Note: This is a devotional I did for a baby shower. I thought it might be encouraging to other moms who did not attend that evening. It's always good to hear that you aren't alone in your struggles of motherhood.
I am honored and humbled that Anna asked me to speak tonight, but I’m also scared to death to speak in front of a crowd. So, let’s begin with a word to prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for this time we have to gather together in joyous celebration of Charina and her precious baby boy. Please fill me with Your peace as I speak to these ladies, and may I be a blessing and an encouragement, especially to the young moms as they do this thing called motherhood. Blessing this evening and our time together tonight, in Your precious name, Amen.
On the table you will each find an index card and a pencil. There should be one for each of you. I am going to read a little story, and in it are the nine fruits of the spirit, found in the book of Galatians. They may or may not be the exact words, but something that means the same thing. Write the words down as you hear them read in the story.
They wanted to dig to the center of the earth! I debated whether or not I should say no. I did not have the patience to deal with dirt covered children, mud caked into my carpets, or yet another change of clothing per child. I was always the one to take the easier route, meaning if it meant work for me than it wasn’t worth it. I mean, really, with life as a full time, stay at home mom, with five children, that meant work enough! Cooking, cleaning, dishes, laundry, homeschooling (at the time), constantly stepping on and picking up Lego bricks left on the floors, settling arguments over ridiculous issues…the list goes on.
As I struggled with the thoughts of frustration such a mess could bring, I asked myself, “What could it hurt? They’re actually getting along out there!” Not once had I heard a screech or a raised voice indicating a battle was ensuing. No, it was actually a peaceful moment. Besides, a little extra laundry wasn’t the end of the world. And a dirty floor could be washed – again. I figured I would be kind in this matter, so, in the end, the joy of watching the children play nicely and creatively won over.
“Let them be kids,” I thought meekly. “Childhood goes by too quickly to put too many restrictions on fun, creative play. And I love hearing their happy voices outside my window.”
So, I let them dig to the center of the earth. It was a spot in the yard hidden behind the bushes near the stream. I could see them gathered around in excitement as the oldest dug with all his might. They took turns shoveling and tossing the dirt away as the hole slowly grew deeper. I went out to check their progress, and the children excitedly showed me how far they had gone. My oldest was up to his waist in the muddy pit.
“Great work!” I commented. “When you reach the center of the earth, make sure you tell me so I can toss a rope down for you can climb back home.”
“But I don’t know how to climb a rope!” one of the boys said.
“Just tie it around your waist and walk up the side of the hole. It takes a lot of self control to climb, but I know you could do it. You’re strong like that!” I replied.
A great big grin spread across his face as he turned back to watch his brother dig even deeper. Their lively voices were full of eagerness of finding great treasures inside the earth. Anticipation grew with each brightly colored stone they pulled out. The shovels were not gentle on them, but any blisters that formed on their hands were ignored. It was pure, childish delight. They spent the entire afternoon outside, with a childlike faith, believing they would find lots of rubies, diamonds, and dinosaur bones once they reached the center.
I’m sad to say that they did not reach the center of the earth that afternoon, nor did they after eating dinner on the back deck that night. Daddy hosed them down with cold water before letting them anywhere near the inside of the house. Wasn’t he thoughtful? After a bath, they climbed into bed, tired and sore from all their hard work. They all fell asleep immediately that night, making bedtime sooooo easy for me! I wish every night was like that!
That story was a true story, which happened about 12 years ago. It was always something that made an impression on me, the way they worked together! It was one of those proud moments where I felt like I might be doing something right because they were actually getting along! It was one of those moments as a mom where I let go of my own struggles to keep a perfect house, to constantly keep my children looking somewhat presentable, and to always keep everything perfectly organized. And it was a moment where I let my children be children. Their dreams were so innocent, and the smiles on their faces were far more priceless than any gems they hoped to discover in the ground. But not every day was like that.
There were many mornings I would wake up after a long night with a sick child and all I could think about was how much I wished it was night time already so I could climb back under the covers and go to sleep again
Other mornings I would wake up to hear their voices through the walls, and dread the day because I did not want to face the children’s arguing and bickering, the lies, stubbornness, or mischievous things my children would do. They each had their own struggle to deal with. And as their mom it was my God-given job to help them learn how to deal with their struggles and learn how to overcome them. To give them over to the Lord.
But one of my own struggles was not knowing how to help them all the time. I struggled with my flesh getting in the way of teaching them the right way. Yet, if I was supposed to teach them that God is good and can help them through their struggles, I needed to allow Him to help me through my own struggles which included a lack of patience, not always having joy in situations, not feeling peaceful, not always being kind with my words, not being gentle, etc.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Inside my basket, I have something that represents each fruit:
Love – I have here a little stone sign to remind us that love never fails. I Cor 13:4 says, “Charity (or love) suffereth long, and is kind.” I John 4:8 says that God is love. True, Biblical love is a choice, not a feeling. When it comes to our children, we may not always feel like loving them, but we need to make that choice to show them love because God is love. And His love will never fail.
Joy – I like joy. It means feeling great pleasure or happiness. What brings you happiness? I like getting flowers. (hold up roses) Seeing these red roses bring me joy. Romans 15:13 says, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Find joy in the little things your children do and say, and write those moments down. It will be those memories that will help carry you through the tough times, and 12 years later you can laugh and reminisce about it with your children at the dinner table.
Peace – Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Pull out baby lullaby toy.)I found this and immediately thought of peace when I heard it. I love watching a baby sleep. They look so peaceful and sweet and it’s hard to believe something so small and fragile could make so much noise when awake and hungry. We are to rest like that too. When we keep our mind on the Lord, trusting Him to take care of all the little details and in between things we don’t have control of, we bring a peace to our home that our children will feel, and they too will be at peace.
Goodness/Kindness – Goodness is also considered being kind. Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Showing kindness to our children is a given, but we need to also show them how to be kind to others. Have them help you make cookies to give to someone, or write some notes to shut-ins and include a picture from the children. And always, always, say thank you to people for things they do to you. (Pull out thank you cards.) This will teach your children gratitude in all areas of their lives.
Patience – Patience means the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Wow, that’s a tough one! This does not come easily to any of us. Patience means waiting. Psalms 37:5 says, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him…” So for patience I picked up a little tool that represents waiting…or the passing of time. No one likes to wait for an answer. We want everything now, like our children who come in the kitchen half an hour before dinner saying they can’t wait for dinner or else they’ll die. We as their moms need to teach them to wait without getting upset. We need to learn to tolerate their childishness without getting upset. Now that is a challenge I still struggle with. But be careful when you pray for patience because God does have a sense of humor. He will bring some crazy events your way that will make you realize how easy it was before you prayed!
Self Control – Next comes self control. Proverbs 25:28 says, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” If we don’t have self control, situations can get out of hand. We are unprotected, like that city that has no walls to keep out the enemy. (Pull out bag of chocolates.) We may eat too much and then feel guilty afterwards, another symptom of the lack of self control. By showing our children how to control hunger, anger, our tongue, etc, we are teaching them something that they will carry with them into adulthood.
Gentleness - Titus 3:2 says, “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.” (Pull out loofah.) It is a natural thing to tend to the needs of our bodies gently and with great care. I even found a soft loofah that doesn’t scratch and leave red marks all across the skin. We need to tend to the needs of the children as gently as we tend to ourselves. This includes their need of spending time with them, and listening to them when they need to talk. We need to teach them to respond gently to their siblings, with kind words and respectful attitudes.
Meekness – When I think of meekness, I think of Jesus on the cross. He never complained about what the people were doing to Him. He was humble. He was like a lamb. (Hold up the soft lamb.) I Tim 6:11 says, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness.” Again, some of the qualities we’ve already covered are mentioned in that verse. Keep yourself humble in front of your children. Apologize to them if need be. Show them humilty and they will learn to be humble and meek.
Faith- Lastly, but not least, comes faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Salvation requires faith. Not only believing in Jesus, that He died on the cross for our sins because we needed a Savior, but also believing God can do great things when we go to Him in prayer. Pray with your children. Let them see God move and answer prayers. (Hold up journal.) We walk by faith and not by sight it says on the front. Keep a journal and write down what God does for you. Show your children when they need to be encouraged to trust the Lord for something they are praying for. Show them God still works today.
So, in closing, I wish I could say that there weren’t going to be hard days as you train your little ones. You’ll have your struggles. You’ll have those moments where you’ll want to run away. But if you ask the Lord for wisdom and strength, He will be there right by your side each step of the way. Keep your basket of the fruit of the spirit handy, and remember that since God created that fruit, it’s good to partake of. And take great joy in the times that bring a smile to your face as you listen to your children play peacefully together. They all need times when they are allowed to dig to the center of the earth. They may be looking for rubies and diamonds, but to you, their mom, seeing the smiles on their faces is a priceless gift. And you will be rewarded with a far greater treasure as you see the fruit of the spirit grow in them as they grow into young adults.
Don't you dare tell me it's not real. I am a believer. I believe Nessie is the Loch Ness monster. I believe that Lake Champlain has a monster named Champ. And now I believe that there is a Candlewood Lake monster. Oh, I've never heard anyone speak of him before, but after the events of yesterday I believe there was "something" trying to keep us on that lake. He definitely did not want us to leave. Yet, out of all the other boaters on the water that gorgeous afternoon, why did he choose us?
It all began four years ago. A trip to the lake as a family with a few friends, enough to fill up a ten person pontoon boat. We had a blast boating, swimming, and tubing. We wanted to do it again the next year. This time we wanted to take two boats full of people. We wanted to share the fun with others. (The only way we could do this was because we are part of the Barter Network through the business. Joe does a pest control job for someone also in Barter, and we get the money/points put in a virtual bank, which we can spend on anything else included in the network. It's been a great benefit!) So, two boats were reserved, but we found that the laws for tubing had changed. We needed a license to tow so we ended up just boating that day, but also we discovered Chicken Rock. We spent a long part of our day anchored there as the kids (and a couple of men) took daring jumps off the rock into the water below. The kids did miss the tubing so I decided I would get my license, which I did online that winter.
The third summer arrived. It was time to go, but this time we got three boats. There were a lot of people. There were a couple of jet skis. Ben and I got dumped a couple of times while riding the jet skis. I should have taken a hint. Something wanted me that day. Nobody else got dumped off of anything, except us. Why else would I get dumped over and over again? Yet, I did not listen. And so this summer arrived...
We decided to keep it simple this year. We would only reserve two boats. I looked at the calendar for July. In the past we always booked our outings for that month, but between the business getting extra busy this July, as well as friends and family traveling, it just did not work out. So we put it off. August was approaching very quickly. We needed to get our traditional trip in, but for some reason I was hesitant. It was almost like something inside me kept resisting. I finally took a look at the website to see what was available for rent. It was then I read that a new law had taken effect and now to tow I had to take an additional class specifically on waterskiing/towing. Maybe that was one reason I had put it off? I took the class. It was an ordeal to get my certificate though. Nothing is ever easy now a days, is it? Everything was finally ready. I booked the boats and I had my certificate. Everything seemed good, but still that hesitation inside. I was praying for some specific things for the day, as well as the weather to be nice for us. I prayed that everything would go well and we would all be safe. If I had known, I would have been more specific with my prayers such as, "Please, Lord, keep the Candlewood Lake monster far from us!" Alas, I did not.
All went well for the first few hours. We swam.
We (well, some of us) jumped off of Chicken Rock. We found out who the real chickens were, and I am not ashamed to say I was one!
We fed the ducks, as well as the school of fish that traveled beneath them eating the crumbs they dropped. Ben had a blast tossing food around the swimmers. The fish, which were quite large, were unafraid of people. You could actually hear their little mouths munching at the food when they were close. It made some people scream.
We ate lunch and enjoyed the beautiful views of sparkling water, blessed sunshine, and the most perfect temperature we could have prayed for.
We even enjoyed lots of water tubing time. Everyone who wanted to go did, except for me, because, well, I was the only one with a license to tow, and Joe, well, he wanted to, but we will get to that part of the story soon.
And then the first incident happened. We had tired of tubing, so we decided to drop anchor and let everyone swim. The currents were strong, as well as the wind. The swimmers kept drifting farther away from the boats, so we would have to call them back. The water temp was so perfect. We spent an hour swimming and enjoying God's answer to prayer for a beautiful day. I glanced at my phone and saw it was time to begin heading back towards the docks. A couple of the kids wanted to tube one last time, as well as Joe. He wanted to take a ride before heading back in. We went to pull the anchor up. It did not budge. Caleb tried pulling it, but even with his strength it did not want to go. Diane and I began pulling at it together. It felt like something had the other end of it, pulling back on it. We were in a fight of tug of war. I began to wonder if something down there was not wanting us to leave. It did not feel like it was stuck on a rock. There was some slight give to the rope as we pulled, but it always pulled back, much stronger than the feeble folk on the boat. I hollered to Joe.
"What do I do to get this unstuck?"
"Drive forward, and then go back," he suggested.
It was worth a try. We had to get out somehow. I drove the boat forward. It did not feel like we were going anywhere. I drove the boat backward. We pulled the anchor rope again. Still nothing. I did it all over again. Forward. Backward. Suddenly Joe said he saw the rope moving! More like bouncing. What? A big heavy hunk of metal bouncing? Caleb began pulling the rope up. It was not as hard this time, but something was still giving some resistance. The anchor surfaced with a big surprise attached to it:
What in the world was it? We kept pulling.
What??? Why would that be in the middle of a lake? It sure looked like a part of a creature to me...I could just imagine the monster with long arms and talons fighting back with all his strength to keep us anchored there for a midnight snack. Okay, for those who are laughing right now, maybe it was not a part of him. But maybe he had dragged a tree to that spot to ensure that our anchor would get stuck in the roots so we would remain trapped. Anything is possible! (You're also the ones who don't believe in Nessie or Champ too, aren't you?)
Well, believe what you want. I was just glad to be free. The boys got their tubing in, and we stopped to pull them in. It was Joe's turn. I stopped the boat and looked around to see where his boat was. It was a little further back then I expected. It looked like they were dropping anchor so I turned around and putted over to them.
"Why'd you stop so far away? The clearing is better for tubing then the channel."
He glanced at me. "Our boat is broken." He had his phone and the instructions out.
"It just stopped. The motor won't turn on. I think we're out of gas."
Then it hit me. The creature wasn't done with us. He still wanted us and was going to make every effort to keep us on that lake. We had forty-five minutes left to get to the docks. I could not leave them stranded. We decided to try to tow his boat. It worked for a while, but the winds were so strong, and we could only go about five miles an hour. The steering got harder and harder the further we went. It felt like something was hanging onto the rudder and the drag would not let me easily turn the wheel anymore. I shut off the boat.
"I think we should let the marina handle this," I called back. "I can't steer it anymore. And I don't want to break our motor either!"
He agreed. We took on a few of their passengers and sped off to the docks so we would not be late. We arrived, got our stuff out of the boat, and the kids went off to change. I asked the people at the office what was the ETA of our stranded boaters? They said someone was off to rescue them, but they had not heard when they would be back. They suspected a leaky (should I say cut, maybe?) fuel line. They did not want to put gas into it in case there was a leak so the gas would not go into the lake. Hmmm, what do you supposed cut the line anyway? Those talons appeared in my mind. Another thing they also commented on was how strange it was for one of the pontoon motors to cause trouble. A coincidence? I think not...
The stranded boaters finally appeared in a little rescue boat. They were happy to be back on dry land. I was happy they were too, and that they were all still in one piece! As we were getting ready to leave to grab some pizza afterwards, I saw this tractor pulling the boat, Sandy Beaches. That was Joe's boat! They had made it back in record time and it was off to the shop to see what was wrong. I wonder if they found scratch marks on the fuel line hose???
It was while we were eating pizza that I brought up the monster. Diane whole-heartedly agreed with me. There must be something out there because she felt the resistance of that rope. She saw all the events occur along with me. And so, boaters, beware! Watch out for the monster of Candlewood Lake. You may be next on his list!
Thank You, Lord, for all the answered prayers yesterday. Thank, You, for helping us have fun despite the circumstances. And thank, You, for keeping us safe from the monster... Until next year...,
As far as I could tell there was not a horse and buggy around for miles! I had even taken a walk around the pond and never saw anything out of the ordinary. But there they were, clear as day. Five Amish/Mennonite guys fishing in the pond behind our neighbor's house. A man and his four sons, all dressed up in their straw hats, blue button down shirts, black pants, and for the father, a big long beard. I had just walked by another neighbor's house, who happened to be in his back yard fishing with his granddaughter.
"How sweet is that!" I had thought to myself as I strolled passed their driveway. Then my eyes lit on the scene of strangers behind the next house. I stopped dead in my tracks. I am pretty sure my mouth gaped open and my chin hit the ground. Was I seeing things? I blinked a few times only to find they were still there. I slowly began walking again.
"I've got to get a picture of this or else Joe will never believe me!" I began searching for the camera in my phone, still trying to walk causally without hitting any trees, but it dawned on me that if they were truly Amish they would not appreciate getting their picture taken. In fact, they think that taking pictures is stealing their soul. I certainly did not want them to think that I was a soul-stealing, nosy neighbor flashing my camera at them! But then again, WHO would believe my strange tale? We were states away from the nearest Amish/Mennonite community. I mean, come on! This is Wallingford, Connecticut! So, at the last second, I held up my phone in a haphazard way and with one last desperate attempt to prove that I saw what I saw, I hit the button quickly and kept walking. I did not know if I had caught the moment because the sun was glaring too much for me to see my screen. From what I saw it looked like I had only captured the grass and trees. But, then I zoomed into the bushes behind the fence and there they were! Ha! Proof that I am not crazy!!!!
P.S. I went by a house on the opposite street later that day and saw a giant van in the driveway. I think the plate was an Ohio plate. Also in the driveway were a few Mennonite ladies, with long red dresses and their caps. I now know they were not Amish because they would not be driving a van...only a horse and buggy. It sure made my day though! :)
Hello everyone! I just wanted to tell you about my sister site called Sparking the Noggin. I designed this site for teen girls, to help with issues that come with being a teenager. Every girl needs encouragement, praise, and to know that she is not alone in this world as she goes through each struggle. I have been spending more time writing my blogs on that site than this one. And in case there are any interested writers on my site, I have begun to create a writing course for all ages, hoping that one of the lessons will "spark your noggin" into creativity. So, check out my site and let me know what you think!
Just a little something to think about on this frigid morning in Connecticut: it may be extremely cold right now, and there may be snow on the ground, but isn't it amazing how God cares for even the littlest animal He created? That snow cover you see is because He knew they would need warmth too. It is a blanket He spread out over them as they lay sleeping under the ground. It makes such a sweet picture in my mind.
As I was lying in bed last night listening to the wind blowing and the ice chunks hitting the sides of the house, I was afraid. I really hate the wind. I held my breath as the speed of the wind picked up and waited for the crash of a tree against our roof. But God gently reminded me to trust Him. He is the One Who is watching over us. He is my Father, Who loves and cares for me, just as He does the littlest animal in the ground. I prayed for safety last night. I prayed for a hedge of protection around out house. When I woke up this morning, He was the first to remind me that I can always trust Him. He took care of us once again. I cannot help but praise Him for His mercy and grace. I am so much more important to Him than a sparrow. There may be snow, but it is necessary for life...not only to water the earth like Isaish 55:10 says, but to give warmth to the critters underneath. And it does my heart good to see the beautiful white that surrounds my house today. What can you find to be thankful for this morning?
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. Luk 12:6-7
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: Isa 55:10
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. Pro 31:21
Good evening, everyone. Yes, it is me, popping in to say a brief hello. Just in case you all were wondering, I am still alive and kicking. In fact, I have sat down a few times over the last couple of weeks to begin writing, but something always interrupted my concentration or simply took me away from the computer. My life is kind of like that at the moment. Just when you think things are going to slow down and settle into a regular pattern, the cart of life speeds up again and begins taking new twists and turns. I guess that is what being the mother of four teenagers (and a ten year old!) is all about. Don't get me wrong though. I am not complaining. I am simply explaining my lack of new blogs on my site for well, like, forever. It could also be that I am trying to convince myself that it is okay to be taking a brief break from writing for a bit, though I do miss it a lot. But, it hit me tonight that this is just my season of brumation. ?What does that even mean, you ask? Well, let me explain it to you this way:
We have a bearded dragon named Dexter. I posted some pictures a while back and maybe even talked about him a little bit. He was a birthday present for my daughter last December, and he has been the neatest pet we have ever had. He sits in his glass cage in our dining room, happily watching us live our life as he munches on his dandelion greens and yellow squash. But last month he began to act kind of strange, seeming on the verge of wanting to run, a little edgy when he was around people, and he kept trying to dig his way out of the corner of the cage. Granted, he had not gone to the bathroom for over a month so that might make one a bit crazy, but once he did, he hunkered down in his rock cave and has not come out on his own for over a week now. Now that he is full grown, Dexter has entered into his first season of brumation. Brumation is a state of hibernation for cold blooded animals during cold weather. To put it simply, he sleeps all the time now. He has not wanted to eat anything, except for maybe that one worm at night which Alaina offers him after their cuddle time. It has only been five days, but we miss his watchful eye and head tilting glances immensely. And this could go on for up to three months? I certainly hope not!
And when it comes to writing, I can completely relate. It seems like my brain has shut off for a little time of rest. I am at peace about it though. I know it will wake up in the Lord's timing, once my brumation season is over. This is a season of taking care of my children, chauffeuring them hither and yon. This is a season of listening to voices fill my house with laughter and busyness, as my five children and their friends constantly come and go, eating me out of house and home. And I am enjoying every minute of it. Because with it all comes great adventures, and funny stories to share with you in the future. So, for now, I ask you to bear with me as I wait for my brumation to end. I am praying that at the right time the Lord will give me inspiration to write once again. And with a well rested brain, the writing will be fresh and new. And until then, may the Lord bless you. Hope to see you soon!
As I was standing at my stove making meatballs for dinner tonight, I glanced over at my calendar on the whiteboard off to my left. One of the dates caught my eye, which read "Home from VA". For a second I could not believe it was still the same month that we had gone to Virginia, though we had spent the majority of the days there in July. It had been a wonderful vacation, time well spent with my sister and her family, and one we will talk about for years to come. In fact, the entire summer was a great one, filled with travel and lots of great memories that will continue to make my heart smile. Yet, as the summer comes to a close, I must say I am ready to see a new school year begin. We crammed in so much these last three months. On this last day of summer, I want to give a little recap of what we did and show you some pictures of our times together.
It began at the end of May with our teen banquet, with a masquerade theme and everyone got to dress up - ball gowns for the young ladies and men were in nice suits. Mostly the adults wore the masks though. I guess the teens did not want to mess up their hair and makeup. A few days later was graduation. Even though I did not have one that graduated this year, all the guys that graduated are very close to our family. We had a bonfire the next night and all the teens had a blast!
After a few days of rest, Susanna and I packed up to take a quick trip to Indiana to visit a friend who was having an engagement party. We drove half of the way and stopped over in Ohio that first night, then continued on to our hotel in Indy. It was a whirlwind day that Saturday, but we had a good time catching up and meeting her other friends that had passed through her life. We got back in the car Sunday morning and drove thirteen hours home, arriving about 11:30, just in time for Susy to do laundry and get some rest before heading to camp the next morning.
While three of my children were away at camp for a week, JJ worked with Joe, so Ben and I had some special time together. We decided to go to Quassy Amusement park and we rode the rides, swam, and took a paddle boat out on the water. It brought back memories of a time when I went out on Lake Champlain with my dad in a paddle boat during one of my "days". We also spent an afternoon at Uncle Shawn's with some friends and had a great time at the beach.
By the time the children came home, it was almost July. One entire month had flown by already. We had filled the days with lots of little day trips to the beach with friends, as well as buy a pool so we could cool off in our back yard during the hot months. It took quite a while to get our pool set up and ready to go. It almost seemed like it would never happen because of the amount of leveling Joe had to do to get it water worthy. Finally, we got it filled and enjoyed many hours of fun in the refreshing water.
July 4th came and we visited Uncle Shawn again. He set off some amazing fireworks that rained debris all over the yard with each blast. Caleb had fun getting buried while at the beach until the waves washed up to his head and threatened to overtake him.
On the 9th of July I drove up to New Hampshire to visit a friend I had not seen in a long, long time. She was in New England for a wedding and stayed an extra day so I could go up and spend some quality time with her. What a blessed time we had taking a walk in the woods, dipping our feet in the water, and eating ice cream together. It was a wonderful time of catching up and renewing our friendship. I am so thankful for good, Christian friends who still love the Lord and we can start right back where we left off.
A week later Ben and I traveled up to Vermont for a work day with my family. My mom's house needed some work done so we all got together and had a great time catching up. We got a lot done for her and the house looked awesome when we were finished! The highlight of Ben's visit was his ride on Uncle Nate's motorcycle. When it was time to go home, we brought our little nephew and his sister back with us for a week long visit. We had a great another great week with lots of fun in the sun.
After the busy week was over, I had some time to unwind before our trip to Virginia arrived. Joe and JJ needed to stay home and keep working the business (make hay while the sun shines, right?) and take care of all our animals, but my sister came with her family and together we made the trek down to Williamsburg, VA. It was eight days of more fun in the sun, with lots of rain in between keeping all the grass green down there. We came back late that Friday night of Aug 3rd so we could beat the crazy traffic that we had hit on the way down. While in Virginia, we went to Ripley's Believe It or Not museum, Busch Gardens, Water Country Park, Virginia Beach, and golfed in the rain at Pirate's Cove.
We came back home and had a few days of rest before Power House began at church. Teens from all around New England came to Heritage Baptist for two and a half days of preaching and fun game times. I do not have any pictures from those few days. The next big event was our boat outing we did on the 16th though. We had a crew of 21 people and we took three pontoon boats out on Candlewood Lake and had fun water tubing, jumping off the Chicken Rock again, and this time our friends brought some jet skis so we rode those a little too. Ben and I were dumped off two times, so it was really good we had our life jackets on during those rides.
One last big day trip was to Southwick Zoo in Massachusetts. We went with Patrick and Katie and we all had fun looking and petting a few of the animals. The baby monkey was small enough to fit outside of the cage so he was sitting on the fence scaring some of the visitors who did not read the sign.
That is about it except for the fact that JJ bought his first car this month. I will post a pic of that plus a few other good ones taken throughout the summer. May the Lord bless the rest of your summer (according to the calendar!) and remember that God is always good!
My son was taking out the garbage the other day when he suddenly surprised me by poking his head in the doorway and shouted, "Mom, come quick! You've got to come here right now!"
Of course, my mom nerves jerked awake as I automatically assumed the worst. I quickly dried my hands from the dishwater and raced down the steps to the door.
"What is it?" I asked expecting to see something broken, hurt, bleeding, or something else horrible out in the driveway.
"Listen!" he looked at me with wide eyes. "The birds! They're all singing! It sounds like spring!"
My heart slowly stopped pounding in my ears, enough for me to focus on the wonderful songs of the Red Wing Blackbirds sitting in the trees surrounding our yard. Robins chirped as they hunted for worms in the brown grass. Blue jays squawked at some enemy nearby in the woods. I closed my eyes to take it all in. Even though the temperatures were still hovering around 50 degrees or less, the rays of the sun felt warm on my face.
"Mom, spring is coming! You can hear it all around us!"
I had to agree. It was a welcomed sound. March had blown in like a lion, throwing a snowstorm in once every week for the first three weeks. It left like a lamb, as the saying goes, but April blew in like a bear. We are ready to see green again, to see the rainbow colors of flowers as they shoot up from the cold, barren earth. Even my son, who loves the snow and cold, who even loves to run barefoot outside our house after a storm, was ready for nice weather.
"I can't wait to go biking with the guys," he told me happily.
I had never heard him so happy to hear bird songs. My tough as nails son, at least on the outside, once again showed me that he is soft as a teddy bear inside. He is growing up. Maturing before my eyes. Blooming like the Crocuses and Dew Drops that are spilling all over my lawn. He still likes to tease, but he is changing for the better. It does not take eight times for him to learn a lesson as it did when he was three years old. Not everything he touches breaks in his hands now. He just turned 17 in March. He will get a job this year. He is going to focus on his driving this summer and probably get his license as soon as he turns 18. Where has the time gone?
As I thought about what the songs of the birds revealed to me, that good things are on their way, I thought about what my young teenage son was showing me - that good things are coming for him too. Not just the promise of spring in the world of Wallingford so he could go biking, but also the promise of "spring" for my son Caleb's life. There will be no holding back as he blooms into a young man learning to face the world. As long as he keeps God at the center of his life, the season of spring will be a marvelous time of joy and learning.
Teenagers. It's like starting all over again. Not the diapers part of it (thank the Lord!), and certainly not the eating part of it, but the common sense part of it. The stuff that you taught them over the course of their childhood is somehow lost overnight. It's simply gone. Kaput. Empty. Just like that. They suddenly wake up and it's as if their mind was wiped cleaned by one of those memory erasers you see in movies, where they don't want the poor person remembering what they saw and before they know it - ZAP! It's all gone. That, my friends, is the beginning of the teenage years. Now, I realize they are going through physical changes, where the frontal lobes in their brains are shifting (etc. etc.) and there is a genuine reason for their confusion and moodiness that they go through, but can they use that as an excuse for using my floor as a trash can? Or their beds as a bureau for all their clothes? Or for the dishes that are left around their rooms with the last bits of crumbs rock hard on the bottom? No, no no! Some of it comes down to laziness, some of it to selfishness, and some of it to just plain forgetfulness, but I realized the other day that it is really starting all over again. Time to get out the 'paddle' so to speak, and whip these kids into action.
When the children were little, I remember days where I was completely wiped out from chasing them around, getting them to listen, and working with them to share and get along with their brothers and sisters. Just trying to keep sane in the process was exhausting enough. Evenings were the worst part of it because I was so tired I could not deal with any more messes and foolishness that came along with the package. And that was when the house was at its worst too. Over time I realized that I needed to lower my expectations of the children. Messes happen. And as we worked on the process of cleaning and tidying up, they learned to know what was expected of them too. Their expectations were higher, yet mine were lower. We began to have a happy medium, though there were still days when exhaustion took over and I was the mean mom at night. I think the kids forgave me for those days. I know I have forgiven them for the rough times they gave me. Again, it's all part of the package called child rearing.
Well, yesterday I had one of those exhausting moments hit me, and it was not even night time. These moments are rare now, not like it was when the children were little, but once in a while it still happens. I went down to the laundry room to switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer and discovered that there was gum all over the drum of the dryer. Someone had not checked their pockets before washing their clothes and gum had gone through the wash without any problems, but once the heat of the dryer hit it, it melted all over the place. (Now all I need to do is search the clothes and see if there is gum stuck to someone's pants or skirt!) Streaks of hardened goo, black from the lint of the clothes passing over it again and again, covered the white drum, as well as a few hard clumps with the paper still on. It brought back memories of when I was little, when my dad would find gum stuck to the rug of his car, or one of the kids would announce that gum was stuck in their hair. Then it was all over for us...no more gum for anyone for at least two weeks! It was a very sad day for me when that happened...I liked my gum. Even though we were allowed one piece a day, we made that piece last until we had to go to bed. I can still remember seeing the little pink pieces of sugarless gum stuck to the sides of our plates, anticipating the moment we would get to eat it again as soon as dinner was finished. Kind of gross to think about now, but as a child, those things matter a lot. Reminds me of the song, "Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?"
After cleaning out the dryer, I went upstairs and decided then and there to teach the children what it would be like if I acted like them. How would they like it if they had to live in a house that looked like their room? So, while they were all off doing stuff, I took the garbage bag out of the barrel and laid it on the floor; I threw some plastic bags all over the place, as well as some other lose items and made a huge mess in my kitchen. I then stack the dishes high in the sink, an ugly pile of yuckiness. In the living room, I took the two baskets of clothes waiting to be folded and threw the clothes around the floor. Books from school time were scattered all over the dining room table... I looked around and it looked horrible. And I walked away. I went downstairs and began to work in the office, waiting to hear someone say the words I said so well, "What happened in here?!"
It did not take long. It was Caleb who discovered it.
"Mom! What happened up here!"
I kept working. "Oh, nothing. I'm just showing everyone how bad the house would look if I did what you guys do with your rooms."
"You're joking, right?" he asked.
"Oh, no, I'm serious."
"But did you see our room? We cleaned it the other day. I even changed my bed! It looks nice! It must be the girls' room you're talking about."
Yes, Caleb and Ben had cleaned their room and to be honest, they did a good job. I was thinking girls, because the clothes bomb that went off in there was one of those huge nuclear ones that leave nothing untouched. But, bless his heart, Caleb began cleaning my kitchen and living room. He took out the trash, washed the dishes, cleaned up the floor, put all the books away, collected the scattered clothes, and even swept the floor. It was amazing when I came upstairs. The girls never came out during all this, and were surprised when I told them what had happened. They did not even believe me when I told them. I guess I will have to repeat the lesson soon so they can benefit from it too.
I learned something that day. I learned that I need to lower my expectations again. I learned that I need to call them when I need help and not expect them to just know when I need their assistance. I need to tell them exactly what to do and when, so they can learn that they are important in helping out in the household. I guess I have been thinking they are mind readers and should know what I expect them to do without me telling them. I have tried to teach them to look around and see what needs to be done, but then again, it all went out the door with their new teenage brains. I need to teach them all over again. So, instead of getting mad at them, I will lower my expectations, put on my mothering/child training hat, and train them in the way that they should go. Because after the teenage years, they will never again forget the things we teach them because all those changes will be finished as they go into adulthood, Lord willing, with God's help.