Friday, December 28, 2007

True gifts!

I don't do this often, but I want you to go over to my friend Kevin's blog. He has recently posted 3 videos. One, is of Victoria Falls - one of God's many gifts to us. The other two are perfect examples of the sweetest gifts we can give to the Lord - pure hearts expressing themselves in song. Remember - these Zambians are POOR in money, food, and possessions. All they have is Christ. Why do I feel envious of them?

Please, in remembering what Christmas is all about, watch these videos. While you're at it, pray for Kevin as he goes back to Zambia in just a few days.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Welcome to...My Life!

To all my vegetarian, animal-rights friends, you may want to skip this one.

We have chickens. Up until today around 8:30 a.m. we had about, oh, 28. At 8:31 a.m. we were down to 27.

Eric's been itching to get rid of a rooster (or 3) as they do nothing but make our hens nervous. (In order to keep this blog family-friendly, we'll leave it at that). Eric's itchiness tends to be contagious and Michael has been asking if he could do the job. Last night he asked if he could try killing one of our roosters with his bow and arrow (no, not the suction cup kind - he has a real one, just the arrow head isn't extremely sharp). With a resounding, "sure" from daddy, Michael went to bed dreaming of hunting the big bad rooster.

When I came down at 7:30 this morning (before you get any ideas of me sleeping the day away, I had been awake tending to the baby for an hour), Michael and his sister were outside trying to "off" Big R. When the arrow-thing didn't work, Mike caught it and tucked it under his arm. Seeing this, I told him to go out to the barn and ask daddy what to do next. Secretly, I was hoping Eric would discourage our hunter-son from making the kill.

A few minutes later, my daughter came in as she was cold. "Michael's going to kill the rooster with an ax!" she announced.


"In the barn."

"Is daddy out there with him?"

"Nope. No one is out there."

"Michael's alone in the barn and is going to kill the rooster with an ax?!"

"That's what he says."

Ten year old boy. Ax. Moving target.

I call Eric. I'm thinking he's not going to want the barn all messed up with blood. I thought wrong. He thought the whole thing was hysterically funny. "It's a good learning experience. Better than school."

Yeah, a trip to the ER is just the field trip I'm looking for!

I won't go into the grotesque details, but, a little while later, Mike brought up Big R - minus his head.

While all this was going on, I'm thinking, "So, once the thing is dead, what are we going to do with it? We didn't get anyone lined up to take care of it to make it edible. Too bad, what a waste of food."

I shouldn't have worried. Apparently, when a girl marries a farmer, the marriage license actually has a clause written in very fine print that she will boil, de-feather, and skin any fowl killed on their property. Unfortunately for me, I forgot the magnifying glass on my wedding day.

Knowing that you all would never believe it, here's the proof.

In the meantime, I get a call from a guy who asks if I have a minute. Hmm - 7 kids and a rooster waiting to be plucked. Sure, I got a minute.

I then hear the story of how this man shot a deer on our property last night, only to have some other guy who hunts there track him down, enter his garage, and, carrying a gun, threatens to call the DEC on the guy. Great. Dead roosters. Dead deer. Almost a dead guy. All in an hour and a half.

But, hey, it was "a great learning experience - better than school!"

Welcome to my life!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lost and Found!

It's been 4 hours and I'm still recovering from one of the biggest scares of my life. I woke up from a nap this afternoon and my four oldest kids were GONE!!

Before I laid down, I told Michael that I didn't want them going outside when I was sleeping - Eric was out chopping wood and then was on his way to look at a truck 45 minutes from home. So, of course, I didn't want the kids out in the snow with no one around to supervise.

When I got up, my two little ones had come downstairs from their naps and the four older ones were no where to be seen. "They must've gone outside." Figuring they were sledding, I began to feed the baby.

A few minutes later, I received a text from Eric regarding another matter. In my response, I casually asked if he had the kids. He wrote back "no." Hmm.

So, I went to the door - no kids. That's not unusual as they sled a little beyond my line of vision, anyway. So, I opened the door. "Michael!" No answer. "MICHAEL!" Silence. "MICHAEL! CASSIA!" Nothing.

Today was one of those still and quiet winter days. No wind at the time. So, the air was silent. Eerily so, as no child voices were heard.

My heart begins to pound. I tell my little ones to stay as I put on my boots to go find the children. No coat. No gloves. Just panic.

As a mom, you think the worst, though you try to remain calm and logical. Four kids. No one would try to take all four. They're old enough to know to stay away from the pond, so that didn't worry me. But, they older they are, the more imaginative they are and the bigger the trouble they can get into. The bigger the trouble, the bigger the injuries.

We've all heard the stories of kids digging caves in the snow only for the cave to collapse and the children suffocate inside. Eric plowed a hill this morning. There were footprints near it. And...a shovel.

There I am, no coat, no gloves, shoveling away at the extremely heavy snow yelling my "babies'" names. I'm terrified I'm going to find them. Amazing how our mother-minds can run away with fear!

My hands were hurting and I was getting nowhere. I knew that I would not be able to do much without getting a coat. Something inside me also told me that it was illogical for the kids to even be in that mound - not big enough, not enough time for them to have dug so much.

I called Eric. Again, he's 45 minutes away. I'm hyperventilating. "I can't find the kids!" He tries to calm me down. I would calm only to begin panicking again. "I need to find my kids! Where are they?! Where are you?!"

My husband is absolutely amazing. He never panics! He probably would've slapped me if he had been here. He just kept telling me to calm down. They were ok. He told me to just wait - they would come back.

But, it was going to be dark soon. Where could they be? I got a coat and went back out.

"Michael! Cassia! Anna! Katrina!" The silence was almost more than I could bear.

"Lord, I need to find my kids! Help me! You know where they are. Bring them back. Be with them." I prayed this over and over.

I texted our friend who is living back in our woods if he had the kids. Maybe he took them sledding. No response.

I followed footprints. They went all over the place - as children do while they're running in the snow. "I need to find my babies!" I walked to the lane. The footprints seemed to end.

I'm trying to stay calm. Who do I call to come help? What do I do about the children inside?

Just then, the farm jeep comes around the corner of the barn. It's our friend...with the kids!!!!

My kids had walked the half - one whole mile back to the woods in the snow to see his place! His phone wasn't working, so he hadn't got my message. Once the kids told him that I had been napping when they left, he knew I was probably beside myself. He felt terrible. So did the kids.

I was so relieved that I didn't even punish them. Trust me, I talked to them and they realized why I was afraid for them. I told them the dangers of going away when no one knew where you were. I told them that I was reminded how much I love them.

Then, I said, "Remembering what I've just told you, I'm impressed that you guys walked all the way back there in this snow! What a walk!"

I learned a couple of things today:

1. No matter what my brain says, my heart will continue to panic whenever I don't know where my kids are.

2. It took the possibility of losing my children forever to make me realize how much I love them.

3. My kids can accomplish quite a lot when they put their minds to it!

I am grateful that the Lord heard my panicked cries and delivered my children to me safely. I hugged my children tighter tonight. I suggest you do the same.

By the way, don't tell my mother!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rekindling the Spark!

Eric and I had our annual Christmas date on Saturday night. Obviously, we go out several times a year, but we've always made a point to go out during the Christmas season.

We had a MARVELOUS time! If you remember a previous "date post" where everything went wrong - this was pretty much the complete opposite!

First, we went to our favorite Prime Rib place. The food is wonderful and the atmosphere makes for a wonderful romantic dinner.

After dinner, we took a drive to pick up my father-in-law's Christmas present. That done, Eric had the brilliant idea to take me to pick out my own Christmas gift as he never seems to know what to get for me. This way, I'd get what I wanted and he can just wrap it and I'll act surprised Christmas morning! Hey, beats an empty stocking.

So, for the first time ever, Eric followed me into the Bath and Body Works. My husband does not go into these types of stores, but this night, he joined the ranks of husbands being led into a place saturated with the scents of florals and fruits.

For a guy, this makes no sense. Just get a bar of soap and you're set. But, not for a woman. It has to be just the right scent. And, it can't be solid. It has to come from a bottle. Also, soap isn't enough - you have to follow up with either lotion or spray.

It takes me quite some time to find "my" scent. I found a great one last spring - Wild Cherry Blossom. Mmmmm! But - surprise, surprise - there was no Wild Cherry Blossom to be found on Saturday evening. So, the hunt was on. My husband saw first-hand the intricacies of the scent-search. Careful scanning of the shelves, opening bottles to smell, then spraying or testing the lotion. On to the next group of items. Back here, over there, return to the front of the store - about 3 times.

FINALLY, I found a scent I liked - Warm Vanilla Sugar. Not cherries, but it will suffice. It's more winter-like, anyway. All through this girlie-ritual, Eric was great - just happily following me around. It helped that I could joke about this whole process with him. However, when I asked the associate which she recommended "the body butter or the body cream," that was the last straw. Eric stated, "That's it, I'm leaving!" Too much information than he wanted. Once I decided on the cream (I know all you girls would want to know), I found him entering a sporting store (sweat smells and testosterone) and he happily (I think) came back to pay for my Christmas present. It was a memorable and fun experience. I wish I had a camera!

Next stop - Panera Bread for coffee. I love this place. Eric has yet to have a good experience. The first time we went, all he wanted was a chocolate chip cookies. I've seen these American favorites every time I've been there. Except for that time. Strike one. The next time he took me there was the time our car broke down - right in their parking lot. Strike two. Saturday night, we made it in, Eric didn't want a cookie (though, of course, they had them), but got a delicious cup of coffee. So far, so good. Too good.

I must insert here that my husband is one of the most easy-going people I know. Very little bothers or un-nerves him. The one thing in this world that he hates more than anything, is a running vacuum cleaner.

So, guess what starts up while we're waiting for our coffee? Strike three. Hey, no date is perfect.

We topped the night off by going to visit a friend of ours who is camping out on our property. He's got quite the cozy set-up and we enjoyed just hanging out for a while. Hanging out - something the parents of 7 children rarely do. But, it was fun.

Spending time, special time, with my man. There is nothing I would rather do and I'm grateful that he feels the same. Have you had a date with the love of your life, lately? It would be easy for me to get on my soap-box and "preach" the importance of couples going out, but I'll remain planted on the ground. I'll just say this: plan a time, get a sitter (if needed), and GO! Hold hands, talk, and laugh. Rekindle that spark. Remember who you married.

I remember - and I'm still crazy in love!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Emotional Overload!

What a weekend!!!! So many joys and some sorrow, too.

Thursday, I found out that a wonderful couple in our church who've been desiring a baby for a year and a half are finally expecting. They officially announced it today. Right after their announcement, another couple we've been praying for for almost 5 years announced they're expecting, also!!! "Rejoice with them that do rejoice!"

The Home School Fair on Saturday was tremendous!!! My kids didn't win anything, but they did their best and had a blast! After the first competition, someone asked my daughter, "how'd you do?" and she, with a smile, replied, "I did my best!" I wish I could express how thrilled I am with my children. I honestly can say that I couldn't have been happier if they had one first place! The experience they gained in learning, competing, getting up in front of people, taking "defeat" with a smile, etc. are prizes in themselves. All the kids did amazingly well. So many encouraged one another and were truly happy when their peers won. It was a blessed day - one that our family will remember. However, we'll have to remember it solely in our minds as I forgot my camera at home. No prizes for me!

This morning, our little Zane was dedicated to the Lord along with 3 other babies recently born in our church. Actually, he (and the others, I am sure) was dedicated long before this, but today was a public testimony of our desire to raise our seventh child in the ways of our Lord. It is a humbling thought that God has entrusted these precious little ones to our care for this sole (soul) purpose. What a blessing it is to have two of the best pastors on earth who have committed themselves to encourage us in this process!

"Weep with them that weep." Our dear friend, Dave Hance, is in ICU as of this morning. Please continue to pray for him and his family. For the sake of privacy, I won't go into details. However, I spoke with his wife this evening and this is a difficult situation. As you go about your work week and Christmas preparations, remember to pray for those around you who are hurting - including the Hance family.

Joyful tears. Tears of sorrow. Many of both kinds have been shed this weekend. The Lord is good through it all!

Blessed be the name of the LORD!