Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tea Sets Traveled up the Alcan!

Our first official tea party in over a year!
 We love tea parties but our special tea pots and cups have been packed away.  Recently, they were hauled up the Alcan (Alaska-Canada Highway) for us by some friends who happened to have extra space on their trailer on the way back from Oregon.  These fragile cups were once in Alaska, but moved back to Oregon and now they are back up again!  My Grandma would never have guessed how many 1000's of miles her little cups would travel and how much joy they'd bring!
Wild edible blossoms of roses and chiming bells to the left...
Cheese, pepperoni and crackers to the right
 The girls planned the menu with things we had on hand, including wild edible plants!  They sent the boys off into the woods with their own little baggies of goodies.  As one of the children added, that boys just burp to much for proper tea parties.  We also had fresh fruit and trail mix.  This is the first tea party that we've ever had without a home baked treat.  Next time...
Three pots of tea: chai, peppermint, and peach

Our edible flower centerpiece
 My Grandma would've have been so proud to see her tea cups displayed on our table.  She passed away while I was pregnant with my first child.  I so badly wanted to introduce him to her. 

I loved her so much and look forward to seeing her again someday.  One of my most favorite memories of her is at Tea Time.  She carefully opened her china hutch and let me choose the tea cup I desired.  Ceremoniously we'd sit down to a cup of tea and small snack.  I almost always choose the above one in the picture.  It was my favorite and still is.  I don't really know any history about it but whenever I glimpse it's beauty I think of how beautiful my Grandma was, inside and out. 

She read the Psalms or a Proverbs to me in the morning whenever I spent the night. 

She introduced me to the ancient type writer, one hard to hit key at a time.

She taught me what an ironing board was.  I spotted it behind her bedroom door and asked her what it was.  She couldn't believe I didn't know!  I still remember her being shocked and laughing at the same time. 

She taught me how to use the sewing machine.  I remember making my first project with her; pot holders.

She was so classy and organized and clean.  She was punctual and efficient.  She loved being home and just spending time with me talking, walking, drawing faces, or enjoying a TV show.  She loved me and I loved her.

She bought me my first stick of deodorant and my first bra.  She had the time to teach me to properly care for my fingernails, brush my hair and so many other lessons of learning to grow up like a lady.

She always knew the right things to say and just how to laugh.  She remembered everybody's birthday and all the important life events and taught me to say "Thank-you" when someone gave me a compliment.

 The most violent thing I ever saw her do was through a tin can full of rocks at "those nasty squirrels."  She lived in a mobile home park and the squirrels would steal the bread from her precious birds that she fed daily.  I remember being shocked that my sweet Grandma had such an arm and with such vehemence! 

Yes, these tea cups bring back memories... as a good and worthy tea cup should.  This is why I love tea parties... they connect us with the yester years of along time ago and many generations of women who used to gather and reconnect over tea and visiting with no electronic gadgets in site.
Our littlest guest sitting in a high chair...
We couldn't understand why she wasn't drinking her tea until we realized she had no sugar cube!  As soon as we gave her one, why she wanted another and another, of course.  Her teaspoon is a plastic measuring spoon but she loved it.  Yes, even 2-year olds can begin to enjoy taking tea.  She had just awoken from a nap and we couldn't talk her into proper attire.... but the chubby legs were cute!
Our second born wary the sweet smile, there's lots more under there...
 There's this certain smile in this daughter that reminds me so much of my older brother.  I can see his face in hers and this quaint little smile that says, I'm smiling but I'm thinking oh so much more!  I love it!
Our oldest daughter... be wary the serenely calm photo, usually there's lots of excitement
 Just a few seconds later we heard a gasp and she jumped, almost flipping her spoon and tea cup, thinking that it was already in the process of tipping.  Oh how we laughed and laughed.  This whole tea party was so much fun.  Sometimes we use uppity sort of English accents and pretend we are wealthy aristocrats.  My oldest daughter turned her uppity accent on and asked her sister next to her, So, how has the weather been at your place?  My other daughter said with a very snipty tone, "You know, the same as yours!"  And everyone burst out laughing
Our third born daughter, laid back, but full of mischievous surprises...
 She loves her big sisters and looks up to them, but all the while, will enjoy peppering them with her questions and demands.  It always amazes me how each of us has the capacity for equal amounts of sweetness, kindness, and humility as well as sourness, irritability, and pride.  It always boils down to a choice doesn't it?  Too bad we have to accept personal responsibility for our feelings and actions....
Mama, me, author always contemplating... but rarely quiet...
I'm looking forward to lots of tea parties with my lovely children, and yes, the boys too.  They always add a new dimension to our parties, specially with Daddy attending.  Thank-you for your inspiration Grandma!

Falling Trees, Trembling Knees

Daddy climbing as high as he dare go...

A few cutting lessons...

Away I go...
I almost felt like crying when I watched by oldest, 16 year old son, cut down his first tree!  It seems like it was only a few moments ago that he was cutting his first tooth!  He's growing and maturing and such a joy and a blessing to be around.  What a gift that God has bestowed upon us by placing him in our home. 

We start out parenting with so few skills and hopefully down on our knees.  We begin to learn and grow right along side of our children the entire way.  All I can say to new parents is TRUST GOD: He alone is worthy and His wisdom never fails.  Love never fails.  You will fail and falter and want to give in at times, but don't give up.  Don't think that what you do is not going to effect future generations.  Your children are always watching and learning even when you feel like you haven't finished your tasks for the day, you'll have finished the task God set before you: Being faithful to be there, being available, trying to love unselfishly, and training up your children to love the Lord and their fellow man.

When you receive well meaning advice from Dr.'s, friends, family, or the latest in modern parenting trends, always go back to Scripture to make sure you're not being deceived.  When you're not sure which path to take, move forward cautiously, but do move forward. 

The seasons of parenting change as the children grow and when they are young, they need constant supervision and training.  What you put in, you will reap bountifully. They will also. As they get older, you will find that you will have worked yourself out of a job and they will operate in beautiful independence of godly character. 

I can tell you that the teenage years are no sweat if you put the time in when they're young!  Yes, they still have sin natures and attitudes at times, but it is NOTHING like the world portrays a teenager as being.  Ours are helpful, caring, confident, loving and trustworthy individuals, Praise God for his grace and wisdom down through the years!

Now, lest you think I feel I've arrived, I do not.  There's still lots of years of maturity left, following God's lead in their life, whether that be college or work experience, or both, or finding their life's passion and work, settling into married life, etc  I'll be learning right along with them, changing and growing more Christ-like while still burdened by this flesh, but rejoicing at what God will and can do in each of their lives and our own.

What a great honor and privilege to follow the Lord Jesus Christ even in this 21st Century!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chena River Outing

Giddy-up Horse!

Mr. and Mrs. Beaver's old house from last Winter, overlooking a nearby pond

Looking down the Chena River...

Back to the beaver pond and some rafting

Heave ho!
The explorer's are off!

Time to sit and wait....

One little swim before we ride home?

A little bedtime music anyone?
My husband's great Aunt gave our oldest son his Great Uncle's accordion for his 16th Birthday.  He was just learning to play it when we lived with her for a few months last summer.  He was so excited to receive it back as a gift and plays it almost every evening sitting outside on the steps.  He has picked out by ear all sorts of beautiful hymns and the star wars theme.  I even heard him playing Canon in D the other day, one of my favorite classical pieces.  His dog will join in with some all out howling for backup as well.  It is so funny.  The dog will only do it when he's alone just with our son.  If someone comes out to try and take a snap shot or video, the dog becomes quiet.

 Last Saturday we left around dinner time and headed for the Chena River for a picnic, a little rafting, hiking and rock scavenging or throwing.  We had a great time relaxing and I'm pretty sure I may have found a little gold....OK, so it might be pyrite, but it sure looks like a nugget embedded in some crystal like granite of some sort.  My ankles and feet were so huge I couldn't even get them in my sandals from all the hiking around but it was worth it. 

Sometimes you just have to put your work down and go play with the rest of your daylight.  We're so glad we did. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Setting up a real Teepee

Making a 3-pole tripod
 Last week our 3 oldest children were invited to help set up a summer teepee down by the river with two friends from church; "Uncle" who is an elder and "Miss" who teaches the kids Sunday School.  First they lashed together 3 poles with rope and raised it up.  Then they measured between the poles to make sure there was equal distance separating them.
Lashing with rope before raising it up...

Will it stay up?

The skeleton frame is done
The kids said they just continued to set poles onto the original lashed together pieces to make the rest of the frame.

Wrapping with canvas...

Will it fit?

Pulling the edges together with wooden dowels...

Taking a break by the river...

Wooden dowels holding edges together...
What a wonderful opportunity for my older children to spend time with another couple from church and enjoying one another's company.  It was also a great way for me to have some one on one time with my littler children.  Sometimes I forget we are a big family.  It doesn't feel that way to us but when some of them are gone, I realize that there truly are a lot of little bodies, hearts and souls under my care!  Each one requires time, effort, prayer, thoughts, and my listening ears.  When three are gone, it frees up more of my time to invest in my little ones. 

When the big kids came back they noticed the difference in the little children being more willing to help and learn to pull their own weight around the home.  It's easy to rely on the older children to do to much and then not expect enough from the younger ones.  

We are always learning as parents and growing together as a family.  We are looking forward to welcoming our new little one in just a few more days!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Our Mistakes, God's Beauty

Our oldest children crossing a creek that had a stronger current than expected
in Oregon, last summer

Yesterday I had another appointment with the surgeon who will be performing the C-section next Friday.  My husband was there and got to meet him.  There will also be a student Doctor assisting and we met him as well. 

As the date approaches nearer, so does some extra anxiety.... there's always a swirl of emotions surrounding me.  I feel like one of Jesus disciples in the boat when the storm comes and then I begin sinking in the waves of doubt and fear.  Am I still doing the right thing?  I try to see past the mounting dread of surgery and on to the beauty and gift of our precious new born baby boy.  I feel him daily.  He's alive, he's kicking, he's healthy and we can't wait to meet him.  It is so difficult to focus on this joy when you know the pain and suffering that must be endured.
An almost hidden bird nest we found while camping with friends
 in Washington last summer

God knows when I'm struggling deeply and at the end of a yesterday, filled with mistakes on so many levels, He choose to bless me.  We forgot papers, groceries, and so many other detours that I ended up in town at 8:30 in the evening with one last trip to Wal-mart.  It had been an incredibly long day.  I'm never in town this late and my feet were aching and I didn't want to have to do any more walking.  Finally we came out done with our shopping and there parked next to us was this gigantic 15 passenger van filled to brimming with kids and their Mother waiting.  I smiled and waved and then I couldn't resist.  I turned around just as the other Mother was unlocking her doors and motioning me to come over. 

She rolled down her window and asked when I was due or something to that effect and we just began fellowshipping in the Lord and how good He is.  She has had 9 C-sections!  Do you know how much I needed to hear this and see a healthy Mama and van full of healthy children just then?  It was salve to my soul to relate and share stories and hear of God's goodness.  What are the chances of being in all of Fairbanks at that moment and in that parking space?  That is no chance.  God is in control.  He loves us.  He longs to bless us and encourage us with His people wherever they may be. 

This family just moved to town last week!  I gave her contact info. and hope we can connect after we each get settled from our various life changes just now.  It's just another taste of Heaven, seeing how amazing God is and how He's been working all down through the centuries in everyone's lives. 

My feet were burning and my back ached by the time we got done visiting, but my heart and soul were soaring and free and I came home refreshed deeply in my Spirit.  I just wanted to read in my Bible and seek God all the more.  Now that's how we should come away from fellow Christians...,. inspired to be with God and enjoy Him always. 

I was musing about all those U-turns, mistakes, forgetfulness and upsets in my day.  But God used all of them to perfect His timing and ability to get both of our families the encouragement we needed for that moment.  He is truly amazing!
A little frog from Oregon, last summer that we saw popping out of his home to greet us...
I don't normally post old pictures on my blog, but I felt they captured something of what I was trying to communicate.  This will be our first birth away from Oregon, our home state and where we all grew up.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Alaska's Two Seasons: Winter and Summer

Ahhh... a pitched roof at last
 Remember our mold issue?  My husband and son had to tear off sheetrock from walls and ceiling, remove foam, panels and eventually the ceiling joists, or what was left of them.  Some of the ends weren't even there, they had rotted away; blackened stubs.  All because of a little drip we spotted in the window when the snow was melting.  It turned out that this damage was happening over a long period of time.  There was no pitch to the roof over our bedroom, just flat.  At least the rest of the house has some pitch to it. 

Recalling the story of Noah, we rejoiced that our Pastor and his contractor friend finished putting the tin on the day before it rained.  Our roof was open for a month without a drop.  Isn't God amazing?  Not to mention the Pastor and his friend donated their time and money to help.  We couldn't have done this without their help.  We are feeling very loved and blessed right now.
How we haul water when our supply runs out....
 A few days ago we ran out of water!  It would happen after my fireball drained his entire bubble bath with a bazillion soap bubbles left on himself and in the tub.  All the while little sister had arisen from bed, freshly bathed, and night clothes on.  Perhaps fireball offered her a dose of bubble bath for the top of her head, or she helped herself, but she was happily smearing it around when I entered in.  The facet was spitting air and reddish looking water and I kept collecting and dumping it just enough to rinse everyone clean.  It was nip and tuck!  Suddenly everyone got very thirsty.

We have a well at 1.5 gallons/minute.  There are 3 holding tanks in the basement so that it can catch up to itself as it doesn't produce very fast.  Many people have to haul water to their homes up here.  A lot of the water simply can't be consumed, some just tastes awful and it is scarce.  It is pretty dry up here, unlike the Southern part of Alaska.  We are considered the Interior of Alaska with mostly tundra like places and birch/spruce forests here and there.  So these giant looking marshmallow water tanks are what people use for water.  There are many water stations around town and you just pull up like you would to buy a coffee or gas, except no one is there manning the little station.  You put in your money and fill up.
Can I see me?
 Our baby soon will no longer be the baby... she's 2 1/2 and is aware that a new baby is coming.  She is jumping on a giant trampoline that the previous owners left. 
Guess what I found growing in my garden?
If you guessed rhubarb, you're right.  It grows huge and beautiful here with all the summer sunlight.   It's stays light later than I stay up now and is light by 5:00 in the morning. (I don't always get up at 5:00am)  Wild rhubarb and wild raspberries also grow here as well.  I'm not fond of rhubarb pie... is there anything else that you can make?  I just noticed in the picture all the moose poop to the left, just in case you noticed or are wondering what it looks like.
A diminishing wood pile.... very comforting
 Comforting in that it is diminishing into our cut and stacked wood pile under the porch.  The boys spend a little time each day working on this and sometimes the girls help too.  It's not so daunting when worked on a little every day.... kind of like any large task at hand, including home schooling.
The view of our house from the uphill greenhouse steps...
We feel so blessed to have been able to buy this place.  It's on 3 acres and a hillside and is just so cozy nestled into the Birch woods.  We have enough space to level out several RV pads for future guests.... hint, hint for anyone considering visiting this far North....

Freezer Meal Party in lieu of Baby Shower

My older girls stuffing the melon...

Attaching the pacifier and cute little blueberry eyes...

Cute little baby in the melon basket center piece
A very creative, organized and incredibly talented pair of friends came up from Tok, Alaska, to put on a Freezer Meal Making Party for me in lieu of a baby shower.  It was so much fun I forgot to take pictures of the actual process but I can explain it as best I can.  I remembered to take pictures during prep time but when other ladies arrived to help it was so much busy and so much fun that I didn't even think about my camera. 

In an hour and a half, nine of us ladies made 36 meals for the freezer.  What a huge time saver this will be when the new baby arrives May 29th!  We have a scheduled C-section (fourth one, long story).

Have you heard of making meals for a month groups?  This is basically the same idea, except I've been purchasing extra food for the past couple months in preparation for the day.  The day before the party, we pre-cooked 7lbs of chicken in a couple 9x13 or roasters.  Then the morning of the party we pre-cooked our sausage and ground caribou instead of hamburger in the oven.  My friend so graciously brought up 16lbs from their last hunt!  What a huge blessing.  Caribou is so lean you do not have to drain any fat.  I'm thinking there was some ground moose in their too.  Anyhow, we just baked in the oven until it was done.  What a cinch and you don't have to stand there and stir it.

So the little bit of prep is setting up extra tables and pulling out mixing bowls, spoons, cups and what not.  When all the ladies arrived we paired up in two's and followed the printed out recipes that were inserted into slipcovers.  Most of the recipes were tripled or quadrupled. 

We placed all matching food items with recipes, creating mini work stations.  Common spices like salt, pepper, or things like oil and chopped onion went on the center island so all could use them.

When things were done being rinsed, chopped, stirred or assembled, they went into either 9x13 foil pans or double bagged plastic gallon size bags.  They taped on a label, how to cook it and what to serve it with.  Inside the double bags, they inserted another small sandwich size bag with label.

We didn't have to do any cooking, just assembly.   My friend had me choose 10 or so different recipes from her freezer meal cookbooks that I liked or knew my family would appreciate.  There were breakfast entrĂ©es too.  Wow, many hands do make light work!  It was so much fun visiting and working together.  Many generations were represented and we all appreciated one another's help.  It seemed those generational gap ideas didn't exist.  We're all one human race and even though years may separate us, love and care and working draw us together. 

We were musing how today the modern woman is missing out even with all her technological gadgets.  They don't compare to real face to face visiting and sharing one another's work load, laughing and enjoying learning and relating.

I hope we can do this again soon for other women in the church, whether it's a young busy Mom or someone expecting a lot of company, or moving, or some other mounting obstacle.

Getting together and helping each other out and encouraging one another was a great benefit and will be a much needed break from planning and preparing meals from day to day while undergoing a major abdominal surgery.  Let's call things for what they are.  C-section sounds so nice and quick and easy.  If anyone is considering weighing their options.... go to    first.  Obviously we also surround our decisions with prayer as well, but learning as much as we can is also prudent.

You might change your mind after learning the truth behind why well-meaning health care providers may resort to surgery too quickly.  C-sections were meant to be done for emergencies, not preventative, precautionary ways to deal with birth.  Somehow in all our advancements we may have lost some common sense.  For some of us, it's too late.  I'm no longer a candidate for a VBAC but I would be a strong proponent of encouraging women to not give into their fears or anyone else using pressure to opt for an elective C-section.  We don't always think about the long term effects and cost down the road for our quick and easy choices today.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Mayhem

Actually, today was quite uneventful, meaning peaceful and restful without a lot of running around.  It was noise filled with laughter, a few tears and the pitter patter of feet as should be. Scattered through the afternoon were phone calls to family and from loved ones.

The younger children painted Mother's Day Vases...
The simplest yet messiest craft ever:  old glass jars, paint and brushes.  Try to remember aprons and removing of church clothes first.... my little boy may have permanent blue splotches on his nice black slacks....
The finished masterpieces

Yesterday, the mayhem.  Life is like that and it's O.K.  It was cleaning day at church... being 37 weeks pregnant with not much to offer in the way of cleaning services, I opted to drop off my 3 oldest children as highly energetic cleaning representatives.  I drove back home with my three younger children looking forward to spending time with them in the morning baking bread, playing games and finishing some chores.   HA HA HA HA

As the morning progressed I realized something... The older kids have so much responsibility and help out so well, that I've inadvertently taken advantage of them being around to do so.  Without them, life was.... not peaceful and extremely difficult.  So much for making bread.  It took us all morning just to get basic chores done like laundry, dishes, meal prep for company coming, vacuuming, tidying and bed making. 

There were tears, distracted minds, fights, and arguments.  The last straw came at about 11:30 or so when a friend called while I was in the middle of making lunch.  I thought I could just squeeze in a little harmless chat and all mayhem broke loose.  To make a long story short one of my children threatened to run away according to the words of my other child... I looked out the window to see a little body speeding down the driveway on their trike only to get half way down, turn around and come back up again.  When they made it back into the house, they said they were sorry and had calmed down.  They knew they were in the wrong and maybe a little fresh air was all that was needed.

After lunch, naps, and reading time with Mama, life got a whole lot better.  Eventually Daddy returned home after working and picked up the older kids and some groceries and things in time for dinner.

I earnestly want other Mom's to know that my life is filled with ups and downs on a regular basis.  Perhaps I paint pictures only when I'm feeling good, but they should be painted clearly.  I think honestly, Motherhood is full of joy and trials and they all mesh together into one.

Earlier in the morning while doing chores with little ones, I listened to a Christian Radio Station.  I was inspired by listening to Joni Erickson Tada about how she couldn't sleep well one night last week.  She then described what it's like for her... she is nailed to the bed.  She's paralyzed from the neck down and once she's in bed for the night, there is no moving until morning. No tossing, no turning, no walking the halls or rising for a drink. 

She understood that Jesus was inviting her in to fellowship in His suffering.  In other words, He experienced being nailed to the cross and knew what she was going through.  I thought of my upcoming C-section and being "nailed" to the operating table, arms spread out in cross formation and paralyzed from the chest down.  Jesus gets it.  What an honor to know that He knows and understands my pain. 

The next radio program was disheartening... 
In the last days…. We’re warned throughout Scripture there will be scoffers and mockers…  WOW, did I ever hear a lot of scoffing of Scripture and long held Christian ideals of Motherhood on Christian radio of all places!  How can this be?  The verse came to mind about fresh water and dirty water should not be coming out of the same fountain. They were trying to celebrate and encourage women for Mother’s Day.  Now I was encouraged by Joni in the short few minutes that she shared.  But for the next 1/2 hour or so I was so saddened by what advice this other Mother was trying to give to Mom's out there just in time for Mother's Day....

I’ll not point fingers and use names but such confused and mixed up worldly psycho-babble was all bubbling together surrounding the speaker’s effort to ease the fears and inadequacies that a Mother has surrounding raising her children. She went on to say there are no guarantees that what we do and who we are as Mothers will affect how our children turn out.  She uses the same illogical argument I’ve heard so often… “good children can come from bad homes, and good homes can produce bad children.” 

This certainly can happen but does not support throwing out any level of standard by which we can set some goals and persevere towards and know that there are a lot of things we can do right by the power of God.  Even those who don’t believe in God can have the decency and common sense to understand positive ways to love.

This idea of anything can be right is in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus:  a bad tree cannot produce good fruit and vice versa.  Also, God cannot be mocked, we reap what we sow.  How about the verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Notice it doesn’t say how old?  That is God’s way of instilling HOPE.  Just like He has instilled hope for His return…… He never tells us when.

More than ever we need Jesus and His wisdom.  I see and hear more partial truths mixed up with some sort of potion labeled good balanced Christianity but when I hold it up to the vial of pure, undiluted, truth of Scripture, it pales in comparison. 

A solution to feelings of fears and inadequacies as parents is to constantly go back to Scripture after listening to others speaking or reading their writing.  Let’s make sure that what we hear is really in agreement with the Bible.  Have we been taken in by a bitter root mixture foaming out of the depths of someone wanting to ease their conscience?

The problem is real…. parents, whether self imposed or influenced by the church or their peers, do feel inadequate and fearful at times.  We all have different ideas on what makes a great parent and we find ourselves comparing.  We sense that somehow we don’t measure up because we fail or our children fail and rather than keep trying or cutting ourselves and our children some slack (otherwise known as forgiveness) we may stop trying, not try very hard at all, or try all the harder.     

Quite possibly we may give into the temptation of false humility and say it doesn’t really matter what we do or how we parent, just pray and we’ll get through.  What sort of practical help is that? 

What about the temptation of pride and to prove oneself?  The fact is God can see into our heart and we do not have to prove anything to Him.  He loves us with all our faults and He’s constantly wooing us back to dependence upon Himself.  He longs to fill our deepest needs.  We need affirmation that what we are doing is right and good.  We cannot get all we need from our loved ones neither will we be a perfect giver.  Trying to prove oneself in order to get that love is a waste of time and energy.  Why not spend the time just making good memories and loving and affirming your own children instead?

We give into the temptation of anger and frustration when we don’t look good as parents.  We then have a choice:  blame others, ourselves, the child, or our circumstances or any other numerous excuses.  We’ll do anything but repent and confess our sins one to another like the Bible says we should.  However, it’s not always us that need to confess, it’s our children needing a lesson too.  It could go either way.

Do you know how much simpler life could be if we just said, “I’m sorry for ________________.”  I was in the wrong and I want you to know that it’s not your fault and I’m not going to make any excuses.  A true apology makes no blame or excuse.  It’s heartfelt, real and the person on the receiving end will know whether or not it’s sincere.

Our children are watching our mistakes and our triumphs of parenting.  They are learning from what they see.  My prayer and hope is that they learn to quickly say I’m sorry and I forgive you.  I hope they can see me depending upon God’s strength for each new day.  I hope they see me reading and obeying the Bible, not just spouting Scripture.  I hope they see me respecting my fellow human beings even though I don’t always agree.  I hope they are learning to stand up for the truth even while being laughed at.  I pray that they will understand God’s Word and know it is always trustworthy and never fails, but man will. 
So another Mother's Day has come and gone.  Let's spur one another on to good works, not worry about failure, but keep trying with Biblical truth out in the forefront guiding us on.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Worship or Indignation?

Could this tree get any lower?
Last Sunday our Pastor preached from the book of Mark, chapter 14, about the woman who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. The disciples were indignant and felt that the perfume would’ve been better used for sale and profit; then the money distributed among the poor.  I’m sorry to say I probably would’ve agreed with the disciples too, as our Pastor shared that the expense for this perfume was a year’s wages of work.

Our Alaskan Bible Church Front Entrance

What a challenging lot of thoughts rolled around in my mind as I thought about all this.  The Pastor continued to read in Scripture....
What was it that Jesus commended the woman for and corrected the disciples about?  The woman was worshipping Jesus by her action, however ridiculously expensive that was.  Her heart was right, only God could see that.  The disciples may have had a financially sound idea, but their hearts were full of indignation, not worship. 

Each one of the disciples could’ve very well given to the poor as part of their worship before God.  But it really wasn’t about that… it was the fact that God could see into their hearts past their sorry excuses and call it for what it was. 

To be indignant is to be “affected at once with anger and disdain; feeling the mingled emotions of wrath and scorn or contempt…”  Interestingly enough, Judas Iscariot arose after this gathering and betrayed Jesus in his anger.

Only God is able to see into the hearts of men.  We need Jesus and we need to worship Him.  It’s not about us and our selfish desires to appear more righteous than so and so.  What’s really in our heart?  The Scriptures are able to discern joint from marrow, Jesus was and is the Word, He is able.

Well, our church service got over, but I kept musing on this Bible Lesson of indignation.  Two days later I was driving on my way to my dreaded appointment with the Surgeon.  I say dreaded, because I knew what I was facing… another verdict of C-section only.  On the way there my little fireball began singing from the back seat, “Let the Lord have his way, in your life every day.  There’s no rest.  There’s no peace until the Lord has his way.”  I saw one way signs and yield signs and I have traveled this road of C-sections for the fourth time.  I laughed, prayed and committed it all into the Lord’s hands. 

That peace that passes understanding…… it’s real and it’s tangible and it was the least stressful Dr. appointment I’ve ever had.  Yes, May 29th is my allotted surgery date.  My baby’s birth was already foreseen and chosen by God.  Isn’t that comforting?  Since I don't have any pictures of my trip to the Surgeon's office I thought you'd enjoy this reenactment upon our arrival at home.
Singing fireball at it again...

WOW this is loud, just doing what I saw the Dr. do today...
While driving to the Dr.'s. that day, the question the Pastor had asked on Sunday came to mind:  “What else in this world costs a year’s wages in one quick moment?”  I have an answer… a C-section, it’s ridiculously expensive. 

The indignation and perhaps just curiosity for others usually presents itself in a question, “Why in the world would you undergo that so many times or isn’t 2 or 3 kids enough?  When are you going to be done?”

Here’s the answer… the Bible says children are gifts from the Lord many times over.  Why would I not believe or trust Him at His word?  When we begin to suffer, we question, doubt and fear that maybe what God said isn’t really true…. 

Jesus assures us that everyday will have enough trouble of its own and He didn’t say this with a child on his lap.  When a child sat on His lap, He was instructing the disciples on how they would enter into the kingdom of heaven….”Unless you become like a child.” 

Have we learned somehow in our culture to despise our children and limit their influence in our lives?  How many of us at one time before we knew and understood the truth viewed children as a necessary experience but expensive on the pocket book?  I was born into this world, raised in church but had very worldly viewpoints on the true value of a child until I learned by reading Scripture what the truth is and it doesn’t change.

The book of Genesis and Malachi cannot be argued with… God wants godly offspring.  It takes raising and training up of children in righteousness to have godly children.  It’s written all throughout the Bible, these truths.  Just because the ungodly do get saved and do become godly later in life, doesn’t mean that we use that to excuse ourselves from the responsibility of raising our children to be godly now.

I choose the suffering of child birth because it is brief and it will pass, but children will last for an eternity.  The money part… ha ha just read my blog, listen to other Christians, they will all tell you the same thing.  God always provides and always will.  His grace is endless and He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  Do you trust Him at His word?  I do.  I will.  I accept whatever He has for me.  C-sections are on His agenda, not mine. It’s His money and His way.  I’m finally O.K. with that.  I haven’t always been, sometimes I still want to fight, but then I realize it’s all in His control anyway and then I just let it go. 

For those of you still not convinced and view this as completely illogical… how about some math?

My husband and I are raising 6, nearly 7 children.  So let’s say that the average North American family raises 1-2 children each.  That makes my family equal to about 4-5 families worth.  We are actually the better stewards (I’m not bragging here, just stating some facts for back up.) and here are a few reasons why…

One mortgage payment, one home to heat, paint, fix, and repair to house 7 children…. versus 4 or 5 more houses times how many years of raising children for each of those families. 

Now, why would a few children in 4 to 5 different families be acceptable but not the 7 in my family?  Is that logical?

We now own three vehicles with no payments.   4 or 5 more families…. 10 or more vehicles

Insurance and gas associated with all those vehicles times 4 or 5 over 18 years….

The cost of food can be cheaper in bulk with far less energy to cook on one stove or oven than say 4 or 5 ovens.  Just a thought….

The cost of clothing is a huge savings as you compare the price of new versus used and how many years you can hand shoes and clothing down, including your cousins. 

Our cheese never goes moldy, sour cream lasts less than a week, yogurt even quicker, hardly any waste in our fridge.  I could go on and on about all the little things but you get the picture, just think about how much less energy and material wealth goes into raising more children under one roof. 

Please tell me what is illogical about this sort of math?

Maybe I should add one more thing just because I hear it so much…. Over population and running out of land and resources… Can I just say one thing?  Go drive the Alaskan Highway through Northern B.C.  You’ll just laugh the next time someone uses that line. 

Oh, forgot about the college affordability question: nobody can afford it, that’s why most people go into debt.  Who are we kidding?  Why are large families the only ones accused of being unable to afford a college education….We save the government tens of thousands of dollars by educating our children at home.  AND there are no tax breaks for us.

Have you ever checked into your local school district about how much money per child their school receives?  You’ll be shocked at the price of education these days… all those grade school years are costing the state more than a couple years of college down the road.  Don’t believe me, go look it up; you’ll be flabbergasted, guaranteed.

So, it’s all in how you look at it… who’s the one being fooled here?  Am I disillusioned or are you?  I’m not missing out on anything by having a wonderful lot of children.  I’m gaining daily and investing in eternity.  How about you?  Are you worshipping God fully or just in a socially acceptable North American Christian way? 

Only God can see in your heart:  Do you have indignation residing in your heart at the way some families have chosen to worship or do you rejoice in the truth, beauty and glory of God’s plan?  He’s not asking us all to break open a bottle of expensive perfume…. What He is asking is that we worship with a pure heart, Him alone, no matter the cost. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Leaving Things Behind

It's OK to let go... give it all away... it may come back or not, but whatever happens you can be sure that God has you covered. 

I was thinking about how many things I've had to let go of and physically leave behind over the trail of my life...

Re-covered couches, free couches, piano's, tables and chairs, beds, garden tools, toys, wheelbarrows, you name it, books, anything else you might find in an average household.  I could be bitter.  I could choose to feel sorry for myself. 
My pretty pink striped couch recovered and gone to another home.

My table gone my children here, my teapots and cups in transit...

How many homes have I bought, or rented, or care took, and just as I could barely begin nesting, another move!  I have felt sorry for myself a lot about this one.  Then I realized most of my life from high school years and beyond have been spent moving.  God was preparing me for a life of upheaval. 

Before high school I lived in two places.  A mobile home that my parents had bought out in the country and then in a few years, built their home which was always under construction and never finished.  When we left it while I was in high school, I left behind sheetrock walls and plywood floors with a patch of throw carpet here and there.  The kitchen counters had contact paper on them; there was always several projects going and not many fully completed.  It was a nice house in the making and sturdy just not finished. 

My life is not much different today...finished, that is.  It won't be until God takes me home.  I'll never arrive at perfection or knowing it all or having it all together until then.

 (I wrote this a few days ago and am just proof reading here before I publish.  I usually don't wait so long but God must of known that I needed to read a post written by someone else first.  Today I read a wonderful post about letting go of trying to find or have the perfect family at  God speaks to us in our hearts today and impresses upon our minds the truth of His word.  It is living, active and powerful.)

Not only have I had to leave material things behind on this earth but there are emotional and mental things I've had to let go of, not to mention people I love who have died or people I have loved but have caused injurious relationships.

The tighter we hold to these things, the more miserable we are and the more damage can be created.  We cannot change people, sometimes not even our circumstances, and even government.  We do have the choice to just release them into God's care.  "Cast all your care on Him for He cares for you....."

God will give us the wisdom to know when to hold tight and when to let go and when enough is enough and His grace is sufficient.  I just listened to a Tony Evans broadcast today on KJNP (King Jesus North Pole)  radio station and his definition for grace was God giving you something you can't give yourself.  He talked about when life is full of trials and full to the brim with heartache and suffering and you begin to thank God instead of complain and moan He will give you that second wind to go through these difficult times with His grace. 

Suffering is part of life and we can't get away from it.  We need to stop trying and instead....

Claim and confess that God is good even when things look bad.  When we see things through His eyes, not our own, our perspective changes.  Remember His thoughts are not are thoughts.

There is a purpose in difficulty and suffering.  We are to learn to lean hard to our Heavenly Father and depend upon His strength and grace to get through, not by our own self sufficiency.  We are supposed to be living in fellowship with one another, not in isolation. 

We need the strength that others provide and they likewise need what we can give.  No, this is not co-dependency.  That crushes and smothers.  No, this godly dependence centers on the power of God, the truth of His word, and the fact that He never changes and is rock solid dependable when all others are not.

Don't be afraid to leave things behind, whatever they may be.  If you need them again, God will provide.  If not, you'll be happy to know that God didn't think it necessary either.  We have nothing to fear when God is in control.  And from reading Scripture, we know that He will be in control for all of eternity.  What a comforting thought!