Posts tagged 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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And yet…

How does one follow the last post? Choosing joy in spite of being absolutely miserable inside…I don’t know the answer. You just choose. You put one foot in front of the other.

And yet…

Here it is almost a year later and I am still choosing joy in spite of being so unhappy.

I sometimes feel like a foreigner living in a foreign land. I love my town. I love the people and yet…I feel like an alien.

And yet…I seem to like yets and pauses…I use them a lot. That is kind of what this blog is about pauses, reflection, the yets.

A friend struck a chord with me this morning. She said she was going to buy an RV and put a juicer in it and travel the country heralding the virtues of juicing. Oh, if only life were so simple and blissful. Traveling and juicing.

It seems that all the things we set out to do when we started this blog have been destroyed. Was it the enemy? Were we naive? What happened to family? What happened?

Such lofty dreams of making a difference; of loving each other. But we have made bad choices. Choices I take full responsibility for.

I can’t undo my choices. I don’t even know how to fix them.

I may not seem like it, but I really am trying to choose joy. I really am trying to press on toward the prize. Tomorrow I will go and dance with all my heart for Jesus who loves me…sinner and all.

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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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Open Mike Night

Well, I did it! I sang in public!

The Madison Coffee House and Laundry in Madras, Oregon was having an Open Mike Night, so my daughter Michaela and I joined forces and prepared 3 songs to sing together. I on the guitar and her on the keyboard. During our preparation for the event, we discovered that we could blend our voices pretty well and make for a fuller sound. So we took our individual songs and worked them into songs from our new “band”…Broken Stream. (Can you call yourself a band when there is only two of you?)

As I prepared for the evening, I was as nervous as if I had never sang in public before. I have, but, well, it has just been a while… Here I didn’t have a worship team to hide behind. Here I didn’t have a choir to blend into. And not only that, it was with complete strangers…not a safe church setting. (Although I do sometimes find it harder to sing for those close to me.)

So my nerves were running high. I decided I wanted to feel really good about myself, so I bought a new top and put my hair in rollers to give some curls. (I think God may have goofed by not giving me curly hair…jk) I applied more make-up than I normally wear in my hectic daily life. Although still less than a lot of other women (and some men).

Michaela and I practiced and practiced some more. We prayed. We prayed for God to use us. We prayed for God to bless our abilities to more than we were capable of. We prayed that the music would encourage and inspire those listening. We gave our music up to Him.

The time finally came for us to go to the Open Mike Night.

My 12 year old, Kira, graciously offered to babysit the little kids as Papa Joe and Josiah were out of town. The kids had movies and snacks planned out for a fun evening.

The coffee shop had a guitar and keyboard for us to use, so we left ours at home. We got there just as things were starting up and were told where we would fit in the line up. We tinkered with the keyboard, which was kind of inadequate, but thankfully another musician brought in his keyboard. Then we settled in to listen to some great and some not so great music.

As we waited, some new friends and their kids joined us. They, like us, homeschool and have a large family…soon to be 7 kids! (Yeah, I know…they’re slacking.) They also like music.

It wasn’t long before we were up. After juggling mikes and guitars and such we got underway.

We started with a song by Francseca Battistelli called “I’m Letting Go.” I chose this song because 1) it challenged me vocally and 2) it fit with what I was doing…”letting go” and “taking a giant leap of faith”. I lead this song with Michaela chiming in on harmony. Next Michaela lead “If I Die Young” by the Band Perry. Then we took our seats and listened to some other groups.

After all the musicians played 2-3 songs, the round started again. We had rehearsed only 3 songs, but Michaela was feeling strongly she should do a song she wrote called, “There is Hope”.  So Michaela started our second set doing her song a capella. Then we finished with Michaela’s song, “Smiley Music”.

After we finished our last song, our friends’ kids were getting restless so they decided to head on home. Because I feel so strongly that relationships are one of the most important things in life, I invited them to come to our house for a little bit. This wasn’t an easy decision. There was a part of me that wanted to stay and get some feedback…i.e. praise. I know it was the right decision though. My kids really enjoyed getting to see their new friends, and we had a great time talking with each other.

So that concluded the debut of Broken Stream. I have no idea if there will be more performances. We are leaving it all up to God. Michaela and I did separately audition for a holiday talent show this past week. We don’t know whether we got in yet though.

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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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