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The Secret of Counting Gifts-- When All You Need Is Family

>> 7.24.2012

Today I have the special privilege of introducing you to a wonderful sister in Christ, Heidi Kreider.  I met Heidi a couple of years ago as I entered my first adult experience of a home school co-op.  Heidi didn't know it then, and she probably still doesn't realize today,but God used her in a mighty way to encourage me during my "stay" in the co-op.  Heidi was a bright light of welcome-ness (that's not a word-- but it is now!) and easy friendship when I was so close to giving up. She is a gifted and loving daughter of the King, wife, & mother to three-- all of whom are currently in different school settings-- which I LOVE! She has stayed close to the Lord, reliant upon HIS leading for each of her children's educations.  Should I get to this place one day, I hope to have half the courage she has exemplified as she's faced critics on all sides...and still is journeying through these waters leaning on CHRIST ALONE & HIS plan for her family/children. 

Heidi has recently fulfilled a life-long desire to write and publish a book and I am honored to be a stop a long the way on her virtual book tour.  The book is wonderfully-written and I encourage you to join me as I finish reading it (I'm almost there!).  Now, to give you just a taste...

When All You Need Is Family...

            We stood together, just the six of us.  On a day when we buried one, we huddled... holding and upholding.  When others said...we'll be there.  I said... no.  All I wanted, all I needed was my family.   I
gathered them around me... my parents, my man, and my kids together.  It was enough.
            Family... that group of people who are defined by blood lines, and maybe more.  Sometimes those closest to our hearts do not share the same family tree.  We cannot chose our relations but we can choose to redefine the term family to include those who are closest to us.  Those we live life with... the ones to whom we cling when the storms of life roar and the winds threaten to overflow us.
            I am blessed with an amazing family.  As I grow older and slightly wiser, I have learned to count that amazing family as a gift.  I now recognize it's rarity.  I also know that I have friends who are as close to me as my sisters.  I've learned to count them as family and as gifts.  They are equal but  different treasures to my heart.
            Recently, I wrote a novel about family and friendship, life and loss... The Secret of Counting Gifts and an accompanying journal, The Secret of Counting Gifts Gratitude Journal.  Both volumes have been released and are now available through Amazon.com.  

            The Secret of Counting Gifts is the story of  Kris McClintock and Liz Bower and their friendship that spans twenty-eight years.  Through marriage, babies, and infidelity they stand by each other and hold one another up... until breast cancer delivers the final blow.  As she sits by Liz, Kris recounts the trials and  blessings that made them who they are.  She tells their story and recalls the many "gifts" they have been blessed with throughout the years. She shares of how Liz taught her to notice the gifts in each day and to live with a grateful heart. It is through the telling of their story that the secret of counting gifts is discovered....

            Throughout this month, I'm on a viritual book tour, meeting up with bloggers and talking about friends and family, life and loss.  You can see the stops along the way at www.heidikreider.com.  Come on over and say "Hey!" and register for my giveaway... autographed copies of The Secret of Counting Gifts and The Secret of Counting Gifts Gratitude Journal in a hand-made basket, made by my lovely friend, Anne.

            All those years ago, my family stood with me as we buried our stillborn son.  Who do you have stand with you when you face loss?  Do you have friends who are as close to you as family?
 ** Heidi Kreider is a wife, mother, author, and friend.  She blogs about life, grace, and gratitude at www.heidikreider.com.


A Birthday Blessing

>> 7.11.2012

This is for one of our family's most dearest friends, Katy.  She turns TWENTY today & forever says good-bye to those crazy, up and down days of the teenage years.  I have a confession, first, that must be made.  I have a terrible problem in life-- I'm not a gift-giver.  I have a 6 year old son that does a better job than I of seeing what people enjoy and what would be a good gift to give someone-- words are the only thing I can ever seem to come up with so, with that, Kat-Y (with a Y!), this is your present.

Our family first met Katy at church where she was just known as the girlfriend of someone who attends.  That's all I really knew her as for probably 2 months.  After that, however, since we enjoy opening our home, we had her and her at-the-time boyfriend over and we were forever changed.  You see, Katy LOVES children & having fun and well, we have children--and those children like having fun-- so were we all a match made in heaven right from the beginning!  (Not to mention, my husband and I can always use a little help in the area of having fun...we tend to be some SERIOUS people so a little life and light in our lives was really what we needed.) 

Katy began coming over after work and, as any 19 year old needs, started finding in us a "home away from home"-- a place to be her WITHOUT JUDGEMENT (and if we ever seemed to be giving off a judging attitude, she'd let us know and we'd promptly respond-- no judgement is certainly a Biblical necessity!) Katy was attending a local branch of our university system here in Indiana and working several jobs, but she always made time to stop in and visit for a bit a couple of times a week.  (It was good prep for those days we anticipate ahead in which the parents stay up late just so the teen can debrief and you find yourself feeling like you are still in high school or college as you are now keeping the same hours as they do! We never minded, though, after all relationships are born of 2 am conversations, right?)

The rest is really history.  She is no longer dating the young man she was in the beginning of our story and where I used to think of so-and-so and Katy, now I only think Katy-- she is her very own person created uniquely by God to shine like a star in this world for His glory!  Just like your own children's presence is quickly unimaginable otherwise after they are born, Katy has become a part of our family and we really can't imagine life without her.  Here are a list of things we LOVE about Katy (in no particular order)-- let us brag on her just a bit.

~ Katy is seeking the Lord & making difficult, counter-cultural decisions to do so-- yet she presses on
~ Katy loves people
~ Katy keeps a confidence-- I've never heard her say a bad word behind someone's back even once!
~ Katy is learning to give up things she enjoys but may lead her to wrong paths & decisions that don't fall inline with serving and following Christ
~ Katy loves her family 
~ Katy loves our kids-- even when they kick balls in her face and yell at her (Yes!  Gasp-- for the first time one of my children treated Katy like a true sister-- and was quickly set right in that behavior)
~ Katy blesses my husband and I by helping us to keep our relationship forefront (even though, just like for our own children, if we even think about kissing each other when she's present she just about pukes right then and there.)
~ Katy is FUN-- she brings a much needed light of life into our home
~ Katy is a SERVANT-- she gives and gives and gives...to people, to the church, behind the scene and in front when needed-- and never expects in return
~ Katy loves simple pleasures-- namely all easy things I can actually cook-- homemade mac-n-cheese & pb sandwiches -- and every time she eats them she gives this wonderfully expression thanks to me-- and I must say, getting a verbal reward every time I make mac-n-cheese sure makes it come more often;)

Here are a couple of favorite pics of Katy with our family.  I hope you have, or one day will have, a soul that gets to bless you & your family as much as Katy has blessed ours.  If you don't already, maybe the Lord has someone in mind for you to open your life to...you'll never be sorry you did.

My all-time fav of Kayliah and her "sister," Katy (taken at the boys' ball game).

Katy and the kids the day we took her to away to college for the first time (January).

Katy hanging with the kids...

(GASP!  I can't believe I included one with ME!)  A fun time as I visited some friends and Katy at college a few weeks after her first days away.

Celebrating M.'s birthday with us as she celebrated all of our kids' birthdays with us-- including activities like roller skating, pin the bow on Hello Kitty, and "how many socks can you put on in a minute"-- which was her favorite=)
Also one of my favorites because although she'll probably kill me for having ANY of these pics on here, it shows how much she loves playing with our kids.  I've never known anyone to love on kids as much as she does.  (And it's not just my kids she loves-- she loves ALL kids this way!!!!)

So, with that all said, We LOVE YOU, KATY!!!!  



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