Friday, 23 June 2017

Two Down, Six to Go.....

Last year our oldest daughter graduated.  This year, it was our oldest son as well as our middle daughter (from gr. 8).  What a night!  We get the privilege each year to speak into our children words of blessing in front of our homeschool community.  This is never hard for me as I could go on and on. What is hard is holding it together emotionally.  This year, more than one family stood on the stage, hugging and holding one another, saying such beautiful things that no one was able to be strong.  At one point, even a young boy graduating from gr. 8, heard the words from his mom and was wiping his own eyes.  How are you supposed to hold it together when even the kids can't?!

But, thank goodness for my son.  He saw me wiping my eyes just before I went up with my daughter and he leaned over and said, "You can't get all your tears out now!  You have to save some for me!" It was just what I needed to get a grip.  I got through her 2 minutes, virtually tear-free.  We were able to remind her, just like on her ceremony into womanhood, that she is like a fine china plate.  She has a purpose and though she has been set on a shelf in our family for a time, being carefully watched, protected and cared for, we now realize it is time to take her off the shelf and slowly but surely start to see her used for God's purposes.

Then it was my son's turn - gr. 12, oldest boy.  These tend to be the hardest when it is the oldest girl and boy.  They were the guinea pigs for everything and may need firstborn counselling at some point! After my daughter's grad last year, the next day I read a passage in 1 Chronicles where David is passing on the baton to his son Solomon.  When I read the words I knew a year ago it would be what I would say to my son last night.  It was perfect, because I knew the words came from God, not from me.

David "called for his son and charged him".  We did that last night, too.  David said to his son, "Now, my son, the Lord be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the Lord your God, as he has spoken concerning you.  Only may the Lord grant you discretion and understanding, that when he gives you charge over Israel you may keep the law of the Lord your God.  Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the Lord commanded Moses for Israel.  Be strong and courageous.  Fear not: do not be dismayed.  With great pains I have provided for the house of the Lord.....Arise and work!  The Lord be with you!" (1 Chronicles 22:6-16)

It was perfect - that's exactly what we wanted our son to know, too.  He will only succeed if he follows the rules and laws of God.  He will need to be strong and courageous and fight fear and discouragement all the time.  It has been with great pains and great sacrifice that we have attempted to give him the education he has at home, a literal cost, an emotional cost, a spiritual cost.....but it was all worth it.  So now David simply puts it, "Get on with it!  Go!"  We ended our charge to him the same way - Arise and work!  The Lord be with you!

We shared a few more verses and I was completely fine.  Totally had it all together.  Until I put the mike down and my son said, "Can I say a few words?"  Oh no.  What was he going to say?  "Sure?" I whispered to him.  He then went on to briefly tell the story of Dmitri Mendeleev, the inventor of the periodic table.  In his research this year, my son learned about this famous man.  But what struck him was the story of his mother.  She saw his potential and was determined to get him a higher education. She traveled all over Russia with him determined to get him into university.  He was turned down at the first one, so she continued on with even greater determination.  She finally succeeded in getting him in and, as the story goes, she then died of exhaustion.  My son finished telling the story and then said (and I'm paraphrasing because it suddenly became a blur for me), "I recognize the sacrifice my parents have also made for me and my education and I want to honour their sacrifice by making something with my life."  Uh.....wasn't expecting that....don't know if that was a spur of the moment thing or what, but I was stunned.  It was hard to hold it together at that point.  Thank goodness I was already walking off the stage and didn't have to stay up there much longer.  Special words, a very special moment.

Before the parents and grads began their blessings to each child, our local member of parliament came and spoke to the graduating class.  He is only 19 years old, only a few years older, or months even, than some of the grads there!  He gave such a great charge to the grads, all from Scripture, as he is a solid believer who was also entirely homeschooled from beginning to end.  It was amazing.  So glad he was willing to come and speak.

All in all, a great night.  My younger two now know what grad is and hate it.  It is a looooong night! They started asking when it would be over right at the beginning.  Sorry!  Poor things have many graduations to sit through before it is their turn.  The desserts were their only thing to look forward to and running around playing tag in the parking lot.  They are still in bed and will be for a long time. My older ones don't get a break.  Just like the words in the Bible, they had to "arise and work".  It is tough growing up!

Two down, six to go........

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

I'm a Big Girl Now

I do not like being forced into things without being asked and this year that is exactly what has happened - I've been forced to learn and do things I do not like one asked me if I did or not.

Once RM got his job, all was well.  He was working 3 days a week at the college which left him lots of time to do farm and house work as well as any other personal business work.  However, then it turned into full-time, which meant 4-5 days a week, which left very little time for all the things I had on my list for him to do.  These are very silly things, but the truth is, he used to do them for me. Even when he was home more, I still had older kids, but now, I don't even have them!  So, as funny as it sounds, I've finally had to become a capable woman!  I have lots of friends who are capable women and they will laugh if they read this, but it is true, I have been spoiled for a long time and it was about time I started to learn a few things around here.

To be fair, I had my hands full of kids, babies, and teenagers for a long was a lot of work, and still can be, to just keep them fed, clean, buy groceries, organize house and homeschool, but now that season is changing.  My youngest is now 5 and is really very independent now, which I love and hate all at the same time.

Ok, a few ridiculous examples....please don't laugh.  Banking.  Hate it.  Haven't done it in a long time (only use debit machines, never tellers).  Am afraid of tellers and all things monetary.  I am one of the few fortunate women whose husbands take care of bill paying, etc., even all the cheques my kids get from various places.  I just don't deal with that.  My older kids take care of their own banking, thank goodness.  But now, with RM gone, my younger kids had cash from birthdays or selling eggs, and they really needed to take it to the bank.  I was frozen!  So ridiculous.  I decided enough was enough and I got all my nerve up and walked into the bank with my kids.  No tellers laughed at me.  No one shamed me.  No one had ever seen me before!  It was quite funny.  I realized it was a fear that was unfounded that I had paid attention to for a long time.  I'm over it now and pretty much run the bank. Small victory.

Next, running farm least small scale stuff.  All my farm girlfriends run equipment on the farm from lawn mowers to rototillers.  Not me.  No way.  Can't pay me enough.  Man's work. Well, no longer!  My yard was starting to look really bad.  I wanted SOMEONE to mow.  They were always busy and at work and too tired each evening to do it.  Finally, my husband saw it was a little out of control so he quickly trained the 10 year old to run the riding mower and he did a great job and had a lot of fun.  However, he was new at it and missed quite a few spots and wasn't big enough to run the huge weed eater that is gas-powered and is quite a challenge to use.  So guess what....I learned to not only run the high speed mower, but also how to use the fancy weed eater (I even pull the starter string, or whatever that thing is called, with my big muscles).  I can change the string on it, fill it with gas (I now understand mixed gas and oil, double cylinder engines, too!), and all things mechanical.  I impressed myself.  My kids joked that I weed whacked Canada.  Took me 3 hours to do the whole property.  Very funny.

I also plant gardens now, too.  Last year, being the first garden, I just watched and observed how RM did it so I could do it if I needed to one day.  Actually, that's not true.  I watched and observed thinking he would do it again this year. Nope. He didn't.  He was too busy.  He got it started and prepped the land and planted a few tomatoes (50 plants to be exact....we're going to have a lot of tomatoes), but then I waited....and waited....I couldn't do it.  He would do it.  Wouldn't he?  I was so unsure of myself.  It was so pathetic. Finally, I realized how could he, when could he?  It wasn't going to happen.  So yesterday, I grabbed a few kids and out we went.  Another fear conquered.  It was so easy (well, the labour itself isn't, but putting seeds in the ground is!).  I feel a little ridiculous that, again, I hadn't done it before, when all my friends had been doing it for years!  However, there always has to be a first time.  I have been doing the flower planting which was pretty much the same thing, but for some reason, the garden was his territory.  Who made that rule?  So now, I have a funny feeling it'll be my deal from now on.  But I loved it.  I felt strong and capable yet again, though slightly embarassed...

On top of all that, I man handle cows.  All by myself. When the fence was down, the cows were regularly getting out.  I was always chasing them in.  I was bravely going right up to them, horns and all, and guiding them in.  I was not happy about this, but it had to be done!  I felt very farmer's wifey. Though I did nearly get run over last weekend as we were attempting to get one ornery cow in.  RM was chasing on the gator and I was running in front.  He was watching the cow, not me and at the last second swerved out of the way before nearly running over his wife.  I was not happy.  My life flashed before my eyes.  I've always thought it would be a kid, not me, in some kind of farm accident. Grateful for safety that day.

I'm glad I didn't have to do all these things when my kids were super little.  I'm grateful that my husband was kind to me and took on the greater burden then.  But now, I'm a big girl.  I'm ready to take on more challenges around here.  I'm trying to show my girls that this is a very serious way they can help their husbands one day.  I heard a story about a wife who refuses to do anything to help around the house, all because of her little baby.  Well, that's not a good excuse.  I was noticing my husband was already under a lot of stress.  Having the pressure of doing even more things wasn't fair. I'm not doing much, but I've at least alleviated some things from his plate.  Does that finally make me a capable woman?  Hardly.  I know some women who have been doing these things, and more, for years.  Baby steps, right?

The verse that is stuck in my head is "I can do all things, through Christ who strengthens me."  That means, I can do it!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Heart Transplant Required

I've been away from the computer for all the classic reasons...never get my hands on it, the adapter broke, too much going on.....I have to wake up way before everyone else in order to have a time slot with it.  But, in the summer, when the sun is up it is way easier to get out of bed.

This past weekend was Father's Day weekend and it was wonderful.  Having been to two funerals in the last few weeks for friends my mom and dad's ages sure made me appreciate that we have both sets of parents.  We enjoyed hosting them as well as my brother and his wife for a BBQ.  However, things took a turn for the worse when my mother-in-law took a tumble while out looking at the bunnies.  She landed face down on her wrist and broke it as well as getting two stitches in her forehead!  Unbelievable.  So sad.  We're praying for a fast recovery.

Now that the weather has turned hot, hay season has also started.  My husband's job at the college is so flexible that he can take the time off when he needs it for farm work, so that's what he did last week, bringing in over 500 bales of hay in just a matter of a few hours.  Last year, my 5 year old was perhaps not a big help, but he was out there, lifting 50 lbs bales.  This year, I would actually say he was an asset.  Now don't go thinking we make our 5 and 6 year old doing slave labour.  It isn't like that. He was so excited to help, we couldn't keep him away!  It was amazing to watch him come in trailer load after trailer load all hot and sweaty, working like a true man at such a young age.  I was keeping a close watch on him though and sure enough his young age started to show through and he found himself in bed fast asleep long before it was all done, but I was impressed how much he had done with his "six pack" (which he will show anyone who is willing to look or ask about).

This boy is going to be the President of the World someday or at the very least an Olympic athlete by the time he's 10.  He's got energy and strength like no one I know, but with it comes a slight down side.  I wouldn't say he has behavioural issues.  He's just got a lot of behaviour!  He can be either really great or really naughty.  Sometimes it's very intentional and other times he just doesn't know he's being bad.  He's like Tom Sawyer, or Huck Finn, he just finds himself in these situations and he doesn't know how he got there.  I have to be on him like glue all day if I don't want him incarcerated at a young age.

Last week I had reached the end of my rope.  How much "behaviour" in one day can a person handle? I knew he needed heart replacement!  I knew the only antidote for sin is the Word of God.  But not being the fastest of readers, he gets frustrated and gives up on reading almost as soon as he gets stuck. I decided I would help him.  And, a good passage immediately came to mind that I had just been reading in Isaiah.  It was actually the passage I had written about Canada and the similarity between it and Israel, but this time, I thought of my son.

Isaiah 1 talks about Israel being like a rebellious group of children, "but they have rebelled against me."  I was feeling like God with my own little rebel.  Israel, "laden with inquity...children who deal corruptly".  Harsh words, but my little guy can be laden with inquity at times and can be in his own way corrupt.  Israel is then described as "sick" and "faint", "from the sole of the foot even to the head".  Sometimes that's how naughty my son can be, from top to bottom!  I was reading this passage to him and he had to agree!

Then Israel tries to get out of its bad behaviour by bringing "vain offerings" and "incense", but God says, "I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly...I am weary of bearing them".  I told my son it's the same way with him.  I am weary of him saying, "I'm sorry!" when he clearly isn't sorry.  He clearly hasn't changed his corrupt 6 year old ways.  Saying "sorry" is just like a "vain offering" - he doesn't mean it!  It also makes me weary and not unlike God who says, "I will not listen", I also say, "I can't hear you".

But, thank goodness, it doesn't stop there.  At this point, if it had stopped there, you would find yourselves entering into a depression, but there is good news!  Isaiah 1:16 says, "Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean, remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, please the widow's cause. Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord;though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; thought they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.  If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but it you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."

Wow.  There lies the antidote for a naughty child.  I told him, "It's that easy, 'Wash yourself clean, cease to do evil, learn to do good....'"  But I wanted it to stick, so we did actions for every phrase.  We would pretend to wash our hands for the first phrase.  We would make a stop signal for the next one. We pretended to pray for the "learning to do good" phrase and on and on.  In almost the first run through he had nearly memorized it.  But what I really wanted him to grasp was the choice he was given at the end....if he is "willing and obedient"....good life.  If not.....bad life, really bad life.  So now, all we do is run through the verse all day long.  "Hey!  Are you learning to do good?  Are you ceasing to do evil?  Are you refusing and rebelling?  Are you going to eat the good of the land or are you going to get eaten by the sword?"  He knows the good of the land means he'll be blessed.  He also knows getting eaten by the sword isn't necessarily that I'm going to pull out a sword at the end of the day, but that there are consequences for his actions.

I've had the younger 4 all put this passage to memory.  It has helped me speak truth over the kids. The very last phrase in the chapter says, "for the mouth of the Lord has spoken".  I remind them, "I'm not making this stuff up!"  It isn't me!  It is God who has made these decrees.

The Bible truly is the best book on parenting.  If I just keep trying to be faithful, I know it will pay off in the end.  I'm after his heart.  I'm attempting to give him a heart transplant with no anesthetic! There are so many moments where I want to give up and just leave him to himself, but the risk is too great. So I keep on.....

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Canada 150 - Remembering Our Christian Heritage that We Forgot

Our dog is being bred with another dog named Dragon.  Surprise, surprise.  She doesn't want to go near "Dragon"!  Maybe next time we'll try her with a dog with a less dark and scary name. Incredibly, they are doing artificial insemination with our dog - I can hardly believe this is even an option for dogs.  I will be absolutely amazed  if this all goes as we hope.

I think I'm becoming a tourist attraction.  I'm quite convinced people now drive by hoping that they'll see a cow out followed immediately by the farmer's wife waving her hands and running towards said beast.  If only my city friends could see me now.....We thought we had the fence fixed, but yesterday morning, there they were again....3 of them, just meandering near my garden, quite happy with themselves it seemed.  There was the car on the road, slowly driving by...quite amazed that these huge beasts were out of their fenced area.  There I was, running towards the cows, smiling at the driver, as if this were normal, and yelling at the cows to get in.....I'm sure the car will drive by today hoping for another show.  But, last night, for sure, we hope, this time, we think, the fence is fixed. The only show I want to see is those darn cows getting zapped.

Now, it is June.  No one wants to do school on the best of days, but when June hits, it's even harder. Thank goodness for "Showcase".  This is what motivates my kids to keep going.  It's an opportunity for me to do one more big project with the kids that is kind of like their "end-of-year" project. Usually we put a big bulletin board together of a major thing they've worked on or learned about all year, but this year, I was having a hard time deciding what to display.  Then it occurred to me....this year is Canada's 150th, why not do a major project on that?  I knew there would be a ton of resources on-line, especially for teachers, but then I remembered something I had heard on Friday while I was driving in the car.  Canada has an amazing history, but very few realize that its original roots are Christian and based on the Bible!

This idea came into my my mind because of a message I heard on Friday by one of our favourite Canadian apologist/evangelists who is Canadian and has his own radio show called The Cross Current.  He teaches at the Worldview Camp my kids go to each summer and we've come to really appreciate what he's all about.  (Just as an aside, this guy, Cory McKenna, is planning a huge outreach to Canadians this Canada Day in Ottawa.  Our kids want to go.  We'll see how it all turns out...) Anyway, the reason I mention this is because on his radio broadcast this month he is regularly teaching about Canada's Christian heritage.  Once I heard him mention that on the radio, I knew that was what I wanted my kids' project to be about - showing the other homeschoolers who might not even know this side of Canada (as it is in no textbooks).

Cory had also mentioned in his radio program on Friday how Israel's history is very similar to Canada's history.  I took a closer look at it when I got home and this will be one of our displays, comparing the two countries.  The people of Israel and Canada were both given beautiful land described in Deut. 8 as "a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land who stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper."  Ok, maybe we don't have olives, figs and pomegranates, but everything else sounded a lot like Canada!

Both Israel and Canada had godly leaders, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Not perfect, but for the most part, following God's laws.  Canada, too, had godly leaders.  These leaders were given a warning for all future nations, like Canada, in Deut. 8, "Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His rules and His statutes, which I command you today....And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish."  Israel was supposed to pass these warnings on to the following generations, so they set up memorial stones, 12 of them, so that they wouldn't forget. Canada did the same by having Scripture etched in stone in government buildings.  One of the founding fathers, Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley, was a Christian man who read his Bible every day and prayed.  One morning, in the mid 1800s, he was reading in Psalm 72 and he came across verse 8, "May He have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!"   He immediately knew that was what Canada needed to be named, "The Dominion of Canada".  All 33 founding fathers agreed.  The phrase from "sea to sea" ended up etched in stone for Canada's coat of arms as well as for our motto.  Later on, the coat of arms had another phrase put on it from Hebrews 11:16, "they desire a better country".  Incredible.

But, as I read in Isaiah 1 yesterday, almost to confirm the state of affairs of Canada and so many other nations in the world, Israel forgot to pass on God's laws.  God says in Isaiah 1, "Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me...A sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly!  They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.....Your country lies desolate."  What a perfect description of these lands who knew God's laws at one time, but then forgot.  We actually read the statistics of Canada and how since the government leaders have taken God out of, well, everything, violence has gone up exponentially, divorce, single parents, name it, all the worst of the worst, is even worse.  How can that be coincidence?  Even the first explorers, upon arriving here, saw how the first nations people did not know God and were determined to make Him known, but the history books only tell of disease that they brought instead.

So, as Romans says, God "gives them over" to their sins.  We are left with a country that is in a bad state of affairs.  Seems hopeless.  However, Cory is determined to get Canadian Christians to share their faith in Go Share Canada 150.  He's trying to get as many churches involved as he can to get as many people sharing their faith as he can, trying to get God back in the culture.  Our kids will be writing about ways this can be done by getting Christians, like our local Christian mpp, in politics or law or medicine....taking back the land for Christ.  God says at the end of chapter one in Isaiah, "Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:  though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool, If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."  There is hope for Canada, if we heed God's warning, but there is still a very loud warning, "you shall be eaten by the sword."  Yikes, that's no light consequence.  Yet we see it all the time....all you have to do is turn on the news daily, or even, hour by hour, to see what a mess our world is in and how we are literally being eaten by the sword.

I pray that our showcase this year will be more than just a little project that my kids and I pulled together, but instead that it will inspire other Christians who see it to come together and bring God and His Laws back to our country.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Me and the Cows

If only I had a picture of what RM told me he did.  He, too, wishes he a picture.  So, instead, no picture, try to imagine this.  Our electric fence has been broken for awhile.  No matter.  The cows know even if it isn't working, it could still shock them, so they stay far away from it.  But not during the Spring....all the nice green grass is growing just on the other side of the close, yet so far......or is it that far?  Those crazy cows decided it was worth the risk to find out.  A few of those crazy cows, at least 2-4 at a time, figured out the fence wasn't shocking them anymore and for the last few days....we always have cows out.

Usually they just stick around the pasture and eat the long green grass growing right beside them, but some mornings we wake up and their is "evidence" they've been much further around the property! They party all night!

We knew we had to fix the fence, but, like most things, it is no small matter.  Thursday was my last straw.  We were heading out for the day and I had all the kids in the car when I noticed a cow out. I only wish there had been an aerial video being taken of me.  It would have gone viral.  I must have run all around the farm.  I was sweating buckets by the time I got her in.  I just kept thinking, "Is this how I'm going to die?"

The next day was my husband's final straw.  Same thing.  A bunch of cows out.  But this time he drove down there to shoo them in.  Then, and this is where he wishes he had a camera....he followed the cows in and stood in the middle of the herd.  They seemed to form a circle around him and he then proceeded to give them a lecture, "This has to stop.  You have lots of fine grass in here.  I'm going to fix the fence.  You are going to have to stop escaping.  I've had enough of this."  Instead of stampeding him, they just stood there chewing their cud, listening politely.  He left, feeling somewhat proud of his lecture.  They didn't listen for long.  The cows were back out within a few minutes.

Yesterday, he got the needed supplies and went to work on the fence.  It's too foggy to look, but I'm fairly certain no cows are out today.  They were probably rudely awakened by the farmer's good work.  They should listen to his lectures next time.  Makes for good humour!

I guess I'm a little like the cows.  Grass is greener on the other side.  I let envy rule my thoughts or discontentment.  Instead of looking around and seeing there is enough green grass for me right here. I wish I had greener grass, longer grass, more grass.   I'm even willing to risk getting zapped to get the other grass.  I don't trust my Heavenly Farmer who promises to feed me every day.  So I step outside of my fencing.  Wait, there's no zap.  Sometimes the Farmer doesn't always "zap" us.  He allows us to step outside His laws and learn the hard way.  But, I listened to a preacher this week who talked about God's moral and physical laws.  No matter what, we can't break them.  They will inevitably and always break us.  He'll turn the fence on eventually.

The cows are a good lesson to me.  We are rebuilding the ruins here at the farm.  This weekend we were fixing eavestroughs all around the house.  Who even cares about eavestroughs????  I would much rather invest time and money in something that is aesthetically pleasing, thank you.  But the water keeps dripping into our basement as the eavestroughs are all broken, so it had to be done.  Yet, it is another way to slowly but surely rebuild the ruins.  One step at a time.  There is no magic wand. What keeps me from being discontent it by simply counting my blessings.  And there are so many. I was at a funeral for my friend's mom who passed away a couple of weeks ago at 74.  I still have both sets of parents!  And I'm so grateful for that.  I could stop right there, but there are so many blessings. Too many to count.

Every time I look at the cows this week, I will now purposely choose to picture them as brown, furry, versions of me - in a pasture, safe, fenced in, lots of food around, even other furry family members near me.  I would tell them if I could, "Stay in your perfect pasture.  Be content.  Don't try to leave and think it's better somewhere else.  Don't listen to the lies that the sparrows might tell you!  You have just what you need.  Beware of the fence!"

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Not Mine, but His

I never used to think getting up at the crack of dawn would be considered relaxing, but now I do.  I was telling my bff cousin last night...all has changed...which is why I hardly get to blog anymore. Before, I had my own little "me time" routine....I woke up, worked out, read my Bible, drank my coffee, put in some laundry, had a shower....Then, RM, would come down, we would chat together, more coffee...then, slowly the kids would come down and the day would officially start.  Now...I'm up, still early, but no time to exercise (now I have to wait until the kids are gone to work), no time to read the Bible or blog...I have to quickly whip up some lunches for 3 people, quickly whip up some breakfasts, and then rush them out the door.  I would normally have a chance to write after all this, but not with the computer being in use all the time for my son's course....  The only way for me to get all that I used to get done is to get up even earlier which has been hard as the days are so full I'm needing the extra hour of sleep!  Who knew that full-time summer jobs would add so much activity to my mornings!?

I can't begin to catch up on all that I've wanted to blog about.  I'll just start with mentioning a couple of summer blessings.  These are blessings that will not seem huge, but to me have already added so much to our summer.  First....about a year ago my sons were exposed to ripsticks.  These are basically skateboards.  My son, who was only 5 at the time, is incredibly adept at these things.  My older son, who was 9, then, was also very adept.  A friend ended up leaving them at the house by accident for a week and in that week my kids became even more adept and they wanted to have one for themselves. Wasn't going to happen.  We are still tight and making up for two years of financial drought.  It wasn't a priority.  They got all computer savvy and started looking on-line for deals.  They found a few that were within 45 minutes....ok....we'd think about it.  Meanwhile, my mom heard my son mentioning these ripsticks and texted my nephew knowing he and his brother had a couple that they used to use....were they done with them?  These aren't cheap.  I didn't want to assume that my nephews would just give them away...

Months passed, nearly a year.  The ripstick fad faded and was mostly forgotten.  I had thought of maybe surprising my son for his birthday in June and buying a used one on-line, but that was assuming there would still be a good deal.  Then, a few weeks ago, my sister, out-of-the-blue, asked if she could come by...with not, one, but her two ripsticks.  Had my nephew mentioned that text to her so many months ago and had she just noticed they weren't being used anymore?.....who knows.  All I know is that she pulled up into our driveway with two ripsticks (just one around here would be ridiculous, but I would have been happy with one!)  My sons went nuts.  This is the funny part though...we have only a small pad of concrete on our whole 47 acres to even use the ripstick.  So guess where they started practicing....around the kitchen the house....especially when it was still cold and rainy!  Dumpy farmhouses are good for something!  Now, if we want to use them we go to a park or a gym and then it's super fun.  The boys are experts now in just a matter of a few weeks. We did stop and thank God.  We really did.  How is it that He even cares about little things like that? He knew I would probably never go and buy one, so He had it delivered to me, right to my door.  For free.  Such a great little "boy blessing".

I got a great Mommy blessing, too, recently.  Every year, I splurge and buy a few annuals for pots on the patio.  I would buy tons and tons if I could, I just love the way flowers make any area that is normally drab, suddenly become so beautiful.  Last year was my patio "makeover".  I found all sorts of old bushel apple containers, some old barrels, more wine crates, etc.  That made my normally unattractive entry way a little nicer.  This year, I found even more containers and started to hang things on the side of the house.  I kept my normal amount of annuals and left it at that.  However, I started to heavily hint to the kids, "If there are ever deals at the greenhouse, let me know!"  "No deals, Mom."  But then, one day, my son was at work and he was told to throw out all sorts of flowers that were considered "too tall" or "overgrown".  He sensed an opportunity and said, "Can I take them home?"  "Sure."  He filled up the back of the truck twice with flat after flat of begonias.  I had so many flowers I didn't even know where to plant them.  I had to go back to my stash of old containers and try to find some more.  Now, it looks like I'm planning a wedding.  At one point, the patio was so covered in flats of flowers we could hardly find a path to the door.  Oddly enough, they are in the same colour scheme as my wedding flowers so it does look like wedding decor, but I love it.  My patio has had yet another makeover and this one, too, was free.  Again, may be a small blessing, but I consider it huge!

Last but not least...we got word that our road is going to be resurfaced!  That is big news!  Many people who drive to my house have mentioned, "It's too bad about your road....."  It is so full of potholes it is dangerous for any car and makes it like an obstacle course as you weave around those things that took out my neighbour's wheel last year.  The damage was bad!  I figured it helped slow traffic down a little, so I never complained or called the town to fix it.  However, as for curb appeal, it wasn't helping our house value to have it in such bad shape.  We got the road info last week and to my shock and awe, it was resurfaced two days ago!  So far, just the gravel is on...sure hoping more is to come, but even if they stopped at just the gravel, it already looks better.  It, too, may seem like a small thing, but this is the best part....though we pay our taxes, it feels like it's free!  I feel like it is a massive improvement to our home without us having to do anything ourselves.  I really consider it a blessing as well.

I think what all of these things are telling me is that God can do what He wants to do and when He wants to do them.  He can bless us with big things or small things.  I find I can be the most discontent person, but then these blessings remind me I don't have to worry about a thing, what I will wear or what I will eat or even what toys my kids will have, what my house will look like or even my road. God knows everything I need and even the little things I want.  My kids are learning these lessons, too.

Oh, there's more....being Spring, there is lots of new life on the farm....we've got bunnies coming out of our ears, more kittens on the way, a new calf.  We're now hoping for puppies as well.  Our male collie seemed to miss the mark last time.  We learned yesterday (this is funny...), at the doggie fertility clinic (did you know those existed????) that collies have a hard time getting bred.  So with a little help from this clinic and another breeder we are now hoping that she will be pregnant as soon as this week which will mean puppies mid-summer, all going well.  The reason I share this is because it is another amazing life lesson for our kids, specifically for my son who bought the collie.  We bring everything before the Lord, even our dog's womb.  As we drove up to drop the female collie off at her new husband's kennel, my son just kept saying, "She's not my dog.  She's God's dog.  I'm just taking care of her." That statement was such a good reminder for me!  I'm not taking care of my kids, they're God's kids! He knows what they need more than I do.  If He thinks they need a new toy, He'll deliver it to their door, which He did.  It isn't my house, it's God's house.  If He thinks I need flowers, He'll deliver them to my door..and He did!  It's not my road, it's God's road.  I don't need to worry about the potholes.  God will take care of it...and now it's done.  God is in charge of everything.  I am merely the caretaker, managing the things He's given me.  I own none of it.  There is such a release, such freedom when I consider my kids, my home, all the things I try to control, as not mine, but His.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Going into the Deep to See all the Fish

We have a new and different life now that RM is working regular hours.  This has been quite the adjustment, but now we have an even different new life now that our older 3 are also working full-time regular hours.  Who knew how much you relied on certain kids until they are no longer around and available!?  Our life literally changed again, literally overnight and we didn't like it!

This weekend was a great example. We had a garden to put in and we were planning on having the whole family be a part of that.  It was not to be.  The older kids worked all weekend.  They actually woke up at 3 in the morning yesterday to be at work for 4 am in order to help the owner out on his busiest day.  Fortunately, they were home by noon, but they were no good to anyone - they went back to bed!!!!

RM and I ended up putting in the garden, at least some of it, on our own!  Super marriage enrichment, but sad that the older ones couldn't help.  The year before it was all done on one day because each child helped so much!

I shouldn't complain though.  We are actually very grateful.  Grateful for the work for the kids. Grateful for what it is teaching them about working hard.  Grateful for the income it is bringing them. Grateful on so many levels.  It is also requiring us to step it up with the younger kids.  Now, they are being asked to pick up the slack around home on a new level.  They aren't used to this, but when we look back, we required a lot more of the older kids at the same ages, so we're actually being forced to train them the way the older ones were trained.

Life happens so fast.  It never stays the same.  There are aspects of that that I love and really fight.  I think deep down and I would have loved the older ones to stay the ages they are, live at home forever and help forever.  The younger ones would also stay the same ages.  They might help, too, but they would have to stay cute and funny and try to just play all day.  It sadly isn't like that!  But it doesn't have to be sad.  I think there is a moment of "grief" where you realize your life isn't the same and never will be, but then it can move on to embracing the new life, being grateful for the new season and all that that entails.  That's kind of where I'm at...a little sad, but able to see the good.

Back to the garden.  We went a little overboard this year.  I don't really know what we were thinking. It just kind of happened.  All I know is it is HUGE.  Bigger than last year, way bigger.  We have boatloads of tomato and pepper plants in there.  The only thing I can think of is that maybe we'll sell some at the side of the road this summer and if not...perhaps I'll be doing more canning than I've ever done?????

The conclusion.  Having a large family has been so great.  It has taught us so much and it has forced us into things, like huge gardens, having the kids always move into new stages of life, that we never would have done or ever learned.  In Luke 5, Jesus tells Peter to throw his net "into the deep".  He doesn't believe it will help as he had already fished all night, possibly in the same spot, who knows, but he has just enough faith to trust Him and says, ..."But at your word I will let down the nets." That's kind of how it's been all along with our family.  God keeps asking me to go out into the deep.  I think, "I'm deep enough!" But I have just enough faith to trust Him with the next thing He's asking me to do or to go through, so I say, " your word, I'll let down the nets", but there's just this little bit of doubt, "Will I make it?"  But then, with Peter, the nets break, there are so many fish.  He was ashamed of his lack of faith. That is how it is with me, too.  With every new stage of our family, with every new trial their new ages bring, with all the new changes with RM's job, I see all the "fish" that are coming in.  My nets are breaking.  I'm like Peter.  How did I ever doubt?  Maybe that's why these specific stories are included, just so we see the human side of the disciples.  The ones who actually walked alongside Jesus and still doubted Him.

Of course, just like Peter, I'll be forgetful.  I do that a lot.  But maybe less forgetful as life goes on. I try so hard to pass these life lessons on to my kids and they are now the ones navigating their own lives.  A funny daughter wasn't sure how she would earn the money for a car, then this job came up.  Once she got there, she was able to meet some people who found out she was a piano teacher, too.  Next thing you know, she has 2 more piano students!  God is taking care of her even well into the Fall!  She was needing more students, God knew that...her net is breaking.  Meanwhile, my son, who is nearly done his course and has struggled through it and has been so worried, is now doing so well in his course.  His nets are breaking, too.

You really have to go "into the deep"in order to see all the fish.  That involves risk and a much greater level of faith, but I want my nets to break, so I'm much more willing to take that risk now.  I've seen the pattern over and over in my life and I realize how it is worth it to take Jesus at His word when He tells me to go.