Monday, May 31, 2010

Answered prayer

Our continual prayer for the past six months has been for a job for Fred. We were shocked to discover that yes, the economy is very bad and it is very difficult to get a job, even if you are highly qualified. The opportunities for electricians are very limited and our bank account was emptying out quickly, mainly due to the high cost of health insurance. Soon we would be joining the ranks of Americans without insurance. Not a good idea at our ages. Fred needs a job. When, Lord, when?

Just as the situation became desperate, God intervened. He has never failed to provide for us. We have had many years of lean times in the past, but God can always be trusted. He is faithful! Why I worry so much, I don't know. It is not the way of God to give us instant answers and quick relief from our distress. He wants us to be patient and wait for his solution to our problems.

Fred did his part in searching for a job by applying to dozens of companies. A constant stream of opportunities were sent to him via e-mail from the job placement guy at his school. That man tried hard to get Fred a job. And Fred tried hard too. Nothing. The few interviews he was granted came to naught. I saw my husband sinking lower and lower.

My son Jon is a manager of a large company and pulled some strings to get Fred in. This job is extremely hard physically and pays very poorly. Still, it is work and Fred is grateful to have it. Jon's intervention prevented some serious financial trouble for us. Then Fred was also hired to do some maintenance work at our church two days a week. That might possibly lead into some electrical work, but for now, it is just plain difficult. Fred has been trying to juggle both and comes home exhausted. He is not just juggling two jobs, but mine too, as census work is still going on. Still, we are grateful to God for his provision.

Then, out of the blue, Fred got a call from an old acquaintance he hadn't spoken with in years. This man is having major surgery and needs someone to take over his business while he recuperates. Fred called me from the road to tell me about this opportunity. I heard the excitement in his voice and knew something big had happened. Fred started off by saying, "It's a miracle!" Fred will be going back into his old career, but not at the same level of intensity. Hopefully he can spare his body the ravages this kind of work has already done on him. Last week Fred spent a couple of days at this office and came home a new man. Revived! My husband is back! This is the work he is meant to do. God knew just what Fred needed and God provided. Not just money to pay bills. God restored the joy in Fred.

Stop worrying, whatever your fears, whatever your trial in this life. "People ought always to pray and not lose hope."Luke 18:1. Do your part by telling God what you need. He is near to the broken-hearted, the fearful, the desperate. "Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" Psalm 27:14. The answer will come. "He who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23.

Friday, May 28, 2010

School's out

Post from Arielle:

Today is our last day of school for the summer, kind of. While my mom is doing the portfolios to show our evaluator, she is finding subjects in school that we have not covered well enough. That means we will have to read books on that subject, but besides that we are pretty much done with all the hard math and grammar stuff.

My mom wants Liana and me to do some math in the summer, but I don't know how far that will go. And, of course, we have to read books, but I don't mind reading. I love to read most any kind of book. If you have any suggestions for (a) book(s), please tell me. I am always looking for books to read :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010


A friend stopped over last night to see our babies, but the best part for me was that we got to catch up on what is happening with our lives. We both lamented the fact that we don't have enough time to spend with people we care about. Maybe because of that fact, the time we do have together is a precious treasure. I am refreshed by my friends.

This friend is Catholic and she was telling me a little story about going to confession with her children. Although we don't practice confession in a formal way at our church, I realized maybe I have become too complacent about this important part of our faith. My friend reminded me to take more seriously what all Christians are supposed to do in prayer--confess our sins.

My prayers have become urgent requests scribbled to God, shoved into the barrel of pneumatic tube bottle and whooshed into celestial heights. Then I wait for a quick return of God's answer and I get impatient when he takes his time. My friend said that nowadays at her church most people have a face-to-face confession with the priest. I think I need a heart-to-heart with God in prayer, a conversation with him, not a drive-through bank transaction.

Confession shouldn't be a time to beat ourselves up and be depressed over all we haven't done right. Rather it should be a time to re-focus, find our way back, and let God know we are aware we've gotten off track. Then we ask for his forgiveness, and, of course, he always forgives and restores us. "If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:8, 9.

My Catholic friend takes the commandment to keep the Sabbath a little more seriously than I sometimes do. This has bothered me for some time that I may be missing the mark. Surely God commanded the Sabbath for a reason and expects us to keep his word. We attend church on Sunday morning. But is there more to it than that? I think so.

Thank you, friend, for enlightening me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Liana holding Nutmeg

The babies at one week old eating carrots and lettuce

A video of the babies doing their thing

photos and video by Arielle

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oh, my!

Early in the morning Fred ran up the stairs and said, "Something happened to the guinea pigs!" We all ran down to look. Two dark blobs huddled under Sunshine, Arielle's pig. Babies!

Yes, our little Sunshine is a mommy! It is a shock to us all. Her cage-mate is a girl. (We think.) I hurried to check the internet for the gestation period of guinea pigs. It's 60 to 70 days and we bought these pigs almost exactly two months ago. Hmmm. Did our Sunshine hook up with a Lancaster boy? I double-checked Poppy. She looks like a girl to me. But I think we will take her to the local pet store to confirm.

Arielle and Liana are thrilled with these two beautiful babies. Guinea pigs are precocial, meaning they are born able to run around and eat by themselves. Their eyes are open and they have lots of fur. They are just miniature guinea pigs, and quite adorable. They remind me of calico kittens--tan and black and white. Mommy Sunshine is frisky and acts like nothing happened out of the ordinary. Poppy is keeping her distance. She doesn't know what to make of these two strangers in her small world.
We can't keep these babies. Friends and family--who would like to have one?

Friday, May 07, 2010

Counting the people

I got a job with the census and spent four days in training last week. Talk about having my life turned upside down! I became a working mom for a very short time and I have to say, I don't know how you do it, ladies. Preparing breakfasts before I left the house, traveling through rush hour traffic, coming home tired to no dinner and then doing school work with the girls and collapsing into bed. I missed my girls! I am so grateful I am able to homeschool and spend so much time with them.

Training was for the most part very tedious with an emphasis on detail in paperwork. One day, though, we were partnered to go out on the streets and practice what we had learned. Our class had a wide assortment of people, many without cars, and people with cars were paired with those without. I admit there were several men I would not have wanted to be alone with, so I was praying for another woman. But my partner could not have been more different from me! She was young, brash, and tough. She had attitude and she did not at all look happy to be with me. So there we went.

We had a little bit of a drive to our area and we made small talk, but she was very closed, not at all liking the situation. We arrived, gathered our paperwork and boldly set forth. We met several friendly, kind people who opened their doors to us and in no time we were relaxed and laughing and learning to trust each other. Then we connected as only women can. We shared stories of our families. Maybe two women can always find common ground, if we give it a shot. By the end our time together, I felt I had made a new friend. My partner said several times, "It didn't think I would like this job, but I had such a good time."

Back at training, in her loud, forceful way, she petitioned the supervisor to allow partnerships on the field after the training was over. We had decided this was a much safer and effective way to gather census information. The two of us had covered a lot of ground and accomplished a lot. But, of course, efficiency is not the way of our government. I would find that out more as the days went on. Safety is not a concern either, even though it is stated as such, but later I found out differently.

Number three brother

Family time! What a treasured gift to see two of my brothers in such a short time. We often go years without being together. My number three brother Rene and his wife and teenage daughter flew in from Georgia and we had a wonderful couple of days together. We mostly spent our time around the dining room table just catching up. The three girls did their own share of talking, and Arielle and Liana were so thrilled to spend time with their very special cousin. I so wish we lived closer! Julie is such a good role model for my girls. She is such a joy to be around.

We took a train trip to the city as you might have read about in Liana's post. My brother and my husband are two crazy characters and when they are together, you never know what might happen. While we waited to see Independence Hall, Rene made a strange connection with one of the security guards, who you can see has Rene by the neck. We had some laughs over their shenanigans.

Later on, as we were hurrying to catch the train home, Fred walked on ahead of us and then hid in a doorway, planning to jump out and scare us. The building happened to be a federal detention center and he was sharply reprimanded by an employee who demanded to know what he was doing. Fred just said, "I'm with them." The woman went back inside when she saw our little crew.

Every time we spend time with my brother and his family, we are left with a warmth surrounding us, a comforting, secure feeling. It is reassuring to know you are loved and accepted and supported for who you are. No pretenses to maintain, no acting to do. Free to be who we are. Thank you, brother.

Devil's Den Revisited--Gettysburg Part 2

I had more to write on Gettysburg but the last few weeks have been extremely busy. I have four drafts waiting but no time to edit.

July 2, 1863. Union troops held Little Round Top and Confederate troops approached from a large outcropping of rocks known as Devil's Den. The two groups of men shot at each other until thousands of bodies lay in the valley along a creek, an area that became known as the Slaughter Pen. The first picture above is looking down from Little Round Top and the second is looking up from Devil's Den.

We stood in each of these areas on a beautiful spring morning, imagining the young men stumbling along the rocky ground, tripping over bodies, the air thick with smoke. We are told the landscape looks very much the same as it did in 1863.

Fred and I came here years ago with the boys. Back then we came to play, not study history. Scrambling over the rocks at Devil's Den led to an ultimate game of Hide-and-Seek. We were fearless as we jumped around the huge boulders, finding narrow crevices to stuff ourselves into so no one could find us. Today we are cautious, fearing broken legs or skulls, or maybe even finding snakes! After all, Devil's Den was a named for a large snake that slithered among the cool caverns long ago. I did not share the girls' thrill of climbing on the rocks because I worried they would fall. Oh, how twenty years changes your perspective!

I looked for one of the best hiding spots where Fred and I hid and Damien and Dominic never did find us. As I peered behind the massive rock blocking the entrance, I decided I would never attempt to crawl in there now. But Fred and the girls were more brave and climbed under the boulder and found the shelf where Fred and I sat so long ago, holding our breath as the boys searched for us. The girls loved the story about the fun we had that day. Now we make new memories and new stories.