Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An ordinary day; extra-ordinary grace.

Rick always asks me how my day is going when I call him to find out how he is doing on the road. I always reply, "Okay." Then I proceed to tell him what is happening around the old homestead while he's away, bringing home the bacon.

But how do I describe today?

How do I explain how much my heart is torn by the sin I see in my child, because it is so much a copy of my own? And how do I tell him how much my heart is warmed by the worship I witnessed as my older ones (of the ones still at home) shared their love of God and their understanding of His word and His majesty with their younger siblings?

Oh, I can say that two of the children had a disagreement, and that words were exchanged, fast and furious. I can tell him that just before lunch, when this disagreement took place, we had just finished watching a demonstration of how vast and how amazing our universe is, and that we all were in awe of our God, Who created it all for us.

But, it's hard to explain how God works in the lives of one ordinary family in an out-of-the-way township in the middle of nowhere.

When the child-who-was-angry was being confronted, lovingly, by her siblings, she was reminded that God is BIG, and that we are very, very small. She was led to see that the "fights and quarrels" among us were caused by our own evil desires, by wanting something and not getting it. She was reminded that this very BIG and astounding Creator God is perfectly able to supply all of our needs, and that He has done just that, by giving her the very siblings that He uses to refine her as gold.

Nothing happens by chance. The fact that we had just sat at the computer, watching an amazing demonstration of the vastness of the universe and the complexity of astrological bodies and the enormity of time it would take (hundreds of billions of years!) to reach the outermost edge of what astronomers have discovered, and then were faced with a family crisis that called for a reminder of the greatness of our God...this was not by chance.

The fact that we had to run to town to do some errands and that only Mom and the child-who-was-angry were to go was not at all by chance, either. It gave us time to visit and chat, to gain understanding, and to simply enjoy each other's company.

When I see the sin that runs rampant in my family, it humbles me and drives me to my knees. It's a holy experience, like this. And when I see the maturity and knowledge and understanding shared by the older ones, it humbles me and drives me to my knees, too...but in gratefulness for God's grace.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tag, You're IT!

Thanks to Camille at There is a Season, I am also an official member of the blog world. She tagged me!

Here's the rules for those I'm tagging. Check the list after my 6 THINGS to see if you're it then

1. Link to the person who tagged you.

2. Post the rules on your blog.

3. Write six random things about yourself.

4. Tag sixish people at the end of your post.

5. Let each person know he or she has been tagged.

6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Now for Six Random things about me:

1. I like DARK chocolate. Milk chocolate is a waste of time.

2. I like all of the Romance languages, and know a smattering of Italian, Latin and French.

3. I want to go to Italy some day.

4. I went to boarding school for three years: King's Hall, Compton. Graduated top of my class.

5. I wanted to be a doctor when I was a young girl. Loved biology. Wanted to help people.

6. Officially an animal lover, I think horses are best, followed by dogs...but really, I like all animals. I even like insects and find them fascinating. But I don't like nasty insects in my house. Flies, ugh. Cockroaches, double ugh.

7. I have a love of poetry, but I am not selective. I like everything from kids' poems to sonnets, and limericks to iambic pentameter.

I broke the "rule" and included seven random things about myself. Oh, well.

People that I am going to tag (And I am cheating by tagging my own flesh and blood!):

Adeena - fabulous mother and wife, eldest of 12, gluten-free baker extraordinaire!

Sarah - creative newlywed, doglover, pig farrower, amateur photographer!

Linda - lover of God, horses, and her family; fiery debater, amateur musician!

Amy - brilliant wife of a rocket scientist (who was also brilliant in choosing Amy), cyberfriend, and someone I'd love to meet in real life some day.

Jacqueline - Creator of the Canadian Home Educator's Carnival, and a Newfoundlander!

Kim from Canada - Fellow homeschooler and Fellow Canadian - who could ask for anything more?

Have fun tagging others, Ladies!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Psalm 23

Our pastor reminded us today that Psalm 23 is the antidote to worry. It was written by David, who had every reason to worry. Betrayed, left by his wife, bereaved of a child, cut off from Israel and having to feign madness to simply survive, David knew what it was to walk through the valley. He experienced the mountaintops, too, living as a shepherd and reigning as a king. He has been there, done that.

"The Lord is MY Shepherd."

That makes me HIS sheep. That means that HE has the responsibility to take care of me. Wow!

We brought home two horses the other day. Before we went to get them, we spent days working on the barn. The kids mucked out the chicken manure and made sure it was clean. They carefully checked for any nails or boards that might stick out and hurt the horses. The girls took down a wall and made the stalls bigger. They widened the door. Rick brought load after load of good dirt to fill in the stalls.

Steve came over and put up a new fence to make an area for any manure or compost. Daniel used the tractor to move any manure, and cleaned up any debris on the field. He tilled the area that needs new grass seed, and leveled it.

We scrubbed out the rubber watering bins and the feed buckets, then disinfected them. We checked to see if we had some good hay left, and good straw to bed the new horses down.

Today, it struck me: GOD does that for ME. He is MY Shepherd. He plans, prepares, and provides everything I need, each and every day, for my entire life. He will never leave nor forsake me. He is responsible, as my Shepherd, to lead me, to guide me, and to provide for me.

I belong to Him. Just as the horses now belong to Heather and to our family, and we must anticipate their needs and provide them with food, water, farrier, bedding, vet, companionship and training, I belong to God and He provides me with all of the things I need.

We love our horses. We see them as things of beauty and grace. It is no chore to go out to the barn and care for their needs. It's a joy and a privilege.

In the same way (only much, much more!) God loves me. He sees me through eyes of grace because of all Jesus has done for me, and is delighted to care for me all the days of my life.

The Good Shepherd knows best. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake.

When a rider is training a horse, the horse doesn't necessarily understand what is best. Our horses came off the track, so they aren't familiar with saddles and blankets and stirrups. They are used to being hooked up to a sulky and running very fast at a certain pace. They are used to keeping the pace for the entire race.

And now, they are going to be asked to submit to a blanket and saddle, to a girth tightened around their belly, to stirrups bumping against their sides. They are going to have to put up with a rider on their backs. They must learn to go forward at a walk, and a trot, and a canter, on command. They'll have to learn to move sideways under the pressure of a leg, and to turn on a dime instead of the wide turn they need in order to pull a sulky. They won't be on a track - instead they'll be guided to a path in the woods, to a country road with cars whizzing by, to a gravel pit or a newly plowed field.

But, because they are good, well-bred horses, they will learn to trust their rider. Their lives will be enriched as they develop into what they are meant to be: pleasure horses, loved by a family.

God leads ME in paths I do not understand. I have to submit to His plan for my life, which sometimes includes pain and confusion, frustration and sorrow. Yet, I know that He is the Good Shepherd who cares very much for His sheep. I know that when I rest in Him, He works all things for good.

I hope that Pax and Kara learn to trust us. I hope they learn to love their riders, to respond to their commands, to listen to their voices.

I know I need to do the same. I need to Know the Shepherd. I must Love Him, Follow Him, and Listen to His Voice. I know that He is nearby, ready to save, never to leave. He loves me. Sacrificially.

Is the Lord YOUR Shepherd? Then think about this:

He provides. So trust Him.
He directs our paths. So follow Him.
He protects. So, rest in Him.
He blesses. So be thankful.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


More pictures of the twin beauties :)

A Neat Path to Eternal Flight...What?

I was trying to come up with some kind of combination of the registered names of the two Standardbred horses that are in our pasture.

But I can't.

Likewise, I am speechless at the goodness of God, Who gives us the desires of our hearts.

Ever since our three beautiful horses died last December, there has been a void in our hearts. Driving up our road hasn't held the same anticipation - empty fields grant no thrill.

A few weeks ago, Heather told me that she just isn't the same without a horse. She has been discouraged, depressed even, for months. Horses have been a part of her life since she was born (even as a wee baby in the car seat she would point at every horse she spied as we drove by the Mennonite farms). When we got Shantel in 1993, her heart was filled to bursting, and she passed this horsey disease onto the rest of the girls in the family!

Anyway, Heather started praying and searching for a horse. She found Doc, whose name will soon be modified, and whose registered name was Neat Path. She drove hours to see him, and fell immediately in love. He's beautiful, responsive, good around people. He comes when he's called, and stands close by as the humans talk. She made a deal, and phoned me, her voice dripping with heartfelt emotion. "I've bought a horse, Mom!"

On the way home she stopped to see a second Standardbred, Eternal Flight, known as Edith. (That will change!) A horse for Linda, and the rest of the family. The girls scraped together their hay money, and borrowed the rest from their hard-working brother.

Heather found a trailer, and yesterday we brought home two beautiful horses.

My heart is singing. And pictures are worth a thousand words. (Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see another one.

Noogies and the NDP

I couldn't help myself. I was sitting in the chiropractor's office this morning, waiting for my turn, and passing the time reading the opinion page of the London Free Press.

I laughed right out loud.

It was a Monte Solberg opinion regarding what is happening with the Canadian Election. Monte makes it plain that he thinks Stephen Harper is the best man for the job of the Prime Minister of Canada.

He doesn't think much of Dion's Green Shift, or his "green collar workers".

But the best part of the whole opinion piece was his thinking regarding Jack Layton:

Sometimes Jack also comes across as way too pleased with himself in a way that makes you want to give him a noogie .

Duck, Jack! There are lots of Canadians who have their knuckles ready!

Friday, September 19, 2008

ESV Study Bible

I am so excited about the new ESV Study Bible. I hope that my husband will be getting me one for my birthday. Or my Anniversary. Or Christmas, but I'd hate to wait that long!

Anyway, I am happy to promote the Bible. Click on the icon in the sidebar, and go see what all the excitement is about.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Elena is 14!

She spent the day today helping her family with our chicken-killing-and-freezing. Well, that's not quite accurate. We first went to help Rachel for a bit, then brought home the spare freezer, then processed chickens!

Elena kept up a running commentary throughout the entire procedure.

"Ewwww, this one's gross!"

"What do you think THAT is?"

"Look at this heart...Wow! It's HUGE!"

and so on...

But, she kept at it until we were done the dozen we set aside for today. We're doing a Dozen A Day (you piano types will grin at that one) until they are all in the freezer.

The very second we were finished today's gruesome task, Elena and her younger siblings headed for "Lake Billson", which is a temporary pond that shows up whenever it rains a great deal. They hooted and hollered and played in the water for quite some time.

I am very thankful that Elena is growing into such a beautiful young lady. I'm also grateful that she can still play and have fun at the ripe old age of 14.

Happy Birthday, dear Elena!! We love you very much.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What a day!

What a wonderful day we had today.

We were blessed to go to church today. Even though we left late, we (by the miracle of a heavy foot) arrived on time. The message was encouraging - faint hearts vs hearts that are tuned to God. God works in the trials that He sends to us...there is a purpose for every single trial, and the God who sends the trials works in them for our good and His glory!

The people of our little church were an encouragement, too, asking about my husband and his personal struggles. It was so good to know that they love us and pray for us, and miss us when we aren't there.

We went shopping for groceries on the way home, then popped in to see Matt and Joanna. They are in the middle of major renovations! In no time at all, their kitchen will be beautiful. It's slow going at the moment, but they are working hard, and by Christmas they should be enjoying the fruit of their labour.

We arrived home to a lovely supper cooked by Heather, who was waiting at our home to tell us all about her new horse.

Not long after, Rick arrived home with tales of his day on the road.

What made it a beautiful day? Family, friends, and the deep-seated knowledge that we walk with God, moment by moment, day by day.

A beautiful day, indeed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chickens...so many chickens!

We're in the process of killing our chickens and getting them into the freezer. They are all a good size now, ranging from 7 to 10 lbs. The hens are quite a bit smaller than the roosters, and I think we'll not bother with hens next year.

Daniel and Tiana catch a chicken, then Christopher ties a baler twine around it's neck. Jared holds the chicken on the chopping block while Critter keeps tension on the line. Daniel does the dirty deed, then Critter puts the head into the bin while Jared gags and says, "I'm not doing this anymore." (But he does.)

Daniel ties the chicken carcass up by the legs and after it has hung for a bit, Linda, Elena and I start skinning. First, we cut off the wing tip, which is practically useless anyway. We cut into the skin by the leg, then cut around the entire chicken. It doesn't take much pulling to get the skin loose, so we do that, pulling the skin down to the neck area, then yanking hard to get it off the wings. There's a bit of cutting involved, trimming the membranes to loosen the skin. We pull out all of the offal from the neck end, then cut the bird's legs off at the knees.

We carry the bird to our table and continue loosening the skin around both legs. Flipping it over reveals the back, and it's one fluid motion to pull the skin down the back, over the tail and off. Now the bird is naked and needs to be gutted.

We cut in at the front, below the bone, and enlarge the opening enough to get a hand in there. The guts are pulled out, with care not to disturb the green thing full of bile. We keep the liver for the dogs, and fish for the heart, which the dogs will get, too. The lungs have to be coaxed off the side of the bird's chest wall, and the stomach has to be yanked hard to get it out. A quick check, then off the bird is carried to have a bath.

Cold running water is enough to cool the bird completely, and it's insides are washed well before it is put in the bag for the freezer. Christopher is the water boy, and turns the tap on and off when it's needed.

We now have 36 birds in our freezer, minus the four we have eaten. So, there are about 60 left to do. Sigh.

It's a lot of work, but the meat is great, and it's nice to have it all in the freezer, ready to go. But I will be SO VERY GLAD when it's all done.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tired of Cyberspace

This is a classic cartoon That was circulating a couple of months ago. Something is WRONG on the internet. All kinds of time is wasted sharing opinions and trying to "fix" the world. I have fallen prey to that kind of thing.

When I first discovered chat groups and Yahoo groups, they were an encouragement to me. Being a mom of 12 is hard work, and it was nice to know that I am not alone.

However, it didn't take long for me to discover that there are people, lots of people, out there who don't agree with me. They don't like the fact that we have 12 children. They don't like our homeschooling. They don't like our wine-drinking. They don't like the fact that we have lots of dogs. Whatever.

I am never going to agree with any one person on this planet in every opinion he or she holds. There will always be disagreement. But I don't have to waste my time adding to the constant barrage of argument.

I think I will stick to sewing. And chicken plucking.

But no more visiting controversial websites for me. I haven't the time, or the inclination.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Be not deceived, God is not shocked.

I often find myself weighed down by the mess I make of my life. I am a perfectionist at heart, and I never measure up to my own standards.

Thankfully, I am on a journey of comprehending how deep and vast the love of my Saviour is.

Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

It will take a lifetime, I'm sure, to really GET how much God loves me. I won't really understand it all until I wake up in glory.

Until then, articles like this one are an encouragement to me.

I know, I know...

I haven't been posting pictures. My bad. I'll try to get to some tomorrow, in the middle of my chicken-gutting and my laundry-doing and my Critter-teaching. The girls are back at piano lessons tomorrow, so we're really getting back into a routine. I love it!

Daniel actually was wishing for cold weather today. The son of mine who hates the cold the most was wishing for winter. He wants rid of the flies.

My hand is still hurting. The ND told me that perhaps it is a compression fracture, which doesn't show up on an x-ray, but hurts quite a bit. I'll say.

So, I am going to follow her suggestion to apply castor oil and traumeel, then wrap it up and leave it that way while I sleep. She thinks the heat generated by the castor oil coupled with the healing properties of traumeel will help the healing process.

I hope so, because even typing this long exacerbates the problem. So, here's hoping...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hospital Happenings

On Sunday I was scheduled for an MRI to determine whether or not there is any permanent damage in my neck as a result of the accident (car crash)that occurred on February 8, 2007.

It was a bit disconcerting to get the notice in the mail that asked me "Have you EVER had any metallic object in your eye?" and "Are you claustrophobic?". Maybe and Yes. So, I phoned the nurse and had a chat. Upon reflection I didn't think any of the many objects in my eyes over a lifetime were metal, but for sure, I was still claustrophobic.

"Bring a cd of music you like" was the only suggestion. Oh, and I could go to the doctor to get medication.

I brought my eldest daughter instead. Rather, she brought me. She drove, and we laughed and chatted the entire way. I thought I would go and buy a "Selah" cd, so Adeena took me to Wal-Mart, where all we found was Burton Cummings and Brad Paisley. "That would do," I thought to myself. "I'll be fine."

We arrived in the MRI waiting room, and I hadn't finished reading about all the latest Hollywood babies when the technician came in. "Janet?" she asked hopefully.

"Yes, that's me," I replied.

"You can go in here and change into these gowns (two of them, for modesty's sake: one worn forward, and one backward) but just wait here until I come for you.

I changed, then disobeyed instructions while I sneaked around the corner to give my clothes to Adeena for safe-keeping. I dutifully went back to the tiny changeroom, but deliberately left the door open. I wasn't going to be claustrophobic before I had to be.

A little old lady tottered along, then smiled at me and asked me if I was scared at all. I smiled a reply, and she said, "Because you don't have to be scared. I wasn't scared at all. It was fine."

Then she added, "Are you here for a CT scan?"

"No," I smiled weakly. "An MRI."

"OH!" she exclaimed, and the tech lady showed up to take me to my doom right then.

She asked if I had brought music, and I grabbed the first one on the small pile: Burton Cummings' greatest hits, or some such thing. I didn't care.

She took the cd, stuck it into a cd player, then escorted me to the dreaded MRI machine. She explained that the machine would be very noisy, and handed me a set of headphones. "Do you want it louder?


"Do you want me to put a facecloth over your face? Some people find it helpful."

I was noncommittal. She got me to lie down on the trolley. She took my glasses, and got a foam slab to put under my knees. She gave me a button to push if I couldn't take it anymore. Just before I went inside the machine, she popped a facecloth over my face.

The problem was, she didn't completely cover my face. I could still peek out at the bottom.

She rolled me in, and when I felt my elbows touch the side of the machine, pushing my arms into my sides, I began to panic. My heart was racing.

"The important thing is that you must not move!"

I opened my eyes and discovered I could see. Not good. The top of the coffin was inches from my nose. My elbows were constricted against my chest walls. My knee suddenly seized up, but I wasn't allowed to move.

Then Burton began wailing, "I'm scared, Lordy, Lordy, I'm terrified..."

I knew what he meant.

It was loud inside that machine. I didn't dare move, even though my knee complained bitterly to me the entire time. "Just breathe," I told myself. "You can do this."

I figured it would take about five Burton Cummings songs. I didn't really hear them once he stopped declaring how scared he was, but I had the presence of mind to count the songs. Four more...three more, two more, one more. Consternation: Another song? Oh, no...will it never end?

It was sorely tempting to push the button. I kept on hanging on, just a few more seconds...then the blessed, lovely technician lady rescued me.

She got me to sit up, and I wobbled.

"Are you alright?" she asked.

"I'll be fine," I said, cryptically. I was fighting the tears.

"You look a little pale. Just sit there until you feel better."

I didn't want to sit there. I wanted OUT of the room. So I stood up, testing my legs. A few tentative steps took me as far as the wall, where I hung on and put my feet gingerly into my shoes.

I made my way to the outer office, then stood there, leaning on the wall for support. "Was the tech ever going to come back and give me my cd?" I wondered.

She finally did, and I headed out to the waiting room. Adeena talked to me briefly and I just nodded my head in answer to her query. I didn't trust myself to speak... I was fighting the tears, and needed to compose myself.

Not too many minutes later, we were on our way out of the hospital. My heart felt lighter with every step I took away from the dreaded machine. I declared to Adeena that I did NOT like MRIs. In fact, I think if a doctor were to insist on another scan I would actually refuse.

I honestly didn't think it would bother me much to be in a little noisy tube for 15 minutes. The amount of panic I felt surprised me. I was vulnerable and helpless, at the mercy of the technician while I lay there. That's never a nice feeling.

Of course, I knew the Lord was with me, even in the MRI machine. He never fails.

But I am still not. ever. going. back. Not if I can help it.

Jared's hospital visit yesterday was much simpler. He has a couple of plates in his right leg, put there five years ago to repair his shattered ankle. The doc says they ought to be removed. They'll call when the surgery is scheduled.

Jared's not impressed that it took a YEAR to get an appointment, and it will take another 9 months, likely, to get the surgery.

But at least he isn't dreading it, like his chicken mommy. He told the doctor that he'd like the surgery videotaped, so he could watch it later!

What a guy! That's my boy!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

We're baaaaaaack!!

Camping at Creekside was a blast! For the most part, we had good weather, good food, good fun. We enjoyed paddling in the creek, cooking outdoors, and watching three beautiful babies just being beautiful.

Kaleb went from saying "Hi, Yanny!" to "Hi, Ganny!" Pretty soon it will be Granny, I'm sure.

The best part was the fireside chats the adults enjoyed, far into the night. We gazed at the stars, marvelling at the beauty of the Milky Way and the constellations. We talked about God, about family, about plans and goals and dreams. It was all good.

And I am too tired to write more. I'll post pictures soon.