Posts tagged love

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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Where You Lead

I was talking with someone the other day about my posts on adoption. She gave me some advice about adoption. She told me how you should never adopt a child older than your youngest child. It is detrimental to the birth order. Statistics have shown this to be damaging to children.

I kind of stared at her blankly.

While I agree that this is true, I don’t know that it pertains to our situation.

If you are trying to increase your family size and add children into your family, I agree…don’t adopt children into your family older than your youngest.

If your son’s best friend is in serious need of a loving home environment, please do not inform him, “Sorry, you are older than our youngest child, so you need to live in your harmful home or on the streets.”

If God has put a child in your life and He has told you, “Adopt this child as your own.” Do not tell that child, “Sorry your too old.”

I need to make something perfectly clear…

We are not seeking to adopt. We are only keeping our hearts open to having other people’s children in our daily lives. This may mean feeding a neighbor child pancakes for dinner.

Or cheering for a football team that we don’t have any children on. Or maybe someday, it might mean having a child into our home who doesn’t have a safe place to sleep. I really don’t know.

All I know is that we are saying to God, “Where you lead us, Lord, we will follow.”

What paths do you not follow because studies have shown, or statistics say, or your friend says that it is not wise? What ways have you followed God in spite of what society would have you do?

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Other People’s Children

One thing I strive for in my posts is transparency. My hope is that our lives will be an open book. So I need to make a confession.

I don’t always like other people’s kids.

Often times people tell me I must really love children to have so many…Well, I love children, but I don’t really like all children. Actually, I don’t always even like my own children.

I just don’t have the patience to put up with a bunch of crap. I actually consider this character flaw to be to my advantage as a mom. But it is not an advantage when dealing with other people’s children. I can’t scream at them, spank them, or give them a time out (all of which I have done to my own children). I can’t even just tell them to shut up.

Shortly after moving into our new home, a neighbor girl was coming into our house every now and then to tell me of some wrong doing that my children had done to her. After about the fifth time, I was quite exasperated and said to her, “You’r right! Since my children aren’t being very nice, I think that it would be best that they stop playing with YOU!” And I had them all come inside.

Needless to say, she ran home crying.

Yep, I am THAT evil mom.

So how does a woman who doesn’t like other people’s children welcome them into her home?

Only through God.

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A Dream

I was around 10 or 11 years old and a family with 8 children wanted to adopt me into their family. I was overjoyed as they were a very loving and close family.

Then many years passed.

I was now an adult at a banquet for my adopted parents. I sat next to my father. Someone spoke about how great it was that this family who had 8 biological children went on and adopted 4 more children. I turned to my father and realized how grateful I was to have been adopted into this family. A family who loved and accepted me as one of them. I began to weap with gratitude. I laid my head on his shoulder and wept and wept.

Then I woke up.

What do you think it means?

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A Vision

I was sitting watching a football game of my husband’s 6th grade team. I didn’t have a kid playing and only had Nehemiah with me. I had come simply to cheer on my husband and the team. It has been a rough season so far for them. They have only scored one touchdown and haven’t won any games.

As I sat watching, I welled up with compassion for those boys. They were looking rather defeated. I wanted to give them hugs and tell them to hang in there. Instead, I yelled and cheered as loud as I could.

And then I had a thought or maybe you might call it a vision…

What if our home was open to the neighborhood kids? What if instead of just loving on my 8 kids, I love on all their friends and friends’ friends? What if our home could be a safe house for kids that don’t have anywhere to go to come and get some food and hang out?

I prayed then that God would allow us to move to Prineville and make it so that this could happen.

But other things have transpired since then….

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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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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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Free Sale

Many years ago, my husband and I had our vehicle broken into while at a church picnic. The thief stole my husband’s bag which contained a special Bible and other “religious” stuff. Our friends and ourselves gathered together and prayed that the thief would somehow be blessed by this gain. We prayed that he might open up that Bible and read it. We prayed that God would be glorified in our loss.

This Friday, we had a free sale at our house. Everything in the house was free. We talked beforehand that someone might use our loss for their gain. But isn’t that what Christ died for? His loss is our gain. So that is what we prayed for…that our loss would be someone’s gain. And it wasn’t up to us to choose who got the gain.

Early on in our Free Sale, a man stopped who happened to be driving by. He was quite shocked that everything was free. Now, we didn’t have a lot of junk. Most of our stuff was our higher ticket items that hadn’t sold (like a barely used weight bench and 2 computer cabinets that were fairly new), as well as stuff we couldn’t use in the trailer (like all our dishes and unopened soaps and shampoos that had been stocked up).

Well, this man was quite amazed that everything was free. He took the things he needed or wanted like canning jars, but nothing more. Later he came back looking very sheepish. He said he had something for us and hoped we wouldn’t be offended. He then opened his truck and gave us a box of vegetables and canned goods.

He was grinning from ear to ear. He said, “You see, this is why I wanted your jars. I can.” He went on to share how he didn’t have much, but wanted to give something in return for our generosity. He said how he was worried about the economy and had decided he would use what he had…his land…to grow as much food as he could. He told me about building their home in a barn left to them by family. He said he was doing everything he could just to get by.

I told him Jesus loves him. He almost started crying, but instead gave me a hug.

Another family came by and were also blown away that everything was free. They really needed a bed for their 13-year-old (which we had). The father exclaimed about how awful things were going financially for them. They had also been hit hard by this economy. They were so grateful.

Another man popped his head in the door (he thought it was a garage sale) and asked if we had a twin box spring for sale. I said, “No, it’s free!” He was delighted!

I think the greatest blessing of the day was for me though. I was so blessed by being able to give. I was also blessed by my friends stopping by just to say hello and see how we are. What a blessing that was! Being that we are so removed from town, it is not easy for others to stop by, so I am very, very thankful for that!

I wish I could have a Free Sale every day. I think that more resembles how we are to live. It should be our mindset. We are so concerned about being swindle and bamboozled that we don’t give freely. Yes, we have been cheated out of money in our adventure, but so what? God can give it all back in a heartbeat. Maybe, just maybe, God wanted to use us to show His love. I know I’ve tried. I hope those who we have interacted with see God’s love.

And I also know that I have seen Christ in them.

‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

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Papa Joe

I was asking a man the other day about a recent personal issue we had been dealing with. He quickly responded with, “Oh, that’s old news…like 5 years ago.” 

I was watching Leap Year the other day. The main guy would sit back and watch the girl make mistake after mistake. While in a rush she fell in mud. He smuggly said, “That makes it faster.”  I mean,what a jerk!

I was telling my husband that I was worried that I had dragged our family down this terrible path…living in an RV and everything. He responded, “You give yourself too much credit. Get over yourself.”

You might think that these three men are cold and distant…uncaring. Far from it though. The first guy cared enough to post our website on facebook…not once but 3 times. The guy in the movie singlehandedly beat up 3 guys to protect the girl when she got into a tight spot. My husband is giving up everything that the world calls success for God, my family, and me.  My husband cares more than I can ever imagine. Does he show it like you or I? No. But he is the first one to show up when someone needs help moving. He’s the one pulling over to help a fellow traveler with a flat tire. He’s the one driving to the hospital just to make sure a kid on the opposing team is OK. He would give the shirt off of his back to help someone in need.

It is for this greatness and insight that I love him. Is he all warm and fuzzy? No. He is like a lion. Ferocious. Intimidating. Demanding. Yet, he will fight off the intruders. He will protect and defend. He knows when the enemy is near and would never let anything harm us. He fights for honor, truth, and integrity. And he does it all with great humility. He is our rock.

I love you, Papa Joe. You are far more man than I deserve. May the world see your greatness.

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