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March 31, 2008

FARWELL (By Jennifer)

Well the fateful day has come and gone.

The day that we had to say goodbye to our winter companion, the skating rink.

It has served us well all winter, every day and sometimes even twice a day.
Usually we are very glad when winter is over, but this year I think everyone was a little disappointed. When our rink started to melt, we all begged it to stay, but the warm weather prevailed and now our trusty friend is gone.

It did indeed make the winter months shorter as it took up a couple of hours of every afternoon (and it was a lot cheaper than going to Disney World!). From 0 C to -35C, stormy or calm, we skated our hearts out (and often our energy). We were many times grateful for the warming shack that Dad converted from an old granary. It even has a wood stove to warm up our toesies. The plywood sheets around the edges were a great improvement, for we had something to deflect the ball and sometimes the bodies:)

Our dog Jamie brushed up her "retriever" skills. When many a ball would go flying over the end, we would call her to the job. We would show her the general direction the ball was in, she would dive nose first and usually come up with the ball in her mouth. Occasionally (ok, quite often) we would have to coax her to give it back to us and then we were playing again.

Hockey was our favorite thing to do this year and the whole family got involved. Our positions you ask? Well Dad is great at everything, Mom is terrific at offence, Josh is also quite good at it all, but is best at offence, Jen learned to be a great goal tender and/or defence (in mom's words), Megan played mostly defence but also goal tender, Kerri was the “cherry picker” and had reflexes that nobody could match, Caleb was an excellent goal tender, Zachary was a tripper :) , Jesse (when he played) was goal tender, Nathan was mostly a playmate to Brooke and last but not least Mikaya was always kind enough to have a nap while we hit the ice.

We have many good memories, but also as ice is hard we had a few accidents. Can you guess who had the most? DAD! He scraped up his elbows, bruised up his knees, hurt his tail bone and after a few bumps he finally resolved to get elbow and knee pads. But that didn’t stop the cut in his lip, and the black eye! Of course the rest of us also got a bunch of bumps and bruises, but we are all still alive so all is well that ends well. We had lots of fun and there were even some character building moments:)

The good times that we have are too many to name and will forever be written in our Pauls’ family memories.

So now all of the sticks, skates, hockey tape, nets, elbow and knee pads and band-aids will be put away…. ‘til next year.

Farewell to you, old faithful skating rink!

March 26, 2008

To Love Their Children (Chapter 17)

I remember going through the struggle a few years back of thinking I was not getting enough ‘spiritual me-time’ and I lamented the fact that I could not go to ladies Bible Studies or spend hours at a time reading God’s Word. A friend told me of a lady who would pull her apron over her head when she felt she needed to spend some ‘quiet’ time with God. I came to the point that I realized that as my children were little I didn’t need to have a time set aside during the day to ‘worship God’ I could do it throughout the day, all day long. Singing, memorizing or meditating on a scripture verse, reading a few verses from the Bible. And in mourning over the fact that I could not have regular devotions, I was in a way mourning the fact that I had children that would keep me up all night, or interrupt me during the day. And then I realized that my biggest act of worship is in my daily living. I can have devotions all day long, but if I am not acting out what I study it is all worthless. So if I lock myself in a room and have some ‘spiritual quiet time’ while my kids are running wild and needing discipline, I don’t believe this is worship to God. Worship is obeying His Word in being the best wife and mother that I can be. And this may mean for a time I will not be able to have regular sit down devotion time. But I can spend time with God throughout the day as praying, meditating and worshipping Him. This is a season that God has given me and I intend to worship Him through it, whatever way I can. Mothers have an amazing opportunity daily to be the primary trainers of their children. We are with them day after day, hour after hour and who better knows them than we do? God didn’t give this job to grandparents, friends or babysitters, but he gave it to us, as parents. And most often this job falls in the moms lap because dad is at work all day. What better way to be a help meet to our husbands than to train our little ones to be obedient and live according to God’s standard. I have heard many a wife who will push off the training issues until dad gets home from work and then hand the kids over to him (all frazzled I might add) for their daily discipline issues. Issues that could have been dealt with during the day, but mom was just too preoccupied or plain lazy to deal with them. In my opinion it should be a very rare moment that dad has to deal with an ‘issue’ when he comes home from work. Especially with little ones (by this I mean pre-school age). If things are properly dealt with during the day by mom, dad should be able to come home, enjoy his ‘well trained’ children and relax. It will take a lot of putting aside our own thing to discipline, but it will be well worth it in the end. Little issues become bigger issues and by the end of the day they can be a volcano just waiting to erupt. Training our children as Debi puts it is ‘a full time occupation’. This brings me to the next subject, a subject that is tip-toed around very lightly in this day and age. So if I offend some of you I am sorry, but I will not water down what I believe in order not to offend. This subject is the assumption that we can leave our children with other people (daycare, caregiver, friends, even grandparents) day after day and assume that we are fulfilling our role as a mother. NOT. Who knows your child’s issues better than you do, and who can train them in love better than you do? Sending your children somewhere else while you go and ‘work’ outside the home, I believe, is really not the way God designed the family to be. God designed a mother to nurture, nourish, love, protect and train our children 24/7. Yes there may be the few instances where we leave them behind to let someone else to take care of them, but this should be the exception rather than the norm. God is quite clear in Titus 2:5 that women are to love their children and to be keeper’s at home. Why do we think that we can do things contrary to God’s Word and yet function as a family that will bring honor and glory to Him? God’s design is the best design and we should think very carefully before we decide that we know better. We only have one chance at rasing our children and how sad it would be if years down the road we look back and realize we should have done things differently. And I don’t want anyone to say to me, “Why were you not brave enough to tell me your convictions.” So there you have it.

March 5, 2008

Chapter 15 (Part 2)

I loved the story of the lady who’s husband came home on a hot day and said he would have rathered a cold meal than the hot one she had just sweated over to make. She said she was hurt and sad, but her most compelling thought was to figure out how to prepare cold meals for her husband. Oh to be there! Instead of getting angry when my husband wants something done differently, to figure out to do it the way he wants it. This is another thing we tell our children often. If you really have your parents heart desires as your heart desires then you will look for ways to do what they ask efficiently and thoroughly. This reminds me of when I first started helping Mark with our cows. There are many times you need to chase those blessed creatures, and many times they don’t go exactly where you want them to go. It was a real character building time in our marriage every time we would chase cows. I didn’t get the ‘cow chasing gene’. I always seemed to move the wrong way, or chicken out at the last moment and let them by. This frustrated Mark to no end. It got to the point where I dreaded chasing cows because of the tension it brought between us. That is until I started to learn to ignore the way I thought cows should be chased, put aside my fears, and listen to how Mark wanted things done. Mark is an ‘all or nothing type of guy’, and when he puts his heart into doing something it’s all. That includes chasing cows. So I had to learn this way. I remember one of the first times I determined to give it my all. We were chasing in muck (the manure kind) over our ankles and when I ran forward my boots stayed behind. So I was running around in bare feet with ‘muck’ oozing up between my toes. But my heart was in it, and at that point I was more set on pleasing my husband than having clean feet. And you know what, there was no tension, and was my hubby ever proud of me! Another thing that I have been working on over the years is serving my husband after he puts in a long day. I have heard many women say that when their husbands get home from work they hand over the kids and demand to have ‘their time’. I don’t think this is fair to their husband and it shows an attitude of me-ism. If they were thinking about him, they would realize that maybe he had a hard day as well and serve him instead of demand things of him. For my husband, farming (as many jobs) can have their very high stress moments. I have learned that there are times not to bring up problems that I am having around the house (and it’s usually in the busiest season that things go wrong!). Sometimes it is a few days before he can address my problems, because he usually has way more problems than I do which hinge on our making a living. It may mean that my life will be a little more complicated but that is okay. And as I have honored him more and more in this area I have seen in his heart a desire to take care of my problems the first possible moment. I don’t think the results would be the same if I conceded to nagging about it. Instead when he comes home I try to have a snack ready and take the time to sit there and talk with him about his day. “Try to make your home a place of peace and order, where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.” This is one of the reasons why I think woman should not work outside the home. Being a wife is your career. How can you be 100% commited to serving your husband when most of your energies are spent on your job. Not that being at home with your children doesn’t take energy, but at least you have opportunities throughout the day to do things that will honor your husband and you are constantly being reminded of your #1 sweetie. If my husband can come home to a good meal, a tidy house, well mannered kids, and a wife who desires to serve him, our home will be an oasis for him, a place where he can recharge. In her letter Freida made a comment that I thought was great. “I intended my marriage to be my career for the rest of my life and I intended to be successful at it.” This is my career. This is where my heart should be. Why would I want to work anywhere else? Why would I want to be successful anywhere else? The other day at church a couple of ladies were talking about working wives/moms. One lady made a comment that caught my attention. She said her sister works in a hospital and that it is actually a break to go to work and get away from her kids. And I think that is often the case. Sometimes working outside the home can seem more glorious. People applaud your efforts. They appreciate what you do. In a home full of little ones, that is not always the case. Sometimes you can go a whole day working like crazy and not hear one thank you (without prompting). So once again it comes down to “What are woman called to do.” Titus 2: 5 pretty much says it, ‘keepers at home’. Will this always be a glamorous job? No, but I believe it can be a fulfilling job if your heart is in the right place. The question that Debi raised that I have been asking myself, “Do I have eternity in my heart?” Are the daily decisions that I make concerning my husband to benefit me for the here and now or do they reflect my willingness to be a servant and think of how today will affect me for eternity. Do I seek to honor God and obey His word in the daily moment by moment choices I make. Take time to read Titus 2:3-5.

March 4, 2008

Chapter 15

First I’ll address the practical side of this chapter. In talking about running a smooth household, Debi says that planning is a must. Planning ahead has never been a problem for me. I am a plan aheader. So much that I have to be careful not to get upset when my plan doesn’t work out. But one thing that I know I need to work on is meal time timing. Not that I don’t have meals planned and ready on time. We have a 6 week menu plan that helps us to be well prepared for meal times. But my problem is the flexibility with meals. Being on the farm you have to sometimes have a meal ready 2 minutes ago J. So me and my big plans and perfect schedule don’t always work here. I need to work on my attitude when Mark wants lunch at 11:00 or 11:30 or supper at 4:00. I need to be prepared to be able to make a quick meal if need be. She also talks about using a crock pot. I haven’t used one much except when on Sunday’s when we were expecting company for lunch. Mostly because it is too small for us to cook most things in. I was wondering if anyone out there uses a crock pot and what you make in it. One of the thing I have learned in regards to food. ‘If your going to make it, you might as well make it big’. So if I make a meal, I will often double it (for us that sometimes means 6x a normal recipe) and throw the extra in the freezer for those times when I need a quick meal for one reason or another. It comes in handy when sickness hits, you want to bring a meal to someone, or things are just real busy. As I mentioned we have a 6 week meal plan. The plan is for breakfast & supper Monday-Friday. Lunch is always sandwiches. Wednesday is soup day. Leftovers are on Saturday and we have a list of meals to choose from on Sundays, depending on if we are having company ect. A meal plan helps us to get the meat defrosted, it helps us to eat a well balanced and healthy diet, and we know what groceries to buy for the week. We buy our groceries 50 minutes from home so we can’t just run uptown to get an ingredient. I strongly recommend making a meal plan. It has helped us out a lot. Having done all this I rarely have an excuse not to have a meal ready for my husband. If there is a time that I don’t have a meal ready, it is usually because I was more concerned about my own time than his or just got plain lazy. What about having a clean house? For me this has always been important. I feel I can function better when my house is clean and so can everyone else. I find if the dishes are not done and the floor is not swept, I have a harder time being motivated for the rest of my daily duties. ‘A place for everything.’ That’s what I have found is needed if I expect other people to help put keep things clean. If I have a specified place for things it helps everyone know where things belong. Our house is full of labeled shelves and rubbermaid/plastic containers. Sometimes housework can feel so unrewarding. It seems as soon as you clean it, it gets messed up again. Even though our house isn’t always perfectly clean, we do try to keep it tidy. Like I said, we feel more motivated and if we have unexpected company, it says to them, “We honor you enough to have a tidy house to greet you.” I have been in some homes where dishes are undone, the floor is dirty and it just feels dirty. Some of these places I don’t even want to let my baby crawl on the floor. I don’t want to be one of these homes that our company feels uncomfortable in. On the flip side, I used to be a clean freak. We hardly had company over because the house was rarely ‘clean enough’. Years of experience and ten children later has kind of cured me of this. I have realized it is not about a perfect home, I have many children and my house is going to reflect this. So I have had to find the balance between cleanliness and perfectionism. So I think that covers the practical side. Part 2 will be tomorrow.

March 3, 2008

Another Belated Birthday

Well once again I am very late at getting a birthday greeting out to our last birthday celebrator. Kerri had a birthday on February 11th. Every time I hear February 11 I have to smile because I can hear her little 2 yr. old voice when we would ask her when her birthday was. With a cute little grin and a baby voice she would say, Febuary Eleven. Because we have this on video and have listened to it and smiled at it over and over again, none of us will ever forget when Kerri’s birthday is. Good move Kerri!

We have now hit the milestone of 4 teenagers in our family. When our oldest four were younger I often thought about what these days would be like. I didn’t even dream at the time that when they were all teens we would have 6 other children in the picture. But I never dreaded these years; I always looked forward to them with anticipation.

We have never bought into the lie that it is normal for teenagers to rebel. Instead, we have trained and nurtured their relationship with God our relationship with them in hopes of having great years with them in their teens. And today I can say with confidence, ‘It is not normal for teens to rebel. It doesn’t have to be something to dread or fear.’ We have 4 of them, they are great, and we love the different level of relationship that we now share with them. And to those of you who have said, “You just wait until they are teens!” Here we are thank you for your concern, but YOU WERE WRONG!” And I say all this not to toot our own horn, because without the wisdom that comes from God, I know we would not be where we are today. It is only because of Him that we can enjoy these years and look forward to when our other children become teens. But I say this to those of you who are dreading these years. If you train their heart to love the Lord God and they desire to please Him, you will enjoy these years. They are a lot of fun! You don’t get any sleep, but they are a lot of fun!

Anyway, back to Kerri. When I think about Kerri and what she adds to our family I think of someone who doesn’t think of herself and is ready and willing to serve. When she was younger she often asked me if there was anything she could do to help me. Now that she is older she hardly has time to ask because I keep her quite busy :) But for the most part I know that if I need Kerri to do something, she will do it with a willing and cheerful heart. Another thing that I really appreciate about her is her heart to help her daddy. What 12 year old girl do you know that can drive a manure spreader as good as the rest of them? You will often find her beside her dad doing the ‘dirty’ jobs that come with the farm and she does it without a complaint on her lips. I could learn a thing or two from her!

It’s hard for me to believe that Kerri is just 13. She has been so responsible for so long that in my mind she is much more mature and older than what 13 is in our culture today. Because she was the youngest of our four stair steps, she kind of just went along with what they all did. So she got the privileges of her older siblings younger than they did, but with that she also had to pull the weight around the house as they did. By 11 she was taking her turn with the wash, baking bread, making meals and doing her fair share around the home. Sometimes I forgot how old she really was and had to give my head a shake to remind myself what she was capable of.

She has always had a soft spot in her heart for her little siblings. You can often find her playing games with them, making a treasure hunt for them, or just tickling and cuddling them. If there are little children around when we go somewhere, she will usually hunt them down and be found playing with them. She is also very giving and if she goes away for the day with dad and mom and her older sisters stay home to babysit, she will often get them a thank you gift.

She has always been very quick to make a wrong right. Ever since she was very little she would ask for forgiveness when she knew she was in the wrong. That is a very special trait that not many of us have and I believe is shows the humility that is in her heart.

She loves to play games and is often found with her sisters playing dutch blitz. Sometimes they humor me and I play too but…..let’s just say my reflexes are not what they used to be! She also likes to do word searches and play good ol’ fashioned solitaire when she can find no one who wants to play a game (quite rare around here!)

Some of her favorite things: Hot chocolate, goats, potatoe chips, cat collars (don’t ask), a good ol’ chicken meal with mashed potatoes, cream puffs, math (okay, maybe not her favorite thing!)

The verse that comes to my mind when I think of Kerri is from Philippians 2:3 "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself."

Kerri, we hope this will be a year that you will look back and say that you learned to love God more and grew closer to Him.