As I try to be thankful for the hard day

Posted by Jennifer under Faith, Parenting, Special Needs (No Comments)

1:30pm finds my older two out playing in the rain. My youngest is napping. Meanwhile, I’m listening to one of Sarah Fink-Jensen’s Spotify playlists thinking about yesterday’s hard day. “We are not as strong as we think we are” by Rich Mullins comes on. I pop another sweet cherry in my mouth and my eyes tear up.

Yesterday was hard. We were with friends at a Canada Day BBQ. Thankfully our friends feel more like family and I feel brave enough to go there with our crazy family, knowing that we are loved even if things go south and I wish the world would open up and swallow me. Isaac is 8 now. He’s still non-verbal and was recently given his first official diagnosis (aside from the stroke and epilepsy) of intellectual disability. During dinner, he would not stop swatting at us, wouldn’t stay seated to eat. It escalated from there and it was bad. As a result of the meltdown, we had to leave.

Could it have been after effects of his morning seizures? Perhaps it was that he was out of his element? He hadn’t had his nap. It was hot. I don’t know what set him off. I didn’t know how to reset the course.

When I fell into bed that night, though I was so tired, sleep wouldn’t come. I got out of bed and went to the sitting room to kneel in prayer. I needed to ask for forgiveness for not being as patient as I should have been, for being angry at him, for resenting the task of raising him sometimes, for not praying enough for him. Tears, prayers and a sweet sleep are good medicine for the soul.

Parenting is hard. Parenting him is hard. We aren’t strong enough. I’m not as strong as I think I am. As I want to be. Actually, I’m not strong at all.

I praise Him and I am thankful that we have more good days than bad days. It’s not always like this.

Today I was thinking about how prideful I am. Yeah, I have to ask forgiveness for that constantly too. Because honestly, though they were dear friends, it’s hard on the pride to be unable to control your child/the situation.  Anyway, I’m also prideful, in that, I have one great day and I’m mentally awarding myself a parenting trophy. You know those (maybe infrequent) days where you were able to have a {mostly} uninterrupted quiet time with the Lord, you’re pretty much caught up on everything, the cookies are coming out of the oven, you’ve read and snuggled your kids, went for a walk and everyone is {mostly} getting along? I have one of those and I’m on top of the world. I have a few of those and I can feel that pride creep in. I’m doing a great job, I’ve got those ducks in a row. I can do this on my own.

And then along comes a bad day, a hard day, or sickness and it all starts to unravel. I have to admit, I tend to cry out to God in humbleness more on those days. He always answers with peace, grace and mercy. Maybe these times are the ones I really need to thank God for because they show me just how weak I am and how very much I need Him? Honestly, everything is better, calmer, sweeter, and more freeing when I rely on Him.

Lord, I praise You for all my days. I thank You for the good ones, for the sunshine and the joy. Help me praise You for these hard days too. Humble me, grow me, conform me to your image. Let me see how weak I am so that when I am strong, I recognize that it is Your strength in me and not my own. Transform my impatience into your loving patience as I seek to understand my children, and others in my life, and love them in a way that shows them how wonderful You are. Help me to joyfully accept the people, circumstances and limitations in my life with joy, knowing they are gifts from You.

Favourite Picture Books For All Ages

Posted by Jennifer under Books (No Comments)

The basket today’s picture book list is based on.

If you come over to my house for a visit, you will probably notice that we have books in almost every room of our home. Picture books, chapter books, board books, novels, biographies…I love books, good books that is. Yes, I painfully suffered through the reading of Pinky Pie’s Party and other such nonsense that my children picked out but those titles will never make it to the list of books I love, nor do they get space on my shelves.

I have to say that between Sonlight and Sarah and Sally Clarkson’s recommendations, I have never had a shortage of good books to read to my children. Of all the books in my home, I do actually have some that truly are my favorite picture books, many of which are in a basket near one of our comfy chairs. I will share those with you today. I would like to say that our shelves are full of many other wonderful titles so this list is not exhaustive, because that’s not even possible! But all the picture books on this list are great because I enjoyed them as I read them with my children.

As you can see this is real life, no staging here!

Favorite Picture Books for All Ages

  • Blueberries for Sal, Robert McCloskey
  • Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McCloskey
  • Time of Wonder, Robert McCloskey
  • Train to Somewhere, Eve Bunting
  • My Little Artist, Donna Green
  • Billy & Blaze, C.W. Anderson
  • The Bear that Heard Crying, Natalie Kinsey-Warnock and Helen Kinsey
  • Roxaboxen, Alice McLerran
  • Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney
  • Saint George and the Dragon, Margaraet Hodges
  • My Great Aunt Arizona, Gloria Houston
  • Ox-Cart Man, Donald Hall
  • The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf
  • When I Was Young in the Mountains, Cynthia Rylant
  • Wait Till the Moon is Full, Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Little Island, Golden MacDonald
  • Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present, Charlotte Zolotow
  • Island Boy, Barbara Cooney
  • The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night, An Old Song Illustrated by Peter Spier
  • The Raft, Jim LaMarche
  • The Little Fir Tree, Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Blue Hill Meadows, Cynthia Rylant
  • The Important Book, Margaret Wise Brown (this is the simplest of books yet my children loved it and were constantly telling me the “important thing about ______ is _____”)
  • A Home for Virginia, Patricia St. John
  • Where the River Begins, Thomas Locker
  • The Boy Who Held Back the Sea, Thomas Locker
  • The Bee Tree, Patricia Polacco
  • The Keeping Quilt, Patricia Polacco
  • Caps for Sale, Esphyr Slobodkina

And a little bonus, two of my favorite treasuries are:

  • James Herriot’s Treasury for Children
  • Make Way for McCloskey, A Robert McCloskey Treasury

Did you know I have two friends, Sarah Wiedrick (the writer) and Mary Dyman (the talented artist), who teamed up to write children’s picture books? They have sweet story lines, cute characters, moral dilemmas, lovely illustrations and the end with a scripture verse and discussion questions. Check out Benji the Bunny Books on Facebook. You can ask your local bookstore if they carry them or shop online for Benji the Bunny books.


As we head into the gift-giving season may I encourage you to not only give the gift of books but also give the gift of reading aloud to the children in your life, both young and old.

Happy Reading!

*This list is simply what is in one of my book baskets. Our shelves are filled with many other wonderful titles. If your favourite picture book didn’t make it onto the list, just add it in the comments!*

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But If Not…

Posted by Jennifer under Faith, Just Life, Parenting (No Comments)

2017-06-07 11.49.17

So yesterday Isaac fell down the stairs, and then had a bad seizure. I’m so thankful for the children God gave me. Chloe (10) was a huge blessing in getting me the phone for 911, then gathering what I would need to take with me. John (8) was incredible as he stayed out of the way, but close, praying out loud as I was on the phone with 911.

Once again I found myself pleading with God for Isaac’s life as he went still, turned blue and was limp. I’m so thankful that Jesus makes intercession for us because the only thing I could offer up at that point was a broken "Please, Jesus" repeatedly.

After an eternity it seemed, Isaac started breathing again, DH walked in the door, the ambulance came.

They took us to our local hospital; they ran an IV and bloodwork while they set it up to transfer us to McMaster Children’s Hospital.

There they monitored him and did a head CT scan. He was awake at that point, and if you know Isaac, you’ll know it was God who kept him still for the test!

His CT showed no bleeding on the brain and when comparing it to his previous MRI’s, it looked normal.

We are home. Isaac is back to his usual self.

And now I sit and think about how many times I’ve stood beside Isaac, begging God for his life, and how many times God has so graciously answered my plea with a yes. Because He is good. But one of these days, He may answer differently. Because He is good.

When talking to my dad several years ago, I confessed that ever since his birth and the crazy weeks that followed, I’ve always had this feeling that I wouldn’t get to keep Isaac.

During a particularly hard 6 months (spring 2013), based on the results of his MRI compared to previous ones, we were given a diagnosis and told Isaac would not live past childhood. We did the blood testing to confirm, however, the results take about 6 months! After they told me, I came home and cried. I had a hard time getting out of bed and functioning for the next day or so. Thankfully my parents happened to be staying with us at the time, so that helped. One morning I was reading my bible and I just flipped open (don’t you love it when God does that?) and it fell to the story of the fiery furnace.

17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

As I read Daniel 3:18 the first three words of the verse jumped out at me: "But if not". And I struggled to wrap my heart around that. Knowing that God absolutely CAN but that if He doesn’t heal my child, what will I do? Can I really leave it up to Him then trust Him if He calls my child home? Or never gives us a diagnosis? Or never…(insert what you will here). For myself,  if I were to have an idol in my life, it would be my kids. I sure do love them.

Maybe 2013 was a bit of an Abraham moment because shortly after my heart was finally able to acknowledge the "but if not" in a broken-hearted and submissive way, the test came back negative. {Have you ever heard the Faithmen Quartet sing When I Lay My Isaac Down? When I heard this at church in the spring, this time in my life was exactly what I thought about!}

2017-06-07 11.13.43         2017-06-07 11.15.51

I won’t pretend to have it all together, or that I know anything about what it feels like to lose a child. Neither are true. But I know what it looks like in my life to constantly give my children to the Lord over and over. I know what it feels like to want God’s will for child’s life, and beg for my own will at the same time. And I know that afterwards, in the quiet moments, I wonder how I can be so easily distracted and consumed by the things in this life that really don’t matter. I’m reminded that I don’t know how long I have. I want to make my moments count for eternity.

Hug your loved ones and have a beautiful day.

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Molluscum Contagiosum: Our Experience with Essential Oils and Diet Changes

Posted by Jennifer under Health (No Comments)

Weleda Calendula Diaper Care

One of my children, who shall remain nameless, had a bump on their arm last summer. We went to the doctor and were told it was molluscum contagiosum. It’s a common childhood virus. They will spread. It will take 1-3 years for them to resolve on their own. We can burn them off if you’d like, but it may scar. They’re harmless. Continue on with life. Yes, they can still do swimming lessons, in fact, that may be where they were caught in the first place.


They were right. They spread.

A little at a time they spread. I tried to use waterproof bandaids to cover them and prevent them from touching flutterboards etc. at swimming. They are spread by contact, not through water.

Then there were more.




And an eczema-like rash around them accompanied, which itched. I used Tegaderm film to cover the patches when this child went swimming.

No, we don’t want them burned off thank you. I scoured the internet looking for ideas. We tried essential oils, which helped the skin and the rash not to itch so much but it didn’t make them go away, frequent washings, special soap…grant it, this person wasn’t always entirely faithful at the skin care regime but anyway…

Things were at their absolute worst, when I came across this article about molluscum and  food sensitivities. Well just recently we had some testing done for another child and were about make some changes (eliminating dairy, wheat and eggs, along with a few other things). Within 6 weeks of carefully following the new eating regime, they were all  but cleared up. There were 3 bumps remaining. I never counted them when they were at their worst but let me tell you there were A LOT!

So if you are battling molluscum, I’d recommend reading article and considering it. I wasn’t sure if it was hooey but I was desperate. And it worked for our family. (and the Weleda Calendula diaper cream helped the the eczema that eventually came along with those horrid bumps.)

Good luck!

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Chocolate Chip Muffins (no egg, no wheat, no dairy)

Posted by Jennifer under Recipe Box (No Comments)

2017-03-15 09.21.48
also pictured: Banana Pancakes, Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wheat Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free Muffin Recipe

  • 2 cups flour (I use various combinations of coconut, brown rice, sorghum and arrowroot flours)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (not quite a full 1/2 cup though).
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (I have also tried it with hemp milk)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • soy chocolate chips

Set oven to 400 deg. F. I find it makes 16 muffins so line your muffin pan.
Mix ingredients together and fill your cups.
I add 3 soy chocolate chips to each muffin. Sometimes I sprinkle the top with sugar (1 TBSP brown sugar mixed with 1 TBSP white sugar).
Bake for approx. 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

*adapted from this recipe. Bear seems to like this one.

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Banana Pancakes (no egg, no wheat, no dairy)

Posted by Jennifer under Recipe Box (1 Comment)

2017-03-15 09.21.48

Boo loves pancakes. He likes pancakes for breakfast and pancakes for snack. So when his diet changed, I tried various packaged mixes  along with a number of recipes from online, hoping to find a pancake that wasn’t rock hard. I’m pretty pleased with this recipe. They won’t rise a mile high or be as fluffy as your traditional buttermilk pancakes, but they’re pretty good. Or so I’m told. I don’t like bananas myself.

Wheat Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free Banana Pancake Recipe

  • 1 cup flour (I’ve used package wheat free blends or I make my own – which consists of brown rice flour, coconut flour, arrowroot flour, sorghum flour in varying quantities that change every time I make it.)
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup of apple sauce (or 3TBSP water + 1 TBSP flax if I’m out of apple sauce)
  • 1 cup coconut or hemp milk
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of mushy overripe bananas (12 oz I think…I weighed it but forgot to write it down. I’ll confirm that next time I make it). I mush and freeze my bananas in 1 1/2+ cup bags.

I just mix everything together, heat up the pan and cook as usual. I will say that if the pan is too hot, you’ll be in trouble. I find these pancakes take much longer to cook than regular pancakes. They are also very delicate so it can be hard to flip them.

*The applesauce is in place of the egg as I adapted this recipe to work for our family. If you can have eggs, the recipe is probably better.

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Nightstand Book Stacks of 2016

Posted by Jennifer under Books (No Comments)

Nightstand Book Stacks 

One of my 2016 goals was to read. We use Sonlight for school and they have some really great read alouds. I enjoy almost all of our Sonlight books however my goal was to find time to read on my own, especially fiction. I love reading. I used to read A LOT. Then I became a mom and my time is no longer all my own and more often than not, I’m reading a picture book or a read aloud; not bad, but different than before. So based on my kindle, this is what I read in 2016. I may have missed any that were actual physical books but looking at my list, I’m pleased that I was able to meet (and exceed!) my goal of one book a month. A special thanks to Simple Homeschool for their Kindle Freebies posts throughout the year, allowing me to get books for free or $0.99. I’ve tried to mark these with *. I did not include Bible Study books in this list.

Books I’ve Read 2016

  • Emma by Jane Austen
  • Blackstar of Kingston by S.D. Smith (read aloud)
  • Ember Falls by S.D. Smith (read aloud)
  • A Goose Creek Christmas by Virginia Smith*
  • A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
  • Lizzie and Jane by Katherine Reay
  • Dear Mr. Knightly: A Novel by Katherine Reay
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
  • The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally Clarkson
  • Boundaries When to Say Yes, How to Say No by Henry Cloud
  • Special Education At Home by Shawna Wingert*
  • All You Need is Less by Madeleine Somerville*
  • The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting by Ross W. Greene
  • Teaching From Rest: A Homeschoolers Guide to Unshakeable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie
  • Loving the Little Years (re-read) by Rachel Jankovic
  • Amish Values: What We Can Learn from the Simple Life by Suzanne Woods Fisher
  • Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by Emily Freeman*
  • Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch

Current Nightstand Book Stack

  • In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar*
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  • The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
  • The Measure of Katie Calloway: A Novel by Serena B. Miller*
  • Essential Oils Desk Reference by Life Science Publishing
  • The Bible
  • Lessons at Blackberry Inn by Karen Andreola


And I’ve preordered Sally and Nathan Clarkson’s book that is coming out in January. Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him.  I’m really excited to read it!!

So please tell me, what book should I add to my reading list this year?

{PS. Do you like my Christmas penguin pillow cases?}

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Roses, Exploring and 21,000 Steps

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (No Comments)

Morning Romp

At their request, I woke my oldest two at 5:00 am to join me for a little morning exercise. They’d been asking to join me and then come home to have breakfast with mommy and daddy before he left for work. I’d been putting off the request because I selfishly do not want to share my morning hour of solitude and I have to say I’ve been enjoying the breakfast dates alone with my husband.

It was a beautiful temperature this morning, almost brisk even; a welcome respite from the humid days we’ve been having. I was proud of how well my children did and I think I did better this morning because of them. That doesn’t mean I want to share my cherished time with them on a regular basis though!


We had breakfast, bible basket and headed out for a walk and an explore. Yesterday was filled with errands and Isaac needed an explorish day because that’s how he is. He caught an ant today. He was pleased with that. Chloe found a dead monarch butterfly and was delighted to have the rare chance to examine it hands on. She loves the colours, patterns and commented on the powdery substance coming off on her fingers. Guess we can check science off for today.

We also read a couple new books today before returning them to the library. Azad’s Camel was a great picture book with lovely illustrations to introduce the children to the middle eastern landscape and culture. It also provided an opportunity to touch briefly on child-trafficking. Voices of Ancient Egypt was a great introduction to a variety of jobs in ancient Egypt from the scribe to the weaver to the farmer. My children find ancient Egypt fascinating and I know they were disappointed that our trip to Egypt was cancelled last fall. {Though with everything going on in that part of the world, I wasn’t very disappointed.} We also read My Arctic 1, 2, 3 which at first seems like a beautifully illustrated but overly simplistic (for my older two) counting book however if you read the introduction as well as the extra little notes at the back, its perfect for younger tots and older children (8, 9) alike. Written by a Canadian who grew up in Rankin Inlet, it’s a fantastic way to introduce children to the Canadian North. I really enjoyed the books and extra little biography stories.


We also picked up some rose bushes for 50% off. I’d been thinking about something climb-ish for the corners off our patio on either side of our trellis into the yard. Chloe asked if we could get roses. So during their quiet time today (much needed given their early morning), I started on the planting. I planted one climbing white rose bush in the back corners of the patio on both sides. Well, not the exact corner as I have just recently split a hosta that was far too gigantic and I stuck part of it in the corner over there. It looks sad right now but by next spring, it will be lovely and hopefully both the rose plants will cooperate and grow up the lattice and over the trellis.

I also had three rose bushes (non climbing) that we put in the front gardens, one pink, one apricot and one red. Just beautiful!

But by the time I had planted the roses, changed Isaac, mowed the back grass, and watered the vegetables it was 5:30pm! I’m thankful that one of my children’s favourite meals is pasta with pesto sauce. Boil the water and serve dinner 7 minutes later. I had a fast shower and put on PJ’s while I waited for the water to boil.

So it is the end of the day. My fitbit tells me I walked 21,000 steps and about 9 miles (14.5km). And I feel exhausted {like those numbers should have been higher!}.  And it was a good day.

  • #MyLife #Explore #AmazonAffiliate #GoodDay
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Meet Our Canadian Family

Posted by Jennifer under Homeschooling, Just Life (3 Comments)

PicMonkey Collage1 

Welcome. I’m glad you’re here. I’d love to introduce myself!

We live in Ontario, Canada. I grew up in Northern Ontario but moved to Southern Ontario 16 years ago. Southern Ontario is where I met my husband. We’ve been married for 11 years and have three children (5, 8, 9).

Did you know? It takes over 20 hours to drive from where I live now to where I grew up and it’s in the same province. That’s a big province.

Canadian Geography

Canada is a pretty amazing place to live. We have incredibly diverse geography from province to province. We have prairies, valleys, mountains, hardwood forests. We boast great lakes, and rivers and the magnificent Niagara Falls. Our climate varies greatly. Where I grew up, winters were very cold (-40 deg C) with a lot of snow. Summers didn’t get very hot and we didn’t have air conditioning. Where we live now (still in Ontario), we get a whole lot less snow and it’s a different cold. It doesn’t get as cold but the wind is so cold! Summers are hot and humid. This past week, for instance, with the humidity it’s been too hot for me (43 deg C or 109 deg F). I’m thankful for our air conditioning.

Canada is an extremely diverse in ethnicity as well. People from all over the globe have immigrated to Canada and with them,  their homeland foods. Specific Canadian foods include Poutine (fries with gravy and cheese curds) and maple syrup but we eat a lot of pizza, pasta, Chinese and Greek food as well.

We’re an English speaking lot. I don’t think we have an accent though my friends from other countries say we do.

Did you know? Canadians have been known to say, “Eh?”

PicMonkey Collage2

Schooling in Canada

Most of the children in Canada attend either a public government-run school or they attend a public Catholic school. Most take a yellow school bus to school which starts around 9am and ends about 3pm. There are also a number of private schools, both Christian and secular.

Did you know? A study released by Fraser Institute in 2015 showed a 29% increase in homeschoolers over the previous 5 years. That doesn’t even include the homeschoolers not officially registered.

Our family homeschools and have homeschooled from the beginning. We use Sonlight and spend a lot of our days engrossed in books. We also spend a great deal of time outside; walks, the splash pad, the beach. I’m thankful for the freedom to homeschool and the freedom that homeschooling brings to our family.

Did you know? Ontario has no laws regarding homeschooling. Ontario has no reporting requirements. Ontario has no compulsory curriculum requirements.

Family Fun

For fun our family enjoys camping, fishing, visiting grandparents, swimming, going to Canada’s Wonderland (family Christmas gift: season passes) and in the winter we enjoy sliding, skating and building snowforts. We also enjoy travelling and collectively have been to a number of USA cities (Washington, New York, Orlando, Dallas, Chicago…) as well as a number of countries such as Thailand, The Netherlands, Congo, France and Italy.

Favorite books that take place in Canada?

Anne of Green Gables, of course. I read all of the books as a young person. I’ve re-read some of them as an adult. My children have watched the movie and we’ve read a child version of it.

Owls in the Family by Farley Mowatt was one we read through Sonlight and the children (and me!) enjoyed it greatly. I would definitely recommend it.

So thanks for coming by. I’d love to ‘meet’ you so please comment and tell me where you’re from and what your favorite book is!

  • This post is part of the Global Family Link Up, #ReadtheWorld, #SummerReadingChallenge, #SimpleHomeschool, #GiveYourChildTheWorld
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This Is My Father’s World

Posted by Jennifer under Faith (No Comments)


It seems that the news is constantly filled with terrible, life-changing tragedies. I don’t know if it is that I’m paying more attention to the news in general now, but each day it seems that we wake up to more devastation.

At times tears stream down my face. My heart breaks for the families, for the victims. At other times, I lean towards despair as my heart cries out out to the Lord about what the world is coming to. And there are times that my heart beats with an inner fear as I answer my children’s questions with things like, “Yes, I believe ISIS is in Canada too. We need to pray for them and pray for our leaders.” My words are calm but my heart isn’t always.

{Most} mornings a hymn is part of our morning bible time. We are learning lyrics, the meaning of unfamiliar words and a little about the hymn writer. The hymn of the week was This Is My Father’s World. Now when I hear this title I immediately associate it with glorifying God for the amazing gifts in creation He has given us: fiery sunsets, glorious flowers, shady trees, singing birds…

                    and then we sang this verse:

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

And the children and I talked about how God isn’t in heaven wringing his hands and wondering what is to become of His world. He knows, He knew, He allows, He has a plan. Despite the overwhelming wrong in the world, it’s His world.

Being reminded of these truths doesn’t change or calm the world, but they change and calm my heart.

{I used my phone to snap some pictures of these  stunning orchids we saw at an orchid farm in Thailand.}

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