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:
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.


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