Whether it is the best way to parent or not, in our tent we practice “all-in” parenting. Because of this we often find ourselves in the middle of family projects where we have NO previous experience. Recently we started “Family Project #674: Bunnies.” This project began just before Memorial Day. We were given five New Zealand rabbits, pens, poop trays and a wonderful consultant (a sophomore at Texas A&M University…whoop!). The rabbits lived on the back porch for two weeks. And then I had a “hissy-fit”. The rabbits could no longer stay on the back porch. The solution…move them to the yard, cap the sprinkler heads in one section, and build a pole-barn. We spent Memorial Day weekend building the barn. (Our motto…family projects bring you closer!! Smile! Ugh). The rabbits moved in and I reclaimed the back porch.
Our next step was an exciting event which we called “The Breeding Party.” At 11 o’clock one night, I found myself sitting in chairs around the pen with a 19 year-old young man and three girls ages 11, 9, and 7. We were watching the rabbits breed. (Mr. Bell has already retired for the evening.) Once the event took place, “The Breeding Party” was over and everyone went to bed. We talked about the event for weeks. And then we waited thirty long days before…BUNNIES!!
These new little bunnies have filled our home with love and joy all week during a week that we needed love and joy. These new bunnies have been moving around in their sweet little bed that their “all-in” mother made for them during a week when comfort from nurturing mothers and friends is just what we needed. These little bunnies have shown us new life in the midst of death during a week when we have seen the fragility of life next to the promise of eternal life.
I hope and pray that you too have experienced moments of love, joy, comfort and new life in your tent this week. Remember…God is always around even during difficult weeks.
Be still and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10
P.S. Bunnies for sale!!!
On Wednesday evening, we received a special invitation to a birthday party. The hostess for the party gave out handwritten invitations to each member of our family. The honored guest was her special doll, Sarah. Sarah was turning three the next day and the party was planned for 8 o’clock in the morning. Throughout the evening, there was a lot of activity going on in the hostess’ bedroom. Candles, Oreos, forks, balloons, streamers, and napkins all floated across the house from various rooms to the bedroom. The computer paper vanished from the printer and was transformed into party hats. No one was allowed in the bedroom for a preview. We had to wait until 8 o’clock in the morning. Not a second before. Finally we all fell asleep while visions of the party danced in our heads.
As 8 o’clock rolled around, we all began our short journey to the party location with coffee in hand. (One person was almost late because they tried to play possum!) The room was decorated with streamers and balloons. At each place setting there was one Oreo with a fork and a glass of water. We sang Happy Birthday to Sarah as she was presented an Oreo-tower with candles on top! The rest of the party included a balloon toss, scavenger hunt and finally a dance party. Three generations were dancing around the bedroom celebrating the day. Smiles were everywhere. Especially on the hostess.
Our little hostess threw a great party and she learned how to do it from our parties. She had paid attention to details even when we didn’t know she was watching. It reminded us that ALL the details that make up our busy days are seen by little eyes and ears. The way we talk to others and the way we talk to each other is recorded in young minds. The way we help strangers and the way we take care (or don’t take care) of ourselves is seen with fresh eyes. The way we connect with God and share our story with others is witnessed by searching souls. It is worth our time to think about the messages we send through our daily details. How do we model a spiritual life? How do we show appreciation for God’s gifts? What does love, grace and forgiveness look like in our lives?
If you have a hard time remembering what it was like to be a child, I recommend eating an Oreo for breakfast. It’s a good way to step out of your busy, stressed, gluten-free adult world and step into a world full of possibilities. All of our adult agendas for the day were put on hold for a brief moment this week. We ushered in the new day in a beautiful way. The party became our devotional. We spent time together and time with God because we know God was a guest too. We could feel the joy and the love through God’s presence.
As we left the party we were given a party favor. A hug.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12
From our Happy Tent to yours,
The power of pigs. Last week, I drove from my home straight to my first appointment each day. This week, I had to leave early from my house so I would have time to stop by the barn, pull on my pig boots and feed the pigs, Pickle and Donut. Last week, after a long day of working, my husband would come home and relax a little before working some more. This week, he comes home to pick up the pig owner and he takes her to the barn to feed the pigs, Pickle and Donut. These pigs have changed our lives. Things are different around our tent. My car already smells different. Every conversation we seem to have includes information about the pigs, Pickle and Donut.
There is something else the pigs have done. They have brought smiles to our faces. The way my mother pulled them out of the delivery crate and put them in their new pen gave me a great big smile. The 10-year-old pig owner has had a permeant smile on her face all week. When one pig ate out of the 7-year-old assistant- pig-owner’s hand…there was a big smile looking up. These pigs have delivered a lot of smiles this week to our family.
One year ago, if you would have asked me if we would be in the pig business, I would have quickly said, “When pigs fly…no way.” One hour ago my family was feeding our new pigs. My “no way”, in one year, has turn into an “OK.” What does all of this mean??
There are pigs in everyone’s future! There are so many big and small events in our lives that are just waiting to knock on our door and take up residence in our lives. We just do not know what they are going to be until they arrive. For us, it is two pigs, Pickle and Donut. It may be a new job, another child, a fantastic trip, a new pet, a new friend or a new chance. Or it may be a broken relationship, financial troubles, unexpected news, grief or poor health. Some things in our future will bring us smiles and some things will bring us tears.
There is a lot that we do not know about our future. There is one thing that we do know and it will carry us through all the “pigs” that life can bring us. Jesus walks with us in our dark times as well as in our times of joy. Because we know Christ, we will have the light of life.
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12
This week, make some time to have a date with Jesus. Grow your relationship, smile and listen. The same Jesus that you know today is the same Jesus you will need during the days to come. Your relationship with Jesus is life giving. Jesus will know exactly how to guide you when your “pigs” show up in your life.
This week, my prayer has been for Jesus to send me people who know more about pigs than the Bell clan. My prayers are working. All week, we have met new, wonderful people who have a lot of pig knowledge! I’m thankful!
This past spring I visited a church in Mississippi. In the service, God wanted me to hear one thing…it takes a village. This simple message came from the youth pastor. He gave the announcement about the youth’s trip to the bowling alley that afternoon. But instead of simply reminding the youth, he was actually challenging the congregation…the village. He was challenging them to become a friend to the young people in the church. The church goal was to partner five adults with each young person in their church. He reminded the village of the goal and encouraged them to get started (or keep going) by going bowling that afternoon. Sounds fun!
This made me start thinking about my youthful years. Did I have five people outside my family who I would call a friend? Did I have five people who mentored me and believed in me? Did you?
These people in my life are called the unsung heroes of my life. Their names are not on any diploma, they will probably not be listed in my obituary and they probably don’t even know the impact they made on my life…but they were my heroes in many ways. They had a conversation with me that changed my life. They saw something in me that I did not see and nourished it until I did see it. They were patient. They would answer my phone call anytime during the day or night. I was always welcome in the homes. Some of them were teachers, coaches, friends, fellow church members, and pastors. They were my village. They were my unsung heroes.
This too made me start thinking and open my eyes. (This is probably why God wanted me to hear one thing that day.) Who needs me?…it’s time to go bowling. Who needs you? There are so many people around us young and old that need a village to love them and encourage them. And it may just be time for you and me to take them bowling (or to something else that sounds fun like eating ice cream).
Paula Gooder wrote a book called Everyday God: The Spirit of the Ordinary. I keep my copy on my back porch to read in the morning. It is warped from being wet and yellowed from being scorched by the sun, but it still shares treasures with me each morning. The other day I read these words:
Part of the point of God’s calling to each one of us is that we are called to be God’s unsung heroes and we will know we are succeeding, not when people begin to notice us but when they begin to notice God.
I would love to chat more, but I think I need to write some thank you notes and find some more people to add to my village…especially if bowling and ice cream are involved!
We usually kick off the summer by sending our daughters to camp for a week. Prior to camp, we pull out the trunks. Decorate the trunks. And then fill the trunks. Three simple steps that take many many many days. We check our list and check it twice. We fill ziplock bag after ziplock bag of outfits, costumes, swimsuits, pajamas, and more. It is quite the process. (I can’t imagine sending them to college!!)
But the day we drop them off…emotions are everywhere. One daughter captured it very well. She said she was ner-cited (nervous + excited). To be honest, we were all “ner-cited”…even the dog. But we pressed on. The trunks were already packed and in the car. The care packages were ready to be delivered. (By the way….I may just sign myself up for camp next year. No laundry. No cooking. The blob. And care packages EVERYDAY!!) We were headed to camp and nothing was going to stop us!
And then a funny thing happened in the car on the way to camp. One daughter held my hand and one daughter leaned on my shoulder. If I had been close enough to my mom, I probably would have held her hand too. We were on our way to experience something new. We were anticipating something around the corner that we cannot see yet. A change was coming, we just needed a hand to hold and a shoulder to lean on for a little while.
I do not know what “camp” experience is going on in your life this week. Maybe you have planned for something and it is finally happening. Maybe you can’t see around the next corner but you have a feeling things are changing. Maybe you are about to try something new. When you find yourself “ner-cited” remember the words of found in Deuteronomy 31:8. “It is the Lord who goes before you, He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Know this…Jesus is right there with you. And someone who loves you is available to hold your hand or let you lean on their shoulder for a while.
After we settled our youngest daughter into her cabin for camp and said our goodbyes, we walked out of the cabin. (Honestly, I had to walk out fast before I broke down crying!) I was so impressed with how easily she told us good-bye. And then the door to the cabin popped open and she said, “Mom, where are my notes to write you?” My reply was simple…”In the ziplock!” with everything else. And I should have added, “Right next to Jesus. He will be with you all week baby girl.”
Have a great week because he is with you too!