Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Momentous Occassion

For many years, I have had anxiety around the subject of baptism.  Specifically, the baptism of my children.  When my older children were babies, I was either not a believer or I was a part of churches that practiced believer's baptism.  Then, when later on I came to agree with covenant theology and joined a Presbyterian church, the younger kids were't babies anymore.  It seemed that we have always been in some "in between" area.  Michael, Rachel and Matthew all were baptized when they became old enough to profess their faith.  I always wanted to have Irene and Abbie baptized when we were at South Point P.C.A. church, but then when the doors of our church closed we moved to a Reformed Baptist church and so we were waiting again, for the time when it was right for them to be baptized.  Now, we are once again in a Presbyterian church, and as we prepared to become members, we were so excited to also prepare to have all of the children baptized who haven't been yet! 
Bobby also has always had a desire to have his children baptized, but it didn't happen for his children for different reasons than mine.  As a military family, they barely ever got to make it through the process of visiting churches and finding the right one before another move was imminent.  Combined with his prolonged absences due to three tours of duty in wars overseas, all of the moving around made church membership (and therefore baptisms!) difficult!  I give you all of this background as a way to fully explain how very meaningful today has been to both Bobby and I, as well as for our children.  Some of them have expressed a deep desire to be part of the covenant family of God, and it makes our heart overflow to have that become a reality for them.  It has also been a long and sometimes discouraging road to finding a church home for us here in Augusta. After so many years (for the Hollinhead family) of being deeply rooted in our family of faith back in Henry county, it was a constant hurt to me to not be involved in fellowship on a regular basis. We visited somewhere every week, but it just didn't seem to "click" until we came to Westminster Presbyterian Church, P.C.A.  There had been other churches that we loved, but no other place that everyone loved, unanimously.  

So....all of this to share with you my joy of having five of our children baptized today, and three of them joining the church with a profession of faith, along with the joining of our whole family with the church.  These five were baptized:

We are extremely grateful for the warm welcome we have found at our new church home.  We are grateful to have a place to worship with fellow believers, and a place for our family to begin to build relationships again.  

Praise to God !!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Can I Come Back?

I stopped by to look at my blog today and saw that my last post was over a year ago. A YEAR.  And what a year it has been.  To say it has been eventful, well, that would be quite an understatement. As of my last post in August last year, I was coming to grips with my status as a single mom in the big, big world.  And come to grips with it I did.  I worked, I prayed, I worried, I sweated it out, I planned, I laid awake looking at the underside of my baby's bunk bed night after night thinking about what had happened. About how my life had so suddenly careened off the path that I had always assumed that it would remain on; I knew there would be changes, but they would be of the manageable sort:  more kids heading off to college or the military, more marriages, more grandbabies, more wrinkles, less chaos, more freedom, more "comfortable". When I laid awake, I thought in endless circles not just about how those things would never be in the form that I had imagined, but also about how in the world I would ever even make it to the point of those things being *possible*.  Everything that I have ever been convinced is right and good as a Christian wife and mother became a challenge to imagine being a part of my life.  How could I stay home with my children to raise them and teach them about our Savior?  How could I homeschool?  Even if I could find a better job, how could I ever, financially and otherwise, care for these wonderful children of mine all on my own? How could I help them adjust to not having a father in their everyday life when I could not even be physically present with them enough hours in a day to speak words of encouragement and love to them, even if I had any energy left to talk with them? All of these thoughts raced through my mind, and I daily brought them to the foot of the cross, asking our Lord to take the worry and anxious heart from me. I clung to Phillippians 4:6-9, and remembered daily what my friend Jessica told me: He is El Roi, the God who sees.  It is only by His mercy and grace that I was able to endure those months, that year.  Around the time I wrote that last post, I was fairly content with my lot.  I saw God abundantly provide for our needs  in absolutely AMAZING ways by the hand of my church family and my dear, sweet, wonderful friends.  I enrolled in school, got a job and worked really darn hard to try and do everything "right" and to hold it all together.  I felt the strain as the year wore on, but still I had the support of family and friends and I had the peace of knowing that I was in the hand of my sovereign God.  Our family always had food to eat and the lights stayed on and we slept in warm beds.  We enjoyed a lovely holiday season.  It was then, in the midst of both strain and difficulty as well as bounty, peace and provision that on December 14, 2013 that I met the man who would become my husband.  Bobby found me and came to me.  He pursued me with persistence.  I resisted at first, as I was thinking that maybe the Lord wanted me just to be at peace being single for some time.  It seemed like the prudent and wise thing to do, to focus solely on furthering my education and career prospects and giving my remaining energies to my children.  Only I became increasingly uncomfortable with my theories.  Simultaneously as I became more and more sure of Bobby's love for God and passion for His Word, I became less and less sure that my previous thinking was correct, Biblically speaking.  Why would I want to remain single and "go it alone" when I didn't need to? Does a woman who loves God and the roles that He sets forth for men and women really need to be independent and alone in the world with no covering or headship?  Is it better to be out of the home and working to provide for my children what is their father's responsibility to provide? Or if the Lord should send to me a man who loves Him and wants to lead and provide for his family and mine together, should I reject that provision? I knew I needed to search His Word and find clarity.  I simply HAD to find the answers, and as I searched  by studying Scripture I believe God gave me the answers I was looking for.  Of course I didn't find any verses that said "Go ahead and get married", but I looked carefully and believed that the weight of the Word leaned in the direction of being equally yoked with a man who would love and cherish me, and love and cherish my children as his own.  I believed I had found such a man.  As winter turned to spring, Bobby and I both knew that surely God had brought us together.  I finished school, we married and I moved.  Of course there is so much more in between.

So. Much. More.

Wonderful things, and heartbreaking things.  Small victories and painful defeats.  Things like: Rachel got her drivers license.  I continued a grueling pace with school, work, homeschooling, and the rest of life.  Irene turned 11.  I felt the pain (sometimes self-inflicted) of wounded friendships.  Rachel and I received the heartfelt encouragement of our instructors at school.   I sorted out, weeded through, gave away and packed up a lifetime worth of memories and "stuff".  I was the given the gift of friendship and romance with a lovely and kind man, the likes of which I have never known before.  I said goodbye to my sweet dog Leo, who had been my protector and guardian many a lonely night as I lay awake.  The one year anniversary of both my abandonment and divorce came and went.  I had the joy and pleasure of getting to know my future step children as they stayed with me while Bobby started a new job and set up a home for us in Augusta.  Here is the big one that still tears at my heart even as I type....I said goodbye to friends who had been my only solace.  I looked at my home, empty of all of the things that spoke of our family's life there.  I grieved again the death of our first family, and grieved simultaneously the life I had built with them there in the Grove.  It was a good life.  It was where God placed me, no doubt about that.  The only other thing that I had no doubt about was that God was calling me to again step forward and be as brave as I could be, to trust Him and move where He was leading me.  Oh how painful it was, but how great the blessing He has given me.  Even as I continue to miss my friends and the familiarity of the world we had in Henry County,  I also see new blessings every day.  God is growing me and shaping me.  He is teaching me through my children, all 11 of them.  (5 from my marriage to Mike, 4 from Bobby's previous marriage, and one by marriage, my sweet Abby, and one grandbaby!) and teaching me through my husband.  Never have I ever imagined that it could be possible to feel so loved, by such a good friend.

Yes, there have been so many changes.  It is my goal to get some pictures up that give some visual aid to the changes and events of our lives in the last year, please stay tuned and thank you if you read all the way to the end.    I have so many wonderful friends and family, to all of you I am so very thankful. I hope that even if you may disagree with some things I said in this little old blog, you will still love me and that I can come back, to blogging and to getting on with living and loving.  Enough dripping tears on the laptop for one night...

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Here We Are.

I came back to my blog today, because I miss it. I miss putting up pictures of those silly, quirky Hollinhead kids, and documenting our family adventures that are completely boring to most of the rest of humanity, but very near to our own hearts. I miss feeling like the mundane parts of life are important, because they are.  What has always made up the substance of my days, since the age of seventeen years old, has been the goings-on of my family...whether it was my new husband and newborn baby boy, or the flurry of homeschooling activities as our number of children grew to five and life became a swirl of grocery store "field trips", church activities, household chores, holidays and more as year after year clicked by my very eyes. It was the boring stuff, the grit, that made up who I am.  Changing wet sheets at 2 a.m., planning cheap meals for a week, weeding flower beds, filling prescriptions.  I know it sounds absolutely nuts, but I have come to realize that I love these things...all of them.  It's what I do, it's who I am...right?   I am the lady with the big family, with the hard-working husband.  We are blue-collar, old-fashioned, down home regular people who are doing their best to love God and raise our children to love Him, too.  But what if, somewhere along the way, I let all of those good things like being a good helper to my husband and being a loving mommy to my children, become my golden calf? Is that even possible, that the good things that God teaches us to aspire to can become stumbling blocks in our relationship with Him?  I think it is, and I think that did happen to me.  I made little idols of so many parts of my family life, and when my life exploded and my family didn't look like it used to anymore, I have to confess that there was a moment when I didn't know who I was anymore.  Like a kid who is lost at the mall, I looked around frantically and without the same familiar faces that I was used to, everything was scary and menacing, and the idea of living another forty years on this planet seemed more like a torture to be endured than a life of freedom and joy.   But...
        Lord have mercy.  He has mercy for me.  He loves me so much that He wouldn't let me keep worshiping that which was not mine to hold onto. When a person has done all they know to do,  cried themselves dry in the seeking of  the Lord and His will, listened to counsel of men & women with wisdom and prayed, prayed, prayed.....and still, the unthinkable happens, what is that person to say, to do, to think?  I will tell you what I think:  I think that God is faithful to show me what is TRUE. The solid rock on which I stand is the truth that God will never, ever leave me or forsake me.  That when something or someone is torn from our lives, we don't suddenly lose ourselves and forget who we are. Because WHO WE ARE is not based on our families, our role or job, or even our church or the lifestyle that we have carved out for ourselves in this dark world. Who we are is based on our adoption by the Father who reigns on high, through the blood of His innocent Son who died and rose again, for our sake.  For the forgiveness of sin. My sin.  

This kind of love is unshakable.

Ephesians 1: 3-11 says:
 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption through his blood,the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will,according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,  so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.  In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

He didn't come looking for me because He knew that I would do a bang-up job at those middle of the night vomit clean-ups. He didn't save me because he thought I would pack a mean ham & cheese lunch for my husband to take to work, and then suddenly realize later that my sandwich making skills were not up to the job. Sounds ridiculous, right? But this is like what we tell ourselves when we rest in our own abilities, our own duties, our own roles. All of those things are important, and real, and things we should desire excellence in. But they are not the same as climbing up on our Father's lap and resting there, knowing that He knit me together in my mother's womb with care and love, and He has designed every moment of my life with purpose and compassion, and that anything and everything I do, have done to me, or strive to do in my days on this earth are a mere outward working out of a plan that has been in motion since the foundations of the earth. And shadows of the treasure that He has in store for me as a member of His family, in the Kingdom in which darkness and pain don't loom around ANY corner. Nothing is to be "endured", but all is embraced with the joy of complete freedom that comes from total acceptance and all being set right.

You may be wondering, what is the point of all of this rambling? Well, I will come to it. In the spirit of honesty and transparency, I lay it on the line. I am a single mom. My husband left me. As a Christian who believes in marriage for life, until death, I paradoxically find myself divorced. It would be tempting to see myself as less than what God wants me to be, to beat myself about how I dropped the ball and fell short. But that's just it. I do fall short, every day in every way. I drop the ball, and I pick it back up. Sometimes, I crazily fling the ball away from me, and then go chasing after it. And I am so much less than what God wants me to be...but praise and glory only to Him that when He looks at me, He doesn't look at me with eyes judging what I did wrong to make my husband leave. He looks at me with eyes filled with compassion, I hope and believe, that see my beautiful Savior's robes wrapped around me, His son's clothes stripped off and placed on me. How can I not marvel at this gift? I weep for joy that though all may reject me, He never will. He will walk with me through all that this life holds, through every twist and turn. he will guide me as I continue in old roles and ways, and try on new ones as well. And I will not toss aside the mundane any longer; I will not say that a new recipe is not worth sharing, a field trip not important enough to blog about or a photograph not worth posting, because they are important, they are part of the life He has blessed me with and part of the role that He has given me as a nurturer of my children. But I will do my best, Lord willing, not to make them my idols. I am His because He chose me from the foundations of the earth,not because of what kind of mother I am or wife I was, and there is no person, and no power on earth or in the heavens that will change that.

I share all of this with the faint hope that it may encourage someone who is having trouble remembering who they are, or really doesn't even know yet. And I share it because it is the truth. Those of you who know me well know that I have trouble knowing what to share and what not to share, so please know that this comes from my heart with the intent and the hope of showing myself weak and the Lord strong.

So...with that out of the way...on with the blogging!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

First Quarter Report

Today is Easter! I love Easter, it always helps to right my steering, and correct my focus.  It is also March 31st, and that brings to mind that the year is one-fourth over already. Wow, that was fast.  As I look for ward to the next part of the year that brings lots of busy things like end-of-the-school-year activities, recitals, field days and more, I wanted to pause to take a breath and look back on the everyday of life, so far in 2013. 

January held lots of Just Dance (Rachel got a new one for Christmas),

Abbie lost her first tooth,
and lots of regular old schoolwork days (not sure why that requires a slingshot on this particular day, though...)

February picked up the pace with a lot more happenings, like a field trip to the Henry County Fire Department

 (This trip was with our homeschool group, and I had to include this adorable moment with our little buddy John and the fireman, and a group shot):

...and Irene & Abbie's American Heritage Girls troop had a "Daddy -Daughter Night".  Mike had to work, but the girls were thrilled that their Papa Hollinhead could come in his place, and they had a great time!

They also made puppets with the American Heritage girls as we worked on our Puppetry badge in the Tenderhearts class.

We went with some goods friends to the Secret Keeper Girls' Pajama Party, which was all about helping girls learn that they are special, valuable and precious to others and to God because of who they are on the inside, instead of the outside.  We also hit Cheddar's on the way there for some good food! 

And to wrap up the events of February, I can't leave out that most monumental and momentous of projects on a gargantuan scale, the Great Laundry Room Redo !!!  Here are the "before" pictures of my (nearly) emptied laundry room, as well as the table in the kitchen that it spilled its guts onto:

And here is the finished room, although I wanted to get a picture of the whole thing.  I was trying to get a picture of the pegboard pot-rack to send to someone, and that was the only picture I remembered to take before I started messing it all up with laundry and such.  I do hope to get it clean again, and take a picture of the whole thing.  Don't stay up at night waiting on that one, though;  the getting it clean part may cause a bit of a roadblock.

One more picture from February, just for good measure...spaghetti noodle sword fighting is so popular right now, I hear:

If you are, by any chance, still with me, we shall venture on into March.   March has been the month of projects for Matthew at Konos that make a mother want to pull her hair out. He did research projects on Switzerland and made a portfolio that included menus, trip itineraries, maps, travel brochures, etc.  and wrote an adventure story using all of the information he learned about Switzerland as the setting to the story.  It was a challenging project but we both learned so much! 

Rachel turned 21 this month!  Wow, I cannot believe my precious baby girl is old enough to order a margarita.  She is not in the least bit interested, though, which I count as a blessing!  She asked me to gather some photos of her, covering her lifetime.  I think she was thinking one or two from each year.  I began that project on facebok, and in my usual fashion, could not narrow down the photos well, so I think I quit adding them at about 150 pictures.  I had worked up until she was about age 12.  I am thinking nobody wants to continue watching me add dozens upon dozens of photos of Rachel to facebook, but I think they are coming, if I can ever get back around to it! (Oh , and she split the cost of a WiiU with me for her birthday. Seems totally unnecessary to me, but what do I know. I indulged her because it's pretty much her last year of birthday presents. Shhhh...don't tell her, I have not broken that news yet.) 

Here we are singing to her...

...and she is hugging Abbie for the gift she gave her.

I am really bogging down here, so I am going to give you the super-speedy version on the rest of the month:


playing with Farmer Boy dolls made at Little House camp,

making crystals (made at Classical Conversations, then did it again at home!)

breakdancing with buddies

Michael came to see us and is too long for the loveseat

Went to New York to pick up my mom's car (sidenote: saw Statue of Liberty and Freedom Tower from the plane! Exciting!!) 

Here are the Twins:

We got a trampoline as a very late Christmas gift,

Mike got really pooped out after having to put it together three times,

The kids enjoyed their Easter loot this morning,

Abbie made a "tomb" in the dirt last week and buried a rock in there (Jesus)

...and today she rolled away the stone and Jesus was out, walking around (well, standing beside the tomb, as rocks do) and ALIVE (as much as rocks can be) !!!!!!!

Looking pretty for Easter at South Point Fellowship

a wonderful, Easter brunch with good, good friends

Easter " Tea",

and, finally,  gardening.

PHEW.  I am tired.  If you stayed to the end, you are a true blue friend.  Thanks for sticking with me.  Here's to launching the second quarter, may I document it more frequently than the first, so that I don't have to do this to you again!  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Little "Encouragement" from a Little Girl

Today, I had a parent / teacher conference at Matthew's school, and it sparked some conversation. Abbie asked me what Matthew's classroom looked like, so I explained it to her.  Then she asked me what Matthew's teacher looked like, so I told her she was very sweet and kind. This wasn't good enough, she wanted to know what she looks like. So, I told her that she was very pretty, and that she dressed very cute, like Miss Laura Beth. Abbie said that yes, Ada's mom always looks snazzy.  Being the sweet gal that she is, though, she quickly added on, "But you look really nice too, Mommy, when you dress up in your sweats!"  

What gets me about this is that when I laughed, because I was sure she was poking fun at me, she looked confused.  She meant it. God bless the sweet little girl, she really meant it! Love the honesty, sincerity and simplicity of children!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Note to Self: Don't Make the Rocks Cry Out

I have really done battle with myself about whether or not to write this post. I know myself, and at times I can cross the borderline between "honest"  and "tacky" without even realizing I have wandered away.  But, there are times in this life that I believe we need to throw caution to the wind, and for me this is one of those times.  This morning, I had some time of quiet as I was all alone in the car after dropping Rachel off at class, and I had time to reflect on the last couple of months that have been such a blur to me.  Most anyone reading this will already know that Mike was temporarily out of work because of an accident that happened on the job.  What you may not know is the way that the Lord kept us afloat during this time.  I feel compelled to write about it, because it is not natural.  There is no doubt in my mind that it is supernatural.  There is no explanation for how a family with an emergency fund containing only  $48.00, and no other savings or credit avaiable,  could survive for a month and a half to two months without a single paycheck, apart from the grace of God and the love of friends and family.  There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that the Lord sustained us directly through the love and generosity of His people, my brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.   These weeks have been FULL of interventions from God that not only kept food on the table but nourished my spirit more than anything.  From the Christmas gifts for my kids from my Bible study sisters,

to the check that came from the church....from the family that brought over food from their co-op and an envelope of cash that I know they needed themselves, to the teacher that barely knows us yet paid our electric bill for two months....from the family that  offered to take a loan from their 401k to help us along (but didn't even need to because God provided through His church!) to the violin instructor who put us on scholarship for as long as necessary....the friends that brought over meals, the school that said hold off on paying tuition, that sister that sent Publix gift cards, the friend that we know overpaid Mike for his help on a job,  the friend that gave us a ham....I could go on and on and on.  And as I drove home this morning reflecting on these things, the tears just ran down my face for miles as I was reminded of what my prayer was at the beginning of this journey.  I had prayed and asked the Lord to change us through this. Shape us, mold us, make us who You want us to be, I said. This morning, I realized that although there was no one lightning bolt moment where Mike suddenly starting talking like Joel Osteen (note:sarcasm),  and I have not suddenly become a sweet, submissive, patient Proverbs 31 woman in one fell swoop, we are different.  And when I say we, I am so thankful that I mean "WE".  Mike and  I. Neither one of us is who we ought to be, and still I sometimes don't know exactly who or "where" we are, but we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.  We have seen the hardness of our own hearts and the goodness of others as they give, care and love us because they love the Lord.  We are humbled down to our toes, we are softened, we are changed.  And although the hard part of me wants to not write this and to not share this out of pride or false humility or whatever self-absorbed emotion that may be, the changed and softened part of me remembers that Jesus said in Luke 19:40 that if His people would not praise Him for His works, that the rocks would cry out in praise instead.  May I become softer each day, more faithful to praise Him, may I never force the rocks to cry out instead.  To all of you who have loved us through this, "thank you" will never be enough. You have changed my life, and I love you!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In Love With History!

I am finally happy with history.  Let me rephrase that...I have always loved history, but I am finally happy with a history curriculum (I hesitate to use that big heavy word for really is just more like a book) that my kids also love listening to.  That makes me love it even more.  I know I sound like a commercial...but those of you who know me, know that I don't usually go around gushing about curriculum. In fact I barely talk about it at all, unless someone asks me.  But I really truly feel like this is a good thing that Veritas Press is on to, and I really hope they continue the series.... (see what I am talking about here: )
In the interest of being totally honest, they did give me a download of the entire book for free, in exchange for me agreeing to give my honest feedback about it; and I promise, I am being honest.   I know that there is a whole lot of great curriculum out there already for history...namely, Mystery of History, Story of the World and TruthQuest history have been my favorites at different times.  But this book really does something different and fulfills a different is history that is primarily aimed at thoroughly engaging the child in a fictional storyline about two boys and their adventures, and the history is woven into that story so painlesly that they don't even realize it's "school".  We have been reading it at night as a story, rather than during the school day.  It is different from Story of the World (which I really do like) in that it is from a thoroughly and unashamed Christian worldview.  It is different from Mystery of History in that it is much more engaging for younger students.  I will say it is probably not as thorough as either of those two programs in the scope of what it my knowledge there are no teacher guides, maps, workbook pages, etc.  (UPDATE: The publisher sent me a note saying that teacher guides are forthcoming, you can see his comment below). But what it does, it does VERY WELL.  One other great feature is that the events correlate with the Veritas Press timeline cards, and since I already own those, it helps to round out and cement the historical information.  In my opinion, this program is ideal for grades K -3, and great as a supplement for all ages. (Even Matthew and Rachel are listening in; every once in a while I hear a giggle come from Rachel from her room when we get to a funny part, and Matthew does his best to look totally uninterested but seems to know what we covered afterwards!)
I am done gushing now!!