Our family moved to North Dakota and found out we were expecting our beautiful ninth baby. I was away from everyone I knew and living in an unfamiliar place! We lived far away from the city and my husband worked far-away from home too! God opened the door for us to have a wonderful farm, and we loved our new place. However, I wanted to go back home where everything and everyone was familiar! All my children were born at the same hospital with the same doctor, so I felt insecure of the unknown! Anxiety and fear tried to get a hold of me! We ended up choosing a doctor right away. We chose one in Montana because it was a lot closer. I was uncomfortable and my new doctor wasn’t very nice to me because of his point of view on having children near their forties! My husband worked so far away too, so if I needed him it would take almost an hour and a half to get home. It was hard for me not knowing anyone, and he was gone for fourteen or more hours in a day with his new job!
God led me on an unforgettable journey where we experienced God moving mountains right in front of our eyes! One morning we loaded up the van to take me to my first doctors appointment! When we got there, we quickly filled up the waiting room. They explained that our family needed to wait outside because we were to many people. So I ended up sitting in the waiting room alone. When they called my name, I entered the room and like a flood, almost like a river, of endless peace consumed me, as I walked into office! There was so many nurses in the room! It almost felt like a room full of wolves ready to devour me! I appeared to be alone but I really was Not! When I look back, I can see how God guided me and gave me courage during this hard time! As I defended my reasons to trust God in my pregnancy, he gave me the words to say. I would not be able to say what I said without help! I felt like I was watching myself speak while I listened to the words I was saying! I would love to repeat them, but I can’t! The doctor and nurses were challenged in their belief systems, as I stood firm in mine! God has a plan for every child born! Jesus is the foundation I will not move from! I was in a pursuit for another doctor. But it was easier said then done! We lived so far away!
North Dakota was like a desert challenge as I experienced God’s overflow of his deep love and care for me and my family. 1 Peter 5:6-7, Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” They experienced God’s mighty hand taking care of us right in front of their eyes too! Being in North Dakota was like experiencing a quarantine away from everyone we knew! Our world was upside down and completely out of our comfort zone! The enemy was looking to devour. We seemed alone but we absolutely were Not alone! God revealed to me during this time about where do I put my trust? Psalm 20:6, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” I put my trust in God!
The garden is a familiar place for me and my family! I love to teach, explore and learn with my children. God reveals so much in the garden as we work together for one common goal! As we practice unity when we work together, I prayed deeply for God to show me what his plans are for us today? I prayed for God to search my heart, as I seek His will over my own! (Psalm 139) God would rewrite my lesson plans or added onto my day, as we follow our to do list! We experienced real joy and peace that cannot be taken from us. God’s goodness overflows throughout the day even in the struggles!
I thought about what Jesus often did when he went to pray! We did so many things while living there. We went exploring and fishing! Fishing was a big one for us! The kids chased toads and caught fish by hand. While exploring this new land we experienced struggles in our day. I called these obstacles learning opportunities! These are hands-on life lessons designed to build character through our walk with God! I taught my children that just because you have hard moments in your day, or even if part of your day is one challenge after another, it doesn’t mean the whole day is ruined! The feelings we feel in the moment cause us to think our day is ruined but it’s not true! We need to stop, breathe and pray so God can show us which way to go! If we don’t slow down and listen to the warning sounds our body tells us when we feel mad, sad, or angry, we will look to the left or right! Those are the ways of the world!Proverbs 4:25-27, “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” If we ignore the warning signs and chose not to slow down, we might turn to the left or right which is the world’s way of handling what’s going on! As I talk to God through my feelings through the day, my kids see me working out my struggles with God! They see that I have feelings like them too but it doesn’t have to control you! We keep our eyes on the straight and narrow path looking toward the author and perfector of our faith! (Hebrews 12:2)! We are building endurance and perseverance through our trials and struggles, and to chose to keep going even when you feel like giving up! So, we work through each emotion like fear, anxiety and my hope is my children can recognize the warning signs as they practice good habits. I struggled through each feeling like fear and anxiety that sneaks in regularly on me! I watch a sermon from Real life ministries! I was flooded with comfort! It was a sermon about the Lord prayer! I deeply prayed!
There is always something God is trying to reveal to us during the day, we just need to humble ourselves and chose to slow down, pray and listen! Jesus’ disciples weren’t far away when He prayed! Jesus was only a stone throw away Luke 22:39-41, “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,” I’ve been told many times that every mom needs “me time” and thought “why”? I’m not saying it not true, it’s just I see it a little differently! Yes, we need “quiet time” but for me, it’s “Quiet time with Jesus”! But, more often as a mom of 8 with one on the way, quiet time is while I’m at play with my kids or watching them explore! I won’t want to change this because time is so short and they grow so quickly! Jesus said, a stone throw away! When we model this for our kids, they will see us praying no matter where we are! Jesus said, let the little children come and do not hinder them! It models exactly what we are teaching to them and that even adults need to slow down, pray, and listen to God! My kids will get excited when I ask them to pray after they asked me what I was doing! As I work in the garden with my children, or cleaning the house while praying at the same time! God will show you when you seek Him! You will find him because he is always near! As we cultivate our garden, he cultivates my heart while sowing good seeds in me and in my children!
God led me and my family on a spiritual journey. While working in the garden, stories I have read many times before in the Bible came alive right before our eyes! This is why no one can know all of the Bible even if you read it a thousand times, because the Bible is alive and active sharper than a double edged sword! Hebrews 4:12-13, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” We all are growing and need to continually soak in our hearts and minds scripture as he transforms our minds and hearts to be more like him!
The weather was so different, but we worked through the temperature ups and downs and even enjoyed a few blizzards and a couple of tornado’s! I never knew you could have dehydrated snow. It literally felt like you would get frostbite within five minutes of being outside. Our dog could not move when he ran off in the middle of a storm! We went on a search and rescue mission, because we knew he wouldn’t make it home! We found him not too long after he ran off, and he was frozen stiff! He could not move an inch! Then the next morning, it was sunny and warm like spring! Here’s a poem I wrote, “Bizarre blanket of beautiful dehydrated snow blowing bountifully in this unusual spring day, my children look forward to sinking there feet in the deep snow! The blizzard confines them but snowsuits, hats, boots, and gloves bind them so they can play! While chasing snowflakes with their tongue!The compactless snow leaves snow balls helpless because it’s packless! Each flake seemed like dust in the wind! With God’s outstretched arms his plan unfolds!” It was a snowy desert!
We were living in a rural area far away from all the convenience we were used to! We couldn’t get Starbucks or go to the store anytime we wanted something. Habits we once hand were gone! We didn’t have the convenience of purchasing soil to start our garden seeds because everything cost a lot of money! The dirt was like clay, and no trees were in sight except one, an awesome climbing tree that someone grafted many trees into one! God put this awesome tree in our yard for my kids to play in! My husband built our kids a treehouse where they spent a lot of their time!
We found some raised beds with workable soil to start our seeds. As we worked the ground with a pick axe and a hand held plow, the kids eagerly picked up each stone that we dug up. We love collecting rocks and most of them were regular rocks! However, we soon found petrified wood! I love rock lessons and this one was new! It was once wood but with time and pressure of life, it became stone! We are being built into a spiritual house, God molds us, we become living stones building up the church in unity together (1 Peter 2:1-2)! In Ezekiel 36:26-28, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.” It was awesome! We eagerly worked in the garden for many weeks looking for treasure! My husband even got them a metal detector. They found so many things. We even found coal at different stages.
After the seeds grew indoors for awhile, and the plants were big enough, we slowly acclimated each plant to the garden! This process took a lot of patience because we had to bring them back inside! During this time, God showed me how our children are vulnerable to the elements (influences of the world), and we need to protect and guide them at different stages in life! Not hiding them or keeping them away from experiencing life, but helping them navigate by making wise choices! Yes, we watch movies and playing video games! They go to friends houses to play! Luke 2:52, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” So, We need to train them up in confidence in their identity in Christ! We need to live out what good spiritual choices looks like and what we allow in our minds can hurt you! Philippians 4:8,”Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” They can grow strong, able to handle the elements of the world while enjoying all the blessings! Their strong foundation in Christ will be their launching pad in life! Proverbs 22:6, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Staring off in love is the best way to start! That God loves us all equally my sending his son for them too! John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I hope they will truly grow knowing and believing God’s deep love for them! I desperately hope they grow not only knowing about God’s love but believing their identity in Christ, and how deeply loved they are! I pray for them as they grow and learn! As we live out our Love for God and each other not only in our families but our church family, they will see something the world cannot give! As they grow up, I pray for discernment over all the influences that seem to be getting louder and louder! I pray for them to have wisdom and understanding that only can come from God! I let them know that even though I’m an adult, I don’t know everything! As a mom, I pray for God to guide me because each beautiful child of mine in unique and different! So we break down the meaning of words written in the Bible and I ask them to ask questions! What does it mean, don’t let anyone look down on you because you’re young, and to set an example!!! 1 Timothy 4:12,Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” What does that look like for kids today? To set an example in speech, conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity? Also, what does it mean to guard you heart above all else? Because everything flows from your heart! It’s hard, and we need to love them through this, as we show them the right way to go! Life for our kids is not what it was like for us, so we need to step in their world without conforming to the patterns set up from the world! Romans 12:2, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” We can’t stand over them looking down, we need to sit down on the floor with them so we can see! Through our journey as a family with our children, we hope they will see that Jesus is the cornerstone and the only sure foundations! That Jesus is the way, John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Who never changes like shifting shadows! If you put them out into the world to soon, the world will get a hold of them as it has no solid foundation! It will be harder to recover! They will make their decision one day, as parents we can’t choose for them on which path to take! But, it’s up to us to show them what way they should go! We are to love them by teach truth in love! It’s only God who does the work inside their heart! James 1:16-18, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
When the plants were ready, we kept the weeding up pretty good at first! Until one day, I fell and got hurt! I no longer could work in the garden like I did before and in a blink of an eye, the weeds took over! I went to the doctor and he was so hard like a stone and cold! He said you look fine and you know what your doing! I said, I’m here because there is something wrong! I’m doing my part by explaining to my doctor what’s going on, now it your job to find out what’s going on! He said, fine, I’ll check you blood! I really needed to find another doctor, but I didn’t have enough time! I could hardly had any energy and felt weak! I forced myself out and played while my kids as my body screamed No! My kids helped me and I taught them how to cook and more! Then suddenly, I get a call from my brother! He needs us to pick him up from the bus stop tomorrow! Wow! What perfect timing!
So, went back out in the garden! Our school projects was growing out there! We planted one hundred potato’s and sweet potatoes! They worked hard to till the ground for each potato! My boys tried to clear as much of the weeds as they could by hand, but as they pulled each one, two or three would pop up in its place! My girls tried to rescue their strawberries! So, we did our best to keep the weeds back! Each year God reaches down deep in my heart in the garden! This was where we experienced weeds in a deeper spiritual understanding! Gophers appeared to be near and little did we know, they never touched the veggie roots! Wow! These pests are worse then deer or rabbit! Jesus taught us many important lessons using the physical things in this world to teach us spiritually! The roots in weeds grow deeper in the ground then vegetables! So the gophers fed of the weed roots instead of our garden! If you want to remove weeds you need to go to the root which is deep! This takes a lot of work and usually big rocks are in the way while you dig! The sad part is, if you leave one piece of root from the weed, it will come back even stronger than before! Our best effort to remove them by pulling them out ourselves is useless because you would accidentally pull up good vegetables too! It might look good on the outside for a while, but in a blink the weeds are out of control! The sneaky little gophers did minimal damage compared to what I experienced with them in the past! The thought was poison, but we would poison ourselves too! If we poisoned them, it would destroy more than the weeds! So, what do we do when the plants are struggling to survive, and were being choked out by the weeds right in front of us? I couldn’t do anything physical so we came up with a plan! My boys were determined to figure it out! I loved watching them problem solve and even argue which idea is better!
My boys took several hoses running them like wires throughout the garden and left them running! I didn’t think about checking the water because my husband got the well up and running! We hoped watering the vegetables really good will help them grow, so we might get a harvest. The next day, we picked up my brother from the bus station! God will send you help in unexpected ways! He knows exactly what you need! It was close to the Fourth of July! My brother has a long time friend of my dad that he worked with for years! He recently move to North Dakota! He called my brother and he decided to come to our house to celebrate the Fourth of July! He bought fireworks that were “Downtown Spokane worthy!”The whole neighborhood was all around our home, as we lite up the sky with one explosion of color after another! What a blessing! I made so much food for everyone as my kids helped me serve and play! God showed up in amazing way, and we are truly surrounded by a cloud of witnesses to help encourage us to keep pressing on! Darkness can’t overcome when we come together as illuminating lights! My kids needed this just as much or maybe even more then we did! As the unplanned big block party ended, everyone cleaned up!
One day, my boys remembered the water running in the garden! They forgot about the water running because of our big surprise! God planned the big party and everyone is invited! All we have to say is yes! So, I got up early in the morning by myself to talk with God! I wanted to see how everything was doing. I slowly walked toward the garden and noticed every step was like stepping on a squishy sponge! My feet got stuck in the orange sticky mud! So, when I saw the snakes swimming in the lake of water, it scared me right out of my shoes! I was running barefoot in the orange mud. It was like clay you would use to sculpt! It reminded me of how we are the clay and God is the potter! Isaiah 64:8, “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” As God molds me, I see how water is so important to flush out all the impurities and make the clay soft and mold able. The roots were able to seep deep down even if the weeds were there trying to entangle them and hinder their growth! Like the gophers in the garden looking for food underground, the enemy looks for someone to devour! We need to put on the full armor of God to withstand the devil tricks and lies of deseption With an overflow of water, the weeds lost their grip and could not take hold of the vegetable plants! The gophers were flooded out of their underground homes! Jesus washed his disciples feet from all the dust in the world, cleaning everything off that hinders them! The enemy slithers around and even tries to go underground only to eat dust! So when you put on the full armor of God and flood yourself with God’s living word, his overflow will flush our fear, anxiety anything that try’s to take hold of you like a weight! Jesus washes us clean with Jesus precious blood! I hungered and thirst for God’s living words and it’s like every step I took, His words unfolded for all of us to see! We realized the water had been running the whole time. Just like God’s love for us never stops flowing! His love will endure forever! Even if I turned off the water, God’s love never stopped! My boys rescued my shoes that were stuck in the mud! This touched my heart as how God cares for us deeply and will send help in unexpected ways. When I let go of control and allow God to work through my children, I had peace! Letting them take responsibility and trusting them to do it! There is freedom in letting go and letting God have the wheel! Even if the water was left on to long, God used it to reach and teach us. It took awhile for the water to completely absorb in the ground, and when it did, we eagerly went out wondering what we might find. We were treasure hunting! Just like how when we open God’s word eagerly searching and expecting for treasure to be found! All of what God says is true, when you seek Him you will find him, if you seek him with all of your heart!
The garden had grown a lot, and you no longer could see the vegetable plants in all the weeds. So, we tried weeding again! To our surprise, the weed roots slipped right off the veggies! The weeds lost their grip! The more we flood God’s living words in our life, sin and all that entangle us loses it’s grip! Then another blessing happened: the tall unusual grass turned out to be dill and garlic grew everywhere! When we wait on God’s perfect time, blessings will overflow! We had a beautiful spring harvest! Paul wrote an awesome illustration about the kingdom of heaven is like mustard seed. “God is preparing a huge mustard seed house for us in heaven and it took Jesus coming to earth to plant the seed.” (Matthew 13:31-33) I’m so thankful for what Jesus did for all of us, so we can go home to him!
God reveals so much to us in the garden! He is the gardener of my life. I just need to continue to allow him to completely search me as I trust his ways for my life! He causes the plants to grow, and if we recklessly removed everything out our way, we would’ve missed out on the blessing of garlic and dill! God’s living water will uproot the deepest roots of the heart that we cannot do ourselves! We may not be aware of the weeds that took root in our heart or the unseen gopher eating away at our life! Sometimes we might even grow to accept the weeds in our life, because we spent so much time working with and around them! We are unaware of what it’s going on inside of us! Some weeds are even beautiful and smell good, even when we know they can be poisonous! The poison twists truth and tells lies! It’s during the uncomfortable, fear and anxiety crept in! But, all I need to do is cast all my cares to God because his yoke is easy! I wasn’t strong enough on my own because I was hurt from the fall in my pregnancy! I surrendered my understanding and my ways and asked God to replace it with His! When I did this, he revealed the condition of my heart! The uncomfortable exposes lies and reveals truth! The lies were flushed away and truth came in like a flood! Through this flood, I saw everything differently! I knew I wasn’t physically doing good and that Jesus was carrying me! The doctor that once spoke unkind words to me, explained if I fall one more time it could be fatal for both of us! The doctors office couldn’t see me anymore because of my condition! There were no blood banks close enough! Instead of focusing on the storm, I kept my eyes on Jesus! Taking each thought captive and making it obedient to him! Even when day got harder, I chose to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness! God’s Will be done in my life and my family! I kept my sight on everything ahead of me, while the less important things dissolved! He will lead me and all my family to safety! Letting go of everything and not looking back! Loving And Truly trusting God with All of my heart and all of my soul and all my mind and of my strength, and love my neighbor as yourself! Choosing to pick up my cross daily as I live out love and teaching my children which is such a blessing! Deuteronomy6:5-9, “5Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 and Luke 10:27, and Matthew 22:37-39)
As God picked our family up and moved us, music like Choir, Jars of Clay, David Meece, Twila Paris, Sixpence None the Richer, Choir, Michael W. Smith, Plum, Amy Grant, Petra and more, poured scripture in my mind and heart through song! This revealed how truly important it is to hide God’s word in your heart! These songs that I had listened to so many times were filled with scripture, and God spoke to me as I curled up in a ball, sitting in the passenger seat while my husband drove us back home! We never got to see the fruit of the largest garden we ever grew! Thankfully we have a beautiful spring harvest! But the spiritual fruit can never be taken away from us! God blessed us with our beautiful baby! It was more than enough reason to go back home! There is so much more to share! These unique life stories can go one way or another! I chose to follow Jesus and keep running the race and press on through the struggles! We are living stones! We are to share our stories with each other because we grow! We are God’s workmanship made in Christ Jesus to do good work set up for us in advance! When we really believe this is true, your world changes! We all are a work in progress as God molds! We are not finished until we are home with Jesus! I just need to keep holding on to Jesus and never let go! He carried us through and our beautiful baby was born early, he is healthy strong! We are so thankful for God’s love, mercy and grace! My oldest Son wrote a poem, “
Life on the Fence
Life on a fence
Is not living for God,
Is it living for you?
Is it living for others?
Life on the fence is no way to live,
Even though you can see both sides,
You have never choose to take any side,
Erynn sits on the fence,
I chose to side with God,
Walk away from the fence.