The Journey of Faith: Update

So the contract on the house has completely fallen through, due to our refusal to repair the insane amount of things they had asked for. And the main reason we refused is because we are not allowed to fix any of it ourselves, we have to hire a licensed contractor to come in and fix it all. Which is ludicrous because we are a licensed contractor. And in an odd twist of events, the contract on the land has fallen through as well. It seems that a property just a minute down the road has come up for sale as well, it’s the same land size and for whatever reason, they are asking less than what we are. So the buyers cut out and went with that one instead. So since we are on a 6 month contract to sell the land, we are going to relist the property for sale again. If it sells, so be it. If we can keep it, so be it. God’s will be done. And then always there is the possibility that the buyer for the land is more or less bluffing and may want to buy it anyways, maybe they were just trying to talk us down and using the other property as a launch pad to do so. Only God knows.

Secondly, there is one thing I had forgot to mention in the previous post. I had meant to tie it in with the question, “Does God really listen to us and answer prayer?”. The answer is yes. And to illustrate that, let me relate a story.

On the way home on the second trip, both Dad and I were very tired. We had not only gotten up very early that morning but had also been through a very long drive to KY and now were heading back home. Plus, less than 48 hours before, Dad had driven for most of the first trip. So both of us had agreed that I would do most of the driving this trip. Dad was obviously more sleepy than I was so we agreed to stop somewhere around halfway and I would finish up. However, Dad was getting more and more tired by the minute and I preferred to stay alive for a little longer! So we started talking. That was when we hashed and rehashed our entire situation to the point where we got so discouraged we didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

We tried turning on an audiobook, but Dad couldn’t really get into it, it was putting him to sleep. Suddenly, I felt the Lord say to me, “Look up that message by David Gibbs, the one you have been looking for.” “That message” was a message a friend of our played for us when we were helping them out on their farm. Christina and I were helping this family out along with one other family and one of them decided to put a message on while we worked. The message was entitled “Encouragement” and I had been looking for it online and hadn’t been able to find it. I thought to myself, “I’ve already looked for it and couldn’t find it.” and immediately the reply came back “Try again.” So I did. And to my astonishment, it was the first link that came up in the browser. I was shocked! I opened the link and sure enough, there it was, a free download. The download took literally 3 seconds to complete and in no time flat I had it playing over the speakers. In the course of the message, Dr. Gibbs tells two incredible and engaging stories that will have you laughing and crying.

It worked like a miracle. (I didn’t want to say charm!!) That message kept Dad awake for the next hour and ten minutes. Then we were back in the same boat again. I had been asking myself the whole time, “What am I going to do when this message ends?” I’d been praying off and on the whole time, asking God to help us and keep us safe, but this was when I really started to pray. “What do I do Lord?” I also asked a good friend to pray as well. And it seems apparent to me that God said, “You don’t have to do anything.” Because in less than ten minutes, a friend of the family called and talked to Dad for a good half an hour to 45 minutes! And he wasn’t the only one either!

Half an hour later, it was my turn. We pulled over and did a chinese fire drill. Dad talked on the phone off and on for around two hours and now it was my turn to get sleepy. So I cried out to the Lord for myself this time. “Lord, please, please keep me awake!” That prayer became a refrain for me. And then I felt him speak to me again. One simple word. “Sing.” So I did. Not wanting to disturb Dad on the phone, I sang every song I could immediately think of under my breath. And it wasn’t until I sang one of my favorite songs, “Lord, I need you” that I was instantly awake. Drowsiness, GONE! Who needs a pill when you’ve got God?

The rest of the drive home went very smoothly. The Lord got us through and in between talking to other people and each other, we made our way home safely. And looking back on it, I am incredibly grateful for the time I got to spend on on one with my Father. And my other Father!

So the unswaying answer to the question at the beginning is YES! Our God is good and he is still in the business of answering our prayers to him.

Trusting, following, serving him,


The Journey of Faith Part 3

How do we know the mind of God? How do we know what his will is in a specific situation? Do we go right or left? How do we respond when we are faced with two options and we don’t know which to choose? Does God really listen to us and answer our prayers?


Monday, January 29th, 2018 @ 1:30am

Fauquier County, VA USA

I roll over in bed, not exactly certain what time it is, but I can hear Dad moving around upstairs. And I know that any minute now he’ll be coming downstairs to get me. He and I are headed out again, this time for an eight hour drive out to Kentucky to look at only one house this time. However, this time, we’ve done MUCH more research on this house and feel very confident that this one will be worth it. Dad opens the door and calls me. I groan, NOT an eaarrrly morning person!

Within 15 minutes we were on the road, I’m driving this time. Definitely grateful for Coffee this morning! By 7:30, we’re most of the way there and have just swapped seats, because I am getting a little sleepy. We’re scheduled to meet the listing agent at a Pilot Travel Station in Williamsburg, Kentucky and he will lead us the last 12 minutes to the house. At 9:30am, we’re waiting for him to arrive at the station. Once he does, we follow him the rest of the way to the house. The agent has sort of prepared us for the worst as far as the drive in goes, but contrary to the last 4 houses we saw in Kentucky, the drive in to this one is WAY better. The other four were more or less parked next to what felt like a trailer park, whereas the houses around this one are much better looking. The house has somewhere around 50 acres of land that comes with the property in three parcels. We pull up to the driveway and the realtor gets out and shows us the lower part of the property. So far so good!

As we pull up the driveway, we realize the driveway is steeper than we had originally thought. The agent shows us the house, garage, playhouse and second garage and we also realize that the house is MUCH smaller than we had thought. The next step is to take a look at the land.

We walked all over that property. The biggest problem with it is that the house is plopped in the only flat area on a mountain. The whole rest of the area is not condusive to having dogs or fencing for them. Sure, the pyrs would love the mountain, but there is no easy way to put up fencing to keep them in. Great hunting though! The house is just a little to small for us to live in as well.

The whole way home, Dad and I reevaluated our whole situation, all the intricacies of it, every possible reason we have for moving, beat it out flat in every way possible. And that’s when we begin to think that this is just not going to work. We’ve run out of the money we need to continue traveling and looking at houses, everyone we spoke with has said that what we are looking for in a house and land vs what we are willing to pay is just not possible, as far as I know, everything we’ve asked God to give us if it is his will has fallen through and to top it off, the inspection report has come back and they want so many things fixed that it’s no longer an option for us.

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018  @ 3:07 pm

Fauquier County, VA USA

So that’s that. Another chapter closed in that realm. We are still moving forward with the sale of the land so far as we know, a builder will be coming to put a house on the land next door. So we don’t know exactly what the will of God was concerning this whole process. We’ve hammered out a few ideas, maybe God wanted us to sell the land adjoining and he had to orchestrate it this way because honestly, we never would have considered selling it if we hadn’t been planning on moving. Perhaps he has a special plan for the money from the sale. Maybe there’s someone we will be able to minister to when the house is built and someone moves in. Maybe someone was blessed by our story of walking through this and seeking God’s will. Maybe there were valuable lessons we learned through this that we wouldn’t have any other way. We don’t know exactly why and may never know exactly why either. But that’s the beauty of following Christ. Because you can know for 100% fact that no matter where we are and what we do, ultimately God’s plan will be fulfilled in the end and the end result will be the same. I feel sorry for those who don’t have that same assurance. That’s why we see so many commiting suicide and changing their gender. Because they can’t trust that God made them who they are and that he has a plan that includes them.

So how do we know the mind of God? How do we know what his will is in a specific situation? Do we go right or left? How do we respond when we are faced with two options and we don’t know which to choose? Does God really listen to us and answer our prayers? What do we do when we think he wants us to do something, we chase it and then it turns out we were wrong? Have we sinned and walked away from God’s will in doing so?

To illustrate this, let me draw from a story in the Bible. In Genesis Chapter 26, God tells Isaac to a specific place and that he will bless him there. He says specifically not to go to another land that Isaac was considering going to but to dwell in Gerar. So in Verses 18-22, Isaac begins to dig a well in the valley. Now wells were very important if you didn’t have a stream or river nearby because not only do you need something to drink but your cattle need it too! And Isaac had a lot of cattle! So Isaac digs this well and the herdman of the area fought over it, complaining that the water rightfully belonged to them. So Isaac put all that time on that well just to have it taken away. So he goes to another spot and does it again. And the same scenario repeats itself. Finally the third well he digs, no one fought him over it.

Now God knew that all that would happen. So why didn’t he just say to Isaac, “Don’t dig there, go over here and dig.”? Wouldn’t it have been easier to do it that way? I believe the reason it happened that way is because there were lessons Isaac needed to learn through that process. And I believe it has been the same with us in this process. God wanted to teach us something and he used this course of action to do it.

Finally, as a shout out to all of you who have prayed for us, supported us and loved us through this entire process, we are ever grateful to you. We may not always know where God is leading, but we know he is leading. He’s leading you, he’s leading me, he’s leading my family. I have been blessed by the way my parents have walked through this, the way my siblings have worked throught this and the way those of you have walked in this. And I’ll admit, it hasn’t always been easy. There have been days where my patience had worn thin and I was literally seconds away from snapping. I can’t even imagine how my parents must have felt sometimes. God had special strength for them in himself.

So to you, the reader, keep walking the road, even if you don’t understand. It’s a journey, it always is. Whether the road is easy or smooth, it’s still a journey. And we’re on it together, upholding when one falls. There were times in the journey where if it had been me, I’d have thrown in the hand towel and quit. I didn’t want to move, I love my area, my Church family, my life here. But I also realized that it’s not my life anymore. I’ve given the key of my life to someone greater. And I’ve walked my own way before and it’s not a good road. So I’m letting him lead. The end result is WAAYY better!


Trusting, following, serving him,



(This three part post really has been written at intervals throughout this process, much like a journal. However, I have not had a chance to post it all until just now. I hope it blesses you as it really is a picture of my journey throughout this process as I walked through this. Also, I’d like to personally thank the Wilkes Team for inspiring me over 6 years ago to begin keeping a personal journal, it’s now one of the most valuable possesions I own. I wasn’t always faithful to keep up with it at first, but now it’s very important part of my devotional time. It’s the main reason posts like this are even possible! Thank you!)

(Also, continue to pray. the contract may still go through if the client decides to live with the problems the inspection turned up and then we will be forced to find somewhere else to live very quickly!)

The Journey of Faith Part 2

So the last few days have been kinda hectic! Moving plans have progressed suddenly more rapidly than we had expected, making it look more like we may be moving sooner than we had thought. So we made a last minute decision to head out to Oklahoma and Missouri on early Friday to look at a few homes. The night before, we had made plans to meet up with a realtor in OK and have her show us around to a few homes we’d been looking at. Let the adventure begin!

Day 1:

Friday, January 26th 2018 @ 2:00am

Fauquier County, Va, USA

The light comes on in my room and Dad’s voice, “Come on guys, let’s go. We’re already later than I wanted to be.” I lazily rub my eyes and reach for my phone to check the time. “2:00am? I thought we weren’t leaving until 3:00am?” I think to myself. My next thought may have had something to do with the Starbucks coffee I’ll be enjoying on the way, most likely motivating me to get the day rolling. I check to make sure everything I needed was still packed in my bag and within 15 to 20 minutes we’re in the car and ready to roll. We bow our heads and pray for safety on the travel and most importantly for God to go before and lead us. And then we’re on the road.

The first few hours are a little blurry to me, being only half awake and wanting to be less awake than that! I think I spent a part of that times setting up the iPod to listen to Audiobooks on the way but I’m not sure! 😉 Therefore I refuse to take any responsibility for anything I did or said during that period! Anyhow, the reason we left earlier than we’d originally planned is so that we could stop and look at a few houses in MO on the way to OK. So by the time it was light outside, we were in TN and I was looking at houses in MO and trying to contact realtors to show us to those houses. That’s when our plans changed…drastically.

At some point, we called the realtor who was showing us to houses in OK. I got a bad feeling the minute she answered the phone. (Our Tahoe is equipped with an onboard phone system. Connect your phone via Bluetooth and Voila! You have hands free tech) Over the course of the conversation, she told us that ALL the houses we’d looked at in OK weren’t going to work for what we needed. She apologized profusely and we got off the line. Now we were in deep water. We are now halfway to MO and have most of the reason we are even going out this way has just dissapeared. So do we keep going and look at houses in MO instead or do we just head back home?

We stopped at a little country outdoorsman shop in TN and went in to take a Bathroom break. I was the last to use the restroom and when I came out Dad was talking to a guy who struck me as being the manager. (I don’t know if he was or not, that’s just the impression I got.) He said later that he felt God was clearly telling him to talk to this guy. We don’t know why and may never know why but that’s what he did. He gave us the name of a realtor in the area and told us to give her a call. We did and she said she’d look at houses in the area that meet our specs. We hadn’t had any plan to look at houses in TN however, we had asked God to guide us and if that included talking to someone on the way, bring us to that person. So we followed that lead as best we could.

We made a decision. We’re going on to MO. We had made appointments for MO that night and since we weren’t going to be headed to OK the next day, we set up appointments for the next day as well. And continued driving.

Then came another change. By this time we were in KY and only a few hours away from MO. I was busily engaged in a game with a friend of mine, Dad was driving and Christina was researching how condusive MO was to dog breeding. The results she turned up, weren’t promising. She called a breeder and talked to her personally about the pros and cons of breeding in the state and that turned up disparaging news. (Plus the breeder was a little suspicious of Christina. We think she thought Christina was a Inspector checking up on her!) So now we are VERY close to MO and that’s not going to work either! We decided to cancel all the appointments in MO except the one for that night.

The other thing we found was that KY is much better as far as Dog Breeding goes and looked promising. So we decided to go to the one house in MO and then hit some homes in KY on the way back home. So far, the trip looked like it was going one strike after another. BUT, we told ourselves. We asked God to lead us and this is where he is taking us, so he’s got some plan for us in this somewhere. Plus, the Four of us, (Dad, Christina, Edge and I) were making good memories together. And lastly, we have a friend that was very pleased that we might be moving to KY because it is closer to them!

After looking at the house in MO, we headed back to KY, another 5 hrs away. And mind you, we’d already been traveling all day. While Dad drove again, I spent the first hour or two trying to find houses in KY we could look at. I found quite a few that looked really good! And I was getting excited about this because we’d be a lot closer to home then we would be if we were in OK. We decided on four we’d really like to see and I set them up so that we could take them in a route that would be most condusive to our route back home. We got into KY by somewhere around 1:00am and found a quiet corner in a car dealership (Ford dealership, we were the only Chevy on the lot!) Then we tried to get a little shut eye. The key word there was TRIED. I have concluded that Chevy didn’t have ultimate sleeping comfort in mind when they designed the Tahoe.

Day 2:

Saturday, January 27th 2018 @ 6:30am

Somewhere in Kentucky!

We got up later that morning and headed to the first property. We knew there was NO way it would ever work the minute we pulled up. The property was too close to the road and too many neighbors close by. And the second….and third…and finally the last one gradually got worse. They were nice houses but the area wasn’t condusive to the needs we have.


Sunday, January 28th 2018 @ 2:40pm

Fauquier County, VA, USA

We haven’t given up on KY yet, we’re just expanding our borders a bit. Personally, out of all the states we’ve looked at so far, KY is the one I’d most rather live in. (Outside of VA) But that’s not my call. That’s up to my Lord and parents. I don’t know for a 100% fact that God want’s us to move, if it was me, I’d almost rather stay here. But I do know what God’s will is for me personally. It’s to honor and obey my parents, and support them in what their decision is. Which at the moment is a hard road to walk, since on of the states they are considering, I don’t want to move to AT ALL!! If we end up going there, I’m going to really struggle with it. But I’ll accept it as God’s plan for now.

So to those of you who aren’t happy with us moving, I totally sympathise with you. “Cause I don’t totally want to move either. (Well, I’m kinda somewhere around 50/50.) So I just pray that through this whole adventure, God’s will is accomplished.

God Bless you all,


The Journey of Faith

Yes, for those of you who were wondering, I do take occasional jaunts off the face of the earth. The doctor said it’s good for my health, and I believe him.

In all seriousness, life has been VERY busy recently, and has only gotten more complicated as of late. What I’m referring to is something that a lot of people most likely already know, but I’ll put this out there for those of you who don’t or don’t mind lending a listening “eye” if ya’ know what I mean. To put it bluntly, we’re moving. Now most of you might think, Oh, that’s not so bad. Well it is when you’re relocating to an entirely different state. Like for instance Oklahoma. Or Missouri or Texas.

FYI we run two different businesses, one is breeding Great Pyrenees dogs (you can find out more about that at , the other is a home renovation business. Ever since we moved from the ‘burbs to the more “Country” like area, the renovation business has taken a massive hit. So, we had to improvise. And God led us into the dog breeders business. That went well for a few years, up until we received our first complaint. Someone called in anonymously and accused us of running a puppy mill, raising malnourished puppies and that our puppies were living in messy and foul conditions. All of which was untrue. The animal control showed up unexpectedly and notified us of the aforementioned items and asked to check on our puppies. We gladly took him out to the barn and showed him our arrangements for the puppies and he was totally fine with everything we were doing. He said there were no concerns to speak of. Well, that was a year or two ago. This year, we received another complaint, just after we began looking into getting our official breeders license. This time, someone complained about our dogs always barking. This was a complete shock to us, seeing as we believed all our neighbors were totally supportive of what we were doing. We have had multiple neighbors tell us that they are glad our dogs are out there because they not only protect our property but they keep predators off of their properties as well. Apparently not all of our neighbors felt that way.

So that was a huge blow to the idea of getting our licensing from the county. And the more we’ve researched it, the more we’ve begun to realize that our county seems to frown on any kind of dog breeding. Multiple well off breeders in our area have been ruined by trumped up charges against them.

But that’s not the only reason. A dear friend of ours helped to enlighten us to the other things that are in the works in our state. I won’t go into major detail but Virginia is changing. Homeschooling rights are being slowly squeezed out of it, immunization laws are trying to be passed, Virginia is become more liberal than ever. And now we find ourselves asking, Is this where we really want our future to be?

Now here’s the part that is near and dear to me. We’re leaving. Leaving everything we know, everyone we know and love so dearly. Our wonderful church fellowship that is more like family than anything else. And I don’t like it! Every-time I think about it I feel sick! And this is where this concept of change comes into play. Most of the time, we as a human race do not like change. And as I was thinking it through, I realized why that is. Because we like to feel like we are in control! And when something like this happens, a move, a death, a job loss, whatever the case may be, we lose our sense of safety, our sense of being in control. Yet at the same time, I have a hope. I have a peace. Because I know that my God is in control. And it’s when I let loose and give my hopes, my fears, my desires to God that he can work in the most amazing ways. I realize that my God has a perfect and amazing plan for my life, a plan beyond my wildest dreams. I just gotta leave it all in the hands of the master planner.

SO for those of you who have expressed your feelings to us, we understand completely. We realize that you have shown us an outpouring of love that we greatly appreciate. Thank you all, and we love you all too. Can I ask you to do one thing for us? Pray that God’s will be performed in our life. ‘Cause no matter where that leads, that’s where I personally want to be.

God bless each of you, keep walking with him.

A Trip to Kentucky!


IMG_6429Well, well, well. What I want to know is why we only do a post when something exciting happens??!! Because something exciting happens! This time, it was a trip to Kentucky to see the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, both divisions of Answers in Genesis. We took a IMG_6437stop on the way for a few days at the Cliftons in WV, which put us closer to KY by about 4-5 hours depending upon whether or not we took any stops. We left at around 3-4am in the morning and were at the Ark at 8:40am.

By the time we got our green IMG_6585bands and took the bus to the Ark, it was right at 9:00, opening time. Now, looking back, we realized we could have spent the morning at the house and left a bit later, but no big deal. It only took us around three hours to go through the whole thing and we were waiting around until threeIMG_6586 for the hotel to give us our rooms. So we decided while we were waiting, why not find a Golden Corral and get some dinner? So we did! By the time we had eaten our fill and walked out, the hotel was ready. We checked in and both Christina and I (Jordon) crashed!! The rest either went to Wal-Mart or IMG_6730watched a movie we’ve seen…too many times!

(Oh, did I mention it poured on us while we were on the way out of the Ark? We felt like we were really headed the wrong way!!)

We had heard that the CreationKIMG0121 Museum takes about 7 hours to go through. But that, we were to find out, was just for abnormal people. People who go through and read every sign and watch every show. What with the loads ofIMG_6843 people in the museum and it being hard to stay in one spot without the people behind you wanting you to keep moving, we finished in about 4-5 hours.

The plan was to go back to the hotel and spend the night, leave in the morning and hit WV once more on the way back. Oh and did IMG_6737I mention that we had free tickets to the mini golf next door? Since it was next door to the hotel, I guess they had some kind of arrangement to allow the guests to golf for free. We had planned to take advantage of that, but suffice it to say that plans changed a bit. Corissa has a back IMG_6741difficulty and she was complaining that it was more painful than normal. So we headed back to WV.

By Saturday, we were back on IMG_6794the road again, and this time headed home. And as I said several times to the family and others, Vacations are all well and good, but there’s no place like home!

Always Room for More!

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

-Psalms 133:1


IMG_0265Last week, we took on a project to make some extra space for storage. You know how it is when you have all this stuff that you want to keep but just don’t know where to put it? You know, the stuff that can be passed down to the next generation, and you really want to save as much as is possible but the place to put it is….where? Well, for about two or three years now, most of our storage has been jammed into two or three rooms. Rooms that are so packed full that you can’t even open the door. Yeah, it was pretty bad!

We decidIMG_0144ed it was time to put an end to that problem! So as a team, we went out to one of our dog barns that we have that had been in its previous life, a chicken barn. Whew! It was a mess! I’m sure by the time we had finished with it, it had breathed a sigh of relief. That is, till it found out what it would now be doing! Besides two deep chest freezers and about four upright refridgerators, it also now hosts all the storage from all theIMG_0234 rooms previously mentioned. I could just hear the floor joists groaning! Not to mention the fact that it became a dual purpose barn. Not only is it storage, but it’s split side is now a whelping barn for our growing puppy breeding business. However, I am getting ahead of myself.

As a former chicken barn, it had accommodations for laying hens, the barn including three rooms for the purpose of raising hens. The innermost room was equipped with a broodIMG_0278er for raising the young chickens. From there they move to the slightly larger room with a small yard until they begin laying. After that, they are ingratiated with the large flock of laying hens and commence their first lessons on pecking order. Which by the way, can be rather severe!

So, the aforementioned brooder and all the egg IMG_0245nesting boxes had to be removed. After that, one of the walls had to be taken down and all the air vents we had left on the building had to be covered over. It took us about two days to get it all cleaned up and functional and we still aren’t quite finished but it’s much better than it was!

Humors Balance


-Brennan Manning


Words are a powerful motivator. The apostle James describes the tongue as the following, “..a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the toungue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell…..Therewith bless we God, even the father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similtude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”

-James 3:6 & 9-10

In essence, our words have the power to either give life, or take it away. I confess, I too struggle with the desire to be the wittiest guy in the group, but is that right? No. That is a desire based completely off of pride and selfishness, two attitudes which God detests. When we jest, tease, cap, slam, however you wish to call it, we are hurting another person with our words. No matter what way we justify it, it is still wrong. Even if the recipient slaps a “I-don’t-care” expression on their face or even laughs at what you have said, deep inside there is a hurt they are trying to hide. A hurt you have just caused. Why would we deliberately try to go around hurting others? A sobering thought is this. Your words can never ever be taken back. No matter how much you may apologize, the damage has been done and it is permanent.

As I write this, I have three fingers pointed right back at me. I have been often guilty of making a rude comment which has been sugarcoated to look like I was just kidding the person but deep down, there is a heart issue that that comment has sprung from. Often I will make a comment that has been twisted slightly and made to look like I am joking, when in reality, I am making the comment as a direct attack on a person. I have heard the saying before that every jest has a hint of truth to it. And it is true.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that all humor is wrong. There is a fine line between humor and ripping a persons self esteem up in the name of humor. This is what I would call “humors balance.” The most helpful advice I have heard is to try out a comment on yourself to see how well you would like it before using it on others. If it eats at you, It’ll eat at them.

So what am I saying here? Where am I going with this? The point is something that God has been pressing me with recently. That I need to measure my words. That I need to be careful with what I say and how I say it. Because like I said earlier, words are powerful. Jesus came to this earth to set an example for us to follow. Look at the way he lived his life. The words that he said and the way he lived paves the way for us. We must strive to live in his example.

For those of you who also struggle with this, know you are not alone. But it is something we have to come to a decision on. Are we going to continue to tear each other down in any form or will we decide to build one another up like Jesus did? The choice is yours.

“But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. “

-Matthew 5:37

The Rest of the Story


Hmmm… where was I? Oh yes….

After the Clifton’s told us for sure they were coming again, it was time to celebrate! (and get the house ready again.) Jordon was given the task of painting the downstairs a brighter hue (because we needed a cheery color to replace the hunter green, that really was too dark for a basement anyway.) The Clifton’s also told  us they had purchased a out of state license so we knew they weren’t backing out on this one. 😉
A couple of days before we were to expect the Clifton’s, my throat started to hurt. I thought it was the cornbread that we had eaten for breakfast that had irritated it but, I didn’t know. Nobody at the F.E.W had a sore throat that I knew of, and I didn’t think it would show up so late afterwards. Had I asked around I would have found out that I wasn’t the only one. I started gurgling with salt water, but wasn’t faithful enough, so it gradually got worse.
(Yes, this is where everybody starts to say,  Oh no! and realizes what’s going to happen.) 🙂
Wednesday around 4:00 the Clifton’s showed up, and Daddy took them outside right away to show them the places they would be hunting tomorrow morning. Esther and us girls retreated to the downstairs, and Aunt Anita and Mama talked in the kitchen. Downstairs I gave her a necklace I had made (Which Esther promptly put on.) and we had a rather interesting conversation, (which if you know anything about woman, they tend to jump from one subject to the next, which is what we did!) 🙂

Finally after a awhile of that we decided that the guys upstairs were probably wondering where we were and what was going on, so we took ourselves upstairs to where they were trying to figure out what to have for dinner, and sneaking Aunt Anita’s cookies out of the bin. Esther then gave Jeremy a much needed haircut, and it was after that time that we got hungry. IMG_5194 It finally was decided that the ladies needed to go out and purchase needed items, ( involving a toothbrush for Noah who had forgot his.) (Mmm-hmm, Noah.) 🙂 and that the guys would go get pizza from someplace while we were out. That is basically what happened too, Aunt Anita, Esther, Corissa, Hope and I went out to Walmart, and choice menfolk got the pizza.
After pizza Uncle Tim gave the devotion, from Deuteronomy.
We stayed up pretty late that night, (although we kept telling each other that we needed to get to bed.) And I don’t know who started it because I walked in on the middle of it, but someone made up a game that if someone threw a couch pillow at you, you had to name something you liked and throw it to someone else. That went on for awhile and then Aunt Anita got us to go to bed saying that the guys had to get up early tomorrow to hunt. Thus ended the first day.


The next morning was Thanksgiving and I heard the guys all get up, so I got up too because I knew Mama would need help with the cooking for the meal later, knowing that she always gets up extra early on Thanksgiving. After the guys all left I started to get going on the roll dough for later, when Aunt Anita and Uncle Tim got up. Aunt Anita asked if Mama was up and I said she was, and that she is probably doing her devotion, and then she wanted to know if we needed any help. I told her I was just going to make the dough for my rolls and put it in the fridge and that Mama was probably going to need help later. That’s when Uncle Tim got up asking if the guys had left yet, and then upon finding out what I was doing, set out to entertain me until I was done. 🙂 After awhile I told him it was going to take me some time to make the dough so he went back to bed, while Aunt Anita stayed around and told me a story about Seth putting her car keys in a light socket at church when he was just a youngster.  I responded to her story  with one about my Daddy, and told her that Seth sounded a lot like our Jonathan. After awhile she went back to her room and Mama came out and we really started cooking. 🙂
(I just realized if I keep giving all my readers a minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day account of the time with the Clifton’s that I’ll never be able to fit Thanksgiving and the trip up their into one post!!! Maybe I need to start writing shorthand!! )


After devotion, (Daddy did it in the morning, Uncle Tim in the evening.) Uncle Tim took us to Dicks Sporting Goods,( which claimed on the internet to be open, but wasn’t-) and we had a hillarouis scene infront of the store as Uncle Tim went up to the doors and after placing his hands on the closed glass, groaned very loudly, “OH NO!!!!” Esther told Jordon, Noah and I to just ignore him and while we were pretending to not know him, he ran to the car and drove away. 🙂 After he circled back around and stopped at the curb, we all climbed in, but not before I saw several people in the Martin’s parking lot looking at us strangely!
  We ended up going to Walmart to get what he needed ( Some air bake pans were on the list, so that Aunt Anita could show me how to make her cookies.) and at the cash register he tried to talk to the lady about Jesus but she wasn’t very responsive and asked if Uncle Tim had had his meds yet today. Looking back on that I wish we had spoken up for him instead of being uncomfortably silent and just laughing it off.  Jesus means the world to me, and I should want the world to know it, instead of being uncertain and silent. You can’t always just be a silent witness, you sometimes have to come out and share. I thank God that Uncle Tim had the courage to say something, even though he was laughed at.


The rest of the day progressed like this; We had Grandma over and ate our Thanksgiving dinner……played games….had devotion…….Uncle Tim sang to us…. and I finally said something to Mama about my throat which resulted in almost everybody looking down my throat and everybody else’s (who now came out saying that their throat had been hurting them too.) As a result we looked up what would cause white spots in your throat and swollen tonsils and found that the best thing to do is just gurgle. So everybody started gurgling!!!

IMG_5237Friday was shopping day and all us ladies went out to thrift stores!!! The Clifton’s were able to get some nice clothes as well as all the Johnson ladies. We also had some choice items needed at Wegman’s and Walmart so it was dark before we were able to get home. Seth and Jordon pitched together to make the meal which was simple enough, ( Just leftover casserole made of mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing and gravy) but it certainly didn’t sound simple when they called us on the phone for directions. Seth was Jordon, and Jordon was Seth (according to them) and Esther and I couldn’t distinguish their voices  over the phone. (In fact I think I still am confused!!) I got a little irritated with them, but they sure got a kick out of it, so I’m glad we gave them the pleasure, I suppose!! 🙂 
The evening ended as we all gurgled and then went to bed, even though everytime Esther and us girls went to bed, Esther and I never really did go to sleep right away, the girls would usually fall asleep while I talked and Esther listened, or Esther talked and I listened. Either way we still stayed up into the wee hours of the morning!!!
Saturday we had all decided to match since we had gotten white and blue striped shirts at the thrift store the day before. So after I washed a shirt for Corissa, we all wore stripes!! (Which Jordon, Noah and Seth now claim is our prison picture.)IMG_5263

This was also the day that Aunt Anita showed me how to make her chocolate chip cookies, so that took up a good portion of the day. The kitchen was pretty crowded with everyone trying to eat the cookie dough. Uncle Tim also insisted on showing me how to make a nicely rounded cookie, so he came in and took two of the cookie scoops off, and then proceeded to drop the biggest scoop of cookie dough I’ve ever seen onto the air bake pan. I clasped on the floor and he retreated saying that he had to go to Walmart, he had just wanted to show me that. I felt like I burst internal organs and Esther proceeded to fix his cookie dough “mess”. (No, Uncle Tim you didn’t think I’d remember that, did you?) 🙂
Our throats now felt a lot better now because of the salt water gurgling, so that night we joked about doing a duet at church the next morning featuring us gurgling with salt water at different tones because we sounded like a choral in the kitchen while we were all gurgling. This made Esther laugh so hard that she almost choked. Then we told the guys that we had hid the oreo cookies somewhere last night, and Seth and Jordon demanded to have them. I replied no, while Esther was still gurgling so they proceeded to tell us just what they thought of us, and that was when I told them to prostrate. Esther had no clue what was going on, while I ran downstairs to get my camera and take a picture. (So folks here’s your picture of what prostrating in the Johnson and Clifton family looks like.) Don’t they look humble!!!??



Sunday we had planned to go to church, and even some of us were dressed and ready when we got the text, (sent the night before, but Daddy had turned off his phone.) saying that the Wilkes had the flu in their house, and there would be no church.  Uncle Tim then wanted to leave right then, but we insisted that we give them breakfast first, and said that we planned on french toast so they couldn’t leave yet. He told “Uncle Scott”( Daddy) to get out the door quick with Seth and get the ingredients needed because french toast was his favorite, so we got to keep them for a little longer! 🙂IMG_5231
Once they got back and we had breakfast, the Clifton’s taught us a game over the breakfast table (that the Staddon’s had taught them) called Black Widow. I can’t tell you the game because it would ruin it, so you’ll just have to request it one time when you visit the Johnson’s dwelling! ( I’ll also know how many of you visit our site!! 🙂 ) Then came the sad time again when they had to depart. After a quick couple of sets of pictures, we said “so long ” and “farewell” once again, and sent them on their way.IMG_5251

And now Uncle Tim !!!!
IMG_5360(Uncle Tim, just say the word and it will be removed)

what have we been doing


 What have we been doing ??





I’ll try to sum up the time from the F.E.W Conference, to last week in just one sentence. Okay? Here go’s. We met the CLIFTON’S!!!

Satisfied? No? (I didn’t think you would be.)

The relationship between us and the Clifton’s started last year in November during the F.E.W Conference when our family sat across from theirs during the Saturday lunch period, although Daddy doesn’t remember much of this time because his neck was hurting him. (As a result to it getting broken twenty some years ago.) Hence he was not one of the fortunate people to met the Clifton’s last year, though he may remember sitting behind them and having Mr. Clifton (Who we now affectionately call Uncle Tim.) comment on Hope’s big blue eyes and bigger smile. Smile

It was our misfortune to not meet Seth last year, who didn’t attend, but I distinctly remember Uncle Tim placing a cookie under my plate for “a science experiment”, Aunt Anita sharing about Abigail Fleshman’s dying testimony, being impressed and desiring a closer relationship with sweet Esther, and laughing privately at Noah’s bright yellow shoes. (Yes, Noah I put that in for you.)

This year on the other hand though, I met Mr. and Mrs. Clifton at the front registry and Aunt Anita remembered me, and for Uncle Tim all I had to do was tell him about his cookie experiment. Smile Then I asked where Esther was and Uncle Tim said she was socializing in the other room and that they had brought Seth with them,  “the one who ran away.” (You’ll have to ask Seth for the whole amazing story!!) That was the first that we had heard of Seth, although the family had heard the e-mail Uncle Tim sent out when Seth went missing, and we all remember praying for that young man.

I found Esther talking to Jessica Neely and I want to say I probably effectively interrupted that conversation!!! (I’m sorry!!) I had to ask if my letter had gotten through to her, (because I had misplaced her address and then found it again) and she replied that she had but that it came around the same time that their family had the flood. “So you probably thought we had died, because, I thought you mentioned the flood in your letter.” I replied that I had, but I didn’t believe them to be dead, just trying to get things back together again.

We ended up sitting behind the Clifton’s again, (Just like last year!) and I remember asking my sisters if they remembered what Uncle Tim said last year during Mr. Neely’s message when he said ‘I’m going to tell all you young people something that may startle you, Your parents aren’t perfect. “ He had leaned over to Esther and Noah and told them not to listen. (That was just our first taste of how humorous Uncle Tim can be.)

We hadn’t been able to host anyone last year because we had hosted people for Derrick and Jennifer’s wedding, and the house had too much work to be done, plus we had taken apart the rec house in which we had all the bunk beds set up in, so we weren’t able to get everything together for hosting people fast enough. This year though we gave the heads up to Mr. Wilkes that we could host this year and he gave us “Uncle Sledge” and “Auntie Lulu” as our guests. He also said that “ Uncle Sledge would have the whole family in stitches the entire time.” So we were really looking forward to hosting them.

Unfortunately a couple days into preparing for them, we received a gracious e-mail from them explaining that they weren’t going to be able to make it and apologizing for any inconvenience. We were disappointed of course, but such is life. IMG_4874

Sitting behind the Clifton’s again this year afforded us a closer look into their lives, and also a closer relationship with them. It came about in a lot more then I have time to write about, but long story short they canceled their hotel reservations for Saturday night and Esther went home with us on Friday night. That night I shared a very personal story with her and as a result of that we stayed up very late that night. Looking back on that night and how nervous I was in sharing that story, it is a wonder to me that the Lord knitted our hearts together. Esther could have easily said she was tired and didn’t want to listen, but instead she blessed me with her open ears and soft replies. We are so blessed that God had chosen to cross our families paths!

Saturday night was our first family to family one on one and sharing our similarities in very funny and laughable ways. We all claim in jest IMG_4875that it was Aunt Anita’s ringtone that broke the ice, but I really think it was the Clifton’s transparity that stole the show. We could be ourselves with them, and they with us, and that’s rare even in christian circles.

IMG_4877IMG_4870Sunday we weren’t planning on going to church because we were going to be selling dogs and also because we knew the Wilkes were going to be overwhelmed with all the overflow at their house. The Clifton’s were having trouble with their brakes on the van, so Daddy sent Jordon and I to church in the Tahoe while Seth stayed behind to fix the van. We all felt bad for Seth, because we knew how badly he wanted to go, and we couldn’t help noting his face when we drove away. I do beleive he had a good spirit about it though, and we were proud of the way he acted.IMG_4880.

Esther will remember this day as probably the first time she ever saw me cry, and it shows how very close their family had come in the last couple of hours since we had met them. (For those of you wondering, I was crying because my favorite puppy had sold while I was at church.) Winking smile

Daddy got to talk to Seth during the drives to and from the auto shop and he was very impressed with him. Seth shared his story with Daddy and he told us later about it (so we heard it second hand,) but nonetheless we were impressed.

After those of us who went to church got back and the van got fixed, came the time we all were dreading, saying so long. (In our family you never say goodbye.) We took a quick picture, and then sent them on their way. It was during that sad fair-well that we realized we needed to get them back here again!!

It took some convincing but we were successful in getting them back down here for Thanksgiving. Later Uncle Tim said all Daddy had to say was “possibly hunting” and that “sealed the deal.”

The time with them was so refreshing and all of us came away with newly placed stitches, but that was okay because we were with the Clifton’s again!!

I have to place a special thanks though, right here for Aunt Anita because she brought us the most tastiest, mouth watering, chewy, chocolatey cookies that I have not been able to have since our previous pastor’s wife’s cookies. Let me say though that Aunt Anita’s beats her’s by a looooooooooooong shot!!!  (She taught me her recipe guys!!!!)

Well That’s it for now …….  Part two to come soon


A Job In… West Virginia?


I mentioned in an earlier post that we were recently working on a job in WV. Now to some of you who are reading this, you may not know that we currently live near Culpeper, VA, NOT Romney, WV! The first time we got this call I confess I hoped it would be just an estimate, nothing more. We do have jobs like that sometimes! Not because I didn’t like the couple or anything, but because I just didn’t like the idea of a two hour, ten minute drive one way every day.

IMG_0030In the end, that works out to be four hours, (and twenty minutes!) both ways, every day. (Not that the drive wasn’t pretty.)

We got the call. Bid accepted. Kitchen reno. Big Uh-Oh. My mind ran to the idea of waking up at 4:00 every day for two or three weeks. Now, I am no a morning riser by ANY stretch of the imagination. My idea of a good start to a day is at LEAST sleep till 8:00 to 9:00, THEN up and head for the coffee pot. Not wake up at 4:30, realize we’re late and BANG, we’re out the door. (And no, there was no Hazelnut brew, light on the cream to reach that bittersweet taste involved in that car scramble. Not to mention the fact that Chick Fil-A doesn’t open that early! No help there either!)

Long story short, the first words out of mouth were,

“Oh No. What have I gotten myself into?!”


Day One:

4:00am EST, Fauquier County, VA.

Brilliant light burns on the outside of my eyelids.

“Come on fella’s, time to get up and go.”

Dad’s voice. My brain spins,

“No, it’s not time already, is it?”

IMG_9965I lay in bed for a minute, staring at the ceiling of my bunk. Was that a dragon shaped pattern on the wood? Boy, I must be losin’ it. I sit up in my bed, bare feet hittin’ the floor.

“Welcome to the next two weeks of great fun. I’m already loving it.” I’m thinking.

Thankfully I had the whole drive up to sleep since I don’t drive,though it was a little difficult to sleep with Max McLean’s deep voice pouring out of the stereo system. Then Tim Gregory next. FIMG_9970irst day went well, I had to admit at the end of the day. I had heard rumors that we would be getting back at 9-10 each night so that was one of the things I was dreading. Instead we ended up leaving by 4-5 and getting home by 6-7 most days. That was a blessing. Still, I wasn’t ready to admit it was fun. It wasn’t, yet.

The days passed, gradually seeming to speed up as I began to enjoy myself more and more. The drive there and back was truly beautiful and the cIMG_9979ouple were very friendly. The experience began to get more and more enjoyable for me. Each days schedule was generally to get up, some days stop at Wal-Mart and/or Lowes to get food and Materials, be at the house by 7:00, work till 4:00, clean up, be on the road within the hour, back by around 6:30, wash up, take care of the next days load of sandwiches, take care of anything else, (give myself some extra Audiobooks or Music to listen to on the job.) bed and repeat the next day. (Wal-Mart sells Starbucks iced coffee too,IMG_0029 in multiple flavors! Still don’t beat a good Chicken Biscuit and CFA Iced coffee though.) In the end, I really enjoyed the whole experience, all things considered. The place looked great once we finished, (Not just because of what we did, they also had new appliances set in, countertops redone and the cabinets were refinished.) We did the walls and ceiling, which were built medieval style. Literally. These walls weren’t your typical 16 inches apart based on tIMG_0028he center of the board. No, these walls were built with whatever wood the builder literally could have found in his yard. Need to run a wire? No problem. He sliced grooves into the drywall and tacked his wire inside the groove, leaving the wire exposed. Well, how did that pass inspection you’d ask. Easy. The owners say there are no codes in WV! We shimmed and worked on the existing walls till we were sure it was good for drywall then drywalled that. AlsoIMG_0038, the owners had what I like to refer to as a commercial building ceiling, in other words, a drop ceiling with pop tiles. The customer removed the old ceiling and we went ahead and refinished that. By the time we and the other contractors were done, it was really nice.


I guess I sort of wrote all that to not only bring you all who read our site anymore and haven’t given up on us up to date and also, there is a bright side to everything we experience. We just gotta have the eyes to see it and recognize it for what it really is.