An attempt to declare the Glory of God for what He has chosen to do with our lives. A legacy to leave to my children in the telling of it.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Birthday for Me, A Gift for You

Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday to Meeeeeee (and Traci)!!!!!

Happy Birthday to Me!

My twin sister, Traci, insists that we are TWENTY-NINE years old again, and who am I to argue??! Since you have all been such a blessing to me this past year I figured it would be a great time to host a little give away.

My birthday present to you: A box full of various kinds of that good Wisconsin cheese that Rob makes at the Dairy.

Just leave a comment on this post and I'll pick a winner on Wednesday, January 4, 2012. And . . . if you want two chances to win . . . post about the giveaway on your blog and leave me another comment. (Shipped to the continental United States only:))

Good luck friends!


The contest is officially over~

thanks for the overwhelming response!

I'll post the winner soon . . .

Thursday, December 29, 2011

What a Farm Week!

What a farm week! Cole's farm, that is, not mine. Poor Cole has worked so hard to build up his own enterprise of chickens and rabbits, besides helping out with the regular critter chores of goats, steers, laying hens, and horses. This past week has been non-stop pit-falls for him as he continues to blaze his trail into earning more money than just an allowance.

It all started when his rabbits mysteriously started escaping from their cozy stall in the barn. To keep them a little warmer this winter he spent a considerable amount of time getting a stall rabbit ready where they have been very content for weeks. But something inside their little bunny hearts must have cried out for adventure because we found them hopping around the barnyard one dark night when we went out to do evening chores.

The two of us chased and chased, running 'round and 'round the calf shed, until finally giving up. Cole easily caught them the next morning, only to find them out again that night. They took refuge under the chicken coop, where he lured them out with fresh carrots and apples the following day. He was especially worried because three of them were expected to have babies on Christmas day.

In the midst of the rabbit escapades, one of his little Silkie chicks that had hatched this fall was found dead in the chicken coop. We assume it was death due to trampling by a big, brute of a Light Brahma hen, and was the second fatality for him in a months time.

Then for the fourth day in a row we chased rabbits, again. After we finally caught the furry little buggers Cole inspected the pen in an attempt to seal up every possible hole they might be able to squeeze through. But as we were looking for secret tunnels and escape routes we noticed some questionable activity going on from one of the bunnies that should have been in the midst of laboring: does don't do that.

Both of us are still learning the ropes of figuring out which is a boy rabbit and which is a girl, and it appears that neither one of us was very good at it the first time around because two of his three expecting does are now boys, and that doe who should have been kindling was now very much in love with the escapee buck.

As Cole was recovering from all of that, we went out to do chores this morning only to find his buck out again. After putting him back we watched and discovered just how they were getting out: the little buggers were managing to jump on top of the barrel that we had set up for their warming house and over the four foot stall rails to risk an exciting new adventure in the great big outside world.

I guess that's the way it goes with farming~ some weeks it's the rabbits jumping the fence, some week's it's the goats, and then the next week it's the steers.

Winter Equals Sewing

For several years around our house the annual ushering in of a long, cold winter means hauling out the sewing machine. I grew up as one of five girls in a home where my Mom sewed for enjoyment. As she worked on her quilts she would let me have all the left over scraps that I wanted. From these I would sew to my hearts content doll clothes and doll quilts, and eventually graduated to larger quilts.

But I never really outgrew sewing the doll clothes. Luckily, two of my own little girls have loved dolls and doll clothes over the years, too, which gives me a good excuse to keep creating them. Many a happy day has been spent looking through the American Girl magazines for new designs, digging through the scrap boxes for just the right pattern, and then the girls waiting patiently while their new doll clothes appear out of the odd-shaped pattern pieces. I don't actually use patterns, I just guess and cut and sew and hope they fit, adjusting sizes as we go.

Alexis has outgrown these sewing parties, but since Grace received a new doll for Christmas her first thought was that she needed some clothes. When cousin Morgan came to stay this week it turned into a sewing party for both of their dolls. They choose a winter outfit, complete with mittens, boots and a vest. The final result was two matching outfits and two happy girls; wait, three happy girls!


I realized today that I am bargaining. I think I forgot that verse about God's thoughts being higher than my thoughts.*

Why, God? Not blasphemous, just why. Why couldn't people have been saved without Trent dieing? Why couldn't people have been taken deeper in their walks without it being my son? Why did I have to love him so much? Why does it have to be ten months later? Why does it have to hurt so much now? Why can't I have that peace and joy and certainty of heaven again? Why does this battle rage so hard? Why is there such an intensity to doubt? Why can't eternity just begin now~ wouldn't it be a perfect day for Jesus to return?*

I was even toying with the idea of exchanging those promised rewards*~ maybe I could trade them in for what's behind curtain number three and we could all go back to last February. Curtain number three may have been eighty years with my son whom had never gotten saved. Eighty years here or eternity at age twelve . . . Eighty billion years from now I would have gladly picked his eternity to start now.

My thoughts go to Jesus' temptation in the desert.* That separation from all that He knew, to be tempted when He was at His weakest point by Satan himself. What sustained Him was the Word of God, the ministering angels, the Truth, the hope, the joy set before Him. How revealing temptation is; I don't like revealing.

I've realized that at some point I have to let Trent go. I feel like I am in a tug of war: Trent pulling me heavenward, and everything else pulling me back to this world. Somehow I have to embrace living here again; yet the thought makes me want to puke, literally. So instead I somehow think that staying in bed, or finding a comatose state for my brain of not feeling, might help.

Every project I even think of immediately reminds me of the fact that Trent took nothing with him to heaven. Everything here is temporary, and only what is done for Christ will last. I don't have the energy to invest in temporary things anymore; yet at the same time I find myself coming back to thinking that the next temporary thing really will bring complete satisfaction and would be worth investing my time, money and energy in . . . only to know, deep, deep down, that it won't. So how do I live the rest of my life? Why am I still straining for earthly glory? Why am I not pressing into God harder?

Or maybe I am, and the pain that I feel is really the disappointment of the reality of this world which I have trained myself to be so comfortable in all my life*. Maybe the pain is because I can't lie to myself anymore and think that achieving the highest heights here matters so much. Maybe I really just want to go back to living how I was a year ago and be content by only crossing off the next project, but I know at the same time that I can never deny the truth that I have seen. Maybe I am grieving what I thought was reality for thirty-some years. Maybe I am finally being forced to acknowledge where my allegiance lies: my own selfish self, or God.

I am where I am, and that is grieving my son, as my sister reminds me if I try to justify anything. Those sisters~ they don't let you fool them. Grieving my son: I hate the words, yet I love the God he's with. God doesn't accept bargains; but He holds breaking hearts.

* Isaiah 55:9, Revelation 19, Revelation 22:12, Luke 4, 1st Corinthians 3:12-14

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Let the Games Begin

The cold weather and lazy days are a good excuse to pull out the checkers board and challenge a couple of kids to a game. I thought I would be the "nice mom" and take it easy on Micah, but instead he proved to catch on pretty quick and whooped me twice. Then everybody wanted to play, so we all stood in line to play the next winner. Cole kept his position for several games in a row and earned the title of the checkers king for the night.

The board is a Fair project from a couple of years ago. It's made out of a left-over scrap of plywood and some Popple branches from a tree that fell down out back.

The checkers pieces are Popple branches cut into thin slices, then painted and sealed.

Even Rob got in on the game. He thought it would be an easy win, but a couple of kids gave him quite a challenge.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sorry, Eric, there is no Sugar Plum Princess

"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength..."

Isaiah 30:15

A lazy bum: that's what I've been for the past week or so. We took a vacation from school, so besides doing chores (when Cole doesn't do them before me), and reminding the kids to do their chores, and going up and down the basement steps umpteen times a day to fill the wood stove, I haven't been doing very much else. Alexis even told me one day, "Mom, you do have to remember to feed us!" I happen to not be a big eater, and "forget" to eat regularly, especially when there is no schedule to follow. Good thing there are some budding chefs around here who do remember that it's time to make something for lunch.

I miss Trent. I miss living without the pain of missing my son. And I knew it would be harder over the holidays. Therefor, I committed myself to very little else other than grieving. Exhaustion only causes me to forget the Promises, and they are easier to forget when the pain crashes in, wave after wave. I don't want pity; I just need to acknowledge where God has me and allow myself to be there. This is tough; it's a real battle. A battle to believe, to not give up, to not grow weary, to keep going.

I don't know how to hope for tomorrow, so I just focus on getting through today. I focus on getting out of bed in the morning to be able to kneel and pray; to be real with the God of the universe and allow the tears to flow over missing my son~ trusting God, but missing Trent. I make the bed, remembering how Trent used to always come in and snuggle. I walk past his bedroom, where there is no longer a sleeping teenage boy on the bottom bunk. I start the coffee and check the wood stove, then sit down in the recliner to read my Bible. An hour later, I am still begging for the strength to start this new day.

"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength."

I remember the words: the words that have been impressed upon my heart for nearly a decade. "Repentance and rest" in a world of hurry up and never take the time to stop and ponder eternal truths; they are a welcome sign to sit at my Saviors feet. During a quiet time of prayer the repentance can come, followed by the rest: the rest of a forgiven, satisfied heart, a truthful heart, a broken heart. God knows, there is no reason to pretend that He doesn't.

Quietness and trust. When the chaos is too loud I can't hear God. In the quiet He whispers, and then my heart remembers His words, and the trust comes easier. But quietness in a busy household is hard to come by. I intentionally carve it out of my days, and I guard my mornings to achieve it. The kids know my ritual and honor it as much as seven-to-sixteen-year-olds can, and my husband has long given up on asking me anything or intruding on that much needed time until I rise from my chair with a smile on my face.

"Let us not become weary in doing good,

for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Galatians 6:9

I am weary lately, so very weary. Ten months into this and I feel as if I am no closer to eternity myself. Galatians 6:9 has been my anchor verse this past week: "Don't grow weary, don't grow weary, don't grow weary . . . for at the proper time, proper time, proper time . . ." I have repeated to myself over, and over, and over again. Even a friend encouraged me with those words today. I remind myself that it is all done at God's proper time, not mine. And then I see a picture, or a card, or a pair of boots or Trent's shorts in the hamper (it's funny how all these months later those same pair of shorts keep getting cycled through and nobody claims to know why they were on the closet floor or under a bed) . . . and the battle begins again.

On Christmas Eve afternoon I was working in the kitchen and muttered under my breath,
"I just don't want to do this."

"I can tell," was Alexis' reply. The soft words were soothing, not harsh, as she wrapped her arms around me.

I was surprised that the honest thought had been said out loud rather than just in my heart. I really tried: I tried to make it a nice Christmas. I helped cut down and decorate the obligatory pine tree, I went to the parties and plays, I made the cookies for the neighbors, I wrapped the presents, I made the Eclair cake, and then I ate half of the Eclair cake. But it still showed: I didn't want to do it. I didn't want a Christmas without Trent.

So I repented and I rested; I stayed quiet and I trusted God; I kept doing the good things for my family and refused to become weary in them; I longed even more for my Savior Jesus to come and make it all right again.

In repentance and rest is my salvation, in quietness and trust is my strength. In God's strength, I will refuse to grow weary of doing good things, and will look forward to that harvest which will come in God's proper time.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What Does your Kitchen Reveal about You??

I am the Mom, which means that I rarely get my picture taken. Actually, that's just fine, I prefer the other side of the camera much better. But, like we say around here, they're gonna need some pictures for my funeral one day, so I encourage the kiddos to pick up the camera once in a while and point it my way. As I was skimming through this file of pictures looking for some cookie making one's for another post (and passing them all over because of the un-cropped nature of them since we all know that blog pictures have to be perfect) I stopped and took a closer look. What I saw was my life revealed in the un-cropped portions.

One of my absurd interests is to check out people's refrigerators when I visit their homes: refrigerators reveal who we are. See mine?? That's the real me. Chaos with pictures plastered one on top of the other: pictures of people I love, people I miss, people who are in my life. Intermingled are words: school work, verses, names, advertisements of favorite author appearances, VBS projects, car magnets, and age old Christmas cards. I am most content in the chaos of life, and I don't mind the jumble, as long as those I love are surrounding me.

Then I see the vintage-print apron, the old sink, the bead board, and the new counter top. The new looking like the old; maybe it reveals the longing for the way things used to be. Next I see the food: I can minister with food. Food is easy; everybody likes food.

And I see the dirty dishes on the cupboard. Most day's they bug me, and I'd be bugging a teen-age girl to do her chores. But look to the left . . . Kids grow up too fast to always fuss over dirty dishes.

Cropped out of this picture is the dog who is usually in the kitchen with me; usually getting shooed out because she wants to help, too. And if you could see close enough, you would see all the unfinished trim work that reveals our flitting from one project to another, just for the sheer joy of trying something new.
Ultimately, though, what these photos reveal is that I am certainly bound to prove that I have inherited that strong genetic gene of the double chin; especially if I keep eating all those Christmas cookies for breakfast.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Like It

I like it when this . . . looks like this. Thanks girls!


Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.
Luke 6:20-23

I have been reading in Luke lately and have been soaking up the words of my Savior. Sweet words that are a balm to my soul; words that go deeper than just letters on a page.
When the Lord saw her {the mother whose son had just died}, His heart went out to her and He said, "Don't cry." Then He went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. Luke 7:13-15"Tradition says that while Christ was hanging there {on the cross}, the angels drew their swords. They announced, 'We are going to rescue you.' God said, 'No,' and the Scripture says that God spared Him not." Billy Graham
As I read that passage this morning I could just about imagine Jesus as He walked the streets of Nain, when along came the weeping mother and the coffin. I didn't have to imagine the mother; I knew her all too well. Being the very Son of God, Jesus realized what she couldn't see at the time: that her son would one day rise again. Scripture says that Jesus' heart went out to her.

Those words were said at Trent's funeral, that one day Jesus would say to Trent, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" And Trent will rise, coming forth with a glorious, imperishable body.*

How Jesus' heart must go out to His hurting children. How hard it must be to be bound by sovereignty for the sake of greater glory for our Savior to have to wait to say those words. The pain He must feel to see mother's weeping, all the while knowing Himself the depth of their pain and the joy that is coming.

Do the angels draw their swords while the enemy appears to be conquering, while mother's cry the tears and fight back the doubts? Is the great cloud of witnesses that surround the believer amazed or disappointed for the level of our faith?*

I have often wondered what went on in the angelic realm the day that Trent headed down that ski slope: did the angels have to be restrained from rescuing this little one that they had been put in charge of*, not knowing fully, either, God's perfect and sovereign plan?

For God's ways are higher than our ways; higher than the heavens are from the earth.*

Luke reminds us to Rejoice - Rejoice! - and leap for joy. He tells the poor, and the hungry, and those who weep now that great is our reward in heaven, and that we should look forward to it; a reward so great that it's worthy of the weeping. Therefore, we go on rejoicing, trusting, and weeping day by day until we receive it and see face-to-face this mighty God who is wise enough to have ordained it all to be this way.
* Hebrews 12; Matthew 18:10; Revelation 20; Isaiah 55:9

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Parties, Parties, Parties

Life has been one big party lately! I'm not so much the partying type, but rather the coveralls-and-muck-boots-in-a-barn type, so this month of digging deep into the closet to find something other than an old sweatshirt to wear and brushing the hay off of my nice coat has stretched me farther than I want to be stretched right about now. I'll just say it out loud, and be done with it, so I can get to the nicey/blog perfect part of this post: "I am ready for this holiday season to end anytime now. I am ready for the firsts to end, and eternity to begin, and Jesus to come back."

But since it isn't, and He hasn't, I keep plugging along; I keep facing the firsts; I keep going to the parties; I keep smiling until I can't smile anymore and then cry with those who are crying with me. Now begins the chipper blog post . . .

Our Christmas parties started with the much anticipated Shriner's party. Grace has doctored at the Shriner's hospital for the 8 years that she has been home from India, and part of the Shriner's program is loving these kids as much as it is healing them. She looks forward to the event for months, although she is scared of the guy in the red and white suit {another subject, another soap box, another post for another day, enough said} and makes Mom come up with her so she can sit on my lap instead of his {just breathe, just breathe}. Our local Shriner's group goes all out with lavish gifts and cookies and clowns and spoiling. Grandma Lee joins us nearly every year for the party, too, since she experienced nearly as much of Grace's doctoring as we did by riding down to the cities for all those casting trips.

Then we had the annual church Christmas program, where Grace played a little piano piece, Grace and Micah recited their verses, and Cole, Grace and Micah all joined in on the singing. Very cute! And then, the same day, the same weekend, we enjoyed Alexis' Community Choral concert where she had the opportunity to sing the solo "Mary did you know?" (and if I could actually download the video to blogger I would brag her up even more for the beautiful voice that God has given her~ totally a genetic fluke as nobody else in our immediate, and extended, family can carry a tune in a bucket of water).

And then came the annual swimming/Christmas get together at Grandma Lee's house. Grandma has forgone trying to buy individual Christmas presents for her twenty-some grandkids and great grandkids and has treated us to a day of swimming at a private pool party instead. All the kids love her for it! Then we go to her house and eat, and eat, and eat . . . mmm-mmm Super Duper bars!

Besides all of the Christmas parties, we also have six birthdays spread throughout the family in the month of December. Plus, there is still the other church Christmas Eve service and the actual day of Christmas left to celebrate. At about this point I start to re-evaluate the insanity of this month and declare that next year we are going to keep things simple and then realize why I am worn out and frazzled and find myself crying in a heap on the floor as I try to wrap presents for only four kids and remember that Jesus really is the reason for the season~ right???

Friday, December 16, 2011

For Sherry

Lady Dog used to have it pretty easy around the farm. She does a fine job of holding down the couch and licking visitors when they arrive. She rarely chews up shoes, is a kids best friend, and tolerates everything. But her status has now changed; it's time to earn her keep like the rest of the critters that live here.
Thanks to Sherry . . . meet Lady the Musher Dog!

Sherry has 24 sled dogs on her little rustic farm, (besides Mustang horses) and offers training and dog rides for those who are interested. You'll be glad to go visit her blog and see her fabulous photos, too.

The kids have been having fun with their own dog training.

Cole, Grace and Micah thank you for the harnesses, Sherry!
And Lady Dog, too {I am sure}, thanks you!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Was Thinking . . .

. . . it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it.

John 11:4b

I was thinking about Lazarus today. As I was doing the farm chores, just feeding the horses some hay in the blustery cold, I turned to head back to the barn and the thought struck me: Jesus didn't come right away; He stayed where He was. His friend was sick, His other dear friends were crying, and Jesus stayed where He was. Scripture says that He knew Lazarus would die, but Jesus stayed where He was because His glory would be seen greater if He waited. My thoughts then went to ten months, ten years, twenty or thirty years . . . how much greater will Jesus' glory be then, if it was that great when He waited only two days?

I have a friend who keeps a "nothing book". It is just a book that sits out on her countertop and any family member can come along and write whatever they want to in it; a book filled with the "nothings" of life that turn into the "everythings of life". It is filled with the silly memories of everyday childhood, and being a family, from various perspectives.

Years ago I tried to write books for each of the kids about the silly things that they did: washing kittens in the sink, their little sayings, Christmas presents and traditions, and favorite foods. As they have each learned how to write they have been required to take over the recording by writing daily journals for home school. Since I enjoy words and memories so much, especially the ones written in the penmanship of those I love, I decided to start a "Trent book".

Over four years ago, when Rob, Trent and I were in India to bring Micah home, I bought a beautiful book, created with hand made paper, at an Indian shop. It has sat on my desk, in the original wrapper, awaiting the perfect purpose; never did I imagine that it would be for this purpose. All those memories, the big and the small, the "Oh, remember whens", the laughing one's and the crying one's, will now have a place to be; a place to come back to, a place to own, a place to be visited often, especially on the day's that we can't remember when.

I held the package in my hands for the longest time this afternoon, not sure just how to begin such a monumental book. What word could hold enough meaning to be the first word penned on that beautiful paper; which memories do you record, how can I do this, how can I not do this, what happens when the pages are all filled up? So, it's sitting on my cupboard friends, and aunts and uncles, and grandmas. . . it's your story to tell, too.

And talking about books . . . God is using this one in way's that I can't even begin to imagine. Our little newspaper's picked up the story, there has been minimal marketing yet sales are going well, I had a great opportunity to share {survived the interview:} on the blog talk radio show, and we had a book signing at the local library a couple of weeks ago. I see only clearer that it is God doing His work through me as I feel so incapable of attempting to minister in-and-of myself to the deep needs of those He brings to us. The stories, and the hurts, and the pain of lives that people have shared already make me see how good God has been to us and I appreciate His grace all the more. I pray daily for the words in that little book to shine God's glory and bring many to know Him.

And from this morning . . .

{Jesus} rebuked them for their lack of faith

and their stubborn refusal to believe . . .

Mark 16:14b

Sort of gave me the swift kick that I needed in the midst of my whining this morning. As far off as eternity seems sometimes, I found myself wondering if it would be a rebuke that I hear for my refusal to believe God's Word rather than a "well done, good and faithful servant." Either I believe Scripture or I don't; either I will live it or I had better give it up. But, since I do believe it, then I have no excuse to not live it. Like a friend likes to say, "Suck it up, Buttercup." God said it, so believe it, go live it, and don't quit sharing it. Souls matter; eternities matter; God's glory matters.