Heart to Heart

Lately, I had grown so weary from all our responsibilities and the daily trials we incur from doing God’s work that I had just felt like I was going through the motions of living but was really not all there. I actually became numb, not only from all the work but also from the spiritual battles that are waged against us every day because of the great impact the conference has on so many families. The months preceding the conference are so hectic, as I most often spend 16 plus hour days preparing for everything, that even though the months after the conference are filled with the addition of planning the following year’s worth of activities and writing the next newsletter, it is a welcome break.

      However, this year there was never any break as our days were filled with these responsibilities along with mowing lawns for our new business and preparing 12-22 page weekly Bible lessons for our church. And for someone like me who does not like working at the computer, the daily hours that I spent there, which wore on into the wee hours of each morning that wore on into the next day and into each week and month following, were grueling. But even more difficult to bear were the increased trials from the spiritual battle that was being waged against us due to the effectiveness of the weekly Bible lessons, which from many praise reports was transforming lives all across the state because dads were taking our lessons and leading their families in Bible study each day. So the daily trials continued even after the conference, with no break for rest and refreshing. Consequently, we all desperately needed a break, which God lovingly provided.

      For two full weeks, our family traveled 4,300 miles into the rugged Wild West where we were able to live out all our favorite western movies and books. It was like stepping back in time. All along the way I read books about Jedidiah Smith, Kit Carson, the gold rush, trappers, cowboys, cattle drives, Colonel Powell’s exploration of the Colorado River, and traders on the Santa Fe Trail, to which we then lived each of the books we read. Isn’t homeschooling great! I get so excited supping at the Lord’s banquet table that I just wriggle with excitement at all God and His world has to offer. Reading and seeing and touching and feeling life once again made the blood rush back into my veins. Ahhh, it was good to be alive!      Regaining a coherent consciousness made me ever aware of all the blessings that surround me, and I truly rejoiced. Here I was doing what I so love to do: read and read and read to my family, and talk and talk and talk to my family, and cuddle and cuddle and cuddle with my family, and laugh and laugh and laugh with my family. Josiah constantly cried out with, “Mama, come here,” “Mama, watch me,” “Mama, look at this.” How long had it been, I wondered, since I had given this child my full attention? I came, I watched, I looked, and he glowed. I heard the kids’ funny stories and jokes, and I laughed. I smiled every time I saw Sonia or Jedidiah walking arm in arm with Jon. I smiled when I saw Jedidiah put his arm around his dad in the middle of a crowd, not even considering who was there, because it was just the most natural thing in the world.      I thanked God for my patient husband every time Jon stopped to let me take pictures and when he turned around for better spots to take yet another one. My heart rejoiced when he stopped so that I could get out and look back at the beautiful sunset that he saw as I was reading to us. I thanked God when he asked if I would like to shop at every cute town we passed. Even though we had not the money to shop, it was nice that he asked.      I appreciated every comfort that he tried to give me while we camped and his grave concern for me after the first night of camping in 20º weather. He actually apologized to me and said that I worked too hard to end up sleeping on the ground and asked if I needed anything rubbed. It was too cold to discard any of my clothing so that he could actually get close enough to my body so that I could feel the rub, but I appreciated his loving concern.      I loved to see my children’s amazement at all the new sights that we saw together and their enlightened faces at all we learned. I loved, as always, discussing all the new things that we learned with Jon and hearing the wealth of information that he knew about such things of which I had no knowledge. It was glorious!      But really the highlight of the trip was the time we spent with the Hamre family, basking in the warmth of their love and friendship. They began by leading the way as we gladly followed the trail that they blazed for us. We drove almost all the way through with just a few hours’ sleep at a rest stop on the way. By early morning we were in Colorado, making the most of every hour. And for the following six days the Hamres went out of their way to make our trip a glorious memory filled with new sights and sounds, as our personal tour guides took us to all the beautiful spots in Colorado. Each of us had a set of walkie-talkies so Kathy could tell us all about the sights we were seeing along the path Jay led us. It was great, so great in fact that we will print this trip for you in the spring issue so that you, too, can enjoy the same breathtaking and educational trail.      When we returned home we still had two days left of vacation, so we went directly down to the country to check on everything. It was obviously a new season, one of my favorites, so Sonia and I packed up the decorations of the season that we never really had time to enjoy anyway—you know, summer, what summer?—and brought out our fall decorations and began to dress the house in its rich new wardrobe. And then I rejoiced again in all the blessings around me.      I smiled when all the kids gathered around the large, adorable scarecrow that I hung on the door to tell each other how much they loved that old scarecrow. They all fondled him, placing his moveable arms in different positions, and I thanked God that they rejoice in such little things and that I had made a memory for them. I reveled in the time Sonia and I shared in putting up an orange berry garland intertwined with white lights and all the many other decorations we put in place to make everything look so lovely. Then the boys lit the candles and turned down the lights for a candlelit dinner.      After we ate, I asked Jon how he liked all the decorations, to which he just grinned and grinned. Upon inquiring about his grinning, he took me in another room to tell me that Jedidiah had told him to be sure to tell me how pretty the garland and everything looked. Of course, Jon forgot to do that, but I just beamed to know that Jedidiah cared and that Jon cared enough to apologize that he had not told me. When I went to lift a heavy box, the kids said, “ Oh Mom, let us get that – your back.” I smiled and thanked God that my kids look out for me. That night as I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom, I had to stop and listen to enjoy all the ruckus that was going on in the bedroom from the kids wrestling with Jon. What a blessed sound.      The next morning when Jon asked if rubbing his unshaved face against mine was hurting too much, I just smiled and reminded him how much I really enjoyed his rough whiskers. Shortly thereafter, Sonia grabbed my arm for a walk. Dressed in cowboy hat, fringed jacket, two powder horns, one bugle, a canteen, and musket in hand, Josiah blazed the trail for us. And I just beamed in the warmth of my walking companions.      Later, I relished a horseback ride through the woods with my family, and even after Jedidiah was thrown from his horse and couldn’t move, I delighted in seeing my husband’s wisdom and strength in running a very long distance for a cot so that he, Sonia and I could carry Jedidiah to our van. I thanked God we were able to carry him through two fields, up a hill, through a fence and into the van. I marveled at Josiah’s spunk to lead my horse, which was far bigger and taller than he, all the way back to the corral and tether it there, and then help load tack in the van, and do all of Jedidiah’s chores so we could leave. It was amazing how our family pulled together to get packed up in record time so we could rush Jedidiah to an emergency room in St. Louis. I thanked God when everyone commented on how polite Jedidiah was even in his pain. I thanked God even more when they reported that there were no broken bones.      We are now home, once again, to constant phone calls, constant people at our door, and the avalanche of responsibilities that have the capability of crushing the life out of me, but I am still determined to see, to hear, to touch, and to feel. So far the consciousness of my blessings has continued, as I hope it will. I have smiled every time the dogs have opened our back door to wiggle their excited bodies in the doorway just to tell me hi. I relish that our cats desire our companionship and follow us from room to room just to be a part of our lives.      Last night we left the dinner table reading and resumed our book on our bed. When I looked up, it was midnight. We had read for many hours and had loved every minute of it. Today, I spent most of the day typing on the computer again and am still here now past midnight, but I took time today to enjoy my favorite things like reading, playing games, and cooking a nice meal together. The key here was taking the time to enjoy, for although these blessings surround me daily, I can become so weary and so focused on my tasks that I don’t see, hear, or feel the delightful blessings that God bestows on me.      I want to encourage you to stop and examine if you, too, might be going through the motions of living and not really living life abundantly as God wishes you to. To see, to hear, to touch, and to feel is what life is all about, so don’t get so caught up in all your responsibilities that you, too, forget to enjoy the journeying together. Determine to be conscious of all the many blessings that surround you. Praise God for being alive and surrounded by all those you love and also for the beautiful changes that God brings to us with each new season.      Ahhh, how I love this time of year when night falls early, giving us so much more time to cuddle, play games, and read together. Our home just feels so much warmer and cozier this time of year. I’ve already started making piping hot soups, breads, and stews for our cozy candlelit dinners, which we can finally enjoy now that it is truly dark by dinnertime. The smell of the furnace is bringing back all the fond memories of last winter, while the bathroom heater has been making it pleasant for baths once again. And these cooler nights make it so comfortable for cuddling, so while the cats are curling up with the kids, Jon and I are curling up and enjoying snuggling all night long, too.      To see, to hear, to touch, and to feel the blessings all around you is a precious gift from God. Enjoy!        Our love to all of you,      Jon and Candy