April 16, 2014

A Balancing Act

It's a fine line to walk ~ a balancing act.
One that requires much wisdom and grace.  Every single day.
We are so conscious of the fact that we need the Lord
each step of this journey.  Every single step.

We desire to honour the memory of our Austin
while continuing to live out our days here with our other three.
All four will always be our children ~ regardless of where they live.
Each one is precious.  None more than the other.

In the midst of sorrow and grief, it is all too easy to elevate the child 
who has entered eternity ~ put him precariously on a pedestal.
It can be a temptation to make him bigger than life while the others 
must live out their earthly lives here ~ before our very eyes.

When we pass through the veil, we will no longer struggle with sin.
In this body of death, it is an ever present battle ~ for all of us.
Austin has been called into eternity.  One day, we will be as well.
Until then, we must live.  And, at the same time,
we must remember.

We speak of Austin every single day.

In some way or another, we remember him ~ lovingly.
But, we also desire to remember our other children.
To speak to them and to listen.  To engage and encourage.
To nurture them in the midst of our grief.  To walk with them.
To enter into their lives as they live.  Day after day.

They are here and we love them, too.

We didn't know exactly how we would keep Austin's birthday.
This was the first one since he was called Home to Heaven.  It was a little tricky.
How does one honour the day when the one being
honoured is no longer living here in the flesh?  It can be challenging.

Howie's sister had a lovely suggestion ~
"Do something for each of the children in Austin's memory."
And that's exactly what we did.  It was perfect.

Birthdays are special.  The children are treated to out-of-the-ordinary
things when their birthday arrives.  It's a tradition around these here parts.
So, for Austin's day, we wanted to make it special ~ just like always.

We had our usual morning routines of breakfast and a quiet time in God's Word.
Then, we went on our beach walk, and stopped by Austin's grave on the way home.
The children tackled some of their school work, and delivered papers after lunch.
Late in the afternoon, we took the children out to purchase a little something 
specifically significant for each of them in honour of Austin.

He would have liked that.  We know he would.

Fraser was given some new sheet music for piano that he'd had his eye on.
Calvin found a photography magazine to help him learn new skills.
Emma was able to purchase some lip gloss ~ ever the princess at heart.
For dinner, we went out to White Spot and ordered burgers in honour of our son.

Once we were back home, and just prior to sending the children off to bed, 
we had our evening Bible reading time together.  Like bookends to the day.
We gave each of the children their very own copy of one of Austin's 
favourite books ~ complete with a personal note on the inside cover.

"Little Pilgrim's Progress" by Helen Taylor has been read many times
over the years in our family.  It's been a great blessing to our hearts.
Now, the children each have a copy of their own in memory of their big brother.
The Lord-willing, they will be able to take these books with them into their 
own families to read with their own children one day.

I cannot end this post without making mention of the fact
that on Austin's birthday, so many remembered us in so many ways.  

We were incredibly blessed by God's people through emails, 
texts, cards, and flowers, blog post comments, and telephone calls. 
We know that many were especially remembering us in prayer.
We wish to thank each one of you from the bottom of our hearts!  :)
It truly is a wonderful gift to belong to the Family of our Great God.

The Lord has encouraged our hearts through His people
and carried us through once again. He is eternally good and gracious.
May you also know His loving hand upon you as you walk with Him.
His ways are perfect.  He does all things well.  Always.

Many Blessings,

**Flowers in this post courtesy of a sweet friend in memory of our Austin ~
Thank you, my sweet friend!  :)

April 15, 2014

Don't Blink!

Life is full of little moments that run together to form our days.
If we blink, we miss them.  Very often, I blink.
These days, I am trying not to.
Seeking to keep my eyes wide open to the joys of now.

A treasure hunt map made by Howie for Emma and her friend.

Freshly fashioned cloth napkins to use daily instead of paper.

Dress-up and that it still happens.

Getting some projects under way ~ the picture wall.

Four roasted chickens for future meals.

The writing of an exam and capturing the moment through the glass.

More dressing up ~ see?  It's a trend.
(And, while practicing the piano again...maybe it's a strategy.)

Snail mail preparation.

Dishcloth in progress ~ for her Mama.

The view from the top of the stairs.

From the outside looking in.

A collaborative effort ~ makes me smile.

Texas Sheet Cake ~ just because.

Just one of the benefits of home education.

And...another one.  :)

Cookies ~ just because.

Warmer days and Battleship outdoors.

Flowers from my Dad on Austin's birthday ~ so thoughtful.
Thank you, Dad ~ these are still brightening our days.

The Lord gives each one of us precious moments.
May He give us eyes wide open to really see.
Don't blink!  You might miss the treasures of now.

Many Blessings,

April 11, 2014

Deeper Still

We've been travelling through some deep waters.
Sometimes, it's felt as though they might overtake. 
Swallow us up.  Sweep us away.  Forever.

But, they haven't.  Not once.

Though the waters are deep ~ He is deeper still.
The Lord is our Rock.  Our Fortress.  Our sure Foundation.
Nothing can shake us or move us or crush us.
Nothing, that is, unless He desires it to.

When it comes from His loving hand ~
It is ultimately for our good.

It has been said that nothing can touch the Christian
without it first passing through the hands of our Heavenly Father.
What a comfort that is!  What a wonderful resting place for the weary soul.
We know that He will only do what is for our good and for His glory.

At the end of it all, it's all about that.

So, we look to Him.  We rest in Him.  We trust Him.
We can confidently say that, come what may, we have nothing to fear.
Every hope is found in Him.  Moment by moment.  Day after day.
Whatever He calls us to, He will be faithful to carry us through.
Every single thing.  Always.  Now and forever.

In His care ~ there truly is no safer place to be.
No safer place at all.

Many Blessings,

April 8, 2014

Never Nineteen

On this day, nineteen years ago ~ our precious Austin was born.
Our first child.  The first of three boys.  The oldest of our four children.

He was a gift directly from the loving hand of our Heavenly Father.  Just for us.
  Each child the Lord has entrusted to our family has been a gift that we cherish.
Every single one.  They each bring a special dynamic to our home.
We are so thankful for the opportunity we have been given
to raise each of these precious souls for His glory.  

We feel absolutely, incredibly blessed.

We had no idea that Austin's life would be relatively short.
No idea at all.  When he had open heart surgery at the age of one, 
we thought all would be well from that day forward.
We thought he would live a long, long life here on this earth.

However, our plans were not God's plans.

Austin lived in our home for just over eighteen years.
And then, the Lord called him Home to Heaven.
He will be forever eighteen ~ never nineteen or beyond.
This was the plan for his life before time even began.

Every single day was ordained by our 
Great God before it came to pass.

"My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret,
and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect;
and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance 
were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."  Psalm 139:15-16

What a comforting, precious thought.  Truly, a balm for the soul.
What a great blessing it is to have the Scriptures to turn to.
To fill our hearts and minds with truth is so very powerful.
It really is the only way forward in this life.  The only way.

~ Our Austin (above and below) in Summer of 1996 ~

~ With his little brother Calvin in 1997 ~

~ In Spring of 1999 ~

~ Kindergarten graduation 2001 ~

~ Austin's humour being displayed on his seventh birthday in 2002 ~

~ L to R: Fraser, Calvin, and Austin in 2005 ~
(Our last year at the little local Christian School)

~ L to R: Austin, Calvin, and Fraser in 2006 ~
(Our first year of home education)

~ L to R: Austin, Fraser, and Calvin in 2007 ~

~ Clockwise from front: Emma, Fraser, Calvin and Austin in 2007 ~

~ L to R: Emma, Austin, (a neighbour's dog), Calvin and Fraser in 2008 ~
(The children often would take a moment to
play with Frasier (the dog) while delivering papers)

~ Trying his hand at golf while on holiday in 2008 ~

~ Jet skiing excursion as a family in 2008 ~
(L to R: Emma, Fraser, Calvin and Austin with Howie and Camille in back)

~ L to R: Howie, Emma and Austin ~

~ One of our last family photos from Christmas 2012 ~
(L to R: Calvin, Fraser, Camille, Emma, Howie and Austin)

~ Austin's 18th Birthday in 2013 ~

~ The last birthday card we ever gave to our precious son ~

Life here, even at its longest, is short in light of eternity.
Even one hundred years is considered a vapour in God's economy.
Eternity is what really matters.  Life is forever there.
Our Austin didn't know that he would be called into eternity at eighteen.

However, he was ready.  
We are so incredibly thankful that he was.

Are you ready?  That's the question we pray that all those who 
learn of our precious son's passing from this life to the next will consider.
Though he lived a relatively short time here, he was prepared.  Are you?
The only way to be prepared for eternity is to face the reality that
none of us is good enough to enter Heaven.  Not one of us.

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."  Romans 3:23
It's sin that separates us from the Living God of heaven and earth.
Just one sin is enough to cause this separation.  A chasm is fixed.
"...all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..."  Isaiah 64:6b

We cannot earn our way to Heaven.  We cannot please God on our own.
We must relinquish all our own works.  We must abandon ourselves to another.
Each one of us requires a sinless substitute.  A perfect sacrifice.
By God's great grace and mercy ~ One has been provided.

"Jesus saith unto him, I am that way, the truth, and the life;
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."  John 14:6

The Lord Jesus Christ came to live perfectly in our place.
He took the sins of His people on Himself in order to pay the penalty required.
On the cross, He suffered and died.  He laid down His life for those He came to save. 
He absorbed and satisfied the wrath of God for all the sin laid upon Him.

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin;
that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."  2 Corinthians 5:21

In that act, justice was served.  Mercy and grace were extended.
Those who come to the Lord in repentance and faith will be accepted.
They will be clothed in His righteousness.

"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me;
and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."  John 6:37

We bring nothing ~ He gives everything.

It is important to note that the Lord Jesus Christ did not stay dead.
He rose up from the tomb ~ forever conquering death and the evil one.
He returned to His Father in Heaven, where He intercedes for His people.
When the last of His children come to Him in repentance and faith,
He will return to take His people Home to Heaven to be with Him for all eternity.
He also will come to judge every one who has ever lived.  All of us.

The time to deal with these things is now.

Where do you stand?  What is the state of your never-dying soul?
Will you spend all of eternity with the Lord, or separated from Him?
On that final judgement day, will you hear these dreaded words? ~
"...I never knew you; depart from me..."  Matthew 7:23b

It truly is a frightening thought.  But, it is not too late.
As long as there is breath in your lungs, there is hope for your heart.
"...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."  Acts 16:31

If we cast ourselves on Him in repentance and faith, He will receive us.
If we trade our wretchedness for His righteousness, we will be saved.
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become 
the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."  John 1:12

It is the most amazing, wonderful news of all!

May we all be found to be in Christ when 
He calls us out of this world, and into the next.  For all eternity.
By His grace and for His glory.  Alone.
Nothing else matters more than this.  Truly, nothing.

Many Blessings,

P.S.  Please feel free to email me at flowersinhisgarden@gmail.com
if you are interested to discuss these things further,
or, if you just would like someone to pray with you.  
God is forever Good.  Look to Him and live.

April 3, 2014

Chocolate Oatmeal

Ready for this?  Yes, I think you are.
Chocolate Oatmeal...see?  I knew you'd be ready.  ;-)
It's simple.  It's quick.  And, it's yummy.  Too good to be true.
What else could you possibly want from your morning bowl of oats?

We like ours topped with chopped pecans and craisins.
Sometimes, the kids will even ask for chocolate chips ~ dear me!
Any way you serve them, they will be a hit ~ I'm sure of it.  :)

Chocolate Oatmeal ~ 
Originally found here...adaptations by moi.

4 cups water
2 cups milk (you can substitute almond milk)
2 1/2 cups rolled oats (I use organic, old fashioned)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I use evaporated cane juice)
 1 tsp sea salt (or, any salt you prefer)
2 tsp vanilla extract (I use pure)

Bring water, milk, sea salt, and oats to boil over medium heat.
Stir often so the oats do not stick to the bottom of your pan.
Using a whisk, add in the sugar and the sifted cocoa powder.
Whisk together until smooth, remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.

Cover the oatmeal and let stand for about 15 to 20 minutes to finish cooking.
The longer it sits, the thicker it will get ~ I've left ours as long as 30 minutes.
Stir well prior to serving.  Serves 5 or 6 generously.  Adjust accordingly.

Happy breakfast to you!
Blessings, Camille

April 1, 2014

And, the Winners Are...

We have two winners!  Lord-willing, each will receive a brand new copy
(like the one pictured below) of Spurgeon's "Morning and Evening".
It really is a treasure.  If your name wasn't drawn from the hat, 
perhaps you could get your hands on a copy somehow.  
Mother's Day?  Birthday?  Just because?  :)

All the names of those who signed up for the giveaway
were printed out on little slips of paper and put into a hat.
Emma, my lovely little assistant, pulled out two names.

And, the winners are....
Muffy Stephenson and Terri from Our Crazy Farm.

Muffy and Terri, please email me your mailing addresses at
flowersinhisgarden@gmail.com and I will get these off to you soon!

May the Lord use Spurgeon's writings to bless your hearts in the days to come.  
We have frequently found them to be so applicable and such an encouragement.
I am sure you will find it to be so in your lives as well.

With Love,

March 26, 2014

In Memory of Austin ~ A Giveaway!

**This giveaway is now CLOSED**

Our Austin loved Spurgeon.  We love Spurgeon.  Notice a trend?
We love Spurgeon because He points us to our Saviour.
He faithfully encourages us in the Truths found in God's Word.
in our home since we began our married life together.
It was a significant part of Howie's life long before that.

The Lord has used it to bless our hearts throughout the years.
We intend for each one of our children to take a copy with them
when they branch out and begin families of their own.

This devotional book would be a wonderful addition
to any Christian's personal library.  It is a gem.  A treasure.  
So full of encouragement and wisdom.  So full of Truth.
So applicable to life in all of its stages.  Timeless.

Spurgeon magnifies God's Word and our Saviour.
He continually directs the attention of the reader to eternal things.
Don't we all benefit from having our hearts and minds refreshed in these ways?

We look forward to meeting Spurgeon in Heaven.
I sometimes wonder if Austin has visited with him already.
And with Joseph and Daniel and Abraham.  I wonder.

We have a few copies of "Morning and Evening" around our home.
The one pictured above is the family copy.  It's dog-eared and well worn. 
We've written significant family happenings on its pages.
Its value is priceless.  A real treasure.

The day that Austin was taken Home to Heaven was June 1, 2013.
The reading for that day dealt with the providential appointment of
both sorrows and joys for God's people on this side of eternity.
So very applicable, don't you think?  The Lord is so very, very good.

"What our Heavenly Father ordains is wise and good.
What, then, my soul, is it best for thee to do?

Learn first to be content with this divine order,
and be willing, with Job, to receive evil from the hand of the Lord
as well as good...

...The dews of grace fall heavily in the night of sorrow."

~ Quoted from Spurgeon's "Morning and Evening" 
June 1st morning reading page 306 ~

I would love for you to have your own copy of this wonderful
devotional book.  It is in Spurgeon's original (brilliant) 1800's wording.
And, the copy I send you will be brand new.  :)

Just leave a comment saying you would like your name to be entered in our draw.
That's it.  Simple?  Yes.  So, what are you waiting for?
The Lord-willing, Emma will pull two names from the hat on 
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at Noon, Pacific Standard Time.
My plan is to announce the winners later on that day.

May the Lord bless you abundantly as you seek to follow Him
with all your heart.  He alone is worthy of all our praise.

Many Blessings,

**It has been brought to my attention that our tendency as people
often can be to elevate a man.  This is not my intention here.
Spurgeon was a man.  Just a man.  Not inspired.  Not perfect.

Only God's Word is infallible.  Only God is perfect.
No one ought to take His place in our hearts or affections.

The Bible deserves first place on our reading list.
It is the only book that is living.  It is full of wisdom and truth.
By God's great grace, it has the answers we seek.

"Morning and Evening" directs the reader's attention to God's Word.
It is full of encouragement and insights for the Christian on life's journey.
It is a wonderful supplement and ought to be regarded as such.
I trust this little note will clarify where I stand on these things.  :)

March 11, 2014

Battling it Out

We're in a battle.  Moment by moment.  Day after day.
Whether we realise it, or not, each one of us is battling it out.
It's a battle for Truth.  A battle for eternity.  A battle for all that matters.

But, Who is winning this battle?  Who will win?
Does the flesh win?  The Evil One?  The World?
In the end, the answer is the Lord.
Ultimately, He wins.  But, He also has already won.

Never before in my walk with Him
have I known the battle to be so strong.
So severe.  So all-encompassing.
Never, that is.  Until now.

And, through it all, the Lord is faithful.
He is good and perfect and does all things well.
Whatever He calls us to, as His children, He will see us through.
We are so greatly blessed to belong to Him.

"My heart and my flesh faileth: but God is the 
strength of my heart, and my portion forever."  Psalm 73:26

~ Our precious four in 2006 ~

Our Austin was taken Home to Heaven to be with his Lord
and Saviour, Jesus Christ, just a little over nine months ago.
What a beautiful thought.  What a precious thing.  Truly.
But, here.  Here, without him in our home, day after day ~
it is a battle.  A battle to keep our focus where it ought to be.

And, where ought it to be?

Rooted deeply and unshakeably in the Word of God.
In the Truth we find within its pages.
In eternity and all that means.  In the Lord Jesus Christ.
In following Him wherever He leads.

And, it's a battle.  Yes, each and every day.  
And, it will continue to be ~ until He calls us Home.

~ Austin in 2006 ~

We need wisdom and grace and strength to persevere.  
To finish our race well.  To follow and serve and bring glory to our Great God.
We need Him moment by moment, day after day.  We need Him always.
However, it is so easy to get distracted by the things of now.

The things of this life can crowd out the Truth. 
We can so easily find ourselves wallowing in self pity.

We are seeking, by God's great grace, not to allow that to happen.
May we be found daily battling it out for the Truth.  For eternity.
Soaking our hearts and minds in it.  Living it ~ day by day.

In His strength.  For His glory.  Alone.

~ Our precious four in 2007 ~

"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, 
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.
The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, 
to the soul that seeketh him."  Lamentations 3:21-25

When we fill our minds with Truth and keep our hearts fixed
on our Saviour and all He has done, we are well.  All is well.  In Him.

Many Blessings,

**Just a little note ~ I am taking a little time of quiet away from this space.  
Your comments, should you choose to leave any, 
will appear upon my return ~ Lord-willing.

At this moment, I am unsure of how long this quietness will last ~
a week or two?  Perhaps three or more?  It's just necessary ~ 
thank you for always understanding.

May the Lord bless you each with His peace and presence and comfort.
He alone is worthy of all our praise.  Forever.
All glory belongs to Him.  Alone.