The Welcoming Committee
When I was a little girl, anytime I heard a knock on the door I would dash into my room or hide behind a chair and wait for someone else to see who was at the door. I was quiet and shy and did not like to have attention drawn to me. My children are the exact opposites. I cannot understand where they get their boldness and friendliness because it certainly was not from me. I am getting better at this, but it is a work in progress. When my children know someone is coming, they like to wait outside for them and be the first to greet our guests. If someone comes unexpectedly, they all run to the door, fighting to see who will open it first.
Not only do our children like to greet people, but we have three others in the house that enjoy having people stop by and say hello. Usually cats are like I was, scared of strangers who quickly dash under the couch so they can watch without being seen, but we have three unusual cats who are the friendliest cats in the world. Everyone (who does not have allergies!) who comes through our door simply adores Maysie, who I am convinced is part raccoon and part corgi. She will not leave our guests alone and demands their full attention. Kia, who is a siamese, is not aloof as some siamese are, but will come cautiously over to sniff your hand. When she sees you are not a danger, she stays and likes to enjoy a good stratch on the head. She may even settle into your lap if you dare to sit on the couch and stay for a little while.
Pinky, who is Kia's son, is, well, just Pinky. Did you ever see Pinky and the Brain? They are two laboratory rats that live in a cage - one is extremely smart and wants to take over the world, while the other is extremely dumb. He simply goes along with the Brain, but always gets them into a whole heap of trouble. Narf! That describes our Pinky. Yet, what Pinky lacks in brains, he makes up in love and beauty. He has the softest, most beautiful fur of them all and has very striking sky blue eyes. He is a sweet cat and we love him dearly, and so do others who meet him.
People often threaten that they might take one of the cats home, but I always say, "No, we love our cats and they are here to stay." So, if you care to come to our door, be prepared to see lots of little faces, some with whiskers and some without (that is until JJ grows that beard he says he wants!) and enjoy a fun time in the home of the Simmon's crazy clan. Oh, and remember that we are still 'under construction!'
A few years ago I was driving by a funeral home in North Haven and a sign out front caught my eye. It said, "Under Construction: please pardon our appearance as we go through some changes...." there was quite a bit more explaining what they were doing, but the first part of it was the bit that got my attention. I began thinking about the phrase 'under construction' and how it could apply to my home in the process of raising our children. Being the writer that I am, this got my thought process going in full swing and I began to write a poem that focused on this particular topic. It has taken over a few years to come to its final end, but I now have a copyrighted poem that I am going to share with you. Raising children is a difficult task and without having the Lord in our life, I do not know where we would be today. They are gifts on loan from Him, and since He trusts us to raise these tender young ones for Him, I want to do my best with the ones He has put into our care so one day they can go out and do His work.
The poem, listed below, can be understood in two ways: first of all, simply having children in the home can mean toys scattered everywhere, little socks lying around the floor, brushes and barrettes scattered on the table, lego pieces on every possible sitting space, toothpaste smeared all over the sink...you name it and it is probably there. But the second way to understand the poem is simply the fact that we are normal people, with normal issues and problems. We may be struggling with pride, contention, or envy, but our lives are a work in progress. Our spirits are under construction and we can honestly say, "He's still working on me..." Both ideas were my intention when I wrote this poem. Let me share it with you now:
Please pardon our appearance
While you visit as our guest;
Though construction’s in the process,
May your time with us be blessed.
With lots of little children,
Making messes everywhere;
The work is never ending,
And a spotless house is rare.
We’re building mighty warriors,
For the army of the Lord;
Our Father gives us wisdom,
When to Him our heart is poured.
The Bible is the Blueprint,
God created long ago,
Showing us the path to take,
To help our children grow.
These precious little arrows,
Sent from heaven up above,
Have hearts so young and tender;
We must guide them with our love.
So, please excuse the mess you see,
‘N ignore the mass destruction;
For as long as earthly souls abide,
We’ll always be under construction.
Cara Simmons ©2011
Tents, Birthdays, and Entertaining
Their laughter and screeches woke me up at 6:00 this morning and I knew they had made it through the night outside in the tent. In all my thirty-something years, I cannot recall a time when I would have, or even could have slept outside in the month of March. I do not think the temperature went below 47 degrees last night, but to some, that would be way too cold-not for my two oldest and their best friend, who had plenty of sleeping bags and blankets to keep them warm! Now comes the test to see how grumpy they are after getting only a few hours of sleep last night. Hopefully I will not regret our decision.
This time of March is a busy one for our family, seeing that we have four birthdays to celebrate in two weeks time. Susanna turned 8 last week and Caleb will be turning 11 next Wednesday. The children's cousin, who was born on the same day as Caleb, will be turning 3, and Joe's sister has a birthday on the day after Caleb and his cousin's. I decided we should combine the birthdays and we would have one big family party today. It is often too hard to get everyone together more than one time in two weeks seeing we all lead busy lives and live some distance away from each other. Needless to say, that was why my boys were in the tent last night. In honor of Caleb's birthday coming up, we allowed him one friend and that was how they decided they wanted to start off the birthday celebration.
I am looking forward to having a house full of people tonight. I love entertaining and having people over. In my opinion, we do not do it often enough and would love to have more families over for dinner. Time is hard to come by these days, but I think I only need to look ahead a few weeks and schedule it in before something else comes along and takes up the white space that still shows through on the calendar. I know we have a large family so not many people can afford to invite us over and feed my entire family, but my desire is to have more people in my home. I want my home to be a place of friendship and sweet fellowship that is uplifting, clean, and fun. Would you like to come share dinner with us sometime? Oh, please do not be scared off by previous posts about strange dinner conversations and wacky 'chicken-boxing' stories - life is always an adventure around here, and you may get a good laugh. Remember, the Bible does say laughter is good medicine! Have a blessed weekend, everyone, and happy birthday to the family!
As I was driving along 91 today I noticed signs of life peeping out from the trees along the side of the road. Rusty browns and dark reds dotted the landscape with a promise that spring is finally here to stay. The brightest color that I saw was the light green tendrils that draped down from the Weeping Willow's branches, like fingers reaching out to touch the ground. It will not be long before the trees explode with colors of greens, pinks, whites, and yellows as the blossoms open up and send out their fragrant perfumes and I will drink it all in. Can you tell that I love this time of year?
Winter is a wonderful time of sitting inside, drinking hot cocoa, reading books, and playing games with the family, but once the calendar officially says it is spring, I am done with the idea of snow and being stuck inside. The warm weather beckons to me to come out and walk, play, and let my pale skin soak in the sunshine. I love to hear the birds calling to each other as they build their nests, singing praises to their Creator for the beauty that lies around us.
As I sit here near the screen door, I can barely keep my eyes on the screen as I gaze outside to watch the Nuthatch snatch a seed from the feeder only 10 feet away from me, or watch the Woodpecker hop around the naked Maple tree looking for bugs waking up from their winter's sleep. As much as I hate bugs, they are a good thing because they mean work for Joe, but that is for another time and blog.
God has given us all the seasons to enjoy and I am glad that no matter what people may predict or say about this earth coming to an end, we have the truth that will never change. Genesis 8:22 says, "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." We do not have to worry that global warming is going to change the normal way things work on this earth because God's Word says we will always have cold and heat, summer and winter. We know how the story ends because Revelation explains what will happen at the end. Christ will be victorious and those who are on His side will win right along with Him. Have you trusted Christ as your Saviour? If not, maybe it is time for spring to begin in your life. If you ask Jesus to come into your heart and forgive you of your sins, He will give you a fresh, new way of looking at the world: with the eyes of Jesus everything just blooms with color and you will see the hope of a glorious future ahead of you.
It's Almost Morning
I have been listening to this beautiful and encouraging song over and over again during the last two weeks. The Clark family is very gifted and being used of the Lord with their many talents. I must say they are my favorite group of singers. Though they did not write this song, the Lord's hand is all through their music. Read these words and may you be blessed!
It's Almost Morning
You can't seem to hide,
The hurt written on your face,
You're broken inside
Longing for love's embrace;
It might be awhile before you smile,
I know, cause I've fought that fight,
And weeping may endure for a night, but...
It's almost morning,
Joy will replace the tears.
God will calm all your fears.
It won't be long until the dawn,
Tomorrow's another day,
To live free of all your pain,
So don't give up on your faith,
It's almost morning.
I've been where you are,
I've had my heart break too,
I've cried in the dark,
I can relate with you,
I have prayed to see the sun break through
While the storm is still in sight,
So when your darkness consumes the Guiding Light,
The Curse of Technology
I was driving home from dropping the children off at school one morning and a jogger ran by looking quite pained in his attempt to get into shape. Sweat glistened on his face and a large wet spot marked the middle of his back showing that he had been out there for quite some time. A brief thought crossed my mind about why God had to make it so hard for us to exercise and lose weight, and then another thought occurred to me: we did it to ourselves.
Years ago, men and women worked outside planting and weeding their gardens, feeding and milking their livestock, mending broken fences, canning and stocking food for the winter to come...the list is endless in the things they had to do to survive. The truth is we simply have it too easy these days. With the modern age of computers, calculators, cell phones, video games, washing machines, dish washers, and whatever newfangled thing they came up with yesterday, we have taken away the benefits of doing these things all by hand. It has also taken away from the creativity of actually thinking about how to do something and the imagination of this generation is gradually fading away.
Yikes! To a writer that scares me to death! I love having my imagination! I remember when I was little, I would imagine these huge stories of adventure and excitement. Day dreaming was one of my favorite pastimes! I was usually the main character in the stories and something always bad happened to me - I was kidnapped, or got lost in the woods, or had some horrible event occurr that put me in awkward positions that God always seemed to get me out of.
I would play with my little Fisher Price people, which, by the way, was the smaller version of today's chunky little people, whom Fisher Price had to go and specifically name all of them and create entire personalities. That really bugs me....children today are not even given the chance to come up with names for their playthings because the companies are naming them even before they are out of the box! I always had fun naming my dolls and little people. Sally was always the bad girl in my games because her face had been rubbed off in all my play and she looked evil to me, no offence to those of you named Sally out there. :) That was just the name I chose when I was a seven-year-old girl.
The last six weeks I have been cleaning houses three mornings a week and I have been enjoying the physcial labor it involves. It is hard work and I always feel like I have run five miles when I am finished for the day, but it is a satisfied feeling that I actually did something good for somebody else and I benefited from the activity too. I have been feeling more toned and the weight I have been wanting to shed has been slowly coming off. Overall, I have been feeling good and I like that.
First Corinthians 1:27 says, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;" Modern technology may seem wise and smart, and we may be able to get more done in a day, but is it really helping us physically and mentally? What the world may call foolish may not be so bad in God's eyes. And hey, no mater what a seven-year-old may say, even God loves the people named Sally.
I think by now all of you know that I enjoy reminiscing about my childhood. My younger years were filled with lots of fun adventures, a Christian family, and many siblings who made life interesting and exciting. Life was never dull and there was always someone following me around wanting me to play with them or “put on a show” using stuffed animals or little people.
One thing I always took for granted was our family dinners around the table every night. I did not realize other families did not have that time together and it was not until later that it dawned on me that we had something special. I am happy to say that I have carried on this tradition in our home, though to be honest, I do not believe it to be a tradition, but a ‘must do’ in order to stay close to the hearts of the dear ones in our family. I love the time to talk about the day, laugh, cringe at the topics of conversation that always seem to arise at the most inappropriate time, and have family devotions together.
With that said, I must go on to say that children have a way of letting it be known that they do not always appreciate the food that is placed in front of them. Every night my children ask me, “What are we having for dinner?” and I have learned to ignore that question and let them keep asking to their heart’s content. They always have their suggestions, which are the same every night: pizza, macaroni and cheese, or rice pilaf. One of my children could eat pizza at every meal, but I have grown very weary of these common place foods. I remember asking my mother what we were having and I can recall being disappointed a few times when she informed me we were having Pea Soup or some other casserole that I did not enjoy a whole lot. I would pick at it and eat a little, but I do not remember giving her a hard time about eating it. There was the time I had to sit at the table after everyone else had gone so I could finish my peas, but I finally choked them down and was allowed to leave. My children seem to have the same aversion to veggies as I did and there have been times they had to sit at the table and finish them before leaving the table also.
Now, when it comes to meat, some people are bone pickers and some people must have the meat pulled off the bone. I have always been a bone picker, but Joe is one that cannot stand seeing anything other than meat and I have to pick it all off the bone for him to enjoy his meal. Some of my children have taken my side, but a few of the others have joined Joe’s side. Susy can pick an entire bone clean and leave nothing behind. Benny is the same when it comes to eating a chicken leg, but JJ and Alaina like to have it pulled off like their daddy. Caleb, well, he is another story. Up until tonight he used to enjoy the bone, but after the meal we had this evening, I wonder if I will ever view a chicken leg the same again.
It all began as I set the plate of steaming chicken legs on the table. I had some meat cut off of a few for the ones I knew did not like bones and dished it out to them. Caleb asked for some without a bone at first, but after looking at the yummy legs in the pan, he changed his mind. “Can I have one with a bone?” he asked.
I told him he could and passed one to him. Then the questions began….”What is that slimy stuff on the top of the chicken?”
“It’s just the skin. Take it off and you’ll find the meat underneath.”
He dug a little deeper and looked up at me with a strange look. “I see little lines inside! Oooh, there are two bones inside here!” With his knife and fork, he began dissecting the poor leg and began announcing his discoveries. “Hey, look, I found a vein!” he said as he wiggled a stringy thing with his knife. “I can’t wait for biology class when I can dissect a frog and see his heart!”
My stomach was turning at this point and I lost my appetite for eating any more meat. When I stopped to examine something on the plate that closely, I began to realize why Joe does not enjoy eating from the bone. I do not remember ever asking my mother those questions at the table, nor do I remember any of my siblings ever complaining about the food in front of them. I do remember the famous quote, “There are starving children in Africa who would enjoy eating that food!” so it must have been said at least once, but I can honestly say that I do not think I will ever look at a chicken bone the same again – the poor, little starving children can eat it if they want.
Sunday's Highlighted Song
Here is a song I learned as a little girl and it has always stuck with me. There is nothing like the Word of God and the precious comfort and hope that it gives.
As the waves of the ocean can make smooth a stone,
And the winds can change a mountain to sand,
So it is with God's Word, when its heard and done,
It's able to transform a man.
It's a mountain of strength,
A refuge in trial,
It's a warm rain to a soul that is dry.
And the man who does the Word,
Oh, he's like a tree,
Where the rivers of water are nigh.
Oh, oh, sweet water of the Word,
No sweeter shall ye ever find,
It's by hearing the Word,
That a man's born again,
It's the Word that will renew his mind,
Oh, oh, sweet water of the Word,
My comfort right from the start,
Oh, oh, sweet water of the Word,
It's doing a work in my heart.
In these times of trial and testing,
Only one thing shall stand,
When around seems to be shaken,
You can trust in God's Word,
It shall not pass away,
For forever it's settled in heaven.
Food For Thought
Okay, so maybe I spoil my children a little because I make all five of them lunch in the morning, making sure they have a balanced meal of some sort. I could have them all make up their own lunch bags each morning, or even the night before, but to be honest, having five children running around the kitchen trying to get the necessities such as bread, fruit, and dessert would be a headache in itself. I do not mind taking the time to lovingly package up their lunchbags and sending them off with the peace that I know what they are eating and there will be plenty to fill their tummies during the long day.
With that said, I must say that lately I have been having a hard time understanding the thought process of food distributors and those who are in charge of packaging and supplying our food. I do not normally go into these kinds of rants in my blogs, but I am coming to the conclusion that people really are not looking out for our well-being and all that stuff they say about good nutrition, obesity, and good health is a bunch of bologna. Whatever happened to the old fashioned farms with plenty of home-grown veggies, cattle, and eggs?
I remember going with my dad once a week to get some nice, cold milk out of the large, shiny, metal milk container at Mr. Pigeon's farm. The barn was always warm from the rows of cows lining each side of the building, lazily chewing their cud as their brown eyes watched me play with the many kittens running around. We had some stainless steel milk jugs we would fill with the frothy white stuff and we would take it home where my mom would scoop off the cream that settled on the top. Nothing tasted fresher and more delicious than that milk back in those days not too long ago. Along with the fresh eggs we had from our chickens (mentioned in an earlier blog), we had something I wish we still had today.
With the size of my family, our food budget has been going up, as fast as the prices of the food in the stores have been rising higher and higher. As those prices go up, packaging of food has been getting smaller and cheaper in quantity. Sometimes I wonder if the people who say reduce! reuse! recycle! even mean what they say? If they cared about reducing the packaging as much as they cared about reducing the contents inside, then the packages would become smaller, so we would not have as much waste to clutter the dumps!
Years ago toys were made to last and so were applicances. Toys were made of solid metal and were actually kind of heavy, and could withstand some rough play. Today, toys are made of cheap plastics that break within the first day, or need more batteries after an hour's worth of play. If people truly wanted us to "be green" and save the earth, wouldn't they take more care in the products they produced to make them last?
While I do not believe in the whole 'being green' idea, I do believe God wants us to be good stewards of the earth He has put us on and take care of it. Genesis 2:15 says, "And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." We are the caretakers of this earth and since He owns a cattle on a thousand hills, we should do all we can to make sure His world where we live remains a beautiful place. Daily I pray God will give me wisdom in how to feed my family with good, healthy meals, and foods that will help them grown up and not out - may He show me how to wisely manage the unchanging food budget in a world of constantlychanging prices. Amen.
The Hawk in the Chicken Coop
1Pe 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"
When I was growing up my family kept many different kinds of animals, some of them being chickens. My dad, though not a builder by trade, could make anything out of wood and it always turned out beautiful. The chicken coop he designed and built was not just any ordinary coop, but had a front room with a place to store the chicken feed and a handy wooden nesting box that you could unlatch and take out the eggs without the chickens attacking you inside. There was plenty of room for all the chickens, wooden bars for roosting, and a little door in the corner where they could go outside into the penned-in yard and scratch in the dirt. In my opinion, it was an ideal place for a chicken to live and they seemed quite happy.
I still remember the afternoon when my friend and I were running around outside, playing games that little kids play, and we decided to go down and visit the chickens. We skipped down the wooden stairs and followed the cedar trail that led to the coop and hurried around to see the chickens pecking outside in the pen. We both stopped in shock as we saw a very large bird in the middle, eating a chicken that lay dead with a big hole in her back. Another pitiful chicken ran around with a large wound on her back.
I screamed and so did my buddy. The hawk was obviously taken by surprise because he immediately stopped pecking at his meal and ran to the edge of the mesh wire. It was as if he did not remember how to get out, or maybe he needed more room to take off with his wide wingspan, but whatever the reason, he could not figure out how to fly out. We fled in horror, screaming bloody murder as we ran back up the trail, calling my mother and brother to come see the horrible mess. Thinking something terrible had happened to me, my mother and brother came out with panicked looks on their faces and we led them back down to view the awful scene.
My brother had in mind to get his BB gun and shoot the scared hawk, still trying to find a way to get out of the pen by banging on the wire. My friend's mother had arrived to pick him up by that point and she had come down to see what the commotion was all about. The hawk eventually found his way out of the pen and flew away, leaving us wondering what to do about the chicken that was still alive, but had a gaping hole in her back. We ended up putting her in the little room in the first part of the coop, because we knew the other chickens would never leave her alone and would peck at her endlessly until she died. Settled in her own quiet corner, the chicken was able to rest and recuperate from her tramatic experience.
The chicken did heal, though she was always a little skittish after that. My dad also decided it was time to build a mesh roof over the outside pen so the events of the day would not occurr again.
Though a hawk is not a lion, it is still an animal that searches for something to devour, something that may seem to be minding her own business, like the chicken with her head down, scratching in the dirt. If that chicken had been looking up, being watchful for the danger that lurked around her, she may have been able to avoid the disaster and run inside to hide from the hawk. We can learn from her mistake and always keep an open eye on what may lurk around us, watching for the little ways the devil might sneak in and snatch us up in a moment of frenzy and we will not know what hit us. Just a thought to consider as you begin this new week. Keep your mind on Him at all times and He will protect you