A sense of relief trickles through me as I watch the children romping in the leaves for the first time. Summer is a highlight at our house. We love our daily bounties from the garden. No, we’d never do without summer, yet as those first leaves drop, it’s nice to have cooler and shorter days. At 7 p.m., it’s already getting dark, ushering everyone back inside where we enjoy family times together for an hour until it’s time to go to settle little ones down for the night.

Seldom does an evening pass that the children do not spend time helping Daniel feeding the animals and milking the goat. Little Joshua gets desperate when he hears someone mention anything about milking. He’ll head straight for the freezer, where we keep ice packs, which are placed into the milk bucket to cool the milk quickly. Pointing at the freezer door handle just out of his reach, he’ll grunt and, with his limited words, get the point across that he needs someone to help him right now. If it is too early to do the milking, he’s heartbroken. On occasions when he does get to go with Daddy, his joy has no end. He proudly goes for the entrance, grabs the milk bucket, and places the ice pack inside. At 16 months old, he is entirely convinced he can handle the bucket on his own. He watches with delight as the milk streams into the bucket. Lovingly he pets the goat and jabbers over it.

Getting back to fall evenings, last night as the children were gathering on the front porch, Daniel said, “Okay, Julia and Austin, get out your Math books.” Doing Math in the evening is no highlight, but they knew arguing with Daddy would never get them anywhere, and whining would only mean additional Math problems to be done before bedtime.

I heaved a little sigh of relief. “Perfect.”

Recently, after sharing with Daniel that I’ll need to make a slight change somewhere to get our days flowing, we agreed to help the children get started on their Math the evening before it is assigned, giving a head start on the day ahead. And if we’re gone for an evening, it waits till the following day. I’m amazed at how much it helps to have Daniel in the house to keep the younger ones occupied while working on school with Julia and Austin.

I admit I do have my time to revert to thinking about what needs to be done instead of focusing on the One who brings it all together. Last night was an example of such a time. By 9:30, I was relieved to have all six children asleep in bed, Hubby was sound out, and I lay there in dire need of sleep; my mind kept stacking up all the letters that needed to be written, the cards and gifts to get ready for friends, the list went on. I debated about getting up and tackling it, but then I could hear Hubby’s words of wisdom ringing in my ears, “You do need to get some sleep.”

I debated about grabbing a pen from the nightstand drawer and making a list. That didn’t seem like the thing to do.

By now, I was feeling a bit bugged with myself. After a day on the recliner holding a sick little boy, I looked at what needs to be accomplished and not at the power of a God who can easily manage the unimaginable. Why Peter even walked on top of the water without sinking until he quit focusing on Jesus and instead on the waves! Okay, there are no brag stories of just whispering a quick prayer then falling asleep, sleeping soundly through the entire night. Though I was comforted, knowing that no matter what happens, there’s a God who has a plan complete and tangible if we cry out to Him. He never forces us to trust Him, yet as we give our weary hearts to Him, He carries us where we could never have walked. As I watch the children rake a pile of leaves under the gigantic maple tree in the backyard, I heave another sigh of relief. Indeed there was One greater than I to bring us all through another summer. Bring on the cooler days; we’ll grab sweaters for the children and nestle around a bonfire in the backyard and sip spiced cider.

And yes, those 1001 duties will wait; our children will not wait to grow up.

#### Spiced cider

1 quart cider

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon whole allspice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

orange or mandarin orange slices

2- three inch cinnamon sticks

### Instructions

Pour cider into a kettle. Place spices in a cheese cloth, tie shut with a twisty tie. Toss cinnamon sticks and cheese cloth with spices, into cider.Bring to a boil, simmer 20 minutes.Remove spices.

Serve hot,with a few orange slices and a cinnamon stick stirrer, in each mug. Yummy!