Saturday, August 1, 2015

**500th Post Giveaway**

A little over 4 years ago, July 9, 2011 to be exact, I googled "starting a blog", and so began this little space called About My Father's Business. According to blogger, this will be the 500th time I've typed some words and hit "publish"; 500 posts. Wow!

I could wax all eloquent and nostalgic but I'm not going to. What I am going to do is: have a give-away! The truth is, I saw this mile marker coming up a while back and I've hardly been able to wait til I reached it. There may or may not have been some "this'll work for one" posts thrown in lately to speed up the process but be that as it may, here we are.

I have a special book to give away today, a book that you won't be able to find anywhere else. In fact, there is only a limited supply of this book and I happen to be the one in possession of it. One lucky person will receive a free copy, and to the rest of you privileged readers, I will offer the chance to buy a copy while my supply lasts.

Okay. I'm trying to make this sound all fancy and it's really not :) For many years my mom was the Junior Stories editor for the Calvary Messenger (a small, monthly publication sent out to various Mennonite churches) During the course of those years, there were often no stories sent in to be edited and so mom would write her own stories about the "Miller family" - better known as the Elmer Gingerich family.

Probably 5 or 6 years ago mom had the idea to compile her stories about our family and have a book made for each of us children. Well, time passed and somehow the project never got done. Before mom's 70th birthday my sister, Rachel, decided to make her dream come true. Five months later, mom was no longer with us and a few people saw the booklet Rachel had gotten printed and wondered if they could buy one? She decided to get it printed as a book and would have preferred to give them all away as gifts, but I offered to be her "sales-lady". :)

So, if any of you are interested in "Grandma's Storybook of Memories", leave me a comment and you just might get a free one! If you knew my mom, I would love to have you share a memory in your comment. If you would like to buy a copy of the book, you can order one from me for $5.00 plus shipping. There is a limited supply, but send your order to christopherbethany@juno.com and I'll be happy to send you a book while they last.

And to all you people who have joined me by reading along in this little space, thank you. You have blessed my life.

*This giveaway will be open for 10 days (August 10, 2015). You must have a US address I can send a book to in order to be eligible. Please include your email address so I can contact you!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sometimes I Wonder...

Sometimes I wonder, as I sigh in exasperation, and ask the child, "How many times have I told you not to do that?!"

Is this how my Father feels?

Sometimes I wonder, as I hear the howling for the umpteenth time in a day, "Will we ever get through a whole day without someone crying??"

Is this how my Father feels?

Sometimes I wonder, as I search for wisdom and tell the child to say "I'm sorry" yet again,

Is this how my Father feels?

Sometimes I wonder, when I've given an order and I hear the familiar "But moooooooom!"

Is this how my Father feels?

Sometimes I wonder, when I've labored in the kitchen and the sight of green beans on the table prompts a frowning face,

Is this how my Father feels?

Sometimes I wonder, when it seems all that I'm trying to teach is falling on deaf ears and is it really worth it?

Is this how my Father feels?

And then He reminds me.........

"8. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
9. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger forever.
10. He hath not dealt with me after my sins; nor rewarded me according to my iniquities.
11. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
12. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed my transgressions from me.
13. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
14. For he knoweth my frame; he remembereth that I am dust." Psalm 103:8-14

Ahh. What a Father I have!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Four Years

Four years ago today I was finishing up last minute details. I was going to bed with a lump in my throat and an ache in my heart. I was facing a very unknown future with a lot of fear and a tiny thread of faith. In the morning, we were moving to Ohio.

Sometimes I wonder if this can possibly be the same person who said those goodbyes and packed up those belongings and wondered if God knew what He was doing.

Four years later, I would have to say, "Yes. God knew what He was doing."

Four years. It seems like much, much longer. I look at my children and it's hard to remember how young they were! My 11 year old, who is nearly as tall as me, is this the same child who cried heartbrokenly at the thought of leaving all her friends and going to a new school? My soon-to-be first grader, is this the same baby who I laid in her crib for the last time and wiped away tears at the thought that she had no idea what we were doing? This growing little second grader the same child who declared with sobs, "But I don't want new friends in Ohio!"?

God is good. I knew it then; I know it now.

It is good to look back and see how God's bridges have held. Held through change and uncertainty; held through hard days and stretching circumstances. "In memory, the shape of God's yesterday-heart emerges and assures of God's now-heart and reassures of His sure beat tomorrow." ~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Sometimes, in the middle of the darkness, it's hard to tell whether God's bridges are holding or not? Sometimes they sway and crack and I wonder if my next step will find any bridge beneath it or whether I'll be plunged into the dreadful unknown below. Sometimes doubt obscures the steady, solid bridge my Father is urging me onto. I feel like a tight rope walker, with no railing and no sure place to set my feet.

Pausing from the safety of today to look back and see that, yes. His bridges have held, sure and true. And allowing that knowledge to up my confidence in the bridge builder and His course for the next four years!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Love of a Father

Discouragement is --

*The layer of cobwebs along every ceiling in the house and knowing they can only be the sign of a terrible truth: I am a failure at housekeeping.

*The whiny children who also seem to constantly be bickering with each other and knowing it can only mean one thing: I am a failure as a mom.

*The everlasting 5 p.m. dilemma of "What's for supper?" And knowing I should plan ahead: I am a failure at cooking.

*The husband who has been feeling neglected and ignored and knowing this surely means: I am a failure as a wife.

*The long list of birthdays I have failed to send cards for and knowing that even here: I am a failure as a friend.

Encouragement is --

*Sitting in a Sunday school class and hearing other ladies echo the needs you are feeling and knowing you are not alone. You are not crazy or losing your mind.

*Listening to an inspiring message and realizing my Father is my Lover and He really does meet me where I am. He knows the needs of my heart and He answers those pleas for His help.

*Tears trickling down my face as I realize this world is not my home, I am just passing through...

Satan loves to get me to believe his lies. He loves to convince me to live out of my feelings of failure. Feelings that are only that; feelings. Not truth. But my Father's love is stronger than satan's evil intentions. Oh, to have Him pour His truth into my heart! This week may I be wooed by His love; may my eyes be open to see His truth.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Our first night at The House On The Hill

I grew up in a house with no a/c. In Arkansas the summers were generally very warm and our upstairs bedrooms would be sweltering. My mom had the perfect answer for a miserable night spent with a fan that only blew the warm air around: sleep outside!

Mom loved to sleep outside. In a hammock, on the picnic table, on the roof - it didn't matter where, just so you could enjoy the cool breeze and listen to the night sounds. It was not uncommon to slip out the tiny upstairs window onto the flat part of the roof, unroll a sleeping bag and enjoy the cooler air and spectacular stars. It was also not uncommon to sneak back in through the tiny window in the middle of the night when a fan blowing warm air seemed like a better option than a hard-as-a-rock sleeping surface, but it sure made good memories!

We were not a camping out family but I remember numerous girl's sleepovers on the concrete slab behind our church across the road. You have to understand that had we slept in the much softer grass, we would have run the risk of numerous itch inducing insects - ticks and chiggers being the main culprits.

I'm saying all this so you will understand why, when I saw the nice, flat surface of the upper story of our new house all nicely nailed in place, it was only natural for the thought to enter my mind: "We should sleep up here some night!"

Most of our children had no idea what it's like to sleep outside and they were immediately all over my idea. They certainly weren't going to let me forget that I had mentioned it nor let me get out of doing it!

Well, it's been rainy season around here, so we waited and we waited. Finally, last Thursday night promised to be a clear night. We couldn't wait much longer than that, because plans were to put the rafters and plywood up come Saturday and then we wouldn't be able to see the stars. So Thursday it was.

In typical Bethany fashion, I really wasn't sure anymore that this was such a great idea but there was no turning back now. So, I gathered the paraphernalia and we set out for the New House (as Charles calls it) soon after 9. We dragged our gear up the rickety ladder and set up camp. Me being me, I had opted to take stacks of blankets rather than borrow sleeping bags. I'll just be honest: I didn't want to explain what we were doing.

Chris and Isaac stayed at home in their comfy beds. I really didn't blame them. They needed to get up early to get things ready for the work day at the house on Saturday.

We set up our blankets and pillows and roasted marshmallows over candles and squished them between shortbread cookies. We read stories about Uncle Mark's recent trip and played "I'm thinking of somebody". I told all about sleeping outside when I was growing up and before we blew the candles out I did my best "Crooked Mouth Family" rendition. They were duly impressed.

The clouds were covering all the beautiful stars we'd hoped to see, and Ohio doesn't have nearly the after dark chorus of insects that Arkansas has but it was still fun to crawl under our blankets and settle down for the night in the great outdoors.

I hadn't reckoned with several problems with my great idea. #1. Ohio summer nights are much chillier than Arkansas summer nights. #2. My bones are a good bit older than they used to be. #3. Ohio has very heavy dew.

I probably dozed off for awhile but it wasn't a very long slumber til I woke up and made some discoveries. #1. My feet were FREEZING. #2. Plywood is Hard. Really Hard. Especially when you're heading for 40. #3. Everything was soaking wet.

The one redeeming discovery was that the clouds had cleared and the stars were absolutely amazing. So I looked at them for awhile. Then I gazed around at my house to be and tried to decide what kind of curtains I should put at the windows and which furniture might go where. When that finally lost it's charm, I gave in and checked the time: 2:30. Oh brother.

I tucked my head under the blankets and tried to forget that my feet were FREEZING. Then I turned my bones the other direction to see if plywood felt any softer on my left side. I contemplated the effort it would take to get everybody down that rickety ladder in the dark. I considered the idea of moving my old bones to the soft seat of the van.

Shall I cut the suspense and make a long story short?

Eventually, I had Jasmine awake with me and about 4:30 we decided the effort of trundling everybody down the ladder in the dark was worth a couple hours of sleep in a soft, warm, dry bed. So we got up and we came home.

And that was our first night at The House On The Hill.

To tell you the truth, I would probably do it again.Those stars were really beautiful, and I have some great ideas for curtains for my windows! :)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dear Mom

The sharp pangs of missing you don't hit as often, Mom, but sometimes that feeling shows up out of nowhere and startles me with it's intensity. A random thought or incident or story or memory will suddenly bring to my consciousness the painful reality that you are gone. Gone.

Just yesterday a silly "bunny trail" thought process led to thoughts of you, Mom, and the way you would have responded was so real in my mind it made me catch my breath and remind myself that I'll never hear you say that again! The usual sadness of never being able to talk to you again followed. So many things I would love to tell you all about, Mom.

We did a tiny little garden spot again this year, Mom, for fun. A row of your marigolds went in along the back, then tomato plants on one end and cucumbers on the other and Jennifer's ten precious green bean seeds given by her first grade teacher along the front. It was really too much for the tiny space but I couldn't say no to the green beans, so we crammed it all in.

You would love to see our little plot, Mom. Jennifer's teacher had told her these green beans need a fence to climb on, and the minute they popped out of the ground she couldn't stop reminding me of that fact! So, one day when I was at The House On The Hill, I went into the woods and gathered myself a nice stack of sticks. Back at home we fashioned a little fence for the beans and a teepee for the cucumbers. Jennifer was so pleased!

We've had such fun watching our plants flourish, Mom. It has rained and rained and our plants are lush and green. The tomato plants have taken over their alloted space and then some. The marigolds are growing taller by the day, making a living fence along the back edge. The cucumbers have lagged behind a bit and not all the seeds came up, I don't believe. The beans? Those things actually did climb. Right up our makeshift fence and on off the tops of our sticks!

We've had a few unwanted visitors in our patch. When the beans and cukes were small, some curious critter with pointy hooves decided the tender leaves should be sampled. The plucky little plants bravely grew on and were climbing beautifully until just last week somebody came back for another meal. In spite of that, there's fruit on the vines! Every discovery of tiny veggies growing brings excited smiles and bright eyes. And we've used your mothball strategy and hung some around to (hopefully) keep away future pests.

It's because of you, Mom, that I'm doing this. You modeled a love for growing things and I do it for the fun and the opportunity to pass on the love, not for the handful of green beans that we might get from ten small seeds. I treasure those summers spent hoeing and planting and weeding and harvesting. And if those cucumbers and tomatoes survive? Yum. I can taste them already!

Love you, Mom.
You are still missed...