Another busy afternoon is coming to a close, and an hour from now my family will be gathering to the dinner table expecting a hot meal.
A big thanks to my cousin Owen who stays at our house and simplified things for me tonight. He purchased a chicken for a quick meal. Owen does outstanding in blending in with our family brimming with action and happy chaos.
I never expected we'd have someone boarding at our house, but now we would undoubtedly miss Owen if he wouldn't be here. He's just like a big brother to our little ones. The children love sitting with him at church. In fact, it seems they sit nicer and still with him in the front with the other boys than in the back where Daniel sits with the guys or the ladies' side with benches filled with little ones.
Now, why not join our family as we're getting ready for supper? We'll probably have something simple for dessert like Julia's Monster Cookie Energy Bars and iced coffee. After supper, it's time to do the dishes and milk the cow. Daniel knows I sometimes need fresh air, so he occasionally tells me I can go milk the cow while he helps the children with the dishes. Once the dishes are cleared away we have some family activity; the last few weeks I've been taking the children on rides with the pony and cart while Daniel catches up with some of his projects in the barn or garage.
By 8 p.m., it's time to start winding down and get everyone ready for bed. This spring, we, as a family, started a new tradition: we have 15 minutes of quiet time each evening. It gives the children a chance to wind down before bedtime and gives them practice for sitting still at church. No, we don't have any bragging rights for Sunday services; we have our share of "interesting moments" at church. It's not unusual for me to make a quick exit with a child in each arm, attending to the needs at hand.
After quiet time we're ready for prayer as a family. We started also asking God to protect the children from any bad dreams and instead give them comforting dreams about Jesus, the angels and heaven. As a mother, I stand back in awe and wonder when God does give a young child a dream that strengthens their faith in Him. Since the children personally started praying, asking God to protect them from bad dreams, there has been a notable difference which we praise God for.
Next comes the children's favorite part of the evening — hug time! We all hug each family member. Lastly, we claim a blessing on each child by placing our hand on their head and praying the following verses over them: The Lord bless thee (using the child's name), and keep thee. The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:25-26) It is a simple way for us to dedicate them to the Lord and claim his blessings in their lives.
Last but not least, we're ready to tuck everyone into bed. This final step before retiring for the night has been the one that has stretched my patience the most. God is graciously granting my request for more patience by allowing a lot of time to elapse until everyone is finally sleeping. Generally by the time the last little lad is sound out in his innocent slumber Daniel and I are both ready to crash out for a couple of hours until duty calls again.
Certainly, there is nothing in the whole wide world I'd rather be doing than to mother these darlings, yet realistically, regardless where we're called, we will have our times of testing. But rewards always do follow as we toil until the end, regardless of how difficult, unfair or ridiculous some things may seem. We weren't promised an easy path, but indeed are promised strength in direct proportion of our faith in Him. May God ever increase my faith!
On some evenings we also enjoy visiting friends and family. Last night we had a grocery shower for my sister Mary Grace and her new husband. My mother prepared individual yogurt parfait cups. So this week we will be borrowing her recipe on for you. It is a very attractive and deliciously refreshing dessert on these summer days.
• 5 cups granola cereal or crushed Oreo cookies mixed with 1/4 cup melted butter
• Layer into a 2-quart serving bowl or in individual cups
• 4 ounces cream cheese
• 1/2 cup powdered sugar
• 4 cups vanilla yogurt
• 16 ounces whipped topping
• Fresh fruit of your choice
Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar, add yogurt and whipped topping. Layer on top of granola or crushed cookies then top with your choice of fresh fruit. I'm a fruit lover so I like piling mine with lots of it. My mother used strawberries, grapes, blueberries and peaches.
Note: I prefer using whipped cream instead of whipped topping or using only half of the topping to cut back on sugar.
Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, housewife and writer in rural Illinois. To learn more about the column visit www.amish365.com/about.