Thursday, October 29, 2015

90 years ago

It was October 29, 1925. Thirty-eight year old Albert Brouwer (Opa) finished the chores around his family farm in Lathum, the Netherlands, and made the last minute preparations for later in the day when his wedding guests would arrive for the celebration.
He had surprised most people,when he announced his engagement to Wilhelmina Overeem (Oma). He had met 26 year old Wilhelmina, also known to many as Mina, only six weeks earlier!
 Fritz, Albert's younger brother had been working at a farm where Wilhelmina also worked several days a week. Fritz convinced Albert to meet this young woman and proceeded to arrange a meeting between them. 
Wilhelmina lived with her family close to a town called Arnhem that would take Albert 1.5 hours to reach by bike. He made this trip three times before they were married making it a grand total of three visits together before they said their marriage vows!
 Wilhelmina's family farm was very isolated; "out in the sticks" as the villagers liked to say. It was located a long ways off of the main road, with a rough driveway about 1.5 kms long. This driveway was almost impassable in the winter and since it was later in the summer that Albert and Wilhelmina finally met, Albert suggested they should get married before the winter hit. He convinced his bride-to-be it didn't matter if her trousseau wasn't ready. She would have the rest of the winter to sew her sheets and pillow cases.
Their marriage took place in the church in Lathum and the celebrations were held at Albert's farm where he lived with his older brother, also a bachelor. 
The family farm was the exact opposite of how Wilhelmina grew up. They had neighbours on either side of them, even sharing driveways. The neighbours heard, saw, and knew everything that was going on. The village people were traditional and followed strict customs whereas she grew up with traditional, but with an emphasize on Biblical teachings.
On their wedding day, Wilhelmina's mother and sisters thought the wedding was too far away, so only her father, a few of her brothers and a handful of cousins were there to celebrate with her.
Wilhelmina moved into the furnished family farm with her new husband Albert and his older brother.
What a change that must of been for all of them, but both Albert and Whilhelmina had much respect for one another and their marriage worked.

Albert told Whilhelmina he that since he was older, they probably wouldn't have a large family, but they were blessed with eight children, the last child born when he was sixty!
They had a busy household; surviving the war years,  taking in guests, (one year they had 95 guests including children) and farming the land. Everyone needed to work hard.
When Albert was sixty-eight years old, the decision was made to immigrate to Canada. Their oldest, married daughter, Jenny and her husband would follow them soon after.
After a new farm had been bought in Ontario, Albert hung up a huge sign for everyone to see: "Ebeneezer"  - hitherto, the Lord has helped.

-a special thank you to Cor DeJong and Wendy de Jong for putting together the Brouwer  family history book many years ago. All of us who call Albert and Wilhelmina, Opa and Oma, have learned much!-

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


In the early hours of the morning the Lord called our grandfather home.
He was a man that made every effort to be in church on Sundays and spoke of the Lord in conversations.
He would rub his hand up and down our cheeks and show great affection with his eyes when he spoke; always interested in our lives. Every card given by our grandparents was written by grandpa. With a perfect slant, and long narrow strokes, he would write the sweetest thoughts at our birthdays and Christmas. These cards were cherished by all of the grandchildren. He wrote how special we were to him,and he gave encouragement that the Lord would be with us in all things.
During the past few months, grandpa's speech was slowly taken away from him due to a series of small strokes. This became a great trial to both of my grandparents. His words often relayed wisdom; he asked questions, and not to have these smooth running conversations made things very difficult and trying for him. Eventually the conversations took place over the white board he carried around. When we would visit, he would write down the names of all of the kids and we would talk about each one. His interest and care for his family and friends never left him, even without the use of his speech.

                         This picture is just priceless with their four great-grandchildren.

Many years ago with his little boys.

Laughing and enjoying his family during last year's thanksgiving-get together.

On his 91st birthday in September.

Psalter 187:4..."and they that love His Name with Him shall live."
Thanks be to God for this hope!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mothers of all BOYS

There's a small group of us, the MOABs, that will get everything I have to write.
For those who have daughters gracing their lives, our stories may seem unbelievable, but when there is a bunch of brothers put together, anything can happen.

This summer I had a grand thought. I planned to take all five boys to Costco during lunch hour and hopefully with enough food samplers, I wouldn't need to feed them lunch.
After piling out of the van we headed toward the entrance. A lady walking behind me, called out to me. Thinking I dropped something or mistakenly left someone behind, I turned around.
She came running up to us and took a long look at me. "Are allll of these boys yours?!" she motioned with sweeping hand movements and eyes opened big and wide. When she determined that these were all brothers, and there were no twins in the crowd, her dramatics continued. "You are amazzzing" she beamed at me. "You are a rock star. You are so courageous. Look at these handsome boys. This is unbelievable." After I thanked her for the compliments we moved toward the store with my head ballooned up and my chin slightly elevated.
We made it through the grocery store in an okay manner. The boys had their food samples and didn't even proclaim loud enough for everyone to hear, "Don't buy these..they are gross." Or, "Buy these mom, they are on sale." Instead they whispered their comments to one another.
By this time pride had creeped into my heart. The boys were good, we were getting a lot of stares, but they handled themselves well; that is until we hit isle 13, the Baking Isle.
I was half way down the isle when I heard one boy whisper-yell to the other, "Sugar Spill!!!" 
I turned around and there they were climbing on top of the sugar stack, with their mouths wide open. One boy was licking the white sugar off of the cardboard, another had his hands scooped open with the sugar spilling through his fingers as he tried to stick both of his hands in his mouth at the same time. It was a sight to be seen. Sugar was spilling every where and the boys were lapping it up as fast as they could. One lady walked past me, laughing hysterically. "Check out those boys!"
  I was glad we gave someone a good laugh that day.

Mothers of all Boys understand the need for war, danger, energy, guns, cannons, hunting, jack knives, raccoon skin hats, and sports. We point out dead animals on the roadside. We save different looking insects for our sons to see when they come home from school. We act interested and take part in the conversations about who is playing who during hockey, soccer, and baseball seasons.

This a picture I emailed to my friends. 
Mothers of all boys understand what food means to boys. They can hurt themselves pretty badly and not shed a tear or offer a trembling lip, but if  you tell them they cannot have a snack and have to wait until the next meal, thats when they become teary eyed and only then the tears threaten to fall. MOABs need to plan after- school snacks as carefully as they plan dinner. Food, food, and more food. I know for my family the feedings will only increase. I cannot imagine!

Mothers of all boys know that hands are never clean; funny, interesting things fall out of pockets; and a very important note, never stick your nose in a underwear to see if its clean. You can only handle so many unflushed toilets and other horrible bathroom manners before you go on a complete rampage. During this rampage, before you know it potty talk comes shooting out of your mouth, but your message has been clear. Smarten up and start flushing!

Mothers of all boys know that boys aren't always keen on having their picture taken and would rather play with a blade of grass.

Being a mother of all boys is an interesting thing. The laundry piles are pretty high, you are on the constant look out for grocery specials, but most of all you try to prepare them for man hood and that can be a scary thing!
I talked to a MOABs this summer and asked her if she had any advice. Her answer -  "Good luck!"
 But, after watching her family for a few days, I saw four wonderful teenaged sons who had fun together. They enjoyed spending time together and they had great manners. She was doing something right. Watching them got me excited for the teenage years, and the way our little boys are growing, it will be here before we know it. But right now I am going enjoy these young men of mine.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


"The Waiting" by Cathy LaGrow made my ICPID list without a second thought. This true story was simply amazing...a mother meeting her daughter decades later after giving her up for adoption. The author skillfully weaves the mother and daughter's lives throughout the book. Well written, true, inspiring... this book couldn't get any better.

And here is the back of "The Waiting."

"Fearless" is another ICPID book. (ICPID - I couldn't put it down)
This book grabbed my attention from the start. Another true story that was well written. Guys will especially like it as it tells the back ground of the Navy Seals and gives insight to their vigorous training. This is the story of Adam Brown, Navy Seal, his addiction to drugs, and his tragic death while serving in Afghanistan. When I started to read about his death, I trembled when I realized I was reading this on March 17 exactly five years to the day that Adam died. It made it even more real and I thought and prayed for his dear widow on that night as she would no doubt remember that horrible knock on the door. 

Kara tells of her days of mothering her four beautiful children and then the dreaded discovery of cancer. She writes of her struggles, worry, fear, and about God clothing her with grace. This is a beautiful, tear-filled book. Kara wrote this book not ever knowing if she would see the pages of her writing bound. She lovingly puts quotes through out the book and there are thought provoking questions at the end of each chapter.

"John Know - Fearless Faith" by Steven J. Lawson is a shorter biography on the life of John Knox. It is not hard to read and will inspire you to know the God whom you serve better. Knox was no boring man, he was full of courage fighting against the false doctrines even if it meant his death.

"A Man Called Norman" by Mike Adkins. I picked up this treasure of a book at a second hand store. Mike moves besides a strange man named Norman and slowly builds up a relationship discovering who this man really is hiding behind all of his quirks. God uses Norman to teach Mike what loving your neighbour as yourself looks like.

And this summer I happily read the whole "Mitford" series by Jan Karon once again. This September her latest book, "Come Rain or Come Shine" put double exclamation points behind the series. The characters come alive in her books and you soon start to believe; there must be a cozy little town called Mitford where the people "take care of their own."

Monday, October 19, 2015

Election day.

This home is along a main road in our town. After several years of watching we see the same routine happening over and over again with these home owners. In the spring, the owners are outside planting and watering their raised garden beds. Within a few weeks the weeds have grown higher than their knees. The couple stands outside scratching their heads, wondering where to start the clean up because the weeds have become overwhelming. A few weeks after that it is obvious they have given up. The weeds have choked whatever lawn is left and the front door is hardly visible. The home owners had good intentions in the beginning of the year but thats not enough to get the weeds rooted out. By fall they will be outside with a weed eater gobbling up all green left in sight.
I feel sad for them and wonder why they do this year after year - work, become disappointed and overwhelmed, and then wack out everything that could of looked beautiful.
This year I came to the realization they probably don't care and have given up on their intentions. They actually drew attention to their weed infested home.
 When election promises and ads started to control the media, the home owners planted their Green party signs in the middle of the yard. They must of realized no one could see these bright green and yellow signs so the signs moved to the edge of the yard, almost on the road way.
 If the home owners had carried through on their intentions, the Green signs could of been placed in the middle of a beautiful garden. (That would of been a better advertisement!)

On this election day, we, along with all Canadians, will be watching who will govern this country. It is comforting to know God didn't just have good "intentions" for our country. He didn't create and then stand by, watching the weeds choke and overwhelm His creation. He creates, cares, and provides and He will continue to do this with whomever wins this election.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thanksgiving Day

It's truly is a blessing to see a whole, extended family gather together, enjoy talking and catching up with one another. Its even more of a blessing when you can read the Bible, pray, and sing altogether.

Dressing up is always fun!

A long, simple rope can provide a lot of entertainment!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Summary of Summer - 2015

~Briefly - the amount of time I considered if the boys should be wearing their shirts during supper time. I glanced at my laundry pile, pictured it doubled, and then told them the rule was no shirts during supper
~First time - having a Fresh Air Kid come and live with us for two weeks
~First time - having a journalist come over and interview our family about our great experience with our fresh air kid. He brought his camera but that ended up staying in the protective case. I took a harder look at our family and saw what journalist saw. Five moving boys, some dirty faces, no shirts
~ First time - that I clipped chicken wings
~12 hours - the amount of time it took to toilet train Caleb (yahoo!)
~Last time - buying swimmers
~First time - Andrew & Liam water-skied
~First time - Liam was able to drop a ski
~First time in 20 years that I went knee boarding behind the boat.
~First time having goat babies
~First summer - not having a little one that needed to nap during the day, (that's not as fun as it sounds...I liked those quiet times!)
~10 - the number of laying hens we have that continued to escape causing mulch pile ups around the gardens
~2nd summer in a row that we have drained our pond trying to solve the leaking problem
~100,000,000 rocks, (at least that is what it felt like) that had to be removed around the pond so we could solve the leaking problem by putting a liner in it (and I only did a few loads - that was enough for me!)
~130+ times by four is the decibels of our pigs squealing when they see food. They are so loud. A chainsaw is 115 decibels.
~1 time - a couple parked their car in our driveway and then walked to our plum tree in our front yard and then....started to pick our plums. When our dog started barking, she asked us to call the dog off! I have never seen such nerviness!
~ 0 trips to the hospital! Everyone stayed safe!