The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

We’ve all had those days where nothing seems to go right and everything seems to go wrong. Last Thursday was one of those days for me.

After nearly two weeks with us, the puppy, Thorin, was very much a member of the  family. Thursday morning a neighbor showed up and wanted him back. Just like that–after two weeks of apparently not being concerned about him. His house is about an eighth of a mile away from ours, but his backyard and ours share about 200 feet of fence; yet he never checked to see if the puppy was here.

He didn’t ask how the puppy was doing–or any questions, really. I didn’t have much choice but to give him back. I would have felt better if I though he was going back to people who cared as much about him as we did.

This was an awful start to the day. And, although it was the worst thing that happened, the day didn’t improve much from that point forward.

Mark had an afternoon appointment for vision therapy, so we pulled ourselves together and got ready. Matthew and Maggie stayed home, as they often do. Micah came with us.

It is about a thirty-mile drive to the clinic where Mark has his vision therapy, most of which I spent thinking about how much I already missed Thorin. The therapy appointment went well and afterwards we spent about ten minutes waiting for them to finish making Mark’s glasses (which had been about two weeks in the making due an error with one of the lenses). Mark looked adorable with his new glasses, and we headed out to the van for the drive home.

About ten minutes down the road, Micah said, “Mark broke his glasses!” My first thought was that he had popped a lens out. Surely he hadn’t broken them before he’d had them on for fifteen minutes! I told Micah to put the glasses on the seat in front of him (they were in the back row); and since I had nothing else to do while driving, I stewed over whether he had actually broken the glasses and if so, how badly.

After about ten minutes of stewing, I decided to pull over on a side road to find out how bad it was. He had snapped the entire earpiece off, just above the hinge. There would be no way for me to fix them and still have the hinge usable–glue or tape would both be in the way.

I couldn’t do anything about the glasses until we got home. As I turned around to go back to the highway, I slid off the road onto the shoulder. This would not have been a problem if we had not gotten about ten straight days of rain. The van was stuck! I tried reverse, no luck. I tried first gear, again no luck. I turned the engine off and burst into tears. I should mention at this point that Mark and Micah were both already crying because of the broken glasses.

I called Todd. His phone went straight to voicemail. I called and texted a few more times with no response. So I called his office. Sure enough, he was right there in the cellular-service dead zone that is his office. He came and picked us up and took us home.

After Todd got off work one of our neighbors was kind enough to help him pull the van out so that we didn’t need to call a tow truck.

I’m thankful that days like these are usually rare. And that when I do have them, God’s grace is sufficient to get me through them.

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An unexpected puppy

My last post was all about our new porch. The porch wasn’t the only new thing we got last Saturday.

Todd and I were up well before the kids last Saturday, talking and having coffee. All of a sudden we heard a loud thump on the front porch followed by quiet whimpering.

We looked outside and found this little guy:

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We have no idea where he came from. He was so excited to see us that if he’d had a tail, he would have wagged it off.  It had been a chilly night and he was shivering. We gave him some water and food, and I rubbed him down to help him warm up.

The kids were really excited to see him when they got up. Amy, our German shepherd, was not as thrilled. She barked and growled at him for a while, but he didn’t seem to care. He came right on into the house and made himself at home. He found a pile of laundry in the boys’ room (shocking!), curled up, and went to sleep. He spent most of the weekend sleeping.

The kids, together with their friends who were visiting, named the puppy Thorin after the king of the dwarves from The Hobbit. We are definitely Tolkien fans!

We checked multiple places to see if anyone was missing a puppy, but no one seemed to be looking for him. By this time, we were already planning to keep him unless someone claimed him. He was getting along well with Amy (and she was mostly getting along with him).

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We tried to figure out what breed of dog Thorin was by looking online at various breeds; realizing, of course, that he was likely to be more than one. We thought he was probably a Catahoula because of his color or possibly a pit bull mix because of his broad face and stub/docked tail. On Thursday, Todd had a chance to take him to the veterinarian to see if he had a microchip. He didn’t. The vet said that it’s highly unlikely that Thorin’s a pit bull. Catahoula is a possibility, but his first thought was Great Dane.

Time will probably tell what breed he is, but for now we are enjoying him. And laughing about the fact that we may have named a Great Dane after a dwarf!

A new front porch

First, I want to say that we have amazing friends.

Some friends of ours (two families) asked if there were any big projects we still needed help with and the most of obvious project was the front porch. It was one of the last really big projects other than the irreparable shed.

Parts of the porch were  not very safe to walk on–two to three feet back from the front edge for almost the entire length of the porch. And some of the support underneath had rotted out. I had mostly put off working on the porch for the simple reason that I really didn’t know how I was going to fix it.

This was actually a good section of the porch.

This was actually a good section of the porch.

It was a little like an old-fashioned barn-raising. People started showing up and getting to work. We tore out the old bad boards and replaced them with new; braced support beams that needed it; rebuilt railings; and built new steps on one side, and added supports to the other set of steps. Most of the kids even helped–at one point I think there were thirteen of them there.

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The difference between old and new

We finished all the work by dinnertime. Then we all had a bonfire at our friends’ house and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.

It is very humbling to have friends who are willing to drop everything for a weekend to help you work on a project. When it is their idea, it is even more so.

Invisible work

Maggie and I spent  over two hours one day last month working at the new house, but I doubt that you would notice what we accomplished in that time.

Maggie put a fresh coat of paint on the ceiling in her brothers’ room. I pulled all of the weeds growing on one side of the carport (I had parked the van on the other) and cut down several small saplings that had grown up next to the house and other structures. Even if you had seen the place before Maggie painted and I cleared out that small portion of brush, you probably would only see what still needs to be done: the holes in the walls, the knee-high grass in the backyard, the broken windows, and all the other things we haven’t gotten to. The ceiling in the boys’ room is still white, just a little bit brighter. The weeds will grow back, probably before I even get to the ones on the other side of the carport.

It hit me (again) that much of life is spent doing the invisible work. We wash the laundry, clean up messes, wash dishes, wipe noses (and other places), and kiss boo-boos–only to do it all again tomorrow. But this invisible work is the important work. It is in the daily monotony of caring for our families that we are living out God’s grace and truth.

What’s new on our homestead

It’s been a while since my last post, so I thought I’d get caught up on all the things that have been happening around here lately. It’s been a busy summer!

We are slowly making some progress on the new house. Mostly we are finding more and more things that will need to be done, but that is progress in itself. The front porch is going to need more work than we thought as one of the support joists is rotting. The lower portion of the living room walls was covered very badly with an extra layer of drywall. I took that off and was pleasantly surprised to find that the walls were in very good shape with nearly all of the damage coming from the extra layer of drywall. I’m using the drywall I removed to patch some of the larger holes in the boys’ room.

Matthew has his learner’s permit. He was able to take driver’s ed through our local high school even though he is homeschooled. He enjoyed the class and Todd and I enjoyed not teaching him to drive. (He’s still learning, but mostly just needs practice.)

We got a dog. We were planning to wait until we moved out to the new house before we did this, but a friend of ours was looking for a home for her German shepherd puppy. Amy is almost a year old now and mostly well-behaved. We are still trying to teach her not to chase the chickens. She is under the mistaken impression that they need rounding up.

Amy

I finished the henhouse. Well, most of it. I built most of it about three months ago and the chickens were able to start using it–and more importantly stop sleeping in the bathroom. Matthew and I finished putting the shingles on the roof about a month later and it still needs a coat of paint, but the chickens don’t care.

We lost another chicken. Snuggles was our broody hen. She sat on her nest from dawn ’til dusk every day, rain or shine, with eggs or not. Her broodiness was in all probability the direct cause of her demise. We think that a Cooper’s hawk swooped down and tried to carry her off. I say “tried to” because we found her hanging in the fence. Any other daytime predator would have raised an alarm with the other chickens. I doubt that the hawk realized how big and heavy she was, just that she was an easy target–a sitting duck, if you will.

We have come to the realization that three of the six chicks we got were not pullets, they are cockerels. I don’t mind having a rooster, but three is too many for our small flock. I’m not sure what we will do with the extras. In the meantime, we are enjoying laughing at their attempts at crowing.

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We are trying to settle into a new routine with church, school, therapy, and work while still finding time to work on the house. I’m thankful that we don’t have a deadline to have everything finished and moved in.

All lives matter

Today is recognized in many churches as “Sanctity of Life Sunday.”  A few days from now will mark the forty-second anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which played a large role in legalizing abortion in the United States.

Todd and I have been involved for several months in an ongoing project to start a pro-life pregnancy center in our area.  God has truly blessed this effort through the people who have been brought together to meet different needs and fill various roles.  We are making progress toward our goal to open a center that will help meet the physical and spiritual needs of women and families in our community.  We hope to offer pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, parenting classes, and counseling.  The purpose of the center is obviously to meet needs, but most importantly to glorify God by sharing the gospel (when welcome) while ministering to our community.

As the mother of a child who has special needs, especially one with a genetic condition, the subject of abortion is very dear to me.  When confronted with a diagnosis that their child will lead a life with some type of disability, many women (and men) choose to end that life in the womb.  Some would say they made the choice because they did not want the child to suffer.  Some would say because they have other children and their needs to think about.  Some would honestly say that they don’t want the added burden of raising a child with special needs.  Some, I’m sure, are encouraged by their doctors or by family members.  The reasons given do not matter, a child with special needs is every bit as much of a person as you are.  They are the person that God created them to be.

A single life ended is a tragedy.  One abortion is too many.  All lives matter.

(This is not intended to make anyone feel guilty.  If you have made the choice to have an abortion in your past, I pray that you will seek forgiveness and that God will grant you peace.  If you are pregnant and contemplating an abortion, I pray that you would choose life for your child.)

Getting it all done

We are on a deadline.  We need to leave early Friday morning.  And it ALL has to be done before we leave.  All the packing for our trip, all the laundry, all the cleaning up and packing up to have the floor and carpet installed, it all needs to be done by Thursday.

Will we get it all done?  No.  Not the way that I want it done.  I would like to have everything packed neatly in labeled boxes so that we can find everything when we get home.  I want to finish sorting through things and cleaning them out before I pack them up.  I want to make a list of everything that we need for our trip and check everything off as I neatly tuck it into a suitcase.

In reality, the boxes are not labeled (except for one that says “fragile”).  They are neatly packed, if by neatly packed you mean that I have utilized the maximum amount of space in the box regardless of what things I am packing together.  I have cleaned out a lot of things, but not nearly as much as I would like, because I don’t want to regret a rash decision to dispose of something and I’m in the frame of mind to get rid of it all.  I do have a list of things to pack for our trip and have been checking things off–as I throw them into a pile in the corner next to the suitcases.  Neatness went out with the old floors!

Reality seldom turns out like what I envision it to be ahead of time.  And I can be frustrated by that–usually my default choice–or I can accept the differences as they come.  My plans are just that–my plans.  If things aren’t done the way I plan, it isn’t the end of the world.  If I have to hunt through boxes to find things as we unpack, then I will.  Maybe I’ll take the time to go through things as I unpack.  If I don’t get everything organized for our trip, we’ll make do; it’s not like they don’t have stores where we are going.  If I can let go of my frustration, I can appreciate what we have managed to accomplish instead of focusing on what we missed.