There's Mail From Mom!

Wouldn't it be nice to have a letter from mom in the mailbox each time you checked it? Here's a place to check your mailbox for a heart-to-heart talk with mom...

Monday, December 21, 2015

Our first Christmas in KY.  I have had a little bit of a time adjusting, especially after being robbed of many of my "sentimental objects" shortly after moving here.  I have always used my mom's reminder to hold everything I possess in an open hand to the Lord, but there is a grieving process to go through when you have had losses. 
For about five to six years the Lord has taken us down a path of losses.  Beginning with the ash spill that devastated the Swan Pond community and ended in our leaving that pastorate, we have lost parents, we lost a dear pastor's wife while she was in our home, we have moved from a church and pastor we loved dearly, we have both had loss of health, Gary's accident resulted in a loss of income and there's more that are too close to the heart to talk about. 
I honestly have felt rather "displaced" for these six years.  I have had to live my own teaching that if the Lord allows everything to be taken from you---home, family, possessions that even if you die you cannot have the most precious possession taken from you--Christ.
So, we have dug through the piles of dumped boxes in our storage unit and we have decorated our home for
Christmas.  Even Christmas has had its losses this year.  For the first time, I haven't hung a pocket calendar this year. (by husband's orders)  Each morning our children would find a treat in a numbered pocket calendar I made and hung on the wall.  Instead, he decided to give the boys each $25 for Christmas money.  I have mourned the loss of my beloved pocket calendar.
For the first time the inside of my cabinet isn't decorated.  I remember one year that I decided I wasn't going to decorate the cabinet and Alicia, who was married and gone, told me I couldn't stop doing that.  So I decorated the cabinet and have every since...till this year.  It is full of canned goods and I haven't got the room to put them any where else!  But I miss it.
I have made my huge batches of cookies and candies and they are sitting in the freezer--I don't have neighbors all around me to give them to.

But God has been good and we have had gains.  God has given us a church that reminds me of being in Parker City years ago.  Constant activity, soulwinning, new friends and a new ministry. 
Gary has joined the Wings Ministry and we are working with Brother Allen and Sister Dema.  When we left Swan Pond we lost having them in our church and it is so good to be serving together in the same church again.
It is so good to be in a church where there is something to do for the Lord every day of the week if that is your heart's desire.  It is so good to be in a church where John has constant activity with the teens and other ministries.

God has given us a home to live in for now.  Otis and Martha Blankenship graciously have allowed us to rent their home while they are in Michigan and it is such a blessing in our lives at this point.
We have once again seen the Lord pour out His blessings on us and meet our needs just when they are needed.  I could list prayer after prayer that the Lord answered at the precise time that we had the need.
It has been fun decorating the house for Christmas.  I started out slow, but the lights always win me over to filling the house with Christmas. 
So, here we are at our first Christmas in Kentucky.  Walking through the house today and seeing all the lovely lights--I decided to put pictures of it up and to remind myself that it is a lovely place to be at Christmas! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Plea for the Broken-hearted mother who's been forsaken...

If I could do it again:
1.  I would always, always make my mother know she was honored and make her feel honored.
2.  I would realize each time I went to say or show a lack of respect I was "sowing" for my future.
3.  I would never have missed a single opportunity to give her gifts and tell her I loved her.
4.  I would realize she was the "guide" of my youth and never have forsaken, ignored or abandoned her guidance.
5.  I would have stayed at her side even more through her illness with never anything but empathy and a helping hand.
6.  I would have paid attention to her every caution, instead of thinking she was a worry-wart and thinking I was smarter than her.
7.  I would have never taken on any practice that would have disappointed her or grieved her spirit.

8.  I would have risen up and called her "blessed" by a holier, closer walk with the Lord.
9.  I would have ditched my superior, know-it-all attitude I had so many times when she tried to caution me.
10.  I would have said, "I'm sorry, you were right and I was wrong." even more than I did.
11. I would have thought more of what I could do for her than what she was doing for us.
12.  I would have lived 100% in a way that she knew she need never fear being abandoned by me because of my love of the world over my love for her.

  If you profess Christ, please don't ever let her shed a tear over you "forsaking" and "abandoning" her with your lifestyle or words.  Don't forsake the law of your mother.  (Proverbs 6:20) because God says it is a light.  To do so is to choose darkness.  My mother always seemed perfect to me, and I always respected her position and role, but I wish I had done it  with more intensity than I did.  The little clips of time I chose to be carnal I know I hurt her and hurt her name.  I wish I could go back and do it right, but all I could do was ask her forgiveness and never repeat it.  If you are out in the world and breaking your mama's heart--leaving her forsaken and abandoned and heartbroken this Mother's Day, I beg of you give her the best gift possible--a repentant child.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

His Wonderful Works....Part 5

 It's been a long and wonderful summer for us here at the Neals.  I love my front porch, I love the more relaxed mood, and I love projects in the summer.  So between my projects and my porch there have been no posts since June! :)
   These posts are a walk down memory lane for me.  I am doing them at the request of my husband.  He felt it would be good for me to meditate on all the wonderful blessings the Lord has given us.  He's right--it is good to remember the kindness, patience and goodness of the Lord as my Shepherd, my Teacher, and my Friend. (and so much more)
  In my last post I told how the Lord gave us our second child-Alicia.  What lessons He had for me in two little girls.  They looked different and their personalities were different.  Niki started talking in phrases at 15 months.  Alicia took her time in talking, but was pulling up in her crib early on.  She walked first, and her motor skills were advanced.  My mother had often told me not to expect the same thing from my second child as my first one, but now I was learning firsthand how different two children could be.
  Alicia's curious nature was always there.  She was always discovering something new.  Niki, on the other hand, would be walking behind me asking hundreds of adult-type questions.  I was absolutely enthralled with being the mother of two unique little girls.
  At this time I had been growing spiritually and began reading biographies of great Christians.  As a little girl my mother often read us stories of great Christians.  I remember Hudson Taylor, Johanna Veenstra, Mary Slessor and Nate Saint as some of the heroes that we had as children.  The sweet memories of these stories motivated me to start reading on my own. 
   I began to realize how important a prayer life was, how important reading my Bible daily was.  Part of it was because I had become a woman and the other part was realizing how important being a mother was.
  We lived in a small gray house that the church owned that sat in a lot adjacent to the church.  What sweet memories I have there!  I was learning the art of being a homemaker.  The floors were old grey tile, but I polished them with Future wax to make them shine.  I  spent time looking at  cookbooks so I could have a hot meal waiting for my husband when he got home from work.  I enjoyed decorating with items that had been given to me.
  I rehearsed in my mind things that my grandmother and mother had said while we were just chatting that now made sense.  My grandma had told me to always make sure my beds were made, my dishes done and my living room was tidy.  That way if company came I wouldn't be ashamed of my house.
  So what was the wonderful work in this time of my life?  Well, the Lord was just beginning the lesson of contentment in my life.  (And I had to repeat this grade for several years!)
  I had been given the gift of parents who had their value system straight.  Possessions had no hold on them.  My mother had told me she remembered reading a biography of Isobel Kuhn who said to always hold your possessions on an open hand to the Lord and to "never curl up your fingers on them."
  My parents were in full-time ministry most of their adult lives and they always had to pinch the pennies.  But you never sensed they resented it or felt they'd missed something.  They had found something bigger than having the right car, or the right house, or even the right clothes.  They had found how to have food and raiment and be very content. 
   Now we were living life on a tight budget with two little girls that needed clothes, doctor visits and food on the table.  I had a choice to make--resent it and fight it or learn what my parents had learned.  That lesson was how to depend on God and be thankful for what He provided.  I began to pray specifically for things like winter coats, shoes and grocery money for the week. 
  At the same time I was so very happy.  I had a husband who loved me, made me feel cherished, found joy in being the breadwinner and caring for his little family.  Our marriage was a happy one.  We had two healthy little girls.   I found that I could get more joy out of bathing a baby, or sitting under a shade tree and watching them play then in going shopping.  I got more joy out of fixing a new recipe than having a new outfit.  I found out that sitting on the porch with my husband after the girls had gone to bed and listening to the night sounds gave me more joy than going on the town for a night. 
  Although I didn't realize it this wasn't just my personality--it was a gift from the Lord.  I also didn't realize that this is the by-product that comes with carrying out your life in agreement with how the Lord designed the home and family.  When we do it His way it produces a deep contentment and joy in our hearts.
  How thankful I am now for the parents, the grandparents, the church and the husband God had so graciously given me.  All these had played a part in my being able to live in a tiny house with a tiny budget with very used furniture and hand-me-down clothes feeling like I was one of the richest women that ever lived!
  Today I look back with such gratefulness for all the wonderful blessings in my life that I took for granted then.  How I thank the Lord for the memories of the smallest beginnings in my life of I Timothy 6:6--"But godliness with contentment is great gain."

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Just a little news note...

  Because I don't know how to add buttons etc. on my blog I'll just use a post to tell about this neat giveaway.  My dear cousins have introduced me to the wonderful world of essential oils and Camp Wander has this wonderful giveaway!  Give it a try and if nothing else begin to educate yourself!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

His Wonderful Works- Part 4-

  I ended part three of His Wonderful Works giving my personal testimony of how the Lord taught me about being separated from the world unto Him in the issue of my clothing.
  This took place during my early years of marriage and when we had our first daughter Niki. 
  Well, after about a year of being a mother of a beautiful baby girl I began to long for more children.  I knew that our Niki was a miracle and my doctor had told me as much when he said that I needed to be thankful for the one child that we had.  But yet in my heart was such a longing for more children.
    I would hear women talk when they found out they were pregnant as if they had just been given a death sentence.  They talked of how much harder it was going to make life, how could it happen "now", and other terrible things about what God said was a blessing--something to be desired, something that should make a man with a "quiver full" happy. (Ps. 127:5)
   This troubled me, and I would ask the Lord why He couldn't give us children when we wanted them and we would dedicate our lives to raising them for Him.  I didn't question His wisdom, but I did question why He didn't allow us to have children to raise for Him.
  This became such a spiritual burden for me that it consumed much of my prayer life.  I thought of it constantly and prayed often about it.  I went to the doctor and the matter of medication to cause ovulation was brought up again.  This time if I remember correctly we bought the medicine but I didn't take it.
  Once again I was brought back to prayer and fasting.  Over the years when I have a serious spiritual problem my mind goes to Revelation 4's description of the throne in heaven when John has it shown to him. 
  There is the throne set in heaven and the One sitting on it is like to a jasper and a sardine stone.  There is a rainbow round about the throne that is in sight like unto an emerald.  Out of the throne proceeds lightnings and thunderings and voices.  Before the throne is like unto a sea of glass out of crystal.  What a picture! 
  In chapter 5 the four and twenty elders fall down before the lamb having vials full of, which are the prayers of saints.
  The throne of mercy in Hebrews is a place we are allowed to come boldly to because of our high priest being there for us, and obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-17)  The place where our prayers are put in vials as a beautiful perfume.  I often wonder if each person's prayers have a distinctive aroma.
  And that's where I go--to this wonderful place to cling to the mercy seat for help.  My prayers have often been answered very quickly--that is in my early Christian days.  In my later years He has had to teach me to "wait on Him", but that's another part to these "wonderful works" chapters.
   One day my pastor's wife and I was out visiting a lady in our church who was very ill.  At some point and time in her illness she felt prompted to have the elders come and anoint her with oil, and she got well.  I don't remember if our visit was before or after her getting well, but I assume it was before because she was homebound and we were visiting her.
  We were pulling out of her driveway to go home when I knew.  That's the only way I can describe it.  I knew that the Lord had answered my prayer and we were going to have more children!  It wasn't a great feeling of joy or relief.  It wasn't the "I believe, help mine unbelief" that I experienced with Niki.  It was just that I knew.
  I don't even remember if I told Gary or not.  In July I was reasonably certain I was pregnant.  I went to the doctor.  He told me I wasn't pregnant.  I told him I would be back in September and I would be pregnant.  The doctor's nurse gave a nervous little giggle as if she didn't know if I was being funny or if I was a crazy person.  My doctor said, "Don't laugh."
  I went home and made it a matter of serious prayer.  I went back in September and the rest of the story is history.  We have our precious Alicia Rue--my second miraculous answer to prayer for children.
  When I was pregnant for our children Gary and I would pray together (at his suggestion and desire) that if our children weren't going to be saved that we would ask the Lord to take them back before they reached the age of accountability.  That's a scary prayer, but I always believed I could deal with going to the casket of an innocent child and know it was safe in the arms of Jesus with much more grace than looking down at a teen or young adult knowing that it was eternally in hell, and so I prayed that prayer.
  Alicia gave me several scares in the womb.  She was a very quiet baby and many times would go right up to the hour when I was supposed to call the doctor's office and report the absence of movement before she'd move.  I would be in tears, emotionally a mess and then she'd stir.
  I finally learned two ways to get her to move.  Knitting would always irritate her with the clattering needles and she'd stir as if irritated.  The other way was to sit a cup of hot coffee on my tummy!
  When she was born she was just as quiet a baby out of the womb as in the womb.  We actually wondered if she'd ever talk or socialize. (Can you believe that if you know our Alicia?)
  One hot summer night I heard her gurgling in her crib and when I grabbed her from the crib she was choking on liquid from her stomach.  When I'd hold her straight up she'd breathe and when I'd lay her back in my arms she would begin to turn purple again.
  We rushed her to the hospital but they found nothing and by morning she was fine.  She had a large circle of clear stomach acid (?) on the crib sheet when we left for the hospital.  When we came home the sheet was dry, there was no odor on the sheet.  If I hadn't heard her gurgling we would have found our quiet little daughter dead in her crib that morning.
  At that point I didn't give my children to the Lord but I did realize that if He didn't enable us to raise them and He didn't wake us up when they needed us, we didn't have any hope as parents.  I realized that His works not only involved giving us children to raise for Him, but giving us grace, wisdom, mother's intuition, etc. to raise them for Him. (I had felt we needed to keep her in a cradle in our room instead of moving her to Niki's bedroom...mother's intuition?)
  I couldn't do it--it required an involved and gracious heavenly Father to raise children.
  So my wonderful works in this chapter of His wonderful works  in my life?
1.)   I learned that just because He carries out His works one way the first time doesn't mean He will do it the same way the next time. (As you'll see in my stories of Nathan's birth, Nevin's birth, Asher's birth, Cierra and John's birth)
  Each on of their stories are completely different!  Nate was a surprise, Nevin came when I was fasting and praying for a friend to conceive, Asher was our first adopted baby, and Cierra and John came via a radio program! :)
   My second lesson on His wonderful works in my life was that not only did I have to let the Lord do all the work in giving us children, but I had to let Him do the work in giving me the strength, ability, and wisdom to be a good mother in every area. 
  Did I learn these lessons like a huge light bulb came on and I never forgot it?  No, that's not how it worked at all.  Even in writing this, I see where I must be reminded time after time after time that these things are true--and even though I fail and deny Him so many times--He always abideth faithful to me.
  So, after writing this I say to my Beloved once again,  "Remind me again and again, dearest Lord, of those things that I so easily forget.  I look to you to be faithful to guide me into all truth and to carry out the wonderful works in me for my children and grandchildren to see that You might get all the glory and praise.  In Jesus name, Amen."

Friday, March 15, 2013

His Wonderful Work of Separation...part 3

 Here goes "His Wonderful Works in My Life"--part 3.   In part 2 I told how God miraculously gave us our first child, Nicole Anthea. 
  While I was carrying Niki,  Gary and I both were growing spiritually.  We had decided together that we were going to be active Christians and that we weren't going to do it halfheartedly, but instead we going to be "all the way" Christians.  No fence riding for us.
  We talked about the Lord, prayed, and we attended our church faithfully.  As a result, the Lord began to work in our hearts in a way we had neither one experienced before.
  Now at this point I need to digress a little into my earlier life to explain some of the things the Lord needed to work in my heart over.
  My dad got saved when I was an infant.  It took him until I was five or so to get into a good church and start really growing himself.  He told how when reading his Bible he knew something was wrong in the churches he was choosing, so He asked the Lord to show him the truth.  Shortly after praying that prayer two men knocked on my parents door from an independent Baptist church.  Dad said the first Sunday there he knew they'd found a church that was preaching and teaching what he had been learning from reading his Bible.  The rest is history--my dad became an independent, Bible believing Baptist and he began to grow rapidly.
  We moved back to Indiana when I was in fourth grade.  The Lord led my dad to start a church in Parker City, IN a short time after we moved back there.  My dad had gone to one year of Bible college when we lived in Kansas, but it was rather liberal.  He didn't get under sound Bible teaching until he got under the Pastor Byers Storey of Muncie, Indiana.  (Temple Baptist Church)
  When dad started the church in Parker he was still learning some of the basics in doctrine.  He said it concerned Brother Storey rather he was ready for pastoring.  But dad stuck by the stuff and grew.
  We lived in the country north of Parker when he started the church and dad still hadn't developed many personal standards for us as a family.  When I was right at the beginning of my teenage years dad realized there should be dress standards and told us girls that we weren't to wear pants any more.
  Now, I was in the time of my life where I was questioning everything and I wasn't doing it from a spiritual mindset!  So, I decided dad had developed this new conviction as a result of our becoming teens and because we were moving to town where we would be more visible.
  I did what my dad said, but I didn't make a heart's decision for myself concerning what I wore.  I had outward obedience, but I never got before the Lord on my own and with a sincere heart asked Him to show me what He said about my clothing.  To be honest, I didn't want to know because I wanted to make that decision for myself!
  At school it was noticed.  No one really made fun of me, but comments would be made.   I would be asked why we never wore pants.  This was the late 60's and early 70's and pants and miniskirts were the rage, so when you wore a dress every day it was noticed!
  When I went to work out of high school as a pharmacy tech I also noticed that the men were always the ones to comment, and the comments were always about my looking like a lady.  They were never belittling, more astonishment or gratefulness for a "lady who looked like a lady".  I did notice this and it went into my mental library of facts.
  However, this was during the time I was completely backslidden as a teen and I had made up my mind that when I got out of the home I did not share my dad's conviction and I would wear pants.
  When I married that's exactly what I did.  Not all the time, but much of the time.  I cannot bear to think of how this must have hurt my precious parents.  I've asked them to forgive me for the pain my backslidden years brought to them, and I asked them for forgiveness for how I hurt them with my foolish choices.  Something I'm very grateful for is that I got right with the Lord and had an opportunity to ask their forgiveness while they were still alive.   I'm also grateful for their patience and forgiveness.
  I got right with the Lord at about the age of 18, but some of the wrong decisions were still in my life--what I wore was one of those things.  When I was pregnant for Niki the Holy Spirit began to deal with my heart about being a testimony no matter where I was.
  I would sit in the waiting room at the doctor's office and want to look like a Christian.  I wanted people to know I was a Christian just by looking at my countenance, (Acts 4:13-"they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.")  I knew that would only come by spending time with Him, but I also knew there should be outward evidence of being "separated unto Him from the world".
  So, where at the beginning I would pick up the Gideon Bible and read it while in the waiting room at the middle and end of my pregnancy I would wear a dress or skirt, because that made me the only one in the waiting room dressed in a way that made people take note that I was a Christian.
*I knew this was true because of how many times my dress under my dad's leadership caused people to ask where I went to church!
  I cannot speak for anyone else, but I can say without any question that my choice of clothing had a direct parallel to my spiritual closeness to the Lord.  When I was in rebellion I chose clothing that made me be identified with the world and its latest fad.  When I grew close to the Lord all I wanted was to be sure that what I wore brought Him honor and glory and set me apart from the world and identified me with Him.
  I still wore pants at home, wore them on vacation or on other occasions that I felt warranted wearing them, but as I became more and more sensitive to what pleased the Lord I became more and more uncomfortable with clothing that was immodest or "pertained to a man".
  We had had a part in some young Christians' salvation and I also became concerned that we were good role models in their lives.  All of this, along with a sincere desire to do nothing that would put a wall between the Lord and I's fellowship caused me to get into my Bible truly seeking what the Lord's heart was in this area.
  I still held on to some of my excuses--the major excuse was that my husband liked them on me.
I had a fear that if I only wore dresses he might lose his interest in me, or think I was "dowdy" in my clothing choices.
  Gary and I began to have more and more preachers over to the house during revivals, we were both spending more and more time in our Bibles and prayer, and I was getting more and more concerned with being right with the Lord and doing nothing that would cause someone to stumble.
  God knows just what work to carry out in our lives to get us to make that final step that He wants when we are sincerely seeking to please and obey Him.
  We had gone to town to see Gary's mother.  We were taking Niki  and were very proud to show her off to Gary's mom and aunt and uncle.  I had on a pair of jeans and a pretty new top Gary had bought me.
  An opportunity came up for me to witness to Gary's mother.  She was lost and we were both very burdened for her salvation.  When I began to witness she stopped me.  She told me that I didn't have anything to say to her as long as I wore those pants.  She saw the way *____________ (Gary's uncle) looked at me.  I was crushed and speechless.
  When we got home I told Gary that his mother might go to hell, but it would be her own choice, and it most certainly wouldn't be over stumbling over my clothing!  That was the "work of the Lord" that took dressing immodestly or dressing in what pertained to a man from my heart.
  I have never questioned what God meant by any portion of scripture on my clothing--it's not a matter up for debate to me.  I KNOW what He believes about it--He revealed it to my heart by His wonderful works. He did it in a way that I will never question what He means by the various verses I hear debated on a regular basis.
  I know that no matter what the Lord is wanting to teach us He has to make it personal, and He has to do the speaking and the working.   My obedience to my dad was outward--but dead.  I should have accepted the truth simply because I'm told to obey my parents, but I didn't.  However, when the time came that I sincerely was seeking and wanting to obey God and His Word--He made it real and He made it personal.
  That was the first real time I can remember that the Lord did a work in my heart that was precious--and very painful.  However, I am so glad He did. 
  Gary's mother did get saved some years later.  His dad and his mother both gave testimony at their salvation that watching us for years live out a Christianity consistently and with all our hearts is part of what brought them to Christ.
  What a small price separation from this world and its mindset is in the Christian life, and yet it is one of the devil's most effective tools. 
  This was just the first spiritual work in my life that I remember being painful and shameful.  There have been many since then, but I embrace them now as an act of love on the Lord's part and I'm thankful that they are proof that I am His.  (Hebrews 12:6-"For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.")
  I am writing all this down for "the generation to come".  I have felt prompted to do this, so that my children and grandchildren will know what the Lord's works in my life have been.  I don't want them to wait and find them in my journals after I am gone, but know them now!
"We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done."-Psalm 78:4
  This won't be all of them, they are too many to tell, but the highlights.  However, I get excited just looking back at how good He has been to me.  A true loving Heavenly Father who has done what was best for me, not what I wanted. 
  Until the next chapter!...



Saturday, March 9, 2013

His Wonderful Works in My Life--Part 2


 My last post was about how the Lord made me aware of His presence and my need of salvation.  That's the most wonderful thing He will ever do, but it's just the beginning!
  My childhood years were sweet.  Because of the healthy home life I had I pretty much just believed what was preached and taught to us.  When I was around 14 I began wondering how much I truly believed because it was true and how much I believed because I had been told it was true.  I've heard many, many others say they went through this.  I think it is a necessary part of growing up to adulthood if you're going to stand alone with the Lord.  We tend to depend on others, but the Lord wants that dependence to be replaced by our trusting Him and His word alone--no one else holding us up.
  A bunch of teen boys started coming to our church when I was 16 and among them was the one who was going to be the "love of my life".  He was saved shortly after beginning to attend our church.   He was my best friend first, then he became my sweetheart.  I highly recommend that--that you like each other before you love each other! 
   We were married at a young age.  The Lord was very real to me, but I was a shallow Christian, still riding on my parents coat tails.  I knew the Lord was my Saviour, knew He would provide your needs, but I had never made a full surrender to His authority in my life.  I had actually prayed a prayer at one point asking the Lord to give me a husband that was a strong authority that could handle me, because I knew I had a strong will.  God heard and answered that prayer!
  Even as a young girl I had some very strong convictions.  My dad didn't know it but when he would counsel so many of the young Christians he had an extra listener in the other room. After listening to him counsel,  I watched what happened to those people and their lives.  My dad would take the word of God and give them the truth.  When they walked out and obeyed it, things went the right direction with their life.  When they ignored the truth, their lives continued to spiral downward and fall apart.
 My dad had given me correspondence that had gone back and forth between one of the preachers on "Back to the Bible Broadcast" and a young woman who was dating a lost boy.  Oh, the sorrow she brought into her own life with the philosophy that she could change this young man.  She told how he loved her and was going to go to church with her after they married.  Instead of her willful ways bringing joy, she lived a life with a drunken , lazy brute.  After reading those letters I knew I would never date or marry a man who wasn't saved.  I also determined he couldn't just say he was saved, he had to behave as if he were saved!  Thank you, dear dad for giving me those letters!
  I had read my Bible and come to the conclusion that dancing was not for saved people, that I needed to stand with the Lord when the Bible was being attacked, and that I couldn't/wouldn't listen to the world's music or read their books that mocked the Lord.
  I attended a public school and I  took a firm stand in some situations where it took God's grace to do it, yet, there were many, many unsurrendered areas.  Some because of ignorance and some because of willfulness.
   Shortly after our marriage God began dealing with me.  I remember very clearly in our small apartment when He dealt with me about being all the way in or out with my Christian life.  I knelt by my bed and told the Lord I was going to be all the way in--not a fence straddler.
  He also began dealing with me about how much time I was spending with Him and how much time I spent reading books or other entertainment.  That took a while, in the end I promised Him I wouldn't read books for entertainment before I had read my Bible.
   When the Lord dealt with me it would be through my Bible reading,  through preaching or through someone else's testimony.  When I would surrender my will to His there would be such joy and peace within. I began to notice the pattern of how He worked with me to repent and what joy I had when I repented.   I  realize God in His goodness was preparing me for the life that was ahead of me.  He is always so good.
  I married with a heart's desire for a large family.  I had read several books by a preacher that had really impressed upon me that children were a blessing and we should let God give us blessings-not try to prevent Him from blessing us.  (today's mindset)
   After marriage I went back to my gynecologist for problems I had had before marriage.  He told me that I was young, but the problem I had made it to where there wasn't much chance for pregnancy.  He told me the odds and I don't remember them, but it wasn't good.
  This literally broke my heart.  For the first time since salvation I had a problem that was really big.  I did what I watched my parents do--go to  the word of God.  I studied the women who had lived with barrenness and Hannah especially gripped my heart. 
  In the end, I wrote a letter to the Lord.  It's buried somewhere in the many, many boxes we have in storage and if I find it I'm going to take it out and put it in a special notebook.  I told the Lord I believed and was asking him for a baby April of 1975.
  Back to the doctor in September because I thought I was pregnant.  My health problem was amenorrhea, or absence of menses.  I would go up to 8 months, so the only way to know I was pregnant was see the doctor and have a pregnancy test. 
  He examined me and told me that by examination he could tell me that I wasn't pregnant.  I told him that I knew I was--I had fasted and prayed over it!  He said, "Well, we'll run a pregnancy test just to prove it to you, but you're not pregnant."
  I remember going in a little bathroom next to the examination room, getting down by the toilet and saying, "I believe, help Thou mine unbelief!" over and over.  I got dressed and got ready to go to his office and talk to him.
  Before I got out the door, the doctor came walking back in with his wife right behind him.  They were Christians who attended a church in a town near to us.  He said, "You're not going to believe this!"  (His wife's standing behind him smiling from ear to ear.)  "It's positive, you're pregnant!"
  I had prayed so many times about this, I had asked the Lord to take a baby from the womb of a woman who was going to abort it and give it to us to raise--but the news was almost overwhelming--with joy!!  That baby is our Nicole Anthea.  She was born April 30th, 1975!   I've told her she might actually be someone else's and taken from another woman and given to us. 
  Now I had a truly mighty visible work in my life that only He could get the glory for.  As young as we were the doctor had even suggested I take a medication that would help me ovulate, but we had decided to wait till we were in our mid-twenties to try that.  I knew that God Himself had intervened and given us a baby.
  I felt so responsible to bring this life up for him, and it motivated me to get even more serious about
my spiritual life.  God's goodness truly leads us to repentance. 
  This was just the beginning of many might works in my life.  And so, there will have to be more parts to this!  Stay tuned for part 3....