It has been a very nice, very relaxed week. Nevin has spent the last two weekends deer hunting. This is the last weekend of rifle season, so he is gone for a few more days. So far Ben got one during youth season, and Nevin got three last weekend. Our freezers are filling up! We did some processing this week, and for those who don't get all squeamish over fresh meat, here are picks from our activities!
Nevin and Ben, hard at work. They cut up the meat out here, I package and label it inside.
Everyone gets in on the project.
I love having a full freezer, and I especially love that we have done it all ourselves. Looking forward to some good eating this winter!
My friend Anne at Not A Supermom posted this earlier this week - a letter to her twenty-year-old self. There is a linky thing on her website so that you can blog on the same topic and link it to others who have done the same.
I don't have a good picture of my twenty-year-old self right now. Maybe later.
But, without further ado, here is the birthday letter:
Happy 20th birthday, December 2nd, 1985. Tonight you are going to go out with some friends, drink cheap draft beer and overall have a pretty good time. Your life is generally a mess, it is true, but right now you have a smidgen of hope. You moved out of the dorm, you have joined a sorority and living in the house. Basically, you have done another "geographic." You don't know that term yet, but you will in 1993. A geographic is when you move from one place to another, thinking that if you could just get away from there, then everything would be fine. Problem is, you keep taking you with you. You have a few more geographics to come, but that is later.
For today, I am glad you are happy. You just came home from Thanksgiving break, your father bought you a beautiful bright blue wool coat. All is fine. A few more weeks of school, finals and then Christmas break at home. Christmas parties are being planned with your sorority sisters, possibilities are in the air. Enjoy today, because in eight days it is all going to collapse.
On December 10, your mom is going to call. Your father and brother are going to be in a terrible accident. Your little brother is going to be physically okay, but the scars are going to go deep. Your dad, on the other hand is going to be in persistent vegetative state for the next 7 1/2 years.
And you, Paula, are going to fall apart. Over the cliff, no holds barred, freefall.
If I could give you one piece of advice right now, it would be, "Whatever you think is a good idea, do the opposite." Every choice you make is going to be wrong. Literally, every.single.one. I would love to tell you about how the Lord is going to preserve you, but I don't know that you would listen to religious talk. You have been to church, done all that. Didn't work. I know. But listen to this - there are going to be some dark, dark moments coming up - times when you honestly don't think you can go on another day. And something - someone - some small remnant of a Sunday School lesson or a sermon or a hymn from long ago is going to give you just enough to keep going. Just enough.
You are going to pull yourself up by your bootstraps a few times, take those geographic cures several times, and in the meantime you will finish college, and go through a series of jobs. You will leave a path of wreckage behind you, like a tornado whirling through peoples' lives.
Be nicer to your mom and your grandma, by the way. They are going to pull you butt out of the fire more times than you can count. Appreciate them more.
But hey -it isn't all gloom in doom.
In late June of 1993 you will finally reach the end of your rope. You've tied a knot and hung on so many times, and at 27 you are too tired and too worn out to do it anymore.
And finally, FINALLY - you will be broken enough. And God will save you. He will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. You will cry out to him with this new heart and repent.
And it is all different. Suddenly, it really is. You will quit drinking. You will see life through new eyes. You aren't going to realize at the time that this, this moment, is when God saves you. You are still deluded by the theology of your youth, that walk-the-aisle-repeat-the-prayer notion of salvation. That is going to lead you on a spiritual journey to understand what salvation really means. But, maybe another letter. When you are forty or so!
In July of 1993 Daddy will die, never having woke up from the permanent vegetative state. The night before is the last time you will drink or use a drug up to and including today - over 19 years so far. Not bad for someone who couldn't go more than a day or so for years and years.
You are going to make new friends. You are going to meet him. The real HIM, that God has for you. You will build a life together, build a home, build a family, be part of a community.
You are going to homeschool your four (yes four, I am not joking!) sons.
Yes, it is legal. No, you won't worry about socialization.
Your husband (his name is Nevin, don't go looking for him now though, he is a big mess at twenty, too) is going to build you a little house out in the forest, with his own two hands. He is going to grow into a Godly man, and he is going to lead you. Yes, lead you. You will understand later, don't start panicking now. It is going to be good.
Life will not always be perfect, as the world sees perfect. The house is going to get crowded and messy, the kids are loud (you cannot imagine how loud four boys can be), you will own your own business and that is going to have its' ups and downs and lots of stress.
But Paula, the Lord is good. He is merciful, and his grace and mercy have no end. God is going to reveal himself to you, over and over, and it is good.
November is always the Thanksgiving month, the gratitude, the thankful month. A whole month of gratitude? We should certainly be grateful every single day for our blessings. But (always that "but") - how often do I find myself ungrateful, or grumbling, or complaining? Any is too often. Whatever is in the Believer's life is there because the Lord has allowed it. All the Lord does is good. He is sovereign, He is all-knowing. For me, sinful and with extremely limited knowledge to complain or grumble about what he has given me is..well, it is ludicrous!
I just looked in my concordance for verses on thanks, thanksgiving, and all forms of blessings. Way too many to list - that can be your project for today - look up a few of those verses and meditate on them! It is going to be mine.
If we are to give thanks always, maybe focusing on it every day -through this little blog- could be a way to start. To get in practice, as it were.
And I am already three days behind!
I can start off with gratitude to my Lord, Jesus Christ, for my salvation. Here is a section of Psalm I read a few weeks ago that has plastered itself to my heart: Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man. And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
That was me, dying and miserable in my sin, and the Lord reached down and softened this hard heart of stone, gave me a heart of flesh that I could have faith in Him. He saved me, plain and simple. Through no works of mine (so I can't boast!) but strictly by His mercy.
Day 2, for my wonderful family - Nevin and the guys. I never dreamed of the life I would have, and some days I just wake up amazed at what the Lord has done. This life is not perfect in the sense that the world uses - often the work is hard, the money is tight, and sometimes people just plain get on my nerves. But, this is where God has put me, and even on days where I am struggling, I stop and realize that this blessing, this family, is so much more than I ever thought possible.
Monday was our 18th anniversary. Some years have been harder than others, but it has always been an adventure. When I married Nevin I was one who never thought "outside the box". I would have bought a newer house, with the income from my 8-5 job (where you got a regular paycheck with benefits), had 1.6 children, and done all the things you are just supposed to do. Nevin not only thinks outside the box, I don't know if he'd recognize a box if he met it. He was self-employed when I met him, and except for a brief foray into regular employment (because he knew I really wanted him to get a regular job, I think) he has always been. He has gutted a very old house and made it our home, then he built this house in the middle of a forest. He built a business, and then convinced me to leave my regular job and work with him. Live in the forest, own a business, homeschool the kids, raise chickens, process your own deer meat....crazy, I know. But here we are. Anything is possible, and there are opportunities everywhere.
He is deer hunting this weekend, so maybe absence makes the heart fonder! But truly, I am so grateful for the husband God gave me, how he follows the Lord and leads us.
And for today.....grateful that I am almost done grading lab reports for my science co-op! And so very grateful to see that they seem to be getting it, in spite of the somewhat haphazard instruction they are getting.
So, today, start practicing daily gratitude - let's do it together! After a month, hopefully it will be instant and automatic!
I only read three books this month - I am having a terrible time FINISHING any lately!
The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins - 2 - considered the first (and the longest) of the English detective novels. Mr. Collins seems to have a cult following. It took me two months to finish 500+ pages. I had a hard time staying focused. And....I knew who did it.
Hiss and Hers: An Agatha Raisin Mystery - M.C. Beaton - 4 - okay, so sue me, I liked this better. Read it in about 24 hours. Now, have to hold on a few months until the next Hamish Macbeth comes out, then another 11 months until we see Agatha again.
Contending: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World - Aaron Armstrong - 3 - pretty good. Cruciform Press publishes short, to-the-point books on weighty subjects. They have a subscription service, where you pay as each new book is published every other month. So far I have thoroughly enjoyed them. This was a little slower going for me that some of the others.
And that is IT. I am planning to make up for it over Thanksgiving!