Like rain on dry ground

 My days lately have been a blur of fall work, single parenting, phonics, multiplication, diapers, teething,  and snotty noses.
My handsome (very dirty) hardworking husband has been working long and hard on this years harvest.   His 80-90  hour work weeks are a rush of trucking grain, fixing machinery, and occasional hours in the combine.  It's a grueling season for both of us.  This is farming.  Things will slow down quite a bit once the grain is in the bins and the snow falls.
I miss having my husband around for meals, for reading to the kids at bedtime,.... for the  structure and discipline that Dad is best at providing ornery rascally little boys (for some reason mom just isn't as effective).   I'm missing half my team.    We're almost done though...I think.  It has been a rough week as far as breakdowns go.  The machinery and the crew seem to be limping to the finish line as winter looms close by.
The weather this past couple weeks has been perfect.  We've had summer in October!

During this harvest season we have had the pleasure of a couple different visits from some very special people.  Even though is seems like an inconvenient time for hosting house guests they brought unexpected  refreshment and spiritual nourishment with them.  They were a blessing and encouragement to us in so many ways.

First, I'll tell you about our most recent guests.
     Last night my hubby took a break from farm work and we all went to see the African Children's Choir perform.  It was .....I'm trying to find a better word than amazing but I'm too tired....It was amazing.  It was energy.  It was joy and hope and faith and life all wrapped up into one hour.   In the tiny bodies of some of East Africas most vulnerable children (many of whom come from pasts filled with severe poverty,  grief, and even violence) was more energy and enthusiasm than I could summon in a year (and a lot of coffee).  They sang their hearts out, danced their cabinas off, and smiled from ear to ear.   The drums and African dancing was spectacular.  They are still missing half of their group because the kids from Kenya are still waiting on their visas.  It made me want to hop on a plane and go to Uganda.  It made my husband miss the countries (Kenya, Uganda Rwanda) he spent time in before we were married.  Places that were etched in his heart  but that he hasn't thought about in years.

The best part was we were able to host two of the little girls and their chaperon (who just happened to be an alumni from the same bible college my husband and I attended).  
Our visit was brief.  It would have been nice to visit with them longer
...actually I wish I could keep them both  ;) 
I'm greedy that way.
They were precious .

By the time we all got home last night , got ready for bed, scarfed down a giant bowl of popcorn....it was time to say goodnight.   This morning was a rush of breakfast , getting packed up and driving back to town to meet their group.  They found a few minutes to play though.  There was also time for a lot of hugs.

                                                            They LOVED Miss Cece.
Saying goodbye to the girls.

 It was fun to watch all the kids playing as they waited for everyone to arrive.
My mom (right) also hosted some kids.   It made her miss the daughter they are still waiting to bring over from Haiti.  I'll write more about my new little sister someday.  
The kids are selected to spend a year touring, travelling and performing with the choir.  Its a busy year but they are LOVING it.  What an amazing experience for them.  They are cared for by "Aunties and Uncles" (chaperons) who travel with them.   They are loved on , taught and parented by the chaperons.   The Aunties and Uncles are doing a fantastic job.   After their whirl wind year they head back to their home towns and "music for life" ministries provides education all the way through university for them...as well as other basic needs.    The money raised at the events supports many other diverse ministries back in their home countries.  "Helping Africa's most vulnerable children today, so they can help Africa tomorrow!"

 These are Africa's future leaders and professionals. 

Introducing, our other harvest time house guests!
Our friends from Mexico were  in Canada for the summer for the birth of their second child.  He (Saul) is from Mexico.   She (Amber) is from Canada.   As a couple they have lived in both places.   "Home" for them is  Mexico though.
                         Silas was SO excited that his amigo Kayden was coming for a visit!  Two silly three year olds made for an entertaining household.  I wrote a little about our seal beach trip last winter  here ...and here.
Amber and Saul's newest addition Brielle is gorgeous!   So tiny next to my chunky monkey.
 Saul spent some time out in the Canola field keeping my hubby company.  Back at the house, he was the trampoline hero.

It was refreshing to spend time chatting with another mom who also has a passion for ministry, children and loving "the least of these".   This family sacrifices material comfort, financial security, and so many things that Christians in our culture prioritize at the top of the list.    They are living breathing examples of faith.
They live wisely ...but at the same time recklessly... loving, going, and obeying God's call on their lives.  They go without a retirement plan, without a salary, without knowing all the details of how their needs will be met.  They work hard, they love harder and they leave the rest up to God. 

       I have developed a little bit of a parenting philosophy...a theory, that I acknowledge with words but when it comes right down to it I still  struggle to live out.   

 I cling to self-made security, possession's, and comfort.   Those things aren't bad, but I think the question is would I give them up?  Could I lay down my Isaac on the alter and trust God with it?

      We so often hear about ,or use  examples of, people sacrificing their families to serve others.  They have ministered to others at the expense of their children.  We've faced that same criticism as a family at times.  
 It is wrong to neglect our first ministry (our spouse and children) for service to others but I think many times we do nothing....and sacrifice both.  We use that as a cop out. We think that if our kids don't have the trendiest clothes,  top of the line electronics,  a fairy-tale-worry-free childhood, and a schedule designed to give them every social  advantage in life, we are sacrificing them.   In Canada, we love our kids with stuff.  That is the standard of 'good parenting'.   We aspire that they  become adults that are "successful" in the worlds eyes.   This is us taking care of our first ministry.  Right?
Maybe not.  Maybe it's doing the opposite.

       I think in reality, when we aren't willing to give up our inner circle "quality of life", our possessions, our security, our pride, whatever we cling to,  it is because those things have become our passion.  Our idols.  We    tuck God neatly into the pocket of our Sunday suit.  We thank God for blessing us, throw him our tithe,  and ignore the rest of his call...whatever that might be.   We don't want to give up those things and  it breaks our hearts even more to allow our kids to struggle, to sacrifice, or to go without. 
   I know it does for me...
even though without struggle, sacrifice and discomfort character traits like compassion, generosity, empathy, courage, respect and true gratitude cannot develop (not to mention creativity, ingenuity, and imagination).  Those are what I want most for my children.  Those are the traits I want in my children as adults...whether they are successful in the eyes of the world or not.  
            If our children don't see us loving, serving , giving, or stepping beyond our own comfort into a life of faith, we steal from them the chance to see what a  big God we serve.  In our attempts to give them every "advantage" we  hobble them spiritually and stunt their ability to develop strength of character.

The world needs us to raise strong kids not safe kids.   One way of doing that is leading the way ourselves.  When we have a strong hope, a dangerous faith, and a significant purpose in life...our kids will see that.  It will be irresistible.  That's my theory.   Our example will have a greater impact than any legalistic rules, heavy handed hypocrisy, or self indulgent apathy coated in religion.  Actually the impact will be great either way.   Our kids will either learn to trust God or learn to despise him.  

I think doing ministry (loving, sacrificing, serving, reaching out) WITH our kids, as a family, is an incredible chance to give our kids every real advantage in life.  Once you lay those things down,  you'll realize the real blessing God gives us isn't in our possessions.  It's the indescribable joy His purpose in our life brings.  That's living a blessed life.  

wow...I really didn't mean to write all that.   I was basically going to provide light commentary on photos. 
I guess it was all bottled up waiting to come out.
It was spiritually inspiring and refreshing to spend time with a family who ,by most Canadian's standards of success and parenting, would be considered irresponsible...or even negligent.   By our societies standards they have their priorities backwards and upside down.  By God's standards they are at the top of the  ladder.
Follow their adventures in faith here  at saulyamber.wordpress.com     

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