April 29, 2014

And, it is Enough

There is less evidence of Austin here.  Tangibly less.
His hockey bag has been given to Fraser ~
Fraser's was thrown away.  Now, only three bags remain.
Where there once were four vying for space ~ three comfortably sit.

We had no idea how precious the days were when 

our four ran together toward us at the beach ~ no idea at all.
Now, the three who remain here with us carry on the tradition ~ 
and, while it is wonderful, it also makes us sad.

These three are beyond precious ~ without a doubt.
But, one is missing from this group, and it will always grieve our hearts.

If either of the boys is in need of an article of clothing ~
Austin's dresser is searched.  The items dispensed.
The room becomes less full.  Less of him here.

However, we are not in a rush to empty it completely ~ it is very much 

the same as it was on the day he was called Home to Heaven.
Bits and pieces of our Austin's things are redistributed as it feels natural to do so ~
we are not hurrying the process along.  One step at a time.  Bit by bit.

There is no timetable for all of this ~

we are so thankful for that mercy.

When I write cards from our family, Austin's name is omitted.

When notes are written to us, his name is not included.
He is missing in all our journeyings.  The van is less full.
Our family photos don't quite feel complete.  

Is this what an amputation feels like?

His chair sits empty at the table and his violin sits silent in its case.  

Nothing moves in his room unless we move it.  Silence.
No quick exchanges on the stairs or a wave at the window.
No welcome home or good-bye hug at the front door.

No bantering back and forth in the humour we shared.

No overhearing the interactions with siblings as he quietly led.
Fraser plays the piano alone.  Austin no longer composes music with him.
In these, and a myriad of other ways ~ his absence is felt.  Keenly.
Missing our Austin is an ongoing, moment by moment thing.

It hurts my Mama heart.

In times like these, I must remember where he is
What he is enjoying.  What he is doing.  Who he worships ~ night and day.
And, I must remember that the Lord will take me there, too.  One day.
Not for any merit in me.  But, because of my Lord.  All of Him.

He is Faithful.  His Word is true.  His ways are best.

If I do not fill my mind with Truth, I threaten to implode.
To crumble and shatter into a mess.  But, God.
God, Who is greater than any mess that is me ~
Rescues my heart.  Clarifies my focus.  Redirects my gaze.

Eternity.  Eternity.  Eternity.

Truly, eternity is what really matters.  All of this leads to that.
At the end of it all, that is all.  And, it is enough.
Seeking to continually fill our minds with Truth ~ day after day.
It really is the only way to keep moving forward.
The only way to keep from falling apart.

And, He is Good.  Always and forever.  Eternally.

Many Blessings,

April 24, 2014

Mama Encouragement

We all need it.  
Mama encouragement, that is.

In my (so far) nineteen-year career of being a Mama, there is
one for-sure thing that I've noticed.  Time and time again.
We Mamas can be hard on ourselves.  Very hard, actually.
None of us think we have it all together.
None of us believe we have arrived.  

Not a single one.

One thing we all benefit from is a little encouragement from time to time.
No matter who we are or where we've come from ~
encouragement is a precious gift to the Mamas of the land.
Every last one of us does better with it.  :)

Be encouraged, Mama of many little people...or, Mama of one ~
these busy, exhausting, hands-on days will one day
only live on in your memory.  You will remember them as a dream.
It's true.  Just like child birth ~ the intensity of it all will be forgotten.

One day, your littles will be big.

On the day that that happens, you will not regret not spending more
time cleaning or stressing over the never-ending tasks.  I promise.
The most important things of then very often will not be what 
we believe to be the most important things of now.

Be encouraged, Mama of teens and young adults ~
these days of never-ending food preparation, the revolving front door, the ferrying
non-drivers here and there, or, handing over the car keys will be behind you.  
They will be behind me.  One day.  Sad, but true.

And, then what?  Will what we deem to be the most important things
of now really be the most important things then?  Really?

Be encouraged, Mama in heart but not in reality ~
there are many who are blessed by your sweet presence.
Even though you may not have had little ones to nurture in your home,
you have nurtured many in your heart.  By just being you.  By coming alongside.

Keep on being exactly who you've been called to be ~
the neighbourhood Mama to many, the wonderful Auntie,  the big Sister, or,
the precious surrogate Grandma to the children who don't have one of their own.

You are precious.  You are needed.  You are loved.

Each one of us is called to a different life.
Not one of us is any more special than the other.  
Each of us is unique.  And, uniquely called.

Wherever you are, and whatever your situation is ~

seek to embrace the season you are in.  In all its messiness.  In all its beauty.
Before we realise what is happening, it will be different.  It will change.
We cannot stop time from marching onward.  We cannot hold it back.

But, we can relish the time we have.  Right now.

May the Lord help us all to do just that.  Just this day.

And, while we do, may we be found encouraging others along the way.  
As we walk the path He has called us to.  As we seek to follow Him.
By His grace.  In His strength.  For His glory.

We're all in this together.  Let's cheer one another on.

Mamas of the land...unite!  :)  

Many Blessings,

April 22, 2014

Easy Drop Cheese Biscuits

Cheese biscuits are an easy (and yummy)
side to go with soup or stew.
So quick to whip up.  No counter to clean.
Less than 20 minutes from start to finish.

How can you go wrong?

Originally found in a Company's Coming Cookbook ~
Altered and adjusted by moi. 

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Sugar (I use organic dehydrated cane juice)
4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
2 cups Medium Cheddar Cheese ~ shredded
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Whole Milk (or any milk you like)

Measure all dry ingredients and cheese into large bowl.
Mix together well and pour the olive oil and milk in at once.
Stir quickly to incorporate the wet ingredients into the
dry ingredients until just moistened.  Don't over mix!
Drop by heaping soup spoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 12 to 14 minutes.
They will be lightly golden on the edges when they are done.
Makes 11 or 12 large biscuits.

Happy Baking!
Many Blessings, Camille

April 21, 2014

The Heart of the Matter

It's always of great benefit to get to the heart of the matter.
With our teens ~ it's imperative.  But, it's not always easy.
The easy thing to do is to react to the results of their actions.
But, very often, it's not as simple as that.  Not as simple at all.

We've been parenting teens in our family for six full years now.

There have been many instances when we have needed wisdom.
Thankfully, the Lord gives it when we ask.  We have had to ask.  Often.

Like the time when instructions were given to turn off a pot

when the lid rattled (I thought it would) and all the water boiled away
leaving the contents to burn half an inch deep to the bottom of the pan.
Was the intention to ruin lunch?  To be disobedient?  To be destructive?  No.
But, lunch (and very nearly the pot) was ruined.  Completely and utterly.

I am ashamed to say ~ I reacted.

Fortunately, I have a wise husband who is well versed in dealing

with boys.  He was once one himself ~ funny how that works.  :)
He intervened and applied wisdom to the situation.
We all came out of it smiling and still friends.

Lunch plans were changed.  

And, the heart of our teen was intact.  A win-win.

However, it could have turned out so differently.

Through situations like these, we can so easily burn bridges.
Getting to the heart of the matter takes time ~ it always does.
But, very often, we don't seem to have the time.  We will never regret
the time it takes to come alongside to teach and train.  Never.

We have been blessed by the writings of those who have gone 

before us in this journey of parenting teens.  
Wise words to glean from may be found within the pages of 
"Age of Opportunity" by Paul David Tripp.

His words challenge parents of teens to examine themselves first.

Are we going for behaviour modification or true heart change?
He encourages, challenges, and equips the reader to put into practice
the various ideas put forward in his book.  They are Biblical and sound.

I need to re-read it.  :)

See all the folded down pages?  Apparently, just a few things jumped out at me.

We only travel this path once.  We want to do it right.  We cannot do it alone. 
The only way forward is by God's grace and in His strength.

"Age of Opportunity" is full of Biblically sound advice and godly wisdom ~ 

it truly is a gem.  We are so thankful to have a copy in our home library.
Our parenting journey is far from over.  We will likely revisit its pages often.
Highly recommended for those who are seeking
to parent their teens with grace, mercy, and love.

You will be encouraged.  I am sure of it.

Many Blessings,

**Opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own ~ 

I am not compensated in any way for this recommendation.

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.