Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Girl's Getaway

I got an email reminding me of this contest. And I started thinking, who would I want to take with me? Then I thought of her, my incredible friend, Fran. I met Fran at a Pampered Chef show that I was doing....I ruined the goodies I was making and Fran came to my rescue. We were SUCH different people....WOW! I was beginning to grow in my godly role of wife and mother, and then along comes this person who is the antithesis of all I was learning. She was divorced and remarried with 2 step children and her own daughter (who was about the same age as her stepson, just to add to the confusion!). I have NO idea what she saw in me, why she wanted to be friends with me! And at first, it was hard work....what do I say to her when she thinks I'm crazy for the choices I made in my life. She had so many tough issues to deal with and the attitude to go with it, and I appeared as a "goody-two-shoes" in her life. Only God could take this bizarre relationship and turn it into finest gold. Over the years we have been through so much. At first she seemed overly dependent on me, and I can remember times, talking on the phone with her, when she would be screaming and cussing and carrying on about something happening in her life, and I would feel so silly when I'd say "You need to pray and let God take care of it." Time and again that was the only answer I could come up with and telling it to her seemed like such a cop out....little did I know that that was the ONLY answer, the perfect answer! Over time, her phone calls became much calmer, her struggles not quite so overwhelming, her faith becoming bigger when she began letting God have the things that seemed such a mess in her life. She became less dependent on me and more dependent on God and our love for each other grew. Then, just as we were beginning to walk together, side by side on this journey of life, I got the news that we would be moving (my hubby is a Chaplain's Assistant in the Air Force). The agony of having to tell her that I was leaving was almost unbearable.....our hearts were joined by the amazing, incredible, life changing love of God, and now that she was someone that I could grow WITH rather than pull along, we were being separated! But as we both gave this over to God, we realized this is what He needed of us.....we had both become better equipped to share this way of life, living as a godly wife. We realized it would be selfish of us to just continue our walk just the two of us, God needed us to go out and share all that we had learned. That was just over 2 years ago. We still talk by phone and I am ASTOUNDED at the growth she is still experiencing! So often, growth takes place so slowly that it's hard to see, but this dear friend is growing by leaps and bounds. The life she once thought was crazy and impossible is now her way of life. God shines so mightily in her! If you saw her before and after pictures....real pictures of her......you can actually SEE the love of Christ in her, she has literally become a beautiful person inside and out (and it's not that I'm biased because she's my friend). Recently she called to tell me she had done the unthinkable (to her)....she pulled her children out of school so that she could homeschool them and further teach them how God is involved in every single aspect of their lives. I have always homeschooled my children and that was one area she said that she could NEVER do. But God's ways are always so much better than our ways and He called her to do this. I am simply amazed at all God has worked in her and am so thankful that the answer has been and always will be "pray and trust God in this".....He truly does amazing things! I would love to be able to go on this cruise with her so that we could share and grow further in Christ...the teachings to be taught on this cruise are what God used to build this most amazing friendship. I don't know when/if I'll ever see her again on this earth, but I'm hoping that God will let us live right next door to each other in heaven so that we can daily get together and worship Him together!

I Love you Fran (Piglet)!!

Love, Amy (Pooh)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Update on my brother

My brother (who I've mentioned in this and this post) has been going through a LOT! He was given a 4 year sentence and in the 5 months that he's served already he lost 40 pounds and nearly died! I can't even begin to tell it all! But God is good, oh so very good, ALL the time!! Anyway, this past week he was moved to FCI Fort Dix in NJ. Last night I tried to google FCI Fort Dix to see what it was like. Didn't find a whole lot of description, but somehow (God!!) I ended up at a page with articles written by Chaplains in training. I have contacted the writer of the following article and she has given me permission to share this with you. I may not be able to describe FCI Fort Dix, but I sure know what she's talking about here!! May you be blessed and encouraged!

An intern's reflection from FCI Fort Dix, N. J.
By Katy Fitzhugh
The 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel speaks about how one meets Christ through visiting those in prison, and that is exactly what happened to me. Granted, as someone preparing for ministry, I had met God before the doors locked behind me my first Sunday at FCI Fort Dix, but the inmates have shown me the active presence of God in a way that no other pastor, professor, seminarian, or parishioner ever had before.
The truth is that the inmates have taught me an entirely new perspective on so much of what I held to be central to living a holy life. Because inmates’ lives are subject to the structure of the prison schedule and counts, they end up living out the words of Jesus’ prayer, ‘Not my will, but yours be done." While persons in "outside"society frequent monasteries and retreat centers when they begin to feel weary, inmates have to be even more intentional about creating space and time for God's still small voice.
On my first Sunday at FCI Fort Dix, Chaplain Heidi Kugler had no sooner warned me that prison chaplaincy is a ministry of interruptions, when the first knock came on the office door. He was well over 6 feet tall with a muscular build one could easily find intimidating, and yet he entered with his head bowed and eyes on the floor. It took him a moment to utter his request, as though a shy schoolboy about to tell his mother he had failed math.
Upon speaking, his request surprised me. He asked the chaplain if she had a light bulb. ‘A light bulb,’ she inquired, ‘What do you need a light bulb for?’ ‘For the closet,’ came his boyish response, ‘I like to pray in there because it’s quiet.’ I came to realize that often prison strips away those elements of pride and facade to which many of us outside cling. In the midst of one's crime and suffering, lives can become broken and humbled enough for God to move in a manner that I had only imagined possible.
Another lesson I have learned from the inmates is the importance of community. One of the brothers recently learned that his 18-year-old son died suddenly from what appears to be heart failure, and throughout the entire day, shifts of brothers took turns to be with him in his grief, to cry with him over this young man they had never even met.
Even though these men are separated from their families, I have watched as so many of the inmates have become family for one another, a reality which we hope for in our communities on the outside, but which I have rarely seen to this extent.
Before I began my internship, one of my intentions was to eliminate any expectations I may have about any aspect of prison chaplaincy. I knew this was not entirely possible, but I wanted to be open to whatever may be in store. I admit that despite my efforts to start fresh, I was not expecting to find this element of care and family among the inmates. In fact they shattered not only my pre-conceived ideas about prison ministry, but also my understanding of God.
My time at FCI Fort Dix has taught me that the God we worship is so much bigger than all the practices we hold, than retreats and church walls, bigger than scheduled Sabbath and worship time, and bigger than our control. The inmates have taught me about what it means to accept where you are for the time being and to make the best of a situation that may not be ideal, or may not be where you thought you’d be at this point in life.
They’ve taught me about the healing that can follow brokenness, and about letting go of things that I thought were important, but really don’t matter in the end. They’ve taught me about the blessing that comes with simply walking part of the inmates’ journey with them.While I may have initially come to FCI Fort Dix to offer the inmates and the institution a service, it was I who ended up learning the lessons.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I haven't been very consistent in posting lately. I start feeling guilty about that, but then, looking at life right now, I'm doing what I need to be doing. This year with homeschooling I'm really trying to keep up with everything, stay on track, reach goals, and so far, so good! Thank You Lord!! A lot of prayer went into this school year and the program we're using (K12) is quite different from anything we've done before. I've heard lots of negatives as well as positives about it, but just really felt like this is where God wanted us to be this year. I am loving it! I can still somewhat adapt it, but the goals have already been set, there's finally an ending point. Yes! Just exactly what we all needed.

I'm also working on setting up a website for our church. Once it's finished I will have a link in the sidebar. I love doing this kind of stuff! They think I'm blessing them, but in the meantime, I am blessed to have this opportunity. Don't you love the way God works things like that?

Personally (as in just me stuff) I am ((AGAIN)) attempting to lose weight. It has been a struggle for me emotionally and spiritually. I want to think that I should be content with who I am; I want to be angry with my husband for wanting a healthier life for me (the big battle there being "Why can't he be satisfied with me." and "He's concerned about my health") So I am continually bringing it before the throne of God Who loves me more deeply than I can ever, ever know or understand....and I know I could be doing a better job taking care of what He has given me. I know that I am merely settling for "Ho-hum" because it's so much easier than putting in a bit more effort to care for myself and glorify God in my health. That's the thing too....I know that the only way this can be done is by God's strength and grace in my life, and this is NOT me, but God working in me......yeah, well, you get the point, the hamster is again hopping on the wheel! It's good for me!

So, there is a bunch of rambling to say that life is good, life is busy, life is challenging......and despite the uphill climbs sometimes, I wouldn't have it ANY other way! God is good ALL the time!!