I took on reading Billy Hodge's book this season. It had several interesting facts and theories surrounding the birth of Christ. I'm not sure that it had more to bring to the table than A Case for Christmas by Lee Stroebel. There was quite a bit of criticism about a pastor's sermon being lacking in how he explained the root of Christmas. I think the meaning could be explained without that criticism. I don't honestly think we need a war on Christmas. We don't need to reclaim it from our culture. It isn't about keeping Christ in Christmas. It's about what Christ is doing in us. We should be walking grace and merciful explanation of the true work of Christ. Warring with culture is distraction. Let's battle our own flesh and honor Christ by how we honor those around us.
Monday, December 30, 2013
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Thursday, December 19, 2013
The Home inspector comes at 10 a.m Thursday morning. Y'all can be praying about that.
My man asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told him I wanted to finish the bathroom. The two rooms that were the most hideous and scary when we moved in were kitchen and the bathroom. The kitchen is coming along and I would love for the bathroom to come with it. I found the cutest shelf at Hobby Lobby for all of our towels. They were always hung over the bath or on a rickety hook. We hung it and it inspired Denbigh to start hanging bead board. Of course, there is always something crazy we have to do. We have to re-seat our toilet and fix the floor. There is a hole in the floor that needs to be fixed.
Thursday brings carols, my dear friends. Stop on by for some s'mores, cocoa, Christmas cheer, and the world's best cup of coffee. See you at 6:30 p.m.
The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
I have been blessed to do many things. Even though I have never taken an art class, it seems that I am becoming an artist. It was a wild (Holy Spirit) hair that I had to start painting. Every time I sit down at a canvas, I pray for God's creativity. I pay attention to the shape of the world around me. I pay attention to people. I pray for the recipient of the painting and everyone who sees it to be touched by the Irit of Jesus. I have been humbled by the people I have been able to pray for. People I most likely will never know. I shed many a tear when asked to do a painting for a young mother of four when she lost her husband. Many times have I wept and prayed for those in cancer treatment or recovery. I have hated and loved every minute. It has changed me. I have been humbled by being allowed to pray for them. What grace to allow me to intercede on their behalf. Very often, the words on the canvas become my own prayer.
Eleven years ago I stepped out of severe and life-long depression. Last week, I was commissioned to do a painting for a dear friend.
"You have taken my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy."
Monday, December 16, 2013
The Jesus Story is something akin to a cliff notes version of the New Testament. It sums up all of the story of the life of Christ and puts it in a tidy little package. I think it would be a great book for someone who had no grasp on the text. I personally just found it dry the story itself, is of course, wonderful. How it was choppily put together was not. The Bible itself is such a poetic and beautiful book. I had a hard time with it becoming "they said or they did." I can see how it would be a benefit to some. I think it would be helpful in gleaning understanding of the life of Christ. Don't stop there. Indulge in the beauty of His word.
The book was graciously provided by Bethany House Publishers for review.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Well, y'all, my house is a wreck, but I've been creating art left and right. I was invited to attend a women's mission dinner at First EV Free on Friday and sell some of my paintings. It was fun. I sold several bigger pieces. People kept asking me if I was "Stephanie Cherry." Every lady who walked by laughed out loud at the laundry signs. Most importantly, I had a couple of divine appointments. As with our house, art isn't the goal, it's a vehicle. It's a way to connect with the hurting people around us. I was grateful to be right where I was on Friday night because I was allowed to stand with the broken hearted and share the love of Christ. Besides that, the food was amazing. The cupcakes had edible pearls on them. What southern girl doesn't love a cupcake with a pearl on top?
Our house loan seems to be going along okay. We are waiting for an appraisal. I guess I should clean up for that. Just a few more paintings...We also have quite a bit to take to the table from selling fish, pie, and art. Yay, Jesus.
Our heat went out the other night when it dipped down to twenty-seven degrees. Our heat pump seems to shut off when it gets above 95 or below 32. I am not exactly sure why the gentleman who installed it thought it was a good idea. I am grateful for when it does work. Sunday morning, however, it was 47 degrees in my bedroom when I arose. My girls and I ate breakfast and got dressed in the bathroom. It didn't really bother me. I was grateful to have a warm space for them. We reset the heat (when the temperature rose) and bought some heated mattress pads. You simply must get one of these. They are amazing. My kids fall right asleep. I do as well.
We also don't have heat on our first floor. There is no HVAC unit down there at all. I refuse to cook at under 55 degrees. One year I burned my hand and didn't know it for hours because my hands were numb. I went "cookieless" to a cookie swap because I didn't think the glory of my cookies were worth the 29 degree temps of the kitchen. So, I took flowers and a tray I bought from the deli. My witty banter was a hit. I'm just making stuff up now. Here's to getting heat for our whole house.
Blessed be the Lord.
Thursday, December 05, 2013
What a crazy last few months. Don't think we are settling into normal either. I think the wild ride is just beginning. As you know, our financer had the option of getting a balloon payment at the five year mark. He chose that and we had been working with a mortgage broker for months to get it in the works. Then, that fell through at the last minute due to something unforeseen to us. Our note matures Tomorrow. As of this past Monday, we were still scrambling to figure out what to do. We have possibly found a lender. We are going through all of the paperwork for this to happen. Next, it's appraisals and so forth. Please say a little prayer that it all works out. All of our proceeds from art and pie in December will be going towards the payoff. If you want to get involved in the redemption of Gomer, this is your big chance. Visit my Etsy store. Contact Denbigh to order a pie.
On Saturday night, our family was out to eat and Chayah started choking. I performed the Heimlich on her and pulled out everything I could from her throat. When I saw blood, my nerves were shot. Mini strokes. Car wrecks. Car breakdowns. Miscarriage. Cancellation of policy. You may lose your house on a technicality...
What would we ever do without Jesus?
As I have been staring in the face of all of these things, that is the one phrase that kept entering my mind. My neighbor said it again this morning as we were on our four mile jaunt around Fentress. What would we do? What if all I had to lean on in times of great stress was a false hope? What if I could only look to the stars and not the One who made them? That's what we are doing here. That is why Gomer is so important to us. We don't want anyone going this thing alone. Life is too hard to go alone. We want to be the house that holds up the light for people to see. Come rest your weary bones in the love of Jesus. May God redeem what He has called us to oversee. We are but caretakers in the house of a mighty God. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills... and in the words of my dear friend, Robert Barge, "all we're asking for is a bar-b-cue."
In Other News
**Fourth Annual Caroling w/Gomer- December 19th**
The pastor of Oakwood Baptist Church is coming out 12/5 to see about getting work crews out here.
I'll be at First EV Free this Friday (12/6) with an art booth at their Women's Mission Dinner.
Give to Gomer's House.
a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. I thought I would tell you all some things I am thankful for. My husband often teases me for being so chipper and finding the silver lining in horrible situations. Even my blood type is B positive. I actually have a hard time sharing negative things, but in learning to do it because God gets glory in His answering. That wouldn't be so if we never spoke of them or grieved them. There is a season for everything. Grieve when you need to. Have joy in hope always. I have found that thankfulness is directly tied to joy. We really have it good here, everyone. Sure we have financial struggles or relational ones, but in constrast to the world, we are spoiled rotten. We are rich. We have so much and we have Jesus.
I am thankful for running water, a husband that is kind, three girls I never thought I would have, love within my family where there was a lifetime of pain. I'm thankful for the gift of a car and donations to get another one. I'm grateful for good neighbors and people who share their resources to help us love others. I'm thankful for sweet grace. I have a good church. I have beautiful friends. I am surrounded by people who have that kind of love for Jesus that it radiates from their face. My friends love to pray. My friends love to help and give. I genuinely think it is a rare and beautiful gift. I'm grateful for the people at my church that are passionate about scripture. I'm thankful that I get to sit at a table with my family tomorrow and share love and delicious food. I'm grateful for getting to paint, write, speak, and be hospitable. I often think, amidst the hardship that I am living the dream. What are y'all thankful for?
Hey, y'all. It's been a wild week here at casa de Gomer. Our insurance agent found a company willing to cover us for DOUBLE the rate. We are still shopping around. As you might know, we are not wealthy people. That's why this house is such walk of faith for us. Being hospitable isn't just opening our doors, cooking meals, and letting people sleep over. I work a part time job of doing art work so that people can come here. It's often about four hours a day. During the holiday season it's much more. I am often up til one in the morning painting. We crack pecans and prepare pies to sell. Then we are sanding, staining, painting, doing carpentry. This is the lengths we are going to in order to learn God's grace through the spirit of hospitality.
As I am looking at our mortgage situation, I often think it would be a relief to lose our house. I also know it never has belonged to me. It is such a hard walk. There are so many things that I cannot share because they would defame others, but the journey has been far too great for me. It's lonely and it hurts. There is this push within the very core of who I am that wants to fight for her anyway. Even if it is just me, I want to fight. Even if I cry every single day. I want anyone who desires to tuck up in the wing of Jesus to have a place to do that. There is a Gomer who needs to be redeemed and a Hosea that has been wounded by his spouse. I want to leave the light on for them. I want the light on for me.
I shared on our Facebook page that Hosea 3:2 has been my prayer over this house for quite some time. The verse is after all of Gomer's adultery and waywardness. It is when God tells Hosea to take his money and buy her from the slavery auction. That has been my prayer here. That God would redeem our house financially and all who enter it by the Spirit. If you're praying folk, pray with me. May God redeem Gomer in whatever way he sees fit. May He wreck our hearts to a depth of hospitality that we cannot even fathom in our natural mind.
Learning God's grace through the spirit of hospitality.
Give to Gomer's House.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
My Etsy store has been going crazy and I haven't had a chance to blog. Here I am. I also started cracking pecans for my man. The world needs pie. If you are wondering what is going on over here with us at Gomer's House, here's your update. First, let me tell you how our last month stacked up. We wrecked our car. Our other car died. The company that carries our house insurance has decided to no longer cover us. (A restoration is high risk). The man who we are buying the house from had an option to either continue our loan after a time period or get a balloon payment. He has chosen to not continue our loan. As we try to get another loan we come to understand that half of our income doesn't count because we have only been working at the church for a year. For it to count on our credit, it needs to be two years. Our monthly income needs to increase as well. Pray for favor for Denbigh's income to increase. Basically, we need two cars, an insurance carrier, and a hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
We were given 6 new tires for our old Explorer and trailer that we use for camp. Ol' moon walkin' Astronaut Charlie Duke gave us his extra car.(Bless the Lord!) Our church and Denbigh's BSF class took up an offering to help with our car situation as well. Now, we just need more monthly income and a loan for $150,000. Oh, insurance. Waiting on Jesus here. Does anyone have any advice?
On Monday, my dear friend Joanie ran a booth for my art in Brownwood and sold almost everything she had. The owner of the local art gallery stopped by and said he wants me to come do shows. I'm at $21,000 raised for Gomer.
We have had a great week leading worship at Carolina Creek for Lutheran South. It's always a joy to be with them. The lake and the trees are especially beautiful this time of year.
Y'all ready for pie? You can buy pecan pie from the pecans in our yard. I have been cracking them for days. Every dollar made goes to support Gomer's House. You can also make a donation online for your pie at UCP. We will be selling them through Christmas Eve.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
It's been a week of dear people and attempting to fix a van in the parking lot of Hobby Lobby. It's still there as of this writing. I have in the past never wanted to share the things that are going on in my life that are painful. I have said before that exposing your hurt to people is much more painful than the pain itself. You have no control as to how people react to you. I also don't like people feeling sorry for me because I don't. When God started nudging me to share, I conceded to His wisdom because I knew he wanted people to see him in it. We are all just supporting characters to God's great tale of grace. My ups and downs are only a way for me to be shaped into the image of Christ and for God to be seen. It's not a story where the redeemed are lauded and heralded. It's a beautiful tale of a Redeemer.
I worked a few days on my dental moulding downstairs this week, but when I got cold down there, I took a break. Remember, there is no heat downstairs. It was good timing however because I had about 30 pieces of art work to finish up by tomorrow and then head out in the delivery wagon. I am really amazed at how God has orchestrated Gomer's restoration through my acrylic. Only God could do that. Truly.
Next week we shall commence our annual Pie Sale. Prepare your hearts and minds for the glory of the Lord in a pie. Well, at least we think they're good.
PS We were allowed to borrow a car from Charlie Duke, one of the astronauts that has walked on the moon. So, that's fun. Here's a toast to still enjoying life even in trials!
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
In September, I was wounded by someone I love. My mom became ill. I had a miscarriage and am still dealing with the physical fallout of that. In October, we totaled out our car by hitting a feral hog and I have been having horrible neck and back pain. Our finances are crazy up in the air. Then, on our way to lead Bible study today, my van died. As Denbigh went to get a borrowed car, I just cried. I am not worried about God's provision. I'm not worried about our cars or anything else, I just cried a few tired tears. I spoke to Jesus asking him for some encouragement as he sorts this all out. Then I came in to the house and saw a custom order I have in progress. He hears us when we call.
Blessed be his name.
Thursday, November 07, 2013
Guess what I have been up to. I'm still restoring a hundred year old house. I have been scrubbing away at that dental moulding. I am about a third of the way through. I need to get some drywall on the ceiling so you can see it better. I get burned out remodeling about once a week. Then I regroup and ask Jesus for some encouragement.
One of the things that encourages us is when people come volunteer here. This past weekend, a small group from the Sam Houston BSM came and stayed with us. On Saturday they hauled off all of the tree (except the big part I am keeping) to the burn pile. We had quite a few ecosystems growing under those piles in the yard. They also helped Denbigh put up breadboard on the ceiling of the dining room. It is almost finished. Look at the picture of Denbigh with his feet on two different ladders. Does he need a safety lecture?
Say a little prayer for us. Our central heat isn't working and the heater we had borrowed for several years had to be returned. Here's to praying for a mild winter.
I have found myself a little bit frustrated of late so I am camping here:
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." Ephesians 4:31-32
Grab your tent and join me.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Dearest friends of Gomer,
The Lord be with you. I am still working away on this old house. As you can see, I finally finished the dining room floor. As soon as the bead board is on the ceiling with the crown moulding and all the little details are finished out, I will put a few more heavy duty coats of top coat on it. What joy it brings my spirit to walk through here and not see an ugly old dirty room. We're dining in luxury, y'all. The table Stephen made for us looks just exquisite...and did you notice those chairs. What a tale this room could weave. So many people have come together to make this a reality. It truly is staggering to see how Jesus knit hearts together to make it happen. *Somebody send some eyelet cloth napkins.
Of course, it has been an eventful week here. We hit a feral hog and smashed up our car. I just have a peace about it. I am waiting to see what Jesus is going to do. Do you ever think that God is about to do something and He wants a wider audience? Perhaps, this all happened so that people would be looking at what is going on with us. I have been wondering what God is up to quite frankly. We are looking at some deadlines towards paying off our house with no real hope in sight, our income isn't meeting our budget needs, and now my husband's car is smashed up. I'm just being honest with you. We are in need of seeing God move in a big way for us. I am trying to be vulnerable and share these things so that when God answers us, you can all bless and praise Him. May your own faith be strengthened. I am hanging my hope on the fact that we are all going to see something spectacular.
Monday, October 28, 2013
All we have heard about since we moved to Caldwell County is about feral hogs out of control. There are apparently millions of them. They can run 30 miles per hour. These hogs are not native to North America and have no natural predators. We can think Christopher Columbus for bringing them over. Every time I see the signs to watch out for them on 130, I think of the guys in the movie Wild Hogs darting into the road.
We left home in our van Friday afternoon to visit a friend, and the engine kept stalling as we drove. This is not a normal occurrence. It did it about 12 times so we returned home and switched cars.
After having dinner with friends, we started back home, and were less than a mile away when Denbigh felt God impress upon him that he was about to hit a hog. 30 seconds later, I look up and there are three in the road. The one we killed was the length of the front of our car. It's easily 300 pounds.
We should have flipped and rolled into a concrete culvert, but it felt as though something picked up the back of our car and gently set it on the side of the road.
The front of our van is much shorter than our car. There is no telling what would have happened if we had been driving it and hit the hog. We've driven the van since and it drives fine, no engine stalling. What made it act up so that we would switch cars?
How we got the Honda Accord: Around 2005, I prayed for two full years for God to provide us with a car suitable for a family. A man who had been out of work for months showed up at my house and told me that he felt like God wanted him to give his Honda Accord to me. It's the same story with our van. As our family grew, I asked Jesus for a ride that would hold all of our girls. Someone gave it to us. Both the van and sedan were the same year, color, and make of car. (Honda Accord and Honda Oddessey). I think God was just being really clear that he was doing it...even though they came through human hands. He gives and He takes away. Blessed be His name.
I am not a huge football fan, but I love people. I love stories. I so enjoy the passion and camaraderie. I thought this would be more like Drew Brees' book. It was a story to be involved in and stats and facts mingled in. I was smitten with Drew's story. This book was nothing like that. I basically read 160 pages of stats about the game of football. It wasn't even so much about Robert. Basically, I just read some guy's run down of the history of football and how RG3 played in to that.
If you are a sports loving male, you might like this. I just didn't learn one thing about Robert Griffin the third that I didn't know already. I didn't know that much to begin with. I'll pass this on the my mom. She's a die hard Baylor fan, but I'm afraid she might be bored too.
Friday, October 25, 2013
It's been one of those crazy weeks, y'all. I mean, the kind that make you need to check the cupboard for chocolate and call on Jesus to affirm your call to motherhood. I'm partly joking, but it has been crazy around here. My husband was attending the Austin Stone's Worship Leader Conference. He loved that. Maybe I'll let him do a guest post. The man is always running off to fancy retreats and such while I'm here raising kids and stripping paint. I told him I was headed to a Christian Remodeler's conference. He thought that must be a small niche and wondered who would be attending with me. I informed him that it was just me and the conference was going to be held in Hawaii.
Oh the havoc that my girls did wreak this week. It began with them deciding to take up jumping on the bed. Those girls broke their metal bed frame and gouged out the wood floor that I spent sixty or seventy hours refinishing. It ended with upset tummies, a head wound, and fifty fire ant bites. Thankfully, Denbigh returned refreshed by Jesus and made every bit of the crazy worth it. Just when I was telling Jesus to send help because I had reached my emotional threshold, my sweet two-year-old crawled into my lap and touched her nose to mine. All was right with the world. What is it about toddler noses?
Keep hanging on, dear moms. I'm praying for you. Come to my conference. love y'all.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
During a typical day, I slowly run 4 miles, make four paintings, remodel, homeschool, make meals, and play outside. I never stop moving and I never get it all done. I'm thankful for my morning walk/runs. I get to hash out a lot of things with Jesus. If I had not had those brief moments to begin my day, I think I would have given up on this project and many other things by now. One of the main things I hear whispered in my ear every morning is, "Don't give up." So, I keep moving forward. I keep pressing in to Jesus. I know firsthand that this life doesn't guarantee ease to us, but I can't imagine attempting it without Christ. Most of the time, I honor commitments and press forward simply because I promised him.
This has been a hard road. There is no part of me in control of any of this house (or any thing else for that matter). I have been hurt, frustrated, and embarrassed. I just want a place to put things away. I want things to be normal. I want to be able to set my baby on the floor downstairs. I can't. I have to be strategic about every single thing I get done here. It's work. This week, I have been stripping some dental moulding in the foyer, finished sanding the dining room floor, and rehung a swing.
I spent a hundred hours scraping the cracks of a set of hundred year old windows. If you want to know about the lengths that God goes to in his restorative efforts, come sit by me. Grab a tiny metal toothbrush and scrub. Repeat every day for over a month. Clean up the mess you made cleaning the window. Repeat. Jesus doesn't leave anything unturned. He does not leave us or those we love with old paint in the cracks. He does the full work. He doesn't waste the moments we sat around covered in dingy toxic paint. He uses that to display his beauty in the finished product of you. When people saw the strip of old floor next to the area of new floor in the dining room, they were astonished. That would have never happened if the old floor hadn't been the old floor. It's not an old floor anymore. Press on. Don't give up. Keep moving forward. When I was about three quarters of the way through, I wanted to break up with those windows. The hurt and pain that we walk through here that makes us feel so lonely is a catalyst.
My soul is satisfied in Christ.
My soul is satisfied in Christ.