Monday, December 12, 2011

Loving Sacrificially

I recently read "Kisses From Katie" by Katie Davis, a young missionary in Uganda.  What makes her story so compelling is the "unorthodox" way in which she does things.  She just doesn't "make sense".  She has NO training.  She went there when she was 18, not even knowing the language.  She went with her parents' very reluctant blessing.  She has adopted 13 daughters to date.  Her ministry feeds 1600 children a day, 5 days a week.  She didn't have a plan.  She didn't have the money.  But she has been obedient to her Savior.  She humbly admits that she didn't plan this, this wasn't her plan, but it's God's heart for her life.  The other compelling thing to me is her capacity to LOVE, I mean really love. She sacrificed everything, her family, her comfortable home, her boyfriend and friends to go to the other side of the world and pour out her life as an offering to her Saviour, Jesus Christ. 

I am challenged by her example.  Do I pour out my life for those around me?  Do I LOVE like that?  Do I sacrifice for my husband?  For my children?  What ways can I LOVE more? 

I think of myself way too often. 

I forget what an awesome honour & blessing it is to be chosen to be a mother.  To be a wife.  It seems so common.  Everywhere I look there are wives & mothers.  BUT, my desire is to be a blessed wife & mother.  I want my husband & children to be blessed by my words, my actions, my training, my teaching. 

Proverbs 14:1  Every wise woman buildeth her house:  but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

Titus 2:4  That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding bass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Love, charity IS really the most important thing.  AND I cannot do it on my own.  I must FIRST Love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind THEN love my neighbor as myself.  Jesus has to be first.  Without Him loving them through me, I can't love the way He wants me to.  I cannot build up my husband or encourage my child.  I can't teach them to the love the Lord with all their heart if I'm not pursuing Christ with all of mine. 

Such an awesome responsibility and the greatest privilege. 

Matthew 18:5 And Whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

By receiving children into our home, we are literally receiving Christ.

May I remember that and treat them as special and honored as I would Christ.  Love them sacrificially.  So that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

In His Grip,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Do You Know Who Hitler Is?

The question has been posed...
Am I going to remain silent?
Am I going to worry about offending a person more than offending my Lord?
Did you know that many birth control pills do not prevent conception but just abort the baby?
Did you know that many mothers are induced prematurely, their babies born alive and then left in a closet or garbage can to die a slow death?
Do you know what partial birth abortion is?
Did you know that many, many women still grieve the loss of these precious babies YEARS after the abortion?
Did you know one choice can change your life FOREVER?
I must speak out...


Will you?

In His Grip,
Daniel & Laura

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Slight Obsession

     If you know me personally, you may or may not know that I have an obsession.  Well, a few, really, but the one obsession that I've had the longest would be...  laundry.  If you were to talk to my younger sister, she could probably tell you the story of the time we were folding laundry together & I refolded the underwear she folded.  Underwear gets folded in half, front side up, NOT bottom side up.  We have laughed over that little incident time and again.  
     I LOVE laundry.  I love the shelf with all the baskets of dirty laundry.  Love it even more when they are empty.  I love the line of shelves with the folded laundry.  One basket per person.  I love the routine.  The control.  
     This past winter, every appliance in our house broke, I think.  But, most importantly, my washer broke.  Normally, we just call the repair guy, but it's not under warranty any more. *pout*  My dear hubby tore it apart, figured out what was wrong, looked up the part on line & figured we didn't have the money to fix it.  *nother pout*  Friends of ours brought over a washing machine for us to use until mine was fixed.  I have a king size mega washer.  This was a little itty bitty washing machine.  Yes, it washed clothes, but 2 pairs of jeans and a couple shirts.  I have a family of 9.  Laundry was piling up.  And piling up.  I just could not get caught up.  I begged hubby.  He took me to the laundry mat.  LOVE the laundry mat!  Then another couple gave us their old washing machine, a commercial, heavy duty one!  Yeah!!!  So, now I had my wee little one & the heavy duty one.  2 washing machines!  Hubby fixed my old washer.  Another part broke on it in a week.  I was so mad I could've spit.  FINALLY, my beautiful king size washing machine that I dearly love was fixed.  Somewhere in the midst of all that, the dryer broke & I started hanging clothes on the line.  (in February!)  Now, I have two, king size, heavy duty, beautiful washing machines & an eight line clothes line.  I can have 4 loads of laundry done by 10 am if I'm on the ball in the morning.
     The point of my little story is not, "look how great my laundry system is" or anything like that at all.  As I'm in my sanctuary a.k.a laundry room, I am so thankful for the trials of this past winter.  God is faithful & blessed me far beyond all I could ever ask or imagine!
     If you are in the midst of a trial right now, I pray you will continue to lean on Him & praise Him for the ways He is working in your life right now.

In His Grip,
Daniel & Laura


Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's All About Perspectives

I looked around the room.  All looked to be normal & in order.  It looked peaceful to me.  We were ready for Daddy to come home.  But, Daddy didn't feel see or feel peace at all when he came in.  He saw the box by the front door, the shoes scattered, the papers on the counter, the basket of clothes in the living room.  He saw everything that I didn't.  Admittedly, I am not detail oriented.  The kids & I are here all day, every day.  I have been praying for quite some time about how to make Daddy's homecoming more peaceful for him.  I was doing everything I knew to do.  We were both frustrated.  The power of prayer.  God reminded me of how detail oriented Daniel is.  He has walked into church & afterwards referred to the "lady wearing the fancy shoes".  Huh?  Who in the world are you talking about?  I just didn't see.  Every day, he was walking into our home, and seeing everything.  And becoming overwhelmed.  Kind of like a little boy who watches too much t.v.  He was overstimulated & agitated.  This little insight into how God made my husband has been life changing.  As the kids & I are cleaning up, preparing for Daddy, we remind one another to look on the floor.  What did we "just not see" the first time around?  A few extra minutes has made such a difference.  

I started praying about the small changes I could make in our entertainment area.  The t.v. looked like a shrine.  It was cluttered.  I hated it.  After some prayer,  a talk with D, we decided to move the t.v. cabinet (actually an old dining sideboard) into the kitchen and move an antique shelf that a friend gave us to the t.v. area.  What to put the dvd's in?  I searched online.  Nothing.  I went to Walmart.  Nothing.  I prayed.  I had several little baskets in our linen closet that worked perfectly for our movies.  The dishclothes that were in them were moved to the sideboard.  Perfect.  And free.  

This is just the beginning of our journey to declutter & simplify.  We have a big pile of stuff to be sold in a garage sale some time soon.  My sewing area is in need of major attention & our shelves down in the basement need to be cleaned off & taken down.  BUT, this is a journey & I am just super excited about the progress.  I am excited that I am able to serve my husband in this way, even though I never really saw the clutter.  It never really bothered me. But it's not about me or my preferences or feelings.  It's about God & His glory.  It's about obedience to God's Word.  He clearly states my calling here on this earth.

Titus 2: 4-5  4That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
 5To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 

It turns laundry & organizing into a heavenly task with eternal value.
In His Grip,
Daniel & Laura

Friday, July 15, 2011

"But, that's how you say it, Mama..."

I am blessed.  I'm blessed to have such a wonderful God & Saviour who has not left me to myself, but who disciplines me & corrects me in such creative ways.  Sometimes I am daunted by the task of raising them & training them to be God fearing, God loving adults who thrive & serve their Lord & Saviour.  The other day, I realized how much God uses them to teach me & train me. 
They are my "mirrors".  And I have 7 of them.  It's like walking through a fun house at the fair with all those funky mirrors.  I look at this one and see this about myself.  Look at that one & I see "Daddy's" daughter.
     A few days ago, we were in our school room.  We were cleaning up after Hurricane Toddler.  I was trying to be joyful, trying to sound happy.  Anya & Izabella were in there with me.  I don't remember what Izabella took, but Anya corrected her.  "Izabella, do NOT touch that!"  I looked at Anya & said in a very sweet voice, "Oh, Anya, ask her nicely, like this.  Please don't touch that, Izabella".  "But Mama, that's how you say it," said Anya in her very sweet voice.  Ughhh...  What could I say?  I knew it to be true.  
     I have really good moments, where I'm prayed up.  I'm alert.  I have a song in my heart.  I'm truly joyful.   
     Then there are those moments (or days) when I'm distracted with other things or other people.  My to-do list becomes my idol for the day. The garden getting perfectly weeded becomes more important than their hearts & souls & minds.  I'm not here and they know it.  I'm pretending and they know it. My voice is slightly tense and they feel it.  My voice is slightly louder (or not so slightly) and they can tell.  
     My prayer is that I will continue to be alert, that God will truly transform me into the kind of woman I want my daughters to be & the kind of woman I would want my sons to marry & that I will truly depend on God for the strength, courage, love & joy that I need to be the kind of woman that's husband & children rise up and call her "blessed."

Titus 2: 4-5
4That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
 5To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 

We hope & pray that you are blessed as you seek the Lord, for His direction in your home.  If you know & believe in Jesus, then you have the Holy Spirit living in you and Philippians 4:13 promises, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  If you are at the end of your rope, please go to this web site and read and find that strength & love & joy that only Jesus can provide.

Have a blessed weekend!
In His Grip,
Laura & Daniel
(I could not write without his love, support & encouragement)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

But, It Made Her Happy

     Daddy & I went on a much needed date last night, with the older watching the younger children.  We got home after everyone was in bed, so this morning, I asked Lukasz how the evening went.  He said it was good and then went on to explain how he had given Izabella a bottle of hot sauce.  Startled, I looked at him.    
 "You did WHAT???"  

 "She wanted the bottle of hot sauce so I gave it to her.  It made her happy.

      But not for long.  She put it in her mouth, top off, of course. 
And her mouth was on fire.  (Daddy is a connoisseur of fine hot sauces, you see)  
      As I explained to Lukasz that we must look out for one another, that he must look out for Izabella & keep her safe & tell her "no" if she wants something that would hurt her, I thought what a perfect example of our Loving Father in heaven.  We see something we want.  We want rescued from a situation right away.  We pray, knowing that God gives his children everything there hearts desire.  (sorry, that's the American church translation)   He says, "NO", because He loves us.  He knows something about the situation that we do not.  He has an eternal perspective, a bird's eye view.  
       Do I whine & pout when I don't get what I want?  Do I doubt His love for me?  Do I turn my back on Him or figure out a way to get the coveted item on my own?
     Or do I trust my Father, that He is good & He wants what is best for me?  Do I seek His face & draw near to Him?  Do I praise Him?
      In America, we have been brainwashed to believe that life is about making sure I'm happy & secure.  It's a hedonistic (new favorite word) mentality & far from the Bible's call to "pick up your cross & follow me daily" mentality.
      Our response to "no" or "not right now" will show the quality of our relationship with our Lord & Saviour.
      Is He your Lord or your Divine Butler, as Ray Comfort puts it?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blessed Be Your Name

Hello!!!  It's been awhile!
We have had a beautiful, crazy, amazing spring.  God has been working in our hearts overtime, it seems.  I wonder, "Will I be able to catch my breath?"  It's that way, though.  Our lives, hidden in Christ.  We're face to face with Him.  Wrestling, not giving in, not giving up.  It is such a beautiful thing.  It is such a thrilling thing.  And wondrous.  And unexpected.  
We had a tough winter.  We do live in Upper Michigan.  We've been feeling the effects of this economic shift.  We were just starting to see the sun peaking through the clouds.  What a glorious sight!  Phone calls for work were coming in.  It's going to be okay!  
We're expecting our 8th baby!  Oh, God is good.  New life.  
We didn't just bounce back like we thought, but God was watching over us.  Miracles do still happen.  Jesus Christ does still heal & deliver, like He did over 2,000 years ago.  He is alive & well!
We had our first doctor's appointment for our new baby.  Mama already had his name picked out.  What?  No heart beat.  Okay.  We'll try again next week.  But that next week did not come.  One day, we're praying for our little one, that God would again perform in miraculous ways.  The next day, we're praying for mama, that God would protect my life.  God did not miraculously save our baby, but He did miraculously save me.  
Not only did He save me, but He strengthened me.  Oh, I have no energy.  But I am strengthened.  I am singing louder than before.  I am going to praise Him.  I am going to tell people of His goodness, even in the midst of this pain.  Do you know My Jesus? Blessed Be Your Name  
The lessons we've learned...  
1. I Need Thee Every Hour, Oh Gracious Lord    
2.  We will continue to praise Jesus, who is the author & finisher of our faith.  3.  Earth is not our home.  We're strangers here.  
4.  Life is so fragile.  Take every moment as a gift.  
5.  We have an enemy.  The devil is like a lion, looking for someone to devour!  And he's mad.  He's scared.  And his schemes are not going to work.
6.  Jesus is alive & well!  He is still in the miracle business!  
7.  We need our Christian brothers & sisters!  They have been such a blessing to us!  
8.  Prayer...  Prayer... Prayer...

In His Grip,
Daniel & Laura

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I LOVE the movie, Remember The Titans.  Do you remember it?  Denzel Washington is in charge of taking a black football team & a white football team & meld them into one.  At that time in our nation's history, an seemingly impossible task.  BUT, he does it.  He some how gets them to stop fighting amongst themselves & become one.  There wasn't a "magic" formula, but one thing is certain.  If they were going to become one team, they would have to "change the way we run, change the way we eat, change the way we tackle, change the way we WIN..."  
That resonates with my Spirit.  Yes, I want to WIN.  I want VICTORY!

1 John 5: 1-6

 1Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
 3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
 4For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
 5Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
 6This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
I am promised victory through Jesus Christ in His Word.
I want victory for my children.  I want them to be wholly devoted to God & his commandments.
I want victory for my fellow sisters & brothers in Christ.
I want victory for you.

Remember, in the movie, their victory came with great sacrifice.  We, as Christians, are called to sacrifice, as well.  Pick up your cross & follow Him daily.  Paul said, "To live is Christ & to die is gain."  

Remember, the young men came to "football practice" with preconceived notions of the truth.  They all truly believed that they were enemies.  They had never really been shown anything different.  Even the coaches were at odds for a time.  They had to be shown, through their experience together, that they were wrong.

Isn't our Christian walk like that?  We have these notions.  We truly believe them.  We'll fight about them.  But are they based on truth?  

The only truth is God's Word.  There really is no such thing as "your truth & my truth".  It doesn't even make sense.

I have this feeling that we've been told some things for so long that we just believe it.  As Christians, we must dig into His Word & SEE with our heart what His ideas are.  

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him & He shall direct your path.  

The Israelites had been enslaved for hundreds of years.  They were born into slavery.  Did their parents & grandparents talk about God?  Did they tell the stories of what it was like to be free?  Yes.

Do we talk about what it was like to be free?  WHAT?!?  We're not free?  We're being enslaved right before our very eyes.  The shackles are so subtle, we barely feel them slipping around our wrists.  But they are there.

Remember, if we want victory, we may have to change the way we run, change the way we eat, change the way we block, change the way we win...

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it
- George Santayana

In His Grip,  
Daniel & Laura


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Our Year in Review

The Zarzycki Family
 I have a confession to make...  I just sent out our "Christmas" cards on Friday.
I never actually expect to get them in the mail before Christmas.  I like to really think about our year, contemplate & reminisce.  Pray & ask God for direction for the coming year.  It is a sweet time for me AND a hard time.  
Time passes so quickly.  Our baby is 11 months old now and officially walking.  My oldest "baby" turned 18 a month ago. 
I'm so thankful that I am able to see my baby's first step, to see her smiling face when she wakes up from her nap.  I'm so thankful I wake up to Lukasz & Anya crawling into bed & not an alarm clock.  I'm so thankful that my husband gives me this gift of full time motherhood, full time wife duty & doesn't ask that I go & help him with financial support.  I'm so thankful that Kathryn comes to me with questions & trusts the answers Daddy & I give her.  I'm so thankful that I can remember the time, not so long ago, when I got up to an alarm clock, rushed everyone out the door, rushed to work, rushed home to feed everyone.  Plop into bed.  Do it all over again.  Because I can remember, I'm thankful even in the really hard times.
This past year was very hard.  The theme was "letting go".  Letting go of people so that God could take care of them.  Letting go of people who I thought were my closest friends, but when I couldn't "be there for them" because of my expanding family, they disappeared.  He is Lord.  He knows best.  He then blessed us with older friends that have been such an encouragement to us, surrogate parents & grandparents.  We love them dearly!
I hope you enjoy a little snippet into our lives.

February 2011
            I’m not sure how it got to be February already!  Last year was so full!  So full of the good, the bad & the ugly!  J 

"Yep, I'm cool, even with this orange hard hat on!"
           We celebrated Ryan’s 18th birthday a month ago.  He has grown in so many ways this year!  God has changed him.  He went from being a child who hated to read to one that is hard to get away from his books.  He used to be really timid.  Now, he is bold about his faith in Jesus Christ.  I think he’s learning to enjoy the journey, to relax & live by faith.  He continues his apprenticeship with Daniel & homeschooling.
She is our sweet "Bella Bean"!
            Izabella Richelle was born on March 12th.  From the moment of her birth, everyone has adored her, even those siblings that were a little jealous.  She is a beautiful, joyful, sweet little angel.  Her daddy is almost embarrassed by how much he goes “ga, ga” over her.  J 
Lukasz is our reserved one.
In May, Lukasz turned 4 years old.  He loves to be outside, working with the guys.  He loves to ride his bike, play with Izabella, read with anyone who will read to him & do puzzles.  He came up with our new little saying around the house.  He had a little bit of a hard time when Bella was born and would say he hated me.  It about broke my heart.  I prayed & asked God to fix it & that’s when Luke started saying that to me.  Even if we had a really bad morning, at naptime, he would say, “I like you and I love you, Mama.”  God is good.
She's our nature lover!
In July, Kathryn turned 14.  She is becoming a young woman right before our very eyes.  How did this happen?  She has become my right hand woman, but with her personality, she has to be reminded that she’s not the “queen bee” around here.  J  That’s my girl!  She loves to teach the younger kids & she was the one who canned most of our applesauce, peaches & tomatoes this year!
            In September, Daddy celebrated his birthday!  He has had another busy year working, Praise the Lord!  He also put together raised beds, put up a deer fence & cut down several trees to expand our garden.  We were blessed with a bountiful garden full of tomatoes, squash, corn, lettuce, kale & more.  His ministry is his family, as he says.  He stays busy mentoring our 7 children, teaching them to think for themselves & to really live for Christ.
            October is my birthday month.  Most of my year has been spent adjusting to having the 7th, letting go of the “perfect laundry room” myth (I didn’t have a washing machine steadily for almost a month L), learning to balance all that God has for me to do & letting go of the things that are not TOP priority.  Mostly learning to follow the leading of the Lord & realizing that God doesn’t make sense to me sometimes.  But His life for me is abundant & I don’t have to understand.
Ha!  I'm not looking!
          Anya turned 3 the day after Thanksgiving.  She is our family greeter!  She smiles & says “hi” to everyone she sees.  She has told everyone that she is 3 now.  She hugs strangers & holds their hand.  She is a sweet little girl most of the time, but then there’s “Miss Crunchy Face”.   She is another go to girl, who has her own ideas on how things should be done.   
Look at that smile!
            Rosalie turned 12 in December.  She is a beautiful little lady.  She loves to smile & giggle & help Daddy with whatever project he has.  She just loves to help & please others.  She is still an avid reader & loves to help teach Anya’s Sunday School class. 
Gabe!  Not so reserved! :)
Gabriel turned 6 in December, as well.  He keeps me on my toes every hour of every day.  He’s a smart little man, learning to read, with little instruction from Mama, picks up math like nothin’ and loves to build and take things apart.  He is his father’s son.  He has decided that he’s going to be a carpenter & a preacher when he gets bigger & gave his first sermon to Anya & Luke the other day. 
            My new favorite quote is from Charlotte Mason,
            “Are my children learning enough?  That is the wrong question.  The question is, “What do they care about?  Who are they becoming?  These are the questions that matter most.”
            That’s a glimpse into our year, our lives, our children…  This year has really been one of tremendous joy & tremendous pain.  We are so thankful that we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, help us & carry us through.
As we have reminisced about our 2010 & are planning our 2011, we are eternally grateful for our God.  He came as a babe, lived a sinless life, died on a cross as payment for OUR sin, rose from the dead & now lives in heaven, preparing a place for us to come when we die.  But that’s not all.  He sent the Holy Spirit to live in each of us that accept His free gift, accept our need for a Savior, and accept that nothing that I do can take away my sin, NOTHING but the blood of Jesus. 

Praying for a blessed 2011 for you
from the Zarzycki Family!!!