Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hearing from God

In the discipleship homework this morning I had to write "Dear Michelle", then wait and listen for God to speak to me. So I wrote it and waited. The following was what I heard:

1. Make coffee for Greg
2. I love to lay with Greg and talk about God
3. A plan for dinner tonight

Then I found myself thinking....was I really hearing from God or was I just thinking about the "things" I needed to do? Now am I doubting? I was waiting expectantly for God to speak to me. I knew He would, but would it be something so trivial? Wait a minute. This is my life. It is NOT trivial. Just yesterday God was talking to me about being a servant - this is what I am for my family. A servant, not a slave. This kind of "stuff" does matter to God. But what really got me was what happened next.

Jadyn came downstairs and sat in the chair by me. Then she said "God talked to me". I asked her what He said, and she said" I love you". Then she said to me "God talked to you too Mom". I started bawling. God was using my child to re-iterate to me that - yes - He was talking to me, even about the seemingly trivial.

I love my God! I love my life! It is NOT trivial - it is an honor and a joy! Praise you, Lord.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Servant?

On April 27, I had to read (starting in James) and stop when something grabbed my attention. Then I had to write it down. Then I had to personalize it. This is what it looked like:

4/27/2010 James 1:1
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
James 1:1 (personalized)
Michelle, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to anyone I may happen to meet: Greetings.

Later in the day, I received via email, my daily Bible verse. It was as follows:

"Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening." 1 Samuel 3:8-9

Fast forward to today (4/28/10) when I was reading in my discipleship homework I read about quieting myself in front of God and saying the following 2 things:
- I am your servant and I am listening.
- Speak Lord, your servant is listening.

So I write out.....What is God telling me? I am His servant. What does He want me to do?

A few minutes later I start singing "Make Me a Servant".

Make me a servant, humble and meek.
Lord, let me lift up those who are weak.
And may the prayer of my heart always be,
Make me a servant,
Make me a servant,
Make me a servant today.

I am curious. I will "be still and know that [HE] is God".

It IS way better to give, than to receive

I sent some money to someone. I thought about doing it anonymously but knew the postmark would give it away. Then I thought about sending it via someone else, but then that someone else would know. So I just sent it from me. When they received it, they called me and told me that they needed EXACTLY that much. I love that the Lord used me for His glory!! And let me tell you, there was no better feeling than sending that money. I have never been more blessed! Thank you Lord!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

God's Mighty Hand

Monday, April 12 Greg had an interview in Michigan. The hiring manager said that Greg would hear from her by the end of the week. Friday morning came and we heard nothing. As I was in the shower I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I needed to call Greg and tell him that we should send an email to the company and let them know that relocation was not an issue for us. So I stepped out of the shower, hair fully lathered with soap, dripping wet, to call Greg and as I was reaching for the phone it rang. It was Greg and he was telling me that we should send the email stating what I was just thinking about. God was working in us again. We sent the email saying we did not need relocation. Then on Saturday we got a phone call from the head hunter saying that the company did not have Greg’s application (which he knew he left – mostly because we made such a big deal out of it). We just printed out another one and sent it to them on Saturday. Then we waited. Monday, when Greg came home for lunch, he talked to me about what God had been telling him. Mostly – that he needed to “tell his story” and that he needed to tell it soon and to his family. They have heard things from me, but to them I am the “holy one”, the one who is always praying. THIS needed to come from him. So he showed me where he had been taking notes and had a bullet point list of all that had happened to him, starting with the move here. Clearly, you know that God has been working in my life through the move here. But, in His incredible, awesome, amazing, perfect time, God has also been working in Greg’s life. And oh, the transformation that has been and is being made!!! Oh, praise His Holy Name!!!! I mean, this is the most exciting time in my life…..and I have had 4 babies!!!! My husband is in love with the Lord and has turned his life over to Him and I am beside myself. But I am digressing again……but it is so crazy cool!!!! So Greg told me he had to tell his story and I couldn't believe what I was hearing. My husband evangelizing? Can you see my smile even now as I type? It is so cool! So, later in the day I had to go up to my room to fold laundry. Usually when I fold laundry I watch TV – the Food Network. Well, I decided to talk to God instead. And really what it was was a praising session. I was just thanking God for all He had done, and was doing, all the ways He was changing us and making us good for Him. Then it hit me! I could not even take a breath in. Exciting and scary all at the same time. I knew God was speaking to me – I knew He was telling me. Friday Greg was going to Encounter at church. I knew that everything would be settled by Friday. We would know whether we would head back to Michigan or not by Friday. How, you ask? Well, back in January when I was heading into Encounter I remember reading that we needed to get rid of any distractions, things that would keep our mind off God. At the time, the BIG thing in our lives was the selling of our house in Hartland. Wouldn’t you know that in God’s perfect timing we closed on our house on that Friday? Well, that’s how I knew. God would have that distraction off our plates by Friday. Guess what? The offer was in on Thursday and signed by Friday. But again I am getting ahead of myself. Monday night, Greg was talking with a man he used to work with to let him know that he may be getting a call as a reference check. Larry and Greg used to carpool together to ALPS. During the course of the conversation, Larry mentioned that one of his old neighbors had their house up for rent – to be ready for new renters on June 1. Greg came in and told my mom and me this, but also told us that earlier in the evening as he was sitting on the front porch (praying, I think) he heard the words “Big Boy”. Guess where this house for rent is? In the subdivision by Big Boy. By this time Greg was kind of freaking out. He was hearing from God left and right and was getting scared. Thursday morning Greg received a call from the head hunter saying that an offer letter was in his email. So we dashed to the computer to take a look. The salary was right on, and remember before when I said we told them that relocation was not an issue – we did not need it? Well, they did not offer us relocation, but they did offer us a signing bonus (which would cover relocation). Praise God again!!!!! Then there was the vacation. They did not offer what we were looking for – but clearly vacation was not a deal breaker in this case. Greg talked to several people who advised him to just accept it. I, however, was not one of them. I reminded Greg that he had been saying for at least a year that he was at a point in his career that he should have a certain amount of vacation. I encouraged him to at least ask – I mean, he is the one always telling me that you don’t get what you don’t ask for. Be very gracious and thankful for the offer and just ask. No big deal, right? A few hours later we received a Federal Express package with the offer and some other documents. Oh how the Lord was blessing us!! On Thursday, I decided to call the preschool that Jacob and Grace went to and see if, perchance, there were any openings for Jadyn. When I was signing Jacob and Grace up, the parents were lined up in the snow of January at 6:00 in the morning to get a spot, so I was nervous about there being a spot for Jadyn. When I spoke to Mrs. Sue, she said there was plenty of space and that the economy had been very hard on them. Not so good for them, but YAY for us!! Another way that God was opening doors for us. Friday morning Greg made a phone call and asked for more vacation. A couple of hours later we received an email stating that they would do that, we signed and now we are moving. Praise the Lord for over-blessing us and taking care of us in ways that we never could have thought possible. All of this wrapped up just in time for Greg to go to the Encounter distraction free. God and His infinitely perfect timing are more amazing to me than there are words. And the Encounter? Greg is a new man and to God be the glory. He is even getting baptized on May 16.

He is reminding me of something that happened at Encounter. Prior to going to Encounter, he was asking me what was going to happen, what he should expect. And although I had gone and knew what was going to happen, I honestly could not remember to tell him. Weird. About 10 minutes into the Encounter, Greg wrote on the paper that covered the table where he was sitting "forgive". He was not exactly sure why he wrote it, but he did. Then, the course of the night focused on forgiveness - not just your own forgiveness, but also the forgiving of other in your life.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Boys

Greg is at Encounter, and I am excited!! God is moving in our family and I cannot praise Him enough. It is so amazing. I am home with all the kids. This morning I made a phone call to a good friend (ok she is great) and decided to take my cup of coffee out to the front porch to talk in secret. Because we have secrets now.....secrets from everyone, including the kids. More on that later. While I was outside, Jacob cleaned the table from breakfast, wiped the table, swept the whole kitchen, pushed in the chairs, cleaned the family room, organized the playroom, re-arranged the chairs on the front porch and picked up the poopy diaper I had recently thrown on the porch. I opened the front door to check on the kids and I saw Jacob on his hands and knees with a paper towel in hand in the bathroom. Apparently Grant had grabbed the toilet brush, "cleaned the toilet" and then flung water all over the bathroom. And Jacob as cleaning it up. Yeah, good times. So once that was all taken care of, I looked over Jacob's "pay list" - the list he is keeping so that at the end of the month he can get paid. After all this, we were up to $32 - kind of pricey. A few minutes after we talked about the list Jacob looked at me and said "well, at least I will get nine jewels in my crown". I love that! He is growing up so fast. I mean he is trying to get money, but he is also learning what it means to help out too.

And Grant.....he went upstairs and got the toilet bowl brush from the kids bathroom and did the same freaking thing in the kids bathroom. Oh....I was mad. But you know what made me even madder? He tore 6 pages in my Bible AND ripped 3 pages completely out. Oh, I was not happy then. He is such a blessing to me though - a real lesson in patience, that boy is.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It has arrived! And God has blessed us again. Not only has the offer come, but God has given us MORE than we were asking for - just like the van! In addition to a job with a great salary, they have offered us a signing bonus - after we told them that relocation was not an issue - they gave us assistance anyway. OK, they are paying it, but God gave it to us. All GLORY to His Holy Name!!! Oh, Lord....I cannot contain myself. I am so in awe of how you are providing for us in ways that we cannot imagine. I cannot wait to see if we live by Big Boy. You, ALONE, are worthy of all praise. Not because of what You have done, but because YOU are God, and that is enough. You are enough, yet You continue to bless.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Incredible God

Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do. Remember that the Lord is coming soon. Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don't forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus. And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 (TLB)

What an incredible translation this is! Keep re-reading it - and something new will pop out each time.

We, in the Pawlak family, are in "such a time as this" and I am out of my skin! In fact, yesterday I got to the point of not being able to catch my breath with absolute amazement at our Wonderful Counselor, God of the Universe. Oh, how I long to spill over onto these pages what is going on, yet (as a wise friend once said) it is not my story to tell. But man, when it becomes my story - I am shouting it from the rooftop! What I can say is that I love when God lines up EVERY DETAIL of every second of every day - in a way that I can see it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Oh Boy!

Grant is something else. I mean, really, like NOTHING I have ever seen! This afternoon we were all sitting around the table and Grant kept putting his feet on the table and pushing his chair backwards. I told him to stop, and he looked at me and did it again. So......guess what he got? Yes. A spanking (actually a smack on his foot). Well, he was ticked at me. So, to protest my disciplining him, he closed his eyes, as if to say, "Then, I will just not look at you". You are lasted a few seconds, right? Nope. Not Grant. Almost 5 minutes. And he kept eating. He reminded me of Helen Keller - he would grab food from his plates with his fingers (and eyes closed) and keep eating - as if nothing was different. Everyone at the table was trying hard not to laugh (including me). That dang kid. He is so freaking stubborn and he knows completely what he is doing. At 23 months. Seriously. I love him so much, but he is going to drive me crazy.

Drive-In Movie

Last night we went to the drive-in movie theater, built in 1954, in Gibson City. The kids loved it! We saw "How to train your dragon". They had an authentic 1950's carousel, 1950's bathroom, burger barn, concession stand and a room where the kids were able to see the HUGE movie reels. The BEST part - SUPER ROPES!!!! Woo-hoo! We ordered pizza from the Pizza Hut across the street (which had a drive-through) and had a huge stash of candy. It was cold (~50 degrees), but a TON of fun.

Doesn't Grace look happy? she looks happier. Except this picture was take first.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Rain On Me

Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord, Praise the Name of the Lord!!
Let the Name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, let the Name of the Lord be praised.Psalm 113:1-3

What an amazing morning I have had! My mom is here and that allows me to have some quiet exercise time with the Lord. So, I donned my iPod and headed over to the pond. As I started it was sprinkling. By the time I got to the pond it was raining. So I started running and it kept raining, I ran some more and it rained some more. The Lord really blessed me with the "shuffle songs" mix I was running to. By the time I made it around the pond, my arms were raised in praise and with every step my flabby arms shook in praise to my Creator God. How awesome to be running in the rain, praising the Lord!!!

What a great morning!! Thank you Lord for Your blessings - new each morning. I love you!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jacob is a Reader

Actually he has been a reader for quite a while now, but now he actually likes to do it! YAY Jacob! Let me tell you the whole story.....When Jacob started school here they did a reading test on him. When 2nd graders leave 2nd grade they are expected to have a "Lexile" score of 300-600. When Jacob was first tested, his score was 48. Each week they have to read books in their lexile and take a quiz on them on the computer. Then randomly they are re-tested to see if their lexile has increased. As of Friday, Jacob's lexile score is 365!! He has done awesome. Now that he is in the 300s, he can pick out books with a blue dot. The blue dot signifies that the books are "chapter books". Since Friday Jacob has checked out a new 12-14 chapter book EACH DAY! Then he comes home, reads them, has Greg or I re-read them with him, goes to school the next day and quizzes on the book and gets a 10 out of 10! I am so proud of how great he is doing in his reading. Even today he came home and told me he got a 10 out of 10, but for some reason the computer didn't register it and he wanted me to email his teacher and find out why. He was concerned that since the books he has been checking out (since Friday) are lexile 790, that maybe they were not registering because they were too high. We don't know why it didn't register, but we will make sure he gets his credit. Last night, he took his book and a flashlight to bed with him. Just now Greg walked in from getting his hair cut and had a bag with new batteries in it - for the flashlight. AND....I just got an email from Jacob's teacher and she randomly mentioned that we might need to get him a reading light. Not to mention that Jacob even asked for books for his birthday - which is in 13 days.

I am so proud of you Jacob!

My Treasure

God has given me so much treasure. Yes, some of it I can touch, but a lot of it I cannot. I am thinking about the situation with my van yesterday and the situation with my Dad's healing, and I love that God has given me these glimpses of His power. I was just reading in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." What a treasure! I mean first that through our weakness (and I have a lot of them) God power is made perfect, and second God has allowed me to "touch" these. God knows that I am a touchy person. In fact, I have often told Him that I wish He would just sit across from me and have a face to face conversation with me. Talk back so I could hear Him. Let me hold His hands. Since that probably won't happen this side of glory, He is giving me these amazing treasures to hold onto. These 2 situations were times when what ended up happening was not even in the realm of possibility of what could happen (according to the world's standards). But God is so much more than this little world - He is the creator of it! And God - through the power of prayer - changed the unchangeable. Tangible, visible proof that God is and that God can. Behind me right now it is getting darker and thunder is roaring. I think another beautiful display of God's amazing power is about to take place. Praise Your Mighty Name!!!!

I am having a feeling. Is it a feeling? Is it the Holy Spirit moving in me? For the first time since we moved here I feel like moving on. Am I growing or am I scared? I don't think I am scared because I am very peaceful about how I feel. I know that God is working big in the life of my family and we are so blessed. God has worked wonders in me through this move to a foreign land (OK, Illinois) and I think He is working hard on Greg too. I am so glad for that. I love to see my husband grow in his knowledge and trust of the Lord. I pray that he will always turn to the Lord for wisdom and guidance. Greg and I are in a discipleship class at church and I think we are learning so much there. Greg is working so hard at his job and I think he is learning to trust God with the things at work that are out of his control. He is such a diligent, hard worker and I am so blessed to be married to him, I love you, Greg (if you are reading this - well, even if you aren't reading it, I still love you)!! You have made me so proud and I am happy to be in the "cornfields of Illinois" with you. It is WAY BETTER than a cardboard box.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

If I Didn't Know It Was God.....

....I would say it is unbelievable! Over the course of the last few days I have discussed prayer with Greg quite a bit. Today at lunch we were talking about the "issue" we have had with our new van. We had a leak in the A/C unit and the guy we bought it from (Dan) said he would pay to fix it. We took it to the dealer and they "fixed" it and charged Dan $692. Then they called us and told us they "found" another leak and it would cost us $527 to fix it. They took money for the job they were supposed to have performed from Dan and then tried to stick it to us too. They were supposed to have "fixed the problem" with the first repair. Needless to say, we were ticked off. I even (in my infinite wisdom) dragged all my kids to the dealer and had it out with the service manager. I even crawled under the van in a skirt to show him I meant business. It didn't get me anywhere - the guy would not budge. What a fool I am. Greg tried to talk nice to them - that didn't work. Greg flexed his CAMtek muscle (his boss said he could) and that didn't work. All throughout this process, we caught the service manager, the sales manager and some other guy who fielded calls all in different lies. It was so not good. As of early afternoon today, they would only fix the van if we paid them more money. So we decided not to and I took Greg up there at 5:00 to pick up the van. After we dropped him off, I asked my kids to join me in prayer, praying for the outcome of the situation, that Greg and I would get over our anger and let God be the Righteous Judge that He is and let Him judge what these people were trying to do - that we would get over it. Imagine my shock when Greg walked in the door a few minutes later and told me that he left the van there - they were fixing it!!! Seriously?? Less than an hour ago, there was no way and here and now, they "found" a recall on this very part. How we started praising God. How Greg looked at me in awe because he KNEW that there was no other way that this could have changed so dramatically, so quickly - there was NO WAY it was anything but God's hand. I have been thinking a lot about prayer. I have also been reading a lot (with the editing I am doing) and it has been on faith and prayer recently. Prayer "frees up God" (as if He needs freeing) to work the unimaginable in our lives. You know how it says mountains will be moved in the Bible? That won't happen unless someone prays it and believes it. Yes, I do believe that this is true in the literal sense. I also believe that it is true in the figurative sense. How can we expect miracles from God unless we believe prior to them? God gives us these amazing glimpses of the unfathomable power He has and sometimes (a lot of time, I am sad to say) we totally miss what He is doing for us. God loves us so much and cares about EVERY SINGLE thing!!! There is nothing that He doesn't care about. You know that thing that you think about but don't think it is important enough to take to God? HE CARES!! Do you think that there are so many more people with REAL concerns, and yours is so trivial compared to theirs? God thinks yours is so important, it is as if it were the only concern in the world. God loves us so much and wants what is best for us always. Remember that God's best is not always what the world would tell you is best. Don't get caught in that lie. We need to be praying His best for ourselves and others ALL THE TIME!! We need to stand in the gap for those who ignore God, disregard God, laugh at God, don't think they need God......they need Him more than ever. But that doesn't mean He loves us or cares about us any less.

I love when God shows me stuff. Reading back through my blog, I can see all the times He does something like this because I go into a long dissertation on how great God is. I need to sing this every day - not just when I notice what God has done. Notice that I said notice? Because He is doing great things all the time and often, I get so caught up in the crap that I think is important and miss all the greatness He has for me. Oh sweet Lord, please help me! Help me to see like you do. Help me to have open eyes to what you are doing. Help me to have open eyes to see where you want me to go. Teach me Lord, to pray like I should. Teach me how to stay in constant close contact with You. I want you closer to me than my own breath!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

He is Risen!!!
He is Risen, Indeed!!!

Today was a great day at church, followed by a huge Easter egg hunt at church and wrapped up with an Easter lunch guest and a great lunch! We started a new sermon series on the Prodigal Son today and learned that presenting someone with a robe, a ring and a fattened calf was a very high honor and let that person know they were special. When our friend arrived for lunch, Greg wrapped her in my bath robe, Grace presented her with a large pearl ring and Jacob presented her with a stuffed calf on a plate. I love that (while this was not exactly what the sermon was on) we were able to, as a family, apply something we learned and to make someone feel special.

What a blessed special Easter.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Weber's Come to Visit

Krystel and her boys came to visit this week. She came on Tuesday, via train. We did not tell the kids that they were coming. So when we parked at the train station, we told the kids that after the train left we would cross the tracks and get ice cream. So we waited....and Spencer came off first. Grant was the first to notice and started yelling his name (or Krystel's...we can't really tell). Then Jacob looked at Spencer in a weird way, as if to say "you look like my cousin, but there is NO WAY he could be here." Then he noticed Krystel and hugged her and then looked back to Spencer. It finally clicked in his head and he ran to Spencer, grabbed him and almost took his head off. Then he couldn't get rid of his huge smile - I loved that!! Greg said that all the way home Jacob and Spencer giggled like school girls. Wednesday we had the kids stay home from school. We went to the park and had a picnic lunch. Then we came home and Krystel and I set the trampoline up - twice. That part was not fun. But it is up and was a great source of entertainment for the kids this week. Thursday the kids went to school and I was able to take a nice walk - ipod and all - around the lake across the street. After dinner, Krystel and I went to the movies and saw a terrible movie (Edge of Darkness). Friday, we let the kids stay home again. Because Spencer and Seth were here, but mostly because it was Good Friday and EVERYONE knows you don't go to school on Good Friday. But we live here in this culturally diverse place where nothing Christian in celebrated, so I had to take matters into my own hands. We went to another park Friday and then Krystel watched the kids while Greg and I went on a date. We went to dinner at Michael's (do not recommend) then went to the movies (When in Rome), followed by ice cream at Carl's. We had a great night out - I miss dating my hubby! This morning I took Krystel and the boys to the train station. I have never dropped anyone off at the train before. It is much more sad to drop someone off than it is to be the one dropped off. We had a great week and I am so glad they all came down.

This afternoon Jacob asked me to jump on the trampoline with him. I really didn't want to because I have something REALLY wrong with my tooth. Every time I walk I have excruciating pain in my mouth. I told Jacob that, to which he replied, "Don't you know what it is like to be a kid with no one to play with?" How could I say no to that? I had to jump - I lasted about 5 minutes before I wanted to chop my head off.