The End Will Come

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The car pulled up the long dirt road to her house. We rounded the corner and my eyes caught sight of that beautiful lake. A flood of memories washed over me. Riding bikes on that road and the crunch of dirt under our bike tires. The cool summer evenings…insects chirping…..eating steak and potatoes on the porch, fishing and playing for hours in the lake – jumping off the little rickety dock. My brother and I spent weeks there in the summer and we would eat ice cream cones every night with the Loons singing in the background and play store in the little pantry – which was huge when I was a child. I slapped cream on the poison ivy that racked his body – every night – wore matching outfits with my cousin and spent hours making up dance routines with her in the musty, cool basement  –  we danced like we would grow up and take the big stage.

 

 

 
 
 
 
MINKEVICH. That was my grandmothers last name. She lived through the deaths of two men whom she loved dearly. One gone to cancer and the other to diabetes. A determined and resilient German woman, Margaret Theresa Hatton/Minkevich was mother to 3 girls and 2 boys, grandmother to 14 grandchildren, great-grandmother to 15  and great-great grandmother to 1. On a little cottage on a great big lake in Troy, Maine is where Grammie spent the last half of her life. She loved this little cottage – living a simple life without a complaint against the darling place that was built by her second husband. She dreamed of dying in this place. And she did. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
How does one ever prepare themselves for the footsteps that will bring back a flood of memories? For the catch-your-breath reality that life has ceased – all the memories now threatened to be loss because that real, living body now sat in a plastic urn on her own side table in the living room beneath the big window. My sweet little Italian great-aunt Fanny once mumbled to me in her grief of losing her husband “All good things come to an end.” There’s nothing greater than death itself to remind you that the end will come. I opened the squeaky door to my grandmother’s cottage following behind brave mom, our noses  met with the earthy smells that I always remembered when we came for visits. It was still and quiet – no raspy German accent to greet us. There were pills on the kitchen sink that were never swallowed. A toothbrush upside down in a cup in the tiny bathroom- waiting to scrub her teeth once more…..reading glasses set atop a magazine….knitting needles tucked in the yarn of a half-finished hat she was knitting for the less-fortunate,  food molding in the pantry….her bedroom closet half-opened and a pair of well-worn white, cotton drawstring shorts hanging on the clothesline outside blowing in the gentle breeze. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And then we saw it. The calendar that would mark her final days. We squinted our eyes to make out the very last thing she had written – COOKOUT. That day, she drove her own car and stopped and picked up a pie and met her son and his family for a cookout. 2 days later, her end came. Just like a thief in the night. The phone call that came daily from her sister in England never happened. Just like that, her worn out ole’ heart failed to beat. The days to follow would be slapped with grief – and more-so for the God-believing family left behind who would never would have the assurance of their dear family member’s salvation. A very dark and sobering reality. No one ever talks about this side of death. It’s awkward….painful….sucks the life right out of you.  It’s like watching someone drown and you are helpless to do anything for them. This is the kind of suffering that causes some to throw their towel in. “I’m done with Christianity! Done with this God thing!” Hoe do you wrap up this story in a nice neat blog-post? How do you wrap up a life of unbelief? 
 
Dear friends, though the sting is still fresh, there is great hope in the promise of salvation for those who believe. God isn’t safe. But He is good. We will live life with unanswered questions, but bitterness can’t have us because he IS. 
 
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements-surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this. “(Job 38)



Who knows? Maybe we will all be surprised one day when this life is over – when our eyes meet someone whom we thought we would never meet in heaven. But there’s a good, real, hard chance we won’t be. I’m thankful for a God who can be trusted. Because the end will come. We are all marching towards death. And death has a way of widdleing away the distractions. May you and I learn from the death of my grandmother. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow but we are guaranteed a beautiful redemption if we will take hold of it. This world? Nothing to offer compared to knowing Christ. Today, I choose to live in this moment. This is my life. I have want for nothing because I have Christ and no one, nothing can take Him away.  
 
 
 
In loving memory of Margaret Theresa Minkevich.
(Pictured on right with her sister)

New School Year 2014/2015

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Another school year is upon us. This is my 6th year of home-educating and I finally feel as though I am relaxed – not so worried about curriculum choices and such but truly embracing the fact that education is all of life. There is much freedom in that embrace – even as I have the added challenge of new state bi-laws and such, I’m still so grateful for the freedom of choosing how our children will learn and it what ways. I’m forever grateful that many years ago, my husband asked me to pray about homeschooling. I never thought I would. And he didn’t just ask me to pray about considering it, but he placed in my hands some precious gems that would forever shape my view of children and education. I was challenged to embrace a philosophy that would change me and us through the writings of “For the Chikdrens Sake” and “When Children Love to Learn.” This year, I have found a true joy that I’ve not known before. This came after the  tension and melt-downs in my own heart – wondering if I was doing it all wrong – after facing the fear of cultural norms and dangerously comparing my methods to another’s. I learned to let go of the control I thought I had and to see each of my children as uniquely different – with hearts holding differing passions but all if them possessing strengths and weaknesses that are shaping who they are. 

And my eyes finally opened to the fact that this role I have as their teacher is a great privilege- that of placing before them a feast of ideas and an enormous spread of fascinating, living knowledge as we look at a fine piece of art together or open our ears to a magnificent work of a great composer of the past or read about people from the ancient world or put our hands to work in the kitchen – measuring, dicing, chopping together. All of these things make up education – the ideas…the experiences….the pausing to give a hug or help resolve a conflict. They all have a beautiful role to play in the making of our minds and our lives. I look forward to what this year will bring – my biggest challenge yet with 3 different grades to teach and a very busy and inquisitive pre-schooler. But I know one thing – that no experience is wasted – good or bad. And that, my friends, is a deep and rich education of the mind and the heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Journey Forward

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The start of this hot month of August marked a new beginning for us. If you know us and the wildly adventurous story God has been writing in our lives, you know we have been apart of a lot of new beginnings. It’s been a steady pattern in our life. A sort of rhythm. As we watched many others put their roots down deep in the soil, we had the privilege of planting seeds in various places for 12 years. It was amidst these years that we toiled in sunshine and rain – barren land and plenteous.  One summer evening as we were meeting with some dear, wise friends who have known us and counseled us for the past 10 years – their glimmering  crowns of silver hair atop their heads, they listened intently as they always did as we recounted the various seeds the Lord had graciously planted through our years of ministry. They looked at us in their ever-loving, gentle way, and in similar words, said, “It seems like this has been a beautiful pattern in your lives, we believe God is calling you to this next thing. You need to follow Him.” We sat for a moment with an oddly terrifying but joyful excitement welling up within as The Lord used that moment to affirm the heart-desire we didn’t even know was deep within over the past year. We had convinced ourselves in prior months that God was done asking us to be apart of new things. We were done asking people to be apart of our team. We were ready to trade those years in for something easier – if ministry could ever be “easy.” Some say God has a sense of humor, I think He laughed right then and there.

 

“The most glorious reason you exist is for the proclamation of the glory of God to the ends of the world. And it’s more than having a nice life.” (David Platt)

 

                 We hugged our precious friends goodbye, knowing that this would be the end of our regular time together with them. We would walk forward with courage, again, to a new place and a new people because we were reminded that night that there is much more to this world than having a nice life. We exist for something deeper. And for the Figgins family, this meant being willing AGAIN to take our Lord by His hand and journey on.

We couldn’t be more thrilled that we did – and that so many of YOU decided to stay on the journey with us. We now walk the soil of Lexington, South Carolina learning the culture, meeting the people and experiencing the play-ground of this mini-city that lies on the outskirts of Columbia – the very place God called us to each other, called us into full-time vocational ministry and brought forth our first-born child. Full circle. How fitting that He would call us to return to our roots – where all of our desires to spread our wings and take flight were thrust right into this world. It is an honor and a privilege that He would use us to start yet another new seedling and, Lord willing, stay to see it grow and spread its’ roots and bring forth abundant fruit. We follow our Lord who promises to lead us to plant a church for the proclamation of the glory of God to the ends of the world.

And so, a new volume in the series God is writing in our lives has begun. We journey on. We know there will be immense joy and rejoicing. We know there will be deep hardships, and blood and sweat and tears. But we also know that God is ever at our side and if He is for us, who can stand against us?

Blessed be he name of The Lord. We journey on!

 

More summer happenings

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This summer was so enjoyable – we got to spend extra time with Kevin as the college students were finished with school. And we got to take the older girls to Six Flags because they earned free tickets through a reading program we participated in. We have gone swimming, explored outdoors, played in the rain, made Popsicles, and relaxed with neighbors and friends and enjoyed July 4th festivities.

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Homesteading

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Back in late June we had the privilege of leaving our city lives behind for a week in exchange for the beautiful homesteading lives of our good friends. We packed up our family and headed out to their land while they enjoyed a little break from their normal rhythm of life. We got to collect eggs, feed animals and tend to gardens. We took lots of walks and enjoyed sweet time together talking, playing and laughing. It was so much fun to get up each morning and tend to the farm chores together and then go inside and eat fresh eggs with one another around the farmhouse table. Being out in a wide-open space was so lovely as well. The kids could roam as they pleased and the calm and quiet was so welcoming. Our last day there, we celebrated Kevin’s birthday – farm chores and all! Thank you sweet “R” family for giving us this opportunity!

I love this poem by Wendell Berry, it seems to have captured how we felt as we left.

The Peace of Wild Things
BY WENDELL BERRY
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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Mother’s Day and Father’s Day 2014

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I was on my own with the kids for a week over Mother’s Day while pastor-husband was away on a retreat. It was so sweet to see the older girls take initiative and come down on Mother’s Day to bring me gifts and cuddle in bed with me. The whole week went really well, though I’m always thankful for my man who serves us so well that we feel it when he is away.

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We had the joy of celebrating Kevin’s birthday and Father’s Day all in the same weekend. He is such a gift and blessing to us – the way he courageously yet humbly leads our family. He loves me and the children dearly, we feel so thankful.

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And, of course, I am so grateful for my own mother and father….for my mother who nurtured us while we were young and for my father who faithfully provided and also led me to Christ at a wee age…

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Glorious summer

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We closed the school year and said hello to summer with a presentation day we attended with a local co-op here. Ash chose to do a presentation on sharks and embroidered a shark to show. Jada chose to recite 2 poems and displayed her wooden peg dolls she made as well as her sketchbook. Ellie joined her big sisters in reciting psalm 100. It was pretty precious! We also had a field day with our charlotte mason co-op which was so much fun. We did classic relays and shared a wonderful lunch together.

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We went strawberry picking here with some friends….it seemed easier this year with no babies in tow, though little bro likes to pick the green ones, oops!

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We also attended Ashtyn’s ballet recital. This is her 7th year dancing and the first year we’ve really noticed real improvement. She’s such a little girl of grace and gentleness.

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We’ve been playing with neighbors and friends, going to the library lots, swimming a bit and schooling here and there….just how summer should be!

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