Rachel is doing a great job taking care of things for me when I have to run to town to deal with bank stuff and paper work and taxes and other yucky non farm things. She came right in the nick of time. I am glad the spring peepers are here in full force for her visit. We all sat around the table and enjoyed an amazing dinner of roast pork loin, green beans, salad, and mashed potatoes with chives and cheddar, all made by a dear friend at church. I was hoping that the little ones wouldn't like the mashed potatoes with all the good stuff, but unfortunately they did.
After we ate, I felt like reading to the kids. We hadn't been reading together since the afternoon of the day Philip died.
Last time we read it was that Thursday afternoon. Just picking up the book where we left off made me cry. I forced myself to read through the tears in front of the fire in the dining room. I then shared with Rachel about how I believe God led me to read with the kids that afternoon, all about Ben Franklin and then Amos Fortune Free Man. How we were having a hard day, but as we settled in, cold, huddled in front of the little fireplace, the words of history ministered to my worried soul.
The winter had been so hard, I had been worried about Philip's health, about the cold, the farm, our homeschool, all the usual worries. As we read about Ben Franklin, and his three years of education, and the trials in his life that propelled him toward his calling, I felt some of the worries of the world slip off my shoulders.
Then we read about the young boy king, Atmun, head of his tribe in a village in Africa, caught by slave traders in the 1700's. We wept about the atrocities of slavery together. The boy king would repeat the words "I am a king" to himself as he endured unspeakable difficulties. "I am a king" he would say, as he was thirsty and hungry. "I am a king" as he was put in the bowels of a miserable ship. "I am a king" he would say, being led to the slave auction.
As we read, something unusual was happening to me. I can't explain it, but something melted in my spirit. There, in front of the teeny little fire, built with the last of the firewood until Philip got home to fix the chainsaw and cut some more wood, I told the kids that at some point in our life, we might have to undergo significant hardship. Maybe not slavery, like Atmun. Maybe not the horror of the holocaust, but difficulty. I told them it was unfortunately a part of life, and that I hoped that we would all remember to raise our heads high in the middle of adversity and be able to say, like Atmun, that we are children of a king.
We read that Atmun was carried on the slave ship all the way to Massachussetts, and that when he reached the auction block, a Quaker just happened to walk up with money in his pocket. Even though he didn't believe in slavery, something in the boy's eyes drew him and he walked up to the trader and bought him. He wanted to make sure the boy had a safe place to live and to learn, with the plan of giving him his freedom.
Somehow, as we shared the story, the providence that led Atmun through the difficulties, right to the one place where he had a chance to live with a real identity, an opportunity to learn to read and write, my heart was broken. And then healed.
I told the children that even as we were going through some difficulties at the time, I trusted God to lead us to the one safe place, and there in front of the fire, weeping, I prayed out loud, deciding to trust God no matter what would happen to us, and praying that God would help us during our times of hardship to love each other even more. I told the kids that our family's strength was working together when the going got rough and I knew we would get through whatever might come our way.
Tears were streaming down my face. I can't explain it, but there was some kind of relinquishing going on in my inner parts.
Well, Philip got home from work, sent the kids off to take care of chores, I jumped up to sweep floors and put away school books and he went to cut firewood so we would be warm for the evening. The ladies came in for Bible study before he finished his tasks.
As I shared with Rachel the events of that evening, the events that changed our lives forever, we all wept and remembered. The fire blazed and we were full and warm, the evening cool, no longer harsh winter. I prayed again, this time, for God to comfort us as we miss Philip so very much. I prayed again, that during this time of adversity, we would work together as a family, our love for one another making us strong, even when we feel weak.
Rachel and kids went to take care of animals. I washed up dishes. Tired kids went to bed and I went out to the deck for a few seconds to feel the cold breeze and hear the peepers. They are so loud. I wish the breeze were warm, but it will be soon. I couldn't stay outside for long, but just hearing those guys made me feel embraced.
Thank you God for the angel song of peepers.