Today Shalom and I canned green beans and potatoes. I can’t express to you how fun it was. Last year it was work, just a matter of doing a job that needed doing.
This Spring I told Mike to plant a small garden because my basement was full of canned goods, and I did not want to have a big garden to keep up. Habits die hard, and he was sure someone would need the extra, so he planted the usual size. How right he was.
When the cold days of winter come around, Shalom will open these jars and serve her husband. It will be their hands that are united in prayer, thanking God for his abundance and provision. This summer Shalom is busy preparing for her future home. The tomatoes will go into jars tomorrow, and the corn will be taken off the cob next week. It is not work this year. As Shalom, Shoshanna, and I prepared the vegetables we laughed and played like little girls playing house, and I guess we were.
Shalom has been preparing for this special moment all her life. More than any of our other children she anxiously watched us when we were tired, sick, hurried, and busy with life. She has carefully observed the interaction between her father and me. I saw her taking pleasure in the many times I raced to the door and threw my arms around her daddy. Every time she saw our eyes meet in love and appreciation, she considered it. She spent her youth matching her steps with mine until she had her bearings and began to walk on her own.
I have always said that Shalom was the hardest of all of my children to raise. She was the meekest, most impressionable, gentlest, kindest, hardest working, and most compliant of all our children. She was everyone's dream child. She wanted to please. She believed all things, hoped all things, and loved in all things. If I had ever expressed rejection towards her, just one time in her whole life, if I had screamed out at her that she was a nobody, she would have believed it was true. It would have left permanent scars on her soul. The other children were tougher; they would fight back if someone tried to put them down, but when Shalom was young, she accepted everyone without evaluation, and needed everyone in her circle to accept her.
The problem lay with the word “everyone.” I knew the wrong friend would influence her to evil. Even adults would have manipulated her in directions I did not choose. Without careful supervision, selfish adults would have used her willingness to give and serve to the point of breaking her spirit. I knew her desire to never judge anyone for anything could cause her to become weak instead of sweet, wayward instead of compliant, and broken instead of gentle. More than the other children, I had to make judgements for her until God could work into her a godly judgment. I knew that, of all my children, I would need to be her strength, her conscience, to say "no" to all those who would take away from the beautiful person she was to become.
Many prayers have forged her into what she is. Often I have had to ask her would-be-friends to leave our home, not because they were out for evil, but because she could not yet see shades of evil. To her, everyone's motives were only pure; everyone's thoughts always good; everyone was there to give, not take. She was so vulnerable. In helping her, I can see that my wimpy-self became stronger. What I would not do for myself, because I like people to think nice of me, I was willing to do for her because I cared so much. Do you understand when I say, she has been a hard child to raise?
My other daughters are strong, confident, and aggressive. Bossiness, laziness, and selfishness are easy to spot and easy to switch into line. Although they needed a lot of bringing into line, I saw in them Proverbs 31 women when they were young. No man, woman or child could influence either girl without them deciding it was for their good. Not so for Shalom. It is amazing how many times well meaning Christian friends have pushed into our lives and tried molding her into what they are. But for this gentle, kind child, I learned that saying a firm, "NO" to all those folks was the most important thing I would ever do for her. Thank God he gave me the guts to stick to what I knew was right, even when it was uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Shalom will soon be 21 years old. She is still the sweetest creature on earth, but somewhere over the years the Spirit of God started growing backbone into her. She is now a strong, godly woman with resolve and conviction. As I look on her shining face and remember the years of joy she has given us, I know she will be the best wife any man will ever have, because she has been that kind of daughter.
With great rejoicing, we would like to tell everyone that God in his mercy and grace has chosen for Shalom the perfect man to be her husband and protector. His name is Justin Brand. His family lives down the road about an hour from here. He is as gentle and kind as she is, yet strong and resolute.
So now, it is happening yet again at Michael Pearl's house. We are canning green beans, and early tomorrow morning Shalom will be out picking blueberries for the meals she will share with her husband this winter.
Shoshanna, her younger sister, is busy deciding all the wonderful details that come with a joyous wedding. I sit here typing and weeping with thankfulness. God has been so good and continues to bless us more than we could ever ask or think.
Is it worth it—all those years of homeschooling? All the times of living frugally so that Dad could be home more? What about the times of learning to submit and honor? Will what we are today make any difference in what tomorrow will bring? Yes, yes, and a thousand times, yes. You will reap what you sow. When you have sown in the lives of your precious children, you will come forth rejoicing. Believe me, I know.