Dear Kenmore

Dear Kenmore,

Thank you for manufacturing dishwashers. And thank you for selling them at major retailers all across the world (but especially in Minnesota) where people can buy them and install them into homes that other people will eventually purchase and move into.

And thank you for giving us so many options when it comes time to press "Start." Light wash, normal wash, heavy wash, sani rinse...they are all precious to me.
Your product has transformed the lives of people all around the world. You are making more than dishwashers. You are giving the gift of more minutes in the day, convenience, peace of mind, and in my case, bliss. I will never take you for granted.

Thank you, Kenmore, for making mother's lives easier, one dishwasher at a time.


Audra Charlebois
Princeton, MN

More New House Pictures

Ruby's Room / Future Nursery

The back yard, as seen from the walk-out basement
The property actually extends far past the tree line in the back there, past the wooded area and into a field. We will explore it once the snow melts!


Come and Listen

"Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me."
Ps 66:16

If I could fully express to you in words the magnitude of what God has done for us over the last three years...

...Through some of the darkest valleys, seemingly impossible situations, and loneliest roads...

...If I could accurately translate the overwhelming feeling of unworthy gratefulness I have in my heart for you to experience as your own...

...I'm still not sure it would do the job.

"Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me."

The story begins in the spring of 2007. Israel Hope was just a newborn. I had just quit my job as a TV news producer to stay home with her full-time.

Do you remember how tiny and sweet she was? This is her at 4 days old.
JP had been working on a major condo remodeling project in the uptown area. Everything had been going very well. The client had been pleased with his work and had even gone so far as to give JP and his crew gifts at Thanksgiving and Christmas and crochet Israel a blanket.

But then she started running out of money. The project was over budget (by no fault of JP's...there was just a lot more work to be done than she had originally thought). I'm sure she was overwhelmed and probably scared, but for whatever reason, she decided to take it out on JP. She suddenly claimed he was overpriced, that it was his fault, and refused to pay him for roughly $17,000 worth of work that had already been completed, plus we had well over $10,000 invested in the project in stuff like insurance and other things that we would get back at the end of the project.

As you can assume, this was a major blow to us as a small business. How in the world were we supposed to function with nearly $30,000 less than we needed? We filed a lawsuit. And in the meantime, we survived on credit cards, and we (stupidly) refinanced our house and pulled out equity, which bumped our already high monthly payment up to beyond ridiculous.

Months passed. Israel grew. So did my belly, with Ruby Ann inside.

It soon became obvious that it was pointless to stay in a house where the payment was double the value of the home -- a house that JP's business was outgrowing anyhow. So in November of 2008 -- with newborn baby Ruby along for the ride now -- we packed up everything and moved into a rental home in Dayton, MN.

And there we were for the past 14 months.

Now don't get me wrong, that house was an extreme blessing. When we first moved in, we couldn't believe how much better off we were here than in our Brooklyn Park home. JP had tons more space to operate his business out of. The kids and dogs had a huge yard in which to play and explore. We had all of the benefits of the country while still being 5 minutes away from a Super Target and Chipotle. :)

When I would look around at where we were now living and how far superior it was to life in the city, I was amazed. Because believe me, I mourned the loss of our Brooklyn Park house. I loved that little house. I had every intention of living there all our lives, raising our kids there, etc. I never thought any place could satisfy me if it wasn't my own little house on Daleview Drive.

Turns out I was wrong! What I thought was a horrible, discouraging situation turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We loved living in Dayton, and we both fell in love with being outside the hustle and bustle of the city.

But there was still something missing. While this house had been our home for the past 14 months, its was never technically our home. We rented it. Maybe for some people renting is great, but for us, it was very frustrating. JP is a handyman, and he loves to fix things up and improve. And believe me, when you live in a 1918 farmhouse, there is plenty of things that could use improving. But since it was not our house, it was not worth the investment of our time and money. We even offered to make the improvements if our landlord would simply pay for the materials, but he wasn't interested.

Take, for example, the dishwasher. We moved into that home in November 2008, and one of the very first things I noticed is that the dishwasher didn't work. I called the landlord. He said he'd get it fixed. Weeks went by. I called again. Sorry, he had asked his wife to research it and hadn't heard back from her. He'd ask again. Months went by. I called again. I left voicemails. I sent text messages. Finally, TEN MONTHS LATER he sends a guy out to try to fix the dishwasher. The guy picks it up and takes it to his shop. Two weeks later he returns with the still broken dishwasher. He couldn't get it working. I call the landlord again. He says he doesn't want to pay the money to replace that dishwasher (it's a different size than normal and costs much more). We offer to adapt the cabinet to make room for a regular sized dishwasher. We even ask him to simply give us a dollar amount of how much he wants to spend on a dishwasher and tell him we'll forward the money, we'll pick it up, we'll install it, the price can come out of next months rent, he doesn't have to lift a finger. He says it sounds too good to be true. I assure him it's true, just please give us a dollar amount.

And we never heard back from him again.

See what I mean? FRUSTRATING! Having a landlord is not a good idea for handymen and their families. At least not this one. We missed being homeowners and having the freedom to invest into our home and make it our own. We were thankful for the house where we lived, but the honeymoon phase was definitely winding down.

We felt stuck.

Then one day, JP was listening to the Minnesota real estate show on talk radio. He heard this guy talking about a program through the USDA that helped people with tarnished credit buy homes in the country. It sounded exactly like the opportunity we were looking for, so JP called in to the show and got more information.

The program is called the USDA Rural Development Program. Basically, they want people to move into the country, and they'll go to great lengths to make it happen. You can buy, build, or even move a home, as long as the home meets their requirements for location and condition.

We applied for the program and found out we qualified! Given our situation, we figured we would only be approved for enough money to buy a fixer upper, so we were very surprised when they offered us a $175,000, 33-year loan at 4.8% interest with $0.00 down, AND they were going to subsidize a portion of our monthly payment for the life of the loan.

Our jaws hit the floor. We looked at each other in amazement, then jumped up and down screaming for joy, then got teary-eyed at the overwhelming reality of the door God had just opened for us.

We started our home search right away, because the USDA only gave us a relatively short amount of time in which we had to get an offer accepted, or we'd be disqualified. Our realtor, who happens to be JP's oldest and best buddy, Jono Sathe, started showing us homes right away. We found one pretty quickly that we liked and put in an offer, but it was a short sale. It can take months and months to hear back from the banks when offering on a short sale. We waited as long as we could and asked them for a quick response, but ended up having to pull our offer because we were running out of time.

Next we found a house in Buffalo. The house needed work, (it was actually a dump) but the lot was great and the location was too. We made an offer and it was accepted, but when the USDA came out to approve the property, they rejected it because it was technically a modular home on a foundation, and apparently that doesn't qualify.

We had two back-up properties in case the Buffalo one didn't go through, one in Monticello and one in Big Lake. These were both fine houses that would have been sufficient, but they were just on regular city lots, not on acreage like we had been hoping for. We made an offer on the Monticello house and it was declined.

By this point, we were getting frustrated and we were running out of time. We had looked at a ton of houses and were down to our least favorite option as a last resort. JP and Jon went to see the Big Lake property one more time before writing up an offer, and I went home to do one final MLS search to see if anything new had popped up in the last few days.

And what did I find? You guessed it.

3 bed, 2 bath, vaulted ceilings, walk-in closets, tons of storage, attached garage, huge pole barn with a wood-burning-stove-heated workshop, play house and swing set, all nestled on 5 acres in Princeton. It was exactly what we had been looking for all along.

I told JP & Jono they should check it out. At first they didn't want to, but then they decided it was worth a shot. JP came home beaming and I knew we had struck gold. The guys started writing up an offer. The funny thing was that when I started asking JP about the layout of the house, he couldn't even remember. All he could remember was the lot and the pole barn!

Jono took me & the girls out there the next day, and as luck would have it, we loved it too! Rae announced she wanted this house to be our new house! (I don't think the playhouse had any sway in her decision making process. Just kidding.)

You've gotta understand, people! We didn't think we'd be able to buy another home for years! Let alone a NICE, big home on acreage for ONE THIRD of the cost we were paying in Brooklyn Park. All we can do is stand back and look at all God has done with amazement and thankfulness. In the beginning, everything seemed horrible and hopeless; but now, we're far more blessed than we ever could have imagined.

Trusting God in hard situations can be tough. There's no way we could have known three years ago where we would end up or how we would be surviving now. But as always, He proves Himself faithful time and time again.

The next time you feel stuck, hopeless, or like life is spinning out of control, remember how faithful God has always been to you. He's never let you down before, and He never will. He always comes through with hope.


So Little Time!

Sorry to all of you faithful blog readers -- I have not had internet to post an update since our move. Now I have internet, but not much time, so I just wanted to let you know that I'll be updating soon! We are loving it here so far, and the community seems very friendly. Tomorrow I'm taking the girls to a local MOPS (Mothers of PreSchoolers) play date at a church nearby. Hopefully we'll make some connections and some new friends to play with!

Here are two photos I can offer you of the house. Rae's room and the kitchen are the only two rooms in the house that are set up enough to be photographed. :)


"Not Me" Tuesday?

So sorry that I missed "Not Me" Monday yesterday. Turns out I was "not" puking my guts out. Neither was JP. Nor the girls. We were all perfectly healthy.

No, no, I wasn't lying on the couch letting my children do as they pleased. I didn't at one point walk into the kitchen to find all of the dry goods removed from the cabinets and placed into "the ark" (moving boxes) for the animals to eat on their long journey. I was not corrected by my older daughter when I called her by her name: "Actually, Mom, I'm Noah."

I didn't hit the play button on Finding Nemo more than two or three times, nor did I declare bedtime for the entire family at 7:00 pm. Just think, if we had gone to bed that early, we would have gotten more than 12 hours of sleep, which would not have been necessary for my healthy family.

No, I guess there is really no excuse for missing "Not Me" Monday. *sigh*


Closing day

It is official -- we are homeowners again! The closing went very quickly and smoothly, and we are so thankful. Later I am going to write a post about just how amazing it is for us to be able to buy a home at this point in our lives and how good God has been to us. But that will require me sitting down for a period of time longer than 5 minutes. And since 5 minutes is all I have, this is all you get for now!


But I will give you some photos of the girls to make you smile.

Last night Rae really wanted to help me cook dinner. I let her, and then she really wanted to create her own meal. So I gave the girls each a pan, a wooden spoon, and I let them create.

At first it was mild -- just some dry pasta & sweet potato puffs. Then Rae started getting more creative. She started adding whatever I would let her add, and she was having a blast.

The finished product looked something like this, but this photo was taken before the end. Things got even more "interesting" from here.

Here is the recipe, in case you'd like to try it out for yourself.

Rae's Special One-Pan Meal

  • Uncooked Penne pasta
  • Sweet Potato Puffs
  • Rice (cooked and uncooked)
  • Dry split peas
  • Cooked sweet corn
  • Cheerios (Rae used Multi-Grain for a healthier option; you can use whichever variety you like best)
  • Kix (Rae used Honey Kix; again, use your favorite)
  • One package Maple Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal
  • Plenty of bacon bits
  • Cupcake sprinkles
  • LOTS and LOTS of salt
  • water
  • Apple juice
  • Rice cake crumbles
  • One single-serving packet Carnation Instant Breakfast (vanilla flavor)
Combine all ingredients. Stir well. No need to heat, unless your stove is pretend.

Oh...and one more thing. TASTE AS YOU GO! (Yuck!)

Passing On

Early this morning, Uncle Hank peacefully passed on to the better place we're all waiting for.
His pain, gone. His life, full. His memory, cherished forever.
We love you, Uncle Hank. "Say hi to Jesus for us."



T-Minus 2 days until we close on the new house...


T-Minus 10 days until I no longer have to do dishes by hand anymore!

I have been packing. Slowly but surely, the pile of boxes in my dining room continues to grow, but there still seems to be a lot left to do. So much of it I feel like I can't pack away until the day before (because we need it and use it so often). I already regretted packing away the Tylenol when I got a headache and realized that as a pregnant woman, I cannot take ibuprofen. *sigh*


In other news, my dad is in Illinios today to see his brother, my Uncle Hank. Hank has been fighting pancreatic cancer for two years now and has been told, "this is it."

(Uncle Hank last November, when we visted them on our way home from Micah's graduation.)
When he was first diagnosed, he was given 6 months to live. He looked that prognosis square in the eyes and defied all odds by living (relatively well) far beyond that. We're especially grateful that he has been able to live to see his new grandchildren, who he otherwise would never have met.

God is good like that, but it's still terribly hard on the family: My Aunt Gail, his children Brett & Karen, their spouses and his young grandchildren. And of course, my dad, who has already lost his parents and his other younger brother.

Please keep all of them in your prayers. Even when you know it's coming, there is never, EVER enough time to prepare for a loss like this. My heart is breaking for all of them.


"Not Me" Monday

It's another "Not Me" Monday, a blog carnival started by MckMama as a way to get things off your chest...without really fessing up to them!

Remember that hat I've been "borrowing" from my friend who forgot it at my house? This week I did NOT lose it. Of course not. Because I've been so responsible to keep it in a safe place until I can return it, remember? No, I did not lose it at Target. It's a good thing I didn't either, or I would have had to call Target, leave a description with my name and number, and pray someone would find it. And it's a good thing I didn't have to breathe a huge sigh of relief when I returned to Target the next day and found it at the service desk. Whew!

I did not notice a strange smell in the laundry room this week. It didn't cross my mind that it smelled as though maybe something had died down there. I did not send my husband down to investigate, and thank God he did NOT find a dead, stinking mouse! I'm glad none of that ever happened so I don't have to shiver every time I go downstairs.

And this one takes the cake...

There is no way on God's earth I would ever accidentally allow my mother-in-law to find out we were pregnant again...on facebook. It's a good thing too, since she is "not" the gracious and understanding type who would forgive me for such a blunder (had I made it, that is). If any of this had transpired and she actually had forgiven me, I would not make a bold, public announcement that MY MOTHER-IN-LAW ROCKS for forgiving me! ;) (love you, G.)

Bet you can't top that one, but give it a try in the comments section!



The closing date on our new house is less than a week away now, and my emotions keep going back and forth from excited to nervous, happy to anxious.

I'm excited because this house is amazing. It has everything we need and want. Have I mentioned how bright and sunny it is in there? How beautiful the towering pines are on all sides? How large the bedrooms are? How every room in the house has a HUGE walk-in closet? How functional the kitchen is? That there is a DISHWASHER??!! (Keep in mind, folks, I've been doing dishes by hand for more than a year now.)

I'm nervous because, well, let's face it. It's far. It's 18 miles past Elk River to the Princeton exit, then you drive through the tiny town, past the Pamida (that's right -- there's a Pamida. You know you're in the country when you stop seeing Cub & Rainbow and start seeing Pamida.), past a sorry excuse for a strip mall, and over the Rum River. After that you still have to go another 5 miles down highway 95...past a Christmas Tree Farm, two churches and a bar...until you reach our road. Did I mention the neighbors have seen bears and cougars around there? Suffice to say, we will be far away from the life I know in the cities.

I'm happy because this move will lift such a heavy burden off of our family. Next weekend, once the closing is final, I'll post more about how amazing it is that we are even able to buy a house. But for now, suffice to say that we will be paying one third of what we were paying for our 3-bedroom rambler in Brooklyn Park...for a much bigger, much nicer, much newer, much less needy home on 5 acres of land.

I'm anxious because I have never had to be the new girl before. I went to the same school kindergarten through 12th grade. I went to the same church most of my life. I went to college where I already had a "student group" of friends built in. I've never really had to go out of my way to become a part of a community like I will need to in Princeton. (And I will need to. If I try to remain dependent on my life in the cities, I'll end up feeling isolated.) I will need to make a new life out there, in addition to my life in the city. (I've already located two MOPS groups in the area!)

So each day, I go back and forth between all of these conflicting emotions, knowing full well that God has my times in His hands and He knows what's best for us.

Don't get me wrong, I know I'm not the first person in the world to go through this. My brother moved his whole family to North Carolina. Many of my best friends in the world are scattered all across the nation now, where they've all had to start new lives. My parents moved to Minnesota, away from their families and life in Tennessee, without knowing anybody or anything about the frozen tundra they were entering, based simply on their faith that God was telling them to move here.

I'm only going to be about an hour away.

So I'll stop complaining now. I just wanted to let you know so hopefully you can be praying for us during this transitional time.


OrGano Gold

In the past, and so far this pregnancy (although it is still very early...knock on wood), I have had relatively easy pregnancies. I've always been hit with a wave of fatigue, but not unbearable; and the morning/all-day sickness has been minor. I don't believe I ever threw up when I was pregnant with Ruby, and only a couple times with Rae. (Brushing my teeth always put me over the top with Rae. The problem was I would brush my teeth, gag and/or throw up, and then I'd have to brush my teeth again! It was nasty cycle, but short-lived.)

The one thing that has always been the hardest for me is giving up coffee. I love it. I drink it every morning. And truthfully, I don't think I have to cut out caffeine completely when I'm pregnant. It's just a good habit to get into anyhow, so I take pregnancy as a good reason to do so.

In the past, I've been plagued with headaches and extreme tiredness after giving up coffee. It usually only lasts a couple of days, but it's tough. Anybody who has ever tried giving up coffee can attest to this.

Now back up a number of months: My mother-in-law "G" started selling this "coffee" beverage called OrGano Gold. It's a powder that you mix with hot water, but it's not any coffee drink. It's made with 100% certified organic Ganoderma Lucidum, or the Reishi mushroom. Reishi is commonly used for natural medicinal purposes in places such as China, Japan and Korea.

According to a botany website: Reishi "is of particular interest because it has been portrayed as a 'fix-it-all' herbal remedy for maladies such as HIV, cancer, low blood pressure, high blood pressure, diabetes, rheumatism, heart problems, paralysis, ulcers, asthma, tiredness, hepatitis A, B, and C, insomnia, sterility, psoriasis, mumps, epilepsy, alcoholism, and the list goes on."

Anyhow, as I was packing away things for the big move, I found some left-over packets that G had given me a while ago. I had already drunk the latte and mocha flavors she gave me and remembered liking them, but I didn't feel much of a difference physically because I wasn't drinking coffee at the time anyhow.

When I found these packets, I decided to give them a shot as a cold turkey replacement for my daily dose of coffee. And I'm not kidding you, people! I haven't had a SINGLE side effect of dropping the coffee. No headaches, no fatigue (even with the pregnancy) and no cravings. And the best part is I don't have to give up the experience of a warm cup of coffee in my hands every morning.

G has lots of other success stories of people who have added Ganoderma Lucidum to their diets and seen extreme results. Check out her website for more info, her contact information, and how to order your own. Besides the black coffee, they have lattes, mochas, hot chocolates, green teas, etc. So if you're not a coffee drinker, check it out anyhow!

Quotes from Rae

Rae: "Mom, a little help?"
Mom: "What do you need?"
Rae: "I need you to move this chair, please." (lugging a large dining room chair)
Mom: "Ok, where do you need it."
Rae: "Right here." (pointing to the kitchen doorway)
Mom: "Why do you need it there?"
Rae: "So you can't just sneak in on me."

Turns out she was attempting to reach the chocolate chips on the counter. What a STINKER! I guess that's what we get for booby trapping her door at night so she can't sneak out.



Ruby woke up without a fever today for the first time since she got sick. She is still coughing and wants to cuddle a lot, but is in better spirits than yesterday. Thanks, God!

Cold Case

If you tuned into any of the local newscasts last night, you probably saw the latest in the ongoing investigation of our friend Jelani's death. Let me tell you -- it wasn't any easier to watch the reports now than it was 9 months ago.

If you missed it, you can click here for WCCO's version or click here to read the Star Tribune's story (Channels 5, 9 and 11 all carried the story as well, but you know...I've gotta stay true to my WCCO roots.).

Basically the family announced a $5500 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case, and police asked for help from anybody who may know anything. The case has gone completely cold. The autopsy didn't show any signs of injury or trauma, the toxicology reports were all negative, and he didn't drown. They estimate he was placed in the water 12-20 hours after he died, but they don't know by whom or why.

Police have two people of interest (the two guys Jelani was with the night he went missing), but no evidence to convict either of them.

You can imagine how incredibly frustrating this dead end is for those of us who knew and loved him, and especially for his family. There is peace knowing that he's with Jesus, but unrest in the fact that we still have no closure, no answers, and maybe never will.

Everybody has their own theories, suspicions, and speculations, myself included. But when it comes right down to it, all we can do is sit and wait for whoever knows the truth to come forward.

Please continue to keep his family in your prayers, and pray for someone to come forward.


While I'm on the topic...we are selling T-shirts to raise money for Jelani's two beautiful children, Zion and Jelani Jr.

If you are interested in buying one or simply making a donation, click here for more info. If the link doesn't work for you, leave a comment and I will send you the info.



My poor little baby is sick.Ruby developed a nasty, loud, honking cough and a fever on Sunday night. I took her in to our regular doctor the next morning. Her oxygen levels were a little low (95), but he wasn't too concerned about that because her lungs sounded clear. He said she had croup, which is a virus, and recommended steamy showers, a cool mist humidifier, and even going out in the cold to help with the cough.

By later that night, her cough lost the "croupy," honking sound, but continued to plague her. And since the onset, she's had consistent, high fevers that go down with Tylenol, but pop right back up once it wears off (the highest reading I took was 103.3!).

Today I started to get more concerned because her coughing had really picked up and she was yawning a lot. I figured that meant she wasn't getting enough oxygen, so I took her into the urgent care. The doctor there said he did hear some crackling in her lungs and diagnosed her with bronchiolitis. Sound familiar? That's what Rae had when she was hospitalized two years ago. They admitted Rae because her oxygen levels were at 90. Today, Ruby's were fluctuating betwen 91 and 92, so they did not admit her.

So now we're doing the albuterol nebulizer and zithromax routine we used to do with Rae. Ruby is pretty whiny and clingy, but she didn't mid the nebulizer too much, so I'm thankful for that. Please keep our little peanut in your prayers and believe with us for a quick recovery.

Hopefully it won't be long before we have our smiley girl back.


3, 6, 11 Revealed

Most people have figured this out already...but here it is officially:

We're having another baby!

Our 3rd child, JP's family's 6th grandchild, and my family's 11th grandchild.

Thank you Jesus for this precious gift!


3, 6, 11

3, 6, 11

Can you break the code?

"Not Me" Monday

I don't have much for "Not Me" Monday this week, but you can check out what other people haven't been doing by clicking here.

As for me...

I did not miss the New Years countdown...by 45 minutes.

And I did not eat an entire bag of Old Dutch potato chips by myself in one sitting while facebooking. Nuh-uh. Not me.

Anybody else have something they need to get off their chest? Leave a comment!


"I Reckon"

What do you think of when you hear the phrase, "I reckon?"

Does this guy pop into your mind?

"I reckon me and Bessy'll be headin' down to the waterin' hole in a bit," or "I reckon I might could do that. I's fixing to head down yonder anyhoo."

The phrase has sort of been reserved for hillbillies and country folk, right?

Have you ever had one of those moments where something in the Bible makes sense to you for the first time? Almost like a revelation? That happened to me a long time ago when it came to this verse:
"Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. " Romans 6:11 (NKJV)
I always knew what the verse meant, but one day I kind of giggled to myself as I thought, "Well, shucks, I reckon I'll do just that!" That got me thinking, what does it mean? Where does the work "reckon" come from? Is there some deeper meaning to this verse?

Then I had that little revelation moment. Reckon = reconcile. Like a checkbook! This has helped me ever since then in my walk, and since it came to my mind again today, I thought I'd share it.

When we reconcile our checkbooks, what do we do? We go through and calculate all of the deposits and withdrawals from our bank accounts, checking to see which charges have cleared, which have yet to clear, and what we have available to us right now. There may be $100 in my account right now, but if I have a $25 check that hasn't hit yet, I have to conduct myself as if I only have $75. Even though there is actually $100 in there presently. We act as though that money is not there.

Now, apply that to sin. When we reckon ourselves dead to sin, we have to conduct ourselves as if sin is not present in the bank account of our lives. We subtract sin from our register. And even though we may sin from time to time, even though the temptation may still be there, we act as though that sin is dead. Much like we would say, "Nope, I can't buy that (insert coveted item here), I only have $75," we have to go about our day thinking, "Nope, I can't do that. I don't have sin in my life." I'm dead to sin. Reconciled!

There's another bonus part to this, too. The word "reconcile" has more than one meaning. We've talked about checking a financial account for accuracy. But there's also the "reconcile" that means "to restore to friendship or harmony; reconcile differences."

And when we "reckon" ourselves dead to sin, isn't it funny how our relationship with God is brought into harmony?

So when you wake up tomorrow morning, be sure to look yourself in the mirror, shine your best hillbilly smile and reckon to go about your day without that sin negatively affecting your account, er, life. Hope that's encouraging!


Faith Like a Child

"Oh what a wonderful, wonderful day! Day I will never forget!"

I don't even know how to begin this post. The feeling that I have in my heart right now is so overwhelmingly beautiful, it seems impossible to put into words. I guess John said it best: "I have NO GREATER JOY than to hear that my children walk in truth." (3 John 1:4)

Last night, New Year's Eve 2009, our daughter Israel made her own decision and prayed her own prayer asking Jesus to be her Savior. My eyes well up just typing about it! My precious daughter is no longer simply growing up in a Christian home -- she herself is a Christian. She has put her pure, childlike faith in the man she's seen answered her prayers; the man we've read about and talked about since she was teeny tiny; the man she's seen work in our lives. She recognized that she has done wrong, and He is the only one who can make her clean and help her do right.

Here's how it happened (though I wasn't there. I was out with my sisters for New Years. How could I have missed it! This is what JP told me):

Recently and in the past, Rae has struggled with getting out of bed at night and during nap time. She knows she's not supposed to, but apparently the temptation is usually too much for her. Lately she's been getting out of bed and turning on the lights so she can play. When we catch her doing this, we discipline her and put her back to bed. Usually she'll try once or twice, and then she'll go to bed.

Yesterday's nap time was an especially trying one. Rae never fell asleep, and the entire nap time we went back and forth with her getting out of her bed over and over and over again. By the end, I had to stop disciplining her because I could feel myself getting frustrated, and we make it a point not to discipline out of anger or frustration. I brought her downstairs with me and had her sit and do quiet things until nap time was over.

She must have sensed my frustration (it was pretty hard to miss), and for the rest of the day it was obvious that she was carrying around a load of guilt for what she had done. She kept on bringing it up, talking about how she "did something bad" and "made the wrong choice" and "got out of bed." I heard her mention it several times after she woke up.

Later on, the girls and I met up with some friends for dinner and after that JP picked the girls up and took them home so I could spend some time with my sisters. He said that on the car ride home she told him about how she had done something bad and gotten out of bed.

That night after Ruby had gone to bed, Rae asked JP a question:

"Daddy, do you ever judge yourself?"

The question stopped JP in his tracks. Where on earth would she have even learned the term "judge?" That's pretty heavy topic for an almost three-year-old. Neither of us has ever talked to her about it. He asked her what she meant and she said, "It means when you do something bad. Do you ever do something bad, Daddy?"

JP told her that yes, of course he does bad things sometimes. Everybody does.

Rae said, "Me too. I did something bad. I got out of bed." Then she asked, "What do you do when you do something bad?"

At this point it was obvious to JP that Israel was struggling with the guilt she was carrying from her nap time experience. He explained to her that when he does something wrong, he asks Jesus to forgive him. Jesus is the only person in the world who never did anything wrong, and he's the only one who can forgive us, make us clean, and take our guilt away.

Rae accepted this answer and they finished off their night. JP tucked her into bed and prayed with her, letting her know that if she was feeling guilty, she could ask Jesus to forgive her and save her from her sin. He asked if she knew what sin was, and she didn't, so he explained that sin is what's inside all of us that makes us want to do things that are bad, like getting out of bed. He told her that when she was ready, she could pray to Jesus and ask him to be her Savior.

He kissed her goodnight and closed the door. Right away he remembered something sitting inside the room and he opened the door back up to find Rae already out of bed and attempting to turn on the light. Caught, red-handed!

He disciplined her and put her back in bed. One more time he explained to her that if she wanted to do right, she needed to ask Jesus to save her from her bad choices and take her guilt away.

**I should note at this point that we've talked to Rae about salvation in the past, but she never wanted to do it because when we told her she would "go to heaven," she thought that meant right away. She was afraid that if she prayed, she would have to leave us and go to heaven, and she didn't want to leave us. What a sweetie.**

"When you're ready, Sweetie, just let me know."

"I want to do it right now, Daddy."

"Are you sure? You don't have to do it now, Honey."

"Yes, Daddy, I want to do it right now."

JP said he even tried to talk her out of it, his own lack of faith preventing him from seeing (at first) that even at her young age, she really could understand her need for a Savior. After asking her a couple more times to explain what it meant/what was going to happen, and her doing so with clarity, he knew she "got it."

And right there, in her fuzzy little pink footie pajamas, laying her sweet curly head on her Dora pillowcase, my daughter gave her heart to Jesus. She asked him to forgive her and save her from having to do the wrong things. She invited Him into her heart. Faith like a child.

Obviously, Rae's understanding is simple. Her faith is simple. She just knows that Jesus is good and that He loves her enough to help her. As she grows, she'll continue to make mistakes and she'll always be able to go to Jesus to make things right again. Her faith will be tested, and her understanding of what Jesus really did will deepen. She may be like me and pray the salvation prayer many different times. Or maybe not. Maybe this one time will stick with her forever, and she'll always be secure in her place in God's family.

But even if her faith is simple, the God she invited into her heart is not. There is no such thing as a junior sized Holy Spirit. There's no mini-Jesus. The big, humongous God who lives in us is the same one living in her. His power is not minimized by her size or age.

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." I Tim 4:12

Maybe you are reading this and think, "Oh, that's cute, but she doesn't really understand. She's too small. She has a good heart, but she's not really 'saved'."

Trust me, when JP first told me the news, I thought the same thing. "Could she really understand? Is this really the day my daughter got saved?"

And this is what the Holy Spirit responded:

"But Jesus said, 'Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'" Matthew 19:14

That word "suffer" means "do not hinder" or "allow." Imagine if we had convinced Rae she wasn't old enough to really pray the sinner's prayer. How damaging would that be to her little faith? The kingdom of heaven is made up of people of faith, big and small. I have faith, and Rae has faith. It's not a junior faith. It's her faith. And who am I to hinder her from going to Jesus? May it never be.

Today we are rejoicing with the angels. We know that Rae's faith is real. Our daughter is saved. And there is NO GREATER JOY.

Want to know the sweetest part? After JP and Rae called me to tell me the news and he tucked in her for the night, she fell right to sleep. Her burden of guilt was lifted, and she could rest. And when she woke up this morning, one of the first things she said to me was, "I didn't turn the light on at all, Mommy!"

(Rae performing surgical maneuvers on Baby Bear)