It's been a long grace journey since I last posted. The road behind me looks worn and tired and rocky. Sometimes grace can only be seen when we look the rear window back down the road we've traveled. I can still see the dust flying - dust still settling in my heart. A tired and weary traveler with a thirsty soul looking for more grace and more joy among the daily. I've learned that what I hold tightly in my hand more often than not keeps my fingers clutched around the lesser thing. The greater thing is found when the hand opens because the hand is somehow tied to the soul. A closed soul seeks to satisfy with control and complaining. An open hand searches for the blessing among the dusty travel. Somehow I find myself waking every day to a closed fist. It's only in offering the fist in worship and thanks that the fingers uncurl and the heart opens and the soul sees with "new" eyes what I must not deny - that worship happens with an open hand. Oh this traveler is messy - not a fussed up global bound picture but a dirt road worn nasty. This hand has been closed and the heart turned to bitter and gravel rolled around in my soul while the sole traveled the path. The compass has been clouded and oftentimes packed away among the gear of the day. And yet the road continues to call home and the heart pulls toward grace. Grace is the refreshing water of life along the path. It refreshes daily, hourly - always as promised. Busy scatters the path and makes the destination foggy and far away and somehow I find myself off a trail that busy promised would bring relief but only ends in frustration and a parched and thirsty soul. And I find myself in the busy circle that moves around and near grace but never into the quiet of grace. Then I find the blessing - that busy and grace somehow meet and I am reminded that life is messy and lived in circles among and off paths. And unlikey paths in dark gardens lead to crosses among thieves and impulsive and well-meaning people like me are redeemed along the path scattered with thorns and drops of blood. And in the reminder my soul drinks deeply and grace comes to me with fullness and peace inside the busy circle. I worship - I
worship in thankfulness for willing Grace. Thankful that Grace was so willing to find me - a worn and weary traveler with nothing to offer - that He hung on a tree at the end of a bloody path. Just for me and you.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I I didn't realize I had these pictures until I was getting some things in order. Actually, I must give my sister credit for taking them because I certainly didn't have the capacity to do it during this time. These are taken the day the children arrived to our home. We started the day early at the Sherriff's Department to pick up Hailey and Hayes upon their return from Alexander County after having been located from the Amber Alert. These pictures are of the beautiful people who made such a difference in our lives during that most very difficult time. Thank you to our church family and our wonderful neighbors and family. This simply wouldn't have happened without all of you!!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
If Jacob does something, then Hayes does it more!! I often remind Jacob what it means to be a role model and he certainly is that to Hayes. Jacob is doing two practices a day over the summer for football - one being weight lifting and the other field work. When he isn't doing that, he is practicing with the JV Basketball team. I guess he decided that his hair was getting in the way so he just cut it off. Hayes was with me and decided he wanted his football haircut too!! And so, after a few minutes with the clippers the little boy on the Norman Rockwell pictures came to life. They are such fun boys - they bring much happiness to our home.
Today was a beautiful day and I counted my blessings every time I heard the hammer hit the wood or the saw come on!! I can't believe the progress they are making by the day. The porch framing is moving along and the stairs to the upstairs are completed and they are framing in the flooring and rooms!! Oh, how blessed I feel. I feel blessed to know such good, capable men who do a great job at building homes. I feel blessed to know neighbors and friends who care enough to come pick up a load of laundry. I feel blessed to hear the music of the hammer and the saw. Thank you God for my friends and for the blessings you've given us.
Friday, June 19, 2009
We have begun renovations on our home and I AM SO EXCITED!! Each of the kids will have a room of their own and we can finally move Jacob out of the basement. He has been having nosebleeds and I think part of that is due to him living in the middle of all that mold!! There are holes in the ceilings and dumpsters in the driveway!! Can't wait to post some pictures to show you the changes. We are so thankful!!
Chelsea had a very emotional spring semester. It was her first time being involved in extracurricular activities plus try to keep her grades up. She struggled with math and didn't pass the EOC for her math class on the first try this year. Wonderful Sara Glance tutored her and Chelsea took the test again!! She passed with flying colors and is now a junior. She is so excited that she will graduate with her friends. She has been looking for a job and through a little bit of encouragement from Joel she starts working on Monday at Atlanta Bread Company on Hendersonville Rd in Asheville. We are now in the process of looking for a car for her!! I can't wait - it will be such a help to me to have her help me with the running around!! I am so proud of how hard Chelsea worked to move to the next step.
Jacob is getting ready to enter a new phase in his life as he moves from the middle school to the high school. He also had many excuses to miss a few days but instead chose to go to school and had perfect attendance this year. He is excited about going to high school. He is in football and basketball camp this summer and is spending lots of time at the high school. He lifts weights in the morning and practices basketball in the evening with the JV basketball team. I am so thankful for his coaches!! They are so good to him and have been a real bright spot during our transition. Thanks to Coaches Reagan, Thompson, Carver, Bryan and Brindley!! YOU are making a difference in the life of a young man!!
Keaton and Hailey have graduated the 5th grade at Candler Elementary and are quite ready to move on to Enka Middle School. The Presidential Academic Award is given to children who have had a 3.5 GPA for 3rd - 5th grade and have scored above 85% on at least one of the three EOG tests. Keaton received the award for the entire time at Candler. Hailey also received the award but they counted only the one semester Hailey was at Candler. This shows what incredible improvement she has made since being here!! She had missed more than 20 days the first half of the year and received perfect attendance for the second half of the year. Both girls also received recognition for the A/B Honor Roll for the 5th grade. I am very proud of them - not necessarily because of the awards but more for their perserverance through some very difficult times. Both of them had an excuse to miss school and to drop in their performance but through encouragement and the support of a WONDERFUL SCHOOL AND TEACHERS they hung in there!! That is an inspiration to all of us!!
I haven't posted in a few days due to waiting on pixs but I decided to not wait any longer. The end of the school year was filled with lots of celebrations and Hayes was awarded one of the Kindergarten Reading Awards. He received a medal and was so exicted about getting it that he slept with it. The award recognized Excellence and Interest in Reading. We are so proud of him. Way to go, Hayes!!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
All 3 kids - Jacob, Keaton and Hailey - passed the EOG on the first try. That was quite a feat this year as they have all experienced a great deal of transition. More than that, for some reason, a large percentage of kids didn't pass the EOG this year in both schools. Chelsea gets ready to take her EOC exams (end of course) on the three final days of school next week. We are hoping for great results there as well!!
Hayes was chosen from his classroom along with Cassie Brown to lead the school in the Pledge on Bobcat News - the small tv station that is broadcast into each classroom. He didn't tell me until later and it was just a passing comment. He did a great job!! We are getting ready for the school year to end. Chelsea is looking for a job so she can get her liscense and buy a car. Jacob will be involved in football and basketball camps. Keaton and Hailey are going to church camps twice this summer and will be volunteering on Thursdays with the Mothers Morning Out program at church. Hayes and I will be hanging out at the pool. I'm hoping he can be involved in a camp as well - the question will be if I can do all the running!!
My camera is broken and at the shop for the next couple of weeks. I'll post more pixs when the camera returns. Keep us in your prayers!!
My camera is broken and at the shop for the next couple of weeks. I'll post more pixs when the camera returns. Keep us in your prayers!!
Friday, May 22, 2009
When Hayes came to our home, he was reading at a very low level C - assessing on a level ranging from A - K. Joel and I went for his teacher conference this week and were so pleased and affirmed to see his progress. In the most recent assessment, he is now reading at a very high level H - definitely on a first grade level and he is in Kindergarten. He had learned all of his sight words for Kindergarten and first grade and is working on his list for second grade. The progress was such a tangible affirmation of his progress and just what Joel and I needed to assure us that we are on the right path. We are proud of him - he is a hard worker and is concerned about doing well. I'm so thankful today for a teacher conference.
One of the hard things about beginning a new journey is the fear created by all of the un-knowns. When we began this journey, one of the significant unknowns was the financial responsibility of taking three additional children. We have been blessed with a beautiful home. However, as with anything, when you makes changes more changes are required. Such is the case with our home. We have 3 bedrooms and then one additional one downstairs. To accommodate everyody we had to make significant changes understanding they were temporary - or so we thought. The bedroom downstairs is nice - but doesn't meet fire code and has mold issues along the wall where Jacob's bed is. So........we need to move him. But there just isn't any place to go. The other three children are all in one room - a 16 year old, an 11 year old and a 6 year old. Of course, they are living on top of each other. We need to make some changes but the financial implications are huge. One of the things the court asked was for us to separate them on different floors but the court system and the State of NC have been very difficult to work with through this point. We covet your prayerful support as we work dilligently in allowing the Lord to do His work and to meet our needs as He sees them.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I am lucky to have a sister who is also my friend. She so generously shares her life and her time with my family. She is my advocate who reminds me that there is no honor in running but that I must "turn my face toward the wind" and move forward. She reminds me that I am fortunate and that God doesn't make mistakes. She shows me perserverance through her own adversity with breast cancer and reminds me that I can if I will!! Her husband Jeff gives his time to my children and prays the most beautiful prayers for them. Thank you, Glenda and Jeff!!
Throughout all of this tragedy, my parents, Glenn and Alta Rogers, held me up on a daily basis. Having my own children, I know how painful it must be for them to watch as we struggle daily to start over, to begin again. Yet they never offer any words but those that encourage. They give us a legacy of faith, of family, of unconditional love!!! They stood by us with their physical presence, their tangible help! They are the hands and feet of God to our family.
Hayes (and all the other children for that matter) is so fortunate that God has placed a role model like Joel in his life. I think this picture portrays that relationship so beautifully. Joel has been such a tremendous role model to all of the children through such incredible pain. He lost his sister. He is now an only child - with the full responsibility for his family. Yet, he never lets that responsibility deter him from what God has called him to do. He works hard, loves deeply, gives fully of himself. He has endured the pain with such an elegance, a determination to bring good from all the evil that touched our family. We are so blessed to have him leading our family!
Hayes joined our family in January. He talks of his missing his mom and dad but he has been an incredible joy! He is 6 years old and has an beautiful gift of communication. He simply says I miss them but I have a new family now. God has given children the gift of resillience - amazingly so!! Hayes is funny, fun, affectionate, obedient - all the wonderful things of a 6 year old boy!! He loves Jacob and is having so much fun being a boy!!
Hailey came to our home in Janaury as a result of the death of her mother and father. It was a horrible ending to their lives but Hailey has just made the best of the situation. Hailey is such a worker!! Give her a task and she works her hardest at doing her best. She loves to earn prizes and worked hard at selling cookie dough and doing her PE worksheet. She is the same age as Keaton - 11 years old - and plays soccer with Keaton. She enjoys anything outside and likes to sing and dance!!
Chelsea is 16 and came to our home in January as a result of her mother's death in a domestic dispute. The last few months have been months of incredible change for Chelsea. She continues to work hard to deal with the loss of her mother but that certainly is no easy task. She has such a sweet disposition, loves all things music and just finished participating in her school play "Seussical" at Enka High School.
Every family should be lucky enough to be blessed with a daughter. Keaton is sweet, helpful, a doer in word and deed!! She is so helpful to me at home with so many things. I can depend on her to do what she needs to be doing and she often looks for and finds things to do to help others. She is playing soccer and volleyball and looking forward to the summer. I am so lucky to have such a happy, helpful daughter in my life. I love her with all of my heart.
Jacob is truly a joy in our lives!! He will be 14 in June. He has the sweetest temperment - he has such a dry sense of humor and keeps us all laughing. He is into all kinds of sports - plays football and basketball for the Enka Jets - our middle school. He also throws shotput and discuss for the middle school team and placed 3rd in our conference in the discus this year. He has a tender heart and is truly Haye's hero. I am so lucky!!
On New Year's Day of this year, my husband Joel and I were tiling our laundry room when we received a phone call from our local law enforcement asking about Joel's sister, Angie. Joel's parents had submitted a missing person's report on Angie. She was to go to her home that she shared with her ex-husband on New Year's Eve to get keys to the property and pick up her two children. She never returned that evening. Joel met the Sherriff's Department at her home and allowed them to enter. What they found that morning changed our lives forever. Her ex-husband her suffocated her and killed two other women - one in the home and a neighbor. He then fled our county with the two smaller children. We issued Amber Alerts and waited. They located him approximately 100 miles from our home with the two children. After a lengthy standoff, he committed suicide and the two children were rescued safely from the home. Angie had three children. Our life was forever changed in that moment. Joel and I along with our two children - Jacob and Keaton - met Joel's parents at the Sherriff's Department and brought the children home with us. Overnight we went from 2 children to 5 children. The last 5 months have been an incredible time of adjustment. We've spent many hours with counselors, in court, late nights talking, lots of crying and grief - it's just been plain tough. But I am reminded in Isaiah 55:8 that "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." In my limited human capacity, I simply cannot understand God's ways in his event. But I know his character and trust in His plan - because He has told me that his thoughts and ways are higher than anything I can imagine. In Jeremiah 29:11 He promises me that "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." So there is where I leave it and follow it from day to day. I trust without reservation my Heavenly Father.
- LaRue Neilson
- Candler, NC, United States
- I have the privilege of being a full-time mom and wife. God has given me the gift of providing a refuge for my family from the rest of the world where they can live their life fully alive. I am so lucky to be married for 20 years to a wonderful man Joel who supports me in this choice. I am also an Independent Consultant for Close To My Heart. I am thankful I can tell my story!