When I mentioned this name of a little project that I had cooked up to my boys, lets just say it was met with less than an enthusiastic response.
Tradesman and I were looking for a way to give our 13 yr. old and 11 yr. old a good dose of reality. Now maybe its not their reality but it is the reality of many millions of children around the world.
We all know about it but do we really get it...do we actually feel a responsibility to do anything about it. It's so hard here in our culture to see outside of ourselves, to think beyond our own daily hardships. We live such self-centered lives where we think nothing of over indulging with our hard earned money.
Honestly, we don't know any different. This is just the way most of us were raised. Sure, some of us have had tough times, have known an empty fridge or pantry and have had no way to pay our bills. But even that is not real poverty.
There is a lot more that I would like to say on this but it's only recently that God has been really stretching my thinking on this and challenging me.
Hence, my little "project."
My boys are probably like most other boys. They don't always want to do their chores cheerfully, they don't always want to do their school without complaining. And since both complaining and grumbling are met with consequences around here they obey but sometimes inside I can tell they are still protesting.
I, as a mother can admonish, encourage, train, and biblically guide them but I cannot make them be grateful.
However, I can control the circumstances and the environment in which they live which in turn can inspire a new found appreciation for all that they have.
When I pitched the plan to my boys they were hesitant but seemingly up for the challenge.
Their week would look like this:
1.They would live in a tent in the backyard for 6 days allowed only to enter the house for the use of the toilet. All other bathroom practices like washing and teethbrushing would have to be done outside.
2. They would be provided enough plain rice and beans to have 2 meals a day. That's it, no other food allowed.
3. They would be responsible for building their own fires and cooking their own food over them.
4. Gathering and cutting the wood that they needed for this would also be their own responsibility.
5.They would have to leave early and walk each morning to pick up their water jugs that would provide them with the water that they would use for that day. They lugged these full, heavy jugs for over a km back. They were not allowed to drag, or roll the jugs. They had to carry them.
6.They were required to work 8 hours a day of heavy labor. This was broken into one 6 hr. period after which they were allowed to stop to cook and eat their second and last meal of the day and then followed by a 2 hour period.
7. When their work day was complete they had a 2 hour period of free time. The activities that they were allowed at this time were limited. No mp3s, no trampoline, no games, no books, no regular "funtime" daily luxuries. Simpleness and reflection was the goal.
They were allowed to bring their Bibles of course and a journal and a pencil. They were encouraged to spend time in prayer anytime that they were feeling sorry for themselves, whenever they were hungry, whenever they were exhausted and overwhelmed by their workload.
This was not an easy week on either of them. After the first two days they were questioning whether or not they could handle the rest of the week. The difficulty of the week had been complicated by the fact that they both came down with a nasty sinus and chest cold along with a fever and headache the day we began the project.
So over the first two days they were battling illness along with adjusting to their drastic lifestyle change. The weather compounded the issue. We had rain most of the week. Lighting fires, keeping their wood dry, cooking their food, walking carrying their water jugs in pouring rain all made things less than pleasant. Working long hours outside while wet, shivering and cold made the work seem far more difficult than it actually was.
It was painful for me to watch. It tugged on my momma heart strings more than once. I had to fight the urge to rescue them. I covered them in prayer consistently. I wondered how women in third world countries ever survive the devastation of watching their children suffer and die. I could barely watch my children suffer a little.
The morning of day 3 the boys began to crack. Morning had come especially early, the jugs seemed incredibly heavier, and the 11 yr old had not eaten in 2 days. Day 1 he discovered that he did not like plain rice and beans at all and was waiting to get hungry enough that it would become appealing and he would be able to stomach it. However this time had not yet come.
He cried that afternoon(so rare to ever see this child cry) - hunger, chestpain, a headache and fatigue got the better of him. He was burning up and I started to worry about him. I brought him in for a couple of hours, gave him some Tylenol and let him rest.
He woke up with a renewed sense of purpose and determination to finish the task at hand. He shared with me how he felt that being so sick and hungry he was even better able to empathise and relate to what many impoverished children must feel on a daily basis. I have never felt so proud of him.
The 13 yr old however, was crusty. He was not happy about his circumstances, he was angry, full of self-pity and unwilling to see beyond himself. Afterwards I found out that he had not read his Bible that day and felt that he was under attack spiritually. He moped and was unpleasant most of the day. Because of an infraction system we had set up ahead of time that related to the amount and quality of work that had been accomplished he had already lost his pillow for the night, his plate, cup, eating utensils and finally his last meal of the day. He also earned an extra hour of work to be done during his free time.
I started to doubt our decision, wonder who this child was, feel sorry for myself!
I encouraged my son, reminded him of Gods promises, counseled him on how it's easy for us to praise God and be joyful in pleasant circumstances but it takes faith and maturity to be joyful during hardship and trials. I encouraged him to spend time in the Word that evening along with prayer.
The next day his disposition was much better. Not like his brothers' mind you, but better.
13 is a tough age for a boy but neither of these boys are children any longer and expecting them to rise to the challenge of being young men was our goal for the week.
The last 2 days went smoothly, the boys attitudes were great, their illnesses were easing up, and they saw an end in sight. My younger son had figured ou he could swallow black beans whole 5 at a time, but still couldn't eat the rice without gagging. He was losing weight rapidly and I was thankful it was almost over.
The last afternoon I strapped baby My to my back and worked along side my boys so I could encourage and praise them. They were running out of steam, the hunger was weakening them along with the bout of sickness they had endured through. The younger one had barely eaten in days and was pale, shaky and very tired.
Funny thing was, their spirits were high, they had been brainstorming about what they could do to help combat poverty. They had taken the focus off of themselves and had redirected it into creative energy. They bubbled over with excitement with some of their ideas, they kept them coming for about an hour. I listened and silently cheered. These boys..ahem, young men had grown these past 6 days. School, chores, rules no longer seemed that bad.
They had gotten some perspective.
On the last eve of their project when I was working alongside my 13 yr. old, he apologized to me for his bad attitude earlier in the week. He felt guilty and admitted that he had some growing to do in this area. I reminded him that all of us struggle with being thankful and joyful in trials. The call to live the Christian life is not easy for any of us. Only through Christs' power which is made perfect in our weakness can we persevere.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring, what will come of their plans...but either way the week was a success.
The wheels are turning in their heads, their hearts are more pliable, their spirits have been awakened with passion and their knees have been bent in humbleness.
This momma is thankful.
Last day...taking everything he's got.
Eating out of the rain in their make-shift shelter.
Tradesman and the boys spending time in prayer at the top of the hill in the morning.
My 3 yr. old is chief washcloth and small towel folder. He has since been promoted to clothing as you can see by the small pile behind him. Apparently, that blanket he was in the middle of folding looked just far too soft and comfortable to resist.
Do you sometimes as a mother feel "asleep" on the job?
Sure we're there with our children all day, but are we at times guilty of just going through the motions? Easily distracted, absorbed in our thoughts, tapped out, emotionally and physically drained.
Motherhood is taxing, it takes so much energy to be intentional and focused on these blessings of ours.
We need nourishment for our souls, food for our minds and a love so great it reaches into our weary hearts and fills us to overflowing.
Our Heavenly Father is more than ready to fill in the gap.
"For without me you can do nothing." ~John. 15:5b
Below are the verses I memorized this week and I thought I would share as they blessed me immensely.
One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. Psalm 27:4, 8
I'm thinking that all these late summer evenings are getting to this little guy... I think I'll let him snooze awhile. Love,
I have been absent from the blogging world long enough. Summer always creeps up fast and fills the days to overflowing before you know it.
I have loved the relaxing summer evenings cuddling with Tradesman on the couch.
Spring was busy planning a graduation for our eldest son who graduated from gr.8 this year with our homeschool co-op.
Our daughters danced in their year-end ballet recital. Daddy was proud
The boys and I went to our first "Refuel Fest." It was a day of meeting Christian bands, lots of loud music and me discovering that I might be getting too old for all that nonsense!
Who knows who these guys were...they were uh, loud.
Somehow, baby My slept through the last 3 concerts of the evening...I was ready to join her by the end. The boys did have a ball though.
Other than that our life has been full of more laid back activities.
nature walks, berry picking, face-painting Who can resist this puppy face...mercy!
Taking pictures of baby My I just love chocolate brown and pink together
Now moving on to this other yummy masterpiece..oh, looking at this just makes me salivate.
There is something else that happened this early summer. Tradesman debuted an inner chef. He made this incredibly delicious breakfast for me one morning. I literally choked on my coffee when he and the girls surprised me in bed. Tradesmen is NOT a cook so poached eggs with hollandaise sauce over sweet potatoe hash is not something I would EVER dream would be served up to this girl without me doing the cooking.
Who knew?! Now mind you, that inner chef left just as quick as he came and hasn't been seen round these parts since but I have the pictures to prove it. Good thing or I might think I had dreamed up the whole thing!
Hope your summer is shaping up to be full of joy- filled memories!