Monday, June 30, 2008

The Latest Happenings

This morning Luke found a chicken hiding out in the woods. She is too traumatized to come back to the hen house just yet. Twenty -five new chicks should be shipped here next week.

We had our house pressure washed and painted. We also stained our deck a darker color to match the house better. It looks great and maybe when we get the deck furniture finished and put back on and the lattice stained, I'll post a picture.

Candace started a new blog where she is sharing her poems. I hope "train up a child in the way he should go" will mean she will keep writing poetry.

Kezzi is gone to Missouri for a month to spend some time with our friends and to work at a camp for children of prisoners. We miss her but we are glad she is having a good time and doing something worthwhile.

I was the "wedding director" for a wedding that took place this weekend. Basically, that just means I was the one who was in charge of bossing everyone and telling them when to go where. I think I was more nervous than the bride and groom! It went beautifully and it was a lot of fun too!

Grandma and Grandpa are home from their three week trip and we are so glad to have them home.

I'm going to savor July because besides Kezzi being gone, everything else looks like it will be wonderfully normal. My July calendar is nearly empty so far and that's a pretty sight! I do have a big Fourth of July bash at Shadybrook Acres on there and Candace scheduled for two visits. And somewhere in there I'm having the MOPS group out to show them how to can green beans and maybe tomatoes too. But so far these are all fun things that have no dread associated with them. I hope this month ticks by in a glorious slow way!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I Hate Stray Dogs!

Especially when they senselessly kill all thirty-one of my chickens within a manner of an hour or so.

Two small dogs showed up on the other side of our hill yesterday evening. We shooed them away and thought that was the end of it. It never occurred to me to think of the chickens.

Last night we made a bonfire on the hill. Ford, Annalise, Luke and I decided to try sleeping out under the stars by the fire. At about three o'clock when my little dog was out barking and keeping me awake, I stumbled back down to the house and put her in. As I settled back down up on the hill, Ford was tossing and turning and complaining about getting bit by ants. Then I heard the roosters start crowing and I knew we would not be able to sleep. So we decided to head back to the house. We woke Annalise up and took her in with us and left Luke sleeping. That was 3am. All was well.

At 7:00 Luke knocks on our bedroom door. He comes in wide-eyed to tell us that those stray dogs woke him up licking him in the face. He headed to the house and saw nine chickens dead in the field. He was clearly upset. We got up to apprehend the dogs while they were still there. Luke headed out with a garbage bag to collect the dead bodies and found even more dead in the hen house. In fact, every single chicken was dead.

The dogs had been on a major killing spree. I could understand one or two eaten chickens. But thirty-one just killed and left there?

It must have happened after sunrise because the nine chickens would not have run out into the field in the dark. I don't understand how Luke did not hear the ruckus since he was sleeping so close by.

I am so mad and I just feel sick about it. We were so excited to have raised some of the chicks ourselves. A few days ago, one hatched and we put it inside in the chick box. It's all we have left now. The yard is so quiet. Devoid of (poultry) life. It's way too quiet.

Now I am going to have to order new chicks. And we need a new habit of locking them in the hen house at night. We may be in the market for a new Great Pyrenees pup. And this time we are going to train him to protect the chickens. Pal is getting old. He normally would never have allowed stray dogs to be on our property.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Wonderful Vacation...Part 3

One day we came in and visited the Audubon Swamp Garden even though it was a sweltering 100 degree day.

On our last day we checked out of the resort and headed back to Charleston. We took a tour across the Charleston Harbor and out to Fort Sumter.
Here is a picture of what remains of the fort. It was not nearly as impressive as the pictures of it back during the Civil War. It was still interesting to see the place but I didn't take a lot of great pictures, because once again it was a hot, hot day.

Dad Saves the Day

As I was really struggling yesterday, things were happening. Priscilla's college sent her a CD of a musical group from school. Then she checked her email after coming home from work and found an email with her roommate-to-be's contact information. I was secretly (ok, maybe not so secretly) hoping these would be tugging her that direction. And then when she started facing the procedures to try for the other school, she was quickly getting overwhelmed. I must admit I was cheering inside but trying to guard that spark of hope at the same time. I know, I'm a bad mama. But in my defense, I did try to help her by starting to fill out the application while she was at work. But I got stuck with requests for information that I did not know. Honestly. [grin]

She flopped on my bed in agony over the college decision and she was wishing someone would tell her what to do (someone besides me because she says I'm hopelessly biased!). Her daddy came to the rescue. After spending a few days considering the matter, he gave his input and expressed his desire for her to stay close to home. She agreed. So, now we are moving forward as previously planned.

Funny thing is that now I had to face her going far away, the move to the college campus close by doesn't seem so bad. I think I can...I think I can...

In the meantime, I'm trying to savor every moment. Tonight I took three of the girls up to the mountain lake for a relaxing evening swim and Sonic shakes on the way home. I had an unexpected treat of getting a call on my cell phone while sitting on the beach from Candace. I think I'll make it.

I never took childbirth classes but I'm thinking I could use those breathing techniques through these changes that I'm going through now more than I needed it then.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

This May Be Harder Than I Thought

I've mentioned quite a few times about the changing dynamics of my family with children growing up. I've always known that I can't hold them too tightly and that God may have plans for them that take them away. I thought I was ready for that. But I've been crying all morning just anticipating a probable change this fall.
Priscilla had everything all in line to go to a college that is only about an hour and twenty minutes away. It hasn't been easy finding a local Christian college with an art major. She wanted to be able to live at home and attend classes somewhere where she would be encouraged in a Christian worldview with her art. Even though she would have to live on campus with the college she chose, she and I both took comfort in the thought of weekends at home and the mid-week possibility of going down there for a lunch date. I have been thinking that it is a smaller step that I could probably handle, not real easily, but handle nonetheless.
When the girls were preparing to go on an out-of-town trip for a week and a half recently to the Worldview Academy Leadership Camp, I was reading Annalise her bedtime reading because Priscilla, who frequently reads to her, was busy packing. She looked at me with sad eyes and asked me how long the girls were going to be gone. I told her we were going to have to get used to it because next year she would not be living here. Then Annalise began to cry and so did I. We just held each other and cried.
Now at this late time, when I thought all of the plans were set, Pris is considering a college in Missouri where she would not have to live on campus, but could live with some dear friends of ours. If she goes there she will be attending the same school as her best friend, in fact, living with her and her family, who have been like a second family to Priscilla. She feels that it is difficult to find good friends like them and being able to rely on them for encouragement and stability on a daily basis would be very helpful.
She has met one of the art professors who works at the college in Missouri because he is the father of some kids she knows, and she has been very impressed with his work. Not just the technique of his work, but the messages they contain. Priscilla is not so sure the college she had planned to attend with give her the inspiration and direction she desires.
So, she is applying for this college in Missouri, eleven hours away, to see what might be available. And we will see what happens over the next few weeks. All of us want God's will for her above all, but that doesn't mean it won't be agonizingly hard to see her go.
We went through a difficult time with Priscilla when she was seventeen, a time she relates as a part of her testimony now, even on her college essays about her personal testimony. It was a time that brought suffering for both her, her father and I, and even others, but through it she began to know God for herself. It was also a time when our love for each other was tested. When it looked like all was lost, LOVE stood strong. The storms came, the floods raged, but the Rock that the house was built on was not washed away. I guess since we came so close to loosing our relationship with her, it seems all the sweeter now. It's something I have praised God for so many times. So, you see, not having her near will be difficult indeed.
The scary thing is that it's just the beginning. Our children all arrived one right after the other, and it's likely they will be gone one right after another. I didn't raise them to sit at home and be my pets. It's exciting to see the people they are becoming and the things they are choosing to do (and not do). Nothing is sweeter than to see each of them enter into their own relationship with the Lord. I'm very proud of them. I look forward to the future, and dread it at the same time. I know it's a time in my life to receive the bittersweet changes. And even though I know many tears will be added to my bottle, I know just where to find the strength to face it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Wonderful Vacation...Part 2

Bike riding took up a huge portion of our time. We rented bikes the first day and also a little bike trailer to haul towels, goggles, book bags and groceries. The scenery was beautiful and so different from our region of the country, with swamps, marshes and palmetto trees everywhere. One day we rode to the state park and rode all through the marshes and jungle-like woods on the bike trails there.
Luke was always racing ahead of us to look for wildlife. You can see him here under the bridge looking for crabs. Thankfully, he didn't run into any alligators.
The woods were beautiful with a tropical feel.
And miles of marshes everywhere with water fowl.
Luke had a contest with a king snake that didn't want to be caught.
But after wrangling with it for several minutes, Luke won, but only after the snake emitted some stinky stuff on his shirt, which he used to throw over the snakes head before he caught it.

A Wonderful Vacation...Part 1

We had a great time on our vacation last week, even though it was a bit of an adjustment going from seven kids last year at the beach, to only four this time. Of course, Candace is married now but Pris and Kezzi were out of town at a Worldview Academy Camp in Missouri. I missed the girls terribly. However, it was quieter (which is good and bad) and much cheaper to eat out, rent bikes, and buy my favorite tuna steaks for the grill!
This was our first time vacationing in Edisto Beach, which to my delight, is just a hop, skip and a jump from Charleston. Charleston is my favorite city that I have visited. It's like the Boston of the South because it's so rich in history.
Here is our much reduced family at Rainbow Row.

And then we made our way to The Battery park.
We love the live oaks and the views of Charleston harbor and Fort Sumter - the place where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.
Then there are always adventures on the beach. Thanks to Luke, we always enjoy close up views of the local wildlife.

Riding waves is always the favorite pastime and by the end of the week I was even braving it. While I enjoy the beach, I don't like the ocean where things are swimming all around me waiting to bite me or sting me. But the waves just looked too fun, so I had to try. I did get a very small jellyfish sting, wouldn't you know. Twice we saw fishermen reel in these small sharks. And why do we want to swim here again?
We also saw many horseshoe crabs while walking on the beach at high tide but I didn't have the camera. Yuk! I don't mind snakes or spiders but crunchy shelled beetle like animals give me the willies. And horseshoe crabs look like giant insects. Eeeww.

I read this book last week and have been ruminating on it quite a bit.
The author Mr. Holzmann, also author of the Sonlight curriculum, makes a case for Christian singles to treat each other as brothers and sisters with their purpose being to bless one another to the glory of God. He encourages us to aim higher than drawing a line in the sand regarding physical relationships and rather to think biblically about the purpose of the relationships in the first place. After listing several things that, of course, should be avoided, he says:
"But God wants you to judge your relationships by higher standards than these. He's not merely interested in what things you'll avoid, but in what things you'll do: how well you'll bless your brothers and sisters; how well you'll lead them to faith and obedience; how upright your speech will be; how loving your actions."
The text is loaded with scriptural references, which I LOVE!
Mr. Holzmann argues that Christians men and women should be able to get to know each other in a sibling type of relationship that can easily lead to marriage, saving all forms of boyfriend/girlfriend types of things until after the engagement.
The family at The Common Room has experienced just such an arrangement that has led to the recent engagement of one of their daughters. We've also posted on this blog about our friend Rachel who had the same experience. So we have seen first hand that this model can work.
Of course, this type of relationship can only be entered into with others who have the same understanding. Mr Holzmann had to enlighten his wife-to-be, at one point, to the fact that he was not interested in being her boyfriend, but wanted a sister/brother relationship. He strongly emphasizes the necessity of being mature enough and ready to explain and stand strong in your own convictions.
We've been guarded over our daughters' relationships with young men. Not guarded enough in some cases when the girls were too young, but maybe too guarded after they had become adults. Upon entering into a relationship with two exceptional men at church, I can see more easily how this model can work. Quite a while back, our two oldest ended up on a boat with these two young men and I couldn't have been more ok with it. I knew they had a reputation of being men of integrity. My time spent with them had confirmed that fact. I knew these men were ones who understood their role in relationship to my girls.
One thing I really liked about this book is that it put the responsibility directly on the young person, unlike some other courtship type of books that are hyper-dependent on the fathers. He says if you don't have the internal strength to stand on your own convictions, you are not ready to be spending time alone with anyone. This has caused me to think differently about how I feel about one-on-one time between my girls and other young men. However, he does also make points about not doing anything that might cause you to stumble and discourages extremely private places. He also addresses not giving the appearance of evil and having exclusive "ownership" type of relationships. Overall, I thought it was a good balance. He also points out the wisdom in getting to know someone first in a crowd type of situation in order to learn if they are someone with whom you want to spend more time and to ascertain if they are a trustworthy person. He suggests this approach for both male and female friends.
This book is an excellent place to start if you want to explore the way your children might enter into relationships with the opposite sex. Even if your children are very young, I encourage you to start thinking about these issues now.