a servant’s heart

molliebaby

 

“I am the mom, it’s all about me” is one of those cross-stitched pieces hanging in my imaginary Mom Hall of Shame! How easy it is for those thoughts to turn into actions. ”Go get me a glass of water, will you?” “I need my glasses from the car, go get them.” “Carry this here, move this there.” But what would happen if your son was lying on the couch reading a book and you asked, “What can I get you, son? Another brownie? A glass of milk?”

A young man once told me that one thing he remembered about his mother was that he couldn’t remember when she had ever sat through as entire movie because she was always making sure the family had fresh pop corn and full soft drinks so that no one else had to miss anything! I was so touched by this memory he shared and the impression it made.

Humility and having a servant’s heart come from having a deep sense of our own smallness in the grand scheme of things. It is having a heart that cries out for others to be placed before us. Scripture describes this example of Jesus: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). He emptied himself! Jesus set aside all his rights and privileges and became what Scripture calls a “doulos” to us! He washed the feet of His disciples. He did not demand all He was entitled to as God Himself. He served us, even to the point of dying for our sins!” ~ from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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podcast series with Lisa Cherry from Frontline Moms Ministries on the sexual abuse of children and homeschooling families, part two

lisa cherry

Lisa Cherry from Frontline Moms
The protection of homeschooling children from the ravages of sexual abuse is one of the hot topics within homeschooling circles and for good reason. As much as we would love to be able to say this never happen in homeschooling families, sometimes it does. Join me as I continue my conversation with Lisa Cherry from Frontline Moms as we discuss real and biblical ways homeschoolers can protect their children in this age of rampant sexual perversity. To follow and participate in the upcoming week of events sponsored by Lisa and Frontline Moms, visit her website for the schedule of speakers. 

October 25, 2014
Interview with Lisa Cherry Part 2.

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banana blueberry walnut bread

harvey bread

Banana Blueberry Walnut Bread served on original Syracuse china from the Harvey House restaurants. If you missed the podcast on the Harvey Girls who tamed the Wild Wild West, it is still available for your historic listening pleasure! 

 

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs, beaten

1 TBS vanilla extract

4 medium ripe mashed bananas

2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen but rinsed and drained

1 cup chopped walnuts

Mix together dry ingredients and set aside. Grease and lightly flour two bread pans. Blend oil, eggs, and vanilla in mixer. Alternately add in mashed bananas and dry ingredients. Gently fold in blueberries and walnuts. Place in pans and bake in 350 degree oven for about 1 hour. Cover with foil if needed during last part of baking. Test for doneness and don’t take out until knife comes out clean. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack. Can top with butter and cinnamon sugar before cutting if you prefer. Makes 2 delicious loaves that freeze well and are best if placed in a cool place overnight before cutting.

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the quilt and the sovereignty of God

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The gift of the quilt on our wedding day.

My grandmother was an amazing woman. Born in Missouri in 1897, at the age of 16 she traveled to a tiny little place in the middle of the Illinois prairie called Uniontown to become a hired girl for the Tasker family. Each morning she would get up with Mrs. Tasker and together they would fry bacon and eggs, peel and boil potatoes, stir up and roll out biscuits, and bake a half dozen or so pies. While the Tasker men were busy milking cows, caring for livestock, and walking behind a plow, my grandmother was preparing meals for not only the men who lived in the household but for the farmhands who would be there for the day.

Once the men were fed, the kitchen was cleaned up for the morning, and the wash was run through the wringer washer and hung out to dry, Mrs. Tasker would sit my grandmother down and teach her how to sew and mend the clothing. Overalls were worn until there was almost nothing left but seams and pockets, so there was a never-ending parade of clothes to sort through and repair. All-cotton shirts and dresses were sprinkled and ironed and the womenfolk had to wear a fresh apron each day, a habit my grandmother kept even past her “in the kitchen” days.

On Sundays, my grandmother went along with the Tasker family to the Uniontown Baptist Church. As one of the boys rang the old bell, calling all of the community into worship, she was preparing for the two most important events of her life. My grandmother had not come from a Christian home. She had not been told of the most miraculous event of all human history, of God becoming man in the flesh through His son, Jesus, so that man might be redeemed and restored to a right relationship with his creator. These were marvelous truths to my grandmother, and by God’s grace, she trusted Jesus Christ as her Savior and Lord.

God’s sovereign plan for her life was revealed as she faithfully attended church every week and also went to prayer meetings and Bible studies. While there, she met a dashing young man five years her senior, and after a sweet time of courtship they were married. Over the years they were blessed with three sons, nine grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and, to this date, 20 great-great-grandchildren! God’s plan for the life of this one hired girl was not so unusual, but also not so ordinary.

As I was growing up, whenever I visited my grandmother, one of my greatest delights was seeing the latest quilt in the old walnut frame in her front parlor. She belonged to a group called the Busy Stitchers and each month they would travel to one member’s home for rich homemade desserts and a quilting bee. The beauty of these quilts, these works of art that were at the same time so random and yet so intricate, intrigued me. Looking closely, you could see the variation in stitches, as each woman had her own lovely and unique touch.

One day, when I was 16, my grandmother asked if I would like to see all the quilts she had made through the years. With much anticipation, I watched as she pulled from her cedar chest one glorious quilt after another. I oohed and aahed as she tenderly unfolded them, one at a time, each more incredible than the last. Proudly, she told me their names: there was a striking red and white Lone Star, a delicately embroidered Sampler, a common but beautiful Nine Patch, and her magnum opus, the Ribbon, made up of thousands of tiny one inch blocks strung together to look like miles of calico ribbons. I was amazed at the hours it had taken to design and sew such masterpieces. I marveled at both her skill and creativity. I smiled when I saw bits and pieces of dresses my mother and I had worn in years past and leftover scraps from many of her own aprons.

When the last one had been brought out, she explained that there was one for each grandchild and each daughter-in-law and she asked which one I would like to have one day. Without hesitation, I chose the Garden Path, an appliqued pattern of brightly colored daisies, all sporting buttery yellow centers and looking amazingly like her own flower garden! Each block was pieced together with a tiny rosebud print, and a scalloped edge finished off the glorious quilt on all four sides. It was exquisite!

Excitedly, my grandmother turned it over. There, in one corner, on the back, was my own name already embroidered in her handwriting! Of all the dozen or more quilts she had lovingly stitched, she knew which one I would want and had chosen it just for me!

As homeschooling moms we get so caught up in the tedium of daily living that we often forget the incredible privilege we have of being called to love and mentor our children. Our hearts are prone to wander away from what really matters in the grand scheme of life. We neglect people and don’t make them a priority over things. We fail to practice the one anothers and daily need to hear the Gospel message of grace. We have past hurts and failures, present struggles and disappointments, and future fears and burdens that make up the scraps of who we are. And yet, God is sovereign and has a plan He crafted for us from before the foundations of the world, choosing us as His own and weaving together something beautiful and unique in each of our lives, in each of our homes.

Isaiah 49:16 tells us this about who God is: I will not forget you. ’Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.’” Like my name embroidered on my grandma’s beautiful quilt, God has already written not just my name but me on the palm of His hand! He has called me to serve Him and bring glory to Him in the work He has given to me and will provide all I need for the task. Be assured, He is doing the same for you!

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podcast series with Lisa Cherry from Frontline Moms Ministries on the sexual abuse of children and homeschooling families, part one

lisa cherry

Lisa Cherry from Frontline Moms

One of our goals as homeschooling parents is to seek to raise our children in a safe environment and to avoid many of the dangers that face our children, especially in the sex-saturated culture we find ourselves living in today. Sadly, homeschooling families are not immune from the dangers of sexual abuse and the goal of this podcast series is to bring attention to this problem and to offer parents some tools for increasing their awareness of sexual predators and to offer ways to protect our children. My guest is Lisa Cherry from Frontline Moms.

Be sure to visit Lisa’s events page on Facebook for details about the upcoming Sexual Abuse Prevention Week for Homeschoolers on October 27-31, 2014. Listen live to be part of the conversation or listen to the recorded podcasts later. Be sure to invite your friends to listen as well.

October 18, 2014
Interview with Lisa Cherry Part 1.

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bearing burdens

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In John Bunyan’s famous allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian, the protagonist, makes his way along the path to the Celestial City but falls into a miry swamp, “such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore is it called the Slough of Despond: for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place; and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.” Christian struggles to near exhaustion when a friend named Help comes along and, looking from a different vantage point, is able to see steps that come up out of the bog. He shows them to Christian, who is then able to get free of the entanglements of the slough and they both go on their way.

I believe this has a particular message for parents as we mentor our children. We, ourselves, are further down the path than our little ones. We know the dangers and the trials associated with sin as well as life’s struggles; we, too, have wallowed in the Slough of Despond. So when our precious children fall and are tempted to despair, we can come alongside them and are able to give them steps to returning back to the path! What a privilege it is to be called to such a glorious ministry of encouragement in their lives!

from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

 

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podcast series with Jim and Lynne Jackson from Connected Families, part three

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Join me in the conversation with Jim and Lynne Jackson from Connected Families as we talk about confronting meltdowns, consequences, encouraging moms, and embracing grace!

Remember to leave a comment on one of these podcasts to win one of the Jacksons’ books for even more parenting encouragement delivered to your door!

October 11, 2014
Interview with Jim and Lynne Jackson Part 3.

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my birthday and the rest of the story

lois jean

Lois Jean

 I shared part of this story here a year ago. Today I am sharing “the rest of the story.”

I have written about my own adoption several times on this blog and even shared my thoughts about my birthmother on a Mother’ Day podcast. Though I had not ever made any serious attempts to do an adoption search for her, she was in my heart and mind through the years I was growing up, especially during my first pregnancy. I wondered what my daughter would looks like and spent many hours pondering how painful it must have been to carry a baby and give her up for adoption. Several times I spoke with those who kept records at Crittenton Home where I was born but since they were only able to give me what they called “non-identifying information,” there was really little for me to go on to begin any sort of real search.

Three years ago, in November, adoption law in Illinois changed to allow adoptees born during a certain time period to obtain their original birth certificates from the state. The day they were available, I mailed in my money and request.

A couple days after Christmas it arrived and I opened it with most of my family here and looking on. To my disappointment, the name of my birthmother was left blank and the only new information was that she was 14 the day I was born, she had been born in Illinois, and my given name was Karen Sue Gilmore. “I am a Gilmore girl!” I announced and we all laughed.

Immediately everyone took to their computers and phones, googling “Gilmore” and “Peoria” but none of us really knew what to do with this information. I called the Department of Records in Springfield to ask about the missing name and was told that this was a common practice at homes for unwed mothers in those years. So I tucked away the paperwork in a large manila envelope, along with the other information I had, and placed it back on the shelf in my library.

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With my own grandma, mom, and dad, circa 1957.

The past few years had been pretty full in my life, much of the time spent caring for my own mom who was suffering from increased dementia. Even in her better days I felt she probably would not have accepted any contact with my birthmother so I continued to keep this search on the back burner. She passed away in April of 2013, right before her 91st birthday.

Fall came, and as usual, I began to think a lot about my birthmother. I began to look forward to my 60th birthday in October. I wanted do something special and personal so I arranged to have a tour of the Crittenton Home building where I had been born.

Then, in September, I received a phone call from a woman in Florida who had also been adopted and was looking for a half brother. She believed my husband might be him because she had a list of six men who were born in a certain town in Illinois on the same day and he was one of them. I assured her that he was not adopted but joked that I had been! ”Have you ever done a search?” she asked me. “No,” I replied, sharing with her about my disappointment when receiving my original birth certificate. “Have you tried researching with the 1940 census?” she questioned. “It really is an amazing tool!” While we were still on the phone, we became Facebook friends so we could encourage each other and she invited me into several online adoption groups. She explained that this document was the most accurate and thorough record available for finding someone born before 1940 and encouraged me to use it.

That afternoon I pulled up the 1940 US Census on Ancestry.com and began to look through the list of young women named Gilmore. Since I knew my birthmother had to have been born in 1938 or 1939 in Illinois, I was able to find a list of 27 women who met that description! I started eliminating those with older siblings because one of the pieces of information I had from Crittenton talked about younger half-siblings. Suddenly, if the name Gilmore was accurate, I had narrowed my search field considerably! Since their parents’ names were also listed, I began working my way through obituaries.

The next few days I was able to check several women off my list as the obituaries I found didn’t match with the information in my records. Then one evening it came to me that if I were to contact the Crittenton records department, perhaps they could give me her name since it should have been in their documents. After I was finally able to get to the right department, I reached a sweet young woman to told me, unfortunately, she could not give me the name. She pulled up my records on her computer and together we lamented the injustice. Before I hung up, I asked “Well, can you at least tell me if the name Gilmore is an accurate name?”

“Yes, that would be correct,” she told me.

A chill ran down my back. I knew my name WAS my name!

“Because,” I continued, “You see, I am using the 1040 Census list and have found a list of 27 women with the last name of Gilmore and now know it has to be one of these. I appreciate your help.”

I started to say “Goodbye” when she interrupted, “Well, tell me, what names do you have on that list?” she asked.

“I have a Marilyn.”

“No,” she said.

“I have a couple Barbaras,” I told her.

“Ummm, no, that wouldn’t be accurate.”

“I do have a Lois Jean,” I told her.

“Why yes, that would be correct.”

“So you are confirming that my birthmother’s name was Lois Jean Gilmore?” I began to tear up.

“Yes, that is correct,” she said. We both got weepy.

I got off the phone and had to soak it all in for a while. I googled the name and it took me back to Ancestry.com where someone had done a family tree that included her name and there it listed the five half-siblings that had been mentioned in my original paperwork! It stated that she had died 15 years ago. I then googled the name of the man who had recorded the research and within 5 minutes found his phone number and was talking with him in California. He didn’t know her married name, he told me, but he could find it. He took my e-mail and in another 5 minutes he sent it to me along with her husband’s name, street address, and phone number in Peoria! At least I could make contact with family members!

Later that afternoon my son made a call to her home and spoke with her husband. He assured him that we were 100% accurate about the identity and that we had no expectations on him but would like any family medical history or pictures if he would be willing to share them. In the meantime I found a memorial record online as well as an obituary from the Peoria Journal Star. Within a few days I had pictures, a lot more information, and several close friends willing to share with me what they knew of her. A few months later I had the honor the honor of meeting with some of these dear new friends for lunch and also had an opportunity to learn even more about this woman who gave me life! Clay and I visited her grave and plan to do so regularly in the future. Though I am sad not to have met her, I look forward to meeting her one day as I have learned that she was a believer. I have also found some answers about myself in listening to what her friends had to say about her, that she was a real people person and never knew a stranger, and I see me in her face, too!

It has been a year since I learned the identity of my birthmother and so much has happened. I have been welcomed into the home she shared with her husband for many decades and have met more family and friends. People have shared pictures and stories with me and I am so grateful for the new friendships I have made.

birthday

 Celebrating

So, since today is my birthday, I would like to share, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story” with you.

We like to think of the post WW2 years as an idyllic time in history, when dads went to work at well-paying jobs and moms wore pearls and raised their children in quiet, tree-lined neighborhoods. There were many families who enjoyed those sorts of homes, but there were other families, where deep, dark secrets lurked and where children were not valued or treasured.

Sweet Lois Jean was born in LaHarpe, Illinois, not far from the Mississippi River and not long before World War 2 broke out. Her own mother, Edith, was only 16 when Lois Jean was born and barely a year later her father, George, died of cancer. One of the earliest pictures I have is of Lois Jean as a baby in her mother’s arms, taken the day of his funeral.

As the story is told, George, anticipating his death, asked an older fellow he had met at work to help care for his little family when he was gone. “Vic,” who was the divorced father of two, and 41 at the time, agreed to do so; within a year, he married Edith. Over the next 10 years, Vic and Edith had 4 more children, 3 boys and a girl. During this time, they moved to Peoria where Vic had a good job and provided well for his growing family.

As time went on, they divorced and Edith moved out, leaving behind all five children, including Lois Jean. The children were divided up and sent to foster homes but eventually Vic had both Lois and their oldest son back in his home. Not long afterward, Lois Jean conceived me. Through family members, I have learned that Vic was my birthfather; he was 54 and Lois was barely 14. Pictures of him as a young man show such a family resemblance that I have no doubt this is true; what I had long suspected was confirmed: I was conceived in both rape and incest.

Many people have asked me how I have been able to accept the truth about my conception and my response is that I can so clearly see God’s amazing plan for my own life through it all. You see, my birthmother went on to marry and had three more children. The first two had cystic fibrosis and died in early childhood; the third had drowned in a horrible boating accident when only seven. But God, in His sovereignty, chose to preserve my life, give me Christian parents, a wonderful husband, six children, and 14 grandchildren! What another had meant for evil, God meant for good!

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The top picture is of me and the bottom one is of my three sweet half siblings.

Just recently, I was allowed to peek inside the cedar chest my birthmother had kept under the eaves in her attic. It was full of so many treasures: baby clothes worn by my siblings, their tiny hospital bracelets, a few toys, pictures taken on past Christmases, and baptismal certificates. At the bottom of the trunk in an old yellowed envelope was a single picture of a young girl, her round tummy just beginning to show a pregnancy, the date on the back matching the day my birthmother was taken to Crittenton Home. It was her only picture of me!

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 Lois Jean right before she was taken to Crittenton Home, June, 1953.

Today I am celebrating another year of life, a gift from God. I am so thankful for all the Lord has done for me, for His plans, for His providence, for His protection! My story has brought new meaning to Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

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The blessing of family!

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contentment

kitty

“When we see homeschooling parents struggle with accepting the children God has given them for who they are, we are actually seeing a lack of contentment. Repeatedly homeschoolers are told to expect great things from our children, that they are the future, that they will stand head and shoulders above children who weren’t educated at home. We begin to compare our children and their ability to be leaders by someone else’s standards and we become discontent with how they are made, the qualities they have that might not make great leaders but qualities that the body of Christ desperately needs. In my own life I have discovered that lack of contentment and the various temptations it brings, especially as a parent, is truly the result of not seeking to follow after God with a whole heart, of not choosing to live thankfully, of refusing to pursue godliness, of denying the grace of God that He so willingly pours out. Puritan pastor Jeremiah Burroughs puts it this way: “’There is a compound of grace in contentment: there is faith, and there is humility, and love, almost all graces are compounded. It is an oil which has the ingredients of every kind of grace and therefore, though you cannot see the particular grace, yet in this oil you have it all.’” ~ from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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podcast series with Jim and Lynne Jackson from Connected Families, part two

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In this week’s podcast, Jim, Lynne, and I talk about the “first time obedience” teachings that have become the standard of so-called “biblical” parenting in modern evangelicalism.  We also discuss the powerful game-changing quality of parental repentance. If you haven’t listened to Part One, let me encourage you to do so and be sure to leave a comment each time to be put into the drawing for a free book from the Jacksons! Let me also encourage you to visit the Jackson’s website and to follow them on Facebook!

October 4, 2014
Interview with Jim and Lynne Jackson Part 2.

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