Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Are Vacations Overrated?

I'm  not sure why I always feel the need to get defensive about Vacations. Probably because I'm still trying to decide if Vacations are overrated. I'm talking -- take off for a week, travel to far away places, sight see and sleep in motel kind of vacations. I grew up without them and turned out pretty well, I'd say. My husband managed to become an amazing man in spite of no Vacations as well. I've always held tightly to the idea that it's really the little things that create some of the best memories -- playing Whistle Wink or Wave with my siblings in the gathering twilight, sitting around the popcorn bowl on a Sunday evening, talking at the supper table long after the food has disappeared, riding on the back of the truck down bumpy roads for a picnic at the White River...

I married a man who shares my ideas of making memories with little things. But, he is also a man who loves history and stories and giving his children opportunities to travel and make that history and those stories come to life. Our biggest venture to date has been the trip we took three years ago to see all of Laura Ingalls Wilder's little houses. This year, the solar eclipse on August 21 was the catalyst for another big adventure. Chris always vowed he wouldn't miss a chance to see a solar eclipse, so plans began to take a vacation over that time. What started as a small, weekend trip turned into a nine day excursion and returning home late the night before school started!

There were many moments in the past nine plus days when I really felt Vacations are highly overrated. Packing up a family of seven for nine days away from home is not for the faint of heart. We did not take a motor home nor a maxi van. In fact, we rented a vehicle that turned out to have less space than our mini van. Lets just say my minimalist and organizational skills were stretched a good bit and, to be honest, I had a hard time mustering up much excitement about the whole thing. Children have no respect for the hard work a Vacation takes. They wake up all groggy in the morning and look expectantly at their parents and ask, "Where are we going today?" They ask thoughtless questions like - "Is this all we're doing?" "Why do we have to walk so far??" "Do we have to eat chicken again?"

It was four nights into our trip, driving up to Mt Rushmore in the dark with the lights of the town blinking brightly in the distance, when I squeezed Chris' hand and whispered, "Maybe it really is worth it all."

I don't know if I can explain what prompted that feeling. The children were mimicking favorite stories and there was a level of camaraderie and closeness that just squeezed my mother heart. I had watched my oldest swing the youngest up onto his shoulders when short little legs got tired; seen the big girl give the younger sisters the best seats; observed the close bond the five of them share. Do not get me wrong here. I'd heard plenty of, "Make him stop!" "It's my turn!" "Why do you always have to....?" kinds of stuff, too. We don't have angels for children, trust me. The Drama Queen had totally frustrated me with her 'when I don't feel good I'm dying' routine; the fifteen year old had not acted the way I thought a fifteen year old should act..... but in the dark, closeness of the vehicle with the glow of the lights in the distance and someone wondering how many of them were street lights and how many were buildings and how it would look if it were only street lights.... Somehow with the sharing of laughter and stories and memories, I felt the irreplaceable bond of family and how special it is to share the big moments of adventure together.

I believe there is a balance between thinking we must have Vacations and always staying home because it would be terrible to "waste" all that money. I'm reminded of John Piper's practical questions about money, particularly this one: Is it an occasional, expensive nonessential that would say an extraordinary 'I love you'? This trip was certainly occasional, expensive and nonessential but I'm embracing the experience as the extraordinary 'I Love You' that it was.

Vacations are definitely overrated but they are also so much fun! I am so thankful for the opportunity to spend quality family time enjoying some of the amazing sights of this world God created and watching history come alive before our eyes.

All that being said.......


Just call me Duffy.

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Pictures coming soon... sometime after I emerge from the piles of laundry and back to school adjustments...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dear Mom

It's late and I am tired. Tears wet my cheeks; my heart is sad and weary. I just want to ask ---

What is Heaven like, Mom?

When your sister stepped through the pearly gates yesterday, were you there to give her a hug? Are you both young again and full of energy? Are you walking arm and arm, exploring the beauties of heaven?
Tonight, I'm just wondering ---

What is Heaven like, Mom?

Can you see us down here, struggling to make decisions? Do you see as God does, the beginning from the end? Does it all make sense now, the questions and the imperfections of this old world?


I wonder, really wonder ---

What is Heaven like, Mom?

Will it matter, in the grand scheme of things, how much work I got done this week? Will it matter if my girls have new school dresses and how much corn I have in the freezer? Will it matter that I couldn't make it to my aunt's funeral?


In the whirl of all the going and doing, I'd just like to ask ---

What is Heaven like, Mom?

Can you see my angel baby? Walk and talk with all your old friends who went before you? Hug your granddaughter who lived here only a few short days? Is sitting at Jesus' feet, gazing into His face, enough?

I really have no idea, I just wonder ---

What is Heaven like, Mom?

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." I Corinthians 13:12




I miss you Mom. Can't wait to join you up there!

Even so come Lord Jesus........

Love, Bethany

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Happenings, Pictures and Tid Bits

Green beans are bubbling away in the canners and I'm sitting with my feet propped up, looking back through pictures and getting ready to tell you all the tid bits. Aren't you excited?

I refuse to tell you that school starts in three weeks. The list of things to be accomplished between now and then will not be mentioned either. Going over it all will neither diminish it's length nor stretch the weeks. What I will tell you about is how lovely this summer has been! Granted, someone seems to have stolen at least a month from this season - why do they do that, I wonder? But while it lasted it has been one glorious, luxurious stretch in the beautiful, yellow sunshine.

We haven't done a lot of big things this summer and we haven't been overly busy either - saved it all for the last three weeks of vacation. You should try it someday; adrenaline rush and all that...

Bits of summer in pictures:


Time spent at the lake is always worth the effort to make it happen!



We put peaches in the freezer;
Peaches and more peaches.
And we enjoyed lots of them fresh!


I enjoyed helping with VBS for a week.
I had the privilege of 15-20 minutes each night telling a Bible story and teaching a verse. Making verse posters and coming up with illustrations for stories was fun.


Somehow the sight of 25-28 energetic 6-8 year olds looking up at me with their sweet, innocent (albeit mischievous) faces squeezed my heart harder than I expected. The night I told my mom's old flannelgraph story "He Took My Whipping", I don't think I was the only one with tears in my eyes.


At the last minute, I ran to town for Dollar Tree New Testaments and suckers and my girls helped me wrap up a little gift for each.
It was an exhausting, fulfilling week.


I don't have a garden but we've managed to enjoy some yummy fresh produce anyway.


Our neighbor lady offered me free choosing in her sprawling flower beds. We spent most of a day digging and pulling and tucking plants into the ground. We have lots of dreams for the future, for now we'll see how many plants survive the moving and work on our dreams bit by bit.
 "If they die you can always come back for more," the neighbor told me cheerfully! I'm in love with the steps Jasmine dug out of the bank.


We're all into plants around here, and the fun of starting new ones.


Then there's just the random things -
"Playing Chess", an evening walk, Jasmine's art, Jennifer's teepee...


And there's this book.
I cannot remember where I heard about it but it was a very
 interesting read.

I feel like I have been rather lazy this summer. There are many projects I could have gotten done if I would have made them a priority. I'm telling myself I've been 'savoring' and, as they say, "That's my story and I'm sticking to it!"

How has your summer been?