Friday, April 23, 2010

Packing Nostalgia

Packing often makes me nostalgic. So far I have packed 20 boxes. All of them have been books. Not all of our books are packed yet. Books are one of our biggest weaknesses. I love books. We (obviously) have a lot of them.

I am not exactly sure how many boxes we have. When I empty them I keep them in stacks of like boxes (BOOKS, KIT, BATH, MISC, etc) and shrink wrap them in stacks of 10 with plastic wrap. I still have a few more boxes that say “BOOKS” on them. I have smiled at many of my boxes as I have filled them because of the little words written in pen or pencil. I often make notes of important things that I may look for in the process of unpacking or our stuff being in storage. Some of my boxes that say “out at the end at 1090,” “out at the end at Meadowbrook,” “out at B&K's.” I smiled as I thought of our time at those places. I always wonder what we were thinking at the boxes that are numbered “Book Box 1,” “Book Box 2,” etc. I think that it must have been on our move from Houghton that we tried to be organized enough to write on 3x5 cards what was in each book box. It may have been helpful because we didn't really unpack many of our books when we lived in Waterloo but I am not sure.

Well, 20 boxes down, many more to go. I am so glad we bought a commercial packing tape dispenser several moves ago and that we had dad save his Baxter boxes when he was on dialysis.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring Break?

This week is spring break in NY. We could not take the week off because I really want to be done with school by the end of May so that when Glenn is done for the summer we can be too. I did decide to give the kids a lighter week though because I knew that we had a couple of things that we might possibly do. It has been a fun week even though we haven't been on spring break because others have been.

On Monday some friends from Waterloo had planned to go to the zoo so we went to meet them there. We didn't run into everyone that I knew that was at the zoo but we did get to visit with Christa for a bit (the one who organized it) and we spent most of the day around the zoo with Desi and her family whom we hadn't seen since we moved to Rochester. My girls were thrilled to spend time with Natalie and Andrea and got re-acquainted quickly. Caleb was thrilled to have bigger boys (it was weird for me to see Caleb looking short with the boys!) to hang out with.

On Tuesday we had a visit from Nan, Will and Drew from Rochester. It was so much fun to watch the boys play together. They played some Wii and Lego Star Wars. After lunch they got to meet the kids across the street and swing on Kaylee's rope swing then we went down to Barry Park to play. It was nice for me to just sit around and visit with Nan. They are special friends and I am so glad that they made the trip out to see us!

After they left on Tuesday night we went to see an apartment that I had noticed on a walk that morning about 6 blocks from where we are living. It is $75/month more than we pay here but it is the same amount as we paid for our little house on Meadowbrook for much more space than we had there (it is about the same size as our current apartment) so we put in our application for it on Wednesday afternoon with a check for a security deposit and paid for half of May so that he would hold it for us even though our lease here doesn't end until the end of May. The landlord would rather have someone move in May 1st as the previous tenants are already out and he said that he would give it to someone who would move in May 1st over us. I am hoping that we will be moving there but until I actually sign a lease I am not 100% planning on it. I can remember last fall too well.

Yesterday we got school work done in the morning then the kids played with the neighbor kids in the afternoon. We are going to miss them when we no longer live across the street from them anymore!

Today we got school done in the morning again and headed out to Green Lakes State Park. It was a lot colder than I thought that it was going to be but we had fun. We met up with a few other homeschool families that go to the American Girl book club that we have been a part of on Thursday afternoons twice a month. It was nice to sit and chat with the moms while the kids ran around and played on the playground. I think that this group is going to try to get a co-op thing going including the boys in the fall studying countries and cultures. I am pretty excited about it. We have enjoyed the book club so much and I am looking forward to spending more time with these moms.

Well, it hasn't been spring break for us but it has been a fun week. I think that tomorrow is just normal day but the kids don't have too much more school work to get done and the girl from across the street is going to come over at noon so we won't be bored. It has been nice to have a bit of a change of pace from our normal "boring" lives. (I have even gotten 11 boxes packed in the process.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Permanent Address?

Right now Glenn is filling out forms for our loans for next year for school. He is having to do more work and fill out more stuff since the federal government has taken over the loan system. We were laughing because the "permanent address" that came up for him was the last address that we had when we lived in Houghton, oh, at least 4 years and 7 addresses ago. It got me thinking about the idea of a "permanent address" and I never know what to say when I see those words. Sometimes I just wish I could write "heaven" because until I get there I will never have a "permanent address." Unfortunately, I can not get mail there yet. Our current address is our address until at least the end of May, possibly until the end of September, depending on when we find a new place to live and when we can move into it (we came across a couple of leads today that we are looking into). I am always excited when we have to order new checks because then they will actually have our current address on them (at least for a little while). Our current checks have the address that we lived at when we first moved to Rochester. We have had 4 other addresses since then. See related post.

"This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from Heaven's open doors and I can't feel at home in this world anymore."

It's April 15th!

Now, April 15th is commonly known as Tax Day. It is a day that some people dread and some people look forward to. In my house it is a day that everyone looks forward to but not because it is Tax Day, it is because it is Flip Flop Day! April 15th is the day that we have designated as the day to get out our flip flops, sandals, and shorts for the season. My kids were so excited. Caleb woke up first and ran outside with his shorts that he had been using as PJ's on. He was excited to announce that he was the first one to go outside with shorts on. He soon asked me, “Mom, where are the sandals?” I told him they were in a box, probably in the girls' closet. He went in with a flashlight to try to find them. There was a little noisy party (sorry upstairs neighbors!) with a lot of rejoicing and trying on of sandals and flip flops when Glenn pulled the box out. It was determined that I was the winner with the most pairs of sandals (I have 6, one of which I was supposed to throw out several moves ago but they are so comfortable I just can't get rid of them!) Glenn came in a close second with 5. Everyone else has at least 2 pairs that fit them.

Yeah for flip flops! Here's to 6 months of wearing sandals! Happy April 15th! (October 15th when they go away and snow boots come out is not quite as much of a celebration.)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Faith of a Child

Today during lunch we read part of the On the Clouds to China, The Story of Hudson Taylor, a Faith and Fame biography that we had started a while back because we couldn't find the American Girl book that we are working on. (We are speed reading the American Girl books b/c of the home school book club that we are part of covering one girl a month and we want to read all of the books before the meeting.) I am thankful that we "had" to read about Hudson Taylor. It was so encouraging and faith bolstering hearing how God provided exactly what was needed or more than what was needed in His perfect time.

After lunch before laying down for quiet time the kids walked around the house talking about ways that God has provided for us in the past. It was so encouraging to hear them talk and hear how excited they were about what God has done for us in the past. I think that they were doing it because they heard the weariness and fear in my voice concerning finding a new place to live again. I love their faith! They have no doubts that God is going to take care of us. I am thankful for their faith, it encourages me! I wonder what God is going to do in each of their futures, what He is preparing them for. This momma needs to get on her knees more!

God used two other quotes to encourage me today from other books that I am working on (I am in the middle of too many right now!).

"The struggles that you are going through now - don't discard them. Listen to God as He teaches you so that you can teach others. You see, a time of suffering teaches us something we never knew before and may prepare us for a time for counsel that we will give someone years from now." - Max Lucado (found in Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel)

"In the light of eternity we shall see that what we desired would have been fatal to us, and that what we would have avoided was essential to our well-being." - Fenelon (found in Isobel Kuhn a biography about a missionary to China by Lois Hoadley Dick)

Monday, April 05, 2010

Two Horse Stories

I want to share two stories. The first is from a book that I have been reading lately. You may recognize the people in the second one.
First, “Let me tell you an old Portuguese story.
“There was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all for the beautiful white horse he owned. Even the king coveted his treasure. People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. 'This horse is not a horse to me,' he would tell them. 'It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?' The man was poor and the temptation was great, but he never sold the horse.
“One morning the horse was missing from the stable. All the village came to see the old man. 'You old fool,' the scoffed. 'We old you that someone would steal your horse. You are so poor, how could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. Now the horse is gone, and you've been cursed with misfortune.'
“The old man responded, 'Don't speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know, the rest is judgement. How can you know if I've been cursed or not? How can you judge?'
“The people contested, 'Don't make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed to know what's happened here. The fact that your horse is gone is a curse.'
“The old man spoke again, “All I know is that the stable is empty and the horse is gone. The rest I don't know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can't say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?'
“The people of the village laughed. They ahd always thought the man to be a fool; if he wasn't, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. Instead, he was a poor woodcutter, living hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.
“After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn't been stolen, he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke, 'Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.'
“The man responded, 'Again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses with him, but don't judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? If you read only one page, how can you judge the whole the whole book? All you have is a fragment! Don't say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don't know.'
'Maybe the old man is right,' they said. But down deep they believed he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.
The old man has a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgements.
'You were right,' they said. 'The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken both his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.'
The old man spoke again, 'Don't go so far in your judgements. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment of the whole.'
A few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded because he was injured. The enemy was strong and the people feared they were never see their sons again. Once again, they gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. 'You were right, old man,' they wept. 'God knows you were right. This proves it. Your son's accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.'
The old man spoke again, 'Why do you always draw conclusions? No one is wise enough to know if it is a blessing or a curse. Only God knows.'
The old woodcutter was content with what he knew and not disturbed by what he couldn't understand.”

And now for my other story...
There once was a boy and a girl who met at a Christian college in Tennessee. They were young but they decided to get married that summer. Neither of them were finished with their education. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
Just a few short months after they were married they discovered that they were expecting their first child. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
The college that they were attending lost it's regional accreditation and it was discovered that the teachers that graduated the year that the girl did would be the first to graduate without state certification to teach. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
Their firstborn, a son, came and was adored by all. The grandparents on both sides loved him, especially since he was the first for all of them. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
The boy and his wife along with their son soon moved to a small house in a nicer part of the city that they lived in. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
There were complications with a heart catheterization that the girl's mother had. As a result the girl, along with her husband and small son, moved to New York to help out while her mother spent 3 months in the hospital and her last 18 months in a nursing home unable to use her arms or legs and with very limited speech. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
The mother passed away and the boy needed to finish his education but few colleges would accept credits from an unaccredited college. One college that would offered a scholarship to make it cheaper than another college that would so the boy took his wife and two children and one on the way to that college in rural New York. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
The boy graduated from college taking nearly all of his science classes in two years and applied to medical school. He was not accepted to any of the schools that he applied to so he moved with his wife and four children to his wife's hometown where tenants had just moved out of an apartment owned by her grandparents in the middle of the night. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
The boy substitute taught while he re-studied for his MCAT exam. After getting his improved score the boy and girl decided that he should re-apply to American medical schools. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
Unable to find a job in the town where they were living they family of six moved to a city an hour away where the boy had gotten a job at a hospital. He got two interviews at medical schools and was put on waiting lists at both places. Ultimately rejection letters came from both schools. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
After seeking direction from God and discovering that his application to the medical school in the Caribbean was lost they decided that the boy should re-apply to American schools and they sent out 16 applications. The boy got but one interview that time but soon thereafter got news that he was accepted at that school. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
The family packed to move to the new city two hours away. They moved into a sublet near campus assuming that they would be able to find more permanent housing during the two months that they were there. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
The boy and girl were pre-approved to buy a home and started to look for one to get the $8000 tax credit but time had run out on their sublet. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
The young family packed their belongings and put them into storage and lived out of their van at the homes of friends for 2 ½ months while making offers on 5 different houses that fell through and then finally deciding to rent. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
They finally moved into an apartment that exceeded their expectations both in the low price and amenities with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, plenty of living space and free laundry. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.
The family hoped that they would be able to stay in that apartment for all of their time in that city but the landlord informed them that he had come into some money and was going to gut the place and move back into it with his family and that they needed to be out by the end of September at the latest. Was it a blessing or a curse? We know only a fragment.

There are so many chapters in the story that were skipped over and the next part of the story is unknown but I am glad that I know Who does. Epictetus once said, “I am always content with that which happens, for I think that which God chooses is better than what I choose.”
Glenn prefaced telling me the news that we have to move again this summer with “We have another horse situation.” If you have known me long or followed my blog you know how much I don't like moving and that we are in our 15th place in 10 years. (We have decided to ignore our homeless time of last fall in our count because we really don't know how to count it.) I walked myself over to my fridge and read Ella Spee's Perscription for Contentment:
* Never allow yourself to complain about anything – not even the weather [or having to move again]
* Never picture yourself in any other circumstance or someplace else
* Never compare your lot with another's.
* Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise
* Never dwell on tomorrow – remember that tomorrow is God's not ours.
And then I read my favorite quote by Andrew Murray: “In time of trouble, say, 'First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.' Next, 'He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.' Then say, 'He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.' And last, say, 'In His good time He can bring me out again. How and when He knows.' Therefore, say, 'I am here (1) by God's appointment, (2) in His keeping, (3) under His training, (4) for his time.”
I guess I am glad I am going through Linda Dillow's Calm My Anxious Heart again. Contentment is still something that I am striving after and have not completely attained. I got the horse story and the above quotes all from that book and I would highly recommend it! Some more thoughts on contentment from that book:
“Our thought life, not our circumstances determines whether we are content.”
“Are you going to judge God by the circumstances you don't understand or judge the circumstances in light of the character of God?”
“If we are going to find contentment in the midst of trial and uncertainty we must accept our situation as being purposely allowed into our lives by a personal and loving God.”
And lastly this prayer from Betty Scott Stam, martyred missionary to China, “Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and sela me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt, work out They whole will in my life at any cost.” In the front of my Bible I signed my name under that on 1/27/08.
I just jumped back to the end of Habakkuk where my list of “thoughs” are (homework for the “Trusting God with the whys” chapter for this week). I made a list back in April of 2007 when I first read the book and then again last April. Two of the “thoughs” have been answered – God got Glenn into medical school and He provided a place for us to live 6/1/09. Most of them have not and may never be. I laughed as I looked at the last “though” I wrote last April “Though we may move many times in med school.” I had no idea what this past year would entail but my God is faithful and He faithfully provided just what we needed when we needed it. It is a journey of faith He has us on. Why it involves packing and unpacking so much I really don't know but I know that I can trust Him and that He is going to provide another place for us to live and He is going to teach us more in the days, weeks, months, and years to come Lord willing should the Lord tarry. I guess I will close with this “Though..... Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” Hab. 3:17-19.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Holy Week

This past week was Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter or Resurrection Sunday. As a family we did the Family Bible Readings that I posted a link to last week on my blog. The introduction that we read together last Saturday challenged us to fast in some way, shape, or form in preparation for Resurrection Sunday. We talked about fasting and the purpose for it and asked the kids what they thought they should give up and told them what we were being led to give up for the week. We told them they should pray about it some more and we would discuss what God had laid on their hearts to give up on the way to church in the morning.

I gave up the computer. I am a bit of a computer addict and it was something that God was calling me to do so my computer stayed closed (except for for a few minutes for the kids' science lessons and the little girls' math). I was amazed at how little extra time I actually had during the week even though I do spend more time than I should on the computer - how do I get everything done and waste all that time?? I know that in the future I really need to limit my time on the computer more and spend time doing more important things. One thing that I really missed was blogging so I have some thoughts running around in my brain that will hopefully be showing up here soon.

Glenn gave up screen time. He has to check his email for school related stuff so he checked his email 2 times a day but other than that he only used the computer if it was necessary for school work (as it sometimes is) and had no other screen time.

Caleb gave up Wii and Xbox. Hannah and Lydia fasted from candy. I think that it was especially challenging for the girls because around Easter it seems that candy is everywhere. Hannah told me that fasting from candy has taught her to wait.

Abigail didn't pick anything to fast from. Since she has not decided to become a follower of Christ yet we guessed that that was ok because it wouldn't really mean anything to her.

I really enjoyed the Bible readings and it was nice to be able to really focus and try to prepare my heart for Resurrection Sunday through them. I am looking forward to doing it again next year, Lord willing, and seeing how God works in all of our lives more as the time goes on.