Archive for September, 2010

By a Thread…Part 2

So some have wondered why I am angry and frustrated. Well, the short of it is that I am tired of living hand to mouth. I am worried about the debt that daily looms over our heads. I want to get ahead.

So I took my frustrations and anger to God. I realized that even though I may be “hanging by a thread“, God is completely supporting and carrying us…and that’s a great place to be.

I took my eyes off of Jesus, just like Peter did when he walked on water. God is here for us, just as He was for Peter. He never lets us fall. Never. Not once.

All we need to do is get out of the boat, and fix our eyes on Him.

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By a Thread

I am unsure of what to write today. I had an idea of sharing an epiphany I had last night about the verse “suffer the little children unto me.” But I am just not feeling it.

Quite honestly I am frustrated and mad, but I can’t show it. I am hanging on by a thread…ready to be broken at any moment. One thing I try so hard to do is keep a joyful attitude. It doesn’t do anyone any good for me to be mad and upset. And It says, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.”

I could go on about the things I am mad about, but it would just make matters worse. So instead I am clinging to my Father. He will provide.

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A Bug…of the Stomach Variety

Oh, for those of you who so diligently follow this blog you may have wondered why the absence for a couple of days. I have been trying to hold myself accountable to writing three blogs a week…Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

A bug has invaded JoKars Wild…a 24+ hour stomach bug.

Someone made the comment to me the other day as to how we handle sickness with a family of 10. Well, the only answer I have for that is “by the grace of God.”

When the kids were younger, I honestly don’t ever remember being so sick I couldn’t care for them, or maybe Joe was around. Earlier this year, our family was hit very hard with the flu…myself included. But it was just high fevers and complete fatigue.

This time it has been the messy, but thankfully short lived. Kira got sick first on Thursday. Azariah was next on Saturday. Nehemiah quickly followed on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Hanna and Elijah were next. Then I took a turn on Monday. And rounding us out has been Joe and Josiah on Tuesday. As I write this, I have a feeling that Michaela will be sick tomorrow or this evening (Tuesday night). That leaves only Petra who has stayed relatively healthy.

Since Kira was sick first, by the time I got sick she was well and able to help care for the little kids. I really don’t know what I would have done without her. Joe, Josiah, and Michaela were gone while I was sick, so it would have been very difficult if I hadn’t had her help. Now that I am well, I can help care for the older ones.

This situation totally reminds me of how my God cares about the little details. He knew I would need help. He knew what we needed and when we needed it. Also…and this is going to sound bad (please, don’t feel sorry for us!)…we are a little low on food. Having so many people not wanting any food is helping us get through the end of the month. (Again, please don’t sound the alarms…we are OK! There are so many people who need it far more than we do!!! We have plenty…just not what the kids want, if you know what I mean…we are not starving!)

OK, I digressed. I just wanted to say how amazed I am that God cares about all the little details. I hope that you can see that in your own life. I hope you know how much He loves and wants to know you. Start a relationship with Him…now…today.

Additional Note: I had been trying to make sure and include a picture with each post, but for the sake of all of you, I chose not to this time. Your welcome. 🙂

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The Lucky Penny

After attending high school for a week or two, we discovered that Michaela was in desparate need of some clothes. An RV wardrobe is not the same as a school wardrobe. So we prayed that God would bless her with some new clothes. Then a few days later, Michaela received some money in the mail from a friend. (I really shouldn’t be surprised by such answers to prayer, but Wow! God is so good.)

So after school, I took Michaela out shopping. Being that she only had $50 and she didn’t want to pay the outrageous prices of major chain stores, we headed to some bargain/consignment stores. (We had already been to the local thrift store and found they didn’t have much.) Before going into the first store, we asked God to bless our shopping.

After going to three different stores and not having much luck, our luck changed. (No, I don’t believe in luck, but it fit with the name of the store…lol.) We were directed to the Lucky Penny. At first we were a little overwhelmed at the amount of stuff they had, but with a little searching Michaela was able to find several things to add to her school wardrobe. She got 5-6 shirts and a dress for $20! How awesome is that!

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Where was I…? Oh, yeah, relationships…

If there is one thing that I can convey to you, it is the importance of relationships…a relationship with your spouse, a relationship with your children, a relationship with Jesus, and relationships with friends.

As a mom, I find it very hard to keep in close relationship with friends. As other moms can relate, it is often difficult to finish a conversation. As I have written these few sentences, I have been interrupted at least 12 times. (“Hanna put away the vacuum. It’s not a toy.”) One of the reasons I write this blog is to stay in relationship with other people. Also, I want to encourage, I want to share my heart with you. Taking care of 8 kids has made that difficult, but this blog allows that to happen. (“Kids, turn down the TV!”)

The other day I was given an opportunity to see a friend in person…I know, what a weird concept! My husband took our boys for the day, and I headed to Lincoln City, OR with Kira, Petra, Hanna, and Nehemiah. It was a 4 hour drive one way, but well worth it.

Along the way, I stopped and snapped a photo with my cell phone.

My friend and I and the kids had lunch together. We were able to talk about old times and also find out some new things. We encouraged each other. We lifted each other up.

Some might think that 8 hours of driving was not worth the few hours of time we had together. But this is what we were created for…to be in relationship with one another and God. We are supposed to be in relationship. (“Kira, can you come and get Nehemiah?”)

It isn’t always convenient. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always even pleasurable. But I guarantee that in the end it is worth it. (“Be there in a sec to finish dinner!…”)

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Pie Anyone?

With our very challenging economic times, the temptation might be to hold on to our possessions even tighter; or to buy things cheaply and store them away. But it is more important now, than ever before, that we release our things, give them away and give them away freely.

JoKars Wild has been very fortunate to have some generous people in our lives. As stated in Showers of Blessings, we have been given money and food and clothing. A couple of people have given us some extra house hold items they had…some knives and pie plates.

In our trailer we had 5 knives and one pie plate. We now have 6 pie plates and 35 knives! But even with our large family, this is way more than we need. I don’t think I would ever make more than 4 pies at a time, and we only need the one best knife for its job (carver, chopper, bread, etc)…after all I only have one hand to cut with!

So I will soon go through the pie plates and knives and pick out the ones I need. The rest will go to a local charity.

It is so important that we exercise the generosity of the people who gave me the household items, and get rid of the things that clutter our lives. We spend so much time and energy buying stuff we don’t need; that is only going to break or collect dust in a matter of days…my self included. I don’t want to go back to that. I don’t want to live that kind of life again.

Please, don’t let stuff control your life. Give your life to Jesus and let him control it.

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Madison Coffee House and Laundry

I have been fortunate enough to go and do laundry about once a week. This is a major time saver since I can do all our laundry in two hours. I had found a small laundromat that wasn’t too expensive, but it didn’t have any chairs or air conditioning. So it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. I usually sat in the car and read a book or worked on my laptop.

This week, though, my neighbor told me of a laundromat just down our street. She said it was nice, and I should check it out.

So I headed to Madison Coffee House and Laundry. Once there, the laundry was on one side, and the coffee house on the other. So in I headed with Kira, Petra, Hanna, and Nehemiah to the laundry. The machines were cheaper than the other facility, so we stayed. Also, it had air conditioning, tables, and chairs. After starting our laundry we headed over to the coffee house side. We were given a free quarter for each load of laundry we were doing. Thank goodness, because I wasn’t sure I would have enough to dry the laundry.

On the coffee house side were couches, computers, and free WiFi. Oh, if only I had thought to bring my laptop. They had gourmet coffees, teas, food, and fresh produce.

Also, there was a long table that sat 8. Around that table were tons of books, games, and homeschool curriculum. We made ourselves at home and had a fun time playing games and reading books.

I was truly blown away and blessed by the hospitality of this little coffee shop. It made me think of the gift of generosity. Shouldn’t we as Christians put our best foot forward and be as generous as can? Giving all we can? This place definitely gave its first fruits to those in need. Those in need of laundry, rest, and a cup of joe.

So if you are ever in Madras, Oregon, please stop by the Madison Coffee House and Laundry.

In the end I was able to get the laundry dry with the help of those free quarters, my daughter Kira, and a couple of ones I had in my purse. I actually had 2 quarters to spare.

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Showers of Blessings

Most people when they think of Oregon think of rain, rain, rain. They also think of lush-ness and greenery. Well, there is another part of Oregon that most people don’t even realize exists. And it is actually larger than the more popular rainy, lush area otherwise known as “The Valley”.

This other area is Eastern and Central Oregon. Since I am more familiar with Central Oregon, I am going to share a few tidbits maybe you didn’t know. Central Oregon is a high desert. It is rugged and dry. There are flat plateaus, canyons, and rocky outcroppings.

 The annual rainfall is only around 12 inches a year. This makes for a very dry climate. Since we arrived on August 1st, it has only rained 2 times.

Instead of receiving rain of the liquid variety, we have been receiving showers of blessings. At our first visit to our church, we said a prayer. I don’t really remember all the words, but it basically was a prayer for provisions. We prayed for job opportunities, checks in the mail, rebates, inheritances, etc. While I was hopeful for some of the things listed, others, I thought, weren’t even a possibility.

Over the next 3 weeks, we received one rebate, 8 checks in the mail, and one job opportunity. All of the checks were completely unexpected like a refund for overpayment on our property taxes on our old property. The money always came when we most needed it.

With the job opportunity, Joe had an interview for a coaching position, and then had to wait a week to find out if he got the position. They called and told him that he did not get the job. We were very disappointed but held on to faith that God would provide.

Yesterday, Joe got a call that they had too many kids on the team and were forming two and asked if Joe would coach the second team. And…he would get the same pay as previously told.

I have also been worrying about clothes for this winter for the kids. So I decided that I should pray about it. We have since then received two bags of boys’ clothes and one bag of girls’ clothes. I also prayed for food. We received a ton of food that someone didn’t have need for and we also have received some surplus garden bounty. I could go on about the gifts we have been given. Daily I am amazed. It still boggles my mind as to how good God is. I don’t think I will ever grasp how great God is.

So we might not have had a lot of rain here, but we have definitely been showered with blessings.

Now, I don’t write this to boast. No, I write this to remind myself. If I had been with the Israelites on the exodus from Egypt, I am sure that I would be of the golden calf making crowd. I, all too quickly, forget of God’s provisions. I, all too quickly, become filled with worry and doubt. I, all too quickly, complain.

I wrote this to encourage you in your own life as well as to be a reminder to myself of God’s provisions and blessings. Put your trust in Him and he will provide all you need.

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September 11th

On September 11th, 2001, I was at home with my then four children. My oldest, Josiah, had just turned 7. I also had a 5-year-old, a newly turned 3-year-old and a 4 1/2 month old baby. Joe had already left that morning for some test he had to take at the hospital. I was behind schedule and trying to make breakfast for the kids when I told Josiah to go turn on the TV to PBS. He came back a few minutes later saying, “Every channel has a plane flying on it.” I thought he must have not done the right channels and told him to try again. He came back and said, “Mom, every channel has a plane and a building on fire. I can’t get any kid’s shows.” I was quite curious now what on earth he was talking about. I walked into the TV room and immediately my heart sank to the bottom of my chest. I was shocked to see one of the Twin Towers burning as a result of a plane crashing into it.

Later my husband got home after watching all this in a waiting room of the hospital. We clutched our children. All we wanted to do was keep them with us. We knew at that moment that our family was the most important thing other than our love for Jesus.

We have tried to make decisions in our life that help our family to be closer. We have turned down jobs that would require Joe to be gone 70-80 hours a week. I have chosen not to work outside the home. We have homeschooled when it was extremely difficult.

And it isn’t just about our immediate family. We also want our kids to be close to their grandparents and extended family. So we came back to Central Oregon in order for our kids to know their other grandparents.

We also wanted our kids to be able to conquer fears, live dreams, see new things.

So this September 11th, we followed our daughter’s passion, by driving 7 hours to Forks, WA in order to celebrate Bella’s birthday, a fictional character from the Twilight series.

We left at 6:30 in the morning. Joe in our truck with Michaela, Elijah, Azariah, and Petra. I drove our car with Josiah, Kira, Hanna, and Nehemiah. We had the truck loaded with all sorts of unhealthy food intended to keep us awake…not to nourish us. Joe and I in our separate cars told stories of our travels along this stretch of road to Portland…the time we ran out of gas…the time we had a flat tire. It would have been nice to share the stories together, but at least we got to share them.

From Portland, we headed into Washington and up towards Centralia and then west to Aberdeen. After traveling at a snail’s pace in Aberdeen, we headed north to Forks.

Since we moved from Oregon to Ohio when our oldest was only 5, our kids have no memory of ever seeing the ocean. We were never able to make it to the Atlantic. Michaela has watched too many shark week commercials and Jaws and such, so she had developed a phobia of the ocean. She believed that the water was just teeming with fish out to get her. Any time she even saw a picture of the ocean, she shuddered in horror. We kept telling her it would be different when she actually saw it.

As we drove up Hwy 101, I was amazed that we hadn’t had even a peek of the ocean. But as we got within 30 miles of Forks, I noticed the smell of salt in the air. I rolled down my window. I squealed, ‘It has to be just on the other side of those trees!” Within minutes, we were able to see the tiniest snippet of ocean. I was screaming with delight, “Looky, looky!” Joe, too, was screaming at his crew to look at the ocean. We couldn’t contain ourselves any longer. Joe pulled over at Beach 4.

We couldn’t see it yet though. The trees were thick, but there was a trail. Joe took all the kids except Nehemiah on the trail. Nehemiah was in desparate need of a diaper change. I was disappointed I wouldn’t get to see their expressions as they saw the ocean for the first time, but delighted that they were going.

Petra had decided to wait to go down with me. So after changing Nehemiah we headed down the steep path through the rain forest down to the ocean. I passed some people along the way and asked if some super excited kids had come through there. They said enthusiastically, “Yes.” I told them how they had never seen the ocean. They thought that was pretty cool.

Finally, I got down to the beach. Everyone had their shoes off and one of them was already wet to his waist (Elijah). Michaela stood tentatively but admiringly on the edge of the water. I walked up and put my arm around her. She said, “Mom, it is amazing!….But I am not going any further than this.”

A few moments later we saw some sea lions just off the shore about 20 feet, playing in the waves. We were in awe of how close they were to us.

Michaela soon realized that she could stand sideways and plant her feet in the sand and have the waves run over her feet. Josiah and Elijah joined her at her side. Kira had taken the little girls up to the restroom. Azariah stayed further back on the edge of the water.

Soon Joe, Josiah, Michaela and Elijah were inching further and further out. A big wave came crashing in. Joe and Josiah made a run for the beach. Michaela stayed put laughing. She and Elijah got drenched from head to foot. So much for not going in any further.

All fears of the ocean absolved that day. We had some fun getting sandy and wet…some more than others. We all were amazed at the vastness and greatness of the ocean. We all were amazed that God had brought us here together.

We went on to Forks and saw the sights…the Swans’ house, the high school, the hospital. We also drove to La Push…”it’s La Push”, which was very beautiful. In some ways Forks was disturbing, in other ways, disappointing, and in others, delightful. By 5:30, we decided we needed to head on home. By the grace of God (and with the help of sugar and caffeine), we made it home at 1:30 am.

While I would have rather we had been able to drive all together, I am so thankful that we all got to see the ocean together…building memories, building relationships. And we all got to support Michaela overcome her fear and in her interests. This was another September 11th, that I will never forget.

Additional Note: We are searching for a vehicle that can transport at least 10 people and tow our trailer. We would also like it to get more than 15 mpg. Our thought was a Suburban that we could add a fourth row rear facing seat. If it was a 9 passenger Suburban, and we added the rear facing seat, it would seat 11-12. Nine passenger Suburbans  are hard to find though. If you know of one in Oregon, or possibly Southern Washington, that is priced REALLY cheaply, could you please let us know? You can send me a message at mamak@jokars.com. Thanks.

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A Pit Stop

I know, I know…I haven’t written a post for far too long. Honestly, I am unsure what to write about. I feel like a hypocrite in some ways. I mean, here I blogged about traveling and living in an RV full-time and then the next thing you know…BAM…we are living in a house and sending the kids to public school for the first time EVER! I am in shock too.

And instead of traveling and witnessing and getting to know people, I am home every day, all day. I’m clipping coupons, dusting furniture, and doing yard work. I mean this is nothing even to write home about let alone publish for the world to read.

I don’t mind doing these activities, but it just wasn’t what I thought we would be doing. Who knew that Michaela would take FIVE classes at the local high school? Who knew Josiah would join the football team and take some awesome outdoor science classes at the same school? Who knew there was so much work to be done for Joe’s dad? (OK, we did know that…LOL)

Now, don’t think by my cheery nature of writing that every thing is coming up roses. No, hardly. But I don’t like to write about the bad stuff. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me or even to try to fix things. It is just the way things are. I am not like some Americans…looking for a hand out. No, I want to work for what I deserve. And I hope what I deserve is given to me.

It pains me greatly not to be living in our RV. I appreciate our “house”, but it isn’t “my home”. Also, we had hoped to build family ties and togetherness, but most of the time we are quite divided. Joe, Josiah and Michaela are gone while I and the other 6 kids are at home. And since I don’t have a vehicle big enough to carry 7 people, we are rather stuck at home.

I also had dreams of building relationships with other people, but I only have contact with one other person on a daily basis…my next door neighbor (who is a very nice lady by the way).

I had also hoped to be seeing and exploring places as a family. While we have gone to a couple of places, that has become very hard since we have no income. A daily use permit in Oregon costs us $10 a day. That can add up fast. We could get an annual permit but just can’t afford the extra amount. Also, out-of-state licenses for fishing are exorbitant. So we stay at our house.

But all is not lost. I have used my vast amounts of time with the little kids to focus on their schooling. Elijah and Azariah are showing great progress in their reading abilities. Also, Kira is able to advance in her math studies. This has been very beneficial to them.

I have also finally cleaned up the trailer and am able to use it on a daily basis. Some of the kids are also sleeping in there on occasion. The water line, that we discovered was broken shortly after arriving here, still has not been fixed, but I hope that it will be as soon as funds are available.

But isn’t this what this blog is about…joining JoKars Wild on our journey. Sometimes the journey takes a pit stop, but it is still a part of the journey. I’m not writing this for you to feel sorry for me, but because I have committed to having you, the reader, as a part of my life, a part of all our lives. I want to encourage you when life forces you into a pit stop. No matter what, God is still with you and God is still with me. Jesus died on the cross so that I might live and live life to the full…even  if that “full” isn’t exactly what I had imagined…;)

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