Thanksgiving Seven Years Ago: A Season of Miracles

The previous post reminded me of so many miracles that God did for us just while we were in Colorado Springs in November of 2005 that I knew I needed to record them here.

We left Arizona because the Lord let us know that Arizona was not really the land of our dreams after all. We had been staying at a ritzy hotel for $50 a night, but we could feel that our time there was coming to a close. Fiona became so sick that she couldn’t breathe through her nose, so she couldn’t nurse. She was coughing. She was feverish. I didn’t know where to take her or what to do for her. I just knew we had to leave Arizona. So we called Pastor Bill Wisener and told him we were leaving Arizona and heading back to Colorado. He said that he already knew that. He told us to go to Colorado Springs and he would make some phone calls to try to get us hooked up with a ministry there. As soon as we started driving out of Arizona, Fiona started feeling better and was able to nurse, and all of the symptoms disappeared!

We picked up a guy in New Mexico whose truck was sitting by the side of the highway and took him to a gas station. We were stuffed to the gills in that van, but our attitude was “God helps us whenever we are in need, so if we see someone in need, we will do whatever we can to help them”.

His name was John, and he was quite a character. He was trying to get to New Orleans to help with the clean-up efforts after Hurricane Katrina. He didn’t have much money, or anything else, but he was always willing to go help others. He cussed like a sailor and drank, but he had a heart of gold.

We took him back to his truck, and he was so grateful for what we did for him. He kept thanking us and shaking his head about how full our van was, but we still stopped to pick him up.

Then we drove on to Colorado Springs. We stopped at a hotel when we got there, and went in to check in. Something didn’t feel right there, so we left and Shawn found a Days Inn in our coupon book that he said God was telling us to go to. The price was good, so we went there instead. Gary went in to check us in, and who do you think he found there at the desk. John! The guy we had picked up in New Mexico. He was checking in to the same hotel!

We were shocked and amazed! He came out and greeted the rest of us like we were old friends. He would have helped us pay for a hotel room, but we didn’t want anything from him.

We stayed in that hotel for a couple of weeks. We got to know the head clerk really well. She would talk with us each time we came down to get more towels or when we left to go somewhere or when we came down to eat our continental breakfast. Her name was Sharon Followill. She knew our story and why we were there.

She was amazed that we were friends with John. He was such a salty character, and she knew that we were very clean and trying to live a godly, pure life. She also knew that we were running out of money. We paid our bill, but our account was almost dry and we had no way of getting any more money. She asked us every day if we had found a place to stay or a job or if anything miraculous had happened yet. It hadn’t.

One day, we went to visit Focus on the Family. The kids loved it there. They sang and danced on the stage. They went down the big slide. They went through all of the exhibit rooms. I had always listened to Focus on the Family, and we all listened to Adventures in Odyssey, so it was a really neat place for us to visit. We went to Whit’s End and got the cheapest things on the menu just so we could say we ate there.

The kids were having fun, but Gary and I were feeling pretty down. We knew that we were not going to be able to pay for another week in the Days Inn. We didn’t know what we were supposed to do next. We had tried to ask the Red Cross and United Way and other government agencies to help us find a place to stay, but they wouldn’t help us. Somehow we didn’t qualify for their assistance. One of them had a waiting list and didn’t think they would have anything ready for another month or two. John was trying to help. He tried to go fight in a “Tough Man contest” to make some money for us, but he couldn’t find the place where it was happening.

So I was feeling down and sitting in a chair just watching the kids sing and dance on the stage in the Adventures in Odyssey play area when a young lady started talking with me. She had her little boys there, too. She lived there in Colorado Springs. Her name was Pennie, too! Spelled differently, of course. I told her a little bit of our story, and she got all excited. She called her two friends over to listen to what I was saying. They were so impressed by our faith in God and the way our children were learning how real God is because they saw God provide our every need every day. They wanted the same thing for their children. They gave me their names and phone numbers. I gave them Gary’s cell phone number. They told me to call them if we needed anything and said they wanted to help us.

Well, the day came that we had to check out of the hotel. Our money had run out. Sharon Followill was so worried about us.

She asked what we were going to do – where we were going to go. We had no idea. We got into the van and headed for a park to pray.

As we were approaching the park, about to turn in, Gary’s phone rang. A man told Gary that Shampa (a woman we met at Dutch Sheets’ church) had told him about us and he wanted to meet us. So we turned around and went to the address he told us to meet him at. It was a bank. He met us in the parking lot and talked with Gary for a while. His name was Burt. He had his wife with him. I was sitting in the back of the van, so I couldn’t hear much of what was going on.

(I rode in the back of the van with Morgan the whole trip to Arizona and back to Kansas City to keep Morgan out of everybody’s hair and to keep them all from killing him. I literally saved his life. He was only 4 years old, and he was very obnoxious.)

Burt and his wife told Gary that they knew what it was like to lose a house. They had lost two houses in the past. They knew that God sometimes lets things like that happen to people because He has some things to teach them. They didn’t judge us or deem us unworthy of their help because we were poor and seemed to be under God’s judgment or a curse or had been foolish or something, like other Christians along the way had. Burt gave Gary a check for $500 and went into the bank with us to make sure that they would cash it for us. It was his bank, so we didn’t have any trouble. Now we had money again! We went back and checked in to the same Days Inn. Sharon Followill was so happy to see us. She was amazed at how God had provided for us.

Burt had told us to go to his ministry headquarters to get some coats and stuff since the weather was getting colder. It was November by this time.

We had left Ohio on September 4, 2005. We arrived in Kansas City about 3 days later. We stayed in a house that was pretty well empty for a month. But it was for free, and we were very thankful to Connie for letting us stay there. We left there during the first week of October. We drove to Colorado, on our way to Arizona. We had met Risa Lind at IHOP in Kansas City. Before we left, she gave me the phone number of a pastor in Limon, Colorado. As we approached Colorado, I called Pastor Bill Wisener and left him a message. I asked him if we could stay in his church for the night. A little later he called me back and he said he had everything ready for us. He told us where to go. We did, and it was a hotel in town, and he had already paid for two rooms for us.

He also invited us to his church the next morning. We went there, and he had the whole church pray over our family. He talked with us and prophesied to us. He seemed to know us before we ever opened our mouths. He greatly encouraged Shawn. He told Gary that God was leading us, and we were in His will. He told me something that I just could not tell Gary. He said that Arizona was not really the land of our dreams like we were expecting. I just stared at him. I said, “I’m not telling Gary that.” He said, “You don’t need to. Just go on to Arizona and see what happens. God will take care of you. But that’s not where Gary will find what he’s looking for.” So I kept these things in my heart and pondered them.

We went on to Arizona. We were there through the month of October into November. Then the thing happened with Fiona getting sick, and we knew by this time that Arizona was not the place for us after all.

Now we’re back to the time that I started this post with – the month of November 2005.

So we had met Burt and he gave us $500 and some coats for the kids and me.

We were able to stay at the Days Inn for another week.

But then we ran out of money again.

Gary went to check out of the hotel for the last time, and Sharon was really worried now. She kept asking him what we were going to do. We didn’t know this time any more than we did the first time. We told her not to worry, that God would take care of us, and we left the hotel. As we were driving Gary saw that he had a voice mail on his phone. It was from one of the young women we had met at Focus on the Family. She wanted us to come and stay with her family at their apartment! She had 3 young boys and a husband in a 2-bedroom apartment and was inviting us to stay with them! We didn’t have any choice, so we drove to her apartment. She was so gracious to us. They made us very comfortable and treated us like honored guests. She told us that one of the other young ladies we had met at Focus on the Family wanted us to come over for a Thanksgiving dinner. So we went to Gina’s apartment the next day and ate a delicious meal of turkey with all the trimmings! We were overwhelmed with the way God was taking care of us through these people we had just met. That afternoon, Gary found another voice mail on his cell phone. Sharon Followill had been praying for us to find a place to stay, and every time she prayed, she kept seeing her own house. So she asked us to come and stay at her house! So we drove to her address, and her family welcomed us like long-lost friends and treated us like family and let us stay at their house for two weeks. It was a 4-bedroom house, and we had the house to ourselves most of the time because Sharon and her husband worked during the day and their sons went to school. Somebody gave them money to use for us, so she bought a bunch of food at the store so that we ate well the whole time we were there, and I made a big Thanksgiving dinner for all of us. But the time was closing on this leg of our journey. They had to leave to go to Texas to visit family for Thanksgiving, and we couldn’t keep staying in their house because they were renting the house. Otherwise, I think they would have let us keep staying there. But we knew it was time for us to leave. There was only one problem. Well, two actually. The van was almost out of gas, and we had no money. We prayed. The day before they were planning to leave, we got a card from Risa Lind with $25 in it. Gary called Pastor Bill in Limon, Colorado and told him we were coming. Pastor Bill said he knew we were and had already made arrangements at the same hotel we stayed in before. That night, my friend Shari called us and told us she wanted to send us money and asked for an address to send it to. I gave her Connie’s address since we knew we were headed back to Kansas City. We left the Followill’s the next morning with our van packed even fuller than before. Someone who stayed at the Days Inn had given us all kinds of brand new clothes and toys and stuff. Katie laid on top of a big pile in the very back and the rest of us scrunched into the rest of the van.

We stayed in Limon, Colorado that night, and Pastor Bill met us at the hotel (which he had paid for our rooms in again) and prophesied to us and prayed over us again and gave us all the money he could scrape up. It was enough to pay for gas and food to get us back to Kansas City.

This is just a brief summary of the many miracles God did for us just during one month of our Journey of Fire. The month of November 2005 in Colorado Springs, Colorado – exactly seven years ago.

God provided exactly what we needed at exactly the time we needed it moment by moment! At the time, it was very scary and hard to enjoy. But now I look back in amazement and gratefulness for the way He took care of us and passed us along from one of His children to another to make sure that our needs were met.

He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He never changes. He is still taking good care of us.

He has good plans for us.

He has good plans for you, too. Put Him first in your life. Put His word and His will above everything else. Only do what He tells you to do. Obey the Law of Love. And then, whether by miracles or by natural means, He will take care of you and your family.

There’s no need to worry or fret. God will take care of you. I guarantee it.

Weekly Wrap-Up Nov. 23 in Which God Reminds Us of Some Miracles to Be Thankful For

It was Thanksgiving week, so naturally we did some Thanksgiving activities leading up to the big day.  The kids watched “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” special on YouTube.  And they watched the Peanuts Thanksgiving special that cast the Peanuts gang as Pilgrim children and showed the hardships and the history of the Pilgrims.  It is very informative, and the kids have enjoyed it the last couple of years. It’s called “This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers”.

It used to be on YouTube, but Warner Brothers took it off because of copyright. You can watch it on Amazon Prime for free if you have a Prime membership. You can also see it here on Vimeo.

Last year we watched the movie “Squanto”.  It was very good and helped round out the characters, so that we understood him and the Pilgrims a little better than before.

We have been doing a study of Texas history through a unit study I got at called “A Gentle Tour of Texas History”.

This week we read about Cabeza de Vaca (Cow Head!) and his men and how they ended up in Texas and the adventures they had as they tried to get back to their fellow Spaniards in Mexico. I started reading the book, Walk the World’s Rim by Betty Baker, which is a book I have wanted to read for a long time. I believe it’s on the Sonlight list for American History. Now is the perfect time to read it, since we live in Texas now! And it’s a very good book. It happens to be about Cabeza de Vaca. Wednesday, I read Chapter 2, and Kelsey was busy cleaning the kitchen getting it ready for Thanksgiving. The other young ones were listening, and we were all enjoying the story. But I needed to take Shawn to the bank and other things (more shopping for Thanksgiving), so I closed the book when I finished Chapter 2. Kelsey asked me to keep reading because she still had quite a bit of work to do. I wished that I could keep reading to them, but I had to go. I was really glad that they were enjoying the book so much, though.

With the older kids I have been reading Simple Trust Simple Prayers: Life-Changing Lessons from the Journals of George Mueller by Cindy Mallin.

We have seen so many parallels in our Journey of Fire and the kinds of things that he went through as he waited on the Lord to meet his every need in taking care of the orphans.

There were many times that he did not have what he needed in hand until the very moment that he absolutely had to have it. We just finished reading Rees Howells last week, and he led a very similar life of faith.

Our situation was a little bit different in that we have 10 children of our own, and we lost our house and had to go out on the road and across the country with very little money and no definite destination to have our faith tested and developed. But we followed the same principles laid out by George Mueller and Rees Howells. We never told anybody our need. We just prayed and waited on God. We only did what God told us to do.

He was always faithful to us. We were never hungry. We always had a roof over our heads. We always had suitable clothing. Our needs were always supplied. Sometimes we actually ended up with luxurious accommodations. It was hard to enjoy them, because there was so much uncertainty, and it all seemed kind of surreal. We knew our money supply was running out, and nothing was opening up as far as ministry or a job or any kind of direction at all. We felt like we were treading water – really floundering is more like how it felt.

But God brought us through it, and our faith is stronger and more sure than ever before. What we had before was head knowledge. But now we know that God is real and that He can be depended upon in any situation. We know that we can take Him at His Word. We are to take His Word literally. We can use our faith and speak out the Word of God, and it will bring about the thing that we are asking. Our trust and obedience is the most important thing to God. He delights in us and smiles on us. He made us just so He could love us. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. These things we have learned through the Journey of Fire.

As we read about George Mueller’s experiences, and as we read about Rees Howells, we stopped quite a few times and discussed the similar experiences we had. I hope that Kelsey and Morgan paid attention during our discussions. They were so young that they were oblivious to most of the stuff we were going through. It was just a grand adventure for them. Traveling from one hotel to another, swimming in hotel pools, seeing new places, meeting new people. It probably seemed like a fun time to them. But it wasn’t to me and Gary. We knew that our money supply was dwindling. We realized that Arizona was not really the place we wanted to settle and the church we thought we would like to attend would not really suit our family after all. We trusted God, but it was really hard feeling like we were drifting along with no direction or purpose. All of our dreams seemed to be leading to nothing. Nothing was working for us. Patrick and Anna were pretty young, too. They were only 10 and 8 when we left Ohio with a week’s worth of clothes for each of us in our too-small van with over 100,000 miles on it and broken windshield wipers and an expired license tag. With no address and no money it was hard to fix these things. We didn’t even have car insurance. You can’t get that without an address. Our twins were only a year old.

But God was with us everywhere we went. He sent messengers to us. Very odd, downright strange messengers sometimes. He provided money, food, clothing, shelter and even toys and things for the kids. He never used the government to help us. We actually went to Red Cross and United Way and asked if they had some place for us to stay, but they wouldn’t help us. God used His people to take care of us. When we came to the end of our resources we went to a park to pray. On the way, we got a phone call from a stranger who told us to meet him at a certain address. A woman from a church we visited had told him about us. The address was his bank. He gave us a $500 check and went into the bank with us to help us cash it. He gave us the address of his ministry and we went there and got some clothes and jackets since it was getting colder and heading into winter. We had only brought shorts since we thought we would settle in Arizona.

A pastor from Limon, Colorado named Bill Wisener was a lifesaver for us. He gave us spiritual advice and encouragement and prophetic words that helped us to know that God was leading us along even though it felt like we were on our own. He also provided a place for us to stay a few times and some money to help us along our way.

Well, as you can see, reading (re-reading) these books has stirred up some memories of our Journey of Fire, and we have enjoyed reminiscing about the miracles and provision of God throughout our journey. We can see things more clearly in hindsight, and we realize that God was teaching us these principles of faith the hard way. We had no Plan B. We had nothing to fall back on. All we had was God. And He was more than enough.

We did a few more Thanksgiving activities that are traditions we do every year.

Turkey Cookies

Kelsey’s Favorite Thanksgiving Book

Thanksgiving Day at Our House by Nancy White Carlstrom

Kelsey read her favorite parts to Morgan and Garrett and Fiona.

Then came the time for the feast!


After our feast, we had our family prayer time, which we spent mostly praising God for the things He did for us over the last seven years.

A card from Risa Lind mysteriously appeared on our dinner table on this Thanksgiving Day.  It was a card Risa had sent to us on Thanksgiving of 2005 when we were stranded in Colorado Springs at the home of Sharon Followill’s family (the Christian hotel clerk from the last hotel we had money for) with no gas in the van and no money to buy any.  We had to leave the house, because they were leaving to go visit their families for Thanksgiving.  Risa sent us a card with $25 in it.

That was enough to get gas to get us to Limon, Colorado where Bill Wisener put us up in a hotel for the night and gave us just enough money to get us to Kansas City.  We had found out through prayer that the Lord wanted us to go back to Kansas City, no matter how much Gary never wanted to see that place again.  He knew it would be a place of fire for him.  And he was right!


My friend, Shari, called us at the Followill’s house the night before we left and said she wanted to send us some money and asked what address she should send it to.  So I gave her the address of a lady named Connie in Kansas City who had let us stay in her house for a month for free on our way out to Arizona.  We barely got to her house with the money we had.  After a few days, we got the check from Shari for $1500.  We were able to rent a house for a month with that money.

If Risa hadn’t sent us that card and $25, I don’t know what would have happened to us.  Well, I know God would have used some other way to take care of us, but that is the way He chose to do it.  And we still have that card!  We have lost so many things through all of these moves from Kansas City to Illinois to Pennsylvania to Texas that it’s a miracle we still have this one little card.  And I have no idea how it ended up on our dinner table this Thanksgiving.


Maybe I do know, after all.

Thank you, Lord, for reminding us of what You did for us then.



We didn’t sail on a ship called the Mayflower, but we took a journey that seemed like it might just kill us!  Seriously!

But, God, You never change.  You’re the same yesterday, today and forever.



God is reminding us that good things are coming. He will rescue us and get us out of a place that we’re stuck in.

God is doing a new thing.  He has good plans for us, to give us a hope and a future.   Watch and see.  It’s coming.  I just know it.

How to Know God’s Will: The Mueller Method

First I seek to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to the matter at hand. Ninety percent of the trouble with people generally is right here. Ninety percent of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When you are truly in this state of totally seeking only God’s will, you are usually very close to the knowledge of what His will is. God, whatever You tell me to do, I’ll do it.

Having first done this, I do not leave the result to feelings or simple impression. If I did that, I would be susceptible to great delusions.

Next, I seek the will of the Spirit of God through reading the Bible. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without reading the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions. When the Holy Spirit guides us, He does it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them. God never contradicts Himself.

Next, I take into account providential circumstances. As I pray, I look for doors that open and watch for doors that close. These often plainly indicate God’s will in connection with His Word and Spirit.

I then ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me correctly.

Thus through prayer, the study of the Word, and personal reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge. If my mind is then at peace and continues so after three or more times of prayer, I proceed accordingly.

I have found this method is always effective for major as well as minor things.

Taken from Simple Trust Simple Prayers: Life-Changing Lessons from the Journals of George Mueller by Cindy Mallin, Appendix B, pp. 103-104.

You Want Answers to Your Prayers?

Here Are Five Conditions:

1. Entire dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ. His merits and intervention are the only basis for any claim to blessing. (See John 14:13-14; 15:16)

2. Separation from all known sin. Psalm 66:18: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”

3. Faith in God’s Word. If I don’t believe what God says, I imply that God is a liar and perjurer. Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (See also vv. 13-20.)

4. Ask according to His will. Our motives must be godly. We must not seek any gift from God just to satisfy our own lusts. (See 1 John 5:14; James 4:3.)

5. Persistence in prayer. We must wait on God and wait for God. (See James 5:7; Luke 18:1-8.)

Taken from Simple Trust Simple Prayers: Life-Changing Lessons from the Journals of George Mueller by Cindy Mallen, Appendix A, p. 102.

Weekly Wrap-up Nov. 9

Hobby Lobby and Mardel’s Inspire Crafts and Creativity

Gary and I had a date night for our Anniversary (number 24!), and I chose to go to Mardel’s Christian and Education Store. We had never been to one before. Wow! We were both like kids in a candy shop. There was something for everybody there. I just walked around looking at everything. Gary went one way, and I went the other. Of course, I ended up in the education department. I saw little prize toys and pencils and pads and remembered how much I used to love earning those things in Good News Club with my teacher, Evelyn Gilmer (who still calls me from time to time to see how I’m doing – she’s 95 years old now!).

I picked out 15 pencils, some bean bags, notebook pads, yo-yo’s, etc. and decided I would make a treasure chest for my kids. I will use it to motivate my kids to memorize things as the Spirit leads and to reward good behavior.

So far, I’ve let them pick out things from it when they cleaned, when they did schoolwork on a Saturday, and when they obeyed quickly.

Kelsey helped me decorate the treasure chest. She’s very artistic, and she has seen lots of treasure chests in the video games that she plays.

Abby picked a prize that was pretty and pink. It was tiny beads in a little bottle. She and Emma started stringing these itty bitty beads all by themselves. I was amazed that they could even do it. After a while they got tired of it, but they did really well, and I was glad they were working on fine motor skills without any direction or prompting.

Garrett picked this ball and cup toy that he earned by doing school work on a Saturday.

He about knocked himself silly a few times!


I went to Hobby Lobby for several reasons. Kelsey had been asking to go. I needed some magnets for the little girls to use on our metal trays for different activity sheets. I wanted fingerpaint for a neat craft idea I found on Pinterest.

After I got home, Garrett looked through the craft supplies I had bought. He exclaimed, “Mommy, you’ve outdone yourself!”

Look at what beautiful creations you can make with fingerpainting and leaf patterns! I got this idea from Jones Design Company. I originally got there from here: Amanda Christina’s Pinterest board – Fall Kids Crafts

We were supposed to put glitter on our wet paint creations, but I couldn’t find the box that has our glitter in it. I can’t wait until we get to where we want to settle so we can unpack all of our boxes! I quickly drove to the Family Dollar that is really close to our house, but they didn’t have glitter. I had to get confetti! But it worked pretty well.

Abby wanted this box of jewels. She and Emma grabbed these jewels and promptly started sorting them by color. I hadn’t said a word. It just shows that if you provide the supplies, kids will learn and develop skills with them. You don’t have to work real hard or plan all kinds of lessons. Just try to keep a kid from learning! You can’t do it!

A few more crafty things they did.