Your Kingdom Come

I reveled in the after-school silence. I had completed my preparation work for the next morning, and my desk was, for once, clear of papers and books. The other teachers were all either outside or had already gone home. I pulled the Harmony issue of Daughters of Promise out of my bag. This moment was the perfect chance to read another article.

I hit upon By Our Love by Emily Miller–and was soon absorbed in the words on the mustard-colored page. The topic was one dear to my heart: relating with love to those who disagree with us.

The ending was graced with these words:

Christians are not identified by their political leaning, their stance on COVID-19 policies, or their zeal for fighting for the truth. Christians are known by their love for each other. How easy is it to spot us these days?

Emily Miller, By Our Love (Daughters of Promise Magazine)

I sat up straight and slammed my fist on the metal desktop. “Amen!” The echoes reverberated from the walls of the silent schoolroom.

It’s so easy to judge people according to our opinion. It’s harder to love them truly as Christ does. But the call has not changed. True love is not afraid to show itself in the messiest places.

Last spring during the lockdown that shut down school and church services, I came to school to pick up a few books one afternoon.

My mind whirled with the changes of recent weeks and years, and I wandered over into the dim and silent sanctuary. I thought about the church. What does it mean to be the church in such a time of turmoil as this? How are we doing at being there for each other and for a hurting world?

I stepped up behind the pulpit that has so many times held the Word of God. I bowed my head and prayed. For the church leaders. For the leaders of our country. For the church itself–all the diverse members. That God would make His glory known, that we could shine forth as a light despite the brokenness within and around us. Then the Lord’s Prayer flowed out of my heart as the only way to truly pray what I wanted to.

As I walked slowly down the aisle, I thought about the sureness of God. And then of the brokenness that exists even among those who are seeking to follow Jesus. How can we truly be the church to the suffering if we are unwilling to be the church among ourselves?

I stopped walking and knelt there on the dark carpet of the aisle. Again I prayed the deepest prayer ever.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13

A week later, this poem took shape in paper:

Kingdom Prayer

Your kingdom come, your will be done, O Lord;
Your name be hallowed—hallowed in each place,
Each life devoted to the soaring chase
Of holiness, all heartbeats in accord
With Yours: no other entity adored.
Then You, O Lord, revealed within the face
Of Jesus Christ, shall oust each selfish trace
And come as our exceeding great reward.

Your Kingdom come, Your living hope arise
With glory—as the sun—among all men.
Your will be done on earth, Yourself the prize
Of every seeking soul, our passions then
Uniting in a song to swell the skies.
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done. Amen.
~Rebecca Weber

Since then, I have often prayed the Lord’s Prayer when I couldn’t put my heart cries into any other words. This is the Lord’s Kingdom, after all. It’s His work. My job is simply to pour out the love He has lavished on me, and trust Him to work through me and beyond me.

It’s not that hard to be a Christian all alone, sitting at a peaceful desk reading a beautiful magazine. But I have been asking myself: How am I doing in real life? Am I being a channel of harmony?

The Kingdom, after all, is made of people working together. And the only way to work together is through love.

The love that builds the Kingdom is like an adult crossword puzzle. It extends forward and backward, up and down. And it reaches diagonally–willing to love even those who go across the grain of our carefully thought out opinions.

This is the challenge that the church has faced throughout the ages. Jesus prayed “that they all may be one.” As we pursue this goal, our love will become evident. The colors of our individual lives will blend together and delight those who see us. And the Lord will be able to use us to build His kingdom.

For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Teaching: A Work I Love

On September 7, I entered back into the life of a teacher. This term, I am teaching the same special needs student I had last year. The two of us have the added twist of joining the mid-grade classroom for the last class time of the day, where I then take over as teacher for that hour. I enjoy the broadening horizons of having a larger class part time.

This term began so differently than last term. Last year, I started a week or two after the rest of the school had started. It was my first time setting up a classroom of my own. I didn’t know much about the ways the school operated. I didn’t know my student’s needs very well. I was swimming in an unknown sea.

This term, I am more familiar with the way things are done. I can enter back into my own routines. I’m already used to networking with the teachers. I know my student intimately–and have been delighted to see how much skill he retained and gained over the summer. I dove back into a work I had learned to know and love.

I’m back in a world of textbooks and chalk, laughter and love, noon stories and new workbooks, stickers and singing voices. Clattering feet and happy chatter fill the halls at recess dismissal. We sit on the grass or on the steps to eat sandwiches and soup and apples. And after school, the teachers clean up the flotsam and jetsam of guidebooks and papers that clutter our desks after a day of teaching. We relax, talk, and work together to solve problems.

Are there challenges? Absolutely. But in a sense I am more prepared to face them; I have met similar ones before. We make changes, try new things, and move on. And always, the grace of God is there to sustain the weary.

Last term I intended to read the book Seven Laws of Teaching by John Milton Gregory. It never happened then, but I’m reading it now. The lucid points about the principles of teaching are ones I can benefit from. I also love the insights that go deeper into universal currents of humanity.

The true worker's love for his work grows with his ability to do it well. ~John Milton Gregory 
The Seven Laws of Teaching

Perhaps this is why the beginning of this school term has felt so beautiful. I am learning, slowly, to do my work better. I love the work, and I love my students. Teaching becomes a part of me.

Undone

My life for the last little while could be summed up in one word: brokenness. Several years ago, people used to tell me that I was mature for my age. Maybe I was. But I think I was holding together an image I wanted people to see, while being unwilling to admit (even to myself) how deep the needs of my soul were.

God’s mercy has been revealing those needs to me lately. I see brokenness within and a broken world without. When the things I have desperately held together fall apart, I see with greater clarity: I am nothing. Christ is everything. Only in Him is any hope to be found. Let me fall into Him, where I am put back together by grace for the praise of His glory.

I have always been a visionary sort of person. Trying to figure out the world and figure out God’s ways. Seeking the heights. Pursuing my dreams. But my earthly dreams need to break and be fitted into the way of Christ. Sometimes I don’t need to know what God is doing; I just need to come to Him and be still.

This poem expresses some of that. I wrote it awhile ago, but have perhaps lived into it just a little more by now.

Undone

Lord, I have been a Jew, intent
On seeking for a sign;
In search of some significance,
Some earthly sun to shine.
Lord, I have been a Jew, blind-eyed
And seeking for a sign.

Lord,  I have been a Greek, and sought
The wisdom of the wise,
To puzzle over mysteries
Half-hidden from my eyes.
Lord, I have been a Greek, one bent
On being worldly-wise.

Lord, now I come—a fool, and weak—
To know Christ crucified;
Here wisdom and the power of God
I find—exceeding wide.
With joy I come—a fool, and weak—
And find Christ crucified.

Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1 Corinthians 1:22-25 NIV

Toward the Heights

On most days we can see the ridge of the North Mountain from our house, in clear profile against the sky. Not so this morning. The mist concealed all of the green mountain except the trees at its very base.

If we had never seen the mountain, but had been told there was one there, we might have wondered how high it was. The mist hiding it gave no indication. For all one could see, the mountain stretched skyward endlessly.

Our lives are like that. All of us have mountains to climb, situations that seem hopelessly clouded. We intend to climb to the very top, because God called us here. Sometimes it seems we climb slowly, and other times more quickly, but always the mist obscures the top, and we have no idea how much farther we have to go.

But slowly, as we ascend, the mist lifts. It lifts higher and higher, clearing away into the sunshine with every step we take forward. Still it seems there is no peak in sight, and who knows where the climb will end?

At last the mist clears away, and we see the top with sudden clarity: the topmost height is just ahead. We are almost there!

We don’t know where on that mountain we are right now, how close we are to that final revelation. But there is an end to our struggles—a glorious end, because God is both the Author and the Finisher of our faith.

Our mountains vary; our climbs will differ. But our God remains constant, shining through every mist at last, present in every cloud—leading us up moment by moment into the heights of His love and His abundant will.

Brier Island: Ferries and Fog

Two weeks ago my family took a rare day off from the farm to explore a fascinating corner of Nova Scotia. We had long talked of going to Brier Island–an island in the Bay of Fundy. It’s about two hours away from our house, including two ferry rides. Everyone was excited about the day of discovery ahead of us.

When we neared the first ferry, we realized we should have given ourselves a little more time. But we made it! Here’s the view out the back of the van just as the ferry pulled away from the shore in the fog.

On Long Island, we hiked out to the Balancing Rock. We picked wild berries as we went along. The trail led through the woods over boardwalks and then down mysterious and multitudinous stairs until it ended in an affair of platforms and walkways hugging the edge of the cliff out by the famous balancing rock itself.

I perched my camera on one of the railing posts so that we could take a family photo with the self-timer, trying to position it safely. Dad wedged the strap of the camera into a crack in case it toppled–and for good reason, because on our first attempt, it fell off and would have landed on the boardwalk if not for the restraint. The second attempt was better:

We went to a museum for an hour or so, looking at local artifacts and listening to the guide’s stories of local history. We thought we had enough time, but when we arrived at the dock for the ferry to Brier Island, it was already pulling away, disappearing in the fog. Fog, they say, is just a part of life out on those islands. So are ferries, and we were learning how to work around their schedules.

It was lunch time anyway, so we parked by an abandoned wharf to eat our lunch.

We were in good time for the next ferry–and drove off onto Brier Island at last! We soon left the small village of Westport behind and drove up a gravel road toward the Western Light and Seal Cove.

Seal Cove was one of the best parts of the trip. We could hear the seals sounding their eerie music almost as soon as we headed out the trail. It beckoned us on, curving along the edge of the heath-like shore. It reminded me of descriptions and photos of Scotland–stunted trees, wild flowers, and rocks.

The seals were lounging and playing on some rocks a little offshore. When we got as close as we could on the shore, we settled down on the rocks to relax and watch them. Some of us used binoculars to get a better view. The way they waved their flippers and slipped down the rocks or labored up out of the water made me laugh. Some seabirds shared the rocks with them.

Selema, Caleb, Adoniram and I decided to try getting closer. We picked our way over seaweed-covered rocks, going slowly so that we wouldn’t startle the seals. Caleb and I waded out in the cold water, but the progress was so slow because of the slippery seaweed and rocks that we eventually decided we had gone far enough. The view wasn’t much better, but it felt more intimate; instead of just looking at the seals, we had entered into their world.

Adoniram found a huge seaweed that he wanted to take home. We told him he had found a tail. I could hardly stop laughing at the sight of him walking along barefoot, carefully holding the seaweed in one hand and his shoes in the other.

Our next stop was another lighthouse on a desolate rocky shore. I loved how Brier Island felt so far removed from the normal bustle of life–a shifting world of fog, yet a solid world of waves and rock. We didn’t see a lot of people; it felt like we were exploring pristine wilderness. We sat on the shore a little while to watch the waves, surrounded by the salty smell of seaweed and the cries of gulls.

After that we took a rough cottage road across part of the island, until it got too rocky and full of water holes to drive. Then everyone except Dad, Mom, Caleb, and I hiked on toward Pond Cove Beach. We four turned back with the van and headed out by more passable roads to meet them at the beach. We stopped a few times to pick wild serviceberries from beside the narrow road.

We missed the road leading to the beach, so we got to see a little more of the harbor in Westport. When we got back to the way we meant to take, it seemed no wonder we had missed it. There was no sign except this small one painted on the side of a house hugging the corner:

I loved Pond Cove Beach. The mystery of the fog, that perfect natural curve of the cove, the salty breeze, the crashing waves. My siblings had already arrived at the parking lot when we got there.

After spending a little bit of time together at the beach (no swimming–it was too cold), we went back the way we had come. We went up the road we had taken earlier when we missed our road, so that the rest could also see the harbor and Peter’s Island. The fog had drifted in during the interval, and what a different scene it was–the lighthouse on the island hardly visible, when less than half an hour before it had been in plain sight. There was a Joshua Slocum monument up on the hill too that we went to see. Slocum sailed solo all around the world, and he had lived on Brier Island much of his life.

(There was also a boat called the Rebecca Louise No.1, but I liked this one better=)

We had time for one more stop on Brier Island, so we pulled into a parking lot in Westport, near the ferry terminal. The fascinating thing about this village was that the ferry terminal was its heart. That was the center of activity. On either side along the shore, the wharves and boat sheds took precedence over other establishments. Dad kept mentioning how much the village reminded him of the one he visited on Pemba Island, Tanzania where the ferry landed.

We couldn’t dawdle long though–it was time to get in line for the ferry. But just as we pulled up to dock, the light turned red. The car just in front of us was able to board, but then the ferry was full.

Oh no. Would we have to wait another whole hour?

We didn’t need to wonder long. A friendly gentleman from the mainland who delivers papers on the islands parked his car in line and came over to Dad’s window. He assured us that since there were a lot of people waiting, the ferry would come back right away and take another load instead of waiting till the scheduled departure time. He knew the ways of the ferries, he said.

And he was right. Soon we heard the horn blasting through the fog, and then the form of the ferry emerged from the mist.

This time we didn’t stop on Long Island. We drove straight through, off the last ferry, and were back on the mainland. The road curved up the hill. As the van climbed up away from the lowlands, we left the fog behind. I took one more look down at the sea. There were the docks, the ferry, and the fog turned golden by sinking sun.

It was time to set our sights toward home. We stopped at a quiet park by a lake to eat our supper, then got back on the road. We thought back over the day, and told each other that someday, we would come back to those wild islands in the Bay of Fundy.

Faith And The Pursuit of God

Recently I read The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. Some devotional type books seem to have nothing new to say, but this one is different. It explores the ancient truths about God and our relationship to Him, but it presents them personally and with such clarity that I could recognize echoes of my own life and experience on every page. I could hardly stop copying out favorite sections.

I love how A.W. Tozer reminds me of the implications of God’s presence in His world and the truth of God as the source of all life. It is God that pursues us before we can pursue Him. We can not go anywhere that God does not exist, yet we need to allow Him to strip away our selfishness and sin before His presence can truly dwell in us and us in Him. And there we find the life that is beyond our deepest anticipations.

If you can get a hold of this book, read it. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from it:

A Farm Girl’s Bad Dream With a Happy Ending

For a number of years I’ve been a farm girl, in station if not always in heart. Most of the time I love the life. I used to milk the cow out in the dewy pasture in the morning. I love new chicks and blooming flowers and abundant harvests. The opportunities for family time and working together are precious.

But sometimes I have resented the way it ties us down (if you have animals that need to be looked after, you can’t just run off on them all the time!) and I haven’t always enjoyed the work. Usually I would rather cook a meal with all the fresh farm products than hoe weeds in the garden. And I’ve had some injuries over the past five years that made it harder to pitch in with all my heart—who feels like working when their knee or foot hurts?

This spring I determined, as I have at times before, that this season I would put everything I had into family and farm life. I would learn to love it. How could I expect to be content anywhere else if I wasn’t willing to delight in my current place?

The adjustment of going from teaching to farm life was hard at first—more so emotionally than physically. It was hard enough that I realized I couldn’t do anything in my own strength. I would need God. I couldn’t just decide to do this and make it happen. I needed to be willing to let God dictate my days and sustain me with His strength.

Because what do I have that I have not been given?

Nothing.

Only through God’s love and grace am I able to walk in the light and serve where He has called me. And I don’t need to worry about what others think or try to prove anything to anyone, not even to my family. I only need to seek His glory in every little choice I make.

As the Lord has been working on my heart, I’ve found myself loving my life as I rarely have before, taking joy in doing what was needed, even if it was something I used to dislike. Sometimes I even wanted to go and hoe in the garden first thing in the morning instead of washing dishes.

Do I now want to be a farmer all my life? Well, I’ll let God decide that. I know that this is where He has me; thus this is the highest calling for me now. I can also trust Him to orchestrate my future. So I will follow God, step by step, and delight in His will.

Of course that decision gets tested from time to time, like Friday two weeks ago. The morning had been beautiful. It was only the second time this season that we picked vegetables for market. I picked snow peas in the dew, and later had fun working in the packing shed with my brothers to bunch radishes.

There was a youth event planned for supper and the evening, so we wanted to be sure to get all the market preparation done before leaving for that, and the boys would need to do chores before supper instead of after supper. Would we make it?

I had committed the evening to God, and the day seemed to be going well. But by late afternoon, I was starting to get a little concerned. The boys were still working in the woods instead of getting at the chores, Selema was still planting something in the garden, and Judith had driven to Berwick to run an errand for Dad. I had gathered and cleaned the eggs so they would be ready for market, but there were still some other little details to take care of. And I really wanted to make supper for my family before we left for the evening.

Judith came home around 5:15. Soon after that, I was rushing to the bathroom to take a shower. My sisters were in the kitchen when I passed through.

“The boys aren’t even doing the chores yet,” one of them said.

“Really?” I stopped in my tracks. “Do they know what time it is?”

“Yes,” Judith said.

I started saying something, feeling that somebody needed to do something to make things happen a little faster. Those chores. They were always holding us back. But Selema said, “You just go take a shower.”

Oh. Yes. Of course. All I can do is my part. Hadn’t I decided to leave it all in God’s hands? I would give my brothers the honor of getting things done without being hounded by a concerned sister.

After my shower, things didn’t look much brighter, though someone did say around 5:30 that the boys had begun their chores. It felt like a bad dream, when you desperately need to get ready to go somewhere and more and more things come up and you run around trying to get everything done and the clock ticks faster and faster and eventually you realize you’ll never make it so you wake yourself up in despair….

Yet, it’s not up to me to make things happen, I reminded myself. And so what if we were a little late? I resolutely kept on with making supper.

And each time I looked at the clock, I was amazed at how little time had actually gone by. Maybe we would get there after all.

Mom eventually took over Selema’s planting so she could shower. Judith and I got supper on the table. Caleb came inside a little before 6:00. I was amazed. Already? Who knew they could do the chores so fast? And he said Jesse would be coming soon too! I never cease to be amazed at my efficient and enterprising brothers.

I loaded camp chairs into the back of the car. And there went Jesse, heading for the house to take a shower. I looked at the time on my phone: 6:00.

Before long the five of us youth were on the road. We were hardly even late to the event.

And even if we had been, it would not have mattered like it always does in my bad dreams.

That evening, our youth group was all together again for the first time in months. Raynold and Lena served us a delicious supper outdoors. We played volleyball for a while. Then as dusk fell, we gathered around the fire again to sing praise and prayer to the God whose beauty is a reality beyond description.

There is a difference between dreams and reality. In a dream, I can wake up when it seems like too much to handle. In real life, I need to stick it out. The latter might be harder, but it’s far more fulfilling. God has grace enough to get me all the way through a bad dream—whether large or small—and right out on the other side into the sweet light of His joy.

Instead of waking up and finding all the difficulties gone, I can wake up to the presence of God in my circumstances, and He leads me through to a happy ending.

Photo Credit: Raynold Penner

P.S. This week I would have had the opportunity to go to Ontario for a month or so to help a dear family who really needs a maid. I was very excited about the idea—I haven’t been to Ontario for almost two years, and I’ve sometimes wished for the chance to help a family with young children.

But we discussed it as a family, and concluded that at this time, it would be wiser for me to stay here.

Considering leaving and then deciding to stay was somehow grounding. I had evaluated both ideas—staying here or leaving—and realized that each option would be brimful of amazing experiences. The question was which one was God’s will.

God provided direction through my parents, and the joy in my heart confirmed the decision. In His will, my life is established, and it has a definite purpose. There is no place I would rather be. I look around at my family, think of my church brethren, watch the mist on the North Mountain, and know that I am in the place where I belong.

1 Peter 5:10: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”

The Lord’s Controversy With His People

A few years ago, I read through all the prophets on the order they appear in the Bible, over the course of some months. I had thought the prophets were mostly pronouncements of judgement and doom with a few prophecies of Jesus’ coming mixed in.

But my perspective changed as I saw the heart of God for His people in the prophetic books. Everywhere, He is seeking His lost ones. The judgements were intended to draw them back to His heart, not to drive them away. And there were always the promises of restoration, when Israeal would be returned to their homeland from the land of their captivity.

I was so blessed by these threads of mercy that I eventually compiled some of the verses into a collection, tweaked some phrasing, and added some of my own words to connect them.

I just told a friend last night that I don’t usually write long poems. But is this a poem? I can’t decide. I can only pray that the words will bless you.

I. Cry of the Creator

O mountains, hear my controversy,

and you mighty foundations of the earth,

listen as I plead with the one I love:

Though I have bound together and built the sinews of

strength in your arms,

Yet you imagine mischief against me,

strengthening resolve for sin.

Though I have redeemed you out of the land of servants

you have made your hearts as an adamant stone,

hardened against my words.

You are an empty vine,

bringing forth shrivelled fruit for yourself alone,

and your good deeds are as morning clouds

that melt in the heat of day.

Therefore I have given you cleanness of teeth,

the gift of famine to show you your sin;

I have withheld the rain from your fields,

and given you pestilence.

I said, “Surely you will fear Me,

surely you will receive my instruction,

that you may live and be spared from destruction”—

but you do not listen.

Now turn to Me, my beloved,

turn to me with all your heart and with weeping;

rend your heart, and not your garments.

For I am slow to anger,

gracious and merciful, of great kindness,

and willing to repent of the evil I have done to you.

Sow to yourself in righteousness,

and you will reap in mercy;

break up your fallow ground,

the long-neglected soil of your soul—

for it is time for you to seek Me,

to seek me until I come and rain righteousness upon you.

O, my beloved, what shall I do with you?

What have I done to you?

How have I wearied you?

How have I driven you out of my arms?

Return to me, and I will return to you.

Return, my beloved,

return.

II. Faint Answer

Come, and let us return to the Lord:

For He has torn, and He will heal us;

He has struck us, and He alone will bind us up;

He will turn again and have compassion on us.

Though we have fallen, we shall arise;

Though we have sat long in darkness,

The Lord shall be a Light unto us.

III. Assurance of Mercy

The Lord your God has come into your midst,

And He is mighty. He will save,

He will rejoice over you with heaven’s joy,

He will nestle you down in His love,

And joy over you with singing.

And the Lord your God will save you

In that day of repentance and mercy;

He will lead you forth as the flock of His people,

For you shall be as gems in His crown,

Lifted up and honored in the fruitful land.

For how great is His goodness,

And how great is His beauty!

IV. His Promise

“And you shall be mine,” says the Lord of hosts,

In that day when I make up my jewels.

I will spare you,

And to you that fear My name

Shall the Sun of Righteousness arise

With healing in His wings.”

V. Coda

Then they that feared the Lord

and hoped in His Word

Spoke often to one another.

And the Lord turned His ear toward them;

A book of remembrance was written before Him

For them that feared the Lord

And that thought on His name.

And we will walk in the name of the Lord

forever and ever.

Celebrating My Family

“Do you never write about your family on your blog anymore?” Judith asked recently. I forget what the context was, but I realized I haven’t written much about them here.

Which is a pity, because they are such a wonderful family—the best one around, I say, though when I said that to one of my friends recently, she said, “I feel like disagreeing with you about your best family! You don’t know ours!!”

Ah well, it’s a happy debate to have. My family is the best for me, and what a gift they are.

Several Sundays during the lockdown, we did some hiking together. And now that school is over, I’ve been at home far more again. It’s been such a blessing to spend more time with my family–to see the sparkle in my little brother’s eye when he tells a funny story, to linger at the table with them discussing some triviality like the flavor of almond milk, and to work in the garden with my sisters while sharing deep conversations.

So here I will celebrate my family with some photos from the past month or two.

Explorations

We’re all in there except Dad, who took the picture–look waaay up top to see the adventurers! (Okay, we were all adventurers–we all went up there after this photo=))

This is the Morse Brook Waterfall, which we explored the first Sunday of the lockdown.

Dad teased me that this was the only kind of photo he could get of me that day. =)

The trail was narrow–but what is that when you have a strong hand to hold? I feel that way too about my parents–they’re there for me, cheering me on, always looking out for the best for their children, and pointing us to Christ.

Another Sunday afternoon, we walked the old railway trail just across the fields from our place. It led through farmland and woods. Here Dad was pointing out something in this small orchard we passed.

One Sunday afternoon while Mom had a nap, the rest of us hiked to the Woodville Waterfall. I loved the rocky trails leading up the North Mountain through the woods.
The climax of the hike was this idyllic woodland waterfall. Dad, who had been there before with the boys, had said, “It’s one of the most scenic waterfalls I’ve ever seen.” When we arrived, I saw why. It was unspoiled natural beauty, water running down ragged rocks in a steady music, with no other sounds but the songs of birds (and happy shouts of children.) We sat there a while, relaxing and talking, while my younger brothers rambled about in the vicinity. I leaned against a tree and soaked in the peace. And snapped photos, while my battery lasted. Next time I need to take a tripod–I didn’t have enough stability to take excellent photos of the blur of the water. But looking at it was the best after all; I want to go back just to revel in that woodland scene again, and for the delightful hike in getting there.

And it was all the better with such amazing hiking companions as my family.

At Home and Around the Farm

It’s flower time again! It’s been fun to see what flowers break out here at our new farm, and Selema and Judith are enjoying picking them for the market.
The menfolk planning out the garden.
And working in it…

We’ve planted a lot of fruit trees, berry bushes, and asparagus here on our new farm, along with many of the garden crops like tomatoes and onions. I’m amazed at the hard work my siblings have put into it already. (And now I’m trying to do my part to help too=))

Sitting on the job, are you? But mulching fruit trees is hard work–you deserve a break now and then!
My inventive brothers built this rig from two bicycles. They call it a cargocycle, and I think the original idea was that it would help with the chores. But so far it’s mostly been used to haul human cargo, especially since we recently got a four-wheeler to help with things like hauling feed buckets out to the poultry in distant pastures.
This morning, we all turned out of bed in good time to watch a partial solar eclipse. The moon covered at least one-third of the sun at the climax. We watched the sun with tinted glass meant for welding helmets, and it looked like a crescent moon, or a cookie with a great big bite taken out of it. Our shadows went funny, sort of frizzly and separated at the edges. The light on the landscape looked flat and weird. Then slowly the moon passed by and the sun was back to its normal rising glory.

After that, Caleb took me for my first ride on the new four-wheeler. He had to use it to move a mineral feeder from one cow pasture to another, but also took a few detours to show me the latest developments on the farm, like the new pig fences in the woods. As I sat behind my competent big brother, flying across the field of yellow buttercups and purple ragged robin and green grass in the invigorating morning air, I felt like a queen being swept away by a knight. Maybe I don’t want to learn how to drive the quad anyway, if my brother can be such a fine escort.

And what would I do without my sisters, my best friends? Their listening ears and gentle wisdom help me out so often. I treasure the times we work together in the kitchen or in the garden and philosophize on life matters or talk over the little important details.

I tried to think of some quote abut family to tie this all together, but no words quite seem to fit. We work together, live together, laugh together, and no one else could quite take the place of my own dear flesh and blood. We have our idiosyncrasies and our rocks to climb over, but we love each other. We belong together. This is family.