Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall Time Fun

Who would have known that fall time in the Northern Ontario forests would be so beautiful?! Truly this is an amazing time of year here in little old Emo, and we are so amazed by the colors of the leaves, the gold tamarack needles and the wildlife (took some shots at my first ptarmigan, and just missed hitting a deer with our van!), and it can all be seen on our own property. We are still amazed at the blessing of this place, and enjoy every moment of it.

Our extended family seems to enjoy it here too, and we were thankful to have had my parents here for a few days in September. My dad and I celebrated our birthday's early, and this year it was even more special because we don't get to see him as often, and because he is still doing great after two bouts of cancer surgery.

Part of my birthday celebration involved us as a family going overnight camping for the first time this year. It has been at least a decade since we waited this late in the year to tent it out for night. God blessed us with some great weather, a beautiful beach campsite just 30 minutes from the house, and lots of entertaining fishing. We all enjoyed it, and I am thankful for Lois who really encouraged us to make it happen.

For many people in our church and in the district, the chainsaw (or as commonly referred to here - the power saw) is a part of everyday life. Whether employed as a logger, or just cutting up firewood, these are practical tools. But in the hands of a former city- slicker, they can be down right fun! I borrowed this big beast from a friend at church, and together with Lois' nephew Greg who was in for the weekend and the whole Dueck 6 clan we laid waste to 25 trees around our house to create some sunshine and open space. It was a great family effort, and it all got done in about 5 hours, including hiding all the branches in the bush.

For those of you who are wondering, I did get a safety lesson prior to using this tool of forest destruction. I was also given a pair of chainsaw pants to wear (supposedly when you cut your leg the chain jams up in the pant threads rather then on your bones!), and protective boots. Because all of this was new to me, and because I usually work at a desk and with people, there was a lot of joy and satisfaction in seeing our place transformed, firewood stacked up, and having the trees eventually fall where I wanted them to. But I also have a new appreciation for the muscles involved in running a chain saw - my forearms hurt for hours after cutting for only half a day! (The joke in church the next day was that I should have started the saw first!).

You can see that there are still lots of trees left around our place! The tarps on the ground have been replaced by a garden plot thanks to a friend who came over with his Bobcat and a tiller attachment.

While Greg was here we made another trek to Humble Hill (formerly known as Pride Rock!), our large Canadian Shield outcropping on the southeast corner of our property. It is a beautiful 20 minute hike from our place to the hill. For part of the hike we go down an old logging trail (most of the saleable timber was logged off our property years ago), while the other part of the trail follows a deer path through a new poplar forest. The hike is well worth the effort, for the view from the hill is amazing.

Loving our new life!

Follow the Leader -just make sure he is using his compass! (we actually never head into the bush without our compass, matches and a knife, because it is very easy to get lost)

Look at our muscles Mom!

We had set ourselves a deadline of mostly setting up our place by our Housewarming Party day, which was October 3. Our house easily accommodated the 60+ people who came through that evening, and most of them were amazed (as we often still are!) how spacious and beautiful our place is. The house is perfectly set up to host large groups of people, which is good because we have the "gift" of hosting parties and really enjoy it!

We continually are encouraged and challenged by God's work in the church. The desire to faithfully serve God is still very much wrapped up in me learning on the job, and I often wonder what to focus on, how to use my time, how to lead a godly group of people to further God's kingdom, etc. I know that there are many people praying for me and us as a family, and we see God's hand in the many areas: the church is growing, new ministries that have begun are making an impact, and I and the rest of the church are learning much as we walk through the Bible together.

Lois had a chance to head down to Chicago for a TrueWoman 08 this past week, and she was blessed and affirmed in the path she has taken as a woman of God. Together with over 6000 other women she heard some challenging messages from speakers such as John Piper, Joni Erickson-Tada and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, as well as times of solitude in the 12 hr drive there and back and God's gift of a funky hotel room just minutes from the conference center. The conference was free for pastor's wives, and God provided $400 in a really unique way to cover the cost of a car rental, gas, and food for the whole trip! We serve an awesome God!

Me and the kids had a great time back at home, and I can honestly say that it was fun. This is a radical departure from previous times Lois has gone away, and I am very thankful to God for the way he is working in our kids' lives. We really pulled together as a team and there was hardly any complaining. We enjoyed watching a movie, playing games, having a "camp out" on Humble Hill, cleaning out Lois' pumpkin patch (over 50 pumpkins!), and just being together. Lorianne made lunches for all four of them two nights in a row, and even offered to make mine! Stephen and I did some visiting of seniors together, we had fun hosting a friend from church for Thanksgiving supper on Sunday. It was great to have Lois arrive safely home on Sunday again, and to know that while the break was nice, she was looking forward to being home again. God has shown a lot of grace to our family, and the changes in our home are a real blessing to us as parents.

As we look towards Christmas, we realize that we have already received so much. We are continually praying for wisdom in knowing how to serve God with what we have been given. For those of you who are praying for us, we ask that you continue to pray for our kids as they seek to live for God at Donald Young School, a task which can often be challenging. Pray for Lois as she seeks to love her husband and kids well (she told me to write that!), and for me as I desire to faithfully and boldly serve in my role at CBC.