December, 1999
Dear Friends and Family,
The one word to describe this year could be “HELP!”  Always when that cry was made the verse holds true, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present HELP in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

Right before the baby came, Joey had a change of jobs and was able to spend some time at home. He tilled my garden, put up tomato posts that wouldn’t fall over in the middle of the season, and all sorts of helps. I especially needed his support when our due date for the baby was changed from February 7th to March 25th, an eternally long pregnancy. Jacob’s arrival came but not without the help of many prayers, and friends, new and old, that stepped in to counsel, clean and care.

We had two goats that delivered twins the following month. Our little Mama died shortly afterward. We had to go out several times during the day to have the surviving milk goat feed all four kids. She would kick and fight even with her own. As I fought her, with Joey John (8) holding her head, Josiah (6) and Jonathan (4) bringing the babies to me, and Jonas (2) chasing the others around trying to help, I would hear my baby start to cry for his food. It sure did feel like “The earth (could) give way” (Ps 46:2). We went like this for a couple of weeks before a friend took two of the babies and bottle fed them…a help in trouble!

Joey was commissioned into the U.S. Army Reserves. He goes to his unit for a weekend every month and once a year has a two week training period. The first weekend in June while he was gone, our dog injured three of our ducks. I can remember being up in the cherry tree picking, listening for Jacob to wake up while I heard in the house the boys not getting along too well. I felt like I was driven up the tree—and I sure wanted to stay up there, except that my foot was getting cramped from standing on the branch. The words, “God will help her at break of day.” (Ps 46:5) had real significance to me! During that time, the dogs did their mischief.  A friend came to help kill the two severely maimed birds. I stretched the neck while she hacked with the dullest cleaver that anyone could imagine. She was a great support throughout the day.

June could be called ‘bean month.’ Our beans flourished. The boys helped pick the first week, until the fire ants covered the beans and the boys. They also helped cut them, that is, until they had blisters or cuts that prevented them. The remaining month and a half, I was on my own—picking beans in the early morn before Jacob awoke, and canning 14 quarts every second or third day for a month and a half. “Come and see the works of the Lord,” (Ps 46:8). The boys would ‘entertain’ Jacob while I tried to finish. Jonathan’s idea of helping was to run around the baby while he told him, “Okay, soldier, I’m protecting you from the enemy out there,” as he proceeded to knock an imaginary soldier down. “I got him, you’re fine now…” I’d listen and wonder at my ‘help.’

Jonas (2) was my garden buddy, showing me every weed that he picked. One day while in the tomatoes, he was singing whole-heartily. Every once in awhile I would hear this thud, I was trying to hurry before the baby awoke that I didn’t give it much thought until I realized that he hadn’t shown me any weeds lately. I looked up to see him picking the almost ripe tomatoes and throwing them to our goats who eagerly awaited them on the other side of the fence! The mixed blessings of little helpers!

The boys helped make a scarecrow to hang in our pea patch out of desperation to rid our rows of moles, gophers and what not’s. The boys dubbed it, “Jonathan” since it had on his clothes and would always be ‘working.’ Jonathan is our resident weed-wacker, mower, chain-sawer…just give him a stick and he’s off to do his work, swinging that stick to clear our land, that is, if he hasn’t gone to the army for a few weeks.

Joey’s two-week army training was in August. It provided him with training and ideas for what could be used in missions work. For all of us, it was the longest two weeks of the year. “The Lord Almighty is (was) with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress,” (Ps 46:7).

September brought a renewed need to request help from Him Who “makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear,” (Ps 46:9), and helps us through each school day.

October came with a first-time visit from my mom. Steph, one of my sisters came too. Talk about help….my mom found my garden under the mat of Bermuda grass, Steph found the lights under an inch of dust. They also brought excitement….The two parcels of land beside us burnt. We watched the firefighters build a firebreak, drop chemicals, and water from planes and helicopters, and stop the blaze at the edge of our property. Because of the fire, my mom helped kill three snakes, two were inside the house.

We’re nearing the end of this year, already past Thanksgiving-but the tomatoes are still turning red. I am weary of caning any more, and now I help Jonas throw some over to the goats. Joey John has learned and is able to help milk our two goats, (We bought another who kidded twins in July). Josiah is in charge of our newly acquired pair of rabbits, who are preparing the bedding for her babies. Jonathan tackles the care of our four pigs (two being raised for others), tackled in more ways than one. Our two dogs, Spotty, fearless in her watch-dogging, and Buster, growing into a mouse hunter and herding dog, continue to bring a form of ‘help.’ Jacob with his delightful laugh, his soldier crawl and now his tottering steps, demands all our vigilant eyes and help. Joey oversees it all, offering the support and guidance necessary to make it all work.

With all this help, or maybe it’s because of this ‘help’, we know that it is necessary to “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10). Not just at this Christmas season, but throughout the year, we know that “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:11) That’s why we know that this season is special, that is why we know we have help, and that is why we know we can make it through the coming days into the year 2000.

Looking to our Hope for our help,


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