Saturday, February 16, 2019

Traveling South but Not Out of God's Care

Last week we braved a trip south. The children have been begging to visit their cousins in North Carolina. I've never driven that far, and Ed has not been doing as well the past weeks. His fatigue and lack of focus are increasing and make every-day life challenging. Ed had always planned our trips, and I went along for the ride. But this is just one more thing that I had to tackle. With the help of the children, the trip went far better than I expected.

On the way to Ed's sister's house, we stopped at the Manasses Battlefield in Virginia. We had just listened to the excellent book, Bull Run by Paul Fleischman. This book tells the story of the First Battle of Bull Run (or Manasses) from the viewpoint of many different characters such as a slave, captain, doctor, fife player, and more. The audio was well-done; each character was read by a different reader which made it more memorable. The book does not glorify war and made our short visit to the battlefield much more profitable.

We spent the rest of the weekend just hanging out at Jean's house. We always have so much fun there. We did craft projects, 

shelled pecans,

cleared brush,

braved a huge rope swing, and spent hours playing games and talking.

Some of you long-time readers have asked how Jean and her family are doing since her husband's death seven years ago. They are all doing very well. Jean and her girls have a bakery business and have fixed up an adorable bus to travel to farmer's markets. Her sons are busy with jobs and school.

Seeing God's care for Jean's family has given me hope for my own family. I watch them and see that the worse can happen and families can go on and learn to live and laugh again.

When my brother Brad found out we were going to North Carolina for the weekend, he asked if we'd consider visiting them before heading home. Brad and his family are planning to spend seven weeks working with Christian Disaster Service (CDS). They are helping rebuild homes that were damaged by Hurricane Florence in September. 

So on Monday morning, while it snowed at home in Pennsylvania, we traveled several hours further south. A large blueberry farm offered their migrant housing to the volunteers. Set in a grove of tall pines on the edge of the blueberry fields, it was pretty setting. The housing was rustic, but we just imagined we were camping.

CDS encourages families to serve together. I loved seeing sons work with their fathers. Of course it was terribly hard to see Ed so tired and listless. In large groups and unfamiliar surroundings, Ed's brain fog is even worse than usual. A year ago he would have loved strapping on a tool belt and jumping into the work. 

But my boys were able to work with their uncle for two days helping to carry trash, tear out old insulation, and put on a new roof. 

The ladies and girls cleaned to prepare for more volunteers arriving next week. 

Busy men and many children also made endless laundry.

My favorite part of our stay was working in the kitchen trailer. We ladies discussed homeschooling, recipes, and church life while making mounds of food and washing dishes.

The children made new friends, 

and played games with cousins. 

Without many toys, the children used creativity. Some of the girls made a pinata.

The boys rolled each other in an old barrel. 

The last evening we were there, the home owners of one of the houses the group was rebuilding shared their story with us. They spoke of God's protection on their lives as they fled the hurricane and thanked God for His blessings even after losing all their earthly belongings. I hope we were able to encourage them as much as they blessed us.

As a mom, I don't expect much relaxation on a vacation, but this trip was perhaps the most relaxed I've been in months, maybe years. My children were happy and busy all day long. I had no responsibilities for meals though I pitched in when I could. We had some rough spots, like the night one of my girls got sick, and I constantly worried about Ed, hoping he wouldn't get confused and wander away or fall.  

Maybe it was because my expectations were so low. Maybe it is a sign that my normal life is stressful. Maybe it was the prayers of friends and family. Whatever the reason, I arrived home feeling refreshed.

We don't deserve God's blessing, we don't always get the blessings we ask for, but we always have blessings to thank God for.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Psalms 100:5


  1. So glad you were able to make this trip. Keeping you, your husband and all your family in my prayers.

  2. What a wonderful family time you all had! It's such a blessing to be able to spend time with long-distance family. I'm sorry to hear that Ed is having some health challenges now. I'm praying that they will only be temporary challenges and he will be feeling better very soon. Also praying for His guidance in your life, Gina, and renewed daily strength and peace of mind. God bless you all!

  3. Thank you for writing such a encouraging post. I needed to hear it. Take care of yourself and Ed and your sweet family.
    Barb in PA

  4. Gina it looks like you guys had an amazing time. it's always fun to visit extended family the drive probably isn't always has fun but I'm glad the kids had a great time and such creativity. we were just talking in church today in my Sunday school class some of the ladies are teachers in public schools and the children have cell phones and tablets and play a bunch of games online and things like that that I really don't even know much about but the one a couple had mention their 13 year old daughter had wanted a cell phone and they were telling her the dangers of having a cell phone and social media accounts and things that her friends have already gone through and once you post things online they're on there forever and you can't take those back and they definitely will not budge on giving her a cell phone so right now they're the meanest parents on the planet LOL , and so I love that your children give don't have all that and I raised well and godly that they use their creativity and don't have to deal with all the technology that comes from this world. if Michael and I are ever blessed with children that's exactly how we plan on raising them with no technology things if we can avoid it I know I'm schooling you have to have some of that. I am sorry to hear that Ed is having some temporary troubles at the moment I hope that's all they are is temporary and that he can get back to his old self and start to feel a little better I think of you and Ed and the children everyday and I pray for you for your peace of mind and heart and that you were able to get through your days with no stress as much as you possibly can and an egg can get through his days with no pain no fatigue no memory loss just good times with you and the children and that the children can make good memories with both of you. You are always in my thoughts. God bless talk soon XOXO Tiera

  5. I am so pleased your break went so well for you all, Gina. I am sorry to hear that Ed isn't doing so well at this point in time. I will be praying for you and your lovely family.

  6. We're so glad you were able to make this trip as a family and enjoy special memories with various family and friends! And coming back refreshed...praising the Lord for His goodness to you! Continuing to pray for y'all, friends!! ~Randy & Eunice

  7. Always enjoy your blog. Prayin for Ed and your every need. ❤️

  8. So glad that you got to get away and see family and friends. God is good giving you time to re charge. Keeping you all in my prayers. God bless you. Sue

  9. Glad you had a safe and happy trip!

  10. Continuing to pray for Ed. I'm so glad you were able to have a more relaxed time. God bless you richly. May He continue to give you His peace. Chris W.

  11. God bless you so much, dear lady. I'm thrilled for you all that you bravely tackled this trip and were benefited so much by it. Your kids will never forget what you were willing to do for them in the midst of what you are dealing with, esp. as they look back when they are older. What a loving mom and wife you are. :)

    My Dad was operated on for brain cancer when he was 48, and we were blessed to have him for twelve years past that. The "life expectancy" back then was only 5% chance of survival past 5 years. God has us all in His hands and He will do as He wills, working all for the good of those who love Him. (((hugs)))

  12. As always, praying for you all, from WA state. Maranatha!

  13. So happy for you that you were able to make the trip to see your family. It is always a blessing to spend time with family and friends. Being able to help families who had lost their homes whether it was rebuilding, cleaning or just a kind word to them was I am sure a blessing to them and I know you were blessed by them in return. I did love the pictures of the children playing simply without the use of any technology. :) I will continue as always to lift you all up in my daily prayers.

  14. Hi Gina,
    Well done you on all the driving, you did amazing. I still avoid long drives. What a lovely time for you all to have with family. Praying for you all and that you will feel God's blessings in your lives.
    Shelley p
    from over the pond

  15. Gina, sounds like you and the families had a wonderful time together. I am glad you were able to safely make the trip there and back. Our church continues to pray for Ed.

  16. I have and will continue to pray for your family. The Lord will surround you with His angels and bring comfort to all of you.


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