Two weeks ago, I typed some final words in a LibreOffice document. I scrolled through the 70+ pages, checking for gaps and obvious mistakes. Then I went back down to the bottom. The last words made me smile: “Thank God, it is completed.”
Those words were quoted from a song chosen by my great-grandmother Annie Frey Weber for her funeral. She lived a long life with humor and grace. It was not without its trials–which included the death of her husband after five years of marriage, separation from her children, and health problems. But she found her joy in the Author and Finisher of her faith.
During the last two years or so, I have spent countless hours researching Annie’s life, hunting up old letters she wrote, and writing her life story. I’ve talked with relatives: my grandfather, great-aunt, cousins-once-removed, and others. My friends and family helped keep me accountable to work at it when my motivation lagged. And now, two weeks ago, I finished the first draft.
I looked at the word count. 27,600+ words.
After all that time I put into it, that’s all?
And that was the sum of a life. I had chronicled almost every incident about great-grandma Annie that I could get my hands on. But still, only 27,600 words.
That night as I prepared for bed, I couldn’t help but ponder. Annie Weber lived only a few generations ago, and already this small account is all that remains on earth to testify to her life. Does a life have no more import than that?
But. I was only counting words.
That’s not the only measure of a life. What about the three children and many grandchildren and greatgrandchildren that her life paved the way for? What about the many people she inspired while she was on earth? What about the testimony that still lives on in the stories about her, the faith that moved me to tears as I looked over the extent of her life?
She lived her life in submission to God, and it was not in vain. I pray that the hours I have spent in writing Amento Thy Will won’t be in vain either–that someday, a wider audience can also be inspired by the story of her life.
P.S. I’m currently working on book revisions and getting feedback. Stay tuned for updates, and to hear when the book becomes available to buy.
I decided to share a diary-style chronicle of a recent week.Enjoy=)
Sunday, February 21, 2021
The church service was a rich tapestry of praising God in song, a thought-provoking Sunday School discussion on the topic of love, and a message by brother Arthur Penner inviting us to the deeper things of the love of God.
We had invited Arthur and Tina for lunch. What a blessing to visit and to hear the wisdom of the elders.
After they left, we youth—Selema, Judith, Jesse, Caleb, and I—went over to Ervin and Doris’s house. They had invited the youth for Yujel’s 16th birthday. Ervin met us at the door, saying, “You’re just in time for the game!” We joined the circle and were soon deep in a game of Occupation. There was plenty of laughter and hard thinking and collaboration as we tried to discover the identities of the mink farmer, the preacher, the cloud seeder, the art director, and many more over the course of several rounds of the game.
Then we sat around talking and eating Doris’s good taco salad and the birthday cake Julianne had decorated.
There was hockey that evening, so after supper most of the youth hurried off for that. My siblings and I didn’t go this time. As I got out of the car at home, I saw the brilliance of the stars. So I soon slipped out of the house and went for a walk alone through snow and starlight, over the field and into the woods. The moon shone full. I savored the peace and the chance to commune with God.
Monday, February 22, 2021
After breakfast, I left for school as usual. I had rearranged things at school and given CJ a desk of his own instead of having him work at the table beside me. “I have a new desk!” he said in wonder when he saw it.
My school day was short; CJ’s parents picked him up a little before lunch for an appointment. I cleaned up my classroom, did some preparing for the next day, and went home for lunch.
That afternoon I worked with Caleb on removing the stitches in his leg. He had been slashed in the leg by a male pig a week before, and now the stitches were almost growing into the wound as it healed. I had gotten one stitch out on Sunday morning. There were two more to go. With sharp instruments and perseverance and Judith’s help at holding a light, we finally got another one. The wound was swelling and the last one evaded our efforts. We put on a poultice, deciding to try again later.
I worked on some writing projects that afternoon, and studied for music class the next day.
After supper my siblings and I gathered in the dining room to sing the songs from a program some of us were part of last summer. The blessing of shared music!
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Both Judith and I needed to get ready to leave this morning—Judith works for Brian and Mary Barkman (from the church here) on Tuesdays.
With Dad’s help, we got the last of Caleb’s stitches out before I left. We had to do it differently than the doctor had told us, but it worked.
With that finally taken care of, I was ready to face the day. The parking lot where my student and the grade one class were playing for recess was slushy that day, but we still had fun playing Twenty-three Skidoo. It was a good day of school. In the afternoon I taught the first grade music class.
After school I took some photos of the misty North Mountain and talked with my co-teachers in the sunny school hallway before doing my school work.
When I arrived home, Selema told me they had butchered roosters that afternoon. I was not sorry to have missed out.
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Lynette Horst showed up at our place bright and early to pick up Selema. They wanted to go visit and clean for a lady near Antigonish that day. I went out to talk with her a little, in the invigorating morning air.
It was another good school day. Not without its challenges, of course, but God’s grace always makes a way. I was excited to see how independently my student participated in our game at the noon recess.
After school, Kathleen (the first grade teacher) and I drove to nearby Berwick to return some library books we had gotten to teach our students about other countries. We had fun shopping at Bargain Harley’s together yet. Then I took her back to school and went home. At supper, Mom told a little about the small ladies’ gathering she had been at in the afternoon.
That evening there was clothes packing for CAM at Larry Kornelson’s place, for any of the church people. (We have it every other week in the wintertime; Dad is on the board for taking care of its operation.) A nice-size group of people showed up, and it was the normal hubbub. People talked as they tried to decide if a certain article was fit to send overseas or not. Conversations on any random topic swirled about. The children ran around to pick up garbage and try on the discarded clothes—they were thrilled to find animal costumes, and for a little while, one of them was running around holding onto the tail of a fleeing ‘lion’. The men tied up the finished clothing bundles, kneeling on top to pack as much into one bale as possible.
Thursday, February 25, 2021
I began the day feeling a bit flustered and behind, but God was in the day.
The morning’s classes went quite well. After lunch I taught music class again. We tracked the beat of simple songs on heart icons that CJ had helped me put up on the wall. The whole class enjoyed it—and my student did as well as any of them. How exciting to see the progress of their understanding—and that perhaps I’ve been able to teach them something after all.
My second joy-joy moment came a little while later when a ten-year-old with shining eyes slipped into my classroom (for a few minutes of extra practice) and handed me a note she had written. Every time I glanced at that note for the remainder of the afternoon, I smiled. And kept smiling. Small tokens of appreciation can do so much!
After school, Kathleen and I put away some new books in the supply room. This room is just off from the playroom; when we were finished, we took a notion to do something we’ve never done after school before: play a little ping-pong. Neither of us is a pro, but it was a fun way to unwind from the day.
When I drove home, the sunset was a wild glory of torn gold in the west behind the edge of the mountain.
At home, I made a poultice for Caleb, checked email, had supper, and showered. Selema and Judith told me they had been at the clothes packing place again that day, helping finish things up.
Then we girls drove up the mountain to Julianne and Lynette’s house for a girls’ Bible Study and tea party. We sat around their cozy living room, sang, shared hearts, drank tea, and ate shortbread cookies. The evening was too short—as those evenings always are.
When we left, the moon was shining and the wind seemed to want to blow us off the edge of the mountain. Far below in the valley, lights twinkled. We drove down to our valley home.
Friday, February 26, 2021
The school day began beautifully with brother Philip Penner leading in devotions for the whole school. He had a list of Bible trivia questions for the students and got everyone engaged.
The rest of the day was a challenge that kept me begging God for wisdom and grace. Art class lightened things up—we worked on balls made of colorful paper circles.
After school I dashed about to clean up my classroom, then sped home to get cleaned up myself, for a massage appointment. (At home, things seemed a bit wild too. Mom and Selema were away, helping a lady who has come to church sometimes. Dad was selling frozen chicken to someone and getting ready to go pick up some hay with the van and trailer.)
Judith went with me; she had a massage appointment too. While she had hers, I took the chance to relax in the car and do some writing and editing. The massage was wonderful—Friday evening is the perfect time for a teacher to get one=)
Before we headed home, Judith and I picked up Louise Horst (the massage lady lives next door to their place). She was going to spend the evening with Mom while her husband and son played hockey with some others from church. Dad and the younger boys left for the hockey too as soon as we got back—their skates had been left in the back of the car I was driving.
After a quick supper, we youth left for a youth singing at church. We sang hymns, practiced choral songs (in preparation for a program), tried to define words the way a mom would, and talked over snacks—a delightful evening.
Saturday, February 27, 2021
As usual for Saturday, we bustled about early to get Dad and Judith off to Halifax for the market.
My morning filled up quickly with writing, teaching preparations, doctoring Caleb, and practicing the choral songs from the evening before with my siblings.
As soon as Dad and Judith came home from Halifax, Dad got ready to leave for Yarmouth to pick up a wood chipper he had bought. Caleb went with him.
That afternoon, the ten-year-old girl who had earlier made my day by her note came over. I had a wonderful time with her—we went to see the bunnies, played educational games, read a story, and baked a chocolate cake together.
I worked on writing projects after she left. My sisters cleaned the house.
After supper, not long after Dad had gotten home, he went off again to the clothes packing place with Jesse to help unload a shipment of clothes to be sorted.
I took a long soak in the bathtub, accompanied by a charming book called The Door in the Wall.
Sunday, February 28, 2021
There was the usual whirlwind of getting everyone ready for church—baths, last-minute tidying up of the house, breakfast, chores, putting together a casserole for lunch. But we made it to church.
Brian Barkman’s message was titled The Two Kingdoms. His clear presentation and examples from history clarified the reasons we don’t vote and shouldn’t campaign politically. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t support the government—we need to support them in prayer, and seek first the Kingdom of God.
We had Peter and Lena Barkman over for lunch. I stayed at their house for a month or two last fall, so it was extra special to have them in our home now, to show them around and just visit. They’re a little like grandparents to me.
The day was mild and sunny. After Peter and Lena left, I said, “I have a hankering to go to the shore.” Judith agreed.
So we girls drove over the mountain, picking up Adrianna and Jelana Barkman on the way and going down the other side to the Bay of Fundy shore at Black Rock. Down by the water, a brisk breeze blew. We ran across rocks in the sunshine, talked, took pictures, and watched waves break on the shore. The massive icicles hanging over the cliff edges were melting. The sun dipped lower in the sky, casting a path of gold across the sparkling water. Friendship and the Fundy shore—perfect combination.
We took the girls back home; they had invited us to stay for supper, so we had an enjoyable evening yet at their house. The lively supper conversation included stories about dangerous animals and a discussion about creation and evolution. And after supper we played some games.
It was another day of God’s blessings… what a privilege to be able to gather with believers and enjoy God’s great creation.
Life is an ebb and flow; seasons of charm and change. And always, amid the whirl of life, God’s light is waiting if my eyes are open.
(All photos are from the Sunday afternoon ramble at the shore.)