...............The Hellwig Family

Sunday, December 28, 2014

End of the Year... already!

by Mama H.

December is fast coming to a close and I can't stand it!  Okay, I can't "sit" it either, as sitting is killing me these days.

To watch the calendar page flip wildly by, my children grow up and the dust bunnies take over is sometimes overwhelming to me.  To see a world of people made in the image of God shake a fist at Him, ignore Him, or make Him into its own image almost crushes me.   Almost.  Because the Lord has promised that, as children of God, His very own earthen vessels fragile as we are, we can never be crushed.  Afflicted in every way, yes.  Crushed, no.

I could almost be driven to despair when I see loved ones destroying themselves, taking the way well traveled by those who have no regard for God.  But instead, the Lord only allows me to be perplexed.

When I have felt as though all are against me, like I'm all alone, misunderstood, slandered, imputed with evil or incorrect motives, left out, persecuted?  Well, I suppose those things could qualify as persecution in a tiny way, but I really do not feel persecuted... not in this country.  Not yet. But I know I'm not forsaken.  God is with me.  He has promised His nearness and I feel it keenly.

God is faithful.   The evidence of this is everywhere.  He sustains every mitochondrion in each cell of each blade of grass on each lawn, field or meadow all over the world.  Every cell in our bodies, each chemical reaction, every twist of our DNA, each electrical impulse that passes through the brain, nerves, and system of our physical selves is appointed, directed, ordained by a loving Father, a Mind unfathomable.

Each grain of sand on all the shores all over the earth, unique in its color, shape and composition, has been crafted for His glory, and our discovery.

Everything in nature cries "Glory!"

So why don't we?

Don't we "believe?"  Then let us speak!

Yes, the new 2015 calendar is resting on my table, ready to replace the 2014 one on my fridge.  The pens are ready to scribble in the appointed dates, meetings, events. I am looking forward to a new year of joys, heartache, misunderstandings, apathy, encouraging books, deeper friendships, pain....
But all these things cry "Glory!" as well.  These are the divine appointments where we meet God, look Him in the face and either shrink back and pout, continue on the way we have always gone, not allowing us to be changed, or declare with the Heavens, "I trust you!  You are faithful!  You have loved me with an everlasting love, and I will not let You go.  I will hold fast to You, and cry 'Glory!'"

My word for this year is "Glory!"  May Christ be glorified in me.  Yes, I swallow hard when I say this, because I know what may come.  But I also know what kind of God I serve.

Join with me in 2015 in telling others about our glorious God, our kind and merciful Savior, of the patient, persistent Spirit who leads and quietly encourages.  May we tell with our lives by living in separate-ness, but also by engaging all about us fully and telling our praises with our lips.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Our Thanksgiving Tree

by Mama H.

This year, I thought we'd do something a little different to display our gratitude to the Lord for all His kindnesses to us.

I asked the younger boys to run outside and gather a bundle of sticks.  Boys? Outside? Sticks?  How much better could it get?  They were very obliging (gross understatement) and gleefully presented me with an armful of perfect  "branches" for our "tree."

Tobias adding some thanks

As the children remarked, while the tree leaves were dropping outside, leaves were appearing inside on our "tree."

Every time someone thinks of something he is thankful for, he writes it on a paper leaf, and ties it to a "tree" branch.  After only one day, we have quite a few. 

What are your Thanksgiving traditions?  What are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Elliot is a Red Belt!

by Mama H.

Today Elliot had another Tae Kwon Do belt test.  He passed, earning his red belt!
We are all proud of him and of his dedication and hard work!

Elliot gets the red

Benaiah loves to watch

Bad photo:  Elliot breaking a board with  a flying kick (he leaped over a friend's back!)

Tobias watching

Elliot with one of his instructors, at left
Good work, Elliot!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The National Bible Bee - Part 3

by Mama H.

Friday the 31st of October arrived, with a feeling of freedom and lightness of heart, as there would be no more competing for us, no wondering, just engaging our hearts with the semifinalists as they competed for the finals.

At breakfast, Christianna and I were seated at a lovely table in a breakfast/lunch restaurant, enjoying a hearty breakfast buffet (a special treat for her birthday) when I remembered I'd received an email the day before informing us that the Fall Festival held at a church family's farm had been postponed a day.  It had originally been scheduled for Saturday night (while we were in Orlando), but because of inclement weather, they would hold it the next day.  Christie had been a bit sad to have to miss it, as the hosting family does such a lovely job of putting it all together, and it is such a sweet time of fellowship.  So, I thought I'd bring it up and give Christie the good news that, as we would be arriving home a couple of hours before the festival, we could attend!(Thank you Lord!)

Well, one could have heard her squeal of delight and her loud "Yes!" from Dan to Beersheba, had it not been for her even louder slap on the glass table-top!  As it was, all the other patrons around us looked up and grinned (they must have been used to us by this time) as Christie turned a sweet shade of fuschia and obviously felt like slipping under the table!  Had it been covered with a cloth, she very well may have done so.  ;-)

Portending of things to come, we giggled together like schoolgirls and thoroughly enjoyed our time of talking and planning the day.

Christie watched all the semifinal rounds, as I wandered in and out for most of them.  Sitting for long periods of time is not in my repertoire of things I can do anymore.

In my wanderings, I decided to visit the vendor tables.  At one, I had the privilege of meeting Timothy Botts (http://www.timbotts.com/) and his business manager, and spent quite a bit of time poring over his work (http://www.inkwellgreetings.com/) and learning about both of them.  How they both blessed me and the many people who stopped by! (Yet another gift from God!)

Then I went to the Bible Bee table and thought I would get some Bible Bee shirts for the boys at home, maybe to inspire them!

As I looked around, one design caught my eye, and I began looking for all the sizes I'd need.  I found 2 out of the 4 that I needed, and was sorry to see I might not be able to get all 4 in the same pattern.  I was just about to ask the lady behind the table, when alongside me, another contestant mother came up and asked the vendor if she could return 2 shirts she had ordered online and had picked up at the Bee.
 Her boys didn't care for them and she was wondering if she could get her money back some how.  As the vendor lady left to ask her superior if they could take returns on internet orders, I sensed an uncanny nudge: "Excuse me!  If they can't take the return and if the sizes are right, I'll buy them from you."  Yes, they were the very same pattern I was looking at!  Now, what are the chances that they would be the exact sizes I needed?  With 8 sizes to choose from, the Lord chose just the very two I needed to complete my set!  The mother was thrilled, I was thrilled, and the vendor was thrilled, and all of us went away praising God for this kind providence! (Yet another praise!)

The semifinal rounds were very exciting, and tense!  After much anticipation, the senior rounds were over and we knew all the finalists who would compete on Saturday!

In front of our hotel

An exciting and very entertaining and inspirational evening concert/family fun night was planned for 7:00, so we had a little bit of time to have dinner before it started.  As it was Christianna's 18th birthday, I thought we'd do something a little unusual and dine at Benihana.  We did not have reservations, so we had to wait at a table for more people to join us.  An older couple joined us, after a while, who turned out to be with the Bible Bee as well.  They were vendors at the competition, and we had such a warm and heartening conversation over a very unusual dining experience.  As they learned more about us, such as how it was Christie's 18th birthday, and we learned many things about them, shared many common interests, favorite authors, and ideas regarding Biblical counseling, we felt our hearts knitting together with this couple who felt to me like my long lost Christian parents!  Isn't it marvelous how God gives the spiritual orphan parents/aunts/uncles/brothers and sisters in the faith?  And we recognize each other as such!

As I waited to pay my tab, Christianna informed me she would run up to the room to get our tickets to the concert, and freshen up  as it was growing late, and we still had to wait a bit for the waiter to get back to us.  While she was gone, our lady companion informed me that the Lord wanted them to do something unusual:  they felt led to pay for our dinner, as a way of wishing Christie a happy birthday and of being a blessing to us as we were without our family on this trip!
Through tears and covered with goosebumps, I stammered some incredulous remark, after which they assured me that the Holy Spirit was really prompting their hearts to do this.  I could only thank them again and again... I was still shaking when Christie returned and I informed her of what had transpired.  We were both a bit dumbstruck, and giddy with thankfulness.  They told us to run along and they'd see us at the concert!  (His lovingkindness is over-the-top!)

Coming off that experience, C and I were walking a little above the ground as we handed our tickets to the gentleman at the door to the Grand Ballroom where the concert had just begun.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The National Bible Bee - Part 2

by Mama H.

The next morning found Christianna's headache gone (thank you Lord!) and excitement high.

After a good walk outside, a time of singing and reading of God's word and prayer, and a good high fat/protein breakfast, Christie and I proceeded to do some more memory work.  The written exam was coming up first.

After she and the other senior division contestants disappeared into the testing room, I ran into a friend from several years ago.  We'd had her family over for dinner when they were visiting the area, and had prayed with them, heard their story, shared ours, etc.  But, we had lost contact for some time.

I surely wished to renew the friendship, not realizing how amazing this time together would become!
As this mother and I began to unfold our stories, we found the Lord had led us and our families down parallel paths, where we had experienced many of the same trials, some so identical it seemed uncanny.  Obviously God had set up a divine appointment.

I can only offer God all the glory for what He did in that meeting.... there was sweetness of shared experiences of grace, shared pain, troubles of such similarity only of somewhat different flavors that she and I could only conclude that the God of all comfort had indeed sovereignly ordained our meeting, the words which passed between us, the tears appointed to both of us, the growth that came over the years of trial which we were able to identify as mercies and blessings from His hand to grow us into His likeness.

 I thank Him profoundly for that time together.  It affirmed for me a principle that I had known and seen in action before: God does not give trials for nothing, but to the degree we trust in Him and allow ourselves to be comforted by Him, to that degree we will emerge as gold and will be a comfort to others undergoing similar straits.  It is very humbling to see oneself being used as an instrument of comfort in the Hand of God.  I left the conversation changed and more thankful than ever.

The seniors then emerged from the testing room - such a buzz and flurry of 120 students all talking at once, relating their experiences.

By then, a quick lunch was in order, after which we headed over to the oral recitation room, where all the students were divided into groups of about 8-10 to recite in smaller rooms before a judge a set of 10 passages in the 7 minute time allotted.

Christianna and friend Rachel from the Cary, NC Bee site

Please permit a bit of motherly pride to shine through here, as I must proclaim to all how much I appreciate Christianna's spirit and spunk with regards to God's Word.  She disdains the monotone, rote repetition of mere words into a microphone, eyes closed, head bent and face screwed up in concentration.  Instead, she feels that the scripture is not merely a string of sounds to be uttered at quickly as one can remember them, but the living word, from the heart of Almighty God, meant to be shared with all one's heart, soul, mind and strength, and with a love for God and others that showcases the Gospel in all the Scriptures.

Well, she did her best!  She was such a joy up there on stage when it came her turn.  She spoke beautifully, though, unfortunately, her recitations were not quite word-perfect, which is what the judges are looking for.  She ran over -time, but out of reverence for God's word, the judges allowed students to finish the passage they were reciting.  She finished.  And there was much applause for her.  Several other parents present with their students approached me and remarked to me how her recitations had particularly blessed them, and how they wished all the students would recite with such warmth!

I felt a bit like Mary, pondering these things in my heart.  I could only weep tears of joy and thankfulness to the Lord, for, here, again, He fulfilled Christianna's main desire for the Bible Bee:
to touch people with the Word, to recite with power and life the Word that gives life, that , perhaps, someone listening might be blessed.  That was her prime objective.  God answered her: "Yes!"

Enjoying the last of her waffle cone

Later that afternoon, after the congratulatory talk, visiting the vendor tables, and preparing for the opening ceremony later that evening, we had dinner, and then ice-cream eaten outside while walking the lovely hotel grounds.  Palm trees, fountains in the property ponds, egrets, beautiful tropical flowers unfamiliar to NC dwellers, and a warm gentle breeze all contributed to a lovely evening as we walked, talked, enjoyed waffle-cone ice-cream, and waved to other families driving back in from their dinner outings.

The fountain in front of our hotel

The opening ceremony was quite impressive.  Sober, yet expectant, serious, yet filled with joy at merely being together with the saints, the majestic processionals themselves inspired as each of the 360 students (120 from each age division) came up to stage, received his medal for qualifying and participating in the Nationals, and stood with his group for pictures.

After a few speeches, the semi-finalists were announced in each division.  Christie had only a few moments of disappointment when all 15 names were listed, but I witnessed that sadness quickly become replaced with relief and genuine delight for those who succeeded.  I was, again, very thankful for my girl's heart that felt real joy for others' victories.

What a glorious day it was, by God's grace!  His mercies flow continuously. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

The National Bible Bee - Part 1

We're home from Orlando.

There is so much to share about the National Bible Bee event that I anticipate several posts.
My heart is bursting with praise for our great and kind God who ordained our time there, and who so graciously allowed Christianna's dreams and desires to be fulfilled in unexpected ways.

No, she did not win any of the prizes, but she certainly did win the prize.

Please allow a little bit of motherly love and joy to bubble up through my words as I describe highlights from the trip, truly a journey of a lifetime.

Sunrise in Charlotte,NC
Our plane took off from Raleigh-Durham airport on Oct. 29.  This was the first time I'd flown since before 9/11, and Christianna's first ever flight.  So, not only did she get the prized window seat she'd hoped for, but she also flew into the sunrise(another desire), up through clouds (another wish fulfilled) and also experienced perfect clock-work-like timing with regards to making connecting flights, baggage claim, reserving airport transportation to and from the hotel (my desire fulfilled ;-)  ).

On the van ride to the Hilton Orlando (where the Bible Bee convened and where we were required to stay) we were joined by another Bible Bee family (father and son) and we had such a lovely and animated ride.  This certainly helped Christianna feel like she now had at least one new connection there.  There's nothing like an earnest conversation between two young people regarding the merits of one Bible interpretation vs. another to warm a mother's heart.  Christianna had a chance to do what she loves best: to talk about the Scriptures, to compare notes with others who seriously study God's word, and to share of her experiences as she worked so hard the last several months learning the Word and leaning into her Lord.  (another desire met!)

Checking in was easy and smooth, no surprises.   Being on the 4th floor allowed us to run up and down the stairs conveniently without having to rely on an elevator....  I was thankful we were not up on the 10th!  (Praise God!  Again!)

At registration that afternoon, not only did we get through it easily, but also with many hugs, lots of encounters with genuinely happy people.  At the end of the line, Christianna had another surprise waiting for her:  the people who make the Bee happen did not forget those who were celebrating a birthday over those 5 days.  There, waiting for her, was a HUGE gift bag, with birthday wishes from the sponsors of the National Bible Bee!  She was shocked, and I stood aside in quiet tears of gratitude.  (Praise God.... again!)

Later in the afternoon, Christianna and I were drilling some of her troublesome passages out in the lobby.  Now, when she's in a particularly spunky mood, when she recites something incorrectly and I call it, she will let out a peculiarly humorous groan, an "Oooh" of sorts that starts at a higher pitch and rapidly descends "to the pit," she might say, all at an unabashedly audible volume, complete with trademark Christianna-body language.
Suffice it to say, she was in said mood in the lobby that afternoon, and had just hit an incorrect recitation spot when, out came the groan, and who should be walking by but a Bee-mother and her son, who laughed knowingly, and an elderly grandfatherly man (attending with his grandchildren and family) who produced a huge grin, a wink of the eye, and a knowing nod and chuckle!  Christianna was a bit embarrassed, and ever after that gentleman would smile kindly and give her a chuckle!  We had made friends!  (Praise God, once more!)

The Cary,NC Bee group (Christie in back on right)
After greeting many families from our local Bee host site (in Apex, NC) and catching up with one another for a while, Christie and I went to dinner at the Italian restaurant in the hotel.  Again, everything was so perfect.... a quiet spot for us to speak alone, nourishing food (just what she needed for her headache) and a relaxed, unhurried experience to simply sink in and recount the blessings of the day.   (Thanks be to God for His perfect gifts and care!)

Early to bed, for the next day was the written test and the Preliminary oral rounds.

....continued in Part 2.....

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Christianna is going to Nationals....by God's Grace

posted by : Mama H.

Last night, the results came in!
May this Mama boast a bit?  Yes, but only in the glory and kindness of Christ!

On August 23rd, Christianna and Jedidiah sat for the National Bible Bee test in Apex, at a host site where we had attended sermons on the book of Jonah, and where they had practiced with a mock test 2 weeks before.

Grateful for the experience, they had studied Jonah and memorized many passages for 10 weeks before.
Hebrew and Greek words, theology, inductive study, cross-references....all this and plenty of word-perfect recitations had filled their days.

On the 23rd, Christianna placed first in her division (Senior) and Jedidiah successfully completed the course in his division (Junior)

But the nagging question was this:  was placing first in a local competition enough to qualify her for one of the 120 spots eligible for the Nationals?  That question was answered last night: yes!  She came in 1st in NC and 45 in the country!

Christianna is overwhelmed with gratitude at the opportunity to travel to FL in October to participate in the National Bible Bee Competition, especially since a friend she's communicated with for a while will be there too.

If you would, please pray for Christianna as she prepares to study the book of Nahum and memorize 200 passages of Scripture(750 verses), in just 8 weeks!  And keep up with her regular work here at home as she begins wrapping up high school work, directs a children's choir, and progresses with her music studies.  She desires to do this with a joyful heart, free from pride .... a tall order for any of us.

But nothing is impossible for God.  I am grateful she is trusting Him to bring this about.  To God be the glory!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Long Time Away

Greetings to our friends and family who (may) still follow our family blog.  Thank you for your faithfulness, and for being patient with us.  We've not updated much of late, not because our lives are so dull and uninteresting that we've nothing to tell.  Rather, our days are so full, that there's hardly the time to answer any urgent email, much less blog about the happenings around here.  We're too busy living life that we don't have much time to tell about it!  I'd say, that's a good place to be!

2014 has found us quite busy indeed.

A typical day in the Hellwig household looks a bit like this for Mama Hellwig:

Wake up around 2 a.m., because sleep seems to evade me!
Lie in bed for an hour or more, praying, planning the day, thinking about the future....
(I used to lie in bed complaining to God about my sleeplessness, but now, I can praise Him for giving me "songs in the night".... and that is ALL His doing!)
Get up around 3:30, and read, and drink at least 1 quart of water.  Make my daily To-Do list.

Exercise indoors (body-weight exercises, when I'm feeling okay!, and stretching)
Prepare any special breakfast items that fall to me.(  Arianne is our breakfast- maker-extraordinaire! )

For example, when I did a 30-day juice fast last June, and again this February-March, there were lots of veggies to wash and cut up into juicer-sized pieces.  Sometimes, I like to complement Arianne's breakfast with a little extra something.

By  this time it is very nearly 6:00, and time for me to get my running shoes on and go out for my.... run?  No, can't do that yet.  My knee will not accommodate that, but I do walk.... at least 2 miles.

Then, into the shower, and breakfast with the family at 7:15.
Chores get done by the children (and me) while I start correcting Algebra lessons, Biology tests, or make copies of grammar lessons or Latin quizzes.  I review what we'll be reading for history, and supervise the littles' chores.... well, they're not so little anymore, but they'll always be my "babies."  ;-)
Gabrielle is usually off to her office in downtown Rolesville, to get some work done. Timothy is driving to downtown Raleigh to his work at Baker Roofing.

8:30 - Bible Time  : sing our hymn of the month, and read through (round-robin) and discuss 1 chapter of whichever book we're in.  Right now, we are trying to finish up the NT, so we can move on to an in-depth study of the Psalms, which will probably take us the rest of the year, and then some!
After we pray, we break up to do individual work (science, math, vocabulary, cursive,...) while I work one-on-one with Benaiah in his reading/phonics and writing, and tutor each child as needs arise.

By 10:00, we're ready to take a 10-minute break.  Wrestling, running outside, scrubbing bathroom floors or some laundry-folding are good diversions for young boys.
By 10:15 we're well into either Latin or grammar.  And by 11:00 it's time for history, unless I need to drive Arianne to work. (Rather, she drives me to her work, where I get out, take off the "Student Driver" sign on the back of the car, and bid her a good day!
Some days, it's off to piano lessons for Christianna.
Sometimes, I drive my father to a Dr.'s appointment.

12:00 Lunchtime... Gabrielle is our chief lunch maker, at least most days.  I am beginning to consider the training up of "The Lunch Lads" to take over for her soon.
By 1:00, after clean-up, it is the "Quiet Hour," which is actually a metaphor for a length of time closer to 2 hours, where the youngest 3 boys have the opportunity to be alone.  The three musketeers need some space, time to contemplate, and meditate, each by himself.  On rare occasions, one or more will fall asleep.  I'm often out driving someone around: violin lessons, Arianne to work, if she starts at 2 instead of 12, visiting the chiropractor, or a myriad of other errands.

Most of us are home by 5:30, when we sit down to a sumptuous repast created by Christianna.  Arianne usually works late.
After we clean up the kitchen and dining room, there's time for stories, math tutoring, conversations, block-tower building, remote-control car races, or more laundry folding (often all of the above, all at once!)
7:00 is Family-worship: another hymn to sing, and more wisdom from God's word.
7:30 : youngest 3 get to go to bed.... they don't view it as "getting to go" to bed, but I assure you, I would!

I get to stay up with my older ones and talk, read, or occasionally we will have a movie night.
9:45 : I drive out to pick up Arianne.... yawn!
10:30 - bed, sweet bed..... sleep is typically hard to get a hold of, so I wrestle with pillows....
If I get 4-5 hours, I'm doing well.  It's those nights that I get only 2-3 hours that make the days a bit bumpier (and, might I add, grumpier!)

The Lord has blessed us tremendously!  He is kind and gentle with us, teaching us and training us to be more like what we were meant to be.  I am so thankful for all He is doing, has done and will continue to accomplish in me.  All praises be to God!

How are your days?  What are you praising God for ?  How might the Hellwigs pray for you?

We will try to post more often.... but I cannot promise that it will happen regularly.
Blessings to you,
Lisa (Mama H.)