Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Children's Hour

"Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour." begins one of my favorite poems. It is the sweet tale of three little children quietly sneaking up on their father to pounce upon him and smother him with their hugs & kisses...he lovingly relates this daily "ambush" of which he becomes the victor and ends in these sweet words,

"I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there I will keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!"

What a loving way to demonstrate the affection we have for our children and the importance of the "pause in the days occupation".
As I reflect this afternoon of the busyness of the past two weeks in our home, I am saddened that too aften the demands and activities of this world take me away from the real goals that God has laid upon my heart for my family!
Isn't that the way that it always is? It is so much easier to be carried away with the non-essentials of this life and lose focus of those things that truly matter.
I often times stay up way later than my family and as I sit in the quiet, dark house I think over the words we shared in the day and the things we did and many, many times I say to myself, "did that really matter?" I look at their sweet sleeping faces and any hardness of heart that I may have had melts away and suddenly life comes into perspective. Usually I vow to treasure them more and I pray for them & I commit that tomorrow a difference will be made more for eternity...but then comes the morning and soon after the distractions and irritations of our daily life and once again I make the mistakes I so despise and another day becomes the past.
Oh, how I long for the day when I will be able to walk away from those things that hinder me and turn instead wholeheartedly to what God has called me to at this time: to love Him, to love & cherish my husband and sons and to bring them up in His ways with joy and guidance! That is my prayer during these foundational years when my children's hearts are tender and turned towards me. Lord, may we seize the opportunities and let the other things wait!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Glimpse of Maturity

This morning I awoke to the sound of my son, Caleb, chatting away on the telephone! He never ceases to amaze me - he wakes up earlier & earlier every week! Well, thankfully he was only chatting with turns out he had decided to call his Daddy to talk since no one else was up yet!
Anyways, each person slowly began to stir and it never takes long before these little people want to eat! I told them I had to go & brush my teeth, but I would make breakfast after that. When I returned, Jacob & Caleb were already in the middle of a real man's breakfast...sausage, eggs, & the rest! Jacob had the eggs scrambled and seasoned and Caleb had the sausage frying in the pan!
Together, with a few questions to me, they successfully served us a delicious breakfast! As I sat at the table eating with them, it occurred to me that my children really are getting some of what I am trying so hard to teach them! They really WILL grow up and have the skills that they will need.
So often as day in & day out I pour my life into them (& all of my little speeches) I feel like I am getting nowhere and many times I have questioned: "Why am I doing all of this?"
But on occasion I am fortunate enough to get a glimpse into the men that they will one day be. It is like a veil is lifted, just for a moment, and I am able to see them in a different light. I am able to see that progress in being made and loving, compassionate men are being molded...slowly, but surely!
I am thankful to God that He gives me the grace to teach & love my children every day and that He takes my meager offering of service for Him and multiplies and uses it to grow & nurture my children. A wise lady once told me that mothering was very much like stringing at a time...but that at the end of the day you realized the string was untied at the bottom...all of your beads were gone and you would have to start again. I can relate so well to that analogy - each day over and over I do the same things and many days I feel that I have accomplished nothing! However, deep in my heart I know that truth be told I am raising up young men who will one day surprise me and become what I have always hoped...just as they surprised me this morning!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall Days - We Love Them!!!

Well, it sure was a beautiful Saturday and we wasted no time in getting out and enjoying it! I knew before I got out of bed that the first place I wanted to go was over to Jaemor farms to do a little tree study and buy some apples & pumpkins and other fall goodies! So we all got ready to go and on the way I read a little to the boys out of Handbook of Nature Study on apple trees and also a little of Anne of Green Gables. Now I know that this is not a "boys book", but we are studying Canada right now and Anne lived there so we decided to read it anyways. I am so glad that we did because it is a wonderful story!
Once at Jaemor we asked for permission to walk around in the orchards and examine the bark & leaves of the apple tree. We were directed to a patch of Arkansas Blacks and even given permission to pick a few to eat while we looked. We noticed that on the tree, the apples have a dusty film, but with a quick rub they are immediately red and bright and they tasted wonderful! We also noticed rabbit droppings around the trees and we suspect the rabbits are munching on the fallen apples littered on the ground.
Once our tree study was over we headed in to buy a 1/2 bushel of red delicious apples and some other things to decorate our table with, like small pumpkins & gourds. Luke was my buggy helper and Jason & the other boys quickly found the boiled peanuts and a place to sit and munch on them. We always love our annual trip to Jaemor and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.
Afterwards we decided to drive on further North towards Helen in order to have a picnic and possibly visit "our spot". We knew that the tubing would be finished and that there are some nice picnic areas along the creek, so that is where we went and sure enough found a really nice spot. The sun was shining and the fall colors were really pretty with the wind gently blowing all of the leaves around. The boys wasted no time in getting their feet wet and wading around in the cool water. They always start out begging to "just stick our feet in" and end up wet to the waist. Oh well, that is whay we came here anyways, so we enjoyed watching them explore. Today was especially nice because our 13 year old, who is growing out of his child-like ways, allowed himself to relax and climb trees and wade along with his little brothers as well. I so want him to remain my little boy, and it touched my heart to see him having so much simple fun.
Of course we couldn't come this far without our trip to "our spot", a rope swing a few miles out in the woods along a nice little creek that we found a few months ago. The boys really have laid claim on it and it is so fun to see them swinging way out over the water with excitement on their faces and laughter in their voices! We stayed here quite awhile and Jason & the boys built a fire to warm their wet bodies, but pretty soon it was time to head home. The duties of life were beginning to call us, though faintly just yet. All of my wet, muddy boys climbed in the van reluctantly and off we went stopping to look at a few things along the way.
Now we are home and it is back to the familiar things we do every Sat. night - getting our church clothes out, preparing for the week, and off to bed. As I sit here & think of our day I am reminded of how blessed I am. Were I to try and count the ways it would take me all night. I am also reminded of how quickly time is passing and my prayer is that I would stay focused on what really matters and let the non-essentials fade into the background!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

No place like home....

Well, the old saying rings true, "There is no place like home". Jason and I landed at the airport around lunchtime today where his Mom met us in the parking lot with the boys. It sure was good to see their smiling faces and get a big hug from each one! It is always amazing how much they look like they have grown while we were away. As I looked into each sweet face, I thought "my babies are growing up!"
We drove home and soon got back into our normal routines. Ben had a b-day party to go to, I had unpacking, the others had friends to play with, & so on...even at bedtime, the same old routine is now in play. Caleb is complaining that Nathan is bothering him & Ben and Jacob are whispering upstairs instead of sleeping. It can be a crazy life, but it is our life and we love it nonetheless!
We are thankful that the boys had a great week with their Grandma - they talked all the way home of all the things they did & said while we were away. We are glad that we were able to get away and regroup, take a look at the important things in life, & just enjoy one another for awhile! And we are so very blessed to have a home to come back to that is so much more than walls & rooms. It is abundantly full with all of the things that family life should be: laughter, joy, tears, shouts, little feet padding along on the tile, prayers, activities, opinions, needs, and so on.
It is a great place to be - we may not see the natural beauties that we did in Colorado, but beauty is here...only in a different form.
P.S. Thanks to Grandma for her bravery & willing spirit!!!! We love ya!!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Perserverance Pays Off

Today we realized that true hiking is not for the faint of heart. After finishing a few "easy hikes" in the last few days, today we decided to take it up a notch and do some "real hiking". We headed over to Vail and in particular a trail called Gore Creek Trail. The map told us that for the first 4 miles we would follow along the mountain creek and then up a little higher to a lake. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? Well, lovely it was, but not without much sweat, hardship and life lessons along the way.
It all began when 30 minutes (30 treacherous hiking minutes) into the hike as we tried to catch our breath at the top of a steep area, a thunderstorm rolled in. Apparently in the Colorado mountains the weather can change at any time. One minute we were sweating & hot and the next it was freezing & a storm moved in. Well, I am not one to play with lightning or take any chances (I've got 5 kids waiting at home)so I quickly headed back down the trail to the car to wait until the weather moved on out. So that put us back a bit in time but more in energy. However, we were not going to give up so after the showers we headed back up again. And we were so glad that we did.
The trail led us to different views of the mountains. It started as a bare dirt path that quickly changed to a very rocky path, then there was an Aspen grove, and we ran into the creek at many turns. There were birds flying around and then butterflies fluttering onto the wildflowers, and there were shady areas with really crisp, cool breezes as well.
It is hard to describe experiences like these. We can take pictures and use words, but you have to be there to feel the emotion of the moment. There is nothing more refreshing than being surrounded by the sights, smells, & activities of nature.
Jason and I spoke on the hike about how much hiking is like the journey of our lives. There were times on the hike we thought we could not go a step further, yet we couldn't quit as well. Then there were times when the trail became smooth and pleasant and we felt blessed abundantly. At other times we came upon steep edges where we could have fallen hundreds of feet down to the rocks below us...there was a little fear and we had to carefully manuever around to take pictures.
Isn't that the way that life is...some times are hard, some are smooth & easy, some bring fear, at times you feel you cannot go any further, yet at other times you go on with ease. In the end, though, if you have stayed the course & perservered, you leave the hike of life satisfied, fulfilled, & rewarded with greater joys than a few good pictures & happy memories.