Unskilled Labor

Three of my kids were in Des Moines this week attending Teen Pact.

Which meant my house was really quiet, dishes were limited and whenever Jan needed help outside there was only one option – me. Poor guy, he had definitely reached the bottom of the barrel.

After all – I am definitely unskilled labor.

I can carry water to the pigs – 4 trips to Jan’s one.

I can feed the chickens and gather eggs.

And I’m getting pretty good at chasing the calves back in their pen – if I can catch them before they head down the road.

But this was a week to expand my horizons and increase my limited skill set!

I can now open and close gates for Jan while he feeds a bale to the cows.

I have learned how to walk the fence line and check the wires to figure out why the fence is shorting out and the calves are in my yard again.

I learned that screaming loudly and swinging a big stick will remove the cows from the hay bales – but that it is wisest to leave the bull just where he is until my husband comes home.

And – are you ready for this – I even drove the tractor!

Yep. I did.

White knuckled, without a bale, in low gear. But I drove it. Five times even.

And I parked it in the shed – by myself – and didn’t hit anything.

Although Jan still laughs when I let off the clutch too quickly and give myself whiplash. (Wait – that is called the clutch – right?)

I have even progressed to the point that I can switch gears without assistance.

Yep. I definitely expanded my horizons this week!

And – as exciting as it was – I’m quite ready for the kiddos to come home!

They can go back to the chores they do so well and I’ll head back to my house and garden.

Washing dishes never looked so good!


Chaos reigns this week.

I have 2 kids leaving for TeenPact Congress, Dagmar leaving for her 2 weeks at Summit, our annual day-long VBS at our house on Saturday, and tomatoes ripening fast.


My house has been filled with questions.

“Mom, do you spell TayLynn with one n or two?”


“Where’s the travel size toothpaste?”

In the bathroom cupboard.

“Mom – we are just ran out of printer paper and I still have over 80 pages to print!”

Eighty pages? What are you printing?!

Mom I can’t find…

Mom do you think…

Mom I need…


All the while we’re baking cookies to send along, canning 20 quarts of spaghetti sauce, and keeping the garden watered.

There are piles everywhere – VBS piles, Teen Pact piles, Summit piles, laundry piles and piles of tomatoes.


And here I am in the middle of it.

A part of me is cherishing this moment, while the other part is frantically trying to remember where I hid my secret stash of M & M’s!

Somehow though – it all works out. The suitcases get packed, the kids hugged and the goodbyes said.

VBS will be over, memories made, and lives touched with the power of the gospel.

And hopefully, I will find the M & M’s.

But for now – chaos reigns.

Flying Solo

Flying SoloMy friend Cinnamon came over last Thursday for a little “Tea and Talk”- which – of course – included chocolate brownies!

As we sat there sipping and talking, the conversation turned to watching our sons become young men.

It’s especially hard when they no longer want, but still need, our advice as moms.

She shared with me how she was learning to say, “I’m perfectly happy for you to live with the consequences of your decision.” <insert motherly smile>

It really is quite freeing.

I know this because about 48 hours later I had a chance to practice it.

All last week our oldest son Matt was at Teen Pact Challenge – a grueling boot-camp-like experience designed to teach young men discipline, self-control, teamwork and reliance on God.

He had bought his own plane ticket on-line through Expedia, and the journey to Altanta went without a hitch.

The journey home was another story.

He was scheduled to leave the Atlanta airport at 6:00 on Saturday evening and get into Des Moines about 11:30 with a lay-over in Chicago.

But Saturday afternoon we got a call.

When he went to the counter to check-in he discovered that when he had ordered his ticket, he had accidentally scheduled his return trip for November 9th instead of October 9th.

He either needed to find another flight or wait a month for his scheduled one.

He had just enough time to deliver this news before his trac phone was out of minutes.

So my 17 year old son is stuck at the Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport with no ticket and no phone.

My very first thought was “I”m perfectly happy for you to live with the consequences of your decision.” <insert motherly smile>


You know what? It worked!

There wasn’t anything I could do about the situation, and worrying wouldn’t help. He wanted to be grown-up, well, let’s see just what the kid is made of.

It looks like he’s made of pretty good stuff.

Jan went online, put more minutes on Matt’s phone and called him back.

Matt had already called Expedia, even before he called home,  but they wouldn’t do anything since it was less than 6 hours before the flight.

He had also talked to the people at American Airlines, but they wouldn’t do anything because he bought his ticket through Expedia.

He had checked into flights to Des Moines but discovered a flight that night would cost $700 and a flight the next day would be $400. Ouch.

(Can I just say – that at this point I was impressed with everything he had already done to remedy the situation!)

Jan told him to see if there were any flights into Kansas City – which is a little farther away – but usually cheaper.

A little while later we got a call that he got a flight into Kansas City that was actually cheaper than his original ticket. He bought his ticket himself, flew out at 8:00 and arrived in KC about 10:00.

He’s home again with some really smelly clothes and a voracious appetite!

It seems we both learned some valuable lessons that day.

He will never again book a flight without double checking his dates!

And I learned that while the hardest part of mothering is the letting go – it’s so rewarding to see them fly solo!

False Peaks on Mount Courage

New Mexico Mountains

My son Matt learned his own lessons during his week at Teen Pact Survival Camp.

One of their tasks as a team was to navigate their way up 3 different peaks, aptly named Mt. Courage, Mt. Endurance and Mt. Followthrough.

At the peak of each mountain they were to retrieve a flag before descending and beginning the next climb.

All of this had to be done in a certain amount of time.

Matt’s team started out strong – heading up Mt. Courage. They soon got weary as the altitude began affecting them.

They kept their eyes on the prize though – keeping the peak in sight, only to be disappointed to discover when they reached it – that it wasn’t really the top.

It was a false peak. From their vantage point it looked like it was the summit, but when they got there, they discovered there was still mountain ahead of them.

How discouraging!

But they regrouped and started out again – with the new peak in sight. Sure enough, when they got there, it still wasn’t the summit – it was yet another false peak.

This happened again and again – until they finally reached the true summit – exhausted and behind schedule.

After a brief rest, they started back down, and then up the next peak.

It was there – halfway up the next mountain that they turned and could see where they had been.

It was all so clear from another vantage point.

How true in life. We climb up the mountains put before us – struggling to get the top, only to find that we still had more mountain to conquer. We get discouraged and want to give up.

Many times we can’t see the forest for the trees. (Or the mountain peak because of the mountain in front of us.)

That’s where faith comes in.  We need the faith to stay on the course, and courage enough to not give up even when it seems hopeless.

I don’t know what mountain you are climbing now – financial difficulties, marital problems, struggling to lose weight, infertility, parenting questions, a job loss, or maybe health issues.

You think you have it conquered.

You think you have it figured out.

But you have only reached a false peak. There’s more mountain waiting. And the higher you go – the harder the climb. You’re weary. The altitude is affecting you.

Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. Keep climbing Mount Courage.

In time, you will be able to look back from where you have come and be blessed to see how the Lord has led.

Trust me – the view from the top is amazing!

Isaiah 40 : 28-31 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary and his understanding no one can fathom.

He give strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youth grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar like wings on eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Teen Pact: How to Turn Your Student Into a Statesmen

We just got our oldest two children back from a week in the state capital at TeenPact. They were both exhausted from the action packed days at the capital and fun evenings at the camp, but since both were speaking in exclamation points (!!!!) about their experiences, we know the week was a success.

TeenPact is a non-profit organization that provides students with “a comprehensive leadership experience that brings kids closer to Jesus Christ, makes them better leaders, and positions them to impact public policy in their state.”

It is always held during the state’s legislative session with allows the students to meet important officials, interview lobbyists and see the political process in action. They also get to meet other home schooled kids and have lots of fun!

I was impressed with the homework that my children had to have completed before the class. They needed to pray daily for their Senator and Representative, and then write a letter to tell them. The vocabulary sheet made them think through some tough terms and learn the lingo. They were required to analyze 3 bills currently being debated in the capital according to Biblical standards and then write a bill of their own.

To be honest, my son went last year only because we forced him. The thought of having to wear a suit and tie all week wasn’t appealing at all. But by the end of the week, he didn’t want to leave. This year we sent him again, along with his sister and they both loved it. Now they are lobbying heavily to attend the National TeenPact Session in Georgia the end of May.

TeenPact’s motto is “Turning Students into Statesmen” and that transformation will help the next generation to change the world. Now that’s something I want me children to be a part of.

You can find more information about TeenPact at their website www.teenpact.com

I have been so impressed with everything I’ve seen so far. I highly recommend it!