Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Seize the Day!

I know, I know it isn't a biblical saying. Although, I think this particular sentiment is found in scripture regularly. The prophets and apostles never ignored the opportunity to speak out for Christ's glory - and Paul wrote to several of the churches with urgency to change and grow now not later. We had a lesson in this today.

Today, we tossed school aside to take hold of an opportunity to help a complete stranger. It all started on Thanksgiving weekend when a large apartment complex near our home was on fire. It was such a spectacular sight that most of the town was out to see it - I even got Duck out of bed to walk over. Most people were there to help the more than 150 residents of the building that were soon to realize they were homeless. Not having anything to offer at that time, Duck and I went home and talked about how an event like this can show us how easily our 'stuff' can disappear but, at the same time, why we are so thankful for what we do have in this world.

Then this morning we received a phone call from a woman from our church. She was trying to get some help organized for a woman who had lived in the burned out building. Could we come down and help her clean out anything that still remained in her apartment? Absolutely!

Um...okay, maybe I didn't exactly jump at the chance...my first thought was 'what about school?' If I fall behind this early in the year, it sets a bad precedent for the rest of the year - should I really be leaving to clean out someone elses' house when I haven't done my vaccuuming yet? All these thoughts were pretty selfish, I know. My husband quickly squashed them and volunteered us all for the job. So I quickly got over it and agreed to go.

When we arrived, two teen boys from church were already carrying furniture out of the building. Our job was to wrap any ceramics, china or pack up books and clothes that survived the fire. The smell was awful and the sight of the hallway and apartments was incredible. Paint peeling off the walls, floor tiles lifts up, ceiling panels crumbled to the ground - and this was the part of the building that was not touched by fire. This was all water and smoke damage. Walking through reminded me of the conversation Duck and I had spoken on the night of the fire. We really are blessed.

I am so thankful that we could help, even in a small way. Most of all, I am thankful that when we arrived back home my husband read Matthew 25 to Duck and remind us that anything we do "for the least" is done for the glory of God. The woman we helped claims to be saved, but has limited knowledge of scripture or practical day to day living for the Lord. She likely (I didn't delve into details) lives on welfare, is a serious smoker and displayed a 'woe-is-me' attitude all day. However, with no family in the area and significant health problems, there was no way she could have recovered any belongings on her own. She was very grateful for the help - but that wasn't why we did it.

When the Son of man shall come in all his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon his throne of glory:

Add before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall seperate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Matthew 25:31 - 34

When it comes time for the sheep to be seperated from the goats - I want to be on the sheep side of the divide! It is hard for me to leave my schedule behind, put away school and jump at the chance to help a stranger, who may or may not be thankful. Hopefully, prayerfully, God will continue to remind me why I should do it and why I should show it to my daughter.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Generation Gap

While we were camping a few weeks ago, there were very few people in the provincial park at the same time. Travelling with another homeschool family in September generally means there are no line ups and we have the run of anywhere we go - at least on weekdays.

This past trip had one exception. Early in the week several young people arrived to camp at the park (a whole bus load). The ages seem to range from 17-25ish. Their campsites were no where near ours, but we would meet up with them at the comfort station (showers and bathrooms) and park areas. These kids were definitely rough around the edges. Tattoos, shaved heads, immodest dress and vulgarity of speech and behaviour - and that was the girls!

They were not overtly rude to us or anyone that we witness. However, none of our kids were permitted to go to the comfort station without an adult and we did look forward to them going home - partly because we like the campground to ourselves ;o)

One morning I was in washroom to dry my hair after a shower. Two of these young women (I can't bring myself to call them ladies) were sharing the counter space with me and chatting to each other. Every other word was profane, however the entire conversation was gross. One girl was complaining how her multiple sexual partners (both genders) couldn't get along with each other 'for her sake'. They also detailed the physical fight they had apparently both been involved in where they congratulated each other for the successful assault they had accomplished.

There was no attempt to hush their conversation or alter the vulgarity in anyway for the stranger standing beside them - me. This was their 'normal'. They likely knew nothing else. That's why I wasn't really offended. I was just sad. Sad for these lost little girls - because they are someone's little girls. Sad for the whole group of them because they had accepted debauchery as the way to live. It isn't likely that they were taught debauchery, it comes naturally, but they obviously did not have parents to teach them otherwise.

Than, as if on cue, Duck came running in to the washroom.

"Mommy! Daddy said he's going to take all of the girls on a morning trip to town!" referring to herself, her friend HH and HH's little sister).

Duck went on excitedly about Daddy's plan while she used the bathroom, washed her hands and left to get ready for the big 'Daddy date'.

I think at that point I wasn't the only one who felt sad. These girls had said nothing while Duck described her dad with such love and admiration. They kept silent as she gave me a big hug and a we said, 'I love you' to each other. They said nothing after Duck was gone. They packed up and smiled goodbye to me before leaving.

Maybe I'm reading too much into their silence. Likely they will make fun of the whole thing. Hopefully, they will recognize that debauchery is not the only choice in life.

Maybe Duck's natural testimony was put there for them from the Lord. I know Duck was not influenced by them - maybe they were influenced by Duck. Another reason to live out loud - someone is always watching!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thanksgiving Lilies

A lovely surprise for the fall. These were the potted Easter Lilies from our church - after they had finished blooming in the spring, I asked my pastor if I could take them home. They are annuals and I knew they would bloom for me next year: However, as I let them sprout up in height, I noticed back in mid-September that they were promising to flower again - if the frost didn't take them out first! Then, just before leaving for camping, one of the blooms opened up. Now several of them have followed suit:
This shot shows how tall the stalks have become - see the tallest stalk has unopen blooms on it, as well. Hopefully they all have a chance to open before the snow flies. I could have freshly cut lilies on my Thanksgiving table! (Canadian Thanksgiving is the second weekend in October)

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Tragic Lesson to Learn

As I just posted, we have been away on our annual camping trip with friends. Prior to leaving, Duck had to arrange for a 'hamster-sitter' for the week. Taking care of a hamster isn't hard so it was easy finding someone who would take him. The two days before we left (Thursday and Friday), both my husband and I were working the night shift so Duck was sleeping over at a friend's house. Her job on Thursday was to give the hamster cage a thorough cleaning so that the sitter didn't have to worry about it. She completed the task and we all left the house for the night.

About mid-afternoon Friday, as Duck is getting the hamster and his accoutrements ready to be delivered I get this mournful cry from her room "MOM!". Now hamsters only live 1-2 years, and Teddy Bear is over the annual mark. So right away I think she has found his little body without signs of life. Automatically I start rehearsing 'the speech' in my head about life and death. However, when I arrive at her sobbing side and she regains enough control to talk, I find out the hamster is not dead. The hamster is missing. When she had cleaned the cage the day before, she had left a door open.

Keep in mind that we had been out of the house all night. The hamster had the run of the house, along with the dog.

A frantic search began, without a lot of hope. When I could get away without too many questions, I went out to check dog poop. Yes, I checked dog poop. No fur or bones, that was a good sign. The dog was not showing signs of indigestion either. Also a good sign.

After almost an hour of fruitless searching, I sat down with Duck for a hard talk. The hamster was likely gone for good. Even if he was still alive in the house, he was curled up somewhere sleeping at this time of day. Then we talked about the error she had made by leaving the door open. Duck has been in a phase of life lately that has shown a lack of diligence. This situation was bringing that fact out to the forefront. A very hard lesson to learn.

We set out traps for the hamster that night, as we were all out of the house again. A hamster trap is the use of deep pots or buckets with a ramp for the hamster to get into the pot, but not be able to get out - fill the pot with food and a water dish to lure him into the trap.

Saturday morning...no hamster. We were leaving at noon for the camping trip. More tears. Duck was in her room crying out to the Lord (a blessing to hear even during this hard lesson). She wasn't just asking for Him to bring back the hamster, she was asking Him to help her learn greater diligence and gave thanks for having the hamster in the first place. Sigh! If I could have pulled a hamster out of thin air for her at that point, I would have done it. But God knew best.

As we were packing the car, our downstairs neighbour happen to be outside and I mentioned that Duck's hamster may find his way down to his apartment. I wasn't telling him so he could set out traps or anything - there is a dog and a cat in the downstairs apartment. I just wanted him to know where it came from if he did find a body. We did leave the traps out in our place with extra food and water. The final signs of hope for a return.

We left for camping and all the kids from our friend's family were told of the tragedy - and asked not make fun of it. Duck was really hurting when the topic came up. However, as hours and days past, she talked little about it and had fun on her trip.

Nine days later, we arrive home and find empty traps.

'OK, Ducky. It's time to clean up the traps and say goodbye to Teddy Bear for good.' Teary eyes, but no sobbing anymore.

We are still unloading and unpacking when there is a knock at the door. The downstairs neighbour knocks on the door. He smiles as he holds out a large spaghetti pot,

"I thought you would like to try some of the sauce I made this week"

Now, I like my neighbour well enough, but we do not have the kind of relationship where we share recipes. I look in the pot and there is Teddy Bear. Dirty with a funny blue colour to his head fur, but it is Teddy Bear. The neighbour found him the day after we left for camping and had been taking care of him all week. I thanked him profusely! And took the pot.

When Duck looked into the pot, the tears returned. Happy ones this time.

It is a minor miracle that this animal is now back in his cage (and he was happy to be back!). We don't know where the blue colour on his head came from and he has spent several days cleaning himself, but the lesson learned in all this is irreplaceable.

Maybe my emotional side wanted to solve the problem for Duck by just giving back the hamster (I even thought about buying a new one that looked the same and slipping into the traps). But God knew where the hamster was all along and what His plans were for the whole event. Just as scripture talks about His care of the sparrows, He cared for this hamster, too. All for helping a little girl grow in her faith and in her fruits of the Spirit. Duck is actively working on her diligence.

My faith has been increased, too. Nothing like a reminder from God, Himself to trust Him in all things. Even if the hamster had never returned, we would have studied how He takes care of all His creatures. Now we can study it with a Teddy Bear curled up in his little cage.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Camping Days

We are home for the duration now - it is officially the end of camping season for us. Our annual camping trip was for all last week and we arrived home this past Sunday afternoon. A wonderful time away with friends, even if we did get some rainy days. Note the big blue tarp over our kitchen area:

We did stay pretty dry despite the weather. That is, of course, part of camping! One of the 'big deals' of the week were that Duck and her friend HH got their own tent. Both moms had some qualms about it and I kind of expected to hear "mom!" in the middle of the night, but they slept well and only had one night where dad had to do a security check for the boogie man. The noise turned out to be raccoons having a party behind their tent - note the potty right outside their door:

We did have some beach days during the week - although I find the water frighteningly cold! My husband was game to play with Duck. I have to warn you their is a dirty picture from the beach - I apologize if it offends anyone, it was too good to pass up the shot!:

We also took a couple of day trips. One afternoon we went to my dad's neighbourhood and spent the afternoon at a local farm. They have a petting zoo, corn maze and a whole section of games and playground stuff for kids:

" Hello little fella!"

Here is my husband as king of the castle! The girls worked tirelessly to dethrone him:

Here's real camping treat - garbage can turkey! Obviously we used a new garbage can ;o). It cooked in just under two hours, but I have to say it wasn't as good as oven roasted:

Finally, what's a camping trip without camping hair! My rag-a-muffin girl:
So, now we are home, the laundry is done, school is started and life is getting back to normal. I have some great stories to tell in the next few days, including one about a small miracle in our house. Stay tuned.
For more show and tell, see Mary!