Friday, 9 March 2018

Embracing the Struggle

Just when you think you are in a new and good routine, it changes....yet again.  I've told new moms many times the same thing.  You think you have your baby in a great pattern and you've figured them out, but then then they hit a new stage and you have to relearn the whole child.  That is my world with's not just babies that change!

In the Fall, I couldn't figure out why I was having such a hard time getting school done with the little ones.  Then I finally understood it was because I was driving my oldest to all of her jobs she had.  I was in the car for significant amounts of time and the younger ones either came or stayed home with an older child.  By the time I came back they were off the wall and it was hard to get them going again.  Fortunately this didn't last long and she was able to get a car and I was able to get back to schooling.

Now it is the 3rd and 4th child I'm driving everywhere and I attribute this to an answer to prayer!  Gotta watch what you pray for!  I knew they both needed money and I knew they both needed more reasons to get out of bed earlier and work harder in their school, so I prayed.  Two of my older kids had been working at a greenhouse all year long just on Saturdays.  I knew as Spring was coming they would need more help, so we offered that my daughter join in to help.  They were happy to have her!  I didn't realize this would be the answer to prayer on so many levels.

I told my daughter,, who HATES waking up, that she could only take this job where she would be working in the afternoons if she woke up at 6 and did her school work.  She agreed.  But was she all talk?  I wanted to see what would happen.  To my shock and amazement, she's been up all week, maybe not right at 6, but shortly afterward!  It's been absolutely hilarious to hear my kids say, "Look at that!"  They were pointing to the sunrise.  I had to explain what it was.  They hadn't seen one before!  Ok, I jest.  But, the point is made, this one child in particular would sleep all day if she could. And....yes, my older kids, except for a few, all drink Dad will be proud.  They really are his grandchildren, after all!  So, they wake up, try and find a Bible to memorize or read, drink their coffee, eat their breakfast, do their chores, and then, here comes the driving part, I have to drive them to the library now each morning, as there is a shortage of quiet and computers in our home.  They work all morning until lunch and then I bring them lunch, they eat, and I drive them to work until RM picks them up on the way home (unless he forgets, like yesterday!)  I'm back in the car, all the time.

But like I said, I'm seeing this as an answer to prayer.  They are so motivated to get up early.  They are motivated to make money, to save money.  One of the books I'm having my son read for school is How to Buy a House Debt-Free.  He just might be able to do it one day.  I'm so glad my kids aren't afraid to work.  I'm so glad they are able to work together.  I'm so grateful that though it is hard work it isn't a toxic environment.  I'm grateful that it is relatively close to us.  I don't love the driving, but I love the chance to be with my kids in the car and just to be able to talk all the time.  With the older 4 gone all day, I then get no distractions with the younger set once I get back.  It's just like it was with the older four when they were younger!  It's so fun to do it again.  And, I've taken the time in the car and turned it into car-schooling!  I play a geography songs cd the whole time and now my kids know more world geography than most adults!

I pray for my kids all the time.  Because I have so many I have to break it up into bite-size prayer chunks and so I pray for one kid a day and two of them on the weekend.   That way I can focus more specifically on a child's specific needs.  As I pray for them I never know how God is going to work.  I never know how He'll answer my prayers as well as what each child needs.  It is often only in retrospect that I see how He's answered my prayers.  I prayed for work for my older daughter, now she has 4 jobs and a few extra things on the side!  I prayed for my son and school.  He not only got in, but got a scholarship and is off to India this year.  I prayed for my next two children about certain qualities I knew they needed in their lives, more discipline, better attitude towards school, purpose for living and God gave them hard work that is forcing them to get up and work hard all day.  They are now so tired at night they no longer stay up late, which made it so hard to get up in the morning.  They hit the sheets early and are out.  Love that!  I prayed for patience with my younger children and I got asked to give a talk on anger!  Guess what I have to work on every day!  I prayed for more time with my younger kids to homeschool them and God got my older ones out of the house all day.  That makes for a lot more time to homeschool! 

As I look back over my much tougher year in homeschooling with so many changes, I'm amazed not at how hard it has been, but how God has met me in each need, each prayer.  A very famous author, as of late, Jordan Peterson, has become famous for figuring out that when life is hard, it's the best!  I have to agree, the harder life has been, God has just been that much more amazing.

Last night, RM and I headed out to the barn in the cold.  Our water pump might be broken.  The water comes into our home in spits and spurts.  Not good.  Could be expensive and it could mean he has to miss the quiz meet this weekend as he'll have to stay home to fix it.  Was I worried?  I would say, "Concerned."  Was I disappointed he wouldn't be able to make it this weekend?  Disappointed, but ok with it as all my other kids would be there to help.  But what kept me from going into a downward spiral was how this was another chance for us to see God work.  RM said to me as we went back into the house, "It can all be solved."  Good words.  God has met us again and again, from kid issues, to house issues.  We've seen big answers and we've learned to embrace the struggle.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Blessings from Helping

Things can sure take a turn at any given moment around here. We were fairly certain, based on the past experience, that our dog would be bred the same time she was last year, meaning Spring.  Then, we expected, she'd have her pups late summer.  Well, according to our doggie thermometer test (i.e., the big lug that lives in the shop or aka the male collie), our female went into heat this past week.  I don't need to go into details, suffice it to say, we knew she was ready for breeding!  If we didn't have this other male, I don't think we would know what to look for.  He is so helpful!

Fortunately, my son, the dog breeder, was home on reading week from school. We quickly checked in with our doggie fertility clinic (still can't believe that exists) and off we went to get her hormone levels checked and then to the breeder's, where she'll stay for a "vacation" for a week or so.   If all works out, and we are praying it does, then she'll deliver in April.  That'll work out well because my son will be home from school and he'll be able to enjoy the pups a bit more.  Last time it happened right before he went to school and he missed out on them a bit. 

I felt like an uber driver, running him all over the place.  But my work wasn't done.  No.  The next day was his last day at home and he had a Visa to apply for.  Through an amazing series of connections, he has the incredible opportunity to go to India this May for ten days.    It is through the Christian Veterinary Mission and he'll be working with local farmers and their herds in northern India in the Himalayas.  So cool!  This has been the best experience already as he has had to do so much of the prep on his own.  That was Friday....I whipped him up to the Indian consulate and the Visa will be mailed in a few days.  We just pray he won't get eaten by tigers while he's there....I shouldn't joke...

Meanwhile, my bffc (best friend forever cousin) and I have been discussing the not-so-loved classic Created to be His Helpmeet.  The joke is that it's one of those books you love to hate.  Debi Pearl, the author, has changed marriages through this book, so why would women hate it so much if it will only improve your marriage?  Because it is hard!  But as my bffc and I have discovered, it you are willing to put in the work, you only benefit, as does he.

I will give an example from this weekend.  Now that our home has been turned into a factory, I pretty much have to give up on an orderly home as it is taken over with gaskets, 500 of them, as well as all the equipment that comes with the manufacturing.  I don't mind, my husband is home this week, so I'll enjoy whatever it takes to have him home.  What is hard for me is how much he needs me!  I have to make him tea all the time, or he requires me to be "on call" to help make the gaskets, or he needs me to drop what I'm doing and be there in the snap of a finger, impacting the can make me grumpy!  However, when I consider I'm his helpmeet, created to help him, then it can be the difference between a happy home, a happy husband, and getting the gaskets done!

My bffc and I discuss our husbands nearly every week and she's been very determined to be the best wife she can be.  As I described my grumpy attitude, she looked at me, "Do I really have to give you a pep talk?"  No, you don't.  Ok, you do.  I was reminded again to help, to serve, to bless, to sacrifice.  Any woman reading that would be shocked and possibly angered by those words, but I say, "Really?  How's that working for ya?  Betcha it isn't working.  Keep doing what you're doing and it won't last.  Try helping!"  So, all week, all weekend, I tried to make myself available to him, doing whatever he needed me to do, even making tea without rolling my eyes.  How pathetic is that? 

The thing is, he notices and is also willing to sacrifice.  We were invited to my brother's birthday event downtown Toronto and even though there was going to be tremendous impact on the gasket schedule, he made time and off we went.  It took us a long time to get there with traffic and we knew it was going to be a late night as we anticipated the drive home.  Suddenly we both looked at each other, "Want to stay over?"  My husband did a quick Hot Wire search and we found a hotel for a pretty good price and in one second he made the call.  A one night getaway was booked!  I couldn't believe it!  We ended up staying over and hanging out downtown the next morning.  It was so fun and so spontaneous.  I felt like a queen.  Is it coincidence?  Or it is just the way things work when we do things God's way?  I'm pretty sure it is the direct result of being obedient when I don't feel like it.  Isn't that love?  Choosing to love?  Love is not waiting for the "feeling" to love, to help.  I'll never feel like it.  But the thing is, my bffc and I have learned is that once we start helping our husbands, perhaps initially out of "it is the right thing to do", it becomes natural and we actually start to enjoy serving, helping, loving our husbands.  We see the joy in their eyes, not resentment.  We see the benefit on their souls as they are so grateful for a happy wife willing to help.  We wonder where the tension has gone in the marriage.  It is no longer a duty, but a privilege.  I'm not saying I'll get a weekend getaway all the time, but the blessings will flow no matter what.  I've lived it.  And, even though I had a fun night away, I was back at it that same day.  We were up late cutting plastic for what seemed like hours late into last night...but it was fine!

A funny aside....We also had a kitten delivery over the weekend......we came home to 5 kitties delivered by our mid-cat son!  Well, he assisted as the mommy cat went into labour on his bed!  One cat, down, one to go...more kittens on the way....yeeeesh!

Thursday, 22 February 2018

God is the Main Character

We haven't had this for awhile, but this past weekend, our house got turned into a factory again.  RM has a contract that requires that he builds "gaskets".  It is all quite simple work, but we don't mind.  It is an extra income that we can do on evenings and weekends, or so we thought.  He'll also take next week off in order to get it done.  This project is a great way to get the kids involved, too.  Some of the tasks are simple enough that even the littlest ones can do something.   It becomes school when there is a deadline.

This idea of doing extra work on the side is not revolutionary to us, but it might be to some.  I've been reading a book called The Debt-Free Lifestyle.  Basically, the author argues, the main ways to get out of debt are by living on a budget, below your means and/or making more money!  We've chosen both.  These books are written sometimes by people who have one or two kids or even no kids (which is the case in this book).  Or they are written by people who have regular 9-5 jobs (also in the case of this author).  We just don't fit most categories, but I forget that and I can end up being discouraged by the end of chapter 1, i.e., we have not just one child, but 8.  We only just recently got a "regular" job and were without work for quite a while.  A lot of books like this one are discouraging because they don't account for how a large family (why would they?).  I know this, but have to remind myself as I read it otherwise I feel like a failure.  Dave Ramsey has even hinted that big families are expensive so don't have one.  It is true, though.  I used to tell people, in the name of not limiting God, or the size of their family, "Don't worry!  Kids aren't expensive!"  I think that was when we just had four.....I don't say that anymore!  Kids are expensive!  I still believe in large families, however, as the faith element that comes with trusting God when He says, "Children are a blessing" is by far worth the whole experience.  This author goes on to say (without children), they were able to put a massive amount toward their mortgage through hard work and good planning. 

As for living on a budget or below our means, we've gone through all categories and don't feel we can cut much more, which means, we must somehow seek out more opportunities to make money.  Fortunately my husband doesn't mind the extra work, though it is hard on him, and that is how we will someday be debt-free, Lord willing.  This is why he has the extra teaching job, and does hay in the summer, and the extra work with his engineering company when he can, and even trust God for other things that can drop in our lap. 

This author also suggested using an app to track your spending directly from the bank.  I suggested this to my husband and he said, "Uh, no way...." He didn't want to let some app have access to our bank and then transfer all the money out!  They are supposedly safe, but he wouldn't risk it.  The book said that the bank might offer that service itself, so he checked into it and sure enough, it does!  This service he believed was safe.  It's the bank after all.  So we asked it to diagnose and analyze all our spending and it quickly made all the categories including groceries, restaurants, etc., and voila!  It was amazing!  It doesn't catch everything and doesn't know where to categorize some things, but for the most part it was great and made little charts and everything.  This shouldn't get me off the hook, but it is good to know that it could be my back up.

At the same time, I'm reading another book that I picked up at the library about a couple who started their own vineyard/winery.  I grabbed it because it told a couple's story of how they took a dilapidated farm and old vineyard and turned it into an award winning winery.  Their story was uncannily similar to our's in that they took on a project, house and farm in really rough shape and turned it around pretty much on their own.  It was very encouraging on the one hand to read about how hard they worked, how overwhelmed they were most of the time, and yet, how they succeeded, despite all the naysayers.  It took them over 16 years to get the house and vineyard to a place where they were feeling like they were making money and the house was decent and livable.  I needed to hear that as we're at year 8 of owning the place ourselves and haven't even planted the vineyard yet.  The other interesting aspect is they live down the street from us!  It's a local winery!  So cool!  We hope to meet them someday.

What I didn't agree with entirely and what made me sad was how they went about it all - completely without God and into debt up to their eyeballs.....They had 3 mortgages by the end of the book.  They may be making money now, but it has to be a constant stress to carry all that debt.  I can't even imagine.  We are very much trying to do a similar thing, but, by some miracle, try to do it without carrying 3 mortgages by then end!  Where they pat themselves on the back and cross their fingers for good luck, we are trying to give all the glory to God if and when we succeed in our dreams and actually trust Him for our dreams instead of the whims that come from reading a magazine about renovating an old farm.  They are definitely "self-made".  Yet, I read her story and recognized miracles that happened to them along the way.  At one point they were so poor and had no hope of groceries in the fridge that month. They went to some fund-raiser where they were given tickets to go and they ended up winning a basket full of groceries and all sorts of things they needed for the house. How did they not see that was God's goodness to them?  She thought it was all luck of course.

This was also the case in the first book about debt.  She and her husband were awesome!  And they said so!  We did this and we were able to do that.  Never does she ever credit her knowledge or ability to God who made her financially wise.  Never does she credit her or her husband's work ethic as coming from a higher power.  Nope, all self-made.  It seems so obvious to me when I read these secular sources now that a huge aspect of their stories are missing.  I've read so many Christian books on debt and how they were convicted of certain things or how God worked miracles in their lives, I just kind of got used to it and thought everyone believed God works in their lives.  It just isn't that way.  The worldly writers give themselves credit over and over and refuse to see that God is at work in their stories.  I felt like shouting it out loud as I read it.  I wanted to rewrite their stories from a spiritual perspective.  Very empty.  Why be debt-free?  For what?  So you can travel?  That's nice, but it seems empty?  My kids actually ask me all the time, "Why do we want to be debt-free so badly?" I give very different answers than these books.

All that to say, I think despite their empty teaching, they had some good things to say and God still used these books to encourage me to stay the path, see that with a lot of hard work debt freedom can be achieved, farms and houses can be restored (with time...I want it all done now...), dreams can be realized all without debt.....but, if and when I write our story, I will surely try to communicate it was not luck that saw us through or how amazing our family is.  No, I want to make sure the main character is God and that His goodness to us is what is communicated.  We are simply part of His story, not the other way around.

Monday, 12 February 2018

The Return of the Anger Experiment, Take 2

Lent is only a few days away.  I don't really know how we started practicing this, but now, even when the day approaches, all of us just automatically start thinking of habits or character traits or disciplines we'd like to overcome and we know that we need a start day and some accountability within the family to make the changes we want to see.  I don't like to think of it as just a Catholic thing as we aren't Catholic.  Instead, I prefer to think of it as a way we can pursue holiness, not a legalistic tradition.

One of the main areas my little people suffer is in the way they react to one another.  The mini fits of rage they have are awful which in turn makes me react and the cycle continues.  I happen to be giving a talk on anger in May and it isn't good to give a talk on something that is a struggle in your own home.  We had achieved a certain amount of victory in this area a few years ago.  We had done an "anger experiment" and had seen God do many things.  In fact our home became a home of laughter for a long time there, still is.  My kids make me laugh all day and not just the younger ones with their cute comments, but the older ones have me in stitches a lot of the time, too.

But somehow, the little ones have missed that lesson, maybe they were too young when we first did it, and I sense anger has tried to creep back in, so it is time for a restart.  We're going to attempt to give up anger!

Starting Wednesday (which happens to be Valentine's Day!), each child will be handed $20 in loonies, as well as the adults.  Each time one of the children raise their voice to a level of yelling, they pay either me or the other child who is yelled at.  However, if the child yells because he was provoked, I definitely get the money (I'm going to be rich).  If I raise my voice or lose my temper, I also have to pay.  The last time I had to give every child a loonie.  This time, it'll probably just be to the child I'm frustrated with.  I can't afford to lose it all in one day!  

This past week I gave them a practice run all week.  Each time one of the kids raised their voice, I said, "You would have lost a loonie just now."  Then I would see a kid make another child mad on purpose, "You would have lost a loonie just now."  They started to see they will be poor starting Wednesday.  This is so good for them, for me.  They are simply stuck in a habit of reacting, stuck in a habit of, "If I don't get my way, I have to yell."  This can be broken.  It can be stopped.  It doesn't have to be this way.  The goal is self-control.  I figure if it is one of the fruit of the Spirit, that means God intends for us to have that fruit.  I intend to bring back the spirit of peace we had there for a while.

Other kids will be giving up stealing my phone (good one) or Instagram (love/hate Instagram) or exercise (adding it, not giving it up!) and other things we haven't entirely settled on.  Turns out it isn't actually 40 days.  It is 46 days.  Catholics let themselves have a "day off" of Lent on Sundays!  But we're going to go for the whole 46 I think.

Should be a challenging week....oooooooh, that makes me so mad!!!!  Lol!

Gabriel, My Favourite Angel

This post is from last week, forgot to publish it:

All I can say is, we're warm now!  We had one cold night, one cold morning, then back to warm for one night and one day, then cold again, then warm!  The joys of winter and furnaces.....but, so grateful for a friend who is in the business who came by and gave us a freebie fix.  We just had to pay for the part.  That's a miracle in itself as it could have cost a small fortune.  We turned the cold night into an adventure and the kids had sleepovers all over the house with their siblings covered in blankets surrounded by heaters.  It wasn't so bad.  Then on one of the cold days, we just packed up and went to the library for the day and managed to do some school there.  That was fun, too!  Again, perspective comes in hand.....

I had been reading in Daniel where he found himself "overcome and lay sick for some days" just because of the visions he had seen.  He had been shown the end times and it must not have been pretty as he said, "I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it."  However, he doesn't stay there, "Then I rose and went about the king's business." (8:27)  Though I haven't had any visions come my way that are about the end times, there have been a few trials come my way lately that have had the potential power to overcome me and make me feel "sick for some days".  But, like Daniel, you cannot leave yourself there.  You have to get up and go "about the king's business", which is, for me, being a mom and all the tasks that go with being a mom.

Then, as Daniel's habit is throughout the book, he prays and prays and prays some more...almost all of chapter 9 is Daniel praying on behalf of Israel, asking for forgiveness for their sins, for mercy, admitting they did not listen to God or obey His ways.  I love his prayer right at the end so much, "Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary which is desolate.  O my God, incline your ear and hear.  Open your eyes and see our desolations and the city that is called by your name.  For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.  O Lord, hear, O Lord, forgive.  O Lord, pay attention and act.  Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name."

If ever there was a pattern for prayer, that's it.  He's asking God to listen to his pleas for mercy, but not for Daniel's sake, and not because of Daniel's righteousness, but for God's glory.  That changes how I pray, a good reminder to make sure if I'm praying for my benefit or for the glory of God.  He asks God to incline his ear, to open his eyes, to hear, to forgive, to pay attention and act, to not delay.  That's quite a list!  But it shows the desperation Daniel is feeling.  He wants to God to show up and make Himself known.  And He does, at least He sends his top angel, Gabriel.  How I wish and pray Gabriel would do that for me, too!  But, as I told the kids yesterday, as I read this with them, Gabriel does show up....all the time!  He sends angels to me almost daily, through an encouraging email, text, phone call or visit.  Gabriel just takes on different forms these days.

When Gabriel arrives, he says to Daniel, "At the beginning of your pleas for mercy, a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved."  That is one packed sentence.  It seems to me that as soon as Daniel started praying he was heard, "at the beginning of your pleas".  Then a "word went out".  I take that to mean, a response, an answer to his prayers.   He was given Gabriel to personally deliver the message by God, "I have come to tell it to you."  Wow.  A hand delivered message from God by an angel!  How wonderful!  And, Gabriel didn't have to say the final phrase, but he must have known Daniel needed to hear it, "you are greatly loved".  Our church has that phrase in banners all over the church, in the parking lot, on the screens.  It doesn't seem particularly sincere when you see it all the time said by no one in particular to no one in particular, but when you hear it from Gabriel to Daniel personally, suddenly that phrase is so meaningful.  And, now that we know the Scriptures are handwritten by God as personal messages to each individual believer, I read it yesterday as a personal message to me, "you are greatly loved".  It meant way more than seeing it on a sign in the parking lot.  God said it to me, not some impersonal sign, but a personal God.  I explained that to the kids and reminded them, when we pray, we are heard, "at the beginning" of our prayers.  Such an encouragement to know we are heard and we are loved.

Daniel must have really needed this encouragement, because between chapter 9 and 10 he hears this phrase, "you are greatly loved" three times.  He was reminded that his prayers are heard because twice Gabriel mentions this as well, "for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words." Well, it turns out, I also needed to hear those reminders, not only that I am greatly loved, but that my words are heard.  It's not that I've doubted that, I haven't.  I just needed that reminder and it was such an encouragement to me.  And just in case, there is a chance of fear trying to creep back into my life, Gabriel cuts me off at the pass with another reminder of peace, "O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you, be strong and of good courage."  So that's where I leave it, today.  Gabriel may not have shown up right beside me, but in a sense he did, on the pages of my Bible, reminding me I'm greatly loved, my words are heard, and as always, I need not fear.

Monday, 5 February 2018


This morning my finger is still feeling not completely normal, slightly numb, as if it knows something happened and isn't too happy about it.  But other than that, I've made a full recovery from my "finger in a trap" incident, physically and emotionally.  The great thing about how God works is that He knew all this was going to happen and He had something in the works that would be just what I needed at just the right time.

RM had a conference he had to go to and weeks earlier he has asked me to tag along with him for a night away.  Once we found out that the hotel he was going to had a huge pool and waterslide, we decided to take the younger four.  We used to do that all the time with the older four, so it seemed only fair to try it with the little guys, too.  We upgraded the room to a family suite and away we went. Being the ever social person that I am, I called more than one friend who lived in the area and said, "Hey!  Come meet us at this pool!  We're there all day!"  RM was not exactly going to be hanging out with us, so I thought this might be a great way to spend the day while he was in his conference.

Turns out the timing of this little getaway was the day after the finger snap.  Perfect.  I didn't have to be in a farm house that eats fingers.  I could get away and eat at a restaurant where I didn't have to cook and be wary of traps.  I could sleep in a bed that I didn't have to make and take a shower in a bathroom I didn't have to clean.  I LOVED IT!!!!!!

On top of all this I was able to connect with a cousin I hadn't seen in a long time and we hung out by the pool for a nice visit while the kids played.  It was just what I needed.  Social interaction with people I love, not rodents.

I also met some really nice seniors by the pool.  They were observing our kids all day and when I went over to watch the kids closer we got into conversation.  They were so complimentary of our family and couldn't have been kinder.  They were like angels ministering to me in their own sweet way. 

The other bonus was I also met another lady at the pool who quickly put everything into perspective. She wasn't there at the pool with her child because she was on holiday.  She was there because there wasn't room in Ronald McDonald House where families with sick children stay.  Her child had been taken into the hospital in critical condition.  His liver or kidney was shutting down and he was not doing well at all at just 10 months old.  She went on to say how she had 4 other children and she had no idea how she was going to get back and forth the following few days and weeks because the gas cost and the accommodation issue.  And I just had a sore finger.  I needed to meet her and hear her story.  I was able to share with her some churches that could potentially help and then told her our family would be praying.  Just like that she was gone.  Potentially another angel?  But just ministering to me in a different way?  Putting things in perspective real quick that my life is great and a sore finger is nothing in the big picture.

Even the cousin who was able to pop in for a visit wasn't there just to see me.  She was there because her mom who is my mom's age was also at the same hospital for serious cancer treatment.  It wasn't looking so good.  More perspective?

I came back from the night away refreshed in so many ways.  I had had good food, good conversation, a wonderful time with my kids and husband, new friends and old friends, but I had also been reminded that my life isn't so hard.  There are others who are struggling way more than I am.  My greatest complaint is a tiny finger that is well on its way to recovery.  I don't even have as black a nail as I thought I would!  No proof!  Nothing to make people feel sorry for me anymore!!!

Once we got back home, I felt great, but I wasn't quite ready to get right back into school.  I kind of wished I could say "School's out in Februrary!"  But I knew I couldn't do that, so I was determined to keep going anyway.  But then, my little holiday got kids all got sick!  I know this sounds awful to say, but sick kids can be such a blessing!  The younger 3 all got colds and flu and were miserable with fevers, headaches, sore throats.  The little boys slept all day!  I knew it wasn't serious, so I just gave them all the remedies I could think of and went to work on cleaning the house!  It was another nice break for me that, dare I say, felt like a holiday, too!  I wouldn't wish sickness on my kids, but when it comes, I'm ok with it (at least when it is just a virus like this one!).

All this to say, life happened this past week.  We had a couple blows, but when I write it all out, a lot of amazing things happened, too.  It is so helpful to look back and see God's hand, even when you don't see it right at the time.  I praise Him for His goodness to me and how He swept me up and took me away from my situation, even just temporarily, to help get me back on track.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Farms and Fingers

We are up a car again....after looking at hundreds of listings, praying, and making lots of calls and emails, we finally made a purchase to replace the vehicle that is near death.  We actually have one more purchase to make after that to replace my husband's truck, but for now, we have at least two working vehicles, including my daughter's.  Of course, I hoped for a free one, but that didn't happen.  However, we did get a fantastic price on the car we did buy and it's probably the nicest car I've had in our whole marriage.  Get this, all the windows work and ALL the doors open!  See what I mean?  That is exciting stuff!!!  My kids will have funny stories about our cars.  It seems as soon as we buy one certain things start going, like clockwork...first the a/c, then the windows, then the doors, not to mention the engine!  But we're grateful at how long our last vehicle took us.  We hope to sell it as-is and to my shock and awe we're already getting offers.  Incredible that someone will purchase it in such rough shape!

My new funny farm story of the week happened yesterday.  All I know is that I am happy to have my fingers still, though I might add that I am typing with one less digit.  It is still on my hand, but it is very tender.  It starts with another story.  I had made two big roasts on the weekend to celebrate a birthday of our "other family" whose daughter turned 17.  I had made enough to have for leftovers the next day.  However, my dog had other plans for the leftovers.  Silly me left it out at lunch without the lid on.  I went upstairs and came down a few minutes later to see it all gone, every last drop.  I was so sad to say the last.  It also ruined my dinner plans!  I had to come up with plan B. 

I had made a meal plan and had shopped for it, I'm happy to say, but I just hadn't pre-made it.  I was going to make split-pea soup.  I looked in all my bulk containers and couldn't find where I had put the peas!  As I went from one cupboard to another I set off a trap on purpose so it wouldn't get me while I looked.  No big deal.  Then I went to another cupboard.  I did not see the trap there until I set it off.  I felt no pain until I looked down and saw the blood blister forming on my finger.  Then the pain hit.  This was no little mouse trap.  It was a big trap.  I held my hand under running water and downed two Tylenol asap.  My kids knew something bad had just happened to mommy.  Fortunately it only got the top inch of my middle finger (you never know how often you use that finger until it is immobilized!)  My finger nail has the tell-tale signs of being whacked.  After sitting on the couch for probably 2 hours, the throbbing had simmered down.  I had texted my husband to let him know and within an hour he was home.  He knew it wasn't just about the pain with my finger.  I was so glad when he drove in.  What a guy.

It really is hard to explain to someone else why living on a farm is the greatest thing and the hardest thing we've ever done.  To an outsider, it is idyllic with the beautiful views, the country air, chickens walking around, clothes on the line, the nearest neighbour is not near, gardens, etc., but there is another side, a very hard side.  Country living is not for the faint of heart, I've written many times.  I truly did marry Renaissance Man.  He can literally do everything.  We could not live here if it weren't for his skill set.  But it does get tiresome even for someone who can do it all.  There isn't an endless amount of money to do all the work required and there is never enough time, especially now that he is at work full-time with a part-time job on the side and other contracts here and there, oh and farming, 8 kids, a needy wife, etc.  Plus, because we are living in everything old, it is literally undoing itself before we can get to it. 

Thankfully, others have gone before and understand.  My friend sent me a book written by a woman who homeschooled her 9 children and lived on a farm.  She put it perfectly, "It didn't take long for us to realize we were living in too many centuries.  Tim went to work in the twentieth century, keeping long hours.  He came home to the eighteenth century......"  That's kind of us.  As I was reading this late last night, I couldn't believe how similar our stories were.

When you have a farm with actual animals on it, you get rodents.  So then you get cats to take care of the rodents, but then you have too many cats!  It's always something... She wrote in the book, "As it turned out, rats were my limit.  I could not love my family if I lived in a house with rats.  The rats were like demons stealing my sanity away."  (or in my case, my fingers)  One day she found something in the pantry that was "gross and white and squiggly and it was the end for me."  She walked out the back door to the apple orchard and laid down under the apple tree and cried.  "I was never going to make it in the eighteenth century."  Long story short, they put the farm up for sale and sold it to a man who needed a place to hoard his stuff.  "I love that man so much," she wrote.  I couldn't believe how I was reading this very chapter on the very day that my finger had nearly been taken out because of rodents we are fighting in our eighteenth century home.  That afternoon, I, too had sat fighting back tears while my little 5 year old sat beside me trying to do his letters and numbers as good as he could so I wouldn't be sad.  He didn't know all the reasons my face was wet.  Pain from a stupid trap, pain from fighting an old home.....

I don't think we're at the "sell the farm" place yet.  We love it too much.  We've worked too hard to rebuild the ruins.  I think, however, it was good to read that what we are doing IS hard.  Rewarding? Yes, but hard.  I needed to acknowledge the fact that having my finger nearly taken off in a trap because of a war with rodents isn't easy.  When I read that other woman's war was so similar to mine it actually comforted me. 

So what is the takeaway?  Give up?  We aren't going to give up.  We heard it best a few weeks ago in church, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

That was the point in the other woman's book, too.  Children sanctify us.  Old homes sanctify us.  God even uses rodent traps to sanctify us.  What comes out of us isn't always pretty, but He can change us if we let Him use even things like our finger stuck in a trap!