Archive for Family

Re-invention

Sitting here at Book & Bean listening to some local boys play some incredible music. Feel like a queen bee.
Yet, the reality is that I still can’t pay the bills. I still am overwhelmed by the fact that I have eight kids to care for and very little time to devote to them.
Read recently about how businesses and products must be constantly evolving to stay alive. How do we embrace our values of family and stay relevant to our culture? And make a living?

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Busy, busy, busy…

It has been a busy couple of weeks…busier and more exhausting than I have ever been in my life. On December 16th, we took over the Book & Bean in Prineville, OR. Although we are only open from 8 to 6, coming in the week prior to Christmas has made some long days. Usually we arrived at the store at 7 and most days didn’t leave till 8. Joe and I were scrambling to get more inventory in, to get supplies for the cafe, and to take care of special orders that had been dropped in the change of ownership.

Our kids have been troopers. We have a back room for them to hang out in. At first there was absolutely nothing for them to do. But slowly we have worked on their space to provide a place for them to feel comfortable. It still isn’t done, but getting better every day.

The oldest two kids have been learning the ropes. Josiah knows all the cash register stuff and Michaela is getting more and more confident as a barista. I don’t know what we would do without them.

Joe’s dad has also been helpful in entertaining the kids in the back. Many a times he has entertained Nehemiah who desperately wanted his mama.

For me, I have struggled most with feeling like I am neglecting the kids and the extreme fatigue. It does help to work in a coffee shop though. Whenever I feel tired, I can make myself a latte. I have tried to have little niches of time to read books to the kids every day. (This also helps when a customer comes in wanting a book for a child.) It also helps the kids since they aren’t allowed to look at the books by themselves. Our reading time allows them to see and hear the books they have been drooling over.

Well, I had a few minutes and just wanted to fill you all in on what has been going on with JoKars Wild. Hopefully in the days ahead, I will have time to complete my blogs on childbearing and trusting God…Till then, may you know Christ love for you…

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The Book & Bean

  • Summer 1997 – I worked as a barista.
  • July 1999 – Joe gets a job selling music to bookstores across the country.
  • September 2000 – I had a vision of a coffee shop where people could come and feel loved and welcome.
  • November 2001 – Joe began (and eventually completed) writing a business plan for our own coffee shop and bookstore.
  • December 2001 – Joe buys a ton of books and music for us to sell online.
  • March 2002 – Joe becomes a national sales rep, selling even more music to more bookstores.
  • June 2005 – Joe graduates from Bible college and starts the process of planting a church with a coffee house atmosphere.
  • August 2010 – After several years of failure, heartache and frustration, JoKars Wild moves to Central Oregon and falls in love with Prineville.
  • November 18th, 2010 – While looking for a job in the local classifieds, Joe spots an ad for a coffee shop and bookstore looking to sell the business.
  • December 15th, 2010 – JoKars Wild becomes the proud owner of Book & Bean.

While there is far more to this story…like how we once left a church because of their failure to pursue the vision they had of a church with a coffee house atmosphere, or all the businesses we started that never took off, or all the bookseller conventions Joe attended over the years…I think that would have to be for a book…

Again, I am amazed and humbled by how great God is. God does not forget. God knows our hearts. God has a plan.

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Quiverfull or Less

Nineteen! That’s how many children the Duggars currently have.

I love watching 19 Kids and Counting, when I get a chance. I love seeing the family dynamics, and getting new ideas on managing the home of a large family. Recently the Duggars announced that they are open to having a 20th child in spite of all they went through with the youngest Duggar, Josie. You see, the Duggar family is part of a mindset called Quiverfull. The belief (and it is back by scriptural interpretation) is that children are a blessing from God. To restrict by use of birth control of any form or sterilization would be to 1) not trust God or 2) withhold the blessings God has for them.

You might think that we at JoKars Wild are Quiverfull minded, but we are not. Yes, we have a large family. Yes, we trust God. Yes, we believe that children are a blessing from God. But there seems to be one missing ingredient to the Quiverfull mindset.

Recently a woman left a comment on one of my posts that said, “Life is already full of inevitable pain and suffering, why would you bring kids in this world, only to have them go through that too?! I can’t believe how selfish people are by having a disgraceful amount of kids. Even one is a disgrace amount!!”

As with the Duggars, I agree on some level. Yes, this life is full of pain and suffering. Why create another being to have to deal with sorrow, regrets, hatred, bitterness, brokenness? There are timess when I have worried for my children. Will we have enough food to last the month? If food prices keep going up, will I be able to afford nutritious food to feed them? Will we continue to have a place to live? As it gets colder, how will I provide jackets and boots? The answer to all those questions and the missing ingredient comes down to one thing.

A relationship.

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Tree Hunting

“Hey, it’s snowing outside!” said Azariah who has been concerned about snow levels for his 8th birthday next month.

“Where have you been?” Papa Joe asks him sarcastically.

It has been snowing steadily for the last half hour of our drive up into the Ochoco National Forest to get our Christmas tree. I am feeling quite comfortable in the passenger seat as Joe navigates through the snow with our 4 wheel-drive “Sir Bourbon“, which is what one of the kids dubbed our vehicle. The scenery is beautiful. The evergreen trees look as if they have been slathered with white frosting. The flakes coming down are huge. It is a beautiful sight, and I am thrilled to be able to travel in such a wonderful place. Although I have been blessed that most of my life I have been able to go to a u-cut Christmas tree farm, this is my first experience getting a tree from the forest.

In Oregon, for $5, you can buy a permit to go and harvest your own Christmas tree from the national forest. As long as you stick to a few simple rules, the forest is at your disposal. What a deal! The best Christmas tree lot in America and hundreds of trees to choose from…for only $5 and the price of gas!

As we wandered up the forestry road, it was quickly becoming clear that we shouldn’t drive too far up the hill. With each increase in elevation, the snow became deeper and deeper. We saw a wide clearing and decided to back in and park.

Side note: I am a very nervous passenger. I don’t like sliding, cars too close, trees too close, being towed, towing something, etc. If I can, I drop my head into my hands till it is over.

As Joe backed into the spot, the wheels started to spin. I ducked my head down. I didn’t think anything was wrong, but I didn’t want to look either. Next thing I knew though we were sliding a little downhill. I got out of the vehicle to “help direct” Joe, but really I just didn’t want to be in the sliding vehicle.

Another note: Don’t make comments on me being a bad mom and leaving the kids to go sliding down a hill. It was only a little ditch and a tree was blocking our sliding…poor tree. I really am a wimp.

Well, I am of little help in directing and sure enough, we slide into the tree. Thankfully, we have “rescuers” that live about 20 minutes away. Joe tells us we should all go out and explore and find our tree while he waits for his dad and uncle to come pull us out of the ditch.

Michaela offers to stay behind with Nehemiah while the rest of us head for the hills. We had forgotten to bring our camera, but here are a few shots I took with my phone.

Notice the small trees are few and far between.

The beginnings of a giant snowball…

The kids and I were having a wonderful time in the snow, but we still hadn’t found the right tree. The snow was starting to come down heavily, so we decided to head back to the Sir Bourbon. The tree might have to wait for another time.

Our rescuers soon showed up while Josiah was in search for the perfect tree. As the towing/pulling took place, I meandered around the clearing diverting my eyes from the vehicles. The little kids and Michaela had taken to the warmth of the vehicle. Josiah came and showed me a picture of a tree he found and told me to come and see.  Together with Kira and Elijah, we walked down a long hill and saw Josiah’s tree. It was beautiful, but I was unsure how we would get it up the hill and whether we would even be able to get a tree today. So off we trudged back to the Sir Bourbon. I was huffing and puffing by the time we got up there. I thought to myself, “Once up that hill is enough!”

They just about had the Sir Bourbon free after snapping a cable and the use of chains on both 4 wheel-drive vehicles. Joe’s uncle asked if we had found a tree. I told them how Josiah had found one but it was down a hill. He said how it would be a shame to come all the way out here and not get a tree. And, of course, I had to go back down the hill!

Thankfully I live with some strong men and children! With the help of Uncle Rick, Papa Joe, and Josiah, the kids got that eleven-foot tree back up the hill! I am still sore three days later from our little tree hunting experience. But it was worth it. This is the most beautiful Christmas tree ever!

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A Thousand Different Directions

The last week or so, I have felt pulled in a thousand different directions. I can’t help wonder if some of it is due to my renewed passion to read the Word, or my stepping out to pursue the desire of my heart…sharing my voice with others. Most definitely some of it is simply due to the fact that I am a mom of 8.

But it leads me to question what my priorities are. No one would question that my being a wife and mom is of the utmost priority, but what does that look like? Some have said that by my stepping out vocally that I am teaching my children to take risks, to follow God’s leading, to use my gifts for God. But I could also argue that I am being selfish and not spending enough time with my children, or that my practicing takes time away from them.

I also wonder about income. Is it wrong of me to be at home not making income when we so desperately need it? Some (including myself) believe that a woman can save her family money by simply being home to prepare meals and take care of the kids. But you can’t save money if you have no money to save. I could go and get a part-time job to help make some extra money. But what would have to be pushed aside…the dishes, my music, the kid’s schooling, this blog?

And how important is this blog? Does it have value? Yes, I have a few who read it on a regular basis, but is it worth it? Do I continue to do something that seems to have little fruit? Which is the more noble task…clean laundry or sharing my life with others who may or may not want to know of my life? Wouldn’t just a simple Facebook status update suffice?

How do I answer these questions? Do I get a part-time job? Do I continue with my blog? Do I pursue sharing my vocal talents? And what about the kids, the baby, the house? How will it all be taken care of?

I know of only one way to answer my questions? I take them to Jesus. I seek the Lord’s guidance. So far, all I know is, besides continuing to nurture the kids, I am pursuing sharing my voice, and, for now, I am continuing the blog. I am unsure of everything else. Thank God I have a God who will lead me!

What are your priorities? What does God want you to do with your time?

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My Mountain

The beautiful and majestic Mt. Hood looms not too far from my house. I see it quite often as I drive about Central Oregon. Seeing it gives me a sense of peace and strength. I like knowing that some of my family has climbed to the top of that mountain: my grandparents, my mom, my brother. I think it’s an amazing accomplishment. Someday I hope to join them in being able to say, “I climbed that mountain.”

Yet, there is another mountain begging me to climb it. This mountain stands before me looming, enticing, and threatening my very existence. I ask myself, “Do I have what it takes? Am I good enough? Would God see me through? Where would God lead me?”

Even as I write this, I am having an incredibly hard time telling you about my mountain, but I don’t think I can hide behind my fear anymore. No…I don’t think I should hide behind my fear anymore.

We all have our mountains. For one it might be starting a business, for another it might be writing a novel, and for another it might be leaving all the comforts she knows to go somewhere new. For me, it is singing and putting myself out there as a vocalist, putting myself out there for criticism, being vulnerable as a performer.

Writing a blog is easy. If I don’t like your comment, I can delete it. I don’t have to respond. I can live within my own little shell. I can tell you my opinions and then put my fingers in my ears…”La, La, La…I can’t hear you.” I don’t have to actually interact with you if I don’t want to.

This past week a theme kept recurring with our children. If you have an opportunity, seize it. Don’t make excuses. Give it everything you’ve got. First with one child, then another. Then it came and bit me in the butt as I was also asked that same question. “Why didn’t you respond to the opportunity? Why are you making excuses? Why are you hiding behind your children?” 

I have no answers but to say, I am wrong. I am sinning. I am not doing what God wants me to do. I’m the one sitting at the base of the mountain training others on how to climb while I sit in my chair doing nothing. I’m saying, “I’m not fit enough. I’m not strong enough. I have too much else to do.”

It is time I get off of my fat ass, and put one foot in front of the other and see just how far God wants me to go. Maybe I will only make it to the timberline, but at least I will be able to say, I tried my very best.

How about you? What is your mountain?

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