Though most people are familiar with the popular movie and musical, The Sound of Music, the autobiography of Maria Von Trapp is not a common read. It was loaned to me by Robin and has proven an excellent remedy for my doldrums. Like most movies, it couldn’t capture all the important things that happened in the book. For instance, the movie did not portray that the family lost all their money before the Nazis took over Austria. But they did, due to a bank bankruptcy. They lost all their money.

Maria, in her buoyant way, found myriads of ways to be thankful because of it.

If we hadn’t lost that money, we wouldn’t have found who our true friends are.

She’s right. Multiple proverbs warn a rich man of flattering friends that sidle up to him for what they can get. Funny how they melt away during the hard times.

Perhaps because I’ve never been rich, I’ve been blessed with friends who are unchangeable. They’ve no ulterior motive to be with me. They have proven themselves to be friends. They are just as good to me now than when I used to hold court at my house, dumping large amounts of wine and food in their direction. When I count my blessings, I count my friends, remembering them. They are the ones who deserve a good deal of respect and love when times improve.

Aren’t we lucky, Georg, that we lost that money! How would we ever have found out what fine fellows the children are!

Our children are not impervious to the stresses of our situation. Yet daily, I find them singing, offering to help, reaching out to check on me, to give me hugs. When I ask, they are willing, when I chide, they are sorry, when I share, they are understanding, and when I deny, they know why.

If handled well, hard times can be a fertile ground for many lovely characteristics to grow: patience, gentleness, understanding, compassion, generosity, peace, self-control. And also, hard times can be an excellent frame through which you can view what has grown. The juxtaposition of the dark days of difficulty has helped the personalities of my girls to shine with brilliance and beauty. I’m proud of our family. We’ve grown things that cannot be taken.

If we hadn’t lost that money, we would have never met all these wonderful people who came to board with us.

To solve the problem, the Trapp family opened their home to boarders, meeting a great deal of thinkers, musicians, young professors, students, publishers, writers, and scientists along the way. For the children, these interactions opened their eyes to the world beyond and benefited them so much. I think about the different friends whose lives I’ve been drawn into because of writing this blog. Writing it has opened up avenues to communicate with friends I already have, family I rarely see, friends I would have never met, long-lost friends, and people I long to know better. I look forward to relationships becoming more solid with time. I wish I were in a more solid time in my life so I could open my home to people more often. But, now that I think of it, why shouldn’t I open my home the way it is? Perhaps I shouldn’t wait to be “settled.” Perhaps I should just invite and enjoy. Why not? If they see us now, things can only get better:)

Never before had we been so close to each other in the family as now.

Sometimes I am tempted to hide everything from the children. By no means do I believe they should be privy to every difficulty, but, I have found there are times when including them in our problems draws us closer together. When there is something very pressing, I sometimes ask the girls to pray with me. I feel that God has a particular fondness for little warm hands clasped together and earnest, breathy whispers for a favor. I know that if I have a hard time turning down a lisped, wide-eyed request, how much more does our Father in heaven long to answer them? And how great is their faith! It encourages me. It encourages them. Invariably, once we’ve prayed for something, one of the girls will point out when the answer arrives. “Mom, remember? We prayed about that and here it is!”

When I shared with Greta some of our problems, she thought for awhile and then said with straightforward surety: “Mom, it’s going to be okay. We’re going to be okay.” Certainly, I’ve heard those words from many assuring, well-meaning friends. But hearing it come from my own daughter whose fate is so wrapped up in mine was special and deserved a special hearing. I thanked her and hugged her and depended upon her for a short while — not too much, mind you — but to fortify a bond which requires a certain amount of give and take. If we never receive from our children, how can we expect them to learn to give? Gratefully receiving is the reward of giving.

I have realized that sharing our trials with the girls will model how to deal with troubles. Do we fight? Do we blame? Do we grow sullen and silent? No. We encourage each other and seek a solution. And … we pray. We depend upon God for answers. Really. It’s not just a going-through-the-motions thing.

So, Maria’s testimony has spoken across the years to encourage me, a little homeschool mom, halfway across the world, in a disputed, alleged foreclosed-upon log home in Oregon. That’s the beauty of writing. Perhaps, decades later, someone will read what I’ve written and take heart, too.

I’m not going to Sacramento just yet. I checked the car with our mechanic, who gave me the go-ahead. But when I checked the tires with Les Schwab, the guy told me ‘no way,’ that I couldn’t go without getting new tires. I was able to reach Paul on the boat and he said he wants us to wait until he comes home. He wants to see Grandma and Grandpa, too. So … I’ll stick around my boxed-up house and try to view things the Maria Von Trapp way:

Aren’t we lucky!

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