Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Thankful for Thanksgiving Lessons in Thanksgiving Week

I've known the pattern of being thankful and then watching the miracles unfold and I was quite certain I had communicated this to my kids and my husband of course, but maybe it just hadn't sunk in.  I had read the verses for years before it really hit me, too.  I guess we needed another reminder.  What a better time to relearn the lesson than Thanksgiving Week.

Lately, we've noticed a certain level of spiritual attack in our home.  We're quite certain it's because we've started the Bible Quizzing and we also know Satan just loves bugging Christian families.  He wants to ruin relationships between siblings, parents and spouses.  Anytime he can get more bang for his buck, he tries.  But I'm on to him....

My son seems to be at the center of it all lately.  If he frustrates me, then my husband is frustrated.  If he frustrates my husband, then I'm frustrated.  If he can get my son mad at my husband, get the picture.  Terrible cycle. 

The cute, innocent puppies are also at the center of it all!  It started when I had to take all 6 remaining puppies to the vet.  My favourite line, "I don't get paid enough....." We had a short timeline and I had already been driving all morning.  I had to go all the way into the university to pick up my son and then another ways to the vet clinic.  In total about 45 minutes of driving.  When we had to go, we couldn't find the  keys.  I'm convinced Satan uses blindness in our home all the time.  Keys go missing REGULARLY.  We searched the entire house.  As I found my frustration levels go up (my 7 year old had taken them somewhere to play with them - couldn't remember where he'd put them.....why??????), I spoke to the voice in my head that was starting to tell me lies and I said, "There is a reason why this is happening.  Be thankful.  Be thankful that you are going to have to cancel the appointment.  Be thankful that you'll have to reschedule.  Be thankful that they are hidden.  Be thankful.  Be thankful.  Breathe....."  Ok, I calmed down and I actually stopped looking.  What was the big deal anyway?  So what if I had to cancel the appointment?  It would be ok.  Leaving the frantic feeling behind was the big part of the miracle because when the panic enters the home, no one is happy.

Minutes later, my son walks in with the keys in his hand!  He found them outside!  I never in a million years would have found them where we did, but I'm certain thankfulness opened my son's eyes and made him look in the strange location he found them.  I quickly got in touch with the clinic and they were good to wait for us.  Off we went.  The puppies did throw up the entire way there, but the other neat miracle was that the vet techs willingly, almost gladly, came out and cleaned the mess up for me in the back of my car.  I was amazed and so grateful.  Thankfulness turned the day around.

Later on that week, my son was writing a midterm at school.  He had studied and studied for it.  He was quite nervous and I always get nervous for him, too, but have learned to commit him to the Lord. Suddenly, right before the test, I start getting nervous texts and calls.  He couldn't find his wallet!  There it goes again....the blindness factor.  Satan's tool.  He was calling to ask us to look.  He needed it for his test as they require i.d. in order to write it!  ARGH!!!  This immediately frustrated my husband as he wished my son had thought of that a little sooner!  Once again, we searched the house all over.  Nothing.  I heard the voice in my head, so I called my son and said, "Be thankful.  For some reason Satan is blinding all of us to the lost wallet.  Stay calm.  Go look for your professor, anyone that you can talk to and see what you can do."  My husband looked at me like I was nuts, "Be thankful?"  He actually agreed and told my son, too, "This is some kind of spiritual attack on you right before your test.  Stay calm."  The frantic searching stopped and calm came over all of us.  We left it with the Lord and trusted his test would go fine.

It did.  He didn't need his i.d. after all.  He ran into his professor right before the test (who he never sees) and he explained the situation to him.  The professor said not to worry because he knew him.  He has 500 students in his class and he knew him?  My son sits right at the front and talks to him apparently, so I was so glad for that.  I couldn't figure out why we hadn't found the wallet, but I didn't worry about that either.  The next day, when he was home, he went up to his room and found it in two seconds.  It was hidden in a dark part of his shelf that no one had noticed.  More blindness?

We were feeling pretty good, though weary from all the attacks.  We had made it through the whole week and though we hadn't been perfect at them, I felt like we were passing test after test.  Is there ever a break?  Turns out, no.

On the Saturday morning, we were selling another puppy to a young 12 year old girl.  My son had been in touch with her and her parents.  All was going well, but when they arrived we realized we had missed a major email explaining they wanted breeding rights.  This changed the price of the puppy to a much higher price.  She said she had mentioned it in an email.  Immediate frustration levels went up in my head and my husband's towards our could he have missed that?! We are always teaching the importance of being on top of his emails with respect to the pups.  We felt it was gross negligence.  But at that point there was nothing we could do.  Though they had driven quite a distance, the buyer and her young daughter felt they had to walk away as there was no way they could afford the new higher price.  I couldn't believe it as I watched them leave.  I felt sick to my stomach.  I had already been praying when I sensed the tension, but started pleading with God at that point.

This time I had a minor one-way dialogue before I went to thankfulness.  It it made no sense.  "I do not understand this.  What are you trying to teach my son?  Why did this have to happen?  Ok, I'm thankful for the lesson, but is there another way you could have taught him?  What about these poor people?  I'm thankful, but is there still a way we could turn this around?"  I went on and on.  Praying, folding laundry, praying, pacing, crying out, all the while, trying to be thankful.....though I wasn't feeling very thankful.

Suddenly, it occurred to my husband there was a way we could still make a deal, if we could just get them to turn around, but we didn't have a cell number for them?!  That made us even more frustrated at my son!  We went through all the emails and quickly emailed her phone, hoping she would somehow get it.  We called every person with her last name that we could find on the internet.  No answer.  We eventually had to let it go as a major learning experience.  But then suddenly, there she was at our door!  She had stopped at a coffee shop to calm down with her daughter and had taken out her phone, received the email from us telling her to come back if she wanted to, but then her phone died and she couldn't respond!  So she just came back.  God was working it all out without us even realizing it.

We were able to come to a mutual agreement that only occurred to us after they had left.  We just hadn't had enough time to think about it.  Did God suddenly put the new idea my husband's head because I had prayed?  She was pleased, we were pleased, the young girl was thrilled she could still leave with a puppy.  Whew!  When we went back through the emails, it was clear the email was there, but Satan had hidden it on us somehow, more blindness.  We marveled at how God had turned the whole affair around and turned it for good.  We learned once again how important it was to be thankful.  In this case, my son and and husband weren't super thankful when they were in the middle of it!  I was thankful on their behalf!  And I'm quite certain my prayers in the laundry room helped shift the situation into miracle mode.  This was our third miracle of the week and we had seen the pattern established each thankful and the miracle is imminent (as my fav. author Ann Voskamp always says....)  We made a pact that we'll try to recognize what our triggers are so that we don't let the frustrations levels get so high first, but instead go to thankfulness as soon as we see the frustration levels start to rise.  Anger is a sign we're not handling it right.

I wish all attacks would stop there, but I'm sure there are more to come.  I'm trusting God for the lesson we've clearly learned and that we'll be able to apply it when the inevitable attacks hit us.  To keep us on track, we have a new title for each current day.  Perhaps, without even knowing it, today would have been Weary Wednesday or Warring Wednesday, but now we'll try to make it more of an upbeat happier day, like "Wonderfuul Wednesday" or Merry Mondays or Terrific get the idea.  It's a simple way we can keep ourselves more aware of the fact we want our days to be better.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Toil, Mere Talk, Eternal Moments, and God's Decor

All during the school year we talk about being wise and diligent as opposed to being slothful and lazy as the fool is described in Proverbs.  "The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labour." (12:24)  "Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense." (12:11)  "In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty." (14:23)  Those are just a few we've read recently  But they are all so good.

The implication is pretty clear, work is going to be hard, but worth it.  Our struggle is that it is really hard to work your land when you aren't home anymore!  RM is gone so much now that things are falling apart around the farm and he is not here to fix them.  We have very naughty cows.  They broke the fence again and they are starting to get out regularly, especially the little calves.  They're actually quite fun to get in.  I could send out a toddler and the cows would go running right back in.  But still, they aren't supposed to be getting out!  But, this is how it is right now.  So tonight, despite the fact he'll be tired from being on his feet all day teaching, he already knows that he's working all night on the fence.

This post is definitely a kudos to my husband post.  He is such an example to all of us about diligence these days.  I really can hardly think of anyone that puts in more hours in a day lately.  I used to think he worked hard, but now, it's a whole new level of hard.  The college might be striking in the next two weeks and there's a little part of us that won't be upset as he'll get some unwanted/wanted time off!

Wednesday night is our Bible Quizzing practice night.  He's the coach, so we start when he gets home.  Right before he was supposed to arrive home I got a text from my son saying that the truck had broken down on the side of the road and that they were waiting for a tow truck to bring our truck home.  This wasn't a complete surprise to us.  We had heard some strange sounds that we didn't like coming from the truck.  We had fixed it once, but perhaps it was going again?  Also, we have noticed that each week right before quizzing starts, we get some form of spiritual attack that makes us want to stop quizzing.  We try to pray now, anticipating, "What will the attack be this week?"  When we added up all the verses our kids have memorized in just 4 weeks, it is well over 200, so no surprise that Satan hates us and what we're doing.  Not only are the older ones memorizing, but now the little kids are memorizing, too?!  He has to do something to stop us each week.  This week it was the truck.

A lot of the Dads come out each week to the quiz practice.  I love that.  They get to see their kids participate and memorize in person.  They were all very concerned about RM and wanted to help.  Could they pick him up?  Would we need to borrow a car?  What could they do for us?  Very sweet. When RM walked in the door, he grabbed a two second dinner, checked in to see if we were all ok and then said, "Sorry, I got to go fix the truck, I need it for work tomorrow!"  Everyone was so confused.  How could he fix the truck at night?  How did he already have the parts?  Was he going to do it himself?  As his wife, I knew exactly what he had done without him even telling me, as this has happened more than once.  I explained, "Let me take a guess.  I'm pretty sure I know what he did.  As soon as the truck pulled over to the side of the road, he called CAA.  Then he called his parts guy who said, 'Sorry, we'll be closed in a few minutes.'  Then, my husband said, 'Let me pay now over the phone and you just leave the part outside the door (small town niceness lets them do that).'  Then, he quickly picked up the part and voila, he fixes it tonight."  I checked with RM later to see if that was what had happened and he said, "That's exactly what happened!"

Sure enough, he sat with me for a few minutes after everyone left and around 8 pm, he went to work on the truck.  It was fixed in less than an hour as he's good at fixing this particular issue.  The next day he and my daughter both took their separate vehicles to work and not a single day of work was missed.  Amazing.  I explained to my kids the next day, "You have to know Dad didn't have to do that.  He could have used all sorts of excuses about why he didn't fix it right away.  He could have delayed because the parts store was closed.  He could have said he was tired and he wouldn't have been lying."  I wanted them to see Proverbs worked out in real life and watching their dad was the perfect way to see diligence up close.  "In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty." Mere talk.  What a great phrase.  All toil.  Profit.  Poverty.  He made us money by working hard.  We didn't have to buy a new car or pay someone else to fix it.  He toiled.  Thus, we profited.  He didn't just talk about fixing it, he did the work.  It saved us from poverty.  Fixing cars has always been something I noticed about him in the early days of our courtship.  Without knowing it, it was a litmus test of his character.  I remember watching him run off to fix someone else's car when he could have stayed back to be with me and I remember thinking dreamy thoughts of how manly it made him in my eyes!  A great reminder to watch for those types of signs for my children and their future spouses-to-be.....but I digress....

This is a picture of all the junior quizzers.  They are amazing.  In just a few weeks, some of them have already memorized two whole chapters of 1 Corinthians.

After we picked the grapes, we put them in the grape crusher (also found on the farm).  Each boy takes a turn turning the crank.  They love doing that.  Then, the grapes get put in the fruit press (also found on the farm) and the grapes are pressed until every drop is out.  It makes for the sweetest juice I've ever tasted.

The truck was just a little blip in the road this week.  We continue to love the warm weather this fall has brought.  I've found myself being extra happy just because of the weather.  That worries me because I know cold weather is coming.....We spent a couple hours outside in the vineyard picking grapes for juice yesterday and I had to keep pinching myself as I just kept having eternal moment after eternal moment.  Was I really in a vineyard picking grapes?  Our grapes?  How did this happen?  I had all my boys around me.  One was just sitting eating grapes and holding snails (he is the epitome of the rhyme about little boys...snails and puppy dog tails....), another was wandering around looking for secret paths in the grape vines.  Another was diligently picking grapes.  Another one was driving the gator back and forth for me.  For all the hard times with kids, school and vehicles, every so often, God just picks me up and drops me into a place that feels like I'm in heaven.  I could have stayed there all day.  If that is what heaven is like, I really look forward to it.  What a wonderful glimpse it was yesterday.

One final thing....this weekend I am hosting Thanksgiving.  I love Fall decorating and I love the fact that my entire house has been decorated now with things from the farm and all the barns.  I gave myself the challenge of making the table completely decorated without buying anything, if possible.  I turned to weeds.  I love Fall weeds!  The only purchase I did make was to buy some super cheap burlap that came from a farm supply store.  It's virtually free because it isn't used for decorating.  I would have paid so much more if I had bought it in a home decor store.  I felt pretty smart about that (and it was on sale!).  That makes me really happy.  I sent my kids down to the vineyard to get grapes and vines, which they did.  I put the burlap down the center of the table and then threw the grape vines down the center of the table, too.  The kids and I went to the local farmer and picked up a few gourds and squash (ok, another small purchase, but I can eat them later!)  Then we picked up some local apples, also from just down the street (we can also eat those later!) and put those all over the house.  I put weeds in some mason jars and the look was complete.  I basically took God's decor that He naturally uses outside and just brought it in.  He's my inspiration, not some magazine!  It looks great and I get to eat most of it later, except for the weeds.....Super cool!  I'm thankful already!

Monday, 2 October 2017

Puppy Harvest Time

Man!  I never get to write anymore.  I'm still up so early, but I am getting ready for the day and getting several lunches out the door, earlier than I've ever done.  I would have to get up at 4 am if I wanted to add the blogging back in, too.  So today, exercise takes a backseat, just to get a post in....

Today, we're celebrating the sale of 3 of the puppies!  At 8 weeks old they were ready to go.  My son had listed them on-line and we were getting lots of interest, but we weren't seeing immediate sales.  Some people would correspond for a series of up to 30 emails, no exaggeration, and then no follow through.  The temptation to let fear creep in was big.  The temptation to worry that they would never sell was also big, but to my amazement my son would just keep saying, "They're God's puppies."  And he really believed it!  I started to say the same thing to myself.

What a journey this has been for him and for us, for all of us.  Like I've said before, I really think we should all get a cut of his profits, which are going to be huge if he sells the ones we have left the way he sold the first three.  All of us have contributed in some way.  I drive him to appointments as he holds either the squirming, slobbering mother or my husband takes him with 3 or 4 squirming, slobbering puppies....Someone else will pick up puppy food.  Another kid took over all the puppy poop removal duty (that kid deserves a BIG cut).  Others walk the big dogs for him while he's at school.  The list goes on and on.  This has definitely been a family effort, but we knew all the money was his (while actually the university gets a cut...mostly!)  I enjoyed watching everyone contribute to his cause and for the most part without complaining! 

Today I have to go pick up 6 puppy collars and with 6 puppies in tow, I have to go pick up my son at the university where we'll then head out to the vet together to get them all microchipped and vaccinated.  Should be a fun trip!  Would I rather be doing something else?  Yes.  But, I'm so happy to help.  Seeing the little pups go off to new families yesterday was really neat.  One couple flew in from the east coast of Canada to get one!  I couldn't believe it.  Had to buy a ticket for the puppy to get home!  Another family named their new puppy after our son!  So sweet!  The silly puppy even has his own instagram account!

The night before the puppies were leaving, we took our family photo shoot with all 9 puppies.  Each kid tried to hold one.   The littlest ended up holding grass instead as the puppy was too wiggly.  The picture is super cute...will include later, didn't get that one downloaded yet.  But I did manage to get this one of my son with a whole bunch of them surrounding him.

I knew this puppy experience was going to be amazing, but I didn't realize how amazing.  Puppies are so darn cute!!  I absolutely loved seeing them, watching them, petting them, holding kids were literally attacked by them every time they went in to visit them in the kennel.  They were mauled with love (holes are their shirts to prove it!)  It was every kid's dream come true, a chance to play with puppies whenever they wanted - a true side benefit to my son's venture.  We will be sad to see them go.

It wasn't all peaches and cream all along the way though and I was reminded of this in the sermon yesterday as we talked about the love of God through discipline.  He loves us so much he doesn't want to keep us where we are.  My son has had a very hard couple of years, with school, work, life.....he has sensed God's discipline in his life and has not loved that very much.  Hebrews says it best, "My son, (I would add, my 'poor' son!) do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary of it (he was weary) when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.  It is for discipline that you have to endure (HAVE to)......For the moment all discipline seems painful (oh yeah) rather than pleasant, but later it yields the fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." 

Yesterday was the day of harvest.  The fruit started to come in.  All that he had worked for with those puppies seemed like it was all for nothing when we were in the midst of it, but yesterday he started to see, "Hey!  It wasn't a waste of time!"  I think it gave all of us a vision of what that verse meant.  My poor son had endured so many hard times, I didn't know if he would make it or crack.  I wasn't sure if the discipline he was under was too harsh by God.  I wanted to step in and take him out of all his hard situations and just make him 5 again.  All the discipline seemed too "painful", certainly not pleasant as the Bible puts it.  But then, the fruit of righteousness and the actual fruit of payment came in yesterday and we grasped finally what God had been teaching him.  I think my son allowed himself to be trained, even though it was so awful.  He knew he wanted whatever God was doing with him was going to be worth it.  As always, I love how God's Word tells us how it will go if we trust Him, but do we ever have to trust.  This puppy experience was a great example of waiting for the fruit, not just the financial fruit, but the fruit of righteousness.  We all benefited so greatly and learned the lessons alongside him and got to be adored by some fuzzy creatures in the process - total bonus!

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Looking for Ancient Paths

Finally one of the computers we ordered came in, so I can blog again!  My son took my other one off to school, so I was computer-less for 3 weeks unless I woke up earlier than normal.  That didn't always happen.

He's finishing his 3rd week and so far so good.  He probably feels like he's there all day every day, cause he is!  But we continue to be so grateful for the way things have worked out.  He's able to drive to school and back every day with my husband and that has just been awesome.  Their schedules are completely coordinated right down to their night classes.  This has been just what he needed for his first year. 

The other kids and I are wading through the school year.  Some enjoying it more than others.  Junior quizzing has taken off and we're enjoying that new element to our day.  I'm shocked to see how well they are doing.  I had received some resistance suggesting that it was too much for the younger ages, two verses a day, but for the most part, these little people are doing it!  Rising up to the challenge they've been given and it is absolutely amazing to watch them.

Meanwhile, I'm reading through Jeremiah and came across a classic verse, "Thus says the Lord, 'Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.'" (6:16).  The ancient paths.  I talked about this with the kids, asking them to pick out the action words.  Stand.  Look.  Ask. Walk.  Find Rest.  It seems like the perfect formula for peace and joy.  Yet why is there sometimes conflict throughout the day either between me and a child or between siblings?  Because of the next verse....."But they said, 'We will not walk in it....We will not pay attention."  Well, there you go.  The Lord tells us how to have a good life, but we just ignore the plan.  The results?  "I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it."

It was the perfect Bible Study.  Do what God says and you will have rest for your souls.  Ignore His Law and life will not go so well for you.  The rest of the week I just kept telling the kids, "Watch for the ancient paths!"  Whether or not they fully grasp it at a young age doesn't matter to me.  I'm trying to fill their minds with Biblical vocabulary.  I know God's Word will not return void if I just keep getting it out there, in their minds, in their own speech.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Art of Self-Discipline via Goats, Geese and Dogs

We made it through week one and now we're into week 2 of formal school.  Still trying to be very frugal so I'm stretching meat, making lunches, shopping at thrift stores for clothes.  It is waaay easier to buy lunches and shop at stores for new clothes, but I don't mind the challenge.  For lunches, I'm trying to pack healthier choices so there's some weightloss (RM enjoyed his summer!)  Now that he's stuck at school so long, he has no choice but to eat what I send him!

This year I think the main character goal will be focusing on is "Self-discipline".  All of us need it in order to get through school, manage our home, all our work, the many hours we all put in around the farm, etc.  To get us on the right path, RM had us listen to an old message from John Macarthur last night for our family worship.  It was great.  We'll listen to the rest of it tonight.  It just immediately reminded me of how easy it is for me to put something off, from simply picking stuff up in the family room, to washing dishes right away, to putting another load in the laundry....After listening to him speak on the importance of it in our lives, I found myself running around the house doing things I should have done earlier on in the day, but had procrastinated on.  I give pep talks all the time.  It was good for me to hear one, too.

It's funny how God brings certain things or people into our lives to teach us these character traits, or in my daughter's case....goats.  Yup, we have goats now.  Two of them.  We are goat-sitting while our friends are away for 3 months.  Seemed like a good idea at the time!  My husband is extremely adamant that he is against goats.  Thinks they are, uh, of the devil.  They escape, look scary, and make awful noises.  But, my daughter and I wanted the milk so badly we were willing to try.  We wanted to make goat cheese, soap and even try to drink the milk.  This has turned into quite the fiasco that the rest of the family did NOT, I repeat, DID NOT, sign up for.

The morning the goats were arriving, my son casually came into the kitchen and said to my unaware husband, "Dad, where should we put the goats when they get here in an hour?"  "What? They're coming today?"  The next few minutes weren't pretty as he was racing out the door, not able to handle where the goats would be going....He got to work and asked his colleagues, "Does this happen at your home right before you go to work....?"  He then went on to explain the funny question he was asked minutes before heading out the door.

My husband has no extra time in his life these days, so goats were not going to be his deal.  He told my daughter, "If you are going to have goats, you are going to be in charge of everything about those goats!"  "Yes Dad!"  And, so the self-discipline training began. First she had to make a pen in the barn for the goats, which fortunately had been mostly made before for the mini horses.  Then, she and her goat friend had to muck the barn, for who knows how long.  Now that they were in their little enclosure, right on time, it was time for them to start escaping.  Sure enough, they did it and have continued to escape every single day.  Next, my sleepy daughter, who hates waking up early, now is on a goat milking schedule and is up before dark milking these bleating beasts.  Sadly, I haven't quite convinced my kids (no pun intended) to drink the milk, though I'm going to keep at it.  I don't love it either, but it's free and so good for you and maybe it is a little "goat-y", but for free?!  How can you go wrong?  The other kids were glad it wasn't their job to watch these goats, but morning after morning my daughter has run in, yelling, "HELP!!!"  Suddenly, more kids are on the self-discipline track, too, helping when they don't want to, serving in a way they never planned.  Sorry!

These friends also brought two beautiful white "guard" geese.  That caused quite a stir in the chicken coop.  Never have I heard so many barnyard noises at once.  The roosters were crowing, the chickens were squawking, the geese were honking, the dogs and puppies were barking, the goats were bleating.......oh my goodness.....I couldn't believe how loud it was!  I was sure the neighbours were going to call someone on us.  Since then, all the animals have settled in....a little less noise.

Meanwhile, the puppies have grown up to be big puppies with big smells.  My oldest son is now off to school and has no time to manage his dogs, so I delegated the work while he was away to another son.  He'll get paid once the puppies are sold.  More self-discipline training going on.  He hates this job.  It is awful.  You have to scrape stuff off the floor, sweep, vacuum, sometimes mop.  What a mess, what a smell.  We're trying to keep them outdoors all day now in the kennel.  That is helping me manage the smell in my house.  We won't sell them soon enough, though they are at the cutest stage!

So, I'm grateful for all the tasks we have.  I don't love how busy it makes us all feel.  I don't love the sense of being overwhelmed, but I love the character it is developing in all of us, through the use of animals, no less.  Well, whatever it takes, I guess!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Arise, Get Dressed and Go Play Hotwheels!

Yesterday was the first day of school for our younger one and today is the first day of school for our oldest to university.  Wow, what extremes we have in our family. One child just learning to read and the other doing physics, biology and chemistry.  It's amazing what can happen in just a few years!  It gives me hope!

I reflect back on that first day of school for the oldest boy, 14 years ago.....I called my husband at work because my son just refused to write an "F".  "He won't write an 'F'!"  I cried into the phone. "Relax," my husband said, "let him play hotwheels."  And so I did.  I relaxed, all along the way, and let him learn at his own pace.  We enjoyed our life, without stress, doing the work in between play and just being curious about so many things, and guess what?  He still got in to university!  Without me freaking out on him all the time.  I can't help but think that actually helped him figure out what he wanted to do with his life.  He was free to explore his multiple interests all day long, and trust me, he did.  He was always up to something, and still is.

I have to try to remember this.  Yesterday I was trying to get my 7 year old to do his math, but he kept escaping to lie down with the puppies!  My husband called and I told him, "J keeps escaping to play with the puppies!  He won't do his work!"  "Let him play with the puppies....."  He may as well of said, "Let him play with hotwheels...."  And so I did.  He played with the puppies for most of the day. It's going to be such a small window that we have these puppies here.  I want him to enjoy them.  The work will get done, just like with my other son, in between all the things he's curious about.

However, I still had to have my annual pep talk!  Actually, I give them basically daily, but yesterday's was a particularly good one, if I say so myself!  I had read Jeremiah 1 that morning.  It was describing Jeremiah's call by God to go be a prophet to the nations.  He had lots of excuses why he shouldn't do what God had said, "I do not not how to speak, for I am only a youth."  But God would have none of it.  "Do not say, 'I am only a youth'; for to all to who I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you , you shall speak.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord."  What struck me is that we are also called.  Maybe we aren't prophets, but we are moms, students, fathers.....we all have a job to do right now.  For my kids, it is living at home, under our roof, under our rules, in my "school", doing the work I've planned for them.  I've been given the role of helping develop their character, their spirits, their brains!  They just have to do what I say, pretty much!  After God's pep talk to Jeremiah he says, "But you, dress yourself for work, arise, and say to them everything that I command you."  That was our verse for the day - Get up!  Get dressed for school!  And do everything I tell you to!  I loved it!

I hear a very loud alarm going off right now....the kids have to get up early now.  Don't think they'll love that aspect to life this fall, but oh well!  Arise, get dressed and go to work!

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Filling Jars and Being Shipwrecked...All Part of the Plan

Last summer was the first attempt at a garden and I think we were super successful.  We ate produce from it for a long time.  This summer we had so much rain our garden was completely drowned, puddles everywhere.  I grew frogs, not vegetables!  We ate some food, but mostly beans, cucumbers, a few tomatoes, a little lettuce and peas, but that's about it.  All the herbs died, none of the carrots or beets made it (that was also partly due to an escaping bunny that we always found in our garden!). So, a little disappointing, but I also learned I can't make it as big next year.  I lost my garden crew to jobs and school this summer.  The younger ones helped, but not nearly as much as my older ones did last summer.  I may just have to cut back a bit next year.

Yesterday, I shared my "water into wine" story with my friend who is staying with us until today. One thing she and I have in common is the large number of children we both have.  She has 7 and I have 8.  However, we both have only 6 left under 18 years old.  I found that particularly interesting in light of the story from John 2.  In the story, Jesus tells the servants to fill 6 large jars with water.  These were no small jars.  They held 20-30 gallons of water each.  How did they do that?  Did they move the jars?  They would have been so heavy!  Or perhaps they went back and forth to the well to fill them up with smaller jars.  That would have taken so long and would have been so tedious!  Either way they were filled and the miracle of turning the water into wine happened.

Hmmmmm.....I started to see a parallel in my life and my friend's life.  We both have 6 jars, too - our 6 kids each.  They seem impossible to fill with godliness sometimes.  It is soooo much work!  I can hardly lift them!  I can't seem to get any "water" in them!  I told her this amazing thought that came to my mind, yet, God can take our feeble attempts at filling them and turn them into wine.  How I pray this for my remaining kids under my care.

In all the dreariness of this past year where my friend has struggled financially, emotionally, physically, we, too, have struggled alongside her.  What a long road it has been and though there is light at the end of the tunnel, we really have no idea when we will see resolve in her situation.  I sat in church this past Sunday and completely related to Paul in all the many storms he went through.  Yet God saw him through again and again.

As the pastor spoke from Acts 27, I started to see more parallels to my life and hers yet again, this time with our "storms" not just our "jars".  Paul set sail for Rome, not knowing a storm was ahead for him.  Soon into his voyage, it says he "put in Sidon...And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for..." (Acts 27:3)  Though there was a storm about to rage around him, there was respite before the wind began.  He was treated "kindly".  This has been our experience in all the storms this past year.  Even yesterday, my friend woke up with bad news.  She found out she had a surprise raise in one of her bills meaning more financial strain. Talk about a storm in your head and heart.  But we sat there and continued to talk and I explained, "This is just a small setback.  You'll find a way to pay the extra money."

Then, later on that day, she couldn't find her keys.  Her kids had taken to playing with them and lost them in the process.  Gone for good.  Still can't find them.  We turned the house upside down.  She called the person she had bought the car from asking her for a certain code she needed in order to get a new key made and to her shock and amazement, this friend said, "I'll pay for a new key to be made whatever it costs."  Sure enough, she showed up a few hours later with cash in hand and it was no small amount.  I looked at my friend and said, "Water into wine!  Don't you see?"  She was treated kindly in the middle of her storm.

As Paul went on in his journey, it says, "We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone.  Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens..." (Acts:27:7,8)  The pastor pointed out that even though there was difficult sailing and that the wind was fighting them the whole time, there was again, a break in the storm and they were able to get more respite at Fair Havens.  I know of a camp called Fair Havens and now I know why it is named give respite to the weary families that come there.  That same camp is exactly what my friend's camp is like.  Though she is still in her storm, she has been able to live in a type of "Fair Havens" all summer, surrounded by God's beauty in nature, on a lake, with birds, green grass, tall trees, blue sky....a little oasis in her storm.  It was even able to be enjoyed by all of us when we went up, so we, too, got a bit of a trip to "Fair Havens".  Did God know our kids would need a little respite, too?

My personal respite is coming.....!  Every year we go away on our anniversary.  Even in our cracking down on our finances, this was one area we didn't cut back on.  One night, all out, close by.  I look forward to it all year.

Even this week, we had a new friend of the kids come by for a few days.  It was a completely unplanned visit, but I looked at his stay with us as respite for our kids - A new face, tons of personality, lots of laughs, spiritually refreshing as he comes from an amazing family with a really cool story....I loved having him here and thanked God for bringing him to us.  Respite doesn't mean sitting around doing nothing all the could mean just a refreshing break in the form of friendship!  He was respite to us!  But, it takes eyes to see it.  And I'm always trying to see what God is doing.  Always trying to see how He's working.

This Fall will be a new challenge for us as RM is taking on full-time work as well as part-time work. In the olden days, full-time hours meant many more than they do now.  Nowadays, full-time work is seen as 35 hours a week.  He'll be putting in 50 hours a week, but entrepreneurs know 50 hours a week is child's play, so he probably won't even bat at eye.  However, it will still be a challenge, so I'm praying there will be respite in the storm of all the new things he's taking on.

Finally, Paul reached shore, but not before being shipwrecked.  This has to be my favourite part of the story.  He had been told by an angel that he would make it to shore and that no one would die.  And then, a shipwreck? To me, it is a perfect ending....God tells us, "You''ll make it!  I'm with you!"  But then, we see shipwrecks in our lives!  We get shipwrecked all the time!  How can this be God working?!  But it is. It was like the pastor said, "He'll get you where He intends you to go, but it won't always be how you think.  You might be shipwrecked in the process."  But that is actually a part of the plan sometimes. Seeing Paul get shipwrecked was actually a real encouragement to me.  Here we are on our debt-free plan and it just isn't going how I hoped!  I really thought we would make it to shore and all the crew would live.  But, we are often finding ourselves in storms and nearly shipwrecked and yes, we're all still alive, but it just isn't going how I planned!  It tells me that God is still helping us get to shore, but that sometimes a shipwreck or two is part of the plan.  Ok, fine.  I'll try to be happier in my ship, wrecked or not.

Wow.  The word of God is so alive.  Today, I'm finishing off schedule-making and school planning. Trying to get my head around the fact I have to dive in to the books in a few days.  I'm so glad snow isn't right around the corner!  Although I should watch what I say and write....maybe there's a snowstorm coming!