Harder Family

Harder Family

Monday, February 29, 2016

Catching Up

Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!"

We have so much to be thankful for every day. I'm trying to daily find things to thank God for in my life. It is too easy to get negative in life and forget all the marvelous things God is doing in our lives! Since Wayne is an accountant, January-May means that he is non-existent at home...late nights at work, working Saturday, etc. Last year, when we didn't know what tomorrow would bring, I told myself that if we got through Wayne's surgery, chemo, radiation, and rehab, that I would never complain about busy season again. There have been moments I want to complain, but then I remember last year. I remind myself that my husband is healthy enough to be working this year, something I wasn't sure would happen last year. So as hard as some days are, I am so thankful for the healing that God has brought Wayne. 

With Wayne being busy at work, the girls and I have been keeping ourselves busy with school, activities, and preparing a room (and our lives) for a month this summer with P-Man (I can't use his real name on-line, so we decided to shorten Piano man to P-Man. We still have some work to do (like move all of my homeschool material out of this room), but it is slowly coming together. We just finished putting the bunk beds together today. *If you have no clue what I am referring to, you can read this post to catch up*

Bunk beds: a Craigslist score!

As I mentioned in this post, we brought back our "Fun on Friday" activities for school. A few weeks ago we sewed, two weeks ago we learned how to use a knitting loom to make things. All the girls did great, but Grace took to this like a fish in water. She made a hat for Joella and even watched a youtube video on how to make a flower and attached it to the hat! 

Grace also learned how to make slipper socks.

We did baking another day.

Micaela is working hard in school. She learned letter C & H. 

We had a "tea party" to go along with the cookies we baked.

We made perler bead creations for art.

This past Friday, we learned how to use colored pencils to shade and give things dimension. A friend, who is an art teacher, had been telling me to invest in Prismacolor colored pencils and that we'd see a difference. I am so thankful for her suggestions and for YouTube videos. The girls spent hours sketching and trying their hand at art. I decided to try sketching too and ended up with the snake. That's what I do late at night when Wayne is traveling for work, I stay busy preparing things for school the next day.

Sophia's creations: I found something to bribe her with to get her school work done. She loves art!!

Today (Monday) we took a field trip to the Adler Planetarium. It was perfect timing since we've been reading about the sun, the moon, and planets in our science book. It was a beautiful day downtown, especially for February!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Life Changing Summer

James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

We are excited to announce that some changes are coming to the Harder household this summer. After much prayer, we have decided to host a boy from China for a month. God has an amazing way of working things out in our lives! A friend is adopting two boys from China and she posts pictures on Facebook all the time. When we saw that Great Wall was looking for host families, we felt called to host. We prayed and asked God for wisdom, to know what child we were to host. When we saw "The Piano Man" and received information about him, we felt that God wanted us to host him. God has confirmed this decision a few different ways since we signed the contract. It is amazing to see how God works and we are so thankful that we get to participate in the work He is doing. 

The girls are very excited for this summer!! They have been going through their toys so that they can "sell" them and make money to help "The Piano Man". Nothing touches a mom's heart like seeing your children want to be God's hands and feet to others, especially another child! We can't wait to see how God will use this summer to continue the transforming work He is doing in our lives to make us into His image!

Great Wall is looking for other families to host children this summer. You don't have to have an interest in adopting to host, you just need to have a heart for children/orphans. There are children of different ages available to host. If you want more information, go to Great Wall. The process to sign up was very easy and the people who work at Great Wall are super friendly, helpful, and informative. Here are some of the kids waiting to be sponsored. Wouldn't it be amazing if we all pitched in a hosted a child this summer so that Great Wall had to find more kids to match with families?

Would you consider giving your love and a month of your summer to host a child in need? Let's be the hands and feet of Christ to these children. None of us know how long we have on earth. Let's live each day to the fullest for God!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lessons Learned: Part 6

In Psalm 39:4 it states, "Show me, Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is."

My family and I had to come to grips with my mortality and God's sovereignty. We had to come to the conclusion that God is a good and wise God. He knows what is best for our family. The funny thing is that I was teaching a Sunday School class entitled "The Attributes of God" and the Sunday before all of this happened, I was teaching on the goodness of God. Our prayer, from the beginning of this ordeal, has been that God would do to us whatever brings Him the most glory, whether life or death. We all have to die at one point and time. As Peter and Paul have said before, "if one is going to suffer, it is best to suffer for the sake of Christ." I am paraphrasing, but you get the point.

In Job 14:5 he says, "A person's days are determined; You have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed." We all have to come to grips with that fact that our days here on earth are numbered.

Conclusion: Out of the many things we have learned, what the world would call a "tragic" situation, we have seen this as an opportunity to serve Christ in the manner He has asked us to...through SUFFERING! We focus on these five things:

- The importance of knowing the one true God and Jesus Christ His Son
- The importance of holiness and godliness in our walk with God
- Humility
- The power of prayer
- Numbering our days (you can see Rebecca's post on this as well)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lessons Learned: Part 5

Jesus did it, Moses did it, David did it, the prophets did it, the apostles did it, and we can do it. What am I speaking of? I am speaking of prayer. A quote from a small, country church pastor in Mississippi named John Synder comes to my mind, "A church that does not pray is a prideful church." Prayer is the acknowledgement that you need some strength or help from a power outside yourself.

When I went in for surgery to remove the tumor from the left frontal lobe of my brain in March, we were told that I would experience complete loss of movement and speech for at least two weeks, until my brain could learn to use my right frontal lobe. The doctors told us that I would be in the hospital for at least a week and then in rehab for a month. The morning of my surgery, a friend asked Rebecca if she had any specific prayer requests. Rebecca asked her to pray boldly that I would be able to move and speak after my surgery, despite the doctor's warnings. Rebecca figured it couldn't hurt to pray for a crazy miracle and see God move. God is sovereign and He could have answered that prayer any way He desired, but it was phenomenal to see God answer YES! It wasn't something she had shared with anyone else, it was just a prayer request between friends. The answer to those prayer requests (my moving and talking after surgery, leave the hospital for rehab just three days after surgery, and being released from rehab after only two weeks!!) were just the first of many prayer requests that God has answered the last 10 months. 

Even now, especially with my aphasia, I struggle to have personal prayer time. But prayer is crucial to holiness and our Christian walk. How are you supposed to walk with the Spirit if you don't know what He is trying to communicate to you? Who's strength are you relying on, your strength or God's strength? 

In Ephesians 3:14-21 Paul says, "...I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant to you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

Monday, February 15, 2016

Lessons Learned: Part 4

In Psalm 34:18 it says, "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."

I didn't realize how prideful I was being in life by doing things on my own strength until I could hardly speak two words in a row and my entire right side was paralyzed. Sure, I could move my toes and fingers with effort, but I had to concentrate hard just to do that. My brain was having to move my word finding and secondary motor skills from my left frontal lobe to my right frontal lobe, which just takes time. Chemo didn't help my rehab process. 

I tell you this because since surgery, I now cannot preach from an outline, like I once was able to do. In fact, doing presentations for my full time job, being a CPA, is very difficult for me. I have to write out my presentations to make sure I don't leave anything out. That has been very difficult to deal with...my new normal. As I went through the rehab process, I had to realize that I couldn't do things on my own. Things like getting dressed, writing my name, things I once took for granted, were now difficult for me to do. It forced me to rely on Jesus more. I see this dependence especially when it comes to reading and writing. I was always read at a snail's pace, but now I read even slower. 

If we can just humble ourselves enough to admit that we can't do things on our own, then He is quick to give us the power to persevere. In Matthew, Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Jesus Himself is the humblest man that ever walked the earth. He came to serve man. An example of this humbleness is seen in the washing of the disciples' feet. Just think, the very one that created the heavens and the earth was washing the feet of man. Jesus had counsel with the other two members of the Trinity and chose us before the foundation of the earth. Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who is glorious beyond words, saved us, a wretched bunch of sinners. Sinners of the worst degree, the whole lot of us, and He bore all our guilt and shame. He took the full wrath of God,who is just, because we must be made righteous before a holy God. There is no way to earn salvation, there is nothing we can do to get saved. It is only by the abundant grace of God that we, by faith in the one man Jesus Christ, can take part in this awesome and ultimate plan of salvation. It all starts with a broken and contrite heart. In Psalm 51:17 it states, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lessons Learned: Part 2 & 3

Knowing God: I wrote about this in May 2015. You can read that post here.

Holiness and Godliness:

Hebrews 12:14 "Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."

"Make every effort" - being holy takes a whole lot of concentrated effort. You aren't going to be holy by taking a relaxed posture. The Christian walk isn't for the faint of heart, or is it?

Philippians 2:12 states, "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling." 1 Peter 1:15 says, "But just as He who called you in holy, so be holy in all you do." Holy is more than a state of mind, it is action. We must be obedient to His Word. And we can only do that through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. For only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we obey the Word of God.

"without holiness no one will see the Lord" - Holiness is extremely important for your own salvation. We cannot do as the world does, we have to elevate above its level of immoral behavior-we must be "set apart".

I have struggled for years with sexual sin, and continue to do so. But because of the Holy Spirit in my life, and a supporting wife, I can feel safe asking for forgiveness when I sin. The shame and guilt of that sin are lifted from my shoulders and put on the cross. My bride has to bear them with me, but that is the beauty of the body of Christ. We get to play a large part/role in each other's holiness through the confession and repentance of sin.

2 Peter 1:5-7 states, "For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love." If we can find true holiness and godliness, it will produce in us a brotherly love like the world has never seen.

Holiness and godliness can only come through obedience to the Word, which can only come from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God only dwells in two places: Heaven and a broken and contrite heart.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Lessons Learned: Part 1

*Note: This is from a sermon/testimony I preached in Tunnel Hill, GA in December 2015*

Hi, my name is Wayne Harder. I appreciate the opportunity to give really my family's testimony of what God has done in our lives over the last 11 months. In order to give the full picture of our testimony, I have to go back about 18 months. God started preparing our hearts and minds for a ministry of suffering during this time. I know that sounds odd to most American Christians, but that is exactly what Christ asks of us...to suffer for Him. The first step in the Christian walk is to know the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, with the emphasis on KNOW. The more you know Jesus, the more you know God. The more you know about God, the less prideful you become because you see yourself for who you truly are, a sinner. As you see God's holiness, you see your sinfulness. There is no way, in your own strength, that you can be HOLY. Romans 5:17 says, "Abundance of grace and free gift of righteousness [you can] reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ." God's first priority is to make you Holy and it starts with a broken and contrite heart. That is why in Matthew in the Beatitudes Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for their is the Kingdom of Heaven." Again, the Bible states in 1 Peter, "You shall be holy, for I am Holy." God wants a holy bride for His Son, the Bridegroom, and He will get that. It all starts with holiness. 

If we are living holy lives, when outsiders look at us as individuals, as a family, or as the church body, they will have no justification for what they think of us. 1 Peter 2:12, "Keep your conduct among the pagans honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation." So when the secularist, atheist, or pagan look in at the church, what is it that they see? My prayer is that they see nothing other than obedience to the Word of God. The question that 1 Peter addresses is, how do we, as a body, reach those outside of the church? Peter says that we reach the world through submission and suffering. "Wait! Back up and say that again! Submission and suffering?" I know you are probably thinking right now that this guy is crazy, but just hear Peter out. Scripture gives testimony to this. Peter says that we show the outsider the gospel message through submission to all authorities (bosses, governmental authority, or within the family structure). That is the first way we demonstrate out "walking with the Spirit."

The second way we show the gospel message is through our suffering. This is not suffering that results from doing something wrong, such as breaking the law, but suffering for the sake of Christ.

These are the things that God was teaching and showing me during this time. This leads me to where the story begins. My wife Rebecca and I were traveling with the family, our six daughters, to Kentucky for Christmas (2014). We though the six hour drive would be a good time to set some family goals for the next year. We were trying to figure out how we could suffer alongside Christians throughout the world who were being persecuted for Christ and with orphaned children. We came up with a list of things for the next year that would help us "suffer" alongside them and remind us to pray daily for them. Here were some of the ideas we came up with for the year:

January - pray 
February - eat rice and beans (meals that orphans eat daily to try to understand their plight better)
Other months - no a/c, no heater, no technology, no car, etc.

We were 11 days into our month of eating rice and beans when I had a grand mal seizure. The doctors revealed to me that I had a cancerous brain tumor. Over the next 10 months, my family and I had to deal with serious topics like God's sovereignty, His goodness, His faithfulness, and my mortality (just to name a few). I never once questioned the will of God. I was prepared to accept it. My wife said with me from that first day, "Whatever outcome brings my Jesus the most glory, that is what we want." The reason God sent His Son was to redeem us so that we would bring Him glory!

I believe we were able to walk this journey because God had started to prepare our heats for a ministry opportunity. It wasn't the ministry we anticipated, but the one that God chose to give us. One doesn't get a second chance with something like this and we had one chance to get it right. It is because we were already broken in spirit that He could mold us. We were thinking of petty ways, with the best intentions, of how we could suffer for the sake of Christ. In doing so, He showed us how we could really suffer for the sake of Christ.

1 Peter became real to me and my family. These are some of the more important things that we have learned. Due to the length of my sermon, over the next few days I will share what God taught me in each of these areas:

* The importance of knowing the one true God and Jesus Christ His Son (2/12)
* The importance of holiness and godliness in our walk with God (2/13)
* Humility (2/15)
* The power of prayer (2/16)
* To number our days (2/17)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Life Changing Day

Romans 8:28-30 "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposeFor those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified."

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the day that changed our lives. On February 11, 2015, Wayne called me around 3pm to let me know that he was at Northwestern Hospital. He had a grandmal seizure while eating lunch with coworkers. As I reflect back on that day, I see God's hand so evident in everything that happened. Every detail of that day was under His control. God provided someone to watch my kids (my neighbor had just gotten home), a Metra train right when I needed it, just the right amount of money for a train ticket in my purse (I don't ever carry cash...poor guy ended up with a bunch of change), and even someone to come stay with the girls after AWANA so that I could spend the night with Wayne in the hospital. Every detail was covered by God!

Although there were some dark and difficult days this past year, God has been so faithful through everything. We have seen Him do amazing things in our lives. Over the next week, I am going to share the lessons that Wayne has learned this year. He sat down one day and reflected on all the things that God has taught him. He wanted to share with all of you what God has taught him during this time. As one who has faced death, I find his thoughts provoking and challenging. I hope that you all enjoy hearing from Wayne.

Wayne: almost 1 year ago

Wayne: in January

God is good!!

"I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do." Corrie Ten Boom


Here is some recent pictures of things we've been up to in life.

We worked on the letter "W" and ate some watermelon, made some walrus, and learned about weather and whales

We celebrated Naomi's 10th birthday

Going out for Naomi's birthday breakfast

Naomi using her birthday gift (Little Bits) to make a voice activated lantern

Naomi helping me bake cupcakes to take to church

Working on our letter "I" project...insects. We also celebrated the letter I on Friday by eating ice cream!

Letter "G"...grass, glitter, and gumballs! We ate grapes for snack

We decided to start "Fun on Friday" projects again. Last week we learned how to sew and made heating bags with flax seed. This next week we are going to try to learn how to knit using a loom.

Field Museum: We took a field trip to the Field Museum yesterday. The museum is free to IL residents for the month of February. Since we have been learning all about Egypt our first semester in school, we decided to visit the Egypt exhibit. We just started the Greeks for our second semester. The Field Museum has a special exhibit on Greeks. We paid the extra money to see the Greek artifacts and it was great! The girls had just read about the Minoans and Myceneans. To see history come alive was great for them. 

A real gold mask from a Mycenaean king 

We stopped the Pawnee earth lodge at the museum. The kids were taught all the different ways the Native Americans used bison.

A collection of different shoes from around the world

In an Egyptian pyramid (above), real walls from Egypt (below)

Micaela, "I found a mummy!"