enjoy one another in the same place.




4. Extended Family

Tina was even blessed to have her kids and their families visit. Then they all headed to Florida for some time on the beach and at Disney.

Austin, Cody, & Loran



5. New Home.

Daniel and Tina are still loving their new home in the Historic District of Savannah. Of course, having a home brings other blessings too, such as sanding the floors!






6. Great Neighbors

Our sweet neighbor, Sheena is studying to be a stylist. She was asked to help Miss Tennesee for the next level pageant. Sheena has to turn in a portfolio, so she needed a volunteer face. :)  She asked Mikaela to give a few hours of her time. Here are the results ...




7. Great Friends, eh um, I mean boyfriend.



Mikaela & Ethan ~ Easter 2017

8. And we can't forget the GRANDPETS


Brian's AJ

Brian's Chester

Daniel & Tina's Lexie


So, What are your blessings this month?

 Leave us a note in the comments.


Love & Blessings!

The Farmers