A sense of relief runs through me when I watch the children frolic in the leaves for the first time.
Summer is a highlight for us. We love our daily garden bounties. No, we would never do without summer, but when the first leaves fall, it’s nice to have cooler, shorter days. At 7 p.m. it is already getting dark, bringing everyone inside where we enjoy family time together for an hour until it’s time to go and install the little ones for the night.
It is rare that an evening goes by that the children do not spend time helping Daniel feed the animals and milk the goat. Little Joshua is in despair when he hears someone talk about trafficking. It will go straight to the freezer, where we keep ice packs, which are placed in the milk bucket to cool the milk quickly. Pointing his finger at the freezer door handle just out of his reach, he will growl and, with his limited words, make it clear that he needs someone to help him right now. If it’s too early to trade, he’s heartbroken. On the occasions when he goes with Dad, his joy never ends. He walks proudly to the entrance, grabs the milk bucket and places the ice pack inside. At 16 months, he is completely convinced that he can handle the bucket on his own. He watches with delight the milk flowing into the bucket. Lovingly, he strokes the goat and skips over it.
Back in the fall evenings last night, as the kids gathered on the porch, Daniel said, “Okay, Julia and Austin, get your math books out.” Doing math at night isn’t a highlight, but they knew arguing with Daddy would get them nowhere, and whining would only mean extra math problems to do before bed.
I let out a small sigh of relief. “Perfect.”
Recently, after sharing with Daniel that I needed to make a slight change somewhere to make our days go smoothly, we agreed to help the kids start their math the night before their homework, giving them a head start on the day ahead. And if we leave for an evening, it waits until the next day. I am amazed at how much it helps having Daniel at home to keep the younger ones busy while working at school with Julia and Austin.
Granted, I have my time to come back to thinking about what needs to be done instead of focusing on the One who brings it all together. Last night was an example of such a moment. At 9:30 am I was relieved to have all six children asleep in bed, my husband was out of breath and I was lying there in dire need of sleep; my mind kept piling up all the letters to be written, cards and gifts to prepare for friends, the list grew. I debated whether to stand up and tackle it, but then I could hear my husband’s words of wisdom ringing in my ears: “You need to get some sleep. “
I debated the possibility of taking a pen from the bedside table drawer and making a list. It didn’t seem like the right thing to do. By now I felt a little bothered with myself. After a day in the recliner chair holding a sick little boy, I looked at what needs to be accomplished and not the power of a God who can easily handle the unimaginable. Why did Peter even walk on water without sinking until he stopped focusing on Jesus and instead on the waves!
Okay, there are no bragging stories of just whispering a quick prayer and then falling asleep, sleeping soundly all night. Although I have been comforted knowing that no matter what, there is a God who has a complete and tangible plan if we cry out to Him. He never forces us to trust Him, but as we give Him our weary hearts, He carries us where we could never have walked.
As I watch the children rake a bunch of leaves under the giant maple tree in the garden, I breathe another sigh of relief. Indeed, there was One greater than me to take us through another summer.
Bring on the cooler days; we’ll grab sweaters for the kids and snuggle up around a bonfire in the backyard and sip spiced cider.
And yes, these 1001 homework will wait; our children will not wait to grow up.
– 1 liter of cider
– ½ cup of brown sugar *
– ⅛ teaspoon of salt
– ½ teaspoon of whole cloves
– ½ teaspoon of whole allspice
– ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
– Slices of orange or tangerine
– 2 three-inch cinnamon sticks
1. Pour the cider into a kettle.
2. Place the spices in cheesecloth, tie with a twist tie.
3. Mix the cinnamon sticks and the cheese cloth with the spices in the cider.
4. Bring to a boil, simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Remove the spices.
6. Serve hot, with a few orange slices and a cinnamon stick, in each cup. Delicious!
7. * I use natural sweeteners instead.