Wednesday, November 2, 2011


So this post is a long time overdue... but that is how it is.
Isaac John was born into our family on July 6, 2011, the morning after his due date... also the 12th anniversary of Carolie's being laid to rest. What a day!
He weighed 7 lbs. and 3 oz., the littlest one, second to Carolie, who weighed 7lbs. 1 oz.
He stole all our hearts from the first moment... and we seem to have completely lost them ever since. Abi said the day he was born, that it was the best day of her life!!!
Isaac has made the adjustment of having a baby in the house very smooth. He almost never has a tummy ache. Daddy LOVES the fact that he can calm him and get him to sleep like it was never possible to do with the girls. He is a frequent smiler, but so far reserves most of his laughs for me, which I of course take particular pleasure in!
By 12 weeks he doubled his weight. The scale I weigh him on only goes to 15 pounds, so I quit weighing him weekly a couple weeks ago.
He is his father's son, in that he startles easily, seems to relish "creature comforts", and doesn't mind being continually smothered with kisses! :)

None of these pictures show it well, but he has blue eyes, that seem to be, not only NOT turning brown, but getting bluer! His hair is also more blonde than any of the girls were. He has a whole crop of ducky fuzz, especially fuzzy right after the shower!

These last two pictures were taken at Mohican State Park.

Now, as for the reason for the title...

AND... &

Last evening I was eating some chocolate ( nothing noteworthy in that, it's a pretty regular occurence:). It happened to be made by "Green & Black's". I found myself reading the inside of the wrapper. The words that jumped out at me were:

Live in the &

Like me, you may find yourself asking... what?

"&. It's where green meeets black. Where indulging in life exists harmoniously with respecting it. No compromises."

I think if I was to sum up what all this summers experiences have been working towards teaching me, it might be to


I am finding out that God wants me to indulge in Him and His provision for all my need... who He is and all that that implies in my life.
I am not to take lightly who He is, have a healthy respect for how unlimited He is.
Life, the LIFE of Christ in me, needs to be all that motivates me.

"There is no thief like fear."

Our God is able.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

An Epiphany of Sorts

I know it's been a long time since I've posted anything here... When times are busiest or the most "full" of content that one needs to absorb, then I take the least amount of time to write about it.
Tonight is one of those evenings when Abe is working late fixing his baler so it is ready to roll up hay again tomorrow. He is (we all are) rejoicing in the lovely sunshine we have been having this week and can happily say the corn and soybean seeds are all tucked in the dirt where they belong, and field by field, thanks to much help from friends and family who are available to work, the hay is being made!
Anyway, I was just doing some clean-up in the kitchen during and after a short phone conversation, and I had an epiphany of sorts...
Let me see if I can capture it into words.
I was thinking about how blessed I am that Abe trusts me with money. It occurred to me that every cent we own is at my disposal. How wild is that!!! Yet it is ordinary to me, something I take for granted. I have absolutely no desire to abuse that trust.
Anyway... the epiphany is that if we are the bride of Christ.............................
Into my mind popped the Proverbs 31 verse where it says "The heart of her husband safely trusts in her."
Oh my! I so long for Jesus Christ, my beloved bridegroom, to be able to safely trust in me. That I would be so HIS that He could entrust anything to me.
I have to think... for Abe and I, that trust is there because of relationship. It develops over time and through circumstances that we walk through together, and yet in one sense it's been there all along. I think it has something to do with me knowing his heart and him knowing mine.

Is it any different with God?

I know it seems to me over the past few years that in the majority of the life experiences I have been through, there is a pattern that keeps emerging.
God keeps on saying to me, in essence, "Who do you say that I am?"

All of what I do and what transpires in my life is my answer to that question, whether I realize it or not.

I know He knows my heart, but I am learning more all the time how very little I grasp His heart towards me, towards us all. How great is His mercy and loving-kindness!
Well, as you can see this is a rambling attempt to collect my thoughts... or rather to let my thoughts go rambling where they should in order to challenge me to further trust God with my life!
Have a blessed evening! - Janelle

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Shortcuts to the Sweet Stuff

For the first time, I am trying my hand at cooking maple syrup. Abe tapped some trees here in our yard and we have been collecting the sap as it comes. I am told it takes an average of forty gallons of sap to cook down into a single gallon of maple syrup. And oh, how sweet it is!
I preheat the sap on the stove and then pour it into an 18 quart roaster in the garage. It gets all moist and steamy out there. Hours, then days, go by, and eventually there is a pint...then two...then three... sitting on my counter.
In the meantime, I find myself thinking of ways to use the sap without cooking it all the way down to syrup. I've learned it makes really good chai, tea, probably any sweet drink, to just cook it until it has the sweetness I like. There is also a lovely delicate flavor to it, very mellow. In a fraction of the time it takes to make even one fourth of a cup of maple syrup, I have a gallon of very good cinnamon tea, all sealed in jars to enjoy ice cold on some hot summer day. It might be my imagination, but it tastes more exotic, just knowing it is purely maple sap, cinnamon, cloves, and mint, no sugar added.
But sweet tea is a far cry from maple syrup.


The thoughts on my mind and on my heart today have been a struggle to hold out for the sweet stuff. The tea is pretty good, after all, and there's nothing wrong with tea. It's just not maple syrup and never can be.
And I want the maple syrup.

Sometimes it seems like God takes such a long slow route to get us to the sweet stuff. I do know the sweetness of waiting on Him, not trying to force His hand, and seeing Him work out more incredible sweetness than I can comprehend. But I am still so prone to impatience.
Suddenly this afternoon, I heard His voice through the process of making maple syrup. I choose, in the issues that are in my life right now, to wait and be still, to trust God to distill away whatever He needs to in me, and to trust Him to work in the lives of those nearest and dearest to me, to the same desired end - the sweet stuff.

Another thing shouted loudly to me today.
Damaris has been steadily progressing in learning to play the piano. I am amazed at what sounds she can make come rippling out from under her fingers already!
For the last few weeks she has been playing over and over something her cousin taught her, very pretty with a nice rhythm to it. I assumed it was some sort of finger exercise, it had no real "tune" to it.
This week her piano teacher (Judy) is back after being gone for over a month, and we were there for a lesson. While she was taking a phone call, Damaris was playing through some of the things she enjoys, the "finger exercise" being one of them. To my surprise, Judy says, "Why, that's "Heart and Soul" she's playing!" and promptly joins her in the duet I didn't know it actually is. The part she played was the "tune", and if I thought the "accompaniment" was pretty, I am here to tell you, it's just the accompaniment.
That was Wednesday. It took me until today and the battle I was in, to see the beauty in it all.
I think our God wants us to get it through our thick heads that what we have experienced of His goodness so far in our lives is only the accompaniment, to what He really longs to pour out on and in us if we will only keep saying yes to Him in our hearts and lives. It's still the "sweet tea".
He is the "Heart and Soul" and will put heart and soul into everything we let Him. He is the one Who made the life-blood of the tree, so that when it is distilled out into it's purest form, it is a product of utter sweetness.

The cross is another tree similar to the maple.

I want to hold still, not meddle in His work, and just abide in Him.

I write this all in much weakness, feeling the need to put it down in black and white. - Janelle

Friday, February 11, 2011

To eat, or not to eat...

Recently, through a chain of circumstances not linked by me, a new aspect of an old truth about myself was hit home to me, hopefully to an ever-increasing depth.
It seems like time and again God has brought to my attention that any excellence in my life must be of God, and not of myself.
One day, in what felt like a random phone call, I was called to account for how friendly, or in this case, how "not friendly" I had greeted someone in the local Walmart. No matter what I said, I could not convince this person that I hold no ill feelings whatsoever toward the person they thought I slighted. To keep a long story short, I felt very attacked, from out of nowhere. It really rattled me.
Some days later there was an entirely different encounter that also made me really question myself and threw me into a certain degree of turmoil.
Then one afternoon, as all this was brewing on the simmer burner in my heart, I started asking God to show me what it was that He wanted me to see, 'cause I could sense there was something.
I always find it so incredible, how God can take something that feels like such a muddle, and shed such clean light on it, when I open it up to Him.
He showed me once again, how important it is to me to feel "right". Funny as it may seem, the thought that helped me see it clearly, was about Jesus walking through the cornfield on the Sabbath, and plucking the ear of corn, and eating it.
If that was me, I would have went hungry.
I know it's not violating the true Sabbath to pluck and eat the corn. But I am strong enough in myself that I would have denied myself the bite to eat, for the sake of not stumbling someone, for the sake, truly, of not having someone look cross-eyed at me for my actions.
If Christ picked and ate the corn, it was for a very good reason (besides being hungry).
My not eating the corn would actually be a mis-representation of Christ. I would be choosing self-rightness (actually self-righteousness) over the liberty in Christ that we are exhorted to STAND FAST in.
It breaks my heart, how prone I am to self-righteousness... one could walk away from that cornfield feeling superior to the others munching their ear of corn, that I had the discipline or self control to do without. What a load of garbage! In all reality, I would be the one grieving the heart of my Father! It is not a virtue, to have, but not walk in, the liberty and life that is in Christ. It is actually setting myself up as knowing better than God...and that is shades of you-know-who! God forbid!
So, I walk away from this, feeling an ever growing determination to let Christ live and move and have His being in me, to be nothing and no one in my own eyes first of all, and then to forget about the ones who might look cross-eyed at me and just concern myself with whatever He says to me. I want to completely be God's girl...not my own.

For we have this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
2 Cor. 4:7
I want to spend all the rest of my days discovering the joy of what it feels like to live for an audience of ONE! To stand or fall by His measurement alone...because He is so very rich in mercy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Conundrums and Rest

The sun is shining brightly on a new day, and yet for me, today is a day of remembering...
Today my firstborn daughter would be a teenager.
I feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster ride. Yesterday we heard the heartbeat of the baby in my womb. It is the sound of LIFE, yet still a life that is never ours to control, or keep as our own. It is a gift, to be lovingly held for as much time as we are given.
This winter I have been puzzling over the blessing and brevity of life. It seems like every few days we hear of some new joy or sorrow, in this endless cycle of life and death.
Like the death of an almost-two-year old that was born with a heart defect... then the birth of a daughter to a couple who have longed and waited for a baby for years...
Answers to prayers come in all shapes and size, sometimes joyfully and sometimes most painfully, but always accompanied by GRACE.
I have not arrived at any concrete conclusions in my pondering of all this...only that life is full of conundrums that we may never grasp. The thing is, God, who made each of us, knows us and knows what completes us, and He is committed to complete the good work He has begun in us.
He also NEVER leaves us comfort-less.
Today the girls are excited to celebrate Carolie's birthday. It is a special occasion, even to them, who never met her. We will make some special foods and maybe watch home videos of her... watch her bottle feed the baby deer in Bolivia...scolding it and smacking it's head every time it butts her over... and laugh like we always do. There'll be tears too. My cheeks feel like a well-watered garden already. But I'm so glad God gave her to us! It is worth the pain.
I am so glad that Jesus thought we were worth His pain. Ours pales in comparison.

"Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless 'til it rests in Thee." - Augustine

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Beginnings

It's about time to post an update on here! I had a couple of drafts I intended to post, but sometimes if I can't quite put into words what I want to say, and if it doesn't feel right to me, there it sits until I feel ruthless and delete.

December was full... Chloe and Abigail had their birthdays, which we celebrated by having a tea party. Abi is four years old now! She strives to keep up with her big sisters in all things.
When I was shopping for her birthday, I asked her what is her favorite thing to play with.
After some time, she said, "Mommy, my favorite thing to play with is my sisters!"
Chloe is six years old. She is discovering the joys of reading, this winter. Also, she and Hadassah spend as much time as possible playing outside if there is any snow. We have clean fresh snow blanketing the ground again today!

Chloe wanted these pink snowballs instead of birthday cake this year, which was a blessing for this morning sick mom! Also special because they were a favorite of my Dad's!
Yes, one of the new beginnings for us is the expected arrival of a baby in July!
We are most excited, since there are miscarriages in my past. I am now in the beginning of the 15th week, and so far there have been no complications. The girls are tickled at the thought of a baby in the house. It will be a bit different for me, having older children to help. Last time my oldest was 6, with a 4 year old, and a 2 year old. Damaris will be 11 the same month the baby is due, and the others will be 8, 6, and 4. I am already gearing towards using their help a bit more than I have been. There are simple things they are learning to cook, etc. that will be a welcome assistance with a newborn in the family!
Another new beginning is that Damaris has started taking piano lessons. Our closest neighbor lady offered to start teaching her what she knows, which is very sweet of her and convenient for us! We just trudge up over the hill. On these snowy days, we don't need to venture down our hill, nor up her even longer one.
It seems like 2010 flew by on swift wings. We have before us an uncharted year. It will be interesting to see what events the grace of God will see us through, what new joys and old hopes are fulfilled in the days ahead. I'm just so glad that mercies are new every morning!
May our days be numbered by the many blessings of being saved on a daily basis, growing into the image of our precious Lord Jesus!

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