Before We Open the Presents…

We ask if anybody has anything from the Lord. I explained earlier to the younger kids about the Star of Bethlehem (before the big kids got up). After the big kids came in, we passed out the first presents, and then I asked if anybody else had anything from the Lord that they wanted to share. All of the kids sat and waited while we talked and prayed. And then…

We are blessed with very patient children!

Do you make your kids wait to open presents like we do?

Surprise Blessing!

We planned our work and worked our plan. Gary and I took Garrett and Fiona shopping and let them pick out presents up to their allowed amount. We had a nice time shopping.

Then we came home, and the little girls came running out to the car, all excited. They were shouting, “Mommy, Daddy, come look at our tree. Cece brought presents! Come and see!” So we went inside and this is what we saw.

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We got the little dolls you see in the pictures for the little girls. They’re only $5, and they play with these little baby dolls a lot. But all of the presents wrapped in blue paper were from our church. They brought a present for each one of us in the family. Now we’re all excited about Christmas morning. We don’t know what’s in those packages.

Usually we take the younger children to pick out what they want, because I don’t want to get things for them that they won’t like. Then I tell them to forget what they’re getting for Christmas. They try really hard to forget, but you know how that is. Sometimes, I will buy extra things that I’m pretty sure they will like, so they can have a little bit of surprise. This year, since our budget is so limited, I won’t be able to do that. But our church family reached out to us in love, and now we have surprise presents to look forward to on Christmas morning. Even Gary and I have gifts under the tree. I wonder what’s in them!

Our Christmas Was in Jeopardy Yet Again!

011You know about our crazy Christmas journey two years ago when we had to postpone Christmas until January 29th because of being stuck in a hotel for 3 weeks right before Christmas and not being able to get into a house until Christmas Eve. I wrote about it here. For more of the story, read through all of the posts in December of 2010. Quite a story! Then the posts in January 2011 tell about our belated Christmas celebration. We had SNOW on our Christmas even though there was no snow on Dec. 25th that year. So Kelsey was very glad that we had our Christmas when we did!

Well, we almost missed out on Christmas at its normal time again this year. This time because we didn’t know when we would have money coming in again. Gary was laid off on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 27. Which means that the last paycheck came December 6. Which means that we had to make our money last for an indefinite period of time!

We didn’t know when Gary would get another job. We were praying fervently that he would get a job soon. He had several interviews, but nothing had panned out yet. We had also been praying that he would be promoted and be able to do more than just technical writing. He likes troubleshooting and reverse engineering and customer relations and being creative and all kinds of things. He could do so much more, but he hardly ever gets the opportunity to do anything outside of the documentation work that has been in emergency mode at the last several jobs he has had. Someone had messed up the manuals, and Gary and other contractors were called in to fix them in a hurry.

He has made good money as a contractor, but we have realized that we can’t sustain a lifestyle of contracting any longer. Renting instead of buying our own house has proven to be a drain on our finances and on our mental health. The people who rent houses are not understanding of a situation when the tenants don’t know for sure if they will be able to sign a year’s lease because they are not sure where the next job will be located. They all act like we control our destiny or something! We have put our lives in God’s hands, and He doesn’t give us lots of notice before He moves us somewhere else! So we have been at odds with three different property management groups in the last four years. We are ready for a change!

Well, we are seeing that change coming! We really like it in Texas (most of us do – I do!!!) and we wanted to settle here. But the very first day Gary arrived at his job here on June 11, one of the contractors told him this contract was almost over and would probably be finished by September or October. We all moved down here so we could be together again. We had been separated from Gary for a whole year. And the property management group was letting us know that we were not welcome to stay there in York, PA any longer because we wouldn’t sign another year’s lease.

So we moved here, with a storm following us all the way. When we arrived on July 2nd, we found ourselves in a crowded neighborhood in a city atmosphere, which is not what we had been hoping for. We have come to the conclusion that we want a farm. The little kids want chickens and a milk cow and sheep and pigs (I don’t know about that!) and a horse and dogs and cats. They want fruit trees and berry trees and a garden and a greenhouse. They want everything you can have on a farm. And I am aching to live in the nice, quiet, peaceful countryside.

So we were majorly disappointed when we first moved here. We have not even unpacked most of our boxes. We are waiting for the next big move. To our own home. I have been sowing for it, and we have been praying for it every day consistently since we got here. It was kind of a wake-up call for the kids. They had gotten kind of lackadaisical about prayer time. But ending up cramped in an even more crowded neighborhood than we were in in York stirred them up and caused them to pray with fervency again. God knows how to get our attention!

The twins pray for a farm every time they pray. Emma prays for chickens. She really wants to have her own swingset or playset in her back yard. We are SO ready to settle down and stay in one place for a good long time and not have to learn a new place every year or so.

We have found a church where we really like the people, and they like us, too! Always nice, but we haven’t been able to find it in the other places we’ve been. There seems to be a prejudice against large families and homeschoolers in many churches. We are too weird for them, I guess.

Gary and I decided long ago that we were not going to go to a church where we couldn’t see the love of God manifested. That kept us out of organized churches for many years. We tried different churches, but we couldn’t see the love of God there, so we didn’t continue attending.

Back to my original story (sorry for rambling), Gary got here, thinking that the contract would last for at least a year, but they started telling him that it was only going to last three or four months. He started trying to find another job immediately. His life has been a continuous job search for the last seven years!

I told him that I want to settle here in Texas. I love the homeschool freedom here. I love the warm temperatures and sun all year long. I would like to have mountains and woods, but I am more concerned about freedom and independence from government intrusion than I am about the terrain.

He had an interview back at the same company he worked for in Illinois, but nothing came of that. He had several other interviews, but nothing was opening up for him. He dreaded the end of the contract, knowing that we were going to go through a dry spell right before Christmas if nothing happened. God has blessed me with the faith of a child again, so I wasn’t worried. I knew that God was going to do something wonderful!

Well, He has already started pouring out blessings! Gary had an interview Tuesday. They were so impressed, they pretty much hired him on the spot! He will make the same he made as a contractor in South Carolina. We did very well on that salary!

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We were able to buy our van and pay off our car early and to do many other things that we were never able to do before. And we were paying very high rent on our house in PA as well as paying for his room there in South Carolina. We will be able to do very well with the kind of money he will be making. And this position is a full-time job, not a contract. Which means that we will not be forced to leave a house before we are ready because his job has ended and we have to move to another state (with only a few weeks’ notice).

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And now I am able to make some plans for Christmas, knowing that we will be getting a paycheck in the next couple of weeks. I figured out how much money we have and how much will go to bills, and when everything was totaled, I found that we will have enough to spend a certain amount on each child for Christmas gifts. Thanks to Christmas money from parents, we are going to have a nice Christmas on Dec. 25th this year!!!

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We’re going to have to move fast, but we’re used to that! We put up the tree yesterday. We will go shopping today and tomorrow. The big kids will order stuff online today and hope to get it by the 25th. I will have to watch every penny and be very careful, but we can do it!

We are so grateful to God for His provision and faithfulness. He takes good care of us.

We are still believing for even more abundance. Still believing for our own home and land and farm. But for now, we are very grateful to all be together as a family and able to celebrate the birth of our wonderful Savior together – along with the rest of the world!

We’re with you! We’re celebrating this wonderful time of the year and the beautiful meaning of Christmas right along with the rest of you this year! With hearts full of joy and gratitude.