Sam and I had a date last night. It was also a "work night" in that we had a lot of "work" to discuss regarding the kids, the farm, and the future. We had agreed to spend time in prayer and thinking over things prior to last night. It's amazing the clarity that comes with really focusing on what God's plan is for us. There was so little we weren't already in agreement about!
Our date consisted of dinner out and a walk on the boardwalk at Ocean Beach. The walk was an impromptu decision as the restaurant was rather noisy and we were unable to really talk things over. The weather was perfect: cool and breezy with that awesome ocean air that I love. We took the scenic route to get to the beach and were amazed at the number of houses in the area that are either up for sale, obviously abandoned, or had large foreclosure/auction signs in front of them.
On our walk we discussed the things we had been praying over. The biggest item was our desire to take a mission trip this October. The deadline for registering is looming and we really needed to make a decision. The total cost for the three day mission trip to Appalachia was going to be around $1500. A lot of money for us. Then there was the farm to consider. Finding people to care for the animals, especially animals who would need to be milked twice per day, for 5 days, would not be easy.
Sam felt strongly that our obligation to pay back our outstanding balances (hay, veterinarian, etc.) came before putting money aside for a mission trip. And so we agreed to forgo a trip this year and look to saving for a trip for next summer. We have also agreed to sell more of our goats. Two of our milking does will be up for sale after fair season. We will not be breeding any of our doelings this fall, which will cut down on some of our costs as well as lessening some of the farm work for others to take over.
We also discussed where we see things in five years and ten years. We discussed repairs the house needs and how we need to evaluate the list in view of where we think we'll be in ten years. How much time, energy, and money do we want to invest in a home that we don't envision us owning in ten years?
We discussed the girls' futures. Will Abby be ready for college in a year? Can we even afford it? Do we have her take some courses at the community college? Can we afford that? We decided that we'll plan on having her take a writing composition course at Three Rivers in the Spring semester. We think we can afford one course. She'll apply to Lancaster Bible College this fall and if we can afford it, she'll go.
Nathalie is on track to graduate from high school a year early, and just a year behind Abby. Do we slow her down, or let her forge ahead? We really didn't decide about this one, just agreed to pray about it some more.
Hannah needs a firmer hand and has been making some poor choices lately. We agreed that both Sam and I have been lumping Hannah in with the older two girls as far as trusting her choices. We seem to have forgotten that she is just 13 years old. This freedom was something that she apparently wasn't ready for and we need to tighten up the rules for her.
Rachel and Samantha are getting older and while they are still the "younger two" or the "little ones" in our minds, we made some decisions regarding their responsibilities and expectations. I need to make sure I don't lapse into relying on the older girls to take up the slack when the younger ones fail to follow through. Sam needs to ask them to help more when he works on his "to do" list around the house.
We discussed Hannah's sugar sensitivity, and while I wanted to do away with all sugar, we have agreed to a more moderate approach and will do away with all "non-nutritional" sugars (candy, cookies, cakes). This means foods with sugar in them that hold some nutritional value, such as cereal, breads, and certain baked goods which contain fruit or veggies, will be allowed. I will look for recipes which use honey as a substitute for white sugar. Water will replace Kool-aid, sodas are out, and the coffee will be unsweetened. We agreed that when we are visiting others or events at church, etc. we will not restrict sugar, unless we see it causing an issue.
It was really a lovely evening, which we capped off with a trip to the grocery store for some dish soap. Yeah, we're hopeless romantics...