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December 15, 2012

Beauty of Winter

Here's what we woke up to this morning! 
Even though I don't really like the cold of winter, the beauty of it often takes my breath away! 
Really pictures cannot do the scenery justice, 
but I will try anyway :)
Oh and this post was just for you Meg!!!

The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
Psalm 24:1

November 14, 2012

Life Updates

Wow!!! It's been awhile since we have given an update of what's going on around here!!!

So, here it goes :)

Well as you have probably guessed, harvest is wrapped up...and all the field work is done too :) Just in time because the day after we finished our field work it got wet and hasn't dried properly since then!!

I wrote a post here about the challenging times we had over the summer. God taught us a lot through this as we were reminded once again that our hope is in the Lord. Without Him we can do nothing. He owns all of us and all that we have is His. Most of the crops ended up surprisingly good after what they had been through. Some of the crops did very poorly. But the grain prices have been very good and so taking this into consideration it looks like we may end up with a close to average year. We are so thankful to a God who supplies our every need!

News?  Josh and Rebecca are expecting baby #3 in April. We are all very excited :) So as we speak the men are working on an addition to their home. At the present they have only two bedrooms...one being very tiny....so they decided to add two more bedrooms. So that has been the project for the last couple of weeks. It was a rush to get the frame up and it closed in and get it shingled before the cold weather hit! But we got it too that point and now even though it's COLD...the work can be done undercover!

The produce from the garden is all canned, frozen and brought in....and a lot of it has been eaten :) Everything did pretty well this year. Cucumbers did the best and carrots did the worst. It's amazing to me how every year is different. I am so thankful for the few short months we have to eat fresh fruit and vegetables and I already can hardly wait for next years fresh produce. I say this after I just cut up a store bought cucumber for a salad....just NOT the same...nope...not even close!!!

We started back to the bookwork part of our homeschooling back in September. So far so good. It took us a little while to get a good schedule going, but I think we have it figured. That is until something changes....and it always does. But for now I will enjoy our routine!!! This year we have 6 students. Jen teaches Caleb and Zach and I have the rest. The beauty of homeschooling is the flexibility. The flexibility of motivated kids who wake up at 6:00 to start school and are done 3/4 of it by 8:00. The flexibility of taking a day off for a birthday. The flexibility of taking a day trip when others have to be in school. The flexibility of snuggling and reading a book together. The flexibility of putting everything aside and learning about something that has peaked our interest. The flexibility of going for a picnic and nature walk (see here and here), the flexibility of making a cookie map, the flexibility of making a ziggurat in the snow. The flexibility of helping put an addition on a house....and the list goes on :) But you get the point!

We started another parenting class last week. We are again very excited about the group we have this year. They all have younger children and out of the 5 couples, 3 of them are expecting!!! Also a first for us, Josh and Rebecca are in our class this year. What a privilege to be able to pass this on to the next generation. Hopefully someday they will be able to lead a class too :)

Oh ya, and as of Saturday....IT'S WINTER!!!! What a change from last year when we were wondering if we would have any substantial amount of snow for Christmas! It feels like January as we now have over a foot of snow! The kids love it. They are playing a lot more outside now. There is always that awkward time in late fall when it's too cold to play on the trampoline, play sports, or have water fights :) but yet there is no snow. So they alway like it when the snow comes and are anxiously awaiting for the skating rink to get started.

And I realize I haven't given an update on this little man for awhile! Elijah is 8 months old now. One word sums him all up....ENERGETIC! Ever since he was just little he can't keep still.When he was in his car seat he would move his feet like he was running...fast! It was hilarious! Now he is pulling himself all around the house...on his belly. He can get into crawling position and is often found in the "push up" position, and can pull himself up on thing right from his tummy (he is going to have a very "in-shape" upper body :) He can sign 'please', and 'all done' and can make many "noises" on command. Right now his daddy is trying to teach him that when he tickles his feet he should say "Ha, ha, ha!" in a very manly voice.  He's getting it :) He also likes to clap and play pat-a-cake and any time someone plays the piano he tries his best to get as close as he can.

AND....all day he is smothered with hugs and kisses....just cause he's so cute :)

I think that about wraps it up. Did I miss anything???

October 24, 2012

24 Years

Last month Mark and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. I meant to do a post back then but we were too busy celebrating.....or something :)

24 years is a wonderful long time to be married. I can truly say that I love my husband more today than I did the day that we married. How could I not.....with the wonderful man that he is!!!

Since we have learned a thing or two over the years I thought I would share 24 marriage tips that we have learned along the way.

1. God has given a perfect order in which He wants the family to be in. Husbands as the head, wives in submission to the husband. If you follow this plan....God's perfect plan....you will have a God honoring marriage. I could write a whole post on this subject :)

2.  Always make time for each other. Spending time alone together as a coupleis easy to put on the back burner.....especially with the busy life of a family. But we have found that it is so important to spend some quality time together as a couple. A scheduled date is a great place to start. Now a date doesn't mean that you have to actually leave the house....it could be after the kids are in bed....eating a special something together...spending some time talking......share your dreams...... whisper sweet nothings......doesn't have to cost a dime :) But the investment that you are putting into your marriage is invaluable! So many couples make the mistake of pouring their whole lives into their children in their growing up years and then one day their children leave the home and they wake up next to each other as complete strangers! It's not enough just to live in the same house! You have to nurture and grow in your relationship together. The best gift that you can give to your children is a strong husband/wife relationship!!!

3. Spend time doing outside activities together as a couple. Too many times the husband goes to his meetings, coffee times, fun times and studies....the wife goes to her meetings, coffee times, fun times and studies...but they don't do much together. He goes one way....she goes another....and they don't share experiences together. Don't covet your "me" individual time....work on your "together' time.

4. Learn each others love language and show your spouse love this way. Gary Chapman's book "The Five Love Languages" is a great book to read to learn about your spouses love language.

5. Serve each other. Society is so full of me-ism....and servanthood is frowned upon. So many couples will do anything for other people, but when it comes to their own spouse's they think that serving them is not necessary. NOT!!!

6. Don't EVER speak unkindly, badly or make fun of your spouse...in front of them to other people, or behind their back. There is no good reason to put your spouse down except to make yourself look better.

7. Be quick to say, "Will you forgive me". Don't let hard feelings fester and grow. Deal with them right away. The longer you wait to ask for forgiveness....the harder it is.

8. Be quick to forgive. Don't withhold forgiveness to teach your spouse a lesson.

9. The silent treatment is just plain nasty. Don't do it!!!!!!

10. Fulfill your husband or wife duties in the physical aspect. That's all I am going to say :)

11. Listen to each other....and respond. Even if you are not interested in something...your spouse may be. Give full attention to them when they are talking.

12. If you can't say anything nice....don't say anything at all!!!

13, Don't have his money and her money. Or his things and her things. You are one....your possessions should be too!

14. Love unconditionally.

15. Don't raise your voice at each other. If you keep calm, things will go much better.

16. Boast often about your spouse in front of other people.

17. Listen to the unspoken messages from your spouse.

18. Work on your own heart. So many times we want to fix our spouse, but really it's our own heart we need to work on. When you see a fault in your spouse...take the log out of your own eye before you try to take the speck out of your spouse's

19. Don't spend time alone together with people of the opposite sex...even if it's just in the name of friendship. Guard your heart carefully.

20. Pray for your spouse

21. Give expecting nothing in return

22. Laugh together often

23. Compliment your spouse


24. Don't ever take your spouse for granted! Life is short and you never know when your time with them will end. 

Of course this list is not exclusive or in any particular order...just stuff we have learned over the years!!!

 Here is part of a photo shoot Megan did  for us around our anniversary. 

October 9, 2012

Generation to Generation

This morning I was thinking about raising a Godly generation. I know and often reflect on the fact that the way we raise and train our children now will affect generations to come! If everyone of our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren follow the Lord, what a mighty army we will be for God!!!  So just for fun, I got out the white board and calculator and started our school day off with this practical math :) Here is what we came up with.

If all of our children have 3 children and their children have 3 children and so forth....

39 grandchildren
117 great grandchildren
351 great great grandchildren

If all of our children have 5 children and so forth.....

65 grandchildren
325 great grandchildren
1,625 great great grandchildren

If all of our children have 8 children  and so forth.....

104 grandchildren
832 great grandchildren
6,656 great, great grandchildren

And if all of our children had 13 children?????? and so forth?????

169 grandchildren
2197 great grandchildren
28,561 great great grandchildren!!!!!!!!!

And just for fun, let's take it one generation further.....
371,293 great, great, great grandchildren!!!!!

Wow.....those numbers blew me away! Now I know, I know....this is highly unlikely....but still fun to think about :) It was surprising how much the numbers climbed once we added just a few more children every time.

Anyway, the point is, every time you train, discipline, correct, encourage....don't think of it as just for the moment....think of it as affecting the generations to come!!! It's a great responsibility and a great privilege, a great honour. God has entrusted these children into our care, knowing the impact that it they will have on the generations to come. What a tremendous blessing!

Oh and by the way....does anybody out there know of a place where we can get name tags for at a good price???? I think we may need to stock up :)

October 1, 2012

The Fruit of the Land

Since our garden saw frost for a few mornings in a row now canning season is officially over!
It was a pretty good year garden wise. The only thing that didn't do well at all were the peppers. They were all plant and no peppers!!! So we had to buy our peppers this year to make our salsa and pasta sauce. The cucumbers were probably the best we have ever had, thanks to a very long season. We finally just stopped canning them and just ate LOTS!!! I am not sick of them though....don't think I could ever get sick of them :)

It's always kind of a happy sad thing when the garden is done. We look forward to not having to can every day....but will miss eating all the yummy fresh veggies and fruit. But we will appreciate it all the more again next summer when we once again taste the garden's yummy goodness.

I am so thankful that we are able to plant a garden. Even though its a HUGE work load...it's so worth it. It saves us a bundle on groceries, that's for sure. And it's so much more fun to eat the food that we have worked so hard to bring to the table.

More than for my sake than anything, here is a list of what we canned this year. We always wonder how much to can...especially on a year like this when there is more of something than we can keep up with. So next year we can just look back here :) I didn't count any of our freezer produce (corn, peas, raspberries, jam, gooseberries, saskatoons or strawberries) because we usually don't have even enough of this and we alway freeze all that we have :) We would have to have a much bigger garden space to put up enough of these things for our family for the year. So for now we are very thankful for what we have :)

Anyway, here is the list:

26 Quarts Whole Tomatoes (used mostly for soup)
54 Quarts Pickles (dill and sweet sliced)
35 Quarts Salsa
37 Quarts Pasta/Pizza Sauce
16 Quarts Apple Pie Filling
49 Pints Relish
30 Quarts Apple Juice
10 Pints Condensed Tomato Soup

That's 222 jars of pure homegrown goodness :)

                            When you eat the labor of your hands,
You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
Psalm 128:2

September 25, 2012

4 Generations

This is the sight we saw when we looked out the window yesterday.

4 generations of Pauls' !!!

For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting;
and His truth endureth to all generations.
Psalm 100:5

September 3, 2012

God is in Control

There are so many joys to being a parent. Moments that I will cherish forever! But with these joys comes some very hard times as well. We experienced one of these hard times this past week.

I think one of the toughest things about being a parent is watching your children hurting, either physically or emotionally. No matter how young or old they are it's natural for us to want to fix everything and make it all better. But that's not always possible or wise.

Sometimes God allows our kids to go through tough things that we can't understand with our human minds. And as parents we long to take their pain as our own. But we also know that God causes things to happen for a purpose and that if we try to fix everything we can sometimes get in the way of what God is trying to do in their lives.

Last week we found out Henry and Megan had lost their baby through a miscarriage. Though we are weeping with them, we are also believing with them that God has a purpose for this and we have know that He is in control. We are thankful to say that Henry and Megan are both doing very well and we are blessed to see how mature they are in their faith in God. It has truly carried both of them through this and it is evident to see their trust in Him.

As I was praying for Henry and Megan last week and thinking about this post, this song came on the radio and I knew it had the perfect words for this time.

August 28, 2012

Time to Pick Eggs!

WARNING: If you are offended by the words pooting, fluffing, tooting or blowing smoke....you may want to skip this post :)

Yesterday a few of us were busy husking corn. We were having a nice time talking about stuff when one of our sons ( surprise, surprise....it was a SON...not a daughter!!) piped up, "Who pooted?" (for those of you who are not familiar with this action it could also be called fluffing, tooting or blowing smoke!) Anyway, I think you get the picture!

So of course everyone looks at everyone else and nobody admits to anything and then Nathan says, "I guess that means its time to pick eggs!" Now understand, I have heard many a strange thing come out of my kids mouths over the years, but this particular reasoning I had never heard! So of course I asked the question that was burning on my lips, "What in the world does pooting have to do with picking eggs?" Well Zachary was happy to enlighten me and he said, "We made a rule that whenever someone poots we have to go pick eggs!" At this point Jen and I looked at each other and burst out laughing!!!

So here's the thing. We have all these laying hens, but I am not happy with the amount of eggs we have been getting from them. I have been after the boys to pick them more often just in case the hens are eating them or some rodent is stealing them. But still...not many eggs!

BUT...now after this conversation....I have been enlightened!!!! I now know the trick!!! I know how to remedy the situation!


August 27, 2012

Tied To Being Fit

Being pregnant and giving birth 13 times means I have went through the gain weight, lose weight cycle......LOTS!!!! One of the most important things I have learned through this journey is FOCUS and BALANCE.

I am always amazed after Christmas how all the "weight loss and fitness" kicks start. Like clockwork....every year! But this year I've paid attention to something different....the attitude behind most of it. And what I have noticed is the meism....and to be even bolder....the worship of self-image.

Don't get me wrong. I am all for staying fit and eating healthy. I believe that is the way God intended it to be. I don't necessarily agree with the way people "get fit and eat healthy" though. Mark and I always joke and say..."imagine if you would take all those people who go work out at the gym and bring them to a farm to do manual labor instead...WOW!!! How much work we could get accomplished!!!!" Such wasted energy....don't send me hate mail....just sayin' :)

In my life I have learned that if my focus is in the wrong place, staying fit and eating healthy can quickly become an idol in my life. I have also learned that I need to be real careful anytime I decide to "get back on track". Careful to not let it consume me.

God should be the center of my life....always and in every area. This includes the area of health and fitness. But I have found this is so much easier said than done. For God to be the center in this area means I need do it His way.

What is His way????? A focus and a desire to please and honor God. I find that the times I am most dissatisfied with my weight and eating is the times when I loose focus....focus on the One Who created me. When my focus in not on Him my motives become prideful and selfish.

It doesn't take me long to realize when my focus has gotten in the wrong place because weight gain and fitness becomes the center of my thoughts and they dictate my actions.  Rather than dealing with the issues behind my weight gain, I try to put a band-aid on it by some quick fixin healthy eating and exercise.  And guess what? I do well for awhile and then inevitably....I FAIL...and fall back into the same pattern as before.

What are some of the underlying issues? Lack of Self-control would be a big one!!! Being able to say no to a cookie when I am not hungry...and yes to exercise when my flesh is weak. DisContentment would be another one. Contentment for the way God made me. Contentment for the "baby fat".  Not Trusting is right up there to. When I am in a stressful situation...I tend to eat more and exercise less...and this just adds to my stress. Rather I need to be able to deal with stress...by trusting. If my heart is truly trusting God...I will be able to handle stress...I will be able to give it over to Him. Of course there are many more underlying issues, but these are probably the ones I struggle with most.

But when I keep God as the centre of my weight loss journey, that's when the weight comes off the easiest and stays off!!! If I am losing weight for my own selfish desires....I loose focus and my balance becomes all out of whack....I am more apt to try the next diet fad...or weight loss gimick....or the perfect exercise program. But when I do it because I want to be the person God created me to be...the results are amazing!!! In these times I am NOT consumed by foods and excercise...rather I AM consumed with pleasing HIM!!!! And it really becomes a heart thing rather than a physical thing. And this is where I'd rather be. The results are longer lasting and much more gratifying. And my focus is where it should be....on the ONE who gave me this body in the first place!!!

And then I am no longer tied to being fit....but rather tied to honoring and pleasing my Creator...God Himself!

So I challenge you. If you are on a journey of weight loss...or weight maintaining....where is your FOCUS? Are you BALANCED? Is your desire to please and honor God CONSUMING you?

August 24, 2012

Testing of Our Faith

This summer has been a bit of a challenging one for us. Farming is never predictable and it's never for sure how much of a crop you'll get. But this year it wasn't just a matter of how much of a crop we would get, but if we would get a crop at all!

Things were looking really good in spring/early summer. We were able to sow all of our fields, we sprayed everything for disease and bugs, we had timely rains and then it was time to sit back and watch it grow.

We had just left for a camping trip that week and had enjoyed a couple of days together as a family when we got the news....it had hailed at home and a lot of our crops had been damaged. Not the kind of news you want to get when you are on holidays! But we figured there was nothing we could do to help the situation, so we decided to enjoy the rest of our time away, the best we could.

A few days later we headed home. The crops on the way home looked beautiful. The canola fields were yellow with blooms. It was hard to imagine that at home our crops didn't look quite so lovely. We drove in the yard, parked the camper and Mark went out to check the damage. A few minutes later he called me to report that things didn't look good at all. A couple of our fields looked really bad. And most of the others were damaged as well.

TRUST....FAITH. These were the things that were going through our minds. We said it thousands of times....God is in control. He will take care of us. But when something like this happens it can either bring you to your knees or you can choose to shake your fist at God and say WHY??? We chose to fall to our knees....for us, this was the only option.

Even though seeing your fields combined, by the "big white combine" as we call it, is very discouraging, most farmers will still get a pretty good payout from insurance. But things are a little different for us. We started farming 19 years ago. After a few years of farming we felt that God was telling us to cancel our crop insurance and not to get hail insurance. We felt God was saying that by buying insurance we were not fully putting our trust in Him and having faith that He would provide our needs and that we were trying to protect ourselves from His hand. So the decision was made...no more hail insurance, no more crop insurance...and we have had none to this day.

With this decision has come opposition. Many have said that we are being irresponsible by not getting insurance. Others said we were just plain crazy!!!! But we knew (and still know today) that we would be irresponsible and crazy if we weren't obedient to do what God has asked us to do.

There have been years where we have gotten hail on one or two of our fields....and those years we didn't get much of a crop. A lesson in FAITH.... a lesson in TRUST.

One year stands out in our minds....the year that a couple of our fields got major hail. We thought for sure the crop would be horrible. And one of them was. But the amazing testimony was that one of our fields that got hit badly actually did very well...more than we ever thought it would. It was nothing short of a miracle! This was the year that we really saw first hand that God was truly in control. If He wanted us to have a crop, we would have a crop. And this experience solidified in our hearts the fact that God is good and we could trust Him and that He would take care of us.

This year things are turning out a little differently. All but 2 of our fields had pretty serious hail damage. And this is from at least 3 different hail storms. Some of our fields got hit all 3 times! Understand that our fields are spread out over about a six mile radius. It's not like they are all side by side. So every time a field would get hit again we would almost be in disbelief! Is this seriously happening???? But it didn't take us long to realize that yes indeed, it was happening, and it was happening to us!

I won't lie to you. We struggled within....fear, self-pity, and anxiety really wanted to take over. But God had not changed.....only our circumstances had. He was still faithful, He was still in control. He was still taking care of us.....just maybe not the way WE thought it should be! There's nothing like a good trial to make you cling to God like you never have before, to remember His promises and to make you grow spiritually.

We haven't combined all of our fields yet but what we have combined so far hasn't turned out too good. One of our fields was particularily poor and only gave us a quarter of what we would normally get. And the others were better, but still not great.

We still have a few crops to harvest and right now we have no idea what they will produce. As my hubby has been saying since the hail, "It'll be interesting!!!"

We are incredibly aware that our happiness and fulfillment does not come from possessions or stuff!!!! It comes in having a personal relationship with a personal God. And knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is faithful, that He will take care of us and that we CAN trust Him with everything! And that no matter how our fields turn out, God is still good!!! We will take what He chooses to give us with a thankful and content heart! WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE!!!!!

“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?. Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is it's own trouble. Matthew 6:28-33

August 22, 2012

Bringing in the Produce

This time of year is always so rewarding. After all the long days of planting, weeding and caring for the garden the produce comes pouring in.

The last month or so we've been busy with peas, raspberries, apples and cucumbers. The cucumbers especially seem never ending this year and today we made our last batch of relish. We have decided that we have put up enough pickles and relish and now it's time to just eat the cucumbers!

Today was another busy gardening day as we blanched and froze our first picking of corn. As far as I can tell we will have at least 2 more pickings. For more photos of our happenings today you can visit Jen's blog.

What's left besides corn? Apples and tomatoes. We will make apple pie filling, apple sauce, salsa, pasta sauce and pizza sauce. That will be all for the canning part and the rest of the garden (potatoes and carrots) will stay in the ground as long as it can in the fall when we will dig them up and store them in the root cellar.

Of course all this has to be done in between/during the harvest of our crops, making life very very busy! But it's worth it to know that we will be able to enjoy it all this winter!!! I will have a harvest update coming soon :)

August 14, 2012

They were 2, and then they became 1, 
and now they'll be 2 again :)

That's right folks....Henry and Megan are going to have a baby, Lord willing, in March :)
So we are going to be grandparents.....again :)
We are so excited for Henry and Megan.....and we are so excited for us!!!!

August 7, 2012

Summer Family Fun

A couple of weeks ago my sister, Amanda and her family (husband, Josh & daughter Cadence) came to visit us. They live in Edmonton so we don't get to see them that often. 
So it was real nice to connect again. 

Mikaya and her cousin, Cadence (Amanda's daughter). It didn't take long for them to get re-aquainted!

Cadence had fun with the monarch caterpillars that were eating my plant (yet again!!!!)

After supper we had a game of volleyball.


Cadence showing her lil cousin the caterpillar 

Did he get it????

My lil sis, Amanda

Josh (Amanda's husband) showing them how it's done!

My bro Jeremy 

Nice moves Caleb!!!!

That's my babe :)


Nice move Henry! 

Laura (Jeremy's wife)
Not sure who won....but I do know everyone had a lot of fun :)

That was yours....No, that was yours!!!!

The 2 finger pacifier

Brooke, Elyana (my brother Jeremy's little girl) and Mikaya

Elyana and Makayla having some quality time!!!

Mikaya entertaining the little ones

Trampoline Fun

Cadence, Brooke, Isaiah (Jeremy & Laura's son) & Nathan

I'm sorry now that we didn't get a group shot but we were too busy visiting!!
We ended the evening by having smores and popcorn and singing around the campfire.
Thanks guys for the great visit!