Friday, February 15, 2013

Farm Chores

The yard around our house in Virginia often had bare patches where we never could get grass to grow.  Here in PNG, we have opposite problem.  Grass quickly fills in any available spot—often faster than we can keep up with.  I’m sure the local people must shake their heads at us in wonder as we routinely pull the grass out of our rock sidewalks and driveways.  The aviation department even has to scrape it off the runway.

There is a vacant house up the hill from us whose yard we walk through just about every day.  We were starting to need a bush knife (machete) to hack our way through it though since it hadn’t been mown in about a month.  I notified the appropriate authorities and a crew of men came with mower, weed-whacker and bush knives.  When it was done it looked like mowed hay, and I commented to the kids that Chaco would probably love it.

DSC00245Chaco is our neighbor.  Actually he is our neighbor’s steer, but he’s a very sociable cow and the kids love him almost as much as our cat…and probably more than the dog we were watching.  The day our neighbors turn Chaco into mince and round steak will be a heartrending one for our family.

With Chaco next door, chickens in the coop, cats on the porch, and dogs around the house, Claire and Isaiah fancy themselves on a farm.  Naturally they couldn’t let all that fresh grass go to waste, so they decided to play “farm chores” and haul it to Chaco by the bucket-full.

Chaco by now knows to come close to the fence whenever the kids are outside.  Carrots might be involved afterall.  He enjoys watching Claire and Isaiah play kickball and will sometimes run to first base alongside the kicker.  Once a stray ball landed on his side of the fence and he obligingly nosed it back to where the kids could reach it.  So he was quite willing to participate in this new game.


Together the kids provided Chaco with lots to chew on, but Isaiah gave up the game long before Claire was ready.  She even coerced Daddy into helping her when he got home from work.  The next day, Claire composed the following for her home school writing assignment.

When I am 39 years old I want to live on Grandpa K’s farm.  I will live there with my husband, 3 daughters, 1 son, 3 adorable puddies [as in puddy-tat] and 2 wonderful dogs.  My job will be to raise work horses, cats that catch mice and sheep dogs.  When I’m not busy I’ll ride my horses and do different kinds of arts and crafts.  I can’t wait to grow up so I can do these things on my farm.

By Claire (age 8)


I noticed cows didn’t figure into her future farm.  I initially thought she discovered cows were too much work, but then I realized chickens weren’t on her future farm either.  Most likely, she doesn’t want to deal with animals as food and the attachment issues that might arise.  <smile>

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Regret Isn’t the End of the Story

“Elmer ran off and went on a ship all by himself?” asked my daughter.

“Yes,” I replied.  “What would you have done?”

“I don’t think he should have left without telling his parents.  I would have told you and Daddy to come with me.  Then Daddy could bring his gun and we would have been safe from the wild animals…and we could still save the baby dragon.”

“I see.  Then Elmer’s parents wouldn’t have worried about him.  So you think that’s what he should have done?”  I queried.

“Yes,” replied my daughter thoughtfully, “but then there wouldn’t have been much of a story.”

We’ve all read stories or watched movies where a character makes a choice that causes us to wince.  We know or can guess what’s ahead—embarrassment, struggles, penalties, and failure.  Whatever the case, the decision usually can’t be undone and the character has to live with the consequences.

The hardest part is living with the regret.  We get trapped by it because we feel like it can never be completely fixed.

Jon and I talk a lot about our time in Virginia.  Should we have ever left the work here in PNG to take a job back in the States for those couple of years.  It certainly didn’t turn out how we had hoped.  Did we make a mistake—not pray enough about it?  Did we ignore signs from God?

Whether or not we made the right choice, we still have regrets—the stress the situation put on our family.  Buying a house and turning around and putting it up for sale 5 months later.  Resigning from Wycliffe and reapplying 3 months later.  How we must appear changeable, unreliable or even untrustworthy to those around us.  Since we can’t erase our history, we could hole up in our regret.

Fortunately, we have a God who’s bigger than our regret.  If we look back on our lives, we can look at the high and lows and BEGIN to see the beautiful story God is weaving in our lives.  Yes, we wonder if we really should have left PNG.  We may never know.  What we do know is that we’ll never regret the friends we made in Virginia.  We have memories from our time there that make our lives so much richer and colorful.

I believe God can make a beautiful story out of any regrettable choice we have made, IF we let him.  Forgiveness is the beginning of the next chapter.  So let’s get on with our stories.


PS—Elmer Elevator is the adventurous little boy with no regrets from the “My Father’s Dragon” series by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett.